Posted on: August 25, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 8:22 pm

Doyle Gets It Wrong...

Banning alcohol is not the solution. It is the typical trap that rule makers fall into time after time...punish the guilty by punishing the innocent. Well, it's the wrong message. This topic came up on the 49ers forum (not surprisingly), and here are my comments transferred from my forum post.

So here is a recap of the supposed changes.

-No more tailgating after kickoff. This means no tailgating after the game either.

-There will be DUI checkpoints set up between the stadium exits and the freeways.

-49ers/Raiders exhibition games will now be postponed until further notice.

-Season ticket holders could have their rights revoked if their tickets makes it into the hands of a troublemaker.

If anyone has ever been to Candlestick, it was already a pain getting out of the stadium after games. Most of the time, we would tailgate after the game and let traffic die down. So without this option, I think I would rather stay home and watch it on 55" of Samsung Hi-Def. I didn't make it to any games last year, but I did go to 3 in 2009 and probably a total of 10 games in the last 10 years. So these rules are disappointing to say the least.

Checkpoints outside of the stadium will make a bad situation worse. So you can imagine if traffic sucked prior to this change, then how bad will traffic exiting the stadium be now? I do understand that DUI's need to be kept in check, but this move doesn't necessarily target the "bad" element. It will include your white and blue collared professionals as well.

49ers/Raiders exhibition games will be back.

I don't know if punishing season ticket holders sends the right message either. This is especially the case for underperforming teams like the 49ers who need this revenue. If the season ticket holders themselves are constant troublemakers, then boot them. However, you can't expect season ticket holders to police the tickets they sell.

I believe the solution lies in technology.

-Teams should make is standard to require a valid drivers license or state ID when entering the stadium.

-Teams should be able to scan these ID's and sync up with police computers. If the subject has warrants out for their arrest, then they should be turned away and/or arrested on the spot. To take it one step further, police officials on the spot would further screen individuals with violent backgrounds on record and kick them out. Stragglers would be kicked out after kickoff and once the 4th quarter ends, allow tailgating for those who wish to wait out traffic.

-Teams would need to pay for police officials to manage the program. Scanning ID's would not do much to significantly slow the pace of entering the stadium. Minors would be exempt as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

This would ensure that "bad" elements stay out of the stadium and forced back into the parking lot or arrested. If they are not arrested, then they would be forced to leave after kickoff. I guarantee that once word gets out that police are arresting people with open warrants at the gates, then a lot of the bad element will stop showing up.

if you do these things, then you're sending the right message. We don't want people in our stadium who are criminals and/or are prone to violence.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 30, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 10:52 pm

San Francisco 2011 NFL Draft Recap

The 49ers began this draft with a little bit of a surprise. I must admit, the drafting of Aldon Smith threw me off guard. However, after reviewing what Baalke did in last year's draft class I believe 2011 was more calculated in terms of finding playmakers with the first two picks. To round out the draft, Baalke specifically targeted versatile and/or role type players to help with the new schemes which will be implemented by Harbaugh and DC Vic Fangio. Baalke went with a conservative approach drafting linemen early in 2010. Only time will tell if 2011's aggressive draft will pay off.

1st rd, #7 - Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri, 6'4", 263lbs. - The 49ers needed to add a defense playmaker in the front seven. More specifically, they needed to add a talented pass rusher. Aldon Smith is a young phenom with blessed pass rushing skills. He logged 17 sacks in two college seasons. He is coming out after his Sophomore year. This gives us an idea of how talented (but raw), Smith is. 11 of those sacks came in Smith's first year. He was injured last season (fractured leg), but came back after 3 games as a testament to his toughness. Smith can be washed out in running plays at times, but understands his angles. He has a tall, rangy build which helps in coverage. His true greatness will be getting to the QB. He also maintains pretty good discipline when double teamed or blocked without overrunning the play. At times, Smith was lined up inside. The 49ers love the versatility for Vic Fangio's 3-4 where pressure will be brought from different areas. Smith is a true boom or bust pick, but the safest one and less riskier than drafting Gabbert or Locker at this spot. Some view this pick as a reach, but only by a few spots. Smith has the upside and college production to justify this pick. This was an aggressive pick.

2nd rd, #36 - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada, 6'4", 233 lbs. - The 49ers were smitten with Kaepernick early in the pre-draft process. They had multiple visits with Kaepernick. Kaepernick has the distinction as the only QB in NCAA history with career passing for more than 10,000 yards while adding 4,000 more yards rushing. Kaepernick passed for 21 TD's and 8 INT's in 2010. He added an additional 20 TD's rushing. Kaepernick has a unique blend of passing and rushing talent. He has impressive speed for his size. Kaepernick has good awareness and field vision. There are question marks concerning his delivery. The 49ers are confident that Harbaugh will be able to correct any delivery issues. Kaepernick's accuracy in 2010 greatly improved from his Junior year. It will also require a year or two for Kaepernick to transition from the Pistol offense in college to a Pro style offense. The 49ers are agressively targeting Alex Smith so they won't have to force Kaepernick into service before his time. Kaepernick is a local kid as well. The 49ers traded away a 5th and 6th round place to swap 2nd round picks with the Broncos to make this pick. This was an aggressive pick.

He likes throwing to his TE, #85. He'll love throwing to his new #85 TE.

