3 Days to Ecstasy, uh, Camp

Hats off to Supertramp for that.

Rookies report to 4949 Centennial Blvd today! Huzzah!! There was much rejoicing!!! Or, then again, there wasn’t. The prevailing sentiment is the Niners are circling the shitter ready to take the downward spiral to the cesspool, but who am I to listen to prevailing sentiment? I mean really. If it was outrageous to think they were going to suck this year, I’d still think they were going to do well.

Other than that, these last couple preseasons have been just a clusterfuck of innuendo and animosity. The sooner this starts the better. Lots of talk of the potential of Arik Armstead. A guy getting a lot of talk however is Eli Harold, a guy who some saw as a first rounder. Safety Jaquiski Tartt also sounds like a player, but everyone is an all-pro when training camp starts.  There will be booms, busts, and surprises.

Baalke has just completed his 5th draft. He didn’t draft for obvious need this draft, as WR, ILB, and CB were the prevailing thoughts going into the draft. Instead Baalke went DL, S, and ILB. 6 of the next 7 were offensive players (with a punter thrown in), but the thought is the lower you go, the longer the shot. We have a ton of UDFA WRs as well, along with a QB. Lots of bodies, but we are at the point where Baalke needs to start hitting on some offensive players. The team has a lot of talent, but as we’ve seen, Gore has gotten old and left, and Willis and J Smith retired among the other changes. The talent and experience level from just a couple years ago has decreased, but the team has gotten younger and faster.

The good news is the D line has a lot of decent players, the RB corps looks strong, and the WR group looks better by gaining Torrey Smith and losing Crabtree. We stood pat at QB, as the thought is Kappy has another year of experience to build on, but I was surprised  we didn’t draft a backup along with Gaine Blabbert. Worrisome to me is the O line and CB. We hear a lot of encouraging things out of camp re Brandon Thomas and such, but the proof willl be in the pudding on that fateful Monday night, September 14. Talk is just that.

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Five Days and Counting

Well, the wait is (almost) finally over. the new-look streamlined 49ers open camp on August 1st at 7:00 pm pacific time. In these days of truncated preseasons and quick turnaround times, we have out first exhibition game on August 15th in Houston. The home preseason opener is Aug 23rd vs those lovely Cowgirls.

Two weeks of practice and instant season. Is it enough time to assimilate everything? Gosh, Wally! Who knows? There’s been enough blogticulation to fill 666 King James bibles, so I’ll leave that part of the story out, other than to say there appears to be little middle ground on what the future portends. I will say that Harbaugh managed to pull it off back in 2011 with an even smaller window. No reason to think these guys can’t get shit rolling quickly. Unless you subscribe to the myth that St. Jim is otherworldly.

As far as the season goes, you have the chicken-littles and you have the guardedly optimistic. No one is predicting a Super Bowl berth with the amount of talent that left, but many (including me) expect a playoff run. The team still has a lot of talent, and they have an experienced coaching staff. Defensively anyway. Then you have the crowd that seems to caper around gleefully predicting the long and hard fall to abject shittiness and decrepitude. No middle ground, no thinking that there may be a bump in the road. It is a decade of downtime. Jed screws the team into the ground for 10 years for some sort of ego bath. Got it. It had nothing to do with the fact that the former head coach was a major league asshole who alienated everyone in the building and took a strong team to be the bridesmaid, but not the bride. A team that went 8-8. Despite St Jim and all those guys that left.

I get thinking the team could possibly have a rough patch, but to devote so much time and energy to spreading the bile endlessly over months and months and ridiculing every move the team makes and inventing reasons for why shit went bad 2 years ago is baffling. The overarching need to get in front of the ‘they suck’ train is a mystery to me.

Like the crazy crab promotions at the Stick years ago (“We don’t do mascots. Please boo the crab!”) , there are people hoping against hope that the team crashes and burns, so they can project their hatred of the owner. A guy who looks and acts just like his predecessor, Eddie.

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Good, Bad, Indifferent, or Armageddon?

Here we sit on the eve of training camp, and the blogosphere is abuzz with the impeding doom of the San Francisco 49ers. The national media has gone from laughing and pointing to basically laughing at every next domino that falls to drive another nail into the coffin that is the 2015 season.

Well, fuck that. The national media had the 2012 Eagles being a juggernaut due to their free agent acquisitions, and look what it got them. Shit, the 2007 Niners were turning a corner under Nolan, and the 2010 team was poised to be great under Singletary. All turned gold into shit. Yeah, we’ve lost a bunch of players and coaches. Shit, the year he got here no one gave the Niners  chance.

