He’s Makin’ a List …

The 49ers aren’t being very cooperative in generating offseason news so far. Unless you count fiddling with the training staff who are apparently solely responsible for wrecking the past two seasons.

I’m sure all this backstage tinkering is going to pay dividends and we’ll hear glowing reports in training camp from players who claim they can run faster and jump farther and leap higher than ever before, but still, it lacks a bit in drama now.

I’d rather hear that HC Kyle Shanahan is buried in his office figuring out ways to score in the red zone next year. Maybe he should sign a couple of sumo wrestlers whose only job was to move some bodies near the goal line.

But I suppose it’s time to put Shanahan to bed for a few months and turn our attention to GM John Lynch. The Free Agency period begins next month and Lynch will make his third stab at helping the team via this route. His first two attempts were a mixed bag. He brought in 22 guys his first year and 7 his second year.

His best pickups were Robbie Gould and Marquise Goodwin. Of the other 27, some were useful, some were not, some have already been cut, and a few have yet to be determined.

All in all, not that bad a job.  The failure of the big name signings or landing anyone who has been a difference maker kind of skews the impression. You can view the 2017 list here:

https://www.ninersnation.com/2017/3/7/14825766/san-francisco-49ers-roster-tracker-2017-free-agency-signings-draft-picks-trades

And the 2018 list here:

https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/3/14/17118956/san-francisco-49ers-offseason-tracker-2018-free-agency-signings-draft-picks-trades-transactions

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Posted in Vacant Observations

High Anxiety

Meanwhile, back here in the bottom feeder section, this will be the fourth consecutive year the 49ers have drafted in the top ten. Consistency is usually a good thing, but not in this case.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is doing his best for Niner fans in easing the sting of being a loser franchise by out-losering them. His beggar campaign looking for a place for the Raiders to play next year is pretty hilarious. He says his only concern is the Raider fans, which is about as absurd a remark as you are likely to see in your lifetime as  Davis continues to put all his energy into getting out of Oakland as fast as  possible.

2019 is shaping up to be a critical year for the Niners. After two years of getting a free pass while producing mostly the same results that the previous two one-and-done HCs achieved, Kyle Shanahan will finally be held to some level of accountability this coming year. That alone is enough to wet the whistle of any avid blog exspurt. After all, it’s a blog truism that when a team is winning, fans have endless complaints about how they win or why they should win more, but when the team is a loser, fans just wrap themselves in quiet and defiant optimism.

It’s also a critical year for Jed York. He’s getting close to the deadline for gouging 10 year PSLs and season ticket renewals out of a customer base that bought into the new stadium at the height of the Jim Harbaugh era and got rewarded with a complete lemon. All those empty seats in the stadium still count now as seats sold, but they won’t much longer. And it will take some serious success from Shanahan and John Lynch to regain the trust, and more importantly the wallets, of these ripped off customers.

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Playoff Blues

It’s been a month since the 2018 regular season ended. During that time, the Seahawks went to the playoffs and the Rams went to the Super Bowl. And the 49ers assumed their customary position on the spectator couch. They finished six games behind the second place Seahawks and went 1-5 in their division, so it was not a close-but-no-cigar situation.

Most fans seem to be avoiding the implications of Kyle Shanahan‘s first two years of unimpressive coaching by choosing instead to play the armchair GM game regarding the upcoming FA period and the draft. Sure, why not? Pitting your wits against John Lynch is easier and the results are much nearer on the horizon and more readily analyzed.

It’s nice to dream. To dream that a key FA and a high draft pick will magically transform the team from a loser to a winner. The Niners are in a division with two teams above them that have better players, better coaches, better front offices, and better owners. All the 49ers have is the potential of Jimmy Garoppolo. A guy entering his sixth year in the league who has yet to play a full season or even accumulate enough starts to achieve a full season’s worth.

Some of you will strongly disagree with this pessimistic assessment and insist better days are ahead. There’s even a slim chance you will be right – some day, some year.

But this time of year is pretty gloomy. Watching other teams play in January while your team doesn’t. The Niners have made the playoffs only three times in the past sixteen years. The Patriots have made it fifteen out of sixteen, just like the 1983 – 1999 49ers.

From where I sit, if the 49ers want respect and optimism, they have to get out there and earn it on the field. It should not be just an offseason fantasy football mirage.

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Staff Roulette

The 49ers leapt into the new year by firing their D-line coach, their Trainer, and their Strength & Conditioning fellow. The first pink slip is a bit puzzling since the D-line was one of the few areas of competence last year. The other two are scapegoats for the amount of injuries that have beset the team the past two years.

