The G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s

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Every time a championship comes around whether it be a Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or an NBA Championship, the sports media hypes up who is the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.). Even though trying to identify a G.O.A.T. for any sport is in impossible task, they go beyond a particular sport and try to pick the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s across all sports. This is lunacy.

During this year’s Super Bowl week, there was much discussion about Tom Brady vs Michael Jordan as being the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s. Further, after the Patriots lost, most sports media reporters stated that Jordan has sealed the title of the G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T.’s. Although, in my opinion, this is laughable, these kinds of discussions stir up more conversations and “sells newspapers”.

Every major sport has the Hall of Fame (H.O.F.). Players are selected into the H.O.F. based on some established criteria and for the most part, those elected are very much deserving. The H.O.F. players were the best of the best during the period and era that they played the game. The basic fallacy of trying to identify a G.O.A.T. is that as father time passes, many things change. Players are paid more and more over time thus their training becomes a year-around requirement. Diets and drugs (some legal and some illegal) have had a profound impact on the players’ conditioning along with their training regimen. Major rule changes make it impossible to compare players across eras. In the NBA, the game was much more physical in the 70’s and 80’s. The 3 point line was adopted in 1979 which revolutionized the game. Like the NBA, the NFL was much more lenient on physical and dirty play in the 60’s through the 80’s. Today, the QB’s are treated like girls and are now protected against both low and high hits. With the implementation of camera replays, nobody now knows what a “catch” is. In the MLB, how baseballs were made was changed in the 1920’s and ended the “dead ball era”. In the same era, rules are put in place to disallow “doctored” balls. Prior to this, it was common to use the same ball for a full game. Foul balls were routinely retrieved from the stands and re-used. Babe Ruth hit 54 HR’s in 1920 and 59 in 1922 thus ending the dead ball era. In 1973, the American League adopted the Designated Hitter to improve the offensive output.

Performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ran rampant across all professional sports but MLB has taken center stage as baseball records are held sacred with the HR record at the top of the list. PED’s were not available until the 90’s, but the use of other drugs have been documented throughout MLB history. Babe Ruth injected himself with sheep testicle extracts. Mickey Mantle used amphetamine injections and other steroids available at that time. Hank Aaron was known to have tried amphetamine pills for a short period of time as he was frustrated by his lack of HR’s but he quit as it made him ill. Mike Schmidt and Goose Gossage also admitted to using amphetamines. To top things off, Bud Selig was the commissioner of the MLB from 1992 through 2014 which has been best known as the PED era. MLB revenues soared to new highs as over 50% of the players were juiced and offensive output were at all-time highs. Interestingly enough, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Goose Gossage, and Bud Selig are all in the H.O.F. Additionally, Gossage has consistently said that PED users should NOT be elected in the H.O.F. under any circumstances. It was not until 2005, after the congressional investigations of the use of PED’s did the MLB institute stricter rules and penalties for the use of PED’s. After these rules were put in place, players shunned these new rules and continued to use PED’s with the most notable player being Alex Rodriguez. He is doing everything he can to make himself visible to the public and to the MLB H.O.F. voters in a positive light. Time will tell if he does enough to get voted into the H.O.F. My fundamental question in all sports is “how many cheating players have made the H.O.F. and how many deserving players will never get in because they choose not to kiss the voters’ asses?”.

Getting back to the G.O.A.T.s…

In the NFL, the undisputed G.O.A.T. appears to be Tom Brady. Even though his team lost to the Eagles this year, his performance was outstanding as he threw for 505 yards, threw 3 TD’s and had a QB rating of 115.4. Having said that, the media pays most of their attention on Wins and Losses. With this SB loss, Brady now has a record of 5 wins and 3 losses in SB’s. In 2001, the Patriots were given a gift when Brady fumbled with a few minutes left in the game and trailing against the Raiders. But, the referees ruled that the play was not a fumble which lead to the infamous “tuck” rule. Thus, Brady’s first SB win should not have even happened as the Raiders should have won that game. In 2015, if the Seahawks would have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the 1 yards line with a minute left in the game, Brady would have lost. In 2016, if the Falcons would have run the ball 3 times from the 25 yard line with less than 3 minutes left and kicked a field goal, Brady would have lost. Thus, instead of having a 5-3 Super Bowl record, Brady could very easily have a 2-5 SB record. I’m not saying that Brady doesn’t deserve the title of the NFL G.O.A.T., I’m just stating that there are more than win/loss records in identifying truly great players. Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills was a truly great QB but since his SB record is 0-4, he’ll never be mentioned as a G.O.A.T.

If I follow the sheep and try to name G.O.A.T.s instead of my belief that H.O.F’ers are the standard, following are my picks.

In the NBA, Michael Jordan is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the MLB, Willie Mays is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the NHL, Wayne Gretzky is the undisputed G.O.A.T. No more needs to be said about that.

