Here We Go Again

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Pro Football Focus (among others) list the 49ers as playoff contenders this young 2019 season. Of course as the Redskins found out, injuries can hit hard and fast. Reuben (Instant Karma) found out one minute into the first set of OTA drills.

Question is, is this one real? Last offseason was a bit of smoke and mirrors with the Jimmy G run to end the year. Injuries waylaid our season in a big way, and we staggered down the meat of the year until yet another improbable late season run by Nick Mullens. He didn’t win a lot, but he put up some serious numbers that opened a lot of eyes. Thing is, though, we did not have very many offensive weapons, and injuries to the running backs in particular killed any shot at consistency. Throw in a God awful defense that couldn’t cover a sloth, let alone WRs and TEs, and we had what we had.  A complete disaster.

Yes, we were the darling upstarts last year who got smacked down like a bitch in a hurry. Now however we addressed the biggest failings of the offense and defense. Playmakers and pass rushers. We drafted two WRs, we (hopefully) get Jarick McKinnon back to go with Tevin Coleman, and a healthy Matt Brieda to run and catch passes out of the backfield. Kittle comes back as a bona fide star, and Kaden Smith looks to break into the lineup.

Defensively, we didn’t address our defensive backfield, but the hope is the pass rush will make them better by the fact opposing quarterbacks will have much less than 5+ seconds to throw their passes. The addition of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander (and maybe a trade soon) looks to greatly improve this pass rush. Fred Warner is a year wiser, and what has changed is we have more team speed.  The D line should be in good shape with Buckner in top form. The rest will be a work in progress as they figure out yet again the best spot to put Solly Thomas.

The guy who intrigues me is Kentavius Street. He was a mid 1st round guy till his knee injury, so he could make any number of D linemen expendable. This is gonna be a very interesting training camp.

Say what you will about our chances, we have a MUCH better roster than last year.

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Is Kris Kocurek the Key to the Defense?

In January, the 49ers quietly hired Kris Kocurek to be the new defensive line coach. I had never heard of the guy, but he is one of the most respected line coaches in the game, Jimmy Fartsalot notwithstanding.  In his 8 years as the D line coach of the Detroit Lions, he led them to 250 sacks. 4th in the league during that stretch.  His stint in Miami last year just prompted him to get the hell out of Dodge as fast as possible and get to a promising team.

His defensive scheme employs the wide nine alignment for one or both DEs in passing downs. If you don’t know what it is,  wide nine puts the DE well outside the tackle, or TE (if there is a TE lined up on that side). All this does is isolate the DE on the tackle thus negating double teams from the guard on that side. Although offenses can chip with an RB in the backfield.

This certainly favors fast quick DEs, and with the addition of Kwon Alexander (I know, an LB), Dee Ford, and now Nick Bosa,  the Niners have the edge guys to use the scheme to their advantage. The key to this working is of course speed. With Fred Warner in there as well, there is a lot of speed in our LB corps and our ends.

Throw in Lane Kiffin’s smarter younger brother Chris working on the pass rush as well, and  the hope is this defense really gets after all these mobile QBs in our division, let alone the rest of the league.

I expect this defense to be vastly improved, or Saleh is hitting the bricks. no excuses now.

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Hard Knocks? Nope. Backfield in Motion? Yep

Not much going in in the preseaonalia of the 2019 football season. Except to report that the 49ers were on the short list (apparently) of the HBO Hard Knocks show. Now there are only four teams left in the running. I guess there are a shitload of rules around appearing on it, but suffice it so say, you need to suck, and suck for a few years, to be on the list. The remaining teams are the Lions, the Raiders, the Giants, and the Redskins. You know. Suck.

And here’s a weird tidbit from Bleacher Report. There’s talk in whatever universe they inhabit that the 49ers have the best backfield in the league. To quote Maurice Moton (yes, THAT Maurice Moton):

“In today’s league, the best running back stables aren’t filled with potential 1,000-yard rushers,” Maurice Moton writes. “There’s been a shift toward an emphasis on pass-catching ability in the backfield, so the top tailbacks can also rack up receiving yards in the short passing game.”

Matt Brieda and Jerick McKinnon certainly fill that bill. As does Tevin Coleman. With our bolstered receiver corps, the hope is this offense can get a lot out of plays in the flat, quick hitters to keep off the pressure, and the occasional deep  pass to keep defenses honest. As well as some actual running.

 

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Udfah Time

Even as the 49er front office ignored the secondary in the draft, they pretty much ignored it in the UDFA signing period as well.

They got:

  • Iowa Guard Ross Reynolds 
  • Arizona Safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
  • Defensive Tackle Kevin Givens 
  • Wake Forest SS Cameron Glenn
  • Stephen F. Austin Long-Snapper Chris Wilkerson
  • UCLA QB Wilton Speight
  • Wyoming Tight End Tyree Mayfield 
  • West Georgia Wide Receiver Malik Henry 

So, they did get a couple secondary folks. Camp fodder, sure but once in a while one of these guys stick. TE Ross Dwelly was a UDFA that made it to the team last year. Wilton Speight may give us the impetus to trade the Beater, Cameron Glenn could stick as a special teamer and short-yardage SS. And Fowles is the same guy. Big hitter, special teamer, short yardage guy.

Tyree Mayfield is yet another RB/TE guy who could be an H back in goal line situations, much like our 3rd pick, Jalen Hurd. The rest? Wheeeee! Who knows? I’m still pissed we wasted a pick on a punter.

 

 

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Yes! Yes! Yes! WTF? Huh? Meh. OK. Finally!

