Little Big Men

It only took three practices to answer the question about what to do with the crowded situation at running back. The answer was “Never mind.”

First Kendall Hunter went out for the year with an ACL tear, then LaMichael James dislocated his elbow during pass blocking drills. He’s only expected to miss a month, but by the time he heals, his RB job will likely be gone and his punt return job may belong to someone else, too.

James is not likely to get much sympathy, either. He spent all last year complaining about his role and announcing via Twitter that he had been traded. He’s part of the ill-fated 2012 draft class where Trent Baalke went against his own credo (big is better) by drafting two small guys with his first and second picks. Don’t expect Baalke to draft any miniature boys again any time soon.

In fact, the only guy currently practicing from that draft class is a big ole guy, RG Joe Looney. If Alex Boone isn’t careful with his hold out, Looney could be the starter on opening day. Here’s a tip, Boone. Baalke would like nothing better than to have one redemptive pick from that draft.

Scot McCloughan didn’t place a ton of value on offensive guards and apparently Baalke shares that view. In the past year, the 49ers have extended the contracts of both starting tackles, Joe Staley and Anthony Davis. But both guards are nowhere near to extensions. Boone’s holding out and talks with Mike Iupati are clearly not progressing.

With Iupati, it seems a little strange that the team appears reluctant to pay the man. They drafted him in the first round in 2010 and he’s more than lived up to that first round abiity. What were they expecting? Why draft a guy that high if you aren’t going to keep him because he’s performed well? Maybe Iupati is making super exorbitant demands, but I tend to doubt that.

Then again, the team restructured Ahmad Brooks Tuesday, creating another $2 mil in cap room. So maybe somebody else is going to get a contract extension any day now.

John Madden recently raved about the job 49ers’ HC Jim Harbaugh has done, pointing out that the negative rantings of brittle-boned alcoholics from Pinole should be laughed off the stage. The Outsider, of course, would never be so brutally frank.

Harbaugh is the first coach in NFL history to reach the conference championship game in each of his first three seasons. It took Madden eight years to win a Super Bowl, overcoming three consecutive AFC Championship game defeats along the way, so he knows a bit about perseverance. Not a favored virtue of the blogosphere, but worth noting nonetheless.





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Posted in Training Camp

The Church of Football Is Open

The players are back, the pads go on tomorrow, and in less than two weeks we’ll be watching a real fake football game.

The final score doesn’t matter in these fake games, so they serve mainly as a warning to non-believers that there is one month left before Sundays become off limits for any meaningful interaction with us believer types. Not only will Sundays be off limits, but for fans of bad teams, Mondays will be reserved for working through intense agony and be also off limits.

And for households without any non-believers, woe unto them who dare knock on the door for frivolous visiting on said Sundays. Death by stoning most surely will ensue.

And, let’s face it, shirking household chores and feigning illnesses for six months of Sundays takes its toll. I’m exhausted. Soon I will be able to park myself in front of the TV, smiling that evil smile of joy, and blissfully recuse myself from the screwed up world around me.

Aldon Smith successfully negotiated the summer without getting arrested and told reporters he had not had a drink since last September, when he ran into a tree and passed out cold. This statement is at odds with the LAX coppers who arrested him in March and said he seemed to have been drinking. Either the cops were wrong or Aldon is lying. Since Aldon plays for us and the cops don’t, we’ll have to assume the LAX boys leapt to an unwarranted conclusion.

No surprise, but Vernon Davis showed up for camp, despite his missed OTAs blather about his “brand.” Also no surprise, Alex Boone did not show up. Not sure what Boone is thinking. Like Vernon, he missed the OTAs, emphasizing his desire for a new contract, but now he’s just losing $30,000 per day for nothing. The 49ers don’t negotiate with players until they show up. If Boone were a superstar WR or QB, the Niners might blink (not likely), but he’s just a lowly RG.

In Boone’s absence, 2012 4th round pick Joe Looney is taking the reps with the first team. Soon, Boone will hear Jim Harbaugh describing Looney’s play as “outstanding.”

On the first day of TC, rookie RB Carlos Hyde dropped two passes and the other new RB, Marcus Lattimore, was placed on the PUP list with knee trouble. Snickering on the sideline was Frank Gore.





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Posted in Training Camp

Pom Pom Fever

There was a lot of excitement for Jim Harbaugh‘s first season as the 49er HC, but it was muted somewhat by the shortened Training Camp, due to the long battle over the new CBA, which lowered hopes for what he could reasonably accomplish in his first year. When the team went all the way to overtime in the NFC Title game, it was a surprise, more than an expectation.

But it signaled the return of the franchise to its rightful place as a power in the NFL.

In 2012 and 2013, there was excitement. A belief we had the team to win a Super Bowl. We got there and lost in 2012, and came up inches short in 2013, a year ultimately crippled by the loss of Michael Crabtree in the offseason, which exposed a wide receiver group that was flat out terrible. The failure of 2012 first round pick AJ Jenkins was a critical liability without Crabtree.

The excitement is still here in 2014 and maybe more so than ever. Defense may win championships, but fun football ogling is at his funnest when your offense is dynamic and prolific. The team has the WRs to do that this year, the best cast of receivers this century.

Trent Baalke has been good drafting the beef guys and LBs, but not so good drafting the playmakers. In addition to Jenkins, there were Kyle Williams, Ronald Johnson, and LaMichael James. Quinton Patton may yet be a good WR, but he spent most of 2013 on the injured list.

