Up the Down Staircase

The 49ers currently have 39 players on the squad that were selected from the 2013 – 2016 drafts. NaVorro Bowman is the only guy left from the 2010 draft. Nobody left from 2008, 2009, and 2012. Only Colin Kaepernick, Daniel Kilgore, and Bruce Miller remain from 2011. And only Bowman from this bunch is a premium quality player.

With the exception of first rounder Eric Reid, this is the final year of the rookie contracts signed by the 2013 class. Only Quinton Dial has gotten an extension, an extra three years, signed last February. Tank Carradine, Vance McDonald, Corey Lemonier, and Quinton Patton all need to have somewhere in the neighborhood of outstanding seasons this year or they’ll all likely get the see-you-later treatment in January.

Should the above scenario play out as expected, only Dial and Reid will remain from the 2013 class next year. And neither of these two could be described as anything more than average players. In fact, the 49ers have spent high picks in the past three drafts on guys who would replace them.

Trent Baalke‘s “build through the draft” mantra is clearly not producing much of an edifice thus far. It has, however, allowed Baalke to work his way up from the bottom of the draft pecking order into the top ten losers’ bracket. Where even marginally skilled GMs like Baalke stand a very good chance of landing a premium player.

Is Deforest Buckner going to be a Pro Bowl caliber player? He might need to be in order for Baalke to keep his job. Unfortunately, Baalke keeping his job is kind of low on the wish list these days. But it might take a monumental pratfall like Buckner being a washout to finally force owner Jed York to cut loose his long time lapdog.

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Tortoise vs Hare Redux

While the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams duke it out this year for NFC West supremacy, the 49ers will be involved in a whole different kind of competition. Two in fact. For one. they’ll be competing for the Number One pick in the 2017 Draft. But the other contest will probably be much more fun to observe.

That contest is with the Philadelphia Eagles and their GM, Howie Roseman. Much like GM Trent Baalke vs HC Jim Harbaugh, Roseman won a power struggle in Philly, firing both HC Chip Kelly and VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble. The two guys threatening Roseman’s power position under owner Jeff Lurie. Kelly and Gamble both landed in Santa Clara and are now threatening Baalke’s position of power under owner Jed York.

Roseman then spent the offseason trying to prove he’s The Man by trading cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso, and running back DeMarco Murray — all three acquired by Kelly — along with a first, third, and fourth round pick in this year’s draft, plus a first round pick in 2017 and a second rounder in 2018. All to get up to the number two spot and draft QB Carson Wentz.

Not content to mortgage this year and next year for a QB who may or may not be worth a shit, Roseman also bellied up to the bar and spent $280 million in guaranteed dough to lock up key members of the current Eagles team and a slew of free agents.

Meanwhile, Baalke responded to these bold/insane moves by his counterpart in Philly by buying a couple of hamburgers and sleeping through the entire offseason. Apparently content to bet the 49ers’ future exclusively on the fate of the players he selected in his past four drafts.

Which one of these GMs will be vindicated over the next couple of years? One? Both? Neither? Who cares? The entertainment tableau of a bottom feeder franchise.

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School’s Out

The 49ers have concluded their Spring practices and we now have six weeks until Training Camp opens. The do-nothing 2016 offseason trickles toward its inept conclusion.

Chip Kelly said that Antoine Bethea looked like the best player in the secondary. Not good news. Bethea is old, slow, and fading, so it seems that either none of the newer, younger guys understand the new defensive schemes or they just aren’t very good. Which would be a surprise if it wasn’t and it ain’t.

The offense appears committed to pounding the ball with Carlos Hyde. Hyde also will be catching a lot of passes out of the backfield. Hyde is our best offensive player, so the idea of using him extensively seems good. Except in his two years here he has not been able to stay healthy. The guys behind Hyde are led by Shaun Draughn, a marginal talent, and Mike Davis, who gained 58 yards on 35 carries last year.

Anybody expecting the passing game to be dynamic has obviously been drinking too many beers with ROB. Heck, even Rob’s been drinking too many beers with ROB.

Still, it’s going to be a fun year in Niner land. Funner than last year, when there was still too much outrage mixed in with the joy of seeing the team stink up the place week after week, validating all of this site’s scorn directed at Jed York for senselessly destroying the franchise. This year, every fan has digested what a complete fool we have for an owner. It won’t be a surprise to anyone that the team finishes in the NFC West basement yet again.

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Long Odds

Your faithful scribe has been offline for a couple of weeks. In my absence, the 49ers have apparently been flying under the radar also, content to remain inconspicuous while the Warriors, Sharks, and Giants capture the attention of the Bay Area.

The beat writers have been trying to get us interested in who will play ILB alongside NaVorro Bowman, among other inconsequential efforts to arouse our appetites. Poor bastards have to make a living, I suppose. Covering a team that has little appeal and little chance to succeed.