3rd rd, #80 - Chris Culliver, CB/S, South Carolina, 6', 199 lbs. - Culliver's greatest asset is versatility. He has starts at CB and FS. Culliver transitioned to CB in 2010 where he had 7 starts and then was lost for the rest of the season due to a torn pectoral muscle. He doesn't excel at any one area of coverage, but is somewhat well-rounded in all areas. His long-term future may lie at FS. He is expected to provide incumbent Dashon Goldson with competition. He may get an early look in dime packages. He doesn't seem like a ball hawk. Although, he does seem to be in the right position most times. Culliver also adds return skills. Culliver was viewed as a later round pick, but possibly due to injury. Good measurable's may have attracted the 49ers to take him a round or two early. Culliver ran a 4.36 in the 40 yard dash.

4th rd, #115 - Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St., 5'8", 199 lbs. - Hunter reminds me of Brian Westbrook without the breakaway gear. He is extremely shifty and has a wicked first cut. Hunter has accumulated 39 total TD's in his 4 year college career, so he is no stranger to the end zone. He has good vision and sets up blocks well. Injuries prevented him from piling up more stats. He rushed for over 1500 yards in the two complete seasons he played. Hunter is an asset in the passing game. He is a good change-of-pace RB. This was a good value pick. Hunter has 2nd round skills, but probably slid due to injury and size concerns.

5th rd, #163 - Daniel Kilgore, OL, Appalachian St., 6'3", 308 lbs. - Kilgore's greatest asset are his intangible's. He has the mental make up to be an effective linemen in the NFL. However, his physical limitations may relegate him to career backup duty. Kilgore's future is at Guard. Kilgore does fire off well, and can be an effective pulling Guard. If he excels, he could push Snyder and Rachal for playing time at RG. The 49ers traded away a 6th and 7th round pick to draft Kilgore. So the team will expect Kilgore to compete.

6th rd, #182 - Ronald Johnson, WR, USC, 5'11", 199 lbs. - Johnson is a playmaker. He reminds me of last year's 6th round WR pick, Kyle Williams. Johnson is a one-speed and go WR. There is not much in the repetoire. Outside of a strong hitch move, his route running needs polish. He does have good deep speed though. Johnson can serve as a deep threat out of the slot. He will immediately challenge Williams and Ginn for the slot position. The 49ers got good value here and Johnson could eventually even challenge as a #2 WR. There were plenty of highlights for Johnson. He also adds value in the return game.

6th rd, #190 - Colin Jones, S, TCU, 6', 208 lbs. - Jones is another prospect that measured out well. He has 4.30 speed. Jones was moved around in TCU's defense. However, he was not known as a consistent force at S. He has the size to play SS. I believe the 49ers will value Jone's special teams play for which he will most likely make a name for himself in this area. The 49ers keep up with the theme at versatility along with Culliver and Smith.

7th rd, #211 - Bruce Miller, OLB, UCF, 6'1", 254 lbs. - Miller is quite an accomplished sackmaster. He has tallied up 36 sacks in four years. Miller reminds me of Travis LaBoy. He doesn't have an elite first step, but comes with a lot of strength and force. Miller is too small to play at DE and will transition to 3-4 OLB. He may be effective in certain Zone Blitz situations so Miller will fit right into Fangio's scheme. Miller doesn't have the measurables that Aldon Smith has making Miller a limited down edge player (pass rush specialist). Miller continues the trend of prospects with good measurables (4.7 40, 42 reps bench press). Rumor has it that the 49ers will try him at FB.

7th rd, #239 (comp) - Michael Person, OL, Montana St., 6'4", 299 lbs. - Person is an accomplished LT at Montana St. Like Kilgore, he has the mental makeup Harbaugh is looking for. Person does not have the base skill set to become a starter, but will provide adequate depth and perhaps become a capable backup. He can pull and get to the second level. He is hard working and intelligent.

7th rd, #250 (comp) - Curtis Holcomb, CB, Florida A&M, 5'10", 190 lbs. - Holcomb has logged 7 INT's over 3 years. He had a good Pro Day (4.46 40), which probably prompted the 49ers to take a late round flier. I suspect that Holcomb was added for Special Teams value.

Draft analysts and Sportwriters will criticize the 49ers for making aggressive picks. However, these same individuals do not look far enough into the minds of Baalke and Harbaugh to form an effective opinion. Many will penalize the 49ers for not drafting Blaine Gabbert and it is flat out wrong considering the 49ers had Kaepernick targeted all along. Some will criticize the 49ers for trading up for Kaepernick. However, the move was necessary given how the draft played out early for QB's.

Category: NFL
Tags: 49ers, NFL draft
Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:20 pm

My 2011 NFL Mock

After many off the record revisions, here is my final mock on draft day.

1. CAR - Cam Newton
2. DEN - Marcell Dareus
3. BUF - Von Miller
4. CIN - A.J. Green
5. ARI - Patrick Peterson
6. CLE - Julio Jones
7. SF - Robert Quinn
8. TEN - Nick Fairley
9. DAL - J.J. Watt
10. WAS - Aldon Smith
11. HOU - Prince Amukamara
12. MIN - Blaine Gabbert
13. DET - Tyron Smith
14. STL - Corey Liuget
15. MIA - Ryan Mallett
16. JAX - Cameron Jordan
17. NE - Ryan Kerrigan
18. SD - Anthony Castonzo
19. NYG - Mike Pouncey
20. TB - Da'Quan Bowers
21. KC - Phil Taylor
22. IND - Nate Solder
23. PHI - Jimmy Smith
24. NO - Mark Ingram
25. SEA - Marvin Austin
26. BAL - Brandon Harris
27. ATL - Kyle Rudolph
28. NE - Gabe Carimi
29. CHI - Derek Sherrod
30. NYG - Justin Houston
31. PIT - Muhammed Wilkerson
32. GB - Brooks Reed
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Draft
Posted on: April 25, 2011 3:30 pm

IrishDawg's 2011 Collaborative Mock - 49ers

IrishDawg's 3rd Collaborative Mock Draft has just wrapped up for 2011. Special "Thanks" to Irishdawg for taking the time to put this together. Once again, I represented the 49ers. For the last 3 years, I have taken this opportunity as a role playing exercise to hypothesize who the 49ers will select in the upcoming drafts. Here was the strategy for this year's draft.