Since that roaring beginning, the QB coach has gone to Denver and Denver’s DC has come here. Net gain:  who knows.

Nobody much has blamed Kyle Shanahan himself for producing only six victories and following that up with only four last year. Is the honeymoon going to end this year?

Probably not. Jed York pushed all his marbles into the pot when he hired Shanahan. He’ll undoubtedly give him at least four years before any consideration of pulling the plug. By that time, he’ll have paid off both Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, so he’d only have to eat the final two years of Shanahan’s deal. Par for the course in the NFL.

Still, how many victories would it take this season to keep Shanahan’s seat from turning hot this time next year. Eight at a minimum?

In the meantime, rumors are floating around in the NFL cesspool that the Niners should make a play for Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham. There’s no doubt either of these talented WRs would help the talent-starved 49ers, but that’s the sort of move a team makes when they are one or two pieces away from being a serious contender. Or when they need to hornswoggle the fan base into thinking good thoughts and buying tickets.

Both guys are considered me-first “divas.” That would normally be enough to hit the reject button with a resounding “phlbbtt!” But it’s been quite some time since the Niners had anybody good enough to even think about being a diva, so maybe having one now would be tolerable.


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Buzzkill Edition

We’re a week and a half into the offseason, and no 49er player has yet been arrested. Super Bowl here we come!

There seems to be a ground swell of optimism forming for the 2019 season, unlike any season in, well, never. For some reason, despite history and every lesson to the contrary, football fans seem to be constantly enthused that their team is going to be terrific the following season.

Last offseason, these optimists were wetting their knickers at the prospect of Jimmy Garoppolo leading the team to or very near the playoffs in 2018. That dream was squashed in the third game when Jimmy tore his ACL. As you can see from the Prognostications listings, one of those optimists was yours truly.

Now, we’re right back at the same space, expecting the same great things as we expected last year.  A bit of an offseason rerun. Still, it might be pointed out that Nick Mullens played eight games and finished as the seventh rated QB in the league in terms of average passing yards per game. Better than Garoppolo, in that regard. And yet, Mullens record was only 3-5.

There were a lot of injuries this year, but aside from Garoppolo’s, none of the injuries involved a major player. That’s because the team has no major players. There’s George Kittle and Deforest Buckner and nobody else. And neither Kittle nor Buckner were injured. Jerick McKinnon might have looked like a big loss at the beginning of the season, but how much more productive would he have been compared to the year Matt Breida had?

It’s tempting to claim Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis were major players who got injured, but neither has been healthy enough to yet be considered major players and being injured was a fairly constant condition last year.

At the least, the team needs a functioning secondary, a pass rusher, a healthy number one WR, and an O-line upgrade to make much of a push up the ladder of respectability.

On the plus side, though, the bar has been set so low by four consecutive very bad seasons, that nobody remembers how good the Niners used to be. A 7-9 or 8-8 season would probably cause hearts to tremble lovingly, but that was the expectation of most for last year. And is that really much of an improvement for year three?


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2018 Schedule
9-9, L: Vikings 24, 49ers 16
9-16, W: 49ers 30, Lions 27
9-23, L: Chiefs 38, 49ers 27
9-30, L: Chargers 29, 49ers 27
10-7, L: Cardinals 28, 49ers 18
10-15, L: Packers 33, 49ers 30
10-21, L: Rams 39, 49ers 10
10-28, L: Cardinals 18, 49ers 15
11-1, W: 49ers 34, Raiders 3
11-12, L: Giants 27, 49ers 23
11-25, L: Tampa 27, 49ers 9
12-2, L: Seattle 43, 49ers 16
12-9, W: 49ers 20, Broncos 14
12-16, W: 49ers 26, Seattle 23
12-23, L Bears 14, 49ers 9
12-30, L: Rams 48, 49ers 32
 
2018 Draft Class
1. OT Mike McGlinchey
2. WR Dante Pettis
3. LB Fred Warner
3. DB Tarvarius Moore
4. DE Kentavius Street
5. CB D.J. Reed
6. S Marcell Harris
7. DT Jullian Taylor
7. WR Richie James
 
2018 Prognostications
Closest to the Pin:
  Mr Fletch: 7-9

Bakkentom: 8-8
Grumpy: 8-8
Winder: 8-8
Bullit: 9-7
NJ49er: 9-7
Skeebers: 10-6
Spitblood: 0-16
Rob!!!: 16-0

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