All the World’s a Stage

The first exhibition game is in the books. Ready to be moved to the basement. Next to the boiler. Ready for the winter fires.

Just kidding. Nobody has books anymore, or boilers, for that matter. Except in movies where mob guys incinerate the remains of their enemies.

Mob guys don’t have much accidental charm anymore, either. Today we have cartels. Faceless thugs dealing drugs. They might as well be government agents. For all we know, maybe they are. They don’t make people disappear or wear cement shoes on the ocean floor. No, these bums cut off your head and roll it down the street to thump their chests.

Drawing attention to yourself is very popular in football, too. Guy gains three yards off tackle, down 30 in the fourth quarter, and immediately hot dogs around like a baboon, hoping to draw the eye of the camera. I’m not sure when acting like a fool on TV became so popular. They even have shows that insult your existence before you even come on stage. “Who’s the Ugliest?” “Who’s the Dumbest?” And people line up to willingly compete.

The choreographed TD celebrations are the worst. It’s amazing that so many guys can actually spend time rehearsing something that is so staggeringly lame. It’s like they want the world to nod and go, “Yeah, they’re right. Football players are realllllllllllly stupid.”

The 49ers had six guys get injured in the first game. Supposedly, they’ll be ready to return by the first regular season game. That’s good news since it’s six guys we don’t have to worry about them getting injured during the rest of training camp and preseason.

But, hey, we don’t watch them for their brains. The past three years, we haven’t watched them for their football talents, either. Nothing will change about that until the season starts and the wins come along or not.

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And Away We Go

So, Thursday night, 49ers against the Cowboys. Two franchises in search of their former glory.

Best guess is that neither team will be reaching the Super Bowl this year, but one or both might make the playoffs. Or neither.

The starters probably won’t play very long, but we should finally get a look at the Niners’ top four draft picks, Mike McGlinchey, Dante Pettis, Fred Warner, and Tarvarius Moore. We’ll also see what our new FA RB Jerick McKinnon. We won’t see our other big name FA, Dickhead Sherman, who pulled his hamstring last week.

The defense will be mostly unchanged from last year and won’t strike fear into many opponents. Warner has looked good in camp, but he won’t be a starter. Arik Armstead is injured again and Solomon Thomas is still not a pass rush threat. Deforest Buckner is the only stud on the D-line, but he can’t do it all by himself.

We should, however, at last see the return of a dynamic and scary offense this year. Not in the game against Dallas, of course, which will feature CJ Beathard at QB for most of the game. Come September, though, this is a team that will be tough on opposing defensive coordinators.

That’s assuming the offseason book written by these DCs on Jimmy Garoppolo is a dinky little thing that wouldn’t scare a flea. Dallas QB Dak Prescott had a far less impressive second season than he did in his rookie year, and that’s a common tale for young QBs in this league. You can bet Rams’ DC Wade Phillips has pored over Jimmy’s tape from last year and has a book that will be much larger and more sophisticated than the tomes written by other DCs.

But that story won’t be told until September. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with re-training our butts for three hour vegetation sessions of exquisite anxiety, exhilaration, pain, anger, and all the other emotions that go into the noble art of the professional couch potato.

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Almost There

49er Training Camp is a week old and the good news is there have been no serious injuries … yet. There’s the annual Arik Armstead “issue” – this year it’s his hamstring, last year his hand, the year before that his shoulder – but after missing all of TC and the preseason, he should be good to go in September. Maybe.

Right guard is still up in the air at the moment. That position always seems problematic to the Niners. Since the days of Randy Cross and Jesse Sapolu, I can’t think of anybody who has held down that spot for longer than a couple of years. Maybe Alex Boone, who held the position from 2012 through 2015. No one else comes to mind. Boone is currently out of football, after spending the past few years in Minnesota  and Arizona running his mouth hither and yon like a broken field runner reversing directions willy nilly.

Ten years on the blogosphere have diluted the interest in these early practices. Mike Singletary’s nutcracker drills were the last time TC events drew much attention or interest. Veterans play at half speed while rookies and marginals play like their NFL lives depended on every snap. As a result, a lot of guys look good in camp and not so good when the games start counting and the intensity level zooms forth in frothing abundance.

Preseason games aren’t much better, but at least it’s a simulation of real football, the fix we’ve all waited more or less patiently for six months to inject into our veins. Barely more than a week until kickoff.

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The Gauntlet

Welcome back 2018 49ers. Much will be expected of you this coming season. The past three years, nothing was expected and that is precisely what you delivered, finishing dead last in the NFC West all three years.

At minimum, the team will be expected to climb out of the bottom third of the league and into the middle third, those teams with 7 to 9 wins. They’ll also be expected to escape the NFC West cellar. Anything short of these expectations and the year will have to be considered a failure. Sorry, but we gotta have some ground rules.

Meeting the minimum would be nice, in a meh sort of way. But hardly anything to brag about. For that, the team would need to step up to the next level and a ten or more win season. Ten will almost always get you into the Wildcard round of the playoffs, with the Divisional round reserved for the 11+ teams.

For the past sixteen years, the NFC West has been owned by the Cardinals and Seahawks, except for the first two years of the Harbaugh Era and last year’s Rams team. That’s a long period of irrelevancy, coinciding roughly with the York’s ownership takeover. The Cardinals have beaten our boys six straight and the Seahawks nine straight.

Obviously, the 49ers will need to find a way to beat these two teams if they hope to crawl up the ladder of success. And the Rams are a bit formidable this year, too. Getting past that meh level could be quite a challenge.

Let’s face it, Niner fans have been abused and insulted by the Yorks since the day these carpetbaggers dorked into town. Counting their paperclips and installing their moron son as the CEO, like the franchise was some toy he could play with while he learned about the real world of money, money, money.

The only reason we have decent coaches now and a chance at some superior football again is because little Jed screwed things up so bad that the upcoming PSL and season ticket renewals were not going to happen and the stadium would continue to be sparsely populated. So, he had to get on his knees, open his wallet, and beg Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to take over his mess and restore it to credibility in the league.

So good luck, 2018 49ers! Bring the franchise back to glory in spite of the goofballs in the owners’ box.

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Caveat Emptor

Last call for NFL knuckleheads to crash their careers and wind up in the mug shot room. This time next week, they’ll all be back in the loving arms of coaches and baby sitters, safe from themselves.

If the NFLPA had any brains, it would negotiate a player contract stipulation that would require half of any player’s salary to be placed in a trust that the player couldn’t touch until his 30th birthday. The Second Chance fund. This wouldn’t deter terminal idiots from their self-imposed journey to Chucksville, but at least they would be able to brag in their later years that they had blown TWO fortunes instead of just one.

It’s been four years since the 49ers began the season with 22 starters and ended the year with the same 22, even if a few were on IR by season’s end. Santa Clara has been a turnstile joint since the day it opened.

We can thank Jed York and Trent Baalke for that. They created an atmosphere that nobody wanted to breathe. Players went anywhere but here. That took a turn for the better last year when York tossed a wad of money at Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. Two guys with lots of league credibility.

York had to promise the new team that the leaks and meddling would end, and they did … last year. The fact that the leaks stopped on cue was pretty much proof that York was the leaker all along.

Which underlines the fragility of the entire 49ers’ operation. Can York continue to put a lid on himself, year after year? This coming season and the seasons to come are as much about that as they are about the team. York is like a serial criminal with two strikes on him. One more ego-driven meddling spree will be strike three and bring the franchise to a crashing halt for many, many years.

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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