Howdy Doodle Time

Last year at this time, the Rams were favored to win the NFC West, and they did precisely that.

The 49ers were favored to provide a spirited chase, which might possibly land them a playoff berth. They did precisely not that.

The Seahawks seemed to be a team ready to slide downward in the division. Instead, they were the team that provided a spirited chase and landed a playoff berth.

The Cardinals were picked to finish last and they dutifully complied, despite sweeping the Niners.

This year looks about the same as last year, although fewer people are bullish about the 49ers and fewer people are skeptical about the resiliency of the Seahawks.

It’s hard not to admit that Seattle is doing a far better job of rebuilding on the fly than the Niners have. Seattle hasn’t missed a beat; the 49ers have gone through three coaching staffs and haven’t sniffed .500 in four years of trying.

Still, the 49ers did manage to finally beat the Seahawks last year, ending a double digit loss streak spanning five years. A hopeful glimpse ahead or just a fluke? We shall see.

To tell you the truth, though, this team is kind of boring. There’s no troublemakers, alcoholics, PED offenders, or even anyone who could be accused of having a personality. Joe Staley excepted. That’s all fine if you’re talking about the kind of folks you prefer in your neighborhood, but when guys are supposed to be Persons Of Interest, they kind of have to be interesting.

Maybe someone will emerge this year. Or they could start winning some games and be interesting as a whole, as contenders.

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Posted in Mindless Drivel

ACLs R Us

The 49ers will be holding their month long offseason practices in a week or so.

Matt Maiocco will provide spotty coverage that portrays everything in a positive light. Grant Cohn will provide the same coverage, portraying everything in a negative light.

In between these two bits of manufactured horseshit lies the truth: none of it matters a hill of beans. It’s just practice. And poor bastard sports writers grinding out a paycheck.

A player could get injured, of course. That would matter. And injuries have become a constant in the Niner corner of the NFL.

I don’t want to jinx anybody, but the top FA signing in each of the past two years has never made it to the regular season. Malcolm Smith, then Jerick McKinnon. This year’s top FA was Kwon Alexander, but he tore his ACL last year and might be immune to the curse. Dee Ford was the top offseason acquisition, but he came in a trade. Still, if I was him, I’d keep up with my prayer cycle heading into Training Camp.

Still, the year seems to come down to Jimmy  Garoppolo. Who are we going to see? The guy injured after three starts in New England and after three starts last year? Or the guy who rang up five straight wins to close out the 2017 season?

Garoppolo and Nick Mullens have almost identical stats after eight games, except in one critical category. Mullens record is 3-5 and Garoppolo’s is 6-2.

It shouldn’t take long to find out what we have. The team starts with two trips to the Eastern Time Zone, where the Niners have not won a game in many a moon. Those trips are then followed by a home game against the Steelers. We could win all three or lose all three.

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Posted in FOS Speculation

Urgent Expectations

We’re halfway through the offseason but still three months to go before Training Camp opens and year five of the post-Harbaugh era begins.

The past four years have not been kind to the 49ers, but they haven’t been great for Harbaugh, either. He made Michigan an instant contender, but has not been able to beat Ohio State. It’s a critical year for both him and the Niners.

“Urgency” has been deemed the operative word by GM John Lynch to describe the upcoming season. “This is a production-based business and we have to start winning games.”

No shit, Sherlock.

A six win season, followed by a four win season might make one think an eight win season this year would be a good sign. It worked for Mike Singletary. We all thought that 8-8 2009 season, the first non-losing season in seven years, was a sign the team was turning the corner. Next year it was 6-10 and bye-bye Mike.

In light of the roaring optimism that accompanied the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, an eight win season in his third year would not be considered anything but a disappointment. I’d say we need at least ten wins in 2019. Time to escape the single digit wins territory where the NFL losers reside.

Still, no matter what the Niners’ record is this year, neither Lynch nor Shanahan will be fired. They could definitely enter the dreaded sweaty pressers zone, though. Watching Singletary’s arrogance dissolve into a puddle of befuddlement was a gruesome spectacle. The post game pressers were more entertaining than the game on the field.

But if injuries again derail this season, we’ll see those types of pressers and they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves. They’ve invested in a lot of players who are either rehabbing major injuries or have a history of getting hurt.

