News, News, is There Any News?

Nothing much to report in Ninerland by the Mud Flats, but the rumors are flying. We are going to trade for Jay (what, me worry?) Cutler. We are going to trade for Kurt (I bang my) Cousins. We are going to keep Colin (what, me care?) Kaepernick. We are going to keep Kaepernick and Catholic Ponder. We are going to draft Mitch (I’m not Blaine Gabbert) Trubisky. Or DeShaun (I’m not Colin Kaepernick) Watson. Or not a QB. Myles Garrett?

I’d lean toward that. But hey, in real news, we signed K’Waun Williams, the disgruntled cornerback from Cleveland. Side note, aren’t all Cleveland players disgruntled? Anyhow, he sat out a game of his own accord for an ankle injury last year, and was suspended for 2 games for conduct detrimental. Turns out he was right, and his ankle required surgery, so he missed the rest of last year. But there was a lot of interest in him.

The only reason this is even remotely interesting is that of the five teams courting him, the Niners, the Lions,  the Vikings, the Dolphins and the Jets, he picked the 49ers. It must be at least a little encouraging that he picked our locker room to hang his jersey.

In other news, Tom Gamble, our Assistant GM, and Trent Baalke footstool, agreed to mutually part ways with Jed and Co. In other words, John Lynch tackled him for a 9 yard loss. Can’t say I’m not disappointed to see him go, but whatever he did here, it wasn’t very good. Clean sweep and all that shit.

 

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OK, That List Was Too Fucking Long . . .

Meanwhile, the QB position remains the big prize for the franchise. The Garoppolo deal is still floating around out there, Cutler and Hoyer are skulking around looking for work, and shit, Kappy and Ponder are creeping around the edges of the light near 4949 Centennial Blvd. Shanahan has said he doesn’t want to get a stop-gap guy, but really, the options are fairly limited. Word is, Shanny likes him some Garoppolo, so we may be trading our #2 pick. Gutsy move, but he is young and, well, young.

The guys I mentioned are either unproven, proven mediocrities, or just not Aaron Rodgers. Or even Matty Ice. Cousins isn’t going anywhere. Shanahan did well with RG III in Washington, and Schaub in Houston. He CAN turn, if not shit to gold, then crap to decency. However, that doesn’t clear things up in the QB department.

I really don’t want to see us draft a QB with the 2nd pick. On the off chance Myles Garrett is there, I’d jump on that in a heartbeat. Watson? Man, he sounds good, looks good, has the tools, but is a huge risk. And Trubinski is even more green and more of a risk. The rest are 3rd rounders. Stay away from QBs this draft. So who do we get, if not Garrett? Yet another D lineman? We are apparently going 4-3, so another body on the line could be in order. Stanford’s Solomon Thomas springs to mind. He climbed  up the draft board after his dominant game in the Ty-D-Bowl, or whatever the fuck it was.

Jonathan Allen is also available at what I’d assume to be as DT if we took him. Both are disruptors that could give the line a much needed jolt of electricity. Other than that, I’m ultimately curious about what the hell is going to happen these next couple months.

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Free Agency Free For All

With the upcoming free agency period, the 49ers have decisions to make. I think most of our current free agents will be working at Walmart next year, but we will see.In fact, of the 16 free agents listed, my thought is Phil Dawson and Jeremy Kerley may be the only two worth a plugged nickel. Well, Tony Jerrod-Eddie has been a fairly consistent back up all these years. And I suppose you could stash DuJuan Harris as the 3rd string RB, but the rest are training camp fodder.

Still a couple weeks before the free agency period kicks off, so who do you think we should be focussing on? Kyle Shanahan’s latest word is that he wants a ‘violent’ defense (no shit?), and a non-short-term QB. Saleh is apparently installing a 4-3 defense, going away from their long-standing 3-4 D. One that was basically a sieve last year. He calls it semantics though, saying he’ll put a LB on the line with the D linemen to make it 5. Seattle does this a lot, and it is great at stopping the run, but it is predicated on being able to cover with minimal help. Seeing as we don’t really have an NT, and haven’t for quite a while now, it could seem to make sense. Then again, we are short athletic linebackers, so that becomes a need.

