Baalke’s Decade

With the departures of Patrick Willis, Ray McDonald, Michael Crabtree, and Frank Gore, the Mike Nolan/Scot McCloughan draft era is just about wrapped up. There are only two guys left: Joe Staley and Vernon Davis. And only one FA signing — Justin Smith.

Hard to believe, but GM Trent Baalke has been on the job now for five years. This will be his sixth draft. As you can see from the talent listed above, the 49ers’ previous success rested on the backs of the Nolan/McCloughan players. From here on out, it will be Baalke’s team, win or lose.

The fact that the Nolan/McCloughan core players defined this team for ten years gives you an idea of how much good or bad a GM can do for a franchise. Are Baalke’s draft picks and FA signings going to define the team for the next ten years? If so, what is that definition going to be?

If I’m Baalke, I’m thinking right now that my legacy is currently in the hands of Jim Tomsula, who is not an NFL caliber Head Coach. Tomsula is not going to bring out the best in my players, like Jim Harbaugh did for Nolan & McCloughan’s players. In fact, I’m not even going to let Tomsula coach the effing team. Here’s some pom-poms, Jimmy. I’ll coach the team myself.

That’s not a very smart move, but it’s the only move Jed York left him with when York insisted that Tomsula be either the DC (so long, Adam Gase) or, by default, the HC. I’m willing at this point to give Baalke the benefit of the doubt for not being so incredibly stupid that he actually thinks Tomsula is the man for the job. If I’m wrong about that, then there won’t be anything to cheer about in 49erland for a long, long time. Ten years might be the short end of a screw up that monumental.

At this point, the jury is still out on whether Baalke is even an above average GM. Let alone competent to coach the team. Signing Torrey Smith looks good on paper, but the other FA signings so far look like recycled junk. The upcoming draft is critical for Baalke, even more so now that the guys he drafts are the ones he’s going to coach. It will be interesting to see if he still spends picks on torn ACL guys who can’t play for a year.





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Spring Equiknocks

The 49ers hired a new head coach after the 2014 season, so they can begin their offseason workout program earlier than other more stable franchises. The first workout begins in two weeks, on April 6.

It’s entirely possible that we’ll see the long awaited debut of new HC Jim Tomsula at that point, presumably talking about his team, like it actually is his team. The guy in charge. Leader of manly men.

We should also see, or be told about, the new and improved Colin Kaepernick. Freshly returned from his Arizona seminar with Kurt Warner on the basics of QBing in the NFL. We’ll see how well his new found skills adhere midway through the third quarter of the first nail-biter game of the 2015 season.

We’ll also hear if Navorro Bowman looks like his old 2013 self, or a somewhat lesser version of that. If we hear that Justin Smith is in camp, it means he’s going to give it one more go instead heading home to Missouri.

GM Trent Baalke says the 49er offense will have a different philosophy next year. He did not explain what that philosophy would be or what philosophy we had previously that would now not be had. He’s on record saying the team will run the ball. That sounds suspiciously like the philosophy that’s been employed here since the days of Mike Singletary.

Jed York says we’re getting back to 49er core principles. He did not explain what those core principles were. Or what era they existed in. The West Coast Offense? The Smash Mouth running game era? Core principles from the Eddie Debartolo era or the Godawful York era.

Hmmmm. I think I’m smelling a Tomsula here. Could these two gents just be blowing smoke? Spewing the old bullshit? Giving us the unca_chuck a lot?

Are these two even on the same page now? Baalke seems to be throwing out some typical coach-speak b.s. and glad to escape back to his office. But York is actively seeking the spotlight, trying to repair the damage to his image by adopting the time honored strategy of digging a deeper hole. He’s gone from squealing that he had a signed piece of paper that proved the parting with Jim Harbuagh was mutual to saying Harbaugh was fired for being a bad coach. Somebody get this kid a pacifier. Quick!





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Rain Drops Keep Fallin’

It’s probably safe to say that all our draft picks this year will make the team. They might even BE the team, if the current rate of defections continues.

The 49ers finally had a good day on Wednesday. Nothing happened. Thursday, they will attempt to run that streak to two.

The previous sentence was a rehearsal for this year’s commentary. “The Niners are on a one game roll, folks. It’s been a year since they won two in a row. Can they pull it off this Sunday?”

Don’t imagine the league will schedule very many prime time games for our boys in 2015. Maybe one, to display the grisly spectacle of the fallen franchise. Hopefully not the away game in Seattle. That game might be too earth scorching even for hardened TV viewers.

The 49ers have been the favorite in almost every game played the past three years, but 2015 will be different. This year they will get to play the plucky underdog more often than not. Winning will go from an expectation to a surprise. Criticism will go from “we missed a play in the third quarter” to “we made three plays in the second half!”

