Hit The Road, Jack

With one week left before the start of Free Agency, the 49ers have yet to re-sign any of their soon to be unrestricted players. All of these fellows are more likely to get better offers from other teams than what the Niners are willing to pony up.

The Niners haven’t been big players in FA since signing Nate Clements in 2007, making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history with an eight-year, $80 million deal. And the following year, signing Justin Smith to a $45 million deal. Since then, the team has mainly shopped in the second tier bargain bin.

Those were pretty crappy teams back then, though, and the Niners had to pay big to get any decent players to come here. And they were not up against the cap limit, like they are now, with less than $2 million of space. Releasing Ahmad Brooks and his $7+ million salary should free up enough room for now. So long, Ahmad.

Big name veterans around the league are already getting dumped for salary cap purposes — Reggie Bush, Ricky Jean Francois, Jacoby Jones, AJ Hawk, DeAngelo Williams, Mathias Kiwanuka — and there will be more as the week plays out.

Unlike previous years, this one could be more interesting for the players who leave the team than the ones who join up. Besides Brooks, Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree are leaving. As most likely are Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox. That’s five starters from last year. Frank Gore might also leave, making it six, and Justin could retire and run the total to seven starters waving bye-bye.

But not to worry, sports fans, we have Jim Tomsula to remake the roster during his inaugural year of practicing the fine art of being an NFL Head Coach. In just a little over a month, Tomsula has already made the great leap from bumbler to partially competent in the difficult area of holding a fifteen minutes press conference.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in FOS Speculation

Baalkan Island

For the next two months, it will be GM Trent Baalke‘s turn to show us what he can do. Free agency begins in two weeks, followed by the draft in late April.

Everyone seems to be clamoring for a fast wide receiver and a better offense. And no wonder. There are five all pro players on the defense. Baalke has drafted two of them, and brought in another last year in FA, and also come up with several serviceable players. There are only four all pros on offense, but only one was drafted by Baalke — LG Mike Iupati, who is probably leaving in FA this year. Frank Gore, Joe Staley, and Vernon Davis were all brought in by Mike Nolan. Which means these guys are all getting long in the tooth.

In five years, other than QB Colin Kaepernick, whose worth is still producing a hung jury, Baalke has not drafted even one skill position impact player. Zero. No help for the offense in five years.

We’ve seen five RBs drafted, but Gore is still carrying the loaf. No one has even come close to taking his job. Two TEs, but it’s still Vernon and a cast of nobodies. Four WRs, and none of them have sniffed even a significant secondary role.

Baalke mostly looked to FA for WR help. He got one so-so year out of Randy Moss, one so-so year from the oft-injured Mario Manningham, and marginal contributions from Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd. His only resounding success was Anquan Boldin, the 49ers’ best WR the past two years.

With the possible exception of the half-hearted Moss, none of the above WRs had the kind of top end speed that could scare an NFL safety. They were all possession type WRs, which fits former QB Alex Smith‘s game more than it does Kaepernick’s deep ball skills.

None of this is news to the observant fan, but it does underscore the weaknesses in Baalke’s resume. He’s done well drafting for the defense. Not so well for the offense. With the whole world now watching his performance more so than ever, given the recent upheaval that’s left him totally in charge of the team, he’d better deliver some pop to the offense this year, specifically to help his struggling QB, if the Niners want to have any chance to improve this coming year.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in FOS Speculation

Combine Combo

The NFL Combine is underway in Indianapolis. In other news, …

Head coaches from all 32 teams will be in attendance, and 31 of them will be urging each other to trample the 49ers this year. After all, if the podunk staff scraped together by Jed York and Trent Baalke has any measure of success this coming year, the value of NFL coaches will plummet, along with their salaries. Not to mention how embarrassing it would be to get chumped by a bunch of chumps.

GM Trent Baalke was dragged to took the podium Wednesday morning for about 15 minutes. He may or may not be much of GM, but he certainly has mastered the art of “my lips are moving, but I’m not saying anything.” Thursday, HC Jim Tomsula will speak/mumble/sweat/ at the podium, eyes darting around furiously like a cornered thief.

The HC as a joke-of-the-day. What a novel concept. Perhaps we’ll get a laugh track piped into his pressers this year. If you see him constantly looking at the floor before answering questions, it will be because Baalke is hidden behind the dais with cue cards.

The Harbaugh haters are mostly mum about the new coaches, preferring to continue their fanciful attempts to minimize him while resetting the bar of expectations for the new guy. 8-8 last year with a crippled roster was a disaster, but 8-8 this year with a healthy one will be a success. The comedy motif is already gaining a toe hold. York obviously thinks the fan base IQ lies somewhere between a rock and a tree stump, and maybe he’s right.

Baalke was asked whether Frank Gore would be back next year, and his non-answer was filled with praise for Gore and talk about hurdles to overcome to reach an agreement. I doubt if money is Gore’s main concern. He wants to play and not be a marginalized contributor while the team figures out if Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter, and whoever Baalke drafts this year can replace him.

I can’t see why Gore would return. He’d be better off in a place like Indianapolis, competing for a championship and getting lots of carries, than coming back to this mess and finishing his career as a part-time player on a mediocre team.

Baalke noted how nice it was of Kurt Warner to be tutoring Colin Kaepernick this offseason, learning QB stuff like footwork, arm positions, touch passes, etc — all to improve his accuracy and command of the pocket. Then Colin will return to the Bay Area and later on meet up with his new QB coach, Steve Logan, who will tell Colin he values mobility over accuracy. GONG!

