Free Agent Free For All

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and wish/pray/demand our favorite draft picks, we need to address the 19 free agents currently floating off the books. Ad, this doesn’t include the pending decision to come from one Justin Smith, stalwart of the defensive line, who had a solid year at the age of 35.

The twenty are:

Frank Gore                                     Kyle Nelson
Michael Crabtree                          Chris Cook
Mike Iupati                                     Tony Jerod-Eddie
Blaine Gabbert                              Kassim Osgood
Dan Skuta                                      Raymond Ventrone
Chris Culliver                                 Josh Johnson
Brandon Lloyd                              Alfonso Smith
Perrish Cox                                    Phillip Tanner
Garrett Celek                                 Desmond Bishop
Michael Wilhoite                           (Justin Smith)

The obvious no-signs are Gabbert, Tanner, and Bishop. All are buried on the depth chart and Gabbert flat sucks balls. Alphonso Smith may stick around as cheap insurance. Bishop, Ventrone, Osgood, and Nelson are STers that have varying levels of importance. The long-snapper certainly stays. Celek falls under blocking TE who has done little. He’s cheap, so let him dangle.

Wilhoite, J-Eddie, Skuta, and Cook all fall under the category of solid backups. Wilhoite may be expendable with the emergence of Borland and Lynch; and Skuta has proven himself to be solid when called upon. More so than Wilhoite. Still and all, as last year proved, when the injury bug hits, backups become a necessity. So, Wilhoite is gone.  Backfill in the draft.

The starters fall under varying different scenarios. Crabytree, once the season ended, removed everything 49ers from his social media accounts. A ringing endorsement of his thoughts on the matter. Irregardless, he’s never quite lived up to the level of WR that he thinks he is, and I think he wants a big fat payday. Let Dallas give him money. He won’t get what he thinks he’s worth, but at least he’ll be in Dallas. Happy trails.

Iupati is another starter who likely goes. The 49ers appear to be moving away from the road-grading, straight-ahead blocker they have been favoring in the run-heavy scheme of things. Guards aren’t as hard to find as tackles, so I think they let him go. Brandon Thomas, our supposed 3rd round steal last year, is nearly recovered from his ACL injury in last years pre-draft workout, so there are options already on the team. Backfill in the draft.

Culliver and Cox both played well, and also had off games as well. With Brock hopefully coming back at full strength, one of Cox or Cully will likely go. With the impending hit-and-run, and possession of brass knuckles cases due soon, Cully is probably out. Keep Cox.

Lloyd? Meh. Losing Crabs and Lloyd seemingly weakens our WR corps, and with Stevie Wonder disappearing after a promising start, you’d think we need him, but the hope is we can fill this in through free agency and the draft. With new coaches comes a new offense. One that can hopefully use WRs effectively.

Gore? Well, It shouldn’t be too difficult to sign him to a 2 year, $6-8 mill incentive-laden deal.  His leadership alone would be a big boost to a team that is in need of some strong clubhouse leadership. the same applies to Justin Smith. The ‘smart’ thing may to be cut your losses, but with the wholesale turnover of the coaching staff, some clubhouse stability is needed. Hyde and Hunter should be back from their injuries, so it isn;’t like we will need Gore to carry the ball 20 times a game. 12-15 touches, and we are good.

That’s my $0.02 anyway. What say you?


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Trent Baalke and the Draft

We’re getting closer to March, so that means the draft is coming. As you can see from the slider on the right, Ballke has had a pretty varied draft record. Last year netted a lot of guys that contributed immediately: Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Bruce Ellington, Chris Borland, Aaron Lynch, Dontae Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Marcus Martin, all played solid to spectacular. Borland and Lynch came in on fire, and D Johnson played well due to an injury-ravaged defensive backfield. 2013 was a little more hit-and-miss. Reid was as good a pick as could have been made. Carradine, VMcD, Lemonier, and Dial, have not lived up to their promise, but the jury is still out on the D line guys at least. Lemonier is gone, as is the shot-in-the-dark Lattimore.  2012 is the low-water mark for Baalke, with OL Joe Looney being the only one left from that draft. 2011 was as equally impressive as 2012 was bad. Aldon Smith, Colin, Cully, Kilgore, and Bruce Miller are all a big part of the team, and all are solid starters. His first draft as overseer, 201o saw the addition (with Sing’s help) of two O linemen Anthony Davis, and Mike Iupati. Also, of course, the all-world NaVorro Bowman.

