Your faithful scribe has been offline for a couple of weeks. In my absence, the 49ers have apparently been flying under the radar also, content to remain inconspicuous while the Warriors, Sharks, and Giants capture the attention of the Bay Area.
The beat writers have been trying to get us interested in who will play ILB alongside NaVorro Bowman, among other inconsequential efforts to arouse our appetites. Poor bastards have to make a living, I suppose. Covering a team that has little appeal and little chance to succeed.
Jimmie Ward has been moved from slot CB to full time outside CB across from Tramaine Brock. Which begs the question, why did Trent Baalke spend six picks in the past two drafts trying to find somebody to fill precisely that role? Maybe this is the first indication of Chip Kelly giving the finger to Baalke’s GMing skills?
As noted by our readers, the Vegas boys don’t think much of the Niners this coming season, installing them as underdogs in all sixteen games. The Browns share that dubious distinction as well, further driving home the point of awfulness served up by Baalke and Jed York since dismissing Scot McCloughan and Jim Harbaugh.
The Browns and the Niners both have new HCs with a certain repute as offensive wunderkinds (Hue Jackson and Kelly), so you would think Vegas would be somewhat impressed and look for each team to improve on last year’s records (3-13 and 5-11). The Browns have a proven track record of swallowing up any and all talent that wanders their way, so Vegas skepticism is probably warranted.
But the Niners? How can a team win five games under Jim Tomsula and less than that under Kelly?
Mostly, Baalke has done nothing to improve the team this year. He replaced Alex Boone with an aging and fading Zane Beadles and let leading receiver Anquan Boldin walk away. Right tackle is still a black hole. Right guard will have last year’s returning mediocrities or rookie Joshua Garnett, who can’t pass block. Top pick Deforest Buckner might be good, or even great, someday. But he’s not likely to be an impact player this year.
The best we can hope for out of Kelly is a more competitive team, even with lesser players. Last year, the Niners were soundly trashed in nine out of sixteen games. Losing respectably isn’t much to get excited about, but we’re in Browns territory now, and these are the terms of endearment.