The 49ers primary needs are QB, Rush OLB, NT, CB, FB. Secondary needs were RB, G, WR, K.

QB - GM Trent Baalke already indicated that he wil lean heavily on HC Jim Harbaugh for QB guidance. It's hard to geta  read on a first year HC, but there was a lot of media making its way around locally which led me to believe that Harbaugh was going to apply some Bill Walsh principles to his draft selections. This impacted my decision to pass on Blaine Gabbert in round 1.

The rest of the draft is run by Baalke. There isn't much difference between what Baalke did last year and what he will do this year. He will draft physical players based on tape. Size does matter, but smaller players aren't entirely excluded.

The 49ers will be moving to a run heavy, WCO under Jim Harbaugh, a 3-4 ZBS under Vic Fangio.

1st rd, #7) Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina - 1st team all-ACC 2009, Quinn is a standout DE at North Carolina. The general consensus is that he may be the best "pure" pass rusher in the draft. Pass rush is one of the 49ers top needs. Quinn had one good year in college before he was suspended. I believe Quinn's character checks out. The bigger question is if he can make the transition to 3-4 OLB. Quinn has great measurables to go along with good tape. My feeling is that there will be a little bit of a learning curve, but he can ultimately make the transition. I feel the 49ers are high on him as well. Baalke admitted that many successful NFL 3-4 OLB's are converted college DE's. Quinn is no exception.

2nd rd, #45) Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada - WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 & 2008, only player in college football to rush for 4,000+ yards and pass for 9,000+ yards in a career. Kaepernick's college resume is outstanding. However, as with any 2nd round QB, he has question marks. Some think that Kaepernick may be overdrafted here. I feel the QB is the most overdrafted position period. Based on what I've been reading about the 49ers, I feel that this pick could either be Kaepernick, Dalton, Stanzi or Ponder. All of these QB's have a degree of athleticism and intelligence that Harbaugh would favor. None of these QB's are wildly inaccurate either. Kaepernick's accuracy will be questioned, however I chose to look at his improvement between his Jr and Sr years.

3rd rd, #76) Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville - Big East 1st Team selection 2010. There is popular belief that Patrick Peterson will be the pick at #7. In this mock. Peterson is gone by then. And this could very well be the case on draft day as well. I chose Patrick, not necessarily for his upside in man coverage, but his ability in zone coverage which may suit the 49ers new ZBS better. I was also specifically looking at CB's who logged INT's last year.

4th rd, #108) Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St - 2 time All American, runner up for Big 12 Offensive Player of the year award. Finished college with 4,181 yards and 37 rushing TD's. The 49ers are looking for a RB to spell Gore and provide a change of pace. Brian Westbrook was a solid back up last year. Hunter reminds me of Westbrook. I thought Hunter would've been drafted by this spot, so I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make this pick. Hunter doesn't have size to his advantage, but he is a "special" player and that is the exception Baalke would be looking for.

4th rd, #115) Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa - 26-9 as starter, steps up in big games. OK...I doubt the 49ers would take a QB in the 2nd round and then another in the 4th. However, I do believe that it's possible they will take two QB's, just further apart. Stanzi was the best player here. I think he's capable of going in the 3rd round. So like Hunter, I was a little overzealous when making this pick. I see Stanzi as a similar prospect to Dalton. Neither has the booming arm. I do believe if the 49ers do not land a QB in the 2nd round, then Stanzi has a good shot of being drafted by the 49ers in the 3rd.

5th rd, #141) Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech - Here's another value pick that fits a need. Like Patrick, Rashad excels in zone coverage and may fit the scheme well. The knock on Carmichael is that he isn't very physical, but he's a ballhawks and one of my favorite players in this year's draft.

6th rd, #174) Andrew Jackson, G, Fresno St - 1st team all WAC in 2009. Hobbled by injuries in 2010. Jackson isn't a prototypical Guard by any means, but he does have some quickness which may translate well to a WCO-type zone-blocking scheme. He's a physical player that Harbaugh will like and can challenge Rachal with proper coaching.

6th rd, #190) Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut - There are more than a handful of quality FB's in the draft. However, there isn't a great necessity meaning that you could wait until the 6th or 7th round and grab a good FB. I chose to draft one here and come away with one of the better FB's in this year's draft. Sherman is a solid blocker, has decent receiving skills and is a special teams demon. He will fit the WCO quite nicely.

7th rd, #211) Marc Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of Mines - There were two players I was looking at here, Schiechl...and Steven Friday. Like Quinn, both are college DE's who have to transition to OLB. Friday had a good year at VT, however I looked at what Schiechl did over his career (All time DII sacks leader with 46) and feel that there may be another James Harrison here.

7th rd, #233) Raymond Webber, WR, Arkansas Pinie-Bluff - Caught 101 balls as a SR for 1,429 yards. 49ers need more WR's with size and Webber gives them that (6'2", 218 lbs.).

7th rd, #241) Kris Durham, WR, Georgia - Durham has size (6'5", 214 lbs) and would make him the tallest WR on the 49ers' roster. Durham played second fiddle (understandably) to A.J. Green. Durham fits the mold of a tall, red zone-type possession receiver.