Here’s a list of the top 50 free agents. The ones that stands out to me is Eric Berry and Calais Campbell.

1. Redskins QB Kirk Cousins

Age: 29 in August

Analysis: Teams can’t win without a quarterback in today’s NFL, and it’s rare for a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback to hit free agency. Cousins probably won’t get there, but if he does, he could become the highest-paid player in NFL history, raising the bar on quarterback deals significantly.

2. Chiefs S Eric Berry

Age: 28

Analysis: Berry is a no-doubt superstar at a key position entering his prime. After last year’s acrimonious franchise tag situation, and Berry’s recent threat to sit out if the tag comes again, he and the Chiefs could be headed toward a divorce if they can’t give him the long-term deal he wants.

3. Panthers DT Kawann Short

Age: 28

Analysis: A top-level interior pass rusher with 17 sacks over the last two seasons, the Panthers will probably move to use the tag on Short. If he hits the market, he would be in major demand.

4. Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones

Age: 27 in February

Analysis: The Patriots traded Jones to Arizona after some non-football concerns, and Jones proved himself scheme-versatile with an 11-sack season. The Cardinals will franchise tag him if they cannot agree to a long-term deal.

5. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell

Age: 24

Analysis: Bell is one of the league’s best offensive players, and his unique running style would appeal to many teams. Health is a potential concern, as are his past drug policy suspensions. Teams rarely make significant investments in running backs, but Bell could be an exception if the Steelers let him hit the market.

6. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Age: 27 in February

Analysis: Jeffery has had injury issues, and his four-game suspension for PEDs this past season will lead to questions. He’s a proven No. 1 receiver, though, and his size will entice a lot of teams if he hits free agency.

7. Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram

Age: 28 in April

Analysis: His situation is reminiscent of Olivier Vernon’s last year. Ingram has been extremely productive for a bad team, gaining little national buzz, but the talent and athleticism is there.

8. Cardinals DE Calais Campbell

Age: 31 in September

Analysis: He’s had at least five sacks for eight straight seasons, with five seasons of seven-plus sacks. His age is a concern, but Campbell will give any defense instant pass rush production.

9. Bills CB Stephon Gilmore

Age: 27 in September

Analysis: Gilmore has had an up-and-down tenure in Buffalo, but he’s looked like a star plenty. If the Bills don’t tag him, Gilmore could be this year’s version of Janoris Jenkins – a corner who raises his game to a different level in a new, more accommodating setting.

10. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Age: 28

Analysis: JPP proved he is still an impact player in 2016. The question now is how much people are willing to pay him. He has an injury history, although it’s somewhat overblown (he’s only missed nine games in seven seasons for football-related injuries), and some say he’s a streaky player who feasts on inferior competition. Case in point: 5.5 of his seven sacks this past season came against the Bears and Browns in back-to-back weeks.

11. Bengals G Kevin Zeitler

Age: 27 in March

Analysis: He’s a durable guard entering his prime who is strong in both the run and pass games. What’s not to like?

12. Patriots TE Martellus Bennett

Age: 30 in March

Analysis: Can the Patriots keep these two together? Bennett has worn out his welcome in plenty of places, but the Patriots seem to be a good fit for the eccentric pass catcher. He may get paid more than they’re willing to give him elsewhere, though. Bennett’s injury history might give some teams pause before investing big money.

13. Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower

Age: 27 in March

Analysis: He had a great Super Bowl, and you’d think the Patriots would move to re-sign him after shipping Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones out of town. But you never know with the Pats.

14. Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth

Age: 36 in December

Analysis: Forget his age, or the fact this will be a short-team deal. Whitworth is an elite left tackle who can help a team (like the Giants, maybe) win a Super Bowl.

15. Packers G T.J. Lang

Age: 30 in September

Analysis: Lang’s age and recent hip surgery cloud his status, but he was a Pro Bowler this past season. He has said he wants to return to Green Bay, but will the Packers pay him?

16. Chiefs DT Dontari Poe

Age: 27 in August

Analysis: Poe has underproduced in Kansas City, but he will be in line for a significant payday if the Chiefs let him walk. Teams are always looking for interior help, and they will bet Poe can blossom in their program.