In the NFL, Tom Brady is the acknowledged G.O.A.T. Brady has 5 SB wins but also has 3 SB losses. Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw both have 4 SB wins with zero SB losses, but Montana is heads and shoulders better than Bradshaw. Lively discussion… lol

However, if I were asked to name a G.O.A.T. of all G.O.A.T’s, it is a simple choice… It would be Roger Federer. His career spans from 2001 to the present and at age 37, he is playing his best tennis. He has won an astounding 20 Grand Slam Tournament titles and 3 in the last year against much younger opponents. My second choice would be Serena Williams. She has 23 Grand Slam Tournament titles and is the same age as Federer. Serena is one slam victory away from Margaret Court and currently on maternity leave. Her goal is to come back and win at least 25 Majors. I give the nod to Serena over Court as Serena is playing much stronger competition as current Men and Women tennis players are living and breathing tennis all year long.

At the end of the day, G.O.A.T. discussions breed lively conversation, but the H.O.F. tells me everything I need to know about the greatest players in sports throughout history.

2017 Niners – Year in Review

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In 2017, Niner fans enjoyed a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year, but it was also the best ever Halloween. Lynch went trick or treating and brought home Jimmy Garoppolo that day.

The Niners started the season with a dismal 0-9 record but finished the season strong winning 6 of the last 7 games for a respectable 6-10 season record. Garoppolo started the last 5 games and won every game. Interestingly enough, before the season started, I predicted that the Niners would win 6 games.

How can one player make the entire team better? Jimmy G has leadership skills both in the locker room and on the field. He makes everyone else better and play with much more confidence. He has the rare ability to scan the entire field quickly, make fast decisions, release the ball quicker than any QB in the NFL, and deliver the ball with precise accuracy.

This link provides some insight into Garoppolo’s talents both off and on the field: John Lynch conversation with Bill Belichick.

The Niner receivers (Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Kyle Juszczyk, and George Kittle) all had career years with most of their catches coming in the last 5 games with Jimmy G at QB. Additionally, the O-line gave up much fewer sacks with Jimmy G at QB as he released the ball much quicker.

The biggest signing priority during this off-season is to sign Garoppolo to a long term deal so Lynch and Shanahan can focus on building the team around him.

The Niners will address the 4 major weaknesses on the roster: Pass Rusher, Corner Back, Wide Receiver, and Interior Offensive Line during this off-season. I have every confidence that these gaps will be filled with either high caliber free agents or through the college draft. Let’s look at some options at each position:

Pass Rusher:

Ezekiel Ansal (Lions): Age 28, 6-6, 275 lbs: Ansal has 207 tackles, 44 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries in 5 years.

Melvin Ingram (Chargers): Age 28, 6-2, 248 lbs: A force off the edge, Ingram had another strong season for the Bolts. The outside linebacker finished with 66 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 42 pressures, 23 QB hits, four forced fumbles and four passes defensed in his fifth season.

Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys): Is very good but has back issues and will cost a fortune. Look for the Cowboys to re-sign him.

Bradley Chubb (NC State): 6-4, 275 lbs: Chubb is the premier pass rusher in this year’s college draft. He will not be available by the time the Niners pick at either #9 or #10 (tbd via coin flip with the Raiders). Their best bet to get a bona fide pass rusher is through free agency.

Harold Landry (Boston College): 6-3, 250 lbs: Landry is a pure speed rusher who racked up 158 tackles, 48 for losses with 25 sacks.

Wide Receiver:

Allen Robinson (Jaguars): Age 24, 6-3, 209 lbs: Tore his ACL in the first game of 2017 and is expected to be fully recovered before the 2018 training camp starts. He lead the league in 2015 with 80 catches, 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns with Blake Bortles at QB. Can you imagine what his stats can be with Garoppolo?

Other free agent receivers include Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams and Sammy Watkins. I feel that Robinson fits the Niner needs best due to his height and speed. He can plug the role of an effective red-zone receiver.

DeAndre Hopkins (Texans): In my opinion, the best WR is the NFL. There is no way that the Texans will let him leave.

Courtland Sutton (SMU): 6-4, 215 lbs: Sutton is the top rated WR in this year’s draft. He may be available to the Niners with their first pick.

Pierre Garcon (Niners): Age 31, 6-1, 211 lbs: Can’t forget about Garcon who went on IR in November. He’ll be back in 2018. If Garoppolo can make Niner receivers have career years in 5 games, can you imagine what kind of year Garcon can have next year?

 

Interior Offensive Line:

Andrew Norwell (Panthers): Age 26, 6-6, 325 lbs: He isn’t a household name, but there isn’t a player with a better blend of physicality and detail in pass protection in the league. Norwell’s improvements in these areas have been key to his jumping into the elite guard ranks this year.

Justin Pugh (Giants): Age 27, 6-5, 311 lbs: Experience at Left Guard and Right Tackle. Versatility to play multiple positions is a plus in Shanahan’s eyes.

Quenton Nelson (Nortre Dame): 6-5, 329 lbs: The top rated Guard in this year’s draft. He may be off the boards by the time the Niners pick. If both Nelson and/or Courtland Sutton (WR) are available, it’ll be interesting on which guy Shanahan values more. It’ll be heavily dependent upon who they can get in free agency.

Frank Ragnow (Arkansas): 6-5, 319 lbs: The top rated Center in this year’s draft and the #33 overall prospect. He may be an option with the Niner’s 2nd pick.