7th rd, #252) Kai Forbath, K, UCLA - Smi-finalist for Lou Groza award, 2nd team all-PAC 10, .842 career percentage. 49ers current K is Joe Nedney. Nedney has been a steady, reliable K over the the years, but it's time to search for his replacement. There are several teams that brought Forbath in for visits leading me to believe he will be drafted.

The 49ers had 12 picks total. 9 of these picks were in the back half of the draft (4th or later). It's difficult to imagine finding starters late in the draft so the focus was on project players who could play certain roles...Hunter - 3rd/passing downs, Carmichael - Nickel and Dime, Sherman - passing downs and ST, Durham - red zone/3rd and short. There was an emphasis on need, but I only took players which I valued at certain spots. With the exception of QB, I believe that none of the other picks were "reaches".

Hopefully, there is enough contributions at various levels from the top down. There were a couple of things that I didn't do because the opportunities didn't present themselves. First, I didn't engage in any trades. I did not feel that there was enough popularity on Kaepernick or Dalton to make a move. I was able to stand pat on my picks. Second, I wasn't able to come away from this draft with a NT. I firmly believe that the 49ers would value a 2 down, NT later in the draft. However, in this exercise NT's went early.

Category: NFL
Tags: 49ers, Draft
Posted on: February 15, 2010 5:30 pm

49ers Offseason Priorities

Congratulations to the 49ers for finishing 8-8. It was the first time since 2003 that the 49ers didn't finish below 0.500. Boo to the 49ers for not making the playoffs since 2003. Coming into the 2009 season, I felt that the team was finally moving in the right direction. Nolan did some good things, but his progress had stagnated after 2006. 2009 marked the first season where GM Scot McCloughan had full control over the team. However, the front office wasn't the only change. Playmakers stepped up on both sides of the ball. For the first time in a long time, I can say with confidence that there is a solid core of players that the 49ers can add to. The front office went conservative for 2009. I expect them to make some more noise in free agency for 2010.

I have offered some thoughts below as to what I think the team will do this offseason.

QB - Singletary seems committed to Alex Smith as the starter for 2010. However, there was some caution in Singletary's wording. Singletary's general philosophy is to "get better at every position". So he committed to Smith without committing. Common sense tells us that the 49ers aren't in a position to draft and groom another QB after Nate Davis, given the way Davis played during the 2009 preseason. The expectation is to win the division for 2010. So Smith is most likely the starter. If a QB is drafted, you probably won't see one drafted before the 6th or 7th round. Shaun Hill will most likely be gone. Another journeyman may be brought in. To the 49ers, this isn't an area of great perceived need and the draft class for QB's this year isn't a strong one. Priority - Low. No immediate needs.

RB - Gore will continue to be the centerpiece on offense. The majority of the middle part of the 2009 season was used by the offense to adjust to more of a spread/shotgun type passing attack to suit Smith's strength's and minimize his weaknesses. During this time, Gore was lost in the shuffle. There are questions as to whether Gore can succeed in the new offense. I don't feel the team will try to move Gore. Gore showed his pass catching abilities in Martz's offense in 2008. He also displayed good top end speed evidenced by his long runs last year. The bigger question is "where does Glen Coffee fit in the new offense?" Coffee is more of a grinder between the tackles. He has similar timed speed to Frank Gore, but is not as explosive as Gore. Coffee's hands are still relatively untested. Coffee was a 3rd round pick in 2009 and still undeveloped as a RB. It difficult to envision the 49ers giving up on a 3rd round pick so early, so I don't think there will be much of a change here. There is speculation that the 49ers might grab a playmaker at the position. C.J. Spiller's name continues to be brought up. If Spiller falls to #17, I don't see why the 49ers take him as an irresitably best player available as they did with Michael Crabtree last year. Priority - Low. No immediate needs.

WR - This was a position of relative weakness going into the 2009 offseason. Fast forward one year and now it's a postion of strength. Crabtree showed why he has top 10 talent. He stepped in mid-season after missing 5 games, preseason and training camp and still put 625 yards and 2 TD's. The expectation will be much higher for 2010. Morgan could be the 49ers' best deep threat but he needs to conentrate and catch the ball better. This team still underutilized Jason Hill and Brandon Jones. This is a very young, but extremely talented core of WR's. Battle may be the odd man out and I don't see team making major changes here. Priority - Low. No immediate needs.

TE - What a year for Vernon Davis. Davis had always been amazing talent, but it had to be the right set of circumstances for him to live up to that potential. 2009 was a phenomenal year for Davis. I don't expect a repeat 13 TD season, but Davis will still be one of the leagues elite TE's. Delanie Walker proved to be a mismatch for defenses at the expense of playing time for Morgan and Hill. The 49ers have no shortage of receivers in the passing game. Walker does need to improve blocking. There is some speculation that the team will bring in a 3rd TE as a blocking specialist. This does not come as a surprise as the team needs to improve short yardage and goal line blocking. Priority - Medium. Blocking specialist needed.

O-line - This could be considered the greatest crutch on offense in 2009. The 49ers have admitted there were problems and Singletary said that there would be offseason changes. RT was the most glaring weakness. Adam Snyder is no more than a backup at the position. LG David Baas was merely average at best. In his defense, he played injured much of the season with Plantar Faciatis. Baas will most likely be back as he will be a restricted free agent. The big question is how the team plans to address the RT position. Will it be via free agency or draft. There are a slew of OT's in the first round that would make solid RT's. However, teams do not typically spend first round draft picks on RT's. The 49ers have two picks in the first round so thye could afford the luxury of doing so. However, if GM McCloughan is truely savvy, then he will address RT in free agency before the draft. Priority - High. RT upgrade is a must. LG upgrade would enhance this unit.