Point being, the national media doesn’t follow the team like the local fans. Even then, look at the bullshit flying around. Sue, laugh, point, ands ridicule all you want, but I think the team will come out of this in better shape than if Harbaugh had stuck around.  One more year of Harbaugh would have been another year of the Roman offense. One more year of a front office and a head coach that didn’t communicate. One more year of Harbaugh being Harbaugh. A driven coach who drives everyone else crazy. Bear in mind he hasn’t lasted anywhere longer than 4 years. This appears to be his shelf life.

Anyhow, gone are Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Justin Smith, Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver,  Anthony Davis, Andy Lee, and Chris Borland. Beyond that, revolving door Jonathan Martin and Stevie (Good for a moment) Johnson were cut. As daunting as this appears to the uninformed eye, and yes, vet presence is a thing, the only ones that hurt are Cox and Davis, in my mind.

Crabs and Cully had their bags packed before the AZ game and were not expected to stay. Willis and Borland were retirement surprises in that no one expected them to retire as they did. Willis was slowed at the start of the year, and was lost or 2/3 of it. This allowed Borland to shine, but he left as well citing his health. AD waited too long to announce his retirement, but whatever. He did what he felt was necessary. I figured the Niners would focus on Cox to stay, and I didn’t like the decision to let him go. Gore? Well, he took the money. 3 years beats one every time. Good luck, Frank. Justin Smith was basically the same. He was not himself these past couple years, and therefore isn’t a big loss. Lee? He needed a change of scenery due to his tragedy so the team did him a favor by sending him closer to his hometown. J Mart? No there there. Stevie? Meh.

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Is This The Longest Offseason Ever?

What’s funny is I remember saying this last year amidst the trade rumors around our head coach, the talk that the GM and HC hadn’t spoken in months, and the innuendo around the Jim Harbaugh insanity whirlwind hyperbole generation machine. Brought to you by Deion Sanders, Jay Glazer, Jayson Stark,  Trent Dilfer, Steve Young, ESPN, Comcast, Fox Sports, and the millions of other media types that weighed in on the state of the franchise as they struggled through an injury-ridden and thoroughly disheartening season.

8-8 at the start of the Harbaugh regime would have been seen as a nice improvement over the previous staff. Fortunately (for the fans) and unfortunately (for St. Jim) Harbaugh took them to 13-3. An amazingly quick turnaround, especially due to the fact that it was a strike-shortened preseason.  The offense was what it was, and the defense was what it was. The numbers all remained fairly similar.

Except for one thing. Wins and losses. A team that couldn’t win close games or win with any consistency suddenly became an NFL juggernaut. From laughingstock to Super Bowl favorites in short order. After coming oh so close in 2012, the 2013 season was another let-down on the doorstep of the Super Bowl. While the team was still considered a contender,  the shit show gained full momentum. Not even going to rehash all that except to say we’ll never know who did what to whom, but it sure seemed like all sides were hell-bent on parting ways. Throw in a forgettable season, and there you go. It played out how it did. Harbaugh and most of the coaches left, and players retired, re-upped elsewhere,  or left via trade.

So where are we now? Well, this is the crux of the biscuit. I’m of a mind that despite the changes and roster turnover, we still have a very good team. Especially defensively. Something that was already a strength. Mangina has plenty of NFL experience and has some HCing (varying levels of success) under his belt. LB coach Jason Tarver has DC experience with the Raiders, D line coach Scott Brown has 35 years in football, and had DCed for Colo St. DB coach Tim Lewis, a great DB back in the day, has DC experience for the NY Giants among other stops in his 21 year coaching career.

So much for the theory that this team didn’t start good coaches.

Offensively we have ex-Dalphin and Raider HC Tony Sparano, tasked with getting VD,  VMcD, and Derek Carrier going after a shit season for all the TEs, RB coachTom Rathman, who has been instrumental in the continued development of the run game, and O line coach Chris Foerster, a guy with a track record of nothing but success in his different schemes that he’s used over his coaching career.  A new set of WR coaches in Ronald Curry and Adam Henry (LSU’s WR coach for Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry) and the departure of Michael Crabtree give me hope for a resurgence among the WR corps.