17. Redskins WR DeSean Jackson

Age: 31 in December

Analysis: Injuries are a concern, but Jackson remains one of the game’s great home run hitters.

18. Rams CB Trumaine Johnson

Age: 27

Analysis: Johnson had a down year in 2016 after getting hit with the franchise tag, but he will still be in demand if the Rams can’t get him re-signed.

19. Texans CB A.J. Bouye

Age: 26 in August

Analysis: Bouye has become a star in Houston, but can the Texans keep him? His age makes his market standing even better.

20. Browns WR Terrelle Pryor

Age: 28 in June

Analysis: He was a breakout performer … on a 1-15 team. Pryor clearly has ability, but will teams be willing to pay him like a star wideout after one season?

21. Ravens RT Ricky Wagner

Age: 28 in October

Analysis: Wagner is the best right tackle set to hit the market.

22. Packers OLB Nick Perry

Age: 27 in April

Analysis: Perry had a sensational 11-sack year while playing on a one-year deal; he’s set to cash in now.

23. Ravens DT Brandon Williams

Age: 28 in February

Analysis: A strong run-stuffing nose tackle hoping to ride Damon Harrison’s financial coattails.

24. Cardinals S Tony Jefferson

Age: 25

Analysis: He’s young, hard-hitting and makes plays. There’s a lot to like.

25. Giants DT Johnathan Hankins

Age: 25 in March

Analysis: His age will make him attractive to a lot of teams because there could be more maturation to come. The key question: Was his 2014 season (seven sacks) an blip, or can he do that consistently?

26. Cowboys S Barry Church

Age: 29 in February

Analysis: Church is an underrated defensive back.

27. Lions RT Riley Reiff

Age: 29 in December

Analysis: Reiff was shaky at left tackle, and solid when moved to the right side.

28. Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick

Age: 28 in October

Analysis: A solid corner option flying a bit under the radar.

29. Rams WR Kenny Britt

Age: 29 in September

Analysis: He’s deserving of a payday, but not with the Giants. Bringing him home is a bad idea given his past off-field issues.

30. Packers RB Eddie Lacy

Age: 27 in June

Analysis: If he’s in shape, he’s an impact running back.

31. Jaguars DT Abry Jones

Age: 26 in September

Analysis: He’s not much of a pass rusher, but Jones is good against the run and finished strong down the stretch this past season.

32. Patriots CB Logan Ryan

Age: 26 in February

Analysis: The Jersey guy has proven himself a strong slot cornerback.

33. Rams DT Dominique Easley

Age: 25 in February

Analysis: The Staten Island native and former first-round pick got his career back on track a bit in Los Angeles.

34. Lions G Larry Warford

Age: 26 in June

Analysis: Warford had a strong 2016 season just in time for free agency.

35. Broncos OLB DeMarcus Ware

Age: 35 in July

Analysis: The future Hall of Famer thinks he has some tread left on his tires, and he’s worth the bet on a short deal.

36. Jaguars CB Prince Amukamara

Age: 28 in June

Analysis: Prince is a very good player when he’s healthy. That’s been an issue throughout his career, though.

37. Dolphins WR Kenny Stills

Age: 25 in April

Analysis: He will have plenty of suitors.

38. Redskins WR Pierre Garcon

Age: 31 in August

Analysis: He had a great year for the Redskins, but it seems they may let him walk.

39. Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon

Age: 28 in December

Analysis: He’s the best of the young(ish) backups who could be competent starters, but no one knows for sure.

40. Redskins DE Chris Baker

Age: 30 in October

Analysis: He had a down year in 2016, but can be a good mid-level option.

41. Rams S T.J. McDonald

Age: 26

Analysis: A recent reckless driving guilty plea may complicate his situation.

42. Panthers DE Mario Addison

Age: 30 in September

Analysis: He’s coming off a 9.5 sack season.

43. Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne

Age: 27

Analysis: Health is a major concern, but Claiborne is a good player when on the field.

44. Panthers DE Charles Johnson

Age: 31 in July

Analysis: He turned down less money from the Giants to return to the Panthers last year.