D-line - The defense starts with NT Aubrayo Franklin. Franklin had a quietly good year. At the same time, he isn't exactly a best kept secret. Franklin is an unrestricted free agent and the 49ers will most likely use the franchise tag on him. The 49ers front office has locked up young players to long term contracts in recent years. It's somewhat troubling that Franklin wasn't given an extension before the season ended. This leave me to question the 49ers' intentions with regards to Franklin. Prior to the Senior Bowl, there were rumors that the 49ers were interested in Alabama NT Terrence Cody. The 49ers place a lot of stock in Senior Bowl players. I am under the impression that the 49ers opinion on Cody has changed for the worse since Cody showed up out of shape (or overweight). However, it has to raise an eyebrow that the 49ers are possibly looking at a younger replacement for Franklin. Justin Smith is an excellent 3-4 DE. Sopoaga and Balmer are average on the other side. Priority - Medium. Long term solution at NT is needed.

LB - Patrick Willis is arguably the best ILB in the league right now. Takeo Spikes is playing at a high level next to Willis. The 49ers may have uncovered a gem in Ahmad Brooks. Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson are effective if not dominating. The ILB's are solid. However, the 49ers have yet to find Spikes' future replacement. Top reserve, Scott McKillop may be limited as a special teams standout and a career backup. It still remains to be seen if he can replace Spikes long term. The team lacks an elite OLB to rush the passer. The team may be wise to target a top free agent pass rusher to boost competition. Priority - Medium. Elite pass rusher and long term replacement is needed for Spikes.

CB - This unit received quite a shake up throughout the season. $80 million man Nate Clements was benched as a starter and then ultimately injured. Singletary believes that Clements still has much to offer as a CB. For this reason alone, I think that Clements will be back at starting CB. Shawntae Spencer has locked down the other side. Tarell Brown is an effective nickel corner. Veteran Dre Bly stepped up his play late in the season. it will be difficult for the 49ers to re-sign him. It has become a passing league. The 49ers struggle in pass coverage and cannot afford to be caught short in CB's. Expect a high profile signing or draft pick here. Priority - Medium. One more top flight CB is needed.

S - Dashon Goldson stepped into the full time starter role and provided the safety position with an infusion of much needed turnovers. Goldson needs to improve on his coverage, but the potential is certainly there. SS Michael Lewis struggled with concussions early in the season. With the league placing additional emphasis on concussions, the 49ers will need to address the position. Mark Roman is not the long term answer. He is much more suited to a limited role. 2008 3rd round pick Reggie Smith flashed playmaking ability in the preseason, but he needs to turn the corner here. Otherwise, the team will need to invest heavily for 2010. Priority - Medium. Long term solution at SS must be found.

Returns - This area was the most painful to watch. Singletary did some good things throughout the season, but returns were horribly mismanaged. There was no answer after Allen Rossum was cut. Michael Sprulock was not given a chance. Opportunities were fumbled and bobbled by Jones. Morgan proved to be the best return man but the team does not want to use a starting WR here. Singletary stated that the return game will see emphasis in the offseason as well. Whether it be free agency or draft, something drastic needs to be done here. Priority - High. Return specialist needed.

Kicking - Andy Lee and Joe Nedney are the constants and good at what they do. Priority - Low

To summarize, the 49ers need immediate upgrades at RT and returner. then they will need to address long-term needs at NT, ILB and SS. The core of a good team is there. The final pieces need to be put into place. This may be the end of the line for McCloughan so he will need a big offseason and an even bigger finish for 2010
Category: NFL
Tags: 49ers, nfl
Posted on: August 7, 2009 9:54 pm

Why Crabtree Will Play This Year...

It's crazy how one comment from a relative can make things go south in a hurry. Three months ago, we were the happiest fans on the planet. We snagged potentially (and arguably) the best receiver in the draft. Now, we have a relative of Crabtree's threatening potential holdout unless Crabtree is given "fair market" value (whatever that is supposed to mean at this stage).

So now the perception is that Crabtree is going to hold out for the rest of the season. I think otherwise. Crabtree has too much at stake. So here are the reasons why I don't think Crabtree will sit out.

1) He loses a whole year's worth of salary (at least 4-5 million).

2) If he re-inserts himself into the draft, odds are that teams will shy away from drafting him in the top 10 because they don't want to go through the thought of having him hold out again. He wouldn't command top 10 $'s anymore.

3) The talent pool is much more competitive for 2010, also decreasing the chances that he will be selected in the top 10.

4) The prospect of a rookie salary cap looms. If it passes (which it most likely will), Crabtree could potentially make significantly less due to the odds that he will not be drafted in the top 10.

5) Crabtree is not a speed demon. So the chances of a good 40 time in next year's combine is unlikely, which would also keep him out of the top 10.

6) All indications coming out of college is that Crabtree loves the game. He is no longer college eligible and would sit out of football for a whole year. He would need to dedicate himself to staying in football shape for nothing.

So it's too early to panic. The 49ers hold all the cards. The 49ers should and will call the bluff. I still believe that Crabtree's agent is waiting for the other picks to sign before moving forward with negotiations. But the thought of a season long holdout is outrageous. Crabtree (and his agent) would stand to lose millions if he did.
Category: NFL
Tags: 49ers, Crabtree
Posted on: July 22, 2009 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2009 6:07 pm

49ers - Positional Battles To Watch For

It's that time of year where football grinds to a halt. No combine. No Draft. No free agency. And no training camps. July is vacation for most teams and with it comes much silence. We are a little over a week away from training camp. Here is a little primer to prep us for what is to come in camp and preseason. I've focused on areas that I feel the team will address. QB, backup RB, #2 WR, RT, OLB, FS & CB al figure to have significant competition. TE, OG, ILB, SS figure to see little action in camp with the current starters and there backups established.