The big question mark remains the duo of QB coach Steve Logan and OC Geep Chryst. Logan traces his coaching roots to Jimmy Johnson at Okla St, and he head coached the college powerhouse East Carolina winning a couple bowl games along the way and beating Miami 31-6 in their worst home defeat in years. He’s well-versed in the West Coast Offense, and appears at least to be installing an up-tempo rhythm-based offense. All good news to me. The Geepster? He’s the guy I don’t have  any real concept of his game. He was OC in San Diego at a time when the Chargers were dogshit.  I mean really. Jim Harbaugh was his starting QB. Erik Kramer was his backup. They did manage to break even at 8-8. The next year, of course was the Ryan Leaf Experience, and one last gasp  of Jim Harbaugh as an NFL QB. A 1-15 debacle of epic proportions.

I guess that’s impetus right there for Chryst to get off to a hot start.

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Speaking of the offense

Yeah I know. Another national writer looking for a free meal,

but here’s Daniel Jeremiah with  a look at our offensive weapons.

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A New Dawn — A New Defense?

Super Bowl bound! 4-12? Shit, who am I kidding. I have no clue how this season turns out. Despite the naysayers and those that laugh and predict doom for jettisoning St. Jim the Wolverine, the team still has talent and the offense will hopefully move out of the 70s.

The defense? Well, shit should be fine, if not a little thin in the defensive backfield. Which leads me to believe we will be a little more aggressive with the pass rush. Ahmad Brooks still remains a 49er, albeit that depends on the charges brought forth by the woman who brought down RayMac. Cutting him at this point would only save $1.5 mill against the cap, so he’ll probably stick around if these charges go away.

If anything, both Ahmad Brooks, and his bookend OLB Aldon Smith have a lot to prove with their recent travails and issues. The defensive line should still be fairly stout as Justin Smith hasn’t been himself the last couple years, and the rest of the crew, plus Darnell Dockett should be good to go. These OLBs (Lunch included) can wreak some havoc if the D line takes care of business. Eli Harold has been seen as a high-value pick where we got him.  Arik Armstead? He’s got the ‘potential’ tag laid all over him. The positive being Jim Tomsula has done very well as a D line coach with a lot less than AA.

Inside LB? Well, there’s the rub. Bowman is by all intents coming along just fine, but his injury was horrific and he is a question. Wilhoite has shown decent game, but his  ceiling isn’t very high. Moody and the rest? Ehh. Have to wonder if someone will fall off a team after cut-down time.

The secondary is thin as well. Even with the signing of Jaquaski Tartt, heir apparent to Antoine Bethea. The only question is when.  The corners were left thin by the Cully and COX departures, but Brock should be healthy. Johnson came on very well last year, but he’s a question as a starter and Shareece Wright isn’t all that. They did sign UDFA Mylan Hicks (Mich St) to a 3 year deal so they see something there.

As far as the coaches go, they have a lot of guys with a lot of time in the game. What does it mean? Little to nothing in itself, but Mangini is on the right side of the line now at least.

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Too Much Time On My Hands

Well, the full doldrums have set in. At least in the football world. I tell ya though this is a pretty golden time to be a Bay Area sports fan. The Giants are reigning World Champs, having won 3 of the last 5 World Series, the 49ers were oh, so close in the Super Bowl a couple years ago, and the Golden State Warriors just finished their improbable run to their 2nd championship in California by beating King James and his court of backups. Some are already casting aspersions on the Dubs as they didn’t have to face a) San Antonio or b) the Clippers, and every team they faced has point guard injuries to deal with. Well, tough noogies.

If San Antonio was so good, they shouldn’t have lost to LA. If LA was so good, they shouldn’t have lost to Houston. The Clippers BTW showed absolutely NO guts by blowing a 20 point lead in game 6. You play with the cards you are dealt. Were the Cavs crippled by injuries? Yeah, somewhat. But, again, tough shit. Tristan Thompson played defense about 100% better than Kevin Love could ever dream of. Did they miss his offense? Maybe, but shit happens. Did they miss Kyrie Irving? Sure. Could he have played defense like fucking Dellavedova did? Possible, but he certainly would have brought more offense. Thong is, you don’t know. If both teams get together at full strength would shit be different? No way to know.

Part of what helped the Warriors during the season was he fact that they had a strong bench. They had role players that could step in when needed. Lee, Bogut, Green, Thompson, and even Curry (and others) missed some time this year due to injuries, but they entered the playoffs fairly unscathed. This however, was tested when both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both suffered head injuries vs Houston. Steph appeared to struggle for a few games after his injury, and Thompson certainly wasn’t his usual self during the finals. Everyone is banged up at this point in the season. You deal with the grind of the season, and the extra grind of the playoffs. At this point, the NBA should really think about shortening the regular season, as the playoffs are such a long haul.

Kudos to Steve Kerr and the Warriors for a truly epic season.  Let’s hope the Niners pick up where they leave off.

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