The 49ers have been a bit lucky in recent days. Some might ask, “What are you talking about, Mr. Skeebaloney? We’ve had two guys flake out on us in the past week, wasting a 2008 1st round pick and a 2009 3rd round pick. We’ve also lost a valuable special teams player and backup linebacker for the season with a torn ACL. How in tarnation is that luck?”
Thank you for asking, Mr. Fake Reader. As we all know, injuries are a part of the deal. Every year, somebody hits the IR list in camp. Maybe it’s unusual for guys to hit the PR (Psychological Reject) list, but the very unusualness of this happening is even more testimony to our luck.
What is truly rare in the NFL is for a lost guy to be replaced by an upgraded guy. That is what has happened with the Niners.
Luck #1: Our head scratcher third round pick this year, NaVorro Bowman is suddenly a necessary pick to replace a less talented, but more game ready, Scott McKillop.
Luck #2: Our underwhelming 2008 #1 pick Kentwan Balmer goes on a sulk out and the team discovers that the 2009 7th round pick, Ricky Francois, has vaulted into the NT slot with stout and immediate vengeance, relieving the team from its patient four year plan for Johnny Come Slowly Balmer.
And Luck #3: the backup RB, Glen Coffee, gets flattened in camp by a marginal linebacker, notes through his earhole that our 6th round pick Anthony Dixon is laughing hysterically on the sidelines, and decides to play the Ministry card the very next morning to weasel out of town without admitting he is just wimping out. Two days later, getting all of Coffee’s carries in the first preseason game, Dixon racks up a hundred yards and does it with the sort of macho arrogance Coffee would never have had. And the very next day, Brian Westbrook and the Niners leap into each others arms, giving the team not one, but two RBs better than Coffee.
Westbrook especially is a significant improvement over Coffee — if he can stay healthy. Actually, each game he is healthy buys one more week for Dixon to learn blitz pickup and make himself game ready. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Raye uses Westbrook, since he is a far different type of runner than any of the other 49er RBs. For openers, I would expect him to have a set of ten or fifteen plays for special occasions. Unlike a DeShaun Foster type backup to Gore, who would hug the bench unless Gore was hurt, Westbrook is an actual weapon one would want to utilize each game.
Making the Westbrook signing even sweeter was plucking him out from under the nose hair of the Rams, who thought they were about to inhale his services. His enthusiasm in joining the 49ers, after stalling around all off season over which team he preferred to suit up for, was yet another indication of the regard the league has for both Mike Singletary and the 49er team.
Getting some league love, of course, won’t win you any games, but it will score you some points in the violent world of the blogosphere argument wars. Perhaps nothing signifies the return of the football season more than the intense and rapid fire reactions that erupted in the rooms of the internet during the 49ers first game and afterwards.
In that regard, this site has wondered during the off season about where Matt Maiocco’s old readership would settle once the games began — whether his readership would follow him to Comcast or stay on the Press Demo site and learn to live with ex-Raider beat writer, Phil Barber, whose style and intensity are markedly different than Maiocco’s serious, work-a-holic ways.
The results Sunday confirmed what we suspected. The PD site is a bloggers’ site, and it rapidly filled up with the regular crowd as the game progressed and afterwards. The Comcast site barely produced a commenter’s yawn. Maiocco might as well be Joe Fonzi now. He’s toast as a blog host. He still works hard to get the 49er news out, although Matt Barrows is starting to beat him to the punch, and people will still read his timely and informative posts. But they won’t log on and stay tuned all day, and posts that are fluff can be ignored.
Today, we can all hunker down and focus our beamers on “The Return Debut of Travis LaBoy”, our possible second string OLB FA candidate. Don’t laugh. This is serious. Like I said, football is back!!!!