Training Camp 2015

The 2014 offseason will close up shop this weekend, taking its rightful place among the darkest chapters in 49er history. A truly ghastly effort by the dirtbag young owner and an insult to 49er fans everywhere.

Next up, two weeks of Training Camp leading into the 2015 preseason games. I’d expect the team to look decent in these four fake games, as they face vanilla defenses and offenses. Jim Tomsula and his staff will try hard to convince fans that they know what they’re doing, and they will want the team to experience the feeling of being winners.

For some fans, the 2015 regular season will be about coming to grips with reality. We’ll have trauma teams available to help these poor souls in their journey back toward sanity.

For the rest of us, this year will not be about playoffs or postseason or Super Bowls. All that went out the window last January. No, 2015 will give us a definitive look at the work of GM Trent Baalke, whose 2013 – 2015 drafts will be on full display.

From the 2013 class, only FS Eric Reid has been a starter. His first year was good and his second year so-so. He’s also had concussion issues and Baalke spent a second round pick in 2015 for another FS Jaquiski Tartt. The other 2013 members — Tank Carradine, Vance McDonald, Quinton Patton, Quinton Dial — have played mostly minor roles up to now, but all of them need to contribute this year. We’ll see if they do. Dial and Carradine are penciled in as starters. If they can’t cut it, the D-line falls apart.

From the 2014 class, Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Bruce Ellington, Dontae Johnson, & Aaron Lynch all played minor roles last year. This year they must play major roles. G Brandon Thomas might also need to step in as a starter after a year on IR.

If all these guys turn out to be good players, and some of the 2015 draftees eventually join them, then Baalke will have laid the groundwork of a solid team down the road. If they don’t, Baalke will have failed and the 49ers will have mediocrity as their future.

No matter how good the players are, though, they’ll never become champions without a stable front office and a good HC and staff. The current HC and staff are a league wide joke. That situation falls almost entirely on the owner who forced it to happen. Until it’s rectified, the team will not be a contender.

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Coming Soon: The Not Harbaugh Era

The NFC West has one team that knows it will be in the playoffs, one team that assumes it will make the playoffs, and one team that hopes to make the playoffs. And one team that will be wildly enthusiastic if it goes 8-8 this year.

Of course, the average Joe “in season” Fan has no idea that Jed York and Trent Baalke will be ecstatic with an 8-8 record. They think the 49ers are still a big time team about to go on another SB run.

The beginning of a new NFL season has been pretty exciting the past four years. It seemed exciting in 2010, too, the year this blog began. Mike Singletary‘s 2009 squad had finished 8-8, the first non-losing season in seven years. The team was bragging about how good it was, the blogs were arguing about the pros and cons of the nutcracker drill.

Then the team opened the season in Seattle and got thoroughly trashed. After the game, Singletary began his season long slide into dumbfounded cluelessness by thanking Pete Carroll for waxing his butt. Can Jim Tomsula top Singletary for sweaty incompetence at the press conference podium?

At any rate, Training Camp opens at the end of next week and we will begin the “Not Harbaugh Era.” Calling it the “Tomsula Era” would be laughable, since Jimmy T. won’t be around long enough to qualify as an “era.” More like a lost year. Or worse — two. The NHE, however, could very well last for quite some time. Longer than the Pre Harbaugh Era? It’s possible, folks. Highly possible.

Speaking of eras, the McCloughan Era brought in a Super Bowl quality team. It was officially dismantled this past offseason, so it’s time to start chronicling the Baalke Era input.

The current roster has six starters brought in during Baalke’s six drafts: NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Daniel Kilgore, Eric Reid, and Carlos Hyde. We might also see five more become starters this year: Aaron Lynch, Marcus Martin, Quinton Dial, Brandon Thomas, and maybe Dontae Johnson or Keith Reaser, plus UDFA Ian Williams.

Are these guys a Super Bowl quality nucleus?

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Job Listings

Only three more weeks before the bill starts coming due on Jed York‘s offseason catastrophe.

Currently, there are four jobs up for grabs as we head into Training Camp: LDE, RCB, RG, and slot CB. The LDE winner will be a guy who isn’t as good as Ray McDonald. The RCB winner will be a guy who isn’t as good as Chris Culliver. The RG guy won’t be as good as Mike Iupati. BUT, the slot CB would almost have to be an improvement on last year’s first round pick Jimmie Ward, who was pretty much torched all year.

The other jobs up for grabs are the entire coaching staff. In two years, none of them will still be here except probably Tom Rathman. Rathman isn’t into politics, doesn’t want to be a HC or coordinator, and allies himself with no one but his running backs, whoever they might be.

In the past four drafts, the 49ers haven’t selected a single impact player. Not one. Chris Borland might have qualified, but he threw in the towel after one season. Maybe there will be an instant stud in the 2015 draft, but I’m not holding my breath. You’d think the Niner GM would be an up for grabs job, too, but right now Trent Baalke is little Jed’s security blanket.

York, of course, is adored by 49er fans who are on the waiting list for brain transplants, but the healthy members of the fan base have written York off as a guy in over his head and more concerned with his own perilous comfort level than he is the welfare of the team. With the Super Bowl coming to Santa Clara at the end of the season, York also wants to be the face of the franchise this year. Which shouldn’t be too difficult now that all the deserving faces have been banished from the building and replaced with NFL discards the league lost interest in many years ago.