That being said, this is an important draft, and Baalke once again has stockpiled picks to the tune of 9 guys to pick. Areas of need are, in order, D line, WR, O line, DB, LB, RB. The first two are up for debate, and Baalke will probably go BPA at decision time.

The combines are just about done (DBs today), and some guys have raised eyebrows, and some have merely stayed the same, while some have dropped.  Chris Conley, a WR from Georgia, made the biggest splash with a 4.35 40 time, and a vertical leap of 45″.  Almost enough to reach the top of the slat slapper.

As far as the 49ers go, our first 2 selections are, to me at least, and a few million others, cast in stone. Wide receiver and defensive tackle.  The top three WRs, in semi-particular order, are Amari Cooper, Kevin White, and DaVante Parker. Cooper didn’t disappoint in his combine performance. He’s smooth, fast (enough), and is the real deal. Kevin White, however, laid down his own blistering 4.35 40 time , and he’s a beast at attacking the ball in flight. The knock on him is that he only had one good year. Cooper had 2 1,000 yard seasons in his three years.

Problem is, Neither of these guys will be available at 15. DaVante Parker may not even be there, what with the Rams, Raiders, and Vikings all looking for WR help. This means we look to the D line for help. Problem there is, there are likely 9-10 defensive linemen taken in the top 20. After Leonard Williams, the picture gets muddy. Gone for sure is NT Danny Shelton, as new Bear DC Vic Fangio takes his plugger for his newly installed (gasp!) 3-4 defense. Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, and Dick Butkus must all be spinning in their graves. If they were dead. Too many guys out there to even give a remotely accurate guess. Malcom Brown, DT from Texas, is the name I hear a lot for us, for what that’s worth.

So, the falloff after the top 3 WRs is fairly precipitous. Funchess doesn’t look very smooth out there, and ran pretty stiff. Sort of common for bigger guys, but that bothers me. Green-Beckham is a beast, but had major off-field issues. Pot and domestic abuse apparently. He may fall to the 2nd. He talked a bit about it and said he’s not going to blow his shot, but talk is cheap, and the team that spouts winning with class may shy away. Breshad Perriman didn’t participate as he has a hammy issue, but he’s kind of an under-the-radar pick that Baalke might go with. He’s got size, speed, and separates well from defenders. Raw, though. Not a great route-runner who relies on athleticism. Still, a big red zone target that would help the imminent loss of Crabs.

So my best guess is Brown and Jalen Strong first two picks . . .

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Steve Logan, Geep Chryst, and the New Offense

Through all the turmoil of this offseason, and who isn’t weighing in on it, the 49ers have a chance to at least get some more production out of their anemic offense.

The team doesn’t need to dramatically alter their plans. All they need yo to is pick up the pace on getting plays in, and run a faster tempo. This woul help with defenses getting settled in every play, and hopefully lead to a more dynamic offense.

Steve Logan, our new QB coach, is very well-versed in the West Coast offense, having taught it at ECU and other stops in his coaching career. Faster plays also jives with.  Colim Kaepernick’s  offense that he ran in college. Quick hitters with midrange a passes coming off that.

The question to me is was and will be the Geepster. He’s had a long and varied career in the background but now he’s at the forefront of an offense that has been stale, yet the perception is that he’s really in the hot seat. No shit, eh??

Out there in Talking-head-land the perception is one of ridicule and disdain for what the team just went through. Frankly, it’s a load of horseshit. This team needed a new offense in the least. I’m sorry to see Fangio go, but then again, I think the defense should be fine with our injured guys coming back, and a new crop of draft picks.

So all they need to do is gain more consistency and get better at sustaining drives.  Hopefully this idea of 4 different coaches calling plays based on down, distance, and field position is long gone. It’s a wonder they moved the ball at all. But it certainly explains the disjointed nature of the offense.

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Adam Gase and the HC that Wasn’t

Hop on board the speculation train and let’s take a ride. Word is out that Adam Gase and Trent Baalke had reached a deal to name him head coach after meeting for 8 hours in Denver. He provisionally named his staff and all was approved by Baalke. That is until Trent came back to SC and Jed told Baalke that Gase would have to keep Tomsula as his DC.  This is when Gase bailed on the deal.