Joshua Garnett (Niners): Age 23, 6-3, 315 lbs: Can’t dismiss Garnett as a possible starting Guard in 2018. He was a 1st round pick in the 2016 draft and was placed on IR for the entire 2017 season. Apparently, he has transformed his body to better fit the zone blocking technique used by Shanahan’s offense. He stated that he is ready for a “monster” comeback in 2018.

Corner Backs:

Malcom Butler (Patriots) and Trumaine Johnson (Rams) are free agents this year but I feel that they aren’t elite and their asking price will be prohibitive.

Patrick Robinson (Eagles): Age 30, 5-11, 192 lbs: Robinson is tied for the most interceptions on the team with three. He has the most passes defensed, with 15. He has tackled extremely well and given the secondary a gigantic boost with his ability to play in the nickel inside and on the island on the outside.

Rashaan Melvin (Colts): Age 28, 6-2, 194 lbs: He had a breakout season and is the Colts’ number one CB. He is being compared to AJ Bouye of the Jags, an elite CB. The likelihood is the Colts will re-sign him but Lynch may be able to offer a contract that he can’t say “no” to.

E.J. Gaines (Bills): Age 25, 5-11, 190 lbs: In his career, he has 175 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 3 recovered fumbles, 27 pass deflections and 3 interceptions. He may not be a shut-down corner but is very solid.

Joshua Jackson (Iowa), Denzel Ward (Ohio State), and Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) are the top three CB’s in this year’s draft. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) is the true #1 rated CB but he is projected to play FS in the NFL. Fitzpatrick will be a top 5 pick so won’t be available to the Niners anyway. I would wait until the 2nd or 3rd round and pick the best available CB still on the board.

With both Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold declaring to enter this year’s draft, this gives the Niners a better chance to draft one of their top players.

The Draft order is:

  • Browns – Needs QB, RB, CB – Pick Baker Mayfield (QB) Oklahoma… A clone of Johnny Manziel so a perfect fit for the Browns.
  • NY Giants – Needs OT, QB, RB – Pick Josh Rosen (QB) UCLA
  • Colts – Needs ILB, OL, Edge – Pick Orlando Brown (OT) Oklahoma
  • Browns – Needs QB, RB, CB – Pick Saquon Barkley (RB) Penn State
  • Broncos – Needs OG, QB, OT – Pick Josh Allen (QB) Wyoming
  • Jets – Needs QB, RB, OT – Pick Sam Darnold (QB) USC
  • Bucaneers – Needs DE, RB, CB – Pick Bradley Chubb (DE) NC State
  • Bears – Needs WR, OL, CB – Pick Minkah Fitzpatrick (S) Alabama
  • (tie) Niners – Needs WR, OL, CB – Pick Quenton Nelson (G) Notre Dame or Courtland Sutton (WR) SMU
  • (tie) Raiders – Needs CB, ILB, OT – Pick Derwin James (S) Florida State

As for the Niners notable free agents:

Carlos Hyde is a solid running back but in all likelihood, he has played his last game as a Niner. Hyde runs hard but he doesn’t have the ability to break tacklers thus is limited in yardage after the first hit. He also has below-average hands as a receiver. Hyde had his best run of the year against the Rams in the final game where he took the entire Rams defense into the end zone from 7 yards out. For that, I am giving him and Eric Reid both game balls. The Niners would be wise to re-sign him at their price. If Hyde finds a better offer, the Niners will not match any offers higher than what they are willing to pay. Matt Breida has been a pleasant surprise. Also, Shanahan drafted Joe Williams from Utah this year but he was placed on IR for the entire year with a bad ankle. He has a history of fumbling so I’m sure they worked with him all year on the practice squad to correct this issue. We’ll have to wait and see how he develops next year.

Eric Reid was also a good Niner but he is almost certain to be released. The Niners’ 7th round pick this year, Adrian Colbert, is the long term solution at Strong Safety and Jaquiski Tartt will be the starter at Free Safety. For the last 4 games, the Niners have been playing Reid at a pseudo-Linebacker. His tackling skills are outstanding and he does have a keen nose sniffing out run plays. He had an outstanding game against the Rams in the final game with a game high 6 solo tackles and also deserves a game ball. At his stage in his career, he is a fast linebacker but a slow safety. I’ve heard that he doesn’t like playing linebacker. The Niners should bring him back only on their terms and their price.

Aaron Lynch is a goner. He never got into shape and wound up on the inactive list for the last three games of the year.

Tank Carradine played really well in the 2nd half of this year as a solid Defensive Tackle. The Niners should re-sign him.

Brock Coyle also played really well at jinebacker playing next to Rueben Foster. The Niners should also re-sign him. With Malcolm Smith returning next year, the Niners should have a very solid set of linebackers. Smith was on IR for the entire year after he tore his pectoral muscle in training camp. If you recall, Malcolm Smith was the Super Bowl MVP when the Seahawks won in 2013. Smith was also the player who intercepted the pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the last seconds of the 2013 NFC Championship game after Richard Sherman tipped the ball. As a side-bar, Kaepernick had his mind made up to throw to Crabtree regardless of whether he was open or not. A good QB would have seen that he was covered like a blanket and go through his progressions. Anquan Boldin was wide open by 10 yards on the left side of the end-zone but Kaepernick didn’t even look that way. The transfer of power from the Niners to the Seahawks was completed on that single play.