QB - This has to be the most highly publicized battle on the team. The job is still Shaun Hill's to lose even though Coach Singletary refused to name Hill the starter after the '08 season ended. Singletary openly admitted that he would like to see Hill "take the next step". Hill can manage the game quite well however, he has never been really asked to take over a game. Although, he did perform well under pressure against the Cardinals on Monday night. GM Scot McCloughan is a firm believer in Alex Smith. It's probably one of the strongest reasons why Smith is still with the team when many others might have cut him. During June OTA's, both QB's performed equally well in practice. For Hill, it is in contrast to his practices in past seasons where he didn't look as sharp. Maybe this is a half step closer for him in "taking the next step". Singletary has set his timetable to announce the starter after the 3rd preseason game. So this battle will go beyond training camp.

Backup RB - Frank Gore is a lock to start. The question is "who will back him up?" The 49ers have stated that they plan to reduce Gore's workload. The backup roles will be fought out by this year's 3rd round pick, Glen Coffee and undrafted rookie Kory Sheets will battle with practice squad regular, Thomas Clayton. The end may be nearing for Clayton. He will need more than a strong showing in all areas to keep a roster spot. Clayton is a good runner but must be more versatile. Michael Robinson is a valuable swingman on 3rd downs, short yardage and special teams. So he won't be expected to be a primary in any area. It would be hard to imagine the team going into the season with 5 RB's on the roster. Coffee is the favorite. Sheets or Clayton might be the odd man out.

FB - Frank Gore is glad to have Moran Norris back. Gore ran for 1,600+ yards behind Norris in 2006. It doesn't look like Norris is being handed the job easily though. There will be competition from last year's holdover, Zak Keasey, along with recent signee Brit Miller (who?). When it's all said and done, Miller should be cut and Keasey will be relegated to special teams duty.

#2 WR - This will be one of the most intriguing positional battles in the eyes of many 49ers fans. Michael Crabtree is the 10th overall pick. but Isaac Bruce is returning and Josh Morgan shows promise as the #2. Brandon Jones was also signed to a 5-year, $15 million contract when the free agency period began. Isaac Bruce is pretty much a lock at the Flanker position when the season starts. The plan is to work Morgan in as Flanker while Crabtree learns the Split End spot. But if Crabtree comes on strong in camp, then the team will be forced to get him onto the field one way or another, at the expense of Bruce, Morgan or Jones. Jones has stated that he likes playing out of the slot, so it's hard to envision him competing for a starting postition.

RT - This was the largest trouble spot on offense last year. It wasn't QB or WR, it was RT. The official word is that there will be competition here between Marvel Smith, Barry Sims and Adam Snyder. But the team didn't sign Smith to be a backup, so expect him to start here. Sims and Snyder will compete with controversial college free agent, Alex Boone for two remaining backup spots. I hope Boone impresses. Sims needs to go.

D-line - It will be interesting to see how this shapes out. Training camp and preseason wil determine the mix in the rotation. Justin Smith has one end spot locked down. Isaac Sopoaga is the starter on the other side and Aubrayo Franklin will hold the nose. There's not much competition here but Demetric Evans, Ray McDonald, last year's 1st round pick, Kentwan Balmer and former college standout, Ricky Jean-Francois will all fight for increased playing time. McDonald played well last year splitting gaps before he was injured. Balmer is looking to take the next step after a quiet rookie season. Evans versatility will almost guarantee him some playing time.

OLB - I'll start by reminding everyone that the 49ers operate out of a 3-4 scheme, so QB pressure is applied by the OLB. Singletary wants more sacks. Haralson has one side locked down. The other side is manned by Manny Lawson. We haven't seen enough from Lawson to formulate an accurate opinion. But Marques Harris was brought in to compete. If Harris has a strong showing in camp, he may take pass rushing downs away from Lawson.

#2 CB - Nate Clements will hold down the #1 spot but the season ending injury to Walt Harris was a big blow. It also might be a blessing in disguise. Dre Bly was signed to compete for the #2 spot in Harris' place. Bly joins the team at a time in his career similar to when Harris joined the team in 2006. Bly will compete with promising 3rd year CB, Tarell Brown. Bly should get the job. Regardless of who wins, the team is in good shape entering the season.

FS - Similar to Sims at RT, Mark Roman was a disaster on the defensive side of the ball last year. The 49ers could've given up one TD less per game had it not been for the spotty play of Roman. There's not much competition here after Roman was allowed to seek a trade and came away unsuccessful. Prior to this, oft-injured preseason standout Dashon Goldson has been declared the starter.

There it is. Be sure to keep an eye on these battles once training camp and preseason begins. Go Niners!
Category: NFL
Posted on: May 24, 2009 2:24 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 11:54 am

NFL 2009 Power Rankings

NFL 2009 Power Rankings

 1. New York Giants – The Giants did very well refortifying their roster in free agency and the draft. Injured starters on the D-line are back. DE Osi Umenyiora is healthy. WR Hakeem Nicks was drafted to replace Plaxico Burress. The defense will be dominant and they won’t miss Plax one bit. I firmly believe that the Giants would’ve been in the Super Bowl without the injuries and Plaxico saga. The Giants are my Super Bowl favorites for 2009.