45. Packers TE Jared Cook

Age: 30 in April

Analysis: He’s a playmaker. Injuries hurt him this year in Green Bay.

46. Patriots DE Jabaal Sheard

Age: 28 in May

Analysis: He played better down the stretch after being in Bill Belichick’s doghouse earlier in the season.

47. Saints DT Nick Fairley

Age: 29

Analysis: Health can be a concern, but Fairley pushes the pocket and had a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2016.

48. Eagles DT Bennie Logan

Age: 28 in December

Analysis: The Eagles probably won’t be able to afford this run-stuffer.

49. Bills OLB Lorenzo Alexander

Age: 34 in May

Analysis: Age is a red flag, but 12.5 sacks is 12.5 sacks.

50. Bears QB Brian Hoyer

Age: 32 in October

Analysis: He’s the best of the veteran quarterbacks who can be a competent bridge starter.

 

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Robert Saleh, Come on Down

Well, we certainly have a young coaching staff now. But, we balance that by being inexperienced as well. Our new DC, Robert Saleh, comes from The Jags as their LB coach, and has experience working with Kyle Shanahan at their stop in Texas. Other than that, he was a defensive QC coach at a few stops. Well, they know each other. Which means at least Kyle knows what he’s getting.

How does this bode for the future? Hard to say at this point. The immediate future will likely be determined by the experienced guys they DO have. Like Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew. These guys are going to be the sounding boards for the impending free agency period March 7th and the upcoming draft on April 27th.

The 49ers have ~$100 million in cap space, and 12 draft picks. Not quite the bounty that Jerry Jones scored for for Herschel Walker back in the day, but a substantial canvas with which to rebuild a team. And speaking of Dallas, their GM’s smartest move was to fire himself and hire his son Steve to be the de facto GM. Gone are the stupid drafts and splashy talking points that he seemed to thrive on. Their last draft netted Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. Not a bad haul among the rest of their acquisitions. They took a flier with Jaylon Smith (hurt in his last college game) and Maliek Collins did well as a rookie DL. Even late CB Anthony Brown played well when pressed into service due to injuries

Point being, the 49ers are going to turn over their roster. How fast remains to be seen. But with this much wiggle room, they can do some serious retooling. As I’ve said, we DO have some pieces. I won’t belabor the needs as they pretty much involve all the skill positions, but suffice it to say, I hope we draft for the offense this year.

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State of the Good Ship 49ers . . .

Apropos of nothing, I just wanted to posit how I feel about the state of the 49ers as we currently stand.

The premise being, are the Niners in deep shit for having hired two inexperienced guys for the head coaching and general Manager spots?

Here’s what I think. For the head coach spot, I really think this worked in their favor. Kelly was a retread that fucked his way out of Philly, Jimmy T was unprepared, and Harbaugh wanted out when he saw the talent drain. The only guys I’ve really wanted these past couple years were Adam Gase and Kyle Shanahan. I didn’t want McDaniels, and the other hires this yer are all fliers or inside guys. Marrone? Anthony Lynn? Steve McVay? The rest? None have any HC experience. Shanahan has the fact that he has directed high-flying offenses at all his stops. Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta, so he’s a proven offensive guy. Something this team DESPERATELY needs.

John Lynch is a HUGE shot in the dark. But maybe not as big a risk as one would think. This hire brings to mind 2 players who went from the field to the front office. Matt Millen and John Elway. One was an abject disaster, and one was a huge success. Ozzie Newsome also fall into this category, but he was in the Browns front office system for a number of years before becoming GM.

Milen is more like Iron Mike Singletary. A supreme player who couldn’t harness his football skills to translate into the coaching arena. Millen was the same. Great player, but in way over his head. The fact they kept him on for so long was ludicrous. He held that franchise back for 10 years.

Lynch? Well, like Elway, he went to Stanford so there’s hope he’s more than just a football player. He brings a near Hall of Fame career with him, and league-wide respect as a football player. He’s saying the right things about needing help and leaning on Shanahan and others for picking up the nuances of the job. He’s also got a big asset in Adam Peters, the head scout and talent evaluator for both NE and Denver for the past 10 years.

They still have a lot of hiring to do (like DC, ]OC if they decide to get one] and all the other sub-coaches. But as of now, I think the team is headed in the right direction.