Depending on who the Niners can add via free agency or the draft will affect anyone on the current roster whether they are free agents or not, especially if they came to the team under Baalke.

Three Baalke players picked in the 1st round fit into the “keep or let go” category.

Arik Armstead (DT) hasn’t shown growth and appears to be let go. I believe the Niners will give him a final chance and see how he does in training camp. It’ll be a critical off-season for Armstead.

Joshua Garnett (OG) didn’t have a good freshman year and last year, he had knee surgery. But, it appears that he has worked really hard at transforming his body to take the rigors of the NFL. Training camp will tell the real story of his progression.

Jimmie Ward (CB/S) is a very skilled athlete but has been injured every year since being drafted in the 1st round in 2014. He is in his 5th year so if the Niners keep him, his salary will quadruple to over $8.5 million. The Niners like him as a Safety so if they keep him, they’ll have Colbert, Tartt, and Ward which may be a wise decision (Strength in Numbers… where have you heard that before???). He also has the versatility to play either CB or S (Versatility… where have you heard that before???). I believe the Niners will bring him back but sign him to a 1 year deal (2 at the most).

No matter what, it’ll be an exciting off-season so see who Lynch and Shanahan want to keep and who they will bring in via free agency and the draft. With all of the positive energy going into the off-season, free agents will be much more interested in looking at the Niners as a serious contender for their services.

Niner fans must trust Lynch and Shanahan to do the right things to improve the team. In one year, they have already made dramatic improvements to the point that they will be competing for the NFC West title with the Rams in 2018.

 

Final season ending This-n-That’s:

  • The Harbaughs didn’t enjoy their New Years.
  • Niner fans who wanted them to tank to get a higher draft pick aren’t fans. As it turns out, they will get their guy drafting at either #9 or #10 anyway. And because they finished strong, the likelihood that free agents will consider coming to SF improved dramatically.
  • Even though the Eagles finished with the #1 seed in the playoffs, their fans are extremely nervous. Exemplifies how important the QB is to a team.
  • The Patriots keep rolling with Brady at the helm. This year, they traded QB Jacoby Brissett to the Colts and he has been their starting QB all year. They also traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners and he will be their long term QB. Exemplifies how important the GM and HC is to a team especially if they are kept for the long haul.
  • Can’t wait to go see the Niners vs Chucky Gruden and the Raiders at Levi Stadium next year.

2017-2018 GS Warriors – Strength and Length in Numbers

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In this 2017 year-end assessment of the Dubs, this team is a much better team than the one that won the World Championship last year. Steve Kerr made this statement before the season started. Thirty five games into the season, the Dubs hold a 28-7 record which is the best in the NBA but their record is simply a by-product of the real reasons why they are the best.

The Dubs re-signed all of their key players from last year’s championship team. In addition, they aggressively upgraded their only weakness by improving their supporting team. The signings of Omri Casspi and Nick Young improved the second team scoring power which was missing from last year. An added bonus is that Casspi fit into the Warriors scheme immediately and he has been a rock on both ends of the court. Omri runs the court like a deer and cuts like a knife getting many easy hoops in the paint. His shots have so much arc on them that the fans in the upper bowl of the coliseum get a close-up view of the basketball prior to descending toward the hoop. Omri’s 6-9 length doesn’t hurt either. Nick Young has worked hard and is now playing the kind of Dubs ball that Kerr was hoping. At the beginning of the year, Nick looked lost, especially on defense. He also had issues running and passing on offense. In the early stages, it looked like a rare mistake bringing Swaggy P to a smooth running team like the Warriors. He found his shooting range 10 games into the season so I started calling him Swaggy 3, but his defense was still suspect. In the last 10 games, all of the coaching and his hard work started paying off as Nick is now playing like a Warrior at both ends of the floor. Nick’s Swaggy references are now history.

In addition to Omri and Nick, the Dubs “bought” Jordan Bell from the Chicago Bulls who drafted Bell in the 2nd round of this year’s college draft. Jordan (6-9 with a 6-11 and ¾ wingspan) was a defensive gem at Oregon blocking 2.2 shots per game while scoring 10.9 points per game and lead the Ducks into the Final Four. The Warriors didn’t have any draft picks this year or last and wound up buying Patrick McCaw and Jordan Bell in consecutive years. I’m thinking that the Dubs front office knows talent. And that is not the end of the talent story. Jordan Bell was NOT the best player on the Oregon Ducks team. Chris Boucher (6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan) was the MAN for the Ducks until he tore his ACL in the Pac-12 tournament against Cal. He wasn’t drafted so the Warriors signed him and he is now ahead of schedule in his recovery with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Lastly, the Dubs also signed Quinn Cook who played 4 years under Coach K. at Duke and is one of seven players who scored over 1,000 points with 500 assists.  He also ranks 4th best all time at Duke with a .853 free throw percentage. Quinn was cut by Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans prior to being signed by the Warriors. Cook started 2 games and had some significant minutes during Steph’s absence with an ankle injury.