 2. Pittsburg Steelers – Last year’s Super Bowl champs are the second best team heading into the season. Not much has changed and like the Giants, they plugged their holes well. The Steelers could’ve used some help on the O-line. But this O-line got them to the Super Bowl. OL Kraig Urbik was drafted in the third round. But the defense is the highlight of the team. The Steelers have a good chance to repeat as champions.

 3. New England Patriots – The Patriots managed and 11-5 record without QB Tom Brady last year. Even with Brady, that record may still have been 11-5 and they would’ve still missed the playoffs. Brady is back. Coach Bill Belichick did the usual roster improvements in free agency and not only addressed short-term deficiencies in the draft, but the long-term ones as well. The Patriots will win at least 11 games and they will go deep into the playoffs.

 4. Philadelphia Eagles – Eagles fans had to be frustrated last year. The Eagles have maintained a core of a team that has allowed them to reach the playoffs in 7 of the last 9 seasons, and they did it the ugly way last year. Well there will be no shortage of talent for 2009. The Eagles grabbed playmaking WR Jeremy Maclin in the draft and rebuilt their O-line. The defense will be fine without S Brian Dawkins. The Eagles will be a Super Bowl contender but they will need to get by the Giants to go all the way.

 5. New Orleans Saints – Anybody that saw the Saints play defense last year would say that this ranking is too high. But I think they turn the corner here. The Saints grabbed DB Malcolm Jenkins in the draft and he will be their centerfielder. This is the year the Saints defense comes together. The Saints already have a Super Bowl caliber offense. They will win 12 games this year and go deep into the playoffs.

 6. Minnesota Vikings – When you have Adrian Peterson and an elite defense, playoffs are always a possibility no matter who the QB is. 2009 will be no exception as long as QB Sage Rosenfels gets the start. The Vikings can win 10-12 games with their division. But I foresee another first round exit unless the QB situation continues to improve. Calling Brett Favre.

 7. Indianapolis ColtsPeyton Manning always gives you a chance to win. It’s everything else that holds the Colts back. GM Bill Polian tried to fix the “everything else” in the offseason. NCAA leading RB Donald Brown was added in the draft along with two run stuffing DT’s in Fili Moala and Terrence Taylor. It looks like there will be less emphasis on Peyton to win games on his own. The Colts look to run a lot and to stop the run as their formula to success this year. They will have some growing pains on defense but may still challenge the Steelers and Patriots for a championship.

 8. Arizona Cardinals – Last year’s reigning NFC champions will find it tough to repeat as the Giants and Eagles get stronger. The Cardinals drafted RB Beanie Wells to balance out its pass-heavy offense. Kurt Warner and Company is capable of winning games in the same fashion as Manning’s Colts. The Cardinals should hope that they won’t have to battle the distractions with WR Anquan Boldin, DT Darnell Dockett and LB Karlos Dansby. But the Cardinals are a capable Playoff team as they proved last season.

 9. Tennessee Titans – The offense gets upgraded with draftees WR Kenny Britt and TE Jared Cook. The defense gets DT Sen’Derrick Marks. But Marks inconsistencies will not offset the loss of Albert Haynesworth. The Titans will not win 13 games this year but they should make the playoffs.

 10. San Diego Chargers – Norv Turner doesn’t get any respect. But should he? The Chargers will return to form this year. Not in the form of RB LaDanian Tomlinson, but with the pass rush of OLB’s Shawn Merriman and Larry English. The pass defense will be better. That alone will improve the Chargers 8 win total from last year to 10+ wins in 2009. The Chargers also capitalize on a weak division that is in a state of flux.

 11. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens have always got by with a dominant defense. They might have struck gold last year with QB Joe Flacco and RB LeRon McClain. Neither were probably expected to make the impact that they did in their rookie years. There were changes to that dominant defense, more so than in the past. Gone are LB Bart Scott and CB Chris McAlister. They also lost key blocker, Lorenzo Neal. These details will prevent the Ravens from winning 11 games like they did last year.

 12. Chicago Bears – The Bears have a good defense. But it is not the elite defense that took them to the Super Bowl in recent years. The acquisition of QB Jay Cutler adds another element of respectability to this team. There is are no WR’s in Brandon Marshall or Eddie Royal. We will have to wait and see if WR’s Earl Bennett and Juaquin Iglesias pick up where the other two left off. Nonetheless, the Bears should be good for 10+ wins.

 13. Carolina Panthers – The Panthers X-factor on offense will depend on QB Jake Delhomme. One year removed Tommy John surgery, Panthers fans should hope that Delhomme will return to Super Bowl form. Another factor hindering the Panthers is a defense that broke down later in the year. That same defense returns to full strength, but will they break down again and will Julius Peppers become a distraction?

 14. Atlanta Falcons – QB Matt Ryan and his Falcons won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year. Teams will key in on RB Michael Turner and the inexperience on defense will cost them a few games. The Falcons got a treat in TE Tony Gonzalez. But like the Ravens, the Falcons will not win 11 games this year but could still sneak into the playoffs.

 15. Miami Dolphins – Like the Falcons, the Dolphins will not be sneaking up on anyone this year. Opponents will key in on the Wildcat. GM Bill Parcells continues to bring in hard working, blue collar type players. This team is solid but will not take anyone by surprise. The Dolphins will struggle to win 11 games in a tough conference.

 16. Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys may struggle to surpass mediocrity. Ridding themselves of WR Terrell Owens was a smart move, but they may need more firepower on offense and defense to defeat division rivals Giants and Eagles. The Cowboys will stay at medicrity and will need the Giants and Eagles to falter in order to make the playoffs.