My reactions to our draft

  • Round 1 : 2nd Overall – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  • Round 2: 36th Overall – Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina.
  • Round 3: 67th Overall – Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor.
  • Round 4: 110th Overall (from Bengals) – Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah.
  • Round 5: 148th Overall (from Broncos) – Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas.
  • Round 6: 176th Overall – Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
  • Round 6: 183rd Overall (from Bengals) – Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt
  • Round 6: 198th Overall (from Bengals) – Tim Harris, CB, Virginia

Funny what we all saw as a glaring need was ignored till the 198th pick. And that of course is our defensive backfield. Our offensive defensive backfield.The one that gave up huge plays and points by the score. I guess they feel  like Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, and Kentavius Street will step in and make a mundane pass rush that much more effective, thus putting less pressure on the DBs to cover for 6+ seconds.

It makes sense in a short-term kind of way, but this was a deep draft for safeties and corners, so it galls me a lot that they chose to ignore that.  To be short and sweet, I liked 1-3, but am left scratching my head for 4, 5, and 6, 6, 6. A PUNTER, FFS? Am I supposed to feel good that Super Bowl champ New England drafted a punter in the 5th round? A Stanford guy, Jake Bailey,  no less?

NO! They are stacked. We NEED safeties, CBs, O linemen, and pass rushers. Would we have lost out on Wishnowsky.  Seriously? “I wishnowsky I’ll get draftedsky in the 4th roundsky?” Sure. Aaaaah.

We won’t know the the good, bad, or ugliness of the draft for a couple years, but it looks like a mixed bag of pickings this time around. I’m a little on the fence with the WRs we desperately need, as both these guys are slot WRs. Something we are knee-deep in.

I guess we have trade bait for the impending cuts and moves?

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Round 1 is in the Books

. . . and it went down like this . . .

  1. AZ – QB – Kyler Murray OKLA
  2. SF – DE – Baby Bosa Ohio St
  3. NYJ – DT – Quinnen Williams Alabama
  4. Oak – DE – Clelin Ferrell Clemson
  5. TB – LB Devin White LSU
  6. NYG – QB Daniel Jones Duke
  7. Jax – LB Josh Allen Kentucky
  8. Det – TE TJ Hockenson Iowa
  9. Buf – DT Ed Oliver Houston
  10. Den – trade pick to Pitts – LB Devin Bush Michigan
  11. Cin – Jonah Williams OT Alabama
  12. Green Bay – Rashan Gary DE Michigan
  13. Miami – Christian Wilkins DT     Clemson
  14. Atlanta – Chris Lindstrom G Boston College
  15. Washington – Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State
  16. Carolina – Brian Burns LB        Florida State
  17. New York Giants – Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson from Cleveland
  18. Minnesota – Garrett Bradbury C NC State
  19. Tenn – Jeffery Simmons DT Miss State
  20. Denver – Noah Fant TE Iowa from Pittsburgh [
  21. Green Bay – Darnell Savage Jr. S Maryland   from Seattle
  22. Philadelphia – Andre Dillard OT Washington State from Baltimore
  23. Houston – Tytus Howard OT        Alabama State
  24. Oakland – Josh Jacobs RB        Alabama from Chicago
  25. Baltimore – Marquise Brown WR    Oklahoma from Philadelphia
  26. Washington – Montez Sweat DE Miss State from Indianapolis
  27. Oakland – Johnathan Abram S Miss State from Dallas
  28. Los Angeles Chargers –  Jerry Tillery DT Notre Dame
  29. Seattle – L. J. Collier DE TCU from Kansas City
  30. New York Giants – Deandre Baker CB Georgia from NO via GB, Seattle
  31. Atlanta – Kaleb McGary OT        Washington from LA Rams
  32. New England – N’Keal Harry WR       Arizona State
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Game ON!!!

Here we go . . .

  1. AZ – QB – Kyler Murray OKLA
  2. SF – DE – Baby Bosa Ohio St
  3. NYJ – DT – Quinnen Williams Alabama
  4. Oak – DE – Clelin Ferrell Clemson
  5. TB – LB Devin White LSU
  6. NYG – QB Daniel Jones Duke
  7. Jax – LB Josh Allen Kentucky
  8. Det – TE TJ Hockenson Iowa
  9. Buf – DT Ed Oliver Houston
  10. Den – trade pick to Pitts – LB Devin Bush Michigan
  11. Cin – Jonah Williams OT Alabama
  12. Green Bay – Rashan Gary DE Michigan
  13. Miami – Christian Wilkins DT     Clemson
  14. Atlanta – Chris Lindstrom G Boston College
  15. Washington – Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State
  16. Carolina – Brian Burns LB        Florida State
  17. New York Giants – Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson from Cleveland
  18. Minnesota – Garrett Bradbury C NC State
  19. Tenn – Jeffery Simmons DT Miss State
  20. Denver – Noah Fant TE Iowa from Pittsburgh [
  21. Green Bay – Darnell Savage Jr. S Maryland   from Seattle
  22. Philadelphia – Andre Dillard OT Washington State from Baltimore
  23. Houston – Tytus Howard OT        Alabama State
  24. Oakland – Josh Jacobs RB        Alabama from Chicago
  25. Baltimore – Marquise Brown WR    Oklahoma from Philadelphia
  26. Washington – Montez Sweat DE Miss State from Indianapolis
  27. Oakland – Johnathan Abram S Miss State from Dallas
  28. Los Angeles Chargers –  Jerry Tillery DT Notre Dame
  29. Seattle – L. J. Collier DE TCU from Kansas City
  30. New York Giants – Deandre Baker CB Georgia from NO via GB, Seattle
  31. Atlanta – Kaleb McGary OT        Washington from LA Rams
  32. New England – N’Keal Harry WR       Arizona State
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