Andre Iguodala has taken McCaw under his wings, Draymond Green has taken Bell under his wings, and although a bit odd, Kevin Durant has taken Cook under his wings. These are examples of why the Warriors are the best team in the league. They genuinely like each other and will go to great lengths to keep the team close and “preach the process”. On the floor, one can easily see how McCaw’s, Bell’s, and Cook’s game have improved due to the presence of the team veterans.

The unsung heroes of this year’s team are David West, Shaun Livingston, ZaZa Pachulia, and Kevon Looney. West is the enforcer, Shaun is the calming influence, Zaza is the hulk, and Kevon is the hustler. Much credit goes to Kevon as his first two years were injury ridden with hip issues. He lost 25 pounds and now looks leaner and faster than ever. His offense rebounding skills are “off the boards” and he hustles like crazy to keep balls alive on the offensive end.

As for the big 4 All-Stars, Klay is the solid rock who hasn’t missed any games this year. He is by far the best 2-way guard in the league. Steph is the captain and the leader but he has missed 12 games due to a sprained ankle. Displaying their strength in numbers, the Warriors went 11-1 during his absence. This in a nutshell shows the depth of this team and the strength in their numbers. Last year, Kevin Durant hurt his knee and missed the last 22 games of the regular season. The Warriors went 17-5 without him with a 14 game winning streak after adjusting to playing without him. Draymond is the Defensive Player of the year but does so much more on offense. He is one of the team’s assist leaders and best passers. Lastly, Kevin Durant is no longer KD. He has become K-D with emphasis on the D. Kevin is never satisfied with his game even though he is acknowledged to be the league’s offensive MVP and the MVP of the Championship series. He worked long and hard on his defensive skills during the off season. He is averaging 6.5 defensive rebounds per game which leads the team and 7.1 overall rebounds which is second to Draymond’s 7.5. He is also averaging 2.33 blocks per games which second in the league next to Miles Turner of Indiana who is averaging 2.36 blocks per game. In the Christmas day game with the Cavs, he had 7 rebounds and 5 huge blocks in addition to his 25 points. K-D is on course to win this year’s Defensive Player of the Year and he has the full support of last year’s winner, Draymond Green.

The Strength and Length of the Warriors are real and built under the leadership of Steve Kerr who won the Coach of the Year in 2015-2016 and by Bob Myers who won Executive of the Year in 2016-2017. The NBA is a copycat league and the top teams have made some dramatic trades to compete with the Warriors. The Rockets appear to have done the best job but they traded away much of their depth. The others are all pretenders. Also, look for other teams who don’t have any 2nd round draft picks to try to “buy” drafted players like the Warriors did.

For now, the Warriors look hard to beat with Myers, Kerr, and their supporting cast…

Niners Beat Jags for 4th Win in a Row

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There are now tons of Xmas cards flowing from the Bay Area to Foxboro thanking Bill Belichick for the early Xmas he gave to Niner fans back on Halloween. On that night, the Niners received their savior QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, for years to come for a paltry 2nd round draft pick in 2018.

In an earlier post, I said that the Niners are 2 years behind the resurgent LA Rams who now boast an 11-4 record and clinched the NFC West title yesterday. With Garoppolo in place, Lynch and Shanahan can now focus on building their team around Jimmy G. instead of continuing to search for a quality QB. The Niners will have to pay Garoppolo handsomely, but he has now proven that he is worth every penny that he gets paid. With Jimmy G. in place, I am now saying that the Niners are less than 1 year behind the Rams and will compete for the NFC title with them in 2018 and beyond. The Niners and Rams will take their rightful places in the NFC West again as the dominance of the Seahawks is coming to an end.

While Garoppolo had yet another outstanding day with 21 of 30 completed passes with 2 TD’s and 1 INT and a passer rating of 102.4, it was the rest of the team who all played brilliantly to bring home the 4th straight victory. The young kids in their rookie year have all developed into legitimate NFL players and will form the core of this team for years to come.

Round 1: Pick 3 – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford – Getting better each week.

Round 1: Pick 31 – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama – Will be our Willis/Bowman for years to come.

Round 3: No. 66 overall – Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado – Has developed into a good CB.

Round 3: No. 104 overall – C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa – Will be good back-up to Jimmy G.

Round 4: No. 121 overall – Joe Williams, RB, Utah – On IR but could be Carlos Hyde’s replacement.

Round 5: No. 146 overall – George Kittle, TE, Iowa – Proving himself as a solid TE.

Round 5: No. 177 overall – Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech – Reminds me of Julian Edelman.

Round 6: No. 198 overall – D.J. Jones, DL, Ole Miss – On practice squad.

Round 6: No. 202 overall – Pita Taumoepenu, DL, Utah – On practice squad.

Round 7: No. 229 overall – Adrian Colbert, S, Miami – Has proven himself as a starter.

Un-drafted Players:

Matt Breida, RB, Georgia Southern – Great combo with Carlos Hyde.

Kendrick Bourne, WR, Eastern Washington – Good size with good hands and speed.

