Jim Harbaugh, Vernon Davis, and the 49er Way

Gee, ol’ Jimmy looks like he wants to step in a pile of shit again as he says he’s ‘disappointed’ about Vernon Davis and Alex Boone not coming to the madatories. He said “(It’s) not the decision that I envisioned being the 49er way.” Beyond the fact that Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver would not appear to be following that path either, what’s your point, Jim? The path of the righteous is beset by many pitfalls? Besides, ’49er Way’ is the path from the locker room to the practice field, so let’s count how many others missed travelling 49er Way.

Stevie (Wonder) Johnson has a sore hammy and missed practice, Michael Crabtree is trying to stay off his feet as much as possible for fear of using and damaging them. If he could walk on his hands, I’m sure he would. Frank Gore, Juston Smith, and Grand Theft Auto V star Chris Culliver also sat out the practice as they are apparently too valuable to trot out there and risk getting turf toe or grass stains.

Which is why it seems pretty stupid for VD and Rhino to even hold out of these. To piss away what amounts to a year’s salary for most of us regluar folks (shit, VD has already snubbed $270,000, certainly not my tax bracket) just to make a point seems ludicrous at best when you can claim injury and hang out in the hot tub.

But who am I to quibble about the myriad ways athletes can be stupid, vain, clueless, and obtuse? Football is a brutal sport that leaves broken bodies and spirits in its wake as the juggernaut rolls along. So, the impetus is to get what you can when you can. In VD’s case though, the 49ers HAVE given him just about everything possibe. He sighed a 5 year/$23 mill deal in 2006. After 4 years of that (or $18.4 mill), he got his 5 year/$37 mill deal. So, to date he’s received about $46 million from the team for services rendered. Yes, it was a front-loaded deal. Yes, he’s one of the top TEs in the game.

No, VD doesn’t ‘deserve’ an extension. Why? Because HE signed the deal. He was PAID as one of the highest TEs coming out of college, and after his scuffling through an injury-riddled seasons highlighted by fights with his own teammates and a ton of stupid penalties, he got his shit together (Sing) and got his 1st extension, which made him the highest paid TE AGAIN. Play out this year, then maybe we’ll talk. Problem is, VD KNOWS that Crabs is up for review. He of the 6 game holdout to start HIS career. He’s trying to make bank before Crabs does. Frankly, at this point I could see them both gone after this season.

Regardless of how well VD has done (and he has done very well these past few seasons), VD has little leverage here. The Niners have enough at the WR spot to cover for VD should he hold out further. I seriously doubt he misses any real training camp, but if so, I really would start lining up trade partners. If he’s so self-absorbed to put himself in front of the team again, then he should go.

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Pre-Season Prognostication?

Hey, I don’t know. Slow times call for desperate measures?

Anyhow. here’s what I wrote on the last thread. Before what I just read on BleacherReport regarding GMs and their recent activities. So, I’ll post what I wrote followed by a link to what the wonks at BR reported. They sort of line up in some cases, but in others they don’t. In other words, I don’t know as much as I think I do. But hey, it could work out how I think anyway.

Miami’s going all-in with the Chip Kelly offense. They’ll be most improved. Or they will suck hard and flop. I see them being vastly improved in a weak-assed AFC East. One and done though in the playoffs.

The Raiders? The only reason they improve is the stunning collapse of the Chargers. Besides, with Schlub as their QB, they’ll go nowhere fast. I still can’t figure how that weak division put 3 teams in the playoffs. Rivers reverts to his old ways, and they crater.

AZ 2015, yes. 2014? No. They are still banking on Ichabod Crane this year, and they won’t go far regardless of their defense. I love Logan Thomas, but he’s going to be on the bench all year if they have any sense. This is strictly a stop-gap year for them til they install Big Hoss.

Garrett going is a no duh. Jerry Jerk off is hoping against hope that the 49ers somehow let Harbaugh go. That was the main impetus to keep Garrett. Status quo until he can throw $12 mill a year at Harbaugh given the chance. I think Dennis Allen should hit the unemployment line should the Raiders stagger. Their best bet is 8-8, and he may not even survive that. Although I will say Prince (un)Valiant and Reggie MacKenzie have shown some restraint regarding the one-and done-ness of reunanimated re-undeadAl.

I think Atl bounces back better than the Vikes, but really, who gives a shit? The Vikes are boring as hell. Atl is at least a dynamic offnse when their WRs are healthy.
Here’s the link to the GM work of the past offseason. Remember this is OOOOOONLY based on the 2014 offseason:

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Wake Me When September Comes . . .

Aside from the Giants playing good baseball, the football news is pretty much few and far-between. VD says he’ll show up for mandatories, while Alex Boone says he won’t. Boone doesn’t stand to lose as much as VD, and VD looks pretty stupid in the first place, seeing as he’s still in the top 3 TEs salary-wise. Boone has been a stalwart wherever asked to play, and has been among the better guards out there, but he won’t lose near as much as VD would have skipping mandatories. Then again, he don’t make as much either. Jonathan Martin has overcome his bout of the kissing disease (he been hanging with Mike Sam?) and looks to fill the spot of swing guard should the Niners go to the wall with Boone.