Time to wrap this up for now and go lay in a supply of popcorn for this morning’s Jim Tomsula presser. Should be fun!

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in FOS Speculation

The Tangled Web

Posted on February 16, 2015Skeebers 107 Comments ↓

We’re half way through the dead zone called February. You know it’s a nothing time when the dread word “basketball” creeps into conversations. Thank god we have Jed York to kick around for a few more weeks, until the start of free agency.

Actually, I’d expect York to go into hiding to avoid having to split hairs about the meaning of “mutual parting.” The 49ers are sounding more like a bad Bill Clinton knock off than a football operation.

Or maybe York is thinking about suing Jim Harbaugh for not adhering to the end-of-season charade which featured his signature on a statement describing his firing as a “mutual parting.” Of course, this mutuality occurred two weeks after Harbaugh had in fact been fired. And it’s uncertain whether the document has any legal significance, although York surely hoped a few gullible sections of humanity would actually swallow this nonsense as a backslapping adios among old chums.

But Harbaugh blew the whistle on the baloney in an interview with Tim Kawakami last week, and also left the strong impression that Jim Tomsula’s role in events was anything but noble and above board.

The effort by 49er HQ to force Tomsula upward on the coaching chain can’t help but look a bit fishy at this point. Former Broncos’ OC Adam Gase was apparently offered the HC job here, and Tomsula wasn’t one of his staff choices. But when Baalke returned home and presumably talked to York, suddenly Tomsula had to be Gase’s DC. That was a deal breaker for Gase.

Pushing Tomsula into either the DC or HC role automatically sent most of the successful defensive coaches out the door, so what exactly was so valuable about Jimmy T. that made gutting the whole coaching staff acceptable collateral damage? He’s been a D-line coach for seven years. Nobody was knocking on his door for anything. What suddenly made his star so transcendent?

This is where the long standing rumors that Tomsula was a locker room mole for HQ begin to make a little sense. Was Tomsula promised a promotion for ratting on Harbaugh and the team. Did he rat on Mike Singletary, too? Did he actively campaign to get Harbaugh’s job while supposedly working for Harbaugh?

Or maybe it’s just a simple matter of Tomsula being the only NFL guy so lacking in personal integrity that he’s willing to grovel at the feet of Trent Baalke, if that’s what it takes to run home and yell, “Hey baby! I’m the Head Coach of the 49ers!”

When the cancer is in the locker room, it can be cut out. But when it’s sitting at the top of the food chain, we’re all just SOL. And when the guy you wouldn’t mind seeing get run over by a bus is not on a hated rival’s team, but is running your own team, a long cold winter is coming to our world.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Delusional Therapy

Perception Vs Reality

Posted on February 12, 2015Skeebers

The 49ers have finally introduced their new coaching staff. Most of them can now disappear into the fine print of the team’s hierarchy, until such time as we need to haul them out to blame them for one thing or another. Good luck, guys. Keep your resumes current. This could be a very temporary assignment.

The ones who remain visible are HC Jim Tomsula, OC Geep Chryst, and DC Eric Mangini. It would be nice if we could hide these guys in the fine print, too, but alas, not so.

Legend has it that the 1989 49ers wanted to prove they were winners even without HC Bill Walsh, and they embarked on an Eff You year for the ages, roaring through the regular season and slaughtering everyone in sight in the playoffs. Next year’s 49er team will need to channel that team, in spirit if not in talent, because they won’t get much help from this coaching staff.

Of course, that 1989 team had a few advantages on this year’s squad. For one, HC George Seifert was a very good DC before taking the reins. He had been running one side of the team for as long as Walsh ran the other side.

For another, that team had a QB who knew what he was doing out there, two WRs who were outstanding, along with a great pass catching TE, powerful RB/FB tandem, a good pass blocking O-line, and an OC named Mike Holmgren.

The current team can’t match that team in any category. Except perhaps heart, and that’s pretty doubtful, too. We’ll see.

One guy who’s looking forward to next year is Anquan Boldin. With Michael Crabtree gone, Boldin will, after twelve years in the league, at long last be the primary WR on his team. With a one-read QB, that means a lot of balls coming Anquan’s way. Even if he’s triple-covered.

Steve Young says the Niners have a Super Bowl quality roster, but the jury’s out on the new coaches getting them there. Not exactly a startling observation, since everyone in the league shares it. Even the Vegas bookies still have the team listed as a semi-viable SB contender.

But how much of the SB quality roster perception is due to Jim Harbaugh and his coaches, versus actual player excellence. IOW, is this team closer to the 6-10 team Harbaugh inherited than it is to the 68% winning machine it became under Harbaugh? The players often bragged about how good they were, even as they failed to prove it on the field.

So which team will we see this year? The pre-Harbaugh 6-10 underachiever model? Or a healthy team that methodically resumes its winning ways?

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in FOS Speculation
Recent Posts
2014 Schedule
1. 9/7 @ DAL: W 28-17
2. 9-14 vs CHI: L 20-28
3. 9/21 @ ARI: L 14-23
4. 9-28 vs PHI: W 26-21
5. 10/5 vs KC: W 22-17
6. 10/13 @ STL: W 31-17
7. 10/19 @ DEN: L 17-42
8. BYE
9. 11/2 vs STL: L 10-13
10. 11/9 @ NO: W 27-24
11. 11/16 @ NYG: W 16-10
12. 11/23 vs WAS: W 17-13
13. 11/27 vs SEA: L 3-19
14. 12/7 @ OAK: L 13-24
15. 12/14 @ SEA: L 7-17
16. 12/20 vs SD: L 35-38
17. 12/28 vs ARI: W 20-17
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