Key Players on Injured Reserve (IR):

RB Joe Williams – Potential replacement for Carlos Hyde if the Niners don’t resign Hyde.
WR Pierre Garçon – Looking forward to the Garoppolo-to-Garcon hook-ups next year.
OG Joshua Garnett – Hoping he can develop into a starting Guard next year.
DL Arik Armstead – Must prove himself early next year or he may not make the team.
DT Chris Jones – Must prove himself early next year or he may not make the team.
LB Malcolm Smith – Hoping he can be the player who won the MVP in the Super Bowl for Seahawks.
FS Jimmie Ward – Must stay healthy.
S Jaquiski Tartt – With Adrian Colbert, will form a good safety combo.

RT Trent Brown – Will be our RT for years and switch to LT when Joe Staley retires.

With a confident group of young players who are now strutting their stuff, my game ball this week goes to Kyle Shanahan. Not only has he gotten his players in a position to succeed, he called a brilliant game against the NFL’s best Defense. It wasn’t necessarily that the Jags defense played poorly…. It was more that Shanahan called plays that took advantage of where the Jags defenders lined up. He called plays where our WR’s ran routes that found holes and Garoppolo found them. He balanced his run/pass calls effectively (35 runs for for 131 yards and 30 passes for 242 yards). The gem call of the day was the run sweep with Breida to seal the game. The Jags were lined up to blitz and when Breida made it past their front 7, it was game over.

Shanahan also had a great game plan in the Red Zone. Garoppolo ran one in for the first TD and threw 2 TD’s. Garoppolo’s rollout to the left and his side-arm sling under a Jags defender to Trent Taylor for a TD is something that normal QB’s can’t make. It reminded me of something that Steph Curry would do to get an amazing assist.

As a matter of fact, the Niners are beginning to remind me of the Warriors 4 years ago. If Steve Kerr can do it, so can Shanahan…

Niners Beat Titans for 3rd Win in a Row

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Are you now a Garoppolo believer? I am…

Under his leadership, the Niners have now won their third game in a row after going 1-10 in their first eleven games. Same team, different QB… and the dramatic change in team play and production has been night and day.

Statistics don’t lie:

 

  1st 11 Games Last 3 Games
     
Record 1-10 3-0
Points per Game 17 22
Total Yard per Game 322 406
Passing Yards per Game 222 318
Pass Completion Pct 56.60% 68.10%
Time of Possession (minutes) 26.53 35.24

 

The most impressive statistic is the “time of possession”. The Niners are on offense 9 minutes more per game since Garoppolo took over. This means that the team is converting 3rd down plays at a much more efficient rate thus extending drives. Most importantly, the other team doesn’t have the ball so they can’t score.

In yesterday’s game against the Titans, Garoppolo completed 31 of 43 pass attempts for 381 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 106.8. It should also be noted that these great stats came against a Titan team which is a playoff caliber team.

In his three games as a starter, Garoppolo is 79 of 115 pass attempts for 1,026 yards with a passer rating of 98.0.

Another amazing stat is that in the first 11 games, Hoyer and Beathard were sacks 35 times (3.18 sacks per game). In 3 games, Garoppolo has been sacked 7 times (2.33 sacks per game). What makes this stat so amazing is that Garoppolo is playing with the same poor offensive line which in the last two games got worse as they were without their starting RT Trent Brown. They have had to play with their 4th string RT Zane Beadles whose natural position is at Guard. So why is Jimmy G getting sacked less often? The answer is that he is able to survey the field more quickly, pick up open receivers, and zip his passes with precision under heavy pressure.

Garoppolo has also put up these amazing stats with WR’s who I was cheering for in Training Camp and in the Pre-season games… Little known receivers who were either low draft picks or not drafted at all. Marquise Goodwin had another monster game with 10 receptions for 114 yards. Undrafted rookie Kendrick Bourne had 4 catches for 85 yards with one that he almost broke for a long touchdown. Garrett Celek had 3 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. George Kittle had 4 receptions for 52 yards. Trent Taylor had 4 catches for 40 yards.

With all of the glowing reviews of QB Jimmy Garoppolo, my game ball in yesterday’s win goes to Robbie Gould. He was 6-6 in field goals with the last one being the game winner. He also was 1-1 in extra points so he scored 19 of the 25 points that the Niners scored. Gould is GOLD!!!

Lastly, the Niner Defense is getting better each week. Reuben Foster is living up to his billing, DeForest Buckner and Soloman Thomas had solid games, Brock Coyle is developing into a good LB, Ahkello Witherspoon who I thought might be a bust has suddenly found his game and is starting to become a solid CB, and Adrien Colbert is showing that he could be our long term answer at Safety. They held Marcus Mariota to 238 yards passing and the two great running backs, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, to only 90 yards rushing.

Niners Beat Texans for 3rd Win in 4 Games

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OK Niner fans, it is now time to start getting excited about next year. For the all important QB position, Jimmy Garoppolo is the present and the future. He is the guy that the Niners will build the team around. No more guess work around that position so Lynch and Shanahan can focus on improving the team during the off season on other positions of need.

Jimmy G has started 2 games in hostile environments against the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans and has lead the Niners to wins in both games. In yesterday’s game against the Texans, he was pressured all day long by Jadeveon Clowney but hung in there and threw for 334 yards completing 20 of 33 passes with 1 TD.