Jimmie Ward has been moved from slot CB to full time outside CB across from Tramaine Brock. Which begs the question, why did Trent Baalke spend six picks in the past two drafts trying to find somebody to fill precisely that role? Maybe this is the first indication of Chip Kelly giving the finger to Baalke’s GMing skills?

As noted by our readers, the Vegas boys don’t think much of the Niners this coming season, installing them as underdogs in all sixteen games. The Browns share that dubious distinction as well, further driving home the point of awfulness served up by Baalke and Jed York since dismissing Scot McCloughan and Jim Harbaugh.

The Browns and the Niners both have new HCs with a certain repute as offensive wunderkinds (Hue Jackson and Kelly), so you would think Vegas would be somewhat impressed and look for each team to improve on last year’s records (3-13 and 5-11). The Browns have a proven track record of swallowing up any and all talent that wanders their way, so Vegas skepticism is probably warranted.

But the Niners? How can a team win five games under Jim Tomsula and less than that under Kelly?

Mostly, Baalke has done nothing to improve the team this year. He replaced Alex Boone with an aging and fading Zane Beadles and let leading receiver Anquan Boldin walk away. Right tackle is still a black hole. Right guard will have last year’s returning mediocrities or rookie Joshua Garnett, who can’t pass block. Top pick Deforest Buckner might be good, or even great, someday. But he’s not likely to be an impact player this year.

The best we can hope for out of Kelly is a more competitive team, even with lesser players. Last year, the Niners were soundly trashed in nine out of sixteen games. Losing respectably isn’t much to get excited about, but we’re in Browns territory now, and these are the terms of endearment.

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He Gotta Be He

OTAs begin this week. Unless they were last week and I missed them. Just to be fair and cover my bases, I’ll miss them this week, too.

Everyone is talking about Chip Kelly and his “system” these days. A couple of people, anyway. Enough to notice if you have a good magnifying glass.

Apparently, it’s a very rigid system. If a player doesn’t buy into it, he falls behind and gets shipped to Siberia. DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are the poster boys for this harsh treatment. The 49ers don’t have anybody that could be cut that would draw any newsworthy attention, so Siberian deportees should pass mostly without notice.

Australian import Jarryd Hayne beat Chip to the punch last week by deporting himself. Not exactly to Siberia, but fairly close to it in a 180 degree sort of way. Fiji. A microscopic island east of Australia way out there in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, they’re having something called The Rio Olympics and Fiji has a rugby team entered in this colossal event.

Jarryd might have sized up his chances of ever being a star RB in the NFL and, even after promising everyone in the world, on many occasions, that he took this NFL thing seriously, the chance to be a big fish in a small Fijian pond was just too tempting to resist. The lure of the National Hero bit.

Kind of chicken shit if you ask me. Who’s going to believe any promises this guy ever makes in the future? Wimp. Fiji? You gotta be kidding me.

For you glass half-fullers, the Niners will lead the league this year in guys whose names begin with a “DxX.” We currently have four: DeForest, DiAndre, DeAndre, and a DeAndrew. Not to mention a Demetrius and a Devon. Another dark and secret Trent Baalke fetish at play?

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2016 Schedule
Monday, Sept. 12 vs Los Angeles
Sunday, Sept. 18 @ Carolina
Sunday, Sept. 25 @ Seattle
Sunday, Oct. 2 vs Dallas
Thursday, Oct. 6 vs Arizona
Sunday, Oct. 16 @ Buffalo
Sunday, Oct. 23 vs Tampa Bay
Sunday, Oct. 30 BYE
Sunday, Nov. 6 vs New Orleans
Sunday, Nov. 13 @ Arizona
Sunday, Nov. 20 vs New England
Sunday, Nov. 27 @ Miami
Sunday, Dec. 4 @ Chicago
Sunday, Dec. 11 vs New York Jets
Sunday, Dec. 18 @ Atlanta
Saturday, Dec. 24 @ Los Angeles
Sunday, Jan. 1 vs Seattle
2016 Draft Class
1. Deforest Buckner, DL
1. Joshua Garnett, OG
3. Will Redmond, CB
4. Rashard Robinson, CB
5. Ronald Blair, DE
5. John Theus, OT
5. Fahn Cooper, OT
6. Jeff Driskell, QB
6. Kelvin Taylor, RB
6. Aaron Burbridge, WR
7. Prince Charles Iworah, CB
2015 Prognostications
NJ49er: 7-9
Bakkentom: 3-13
Grumpy: 5-11
Winder: 10-6
Bythorn: 5-10-1
Phil Fan: 6-10
Spitblood: 2-14
RTFirefly: 5-11
Bullit: 6-9-1
Skeebers: 6-10
Rob: 9-7
Chuck: 11-5