Beyond that, they have 12 draft picks and $100 million in cap space, so they have the very likely possibility oif becoming relevant very quickly.

And I think the fact they both got 6 year deals says something about how the front office feels. One would hope Jed understands that he can’t keep fucking around with the whisper campaigns and the backstabbing. Jed had the upper hand over Baalke, Jimmy Bag-o-Donuts, and Kelly. He doesn’t have shit on Lynch or Shanahan.

Which is why I’m more happy with the fact that both these guys are outsiders more than anything else.

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Shanahan It Is – So, Who’s Our DC? QB?

Kyle Shanahan is officially the 49ers head coach. The glory of getting a Super Bowl OC is tainted, for now, by the epic collapse of the Atlanta Falcons in the game, due in no small part to a baffling insistence on going away from the run game that helped build the 28-3 lead in the first place. Still and all, the consensus is that he had a solid game plan.

That being siad, with the hires of John Lynch and Adam Peters, at least we now have a coach, GM, and EVP who are:

a) Outsiders
b) Football guys
c) Smart
d) Not likely to brook ANY  interference from the suits

Granted, this alone means nothing. But I feel a hell of a lot better with these guys in charge rather than:

a) Chip Kelly
b) Trent Baalke
c) Paraag Marathe

Shanahan now will more than likely start building his coaching staff. Since Kyle is running the offense, his main task is getting a DC. The candidates are Pats LB coach Brian Flores and ex-Jags LB coach Robert Saleh. Flores is obviously the prize, as he[s coming off the defense that shut down a team that threw up 28 points in the 1st half, and then pitched a shutout in the 2nd. He’s highly respected, and is likely on the fast track to a HC job, but a couple years here would be good for us.

As far as QBs go, here’s what we are looking at, FA wise:

a) Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. Age: 29 – Not going anywhere
b) Brian Hoyer, QB, Bears. Age: 31 – Some good games, some bad. Could land here
c) Matt Schaub – QB, Falcons. Age: 35 – Connection to Shanahan. Very possible
d) Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 27 – Young and inconsistent. Cheap tho
e) Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Age: 34 – Fuck to the no
f) Geno Smith, QB, Jets. Age: 26 – Double fuck to the no
g) Nick Foles, QB, Chiefs. Age: 28 – Meh. Still struggling to find consistency
h) Matt Barkley, QB, Bears. Age: 26 – Strictly backup material
i) Ryan Mallett, QB, Ravens. Age: 29 – Ditto

The Case Keenums and Johnny Manziels and and Pat McGroins round out the list. Shit, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Shaun Hill are on the list. Pionder could stay as a 3rd stringer if for no other reason than he looked OK in last year’s preseason.

But as far as I can  tell, I’d be looking at Hoyer, Schaub, and Glennon. In that order.

 

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Super Choke I

I tell ya, if I was a Falcons fan, this is pretty much how I felt back in the glory days of 2012 when we left a turd on the 5 yard line to fall short of our comeback. Instead, Atlanta snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by blowing the opportunity to put the game away late by giving up a sack on 2nd and 11 form the NE 23. Of course the refs decided to put the FG out of reach by calling holding on the next play. And calling PI in OT was justy icing on the cake for the bullshit job of tilting the calls toward NE. If that play is PI, then Crabtree’s certainly was, and we win Super Bowl 47.

So 1st and 10 from the NE 23 becomes 4th and 33 from the NE 45. If our new head coach simply called 3 running plays and set up for the ~40 yard FG, the game would have needed much differently. Instead, it’s all going to be about Tom Brady. Blah blah blah. Yeah, he’s a great QB, but a pick 6? He could have been picked off 3 more times, including on that last TD drive in the end zone. He missed guys open, and his WRs dropped a shitload of passes.

Brady played well, but he’s no Joe. Atl’s defense was on the field the while 2nd half, and they blew opportunity after opportunity to salt the game away. Including getting the ball on NE’s 41 on the failed onsides kick.

Blehhhh. When NE made it 28-12 early in the 4th quarter, my immediate thought was NE will tie this, it’ll go to OT and NE wins.

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