Coming Attractions

Less than three weeks until the 49ers’ Training Camp opens and we start separating the men from the boys. One of my favorite times of the year.

All the OTA standouts and over-hyped draft picks get their first taste of reality when the pads go on and the hitting begins. Last year, highly touted 4th round RB pick Joe Williams wasn’t ready for the NFL show at all. Instead, undrafted Matt Breida came in and took his job right out from under his nose. The Niners then stashed Williams on IR for the year and he faces an uphill battle to make the team this year.

The most important draft pick this year is RT Mike McGlinchey. If he’s not ready for prime time, it will be a long year for QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the entire offense.

The most hyped pick this year is second round WR Dante Pettis. He could be a game-changer type of player or a bust, but he’s also the draft pick who whose failure would affect the team the least. Trent Taylor would just continue to perform the duties he did pretty well last year before Pettis was drafted to upgrade him.

When he was drafted, third round LB pick Fred Warner looked like he would have an important role for the 2018 season. Reuben Foster was facing a seriously long suspension and backup Brock Coyle was looking like an unattractive option to fill Foster’s shoes. But the Niners and Foster caught a break, the suspension was only two games, and the need for Warner to make an immediate impact diminished considerably.

One or more of the later round draft picks will probably surprise us, which is more than you could say when Trent Baalke was the GM. Last year, the final pick in the Niner draft, Adrian Colbert, stepped in at FS for an injured Jimmie Ward and played so well that Ward lost his job and has been shunted back to CB and all around fill-in DB this year.

All of this unpredictable mayhem and more will be coming to town in less than three weeks.

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Posted in Vacant Observations

There’s a Bar Up Above

Five more weeks of the offseason before we begin to see if Kyle Shanahan can emulate Jim Harbaugh by taking a 6-10 team and turning it into a 13-3 playoff team.

Some might say that’s not a fair contest, since Harbaugh’s team was loaded and this current team is not. There’s only one position on Shanahan’s team that is superior. And that position is kind of a big one — the QB. Harbaugh had Alex Smith and Shanahan has the unbeaten super star in the making Jimmy Garoppolo. Which team would you bet on?

And let’s face it, Shanahan has already bettered the records of Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. The next step up the mountain is Harbaugh. That’s where the bar of excellence resides.

There’s Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Harbaugh. The Mount Rushmore of 49er head coaches. Walsh had Seifert, Seifert had Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan, and Harbaugh had Vic Fangio. Kyle has Robert Saleh. Will these two someday join the elite three?

2018 is probably a more critical year for Saleh than Shanahan, who already has a successful NFL resume, albeit only as a coordinator. The defense needs to make significant improvement this year if Saleh wants to make his mark as a superior NFL coordinator and Shanahan wants to be considered a great HC as well as a great OC.

So the 2018 spotlight will be on Saleh’s defense and Garoppolo’s effort to join the elite ranks of NFL QBs. The fate of the franchise rides on the outcome.

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Posted in FOS Speculation

One Toke Over the Line

The OTAs and minicamp have concluded and the players have the next six weeks off. Most will go home and have backyard barbecues and some will pose for mug shots. The 49ers are holding their breath that Reuben Foster does not appear in the latter somes.

For the rookies, it’s a good time to form your official NFL entourage. These groups consist of losers the player grew up with who now feel entitled to share in the player’s new found fame and wealth. For the player, it shows he hasn’t abandoned his roots and also allows him to feel like a massive big shot.

These groups will invariably consist of some serious pot heads and drunks, a mix that makes nightclub hopping a dangerous threat to a player’s career.

Reuben got busted for smoking weed in Alabama, which is very seriously stupid. I smoked dope for 35+ years without ever once coming close to a bust. Of course, I never made the mistake of sitting in a car at 3:00am huffing away on a city street, either.

When I first lit up, the only dope around was Mexican weed that had stems and seeds in it. You had to sift out the seeds before you could use it. It came in baggies called “lids.” It was nothing like the super dope that’s around now. You had to buy hash back then to get the sort of high that today’s weed supplies.

The NFL remains one of the last bastions of anti-weedness. In my day, a weed bust was serious jail time. Now it’s more or less a misdemeanor or an excuse for a cop to hassle you. More and more states are making it legal. But not the NFL.