In other news, the Seahawks are dealing with their own holdout issue with Marshawn Lynch. He’s been very vocal about wanting a new deal, even though he was just renegotiated a couple years ago. He’s said he’d consider retirement, or in the least, skip the mandatories. With Lynch, you never truly know. The dude is an enigma to say the least. As of now, he’s working out in Oaktown considering his options. If it hurts Seattle’s chances, I’m all for it.

Other than that? I got nuthin’. NBA Finals? Weird to say the least to see Le Bron playing with so little passion. Granted, his teammates did llittle as well, but he’s the spark.

Hockey? Please. The Lakings are going to win again? Yup. The hottest of hockey towns is Los Angeles. They’ll throw a victory parade, and no one will know. Or care.

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One Down, Four To Go?

Well, benevolent or not, the 49ers have their man at QB for the next seven years. Or not, but you know what I mean. Colin Kaepernick is signed , rested, and ready to take it to the next level. The next guys who appears to be in the running for  new contracts are Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Jim Harbaugh, and (in his mind anyway) Vernon Davis.

Crabs? He’s a good solid possession WR. Nothing more. Does Kappy want him back? Absolutely. Will the FO oblige? Well, let’s saee the numbers he wants. 5/$40 is what I think he should get. He does not deserve Brandon Marshall money ($10 mill a year). He doesn’t like it? Adios. And take VD with you. It turns out, VD wanted an extension LAST year. How about you honor the deal you signed, skippy? You are still the 2nd highest paid TE in the league. No need to throw a hissy fit. Iupati? Sure, provided he’s recovered from his ankle injury.

Which brings us to Coach Harbaugh.  Jim Harbaugh is a great coach. But here is my dilemma. He was out-coached by his brother in the Super Bowl.  He was out-coached by Pete Carroll in the NFC Championship game. There are times when the 49ers can’t seem to get out of their own way. The offense has a propensity to stutter and stall for long stretches of time. We’ve all beaten the notion to death that the offense needs to take more risks and be more explosive. Not Mouse Davis explosive, but something along the lines of a 2010 offense rather than a 1910 offense. Telling is the fact that Harbaugh has spoken directly to the things that have annoyed me for years.

  • Play clock mangement
  • Simplistic 1-2 WR formations on 1st and 2nd downs.
  • Little to no play-action (except on 3rd and 15)
  • No screen or slants

Harbaugh has said that maybe he should think about putting in more WRs on 1st and 2nd down. Huzzah! He also said that play clock management is an issue that needs to be fixed. Great. However, the proof is in the pudding. Harbaugh KNOWS that this is his year to deliver. Which is why I don’t sign him to his motherlode of a deal before this season. Harbaugh is in the same boat as VD. He’s too far away from the end of his current deal to worry about writing a new one.

Bring home the bacon and you’ll get your stairway Fat City. Come up short, and we’ll see what the future holds. Yes, Harbaugh is worlds better than what we had for the last 12 years, but do we want to hitch our wagon to a coach that can’t win the big one? If he goes into his 5th season as the almost-made-it guy, the window on the team’s success will start inexorably closing and it may not be feasible to re-up the guy.

I’m not 100% behind his future being determined by Super Bowl or Hit the Road, Jim, but at some point when does Harbaugh catch the heat for the team not making it all the way? The Niners should have beaten the shit out of Balt, but let them (and Atl) build huge leads early and they scrambled for their lives in both games. The Seattle game was a hard-fought battle, but in the end, Carroll won.

As was spoken about Don Shula, he could beat your team with his team, and he could beat his team with your team. And that’s what the deal is between Harbaugh and Carroll. Carroll is the better coach at this point. This season appears to be a major barn-burner what with the new stadium, major expectations, and the Seattle factor. Let’s hope we hold up our end of the deal.


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Colin the Benevolent . . .

Got to say, after hearing this presser with Colin Kaepernick, one would think he entered into this with his eyes wide open. He understands that the deal wasn’t all about breaking the bank for himself, but more about giving the team flexibility in dealing with other player contracts dwon the road. It’s also obvious to me he wants Crabs to re-up with the team.

He was surprised it got handled as quickly as it did, but he understood what the deal offered in the way of compensation and incentives. For a young player of Kaepernick’s caliber, this is pretty monumental. For the young leader of a team to put the team’s needs WAY in front of his is a huge deal inside the locker room. It’s hard not to respect a guy who obviously gets it. That the game is about the team, not the player (side note: maybe Mike Singletary should give Vernon Davis a call). That he can subsume his  personal gain for the benefit of the team. Major kudos to Colin. It’s not like he’s a poor little pauper through this, but he sure could have pushed for a lot more money and gotten it. No one would have begrudged him anything. 

You know that loud groan you heard as these details came out were from Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, RG 3-13, and Andy Dalton. I’m sure their collective front offices are going to say “why can’t you be like Colin, and take a deal favorable for the team?”

Another funny side note is that all the people bitching and moaning about Kaepernick wanting to break the bank are now calling him a fool for signing in incentive-laden contract. Can’t have it both ways.  