In Jim Tomsula, we have the perfect coach for this transitional/permanent type of team. The likable goof ball who careens around on the sidelines patting butts and gushing about silver linings. If John Madden were still in the broadcast booth, he’d have the telestrator following Tomsula as he makes his rounds from position group to position group. There would even be a “Boom!” as he bowled over a clipboard guy who got in the way.

While the world rushes to pour accolades on Chris Borland for having the “courage” to renege on a contract he signed, the 49ers’ FO is probably tempted to sue him for fraud. He took their money while intentionally hiding the fact he had no intention of honoring his commitment. The Niners won’t do that, though, because a mob of howling hand wringers would descend on the building at a time when the last thing the Niners need is another PR disaster.

Borland should return three-quarters of his $500,000+ signing bonus, and the money-grubbing Jed York will no doubt ask him to. We’ll see at that point just how much courage Borland has to do the right thing.

Third round draft picks are a fairly precious asset in the NFL, but Borland had no qualms about the Niners wasting one on him. His only apparent goal was to put in one year, risking his precious brain’s security, so he could brag the rest of his life that he was good enough to play in the NFL.

Sorry, Chris, no medals for courage from this site.





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Coming Attractions

Posted on March 17, 2015Skeebers 48 Comments ↓

It’s been one week since the free agency period started, yet just about all the big names are already off the market. That wasn’t very exciting. It also means there won’t be much happening between now and the end of April. Unless the police blotter gets hot or some other type of scandal breaks out. Or another 49er abruptly retires, like Chris Borland did Monday night.

Michael Crabtree is one of the few brand names still out there looking for a job. Any team thinking about signing him, and San Diego is reportedly interested, will definitely be getting out the microscope to take a look at his oft injured feet before offering a contract.

Former 49er Ray McDonald is suing the woman who accused him of rape and cost him his job. Apparently, his home video system proves the cheating on his fiance was consensual — not with his fiance, of course, but the woman making the rape claim. The last time we heard of his fiance, she had pulled a gun on him in his bedroom, so McDonald is understandably lying low right now.

When the news came out that McDonald would not be charged, there was an ominous reference to another player present that day who might have done something illegal with the woman in question. We know Aldon Smith stopped by that day, but he apparently is not the mystery man referred to. Stay tuned, guys, somewhere out there is another NFL player, possibly a 49er, who could find himself unfavorably in the spotlight this offseason.

Trent Baalke has been yapping away about his strategic brilliance these days, quite a departure from his previous incarnation as the man who never spoke. Jim Harbaugh previously had the feed-the-press duty, so it seems Baalke doesn’t yet trust Jim Tomsula with this onerous chore. In fact, we haven’t heard much at all from the coaching staff since they were hired and quickly squirreled out of sight.

This looks like one of those movies where the crooks huddle up and frantically try to get their stories straight before being questioned by the police. Not that 49er fans are the police, per se, but they are an inquisitive and frequently judgmental crowd. And they can be LOUD.





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The Exodus

Posted on March 12, 2015Skeebers

The retirement of Patrick Willis on Monday was a big shock to 49er fans, but everything else this week has played out like expected. Anyone who could leave town, did. The team was unable to re-sign any of their free agents, except 2nd string QB Blaine Gabbert.

One of the lone bright spots this week was luring speed receiver Torrey Smith to re-join his Baltimore fellow WR, Anquan Boldin. Why Smith would exchange playing for one of the best deep ball QBs in the league, Joe Flacco, to play for an imploding team with one of the most erratic deep heavers, Colin Kaepernick, is a mystery explained only by mucho dollar signs.

Boldin claimed credit for helping recruit Smith, showing that the old veteran is no dummy. With Smith around to draw double coverage, Boldin will be singled covered all year.

Thank goodness we have an outstanding coaching staff to row the boat through these troubled waters. A QB coach who was out of the league for three years, an OC who last ran an offense fifteen years ago, a DC who last ran a defense ten years ago, an HC who’s never been anything more than a D-line coach, and a D-line coach replacement who was a scout last year. Are you guys feeling the tingle of excitement here?

Despite the mass exodus of players and coaches, the Niners still have a team good enough to beat somebody in the NFL. Seriously. All they need is a RB, LG, RDE, LDE, an ILB, a CB or two, and some leadership. An accurate passer might help, too, but let’s not be greedy. It’s definitely not going to be the roster we’ve all gotten familiar with over the past five years. More like the new coaching staff — a patchwork quilt. The coaches have to learn to work together, and so do the players.

Still, not to sound heretical, but this might be a good year to cultivate a secondary NFL rooting interest, just in case the 49ers fall out of contention by, oh say, October. Frank Gore and the Colts is a solid choice — and an SB contender, no less. Who wouldn’t like to see Gore get a ring?





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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
 
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