Just Around the Corner

The 49ers have certainly stocked up at the safety position lately, selecting one in three straight drafts. Any failure by that unit this coming season would only seem possible because of injuries. Probably more than one.

The cornerback situation is not nearly so secure. In fact, it is likely the least secure group on the team. And the most capable of seriously wounding its weekly attempts to score more points than the other team.

In the past six drafts, not so much as one cornerback has been drafted by the 49ers above the 5th round. Tarell Brown was the 5th round selection in 2007 and he has yet to elevate himself into a starting position. The team has drafted several CBs in the 6th and 7th rounds, and did so again this year. But none of these picks have done much more than play special teams. Our two starters are Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements, a 7th year vet and a 10th year guy.

This indifferent attitude toward CBs is puzzling. Most of the league places a premium on having good CBs. They zoom off the draft board in the first two rounds of the draft as fast as any position in football. Having a lock-down corner can instantly upgrade a defense, from bad to good, from good to great. We imported Clements in 2007 to lock down one side of the field, and though he has been a solid corner for the most part, the door to his side of the field has not been anywhere near impregnable.

If one were inclined to impart genius to the 49ers cornerback attitude, perhaps their approach is akin to Bobb McKittricks’ efforts with non-highly drafted Olinemen. Perhaps the 49ers believe good safeties are more important than excellent corners and that they prefer to make do with CBs who can play physical at the LOS to disrupt timing patterns and let the safeties make sure the scoreboard doesn’t go bonkers with home runs. These types of CBs also cost a lot less money and are more available than the Darelle Revis types.

After that comedic allusion to genius, we are inclined to resume scratching our heads (I’ve grown an extra one to deal with the awesome responsibilities of this daily column). The charge to the playoffs this year greatly depends on the defense being as good or better than last year. But should Clements or Spencer go down (as Clements did last year and Spencer has for most of his career), the defense will be badly maimed.

The 49ers defense gives up a lot of yards for a top tier squad. And most of that yardage comes through the air, not on the ground. Its saving grace last year was shut down play in the Red Zone, indicating our CBs were very effective with a short field and no deep responsibilities. So, maybe the focus on the safeties is understandable.The problem this site faces in examining secondary play is a basic one. Only the tail end of the action back there is shown on the TV screen. If I were sitting in the bleacher seats like fans who have actual tickets to the games, secondary play would be clearly visible, from point A to point B.

It would be great if I could rely on some of our bloggers who do go to games, but most of them seem to be either clueless or eternally focused on complaining about the price of tickets vs the worth of the product. It’s not a stretch to suspect that a great many of them are stone cold wasted by half-time, either. A blogger on the PD site last year, by the name of Houston9er, regaled the blog one day after the Texans game, which he had gone to see, with some intense analysis of the Oline play in the first half, but the poor idiot could not describe anything that happened in the 2nd half of the game, failing to notice even the fact that Smith had replaced Hill at QB.

Relying on the beat guys, who have excellent views of the game, to accurately assess secondary play is better than nothing, but then one has to decide whether these fellows are reliable witnesses. After all, their primary focus is on the laptop keyboard, not necessarily the game, as they carry on a Mad Hatter Tweet fest with the online fans, more concerned with identifying who made a tackle than how the tackler ended up being there to perform his grasping.

At any rate, we see once again, even with the CBs, the 49ers lust for physical players. It’s clear Mike Singletary views football as an intense battle for control of the LOS, on both offense and defense, rather than a match up of your derring-do versus ours. In one respect, this attitude allows the team great flexibility with the salary cap, since lunch pail guys cost less than super studs, and the roster can be stocked with lower rated players who have less talent but more muscle and smaller egos.

This philosophy has yet to be proven a winner in this day and age of gaudy offenses and preening stars, though Rex Ryan gave it a hellava go last year. Perhaps we’ll have more of an answer after this coming year.



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Posted in Vulcan Mind Probes
18 comments on “Just Around the Corner
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I believe we’ll have to address the CB and NT positions in next years off season more than any other positions.

  2. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Lord, Lynch doesn’t even seem to be following the team any more. He just wrote on the Insider that Josh Morgan will be pushing Crabtree for #1 WR. That is not only total rubbish, they don’t even play the same positions. He also has Ginn pushing Morgan, which is also complete balderdash. Ginn will be battling J. Hill for 3rd WR.

  3. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The good news is maybe we’ll use a third WR. One can only hope.

  4. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    I’m sure we will, but the question is how often? Only when it’s third and long? Or 4th and desperate?
     
    The thing that ultimately worries me is that WRs will not want to come here or stay here if we only use 2 at a time for most of each game.

  5. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    We used two at a time many times last year, unfortunately, most of the time it was a WR, TE wide and a TE tight. Call me crazy, but I think WRs are better than TEs at being WRs. I do not like the 12 personnel package unless it is the two TE tight formation for 3 and 1 situations, or the occasional different look. I absolutely hate it as a base. That is a main cog in the SCO.