Game ball goes to FB Kyle Juszczyk who had a monster game. He had a couple of outstanding catch-and-runs during crucial times during the game in addition to opening holes for Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida and protecting Garoppolo on pass plays.

The defense had another solid performance, but, CB Dontae Johnson simply was no match for DeAndre Hopkins who I consider as the best WR in football. Hopkins had 11 receptions for 149 yards and 2 TD’s.

Otherwise, the rest of the Niner defense held the Texans to 3 points. After Safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmy Ward both got hurt, the Niner’s 7th round draft pick, Adrian Colbert, was the next man up and he has been superb. He had the game winning play by drilling DeAndre Hopkins causing him to fumble with less than 4 minutes to play.

Much more to look forward to next year is that the Niners have the largest salary cap space in the NFL, even more than the hapless Cleveland Browns. They have $117.8 million to spend on their own players, highly visible free agents, and their 2018 draft picks. They will have to pay Garoppolo handsomely but will still have plenty of dollars to go after top rated free agents.

My hope is that the Niners will be able to sign some of the following free agents:

  • CB Trumaine Johnson (age 26) currently playing for the LA Rams.
  • WR DeAndre Hopkins (age 25) currently playing for the Houston Texans.
  • Edge Rusher Ezekiel Ansah (age 28) currently playing for the Detroit Lions.
  • OLB Melvin Ingram (age 28) currently playing for the LA Chargers.
  • G Trai Turner (age 24) currently playing for the Carolina Panthers.

There are other great free agents hitting the market next year that I’m sure Lynch and Shanahan will focus on. Really looking forward to what they will do in the college draft as well. Every single players that they drafted this year made the team and some are making significant contributions.

I see more than a ray of light shining down on this team in the coming years. I’m now convinced that Lynch and Shanahan know what they are doing and they will bring back “winning” that this fan base have been starving for since the Eddie D/Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, and Jim Harbaugh days.

Garoppolo’s First Start A Success

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The Niners beat the Chicago Bears in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start as a 49er. While not proclaiming him as the next Montana or Young, Garoppolo’s performance on the field has plenty of positives going forward. He looked poised, smooth, and “quiet” in the pocket, surveyed the field and delivered fast and accurate passes to his receivers. He completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards and threw one interception which in fact was a completed pass but the defender, Kyle Fuller, grabbed the ball away from Louis Murphy while being tackled… a brilliant play by Fuller. The most impressive stat of the day was that Garoppolo was an amazing 10-18 on 3rd down plays. This allowed the Niners to control and dominate time of possession throughout the game.

The only negative stat on offense was that they were 0-5 in the red zone. As Garoppolo gets more accustomed to Shanahan’s playbook and his teammates, touchdowns will come.

While the Bears are not an elite team, they have beaten the Steelers, Ravens, and Panthers who are all playoff teams and lost to the Falcons by 6, the Vikings by 3, and the Saints by 8.

This was Garoppolo’s 3rd start in the NFL. What shined through was his 4 years of college experience at Eastern Illinois and more importantly, 4 years of tutelage under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady with the Patriopts. His poise in the pocket did in fact remind me of Brady.

The victory was also sweet for Robbie Gould, who kicked 5 field goals accounting for all of the scoring the Niners needed to win, 15-14. Gould was the kicker for the Bears for the first 11 years of his career.

Credit must be given to the Niner Defense as they held the Bears to a season low 147 yards of total offense on only 36 offensive plays. Lastly, the Offense line played perhaps their best game giving Garoppolo time in the pocket and allowing only 2 sacks against a good defensive front.

Special teams allowed a long punt return touchdown, but they have been a solid unit throughout the year.

Lot’s to get excited about knowing that there are still a lot of holes to fill on this team whom I believe is heading in the right direction.

Head shaking happenings around the league:

  • 2 weeks ago when the Buffalo Bills were still in the playoff hunt, they inexplicitly benched their QB, Tyrod Taylor, for a rookie Nathan Perriman. He promptly threw 5 interceptions in the first half so they reinstated Taylor as the QB… HUH ???
  • The hapless NY Giants benched Eli Manning who had started all 210 games he played in for the Giants over 13 years. The coach, Ben McAdoo’s conversation went something like this: “Hey Eli, I’m going to head in a different direction so I’m starting Geno Smith as he gives us a better chance to win. I know you gave us 2 Super Bowl wins and won some MVP awards but it’s your fault that we are 2-10 this year. I also know that you’ve started 210 consecutive games so I’m giving you the option to play the first snap of the game to continue your streak… What do want to do?”… The result of this total disrespect for a future Hall of Famer has resulted in McAdoo being fired.
  • What in the world has happened to the KC Chiefs??? They started 5-0 and since have lost 6 of their last 7 games. Can they return to their winning ways? At least, Andy Reid will not bench Alex Smith like the Bills and Giants did with their QB’s…
  • The CEO of Papa John’s came out with a ludicrous statement saying that the NFL protests during the National Anthem has hurt his business. When I want pizza, I for one, do not even think of Papa John’s… Hey, Papa… I suggest that you make better pizza, then your business will pick up….
  • Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, has made threats to Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL over the Zeke Elliott suspension. He does not want the owners to approve of Goodell’s extension as Commissioner. Hey Jerry: When the vote is 31-1 against you, your chances of success is slim…. Also, regarding Elliott, other than his assault charges against his ex-girlfriend, hasn’t he had 4 other NFL code of conduct charges levied against him? (Visiting a marijuana store, two car accidents under unusual circumstances, and pulling down a blouse of a woman, not once but twice during a parade that he attended). Lastly, I read that Papa John’s levied his National Anthem complaint under your direction. Like Papa John’s, when I think of an NFC Champion, I do not even think of the Dallas Cowboys. I suggest that you make your team better, then your chances of being a good football team will improve.