So we’re going to see a lot of the little round headed kid’s mug this year. No doubt making one preposterous statement after another. For the brain transplant candidates, enjoy. For the rest of us, time to stock up on barf bags. It’s going to be a long, pitiful year.

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The Great Divide

It’s been a long time since the blogosphere was this polarized. Not since the pre-Harbaugh days of Alex Smith. Heading into the 2015 season, bloggers either think the franchise is just fine, or they think it’s become a laughingstock. There’s no middle ground.

Training Camp begins in four weeks and the long offseason of disputed realities will begin to be resolved.

The laughingstock crowd remains firmly committed to the 49ers as a season long joke, but the “just finers” have already begun to lower their bar from the 8-8 is A-OK level by lowering their predictions of what Jim Harbaugh would have achieved if he had remained the coach. By the time the season actually starts, JFers might consider 4-12 a roaringly successful year.

A few of the JFers have sternly insisted they be allowed to see the team play this season before casting a vote on its worth. Sissies.

JFers are only concerned with the 2015 season. Their main hope is to escape it without total embarrassment and to be able to compare it favorably with Harbaugh’s worst season, last year’s 8-8 mark.

LSers aren’t worried about this year. They know it will be mediocre at best, and trending downward. Their concern is how many years of mediocrity lie ahead. And how many years it will take Jed York to repair the damage he has caused to the reputation and integrity of the franchise.

The JFers, however, dispute that York has harmed the franchise. Instead, they believe York is a football guru of sorts. He managed to discern, before anyone else in the world, that Harbaugh needed to be fired in the summer of 2014, after Harbaugh’s team had made three straight trips to the NFC Title game, and the first 49er Super Bowl appearance in 18 years.

This will be the first time in ten years that opposing defenses won’t be selling out to stop Frank Gore. Are they going to sell out to stop Carlos Hyde? Doubtful. Hyde averaged 4 yards per carry last year on 83 rushing attempts. Gore averaged 4.3 on 255 attempts. Hyde runs a lot more upright than Gore, making him easier to tackle and more prone to injury. He also won’t have Mike Iupati or Anthony Davis clearing holes for him to run through.

You have to feel bad for long time LT Joe Staley. His team-friendly contract, signed back when the franchise had a great esprit de corps, runs another three years or so. He’s had to watch the team blown up, almost all of his compatriots either retired or playing elsewhere, and is now looking at playing for a loser the rest of his career. Ooops! “Alleged loser.”

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Really Excited

Oakland has a championship. San Francisco has a championship. Santa Clara has Jed York.

Moving right along, I put on my 1994 Super Bowl Champion 49ers’ T-shirt over the weekend, still going strong after 21 years of careful use, and strolled around town to cheer up any citizens who thought life was treating them too harshly. This is what being a Niner fan has come to. A couple more years of Yorkdom and the locals will be asking me if the 49ers are still a professional football team.

Saints’ owner Tom Benson made it through his mental competency trial recently, thwarting an effort by his children to wrest control of the team from him. Nice kids. 49er fans weren’t so lucky back in the late ’90s, and York is the result.

York Sr. was in the news last week, proving that incompetence is a family tradition. First, the elder York said the football helmet was on its way out, then the next day, no doubt prompted by league honchos, he retracted the statement.

Some bloggers think York Jr. is doing a fine job. This is the new litmus test for discerning the mental competency of any particular fan. Anybody who’s a York lover is probably someone you want to avoid getting stuck in an elevator with.

The team finished its OTA practices in good spirits. The players are really excited about the coming season. That excitement probably won’t last past October, when they realize they are on a long train to nowhere.

This is normally the time I would say, “Just kidding, folks!” But who would believe me?

Nobody wants to read negative news all year — almost nobody, that is. So, I’m really excited about the upcoming Training Camp and preseason games. We’ll be doing our best to find some players to get really excited about. Good players and dreadful ones.

Plus, poor teams usually treat preseason games like they were playoff games, so I’m expecting the Niners to go 4-0. Mike Singletary‘s teams went 7-1 in the preseason games, for instance. With Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini both trying to restore their reputations, and Jim Tomsula trying to get his hands on a reputation, I’d expect these preseason games to be as close as it comes to the team experiencing a winning sensation this year.

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2015 Schedule
1. 9/14 vs MIN
2. 9-20 @ PIT
3. 9/27 @ ARI
4. 10-4 vs GB
5. 10/11 @ NYG
6. 10/18 vs BAL
7. 10/22 vs SEA
8. 11/1 @ STL
9. 11/8 vs ATL
10. 11/15 BYE
11. 11/22 @ SEA
12. 11/29 vs ARI
13. 12/6 @ CHI
14. 12/13 @ CLE
15. 12/20 vs CIN
16. 12/27 @ DET
17. 1/3 vs STL
The Harbaugh Scoreboard
49ers: 0-0
  [Not Harbaugh]
Michigan: 0-0
  [Harbaugh, Drevno]
Bears: 0-0
  [Fangio, Donatell]
Bills: 0-0
Cardinals: 0-0
Chiefs: 0-0
Colts: 0-0
Redskins: 0-0
Raiders: 0-0
  [Crabtree, Seely]
Titans: 0-0
  [Walker, Cox]
2015 Draft Class
1 Arik Amstead, DE
2 Jaquiski Tartt, S
3 Eli Harold, OLB
4 Blake Bell, TE
4 Mike Davis, RB
4 DeAndre Smelter, WR
5 Bradley Pinion, P
6 Ian Silberman, OG
7 Trenton Brown, OT
7 Rory Anderson, TE