Huh? Sure, this follows the timeline, but there are many thing odd about this. Namely that this is being floated by one Tim Kawakami. The guy who badgered Harbaugh relentlessly over anything, and has a bug up his ass about the 49er in general, now he misses St Jim, and wants things the way they were?

The other thing is, isn’t Jed supposed to be under Baalke’s thumb? Blowing the deal up would be pretty headstrong for young Jed Tweetsalot, and at what cost? Keeping Tomsula? Why is he so important to the organization?

Ludicrous speculation has surfaced that this proves Tomsula is the infamous rat that got Singletary run out on a rail, and supposedly undermined Harbaugh to the point of his wanting to leave.

Far be it from me to prove or disprove this, but to think that Tomsula holds this much power over the team is a bit far-fetched.  To have the owner himself back you over every one of the other coaches is mind boggling to say the least.   Makes no sense on the surface of things. And, if Tomsula has this power over young Jed, why didn’t he play this card 4 years ago when he got Aluminum Mike out?

Does he know where the bodies are?

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The Curious Case Of Frank Gore

Every year we hear about the demise of Frank Gore, and every year he refutes the naysayers and takes care of business.

At the age of 31, when most backs are sLowing down or breaking down, Gore managed to eclipse the 10,000 yard mark in his 10 year, and rush for over 1,000 yards for the 8 time in 10 years. This despite playing behind a beat up line and a coaching staff that more often than not, abandoned the run early in games, to the detriment of the offensive flow and consistency.

Despite all that, Gore saved his best 2 games of the year for the finish, gaining over 300 yards in his last 2 games vs SD and AZ.

So what now? Well, if I’m Jim Tomsula, I tell the powers that be that they should sign Gore to a 2 year deal. If only to keep or gain the respect of the other players. Having Gore on his side would do a lot to legitimize this staff.

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Getting Rid of a Case of the Crabs

In lieu of anything really happening, let’s take a look at the free agent pool. The 49ers have 15 of them, including one Michael Crabtree.

Me. Leans has had a fairly bumpy ride here in SF and I don’t see very much of a chance he stays. First thing he did this offseason was remove anything ’49ers’ from his twitter account and any social media tool. Not the move of a guy digging his situation.

He’s a solid WR who runs good routes and has great hands, yet has always to me at least been the receiver of s perception problem. Starting with his holdout in 2009, his missed camps, his throwing of A Smith under the bus in 2010, to various whines to the press, he comes across as a diva.

Nothing near the level of TO or Ocho Cinco, but enough to say adios. Thing is, he wants out. And sure he’ll find more money than the Niners will offer. Then again, he didn’t do much to cement his status as a boba fide #1 WR in any if his years in the league. One big year out of 6 won’t get you a Megatron deal.

The niners best hope for keeping him would be a one-year incentive laden deal. This could very well happen should the market for him prove to be soft. I doubt it, but in today’s NFL anything can happen.

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The Trent Baalke Show

Not much going on, and I’m not feeling drafty yet, so let’s delve into our newly minted organization. As we all know, there’s a new sheriff on town. Well, he ain’t new, but he just pulled off the mean feat of turning the team into his rather than his mercurial former employee, Jim Harbaugh.

On an offseason last year that was fraught with distractions. Trent Baalke (with the help of Young Jed Tweetsalot) managed to get the bar set impossibly high for St Jim to reach. Throw in injuries, suspensions, shitty play calling and a suddenly indecisive QB and you get what we just had. A coaching redo.

Trent pulled most of these strings to get the ball rolling, but certainly St Jim wanted out once it became clear that the Michigan job was his for the taking. Interesting thing is, though, for all the talk of continuity, Baalke sent all the coaches on their merry way. Everyone but Tomsula, Mangina, the Geepater and s couple low-level guys.

Tomsula walks into a staff that has been built by Baalke. Sure, s couple have tied to him, and maybe that’s significant in some way, but this staff had been hand-picked by the GM. Not the head coach. You know, the usual process. With he draft coming up, How many of you think Tomsula gets box of crayons and a coloring book while Trent does the heavy lifting? I’m raising my hand.

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