At any rate, for the nonce you NFL guys, do your toking at home and have a normal short career, rather than a drug testing nightmare career.

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Posted in Waltzing Matilda

Palace Intrigue

By all accounts, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are co-existing in pleasant harmony. So were Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke in 2011, their first year together. Then Baalke delivered Harbaugh a 2012 draft class that was worthless. End of harmony.

It’s highly unlikely that will happen to Lynch and Shanahan in their second year. Baalke used his first two picks in 2012 on a couple of small offensive guys who were supposed to be playmakers. They weren’t. And Baalke’s inability to draft players who could help the offense began its long, slow ride to infamy.

Lynch also used his second pick this year on a small offensive guy who is supposed to be a playmaker. We’ll see. But, he used his first pick on an offensive tackle — about as close as it comes to a sure, safe pick in the draft. There have been a few first round tackles who flopped, but it’s the rarity, rather than the routine.

All of which makes WR Dante Pettis the key member of the 2018 draft class. If he becomes a difference maker, Lynch and Shanahan can remain pals. If he doesn’t, there might be some stirrings of doubt seeping into the hunky-dory partnership.

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Posted in FOS Speculation

Roster Review

The 49ers defense ranked 24th last year. 22nd against the pass and 22nd against the run.

The offense was 12th in yards and 20th in points. 9th in passing yards, 21st in rushing yards.

It’s tough to draw too many conclusions about the offense since there were two of them last year. The one quarterbacked by Brian Hoyer/C.J. Beathard and the last six games QBed by Jimmy Garoppolo.

Still, it looks like the team moved the ball fairly well between the 20s and not so well into the end zone. Without a career year from kicker Robbie Gould, the point total would have been among the worst in the league.

The 49ers spent the offseason mostly addressing the offense. They picked up a new center in free agency, a new right tackle in the draft, and added two speedsters — RB Jerick McKinnon in FA and WR Dante Pettis in the draft. McKinnon is more dangerous than Carlos Hyde in the passing game, but it’s hard to see him improving that 21st ranked rushing attack.

The only help the defense has gotten so far is LB Fred Warner and DB Tarvarius Moore, both third round draft picks, and the aging and injured CB Dickhead Sherman via FA. Warner will only play if Reuben Foster can’t and if Moore is playing it will be because our curent DBs are sucking.

The Niners are obviously hoping that DE Arik Armstead will stay healthy in his fourth year and show why he was a number one pick in the 2015 draft. He hasn’t done anything in his first three years, so we’ll see.

The edge pass rushers, which were mediocre to awful last year, remain the same this year. The team did not bring in anybody in FA or the draft to improve this lot.

IOW, DC Robert Saleh will have pretty much the same 22nd ranked crew as he did last year. It was difficult to tell whether last year he achieved more with less, or less with more, or just achieved what any modestly skilled DC would have achieved. We’ll get a better idea of his worth during this coming season.

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Posted in Orgainized Team Activities
2018 Schedule
9-9: @ Vikings, 10:00 am Sun.
9-16: vs. Lions, 1:25 pm, Sun.
9-23: @ Chiefs, 10:00 am, Sun.
9-30: @ Chargers, 1:25 pm, Sun.
10-7: vs. Cardinals, 1:25 pm, Sun.
10-15: @ Packers, 5:15 pm, Mon.
10-21: vs. Rams, 5:20 pm, Sun.
10-28: @ Cardinals, 1:25 pm, Sun.
11-1: vs. Raiders, 5:20 pm, Thur.
11-12: vs. Giants, 5:15 pm, Mon.
11-25: @ Tampa, 10:00 am, Sun.
12-2: @ Seattle, 5:20 pm, Sun.
12-9: vs. Broncos, 1:25 pm, Sun.
12-16: vs. Seattle, 1:25 pm, Sun.
12-23: vs. Bears, 1:05 pm, Sun.
12-30: @ Rams, 1:25 pm, Sun.
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
2017 Prognostications
NJ49er: 6-10
Skeebers: 6-10
Bullit: 5-11
Mr Fletch: 5-11
RTFirefly: 5-11
Chuck: 9-7
Grumpy: 4-12
Rob: 9-7
Winder: 4-12