Baalke has preferred Free Agency for his skill guys. A washed up Brayon Edwards, a half-hearted Randy Moss, an oft-injured Mario Manningham, and a host of camp fodder NFL marginals with nary a nugget in the bunch. Not a good track record in FA or drafting.

Maybe he’s learning. Last year, he brought in Anquan Boldin and that move saved the season from disaster. This year, it’s Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd — moves that look good now. We’ll see how they look at season’s end.

But heading into Training Camp, this looks like the most dangerous team of the Harbaugh era.





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Posted in Delusional Therapy

Sic Transit Offseason

Posted on July 16, 2014Skeebers

One more week, guys. We’re almost there. Rookies report today and the vets next Wednesday. First padded practice the 26th.

The offseason has brought us many entertainments, starting with the trade of Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland — NOT. Then a massive feud between Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke — NOT. Then a Colin Kaepernick will leave after this season if he doesn’t get a $22 million a year contract with a $50 million guarantee — NOT.

Of course, there were some real news items, like Chris Culliver‘s arrest for running down a guy on a bike, fleeing the scene, and threatening a pursuer with brass knuckles. We’ll call this a comic interlude. Followed shortly afterward by Aldon Smith‘s 38th arrest for knucklehead behavior associated with drowning his head in a liquor bottle.

And last, but not least, Mel Kiper gave us an A for our draft!

The only thing missing was the news that Dickhead Sherman had been run over by a bus.

Although the offseason was long, boring, and mostly uneventful for us Outsiders, the same cannot be said for the Niner OC, Greg Roman. Word has filtered down from the heights that the endless criticism of his offensive game plans has caused him to lose two pounds and four stubbles of hair.

RG Alex Boone is not expected to report with the vets on the 23rd. Pity. There’s only one way this hold out will end. He’ll be replaced at RG, then show up near the end of the pre-season, find himself riding the bench, realize his agent screwed up, fire him, discover it’s too late to repair the damage, sulk all year, and finally get traded to Miami for a bag of chips next offseason.

There’ll be lots of stories to this camp. The running back battle, the linebacker who gets to fill in for Navorro Bowman, the OLB who steps in for Aldon during his suspension, the slot cornerbck winner, the progress of backup QB reclamation project Blaine Gabbert, the much anticipated debut of D-lineman Tank Carradine, and how Roman utilizes a six deep wide receiver group.

The 68th year of the San Francisco 49ers is about to begin.





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Posted in FOS Speculation

Easy Pickins

Posted on July 9, 2014Skeebers

At first glance, the 49ers 2014 schedule looks a bit daunting. In the first seven games, they face three 2013 playoff teams (Eagles, Chiefs, Broncos), a ten win team (Cardinals), a couple of QBs who can be streaky good or streaky bad (Romo, Cutler), and the always tough at home Rams.

In the pre-Harbaugh era, I’d have looked at this schedule, marked down 5-11, and started building my Sundays around drugs and alcohol, with as many pain killers as I could get my hands on.

Now, I mark down 11-5, THEN look at the schedule, knowing I’ll go to bed happy three out of four Sundays, then gloat on the blogs during the following week and complain about the margin of victory, a missed block, a dropped pass, or a stuffed 3rd and one.

The big, bad NFC East is on the schedule this year. They’re no longer big, just bad. Not tough bad, either. The East is home to two of the biggest dipshit owners in the NFL — Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones. The Washington Embarrassments and the Dallas Laughingstocks. Elite has had the “te” stripped from his resume, turning his team into the New York Midgets, which leaves only the Philadelphia Chipmunks to uphold the division’s fading prestige. The Niners went 3-1 against the East in 2011 and could easily go 4-0 this time around.

We also play the AFC West this year, providing the team with its only one, true laugher — a slaughtering of the Oakland Raiders. The Niners crowed after the Super Bowl that they would have whipped the Broncos, too, and they’ll get that chance in October in Denver. Since this is a regular season game, it’ll be tough to beat Manning at home — before the playoffs start, his arm turns into a noodle, and his heart channels Greg Norman.

Throw in a split with the Bears and Saints, a modest 4-2 division record, and voila! An easy 11+ win season and another date with playoff destiny — or infamy.





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Posted in FOS Speculation
2014 Schedule
1. 9/7 @ DAL
2. 9-14 vs CHI (Sunday night)
3. 9/21 @ ARI
4. 9-28 vs PHI
5. 10/5 vs KC
6. 10/13 @ STL (Monday night)
7. 10/19 @ DEN (Sunday night)
8. BYE
9. 11/2 vs STL
10. 11/9 @ NO
11. 11/16 @ NYG
12. 11/23 vs WAS
13. 11/27 vs SEA (Thanksgiving)
14. 12/7 @ OAK
15. 12/14 @ SEA
16. 12/20 vs SD
17. 12/28 vs ARI
 
2014 Draft Class
1 Jimmie Ward, S/CB
2 Carlos Hyde, RB
3 Marcus Martin, C
3 Chris Borland, ILB
3 Brandon Thomas, OG
4 Bruce Ellington, WR
4 Dontae Johnson, CB
5 Aaron Lynch, LB
5 Keith Reaser, CB
6 Kenneth Acker, CB
7 Kaleb Ramsey, DE
7 Trey Millard, FB
 
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