 17. Buffalo Bills – The Bills definitely brought more attention to themselves and the city of Buffalo in the off season with the acquisition of T.O. But the loss of Jason Peters may offset the effectiveness of the signing. The Bills upgraded WR and pass rush in the offseason but it may not be enough in a very competitive division. The Bills will be fortunate to win 9 games.

 18. Houston Texans – The Texans themselves are in a very difficult position. They too, are saddled in a very competitive league. While the Texans has no shortage of star players (DE Mario Williams, WR Andre Johnson, LB DeMeco Ryans, RB Steve Slaton to name a few), they must face the Colts and Titans twice a year. Like the Bills, the Texans will be lucky to see more than 9 wins. A healthy QB Matt Schaub just might make a difference.

 19. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers don’t get any respect. It’s understandable since they haven’t made the playoffs since 2003. But they’ll turn the corner this year. No B.S. about how the QB’s are unsettled with Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. Hill will start. And his game management style fits the defense that helped the team win 5 games out of their final 8. The 49ers should win at least 9 games and finish over 0.500 for the first time since 2003.

 20. Washington Redskins – The Redskins are the unfortunate victims of being stuck in one of the best divisions in football. They might challenge the Cowboys for third best, but that’s about it. DT Albert Haynesworth can’t save this team on his own. QB Jason Campbell may not have what it takes to run coach Jim Zorn's offense. The O-line was not addressed. The Redskins will struggle to win 8 games.

 21. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals off season looks good enough on paper. But it seems that most of the players acquired come with some sort of character concerns. This ranges from LB Rey Maualuga in the draft to DT Tank Johnson in free agency. Add that to holdovers RB Cedric Benson and WR Chris Henry and you have a powder keg waiting to explode. The Ravens and Steelers still top the division. The Bengals will struggle to win 8 games.

 22. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars share a similar situation with the Bengals. Only 2 years ago, the Jaguars were challenging the Colts for the division. That honor now goes to the Titans. The Jaguars are focused on the core component that makes their team successful. They spent their first 3 picks on linemen this year and their top two picks last year. QB David Garrard is looking to make a comeback, but the Jaguars will struggle to win 7 games as the lines on both sides gel.

 23. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks battled a rash of injuries. The injuries were so bad that it razed their depth as well. Many experts are predicting that the Seahawks will rise to the top of the NFC West again. I disagree. The Seahawks will continue to battle injuries. QB Matt Hasselbeck will not last the entire season. RB Julius Jones is not the future of this franchise and OT Walter Jones will be one year older. The team needs to get younger and it is time to rebuild. The Seahawks may improve to 6 or 7 wins, but their reign over the NFC West came to an end last year.

 24. Green Bay Packers – The good news is that if QB Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy, the passing game will continue to remain one of the best. The bad news is that the Packers lack the defense and running game to support Rodgers. The run game is spotty at best. RB Ryan Grant better bounce back. The defense is also transitioning to a 3-4 scheme and will need time to adjust. The Packers will find themselves struggling to win 6 games this year.

 25. New York Jets – Tough division. Something has to give. The Jets go into the season matched up against the Patriots, Dolphins and Bills twice each. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez may be the future franchise QB, but his contributions will not materialize this year. The Jets will regress and struggle to win 6 games.

 26. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are in an interesting position. They have been rebuilding for the last 3 seasons. The first of three previous first round picks, QB JaMarcus Russell (2007) is surrounded by RB Darren McFadden (2008) and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (2009). But did the Raiders do enough to help the defense? 2009 is the time to capitalize on Broncos and Chiefs teams that are in the midst of rebuilding. Winning 6 would be considered progress for this franchise.

 27. Denver Broncos – The Broncos won 8 games by outscoring their opponents to compensate for a weak defense. The key component to that offense (Cutler) is gone. New coach Josh McDaniels will rely on more of a systematic approach on offense and defense to get by. There have been a lot of personnel changes on both sides of the ball. The Broncos will struggle to win 5 or 6 games as the team learns its new identity.

 28. Cleveland Browns – Like the Jets, the Browns find themselves in a tough situation. Their division gets stronger and the Browns go from one former Patriots assistant coach to another. It’s hard to tell if Mangini will be effective. The QB situation is unsettled, RB Jamal Lewis needs help and the defense will have to survive Mangini’s tweaks. The Browns will struggle to win 5 games.

 29. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs hired former Patriots GM Scott Pioli to turn the team around. Pioli has tagged Matt Cassel as the savior on offense and will rebuild the defense around rookie DE Tyson Jackson. Everything from personnel to coaching philosophies are being changed from the previous regime to the current one. The Chiefs will struggle to win 4 or 5 games this year.

 30. St Louis Rams – The Rams are another team starting from scratch. New coach Steve Spagnuolo will install his defense. But does he have all the right personnel. Like Hasselbeck in Seattle, QB Marc Bulger will struggle to stay healthy with the Rams. This is another team that needed to get younger and the house cleaning has already started. The Rams will struggle to win 4 games.

 31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers will go from mediocrity to bottom of the pack as they search for a franchise QB. Their defense broke down late last season and the defensive line needs more work to return to dominating form. This will not be the same Buccaneers that have ridden the coat tails of their defense for the better part of the last ten years. What will their new identity be? The Bucs will struggle to win 4 games.

 32. Detroit Lions – Not much explanation is needed here. Matt Millen is finally gone and the real building process can begin now. New GM and coach combo, Martin Mayhew/Jim Schwartz have the unenviable task of undoing the damage that Millen brought upon them in the last 9 years. It won’t be tough to improve on 0-16. But anything more than 4 wins will be a tall order.


Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or