  6. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    By my reckoning, there’s 5 Olinemen, plus Vernon, plus QB, plus Gore, plus Crab & Morgan. That’s 10 guys.
     
    So, basically, all we’re ever talking about is who the 11th guy is when it’s not 3rd and 1. If that guy is Norris, I’m ticked. If it’s Walker, I’m not real thrilled. I want that 11th guy to be a slot WR. As a base package. But Vernon can be viewed as almost a WR, and maybe that’s why Raye goes with the FB or extra TE. I still think an extra WR would be better overall, and for the running game, too.

  7. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The basic philosophy for defense is put one more in the box than there are blockers. I would rather 6 blocking 7 than 8 blocking 9. A blocker can win more often when one on one with less scheming combos. Not to mention the safeties playing looser with more WRs on the field. Let’s give Gore more opportunities to run in space, with at the same time more options for Smith down field. It is elementary.
     
    I feel this is what Walsh would run in today’s game because his main philosophy was to get the ball to playmakers in space. That is what the WCO was based on, not the pro-set. The pro-set isn’t the best option for this philosophy anymore. The reason he ran the pro-set as a base is it had great versatility. Defenses have overcome that in today’s game. Walsh was definitely smart enough to adapt, IMO.

  8. robNo Gravatar says:

    hey skeebs , as cool as chuck is , your blog is 100 times easier to find than his is ! maybe he should have listened to you when you told him how to be at the top of yahoo’s search ! if i yahoo niner outsider you’re the first one there !
    i had chuck in my fav’s but lost it and i couldn’t find it even no matter what ! (except matbe if i tried http://chucksninerland.blogspot.com/ but who can remember all that !!! )
    so thanks for the help !!!

  9. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    No problemo, Rob. Thanks for giving me a sneaky reason to slip a plug for my blog onto the Insider!

  10. robNo Gravatar says:

    hey skeebs i was kinda thinkin that too but to thank you for the link i’m going over there to plug your blog !

  11. thnkbgNo Gravatar says:

    This blogger is sharp… has he commented on Singletary’s caveman offense yet?

    He’s better than lynch.

  12. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    That was a hellava plug over on the Insider, Rob. Thanks. I thnk. Surprised it didn’t get deleted. Yet.

  13. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Thnkbg, on this site we refer to Raye’s offense as the Sardine Can Offense (SCO). Ask (Reno)Berger about it. He coined the phrase and is currently giving lectures throughout the Bay Area on this topic. You will find it covered in several previous posts. If I was Maiocco, I’d provide you with the links. But I’m quite a bit lazier than him and he gets paid to work hard. I don’t.

  14. thnkbgNo Gravatar says:

    Yea, I know about the SCO… But I affectionately call it the Tampon Style offense because he’s always “running up the middle”.

    Example: Singltary should have never inserted the tampon offense

  15. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Thnk, the problem with your concept is that it’s a low-brow kind of yuck-yuck humor that doesn’t really explain anything and would never catch on in the mainstream world because no one would ever associate themselves with such a school yard effort. Just my humble opinion.

  16. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    thkbg- The reason I call it the Sardine Can Offense is the formations are so tight they could fit into a sardine can. They try running up the middle, running off tackle, running wide, passing, all the above out of the shot gun, it is all out of tight formations and rarely works. It is the Sing/Raye SCO.

  17. thnkbgNo Gravatar says:

    Whats going on with this crazy Gravatar? every since I signed up, now my pages wont load correctly like ebay & others.

  18. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Pages don’t load correctly how? You mean your avatar isn’t right? The Gravatar is associated with email addresses and web sites, so you have to set them correctly on the Gravatar site.

2017 Schedule
Sept. 10: vs Carolina: L 3-23
Sept. 17: at Seattle: 9-12
Sept. 21: vs. L.A. Rams: L 39-41
Oct. 1: at Arizona: L 15-18
Oct. 8: at Indianapolis: L 23-26
Oct. 15: at Washington: L 24-26
Oct. 22: vs. Dallas: L 10-40
Oct. 29: at Philadelphia: L 10-33
Nov. 5: vs. Arizona: L 10-20
Nov. 12: vs. N.Y. Giants: W 31-21
Week 11 — Bye
Nov. 26: vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 3: at Chicago, 10 a.m.
Dec. 10: at Houston, 10 a.m.
Dec. 17: vs. Tennessee, 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 24: vs. Jacksonville, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 31: at L.A. Rams, 1:25 p.m.
 
2017 Draft Class
1. DE Solomon Thomas
1. ILB Reuben Foster
3. CB Ahkello Witherspoon
3. QB C.J. Beathard
4. RB Joe Williams
5. TE George Kittle
5. WR Trent Taylor
6. DT D.J. Jones
6. LB Pita Taumoepenu
7. CB Adrian Colbert
 
2017 Prognostications
Bullit: 5-11
Chuck: 9-7
Grumpy: 4-12
Mr Fletch: 5-11
NJ49er: 6-10
Rob: 9-7
RTFirefly: 5-11
Skeebers: 6-10
Winder: 4-12

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