Here’s the press conference from Wednesday:


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The $18 Million Man (updated)

Well, it looks like my estimates of $18-20 mill for Kappy were right on. Our QB for the future is getting a 6 year, $126 millon extension from the 49ers. With a whopping $61 mill guaranteed.

UPDATE: The details are the guaranteed money is paid out on a rolling basis and has some pretty hard incentives to meet. 80% of the offensive plays, 1st team pro bowler, super bowl victory and such. And the guaranteed money is only in case of injury. Plus, Kappy needs to take out his own $20 mill insurance policy.

This puts to rest the thought of waiting out his final season and franchising him. Which I thought would have been a fool’s errand, but the bed is made, and the team is his for the foreseeable future. Or 2020. Whichever comes first. Waiting on this season to pass would have sealed his departure as someone else would have backed the truck or just gieven him a blank check to fill in the zeros.

Whether he can buck the trend of these mega deals never living up to their lofty asprations remains to be seen, but as we know now, Kappy is a hard working guy who at least appears to be driven to reach his and the team’s goals. We can talk about how the offense will progress at a later time, but for now, Kappy is among the highest paid players in the NFL.

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Whither the Offense?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but what in the wide wide world of sports is going on here? Does anyone really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Has the time come today (ooooh another cool somg to post. 60′s funk!)? Is it 25 or 6 to 4? Is this the end, beautiful friend?

What I’m referring to of course is the 49ers offense and it’s recent lack of ability to get over the hump and into the promised land. One can safely say that the Niners could have been Super Bowl winners these past 3 years with a couple of non-turnovers, and some better play clock management. And I ain’t going to rehash those plays.

What I want to address is, what is this team going to DO about the issues that keep dogging this team? To me, the big issues are:

  • Play clock management
  • The red zone offense
  • The passing game

Since the Nolan era came to be, the Niners used a play calling system that was basically this. 2 plays are given to the QB. A run play and a pass play. A primary and a backup. If the primary play is to be run, the call is roll roll. If they are to go with the backup, you hear kill kill kill. These are strictly pre-snap reads. Problem is, in a loud stadium, it’s hard to get one play in from the press box to the field, and then to the QB, let alone 2 plays. This often leads to the play clock running dangerously close to running out on about 75% of the plays during a game. This even happens at home. Like the 2nd and goal in the Super Bowl. Shit, I didn’t want to do that. This nagging problem has transcended 3 coaching staffs and myriad players, coaches, OCs, QBs, and HCs.

The red zone offense?  Well, the Niners were 15th in red zone scoring percentage at 53%. Certainly not terrible, but waaay behind successful teams like Denver and Cincy at 72%. Fat lot of good it did them, but for a team like the Niners, scoring at a brisker clip would put a lot less pressure on the offense. Kicking FGs and leaving so many games in the balance at the very end leaves one susceptible to late killer turnovers.

The passing game? Well, far be it from me to complain, but Jesus Christ, let’s get out of the stone age. 1-2 WR sets are a thing of the distant past.  Inviting teams to pack the box against the run does little to help the run game OR the passing game. If you run-blitz on a pass play, you instantly have at least 2 guys unblocked in the backfield. Brilliant when you are trying to disguise a pass play.  If you run blitz on a run, you more than likely stop that play as well. Inviting teams to play everyone up close to the line of scrimmage should open up the deep passing game, but for some reason, the Niners rarely ever pull that trigger. Whether through lack of talent, feare of turnovers, or lack of throwing time, they just don;t so it near enough to keep defenses honest.

 The prevailing sentiment is, why mess with success? Gore has put up big numbers. They win games at a steady clip. 36-11-1 (and a 5-3 playoff record) in 3 years is no mean feat. But, success measured how? Yes, we came out of the dark ages with the hire of Jim Harbaugh, but all we have gotten is tantalizingly close to the trophy. So, while reaching the NFC Championship 3 years in a row is a great thing, falling short 3 years in a row isn’t.

So, what now? The defense isn’t going to be better than it was last year with the loss of Donte Whitner and the Navorro Bowman injury, among the loss of Terell Brown, and the possible suspensions of Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver. So that leaves the offense to pick up the slack. Use more formations that spread the field out. Use 3-4 WRs from time to time. THere’s no need to go Mouse Davis here, but certainly they can stop using multiple WR formations on more than just 3rd down.   For too long we’ve dictated exactly how to stop our offense. Against teams like Tennessee and Houston, we can impose our will on them. Other times, not so much.

The (somewhat) good news is that Jim Harbaugh has specifically pointed to these very things as issues they need to work on this year. Even in the OTAs, Kappy was working on plays into the end zone (GASP!) from the red zone.  Something I hope they actually do. He also talked of scrapping the 2-plays-in-the-huddle deal and giving more control to Kappy at the line to determine the play to run. Harbaugh even went so far as to talk about using more 3 WR sets on OTHER than 3rd down.

Yay! Let’s hope it ain’t simply lip service.

Truth of the matter is, I think this talk of opening things up is directly related to the fact that they HAVE fallen short in these 3 seasons, and that Harbaugh wants to cash in. Without a Super Bowl This year (my definition of success), then they will be hard-pressed to throw the money at him that he wants.



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