If it’s better to be lucky than good, you could say the 49ers have had neither so far. Maybe this year, they’ll get at least one of them.

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Posted in FOS Speculation

Rim Shot

So much foreplay, so little roar.

As expected, the 49ers used the second pick in the 2019 Draft to select pass rusher Nick Bosa. On Day Two, they picked a small, quick WR (Deebo Samuel) and a big, tall WR (Jalen Hurd). The third day was all special teams, inactives, and practice squadders.

Ho-hum comes to mind.

The team now has a glut of D-linemen, WRs, and RBs. The LBs are passable, with decent depth. But the O-line is still weak and the secondary was historically awful last year. Neither group received any help in the draft.

Apparently, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan think that Bosa and offseason acquisition Dee Ford will enhance the pass rush so much that the secondary will be vastly improved this year as a result. They couldn’t be any worse, certainly, but it’s a stretch to think they’ll improve much beyond mediocre.

All in all, this is not a draft that will push the team into the SB conversation, nor is it a draft that will talked about reverently in the future. But it might be good enough to get the Niners into the playoff hunt, if Bosa and Ford live up to their hype and one of the WRs actually makes an impact.

Of course, the return of Jimmy Garoppolo might help, too.

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Posted in Draft Reaction

2019 NFL Draft

It’s finally time for the 2019 NFL Draft. Three more days and John Lynch will be on the clock with the number two pick.

Lynch had the number two pick two years ago and whiffed it. Solomon Thomas has been no better than Ronald Blair, a fifth round choice from Trent Baalke’s last draft in 2016.

If it takes three years to properly judge a draft pick’s NFL worth, maybe it takes that long to evaluate a GM, too. This will be Lynch’s third draft.

Baalke would probably not have picked Thomas or Nick Bosa from this year’s class. Both of them have short arms and Baalke was a firm believer in long arms at the pass rush position. Aldon Smith comes to mind.

Not that Baalke’s draft acumen is anything much to hang your hat on. He never could pick a decent skill position player, and Lynch grabbed one in his first draft in the fifth round – George KittleTrent Taylor and Dante Pettis might be keepers, also.

Of course, we don’t know to what extent these picks were influenced by HC Kyle Shanahan. My guess is that he’ll take credit for the good picks and blame Lynch for the bad ones.

In fact, Lynch’s primary role with the 49ers might not be as the bona fide GM, but as a figurehead – a guy with league-wide cachet whose very presence helps restore credibility to the front office after Baalke and Jed York recklessly pissed it away. The real GMing might be happening with Lynch’s subordinates, Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew.

I’ll have to run this theory through the Chuck-o-meter to test its validity (the more spit flying from Chuck, the more likely the theory is accurate).

At any rate, the Draft is fun and provides fodder for any and all grist mills.  Bring it on!

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Posted in Draft Board
2019 Schedule
9-8: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:25pm
9-15: @ Cincinnati Bengals, 10am
9-22: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:25pm
9-29: BYE

10-7: vs. Cleveland Browns, 5:15pm
10-13: @ Los Angeles Rams, 1:05pm
10-20: @ Washington, 10am
10-27: vs. Carolina Panthers, 1:05pm
10-31: @ Arizona Cardinals, 5:20pm

11-11: vs. Seattle Seahawks, 5:15pm
11-17: vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:05pm
11-24: vs. Green Bay Packers, 1:25pm

12-1: @ Baltimore Ravens, 10am
12-8: @ New Orleans Saints, 10am
12-15: vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:25pm
12-21 or 12-22: vs. Los Angeles Rams
12-29: @ Seattle Seahawks, 1:25pm

2019 Draft Class
1. DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
2. WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
3. WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor
4. P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
5. LB Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
6. TE Kaden Smith, Stanford
6. OT Justin Skule, Vanderbilt
6. DB Tim Harris, Virginia
 
2018 Prognostications
Closest to the Pin:
  Mr Fletch: 7-9

Bakkentom: 8-8
Grumpy: 8-8
Winder: 8-8
Bullit: 9-7
NJ49er: 9-7
Skeebers: 10-6
Spitblood: 0-16
Rob!!!: 16-0

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