Niners Get Their First WIN

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The Niners finally broke into the WIN column last weekend, albeit, against the hapless NY Giants. Yes, the same NY Giants who were 11-5 last year and made the playoffs. They have the same all-pro caliber roster on defense as last year but inexplixably have the same 1-9 record as the Niners this year. Conversely, the LA Rams had a 4-12 record last year but are on their way to the playoffs this year with an 8-2 record. This demonstrates how a team can swing from a loser to a winner and vice versa in a short period of time. In a previous post, I mentioned that the Niners are two years behind the Rams in their re-building process… and I continue to stand by that.

 

The Niners do have some nice young players to build upon. I am confident that Coach Shanahan will develop these players into winners.

 

Age 21

LB Elijah Lee
RB Jeremy McNichols (PS)
DL Solomon Thomas

Age 22

WR Victor Bolden, Jr.
WR Kendrick Bourne
RB Matt Breida
DT D.J. Jones
QB Nick Mullens (PS)
DL Noble Nwachukwu (PS)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon

Age 23

DT DeForest Buckner
WR Aaron Burbridge (IR)
ILB Reuben Foster
OG Joshua Garnett (IR)
LB Jimmie Gilbert (IR)
OLB Eli Harold
TE Cole Hikutini (IR)
Chanceller James (IR)
OL Andrew Lauderdale (PS)
CB Greg Mabin
OL Erik Magnuson
OT Pace Murphy (PS)
P Bradley Pinion
DB Tyvis Powell (PS)
LB Pita Taumoepenu
WR Trent Taylor
TE Cole Wick (PS)

 Age 24

DL Arik Armstead (IR)
QB C.J. Beathard
DT Ronald Blair
OT Trent Brown
WR DeAndre Carter (PS)
Adrian Colbert
OL JP Flynn (PS IR)
CB Prince Charles Iworah (IR)
TE George Kittle
DE Aaron Lynch
LB Donavin Newsom (IR)
OT Darrell Williams
RB Joe Williams (IR)

 

PS = Practice Squad   IR = Injured Reserve

 

However sweet the win was last Sunday, it was overshadowed by what happened to Marquis Goodwin and his wife, Morgan. During the night before the game, Morgan had complications with her pregnancy and ultimately lost her premature baby boy.

Marquis:

I just wanna thank those who’ve genuinely prayed for @morganakamomo & myself through out this pregnancy. Unfortunately we lost our baby boy due to some complications, and had to prematurely deliver him early this morning around 4am. Although we are hurt, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that God blessed me with a wife as courageous and resilient as Morgan. The pain (physically, mentally, & emotionally) that she has endured is unbelievable. Please Pray for the Goodwin family. 💙👣

Morgan:

This whole week has taken an emotional toll on my husband and I, Struggling to keep our healthy baby safe in my womb. However, God had other plans for us. Today, I had to deliver my precious baby boy early this morning due to preterm labor. Despite our loss, my hubby kept grinding, scored his son a touchdown & got our first “W” of the season. He had a wonderful game today. I appreciate everyone who kept us in their prayers and constantly checked in on us. This was truly and an amazing experience and it was also a tragic experience. But that’s okay because we won’t stop fighting and we won’t give up on what God has in store for us. It’s just important for us to remember that things happen for a reason, even though we may question ourselves “why us.” Our faith is strong. I just ask that you let us mourn in peace and ask that you not try and call/blow our phone up. 👼🏾 #RIPBabyGoodwin #PretermLabor #PregnancyLoss #StayingStrong

Through all this pain, Morgan convinced Marquis to play that same day. Marquis had a tremendous game catching an 83 yard touchdown pass and throwing a key block on Garrett Celek’s 47 yard touchdown. He played in 48 of the Niner’s 61 offensive snaps. After he scored on his long touchdown pass, he fell to his knees, prayed and broke down emotionally. He was then surrounded by his teammates who comforted him.

Marquis and Morgan are comforted in knowing that they truly have a second family in their lives, the Niner players and organization. Prayers to Marquis, Morgan and their family.

 

Jimmy Garoppolo: Niners get their QB

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With the 2018 season lost, Lynch and Shanahan are still doing a good job weeding out poor and marginal performers and keeping those players who give their maximum efforts regardless of the circumstances.

Yesterday, they made a great trade with the Patriots to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo who had been the back-up to Tom Brady since 2014. He did start 2 games in 2016 for the Patriots while Brady was serving his 4 game suspension. He was injured in the 2nd game, otherwise, he would have started all 4 games. The Niners gave up their higher 2nd round pick in 2018 to the Patriots for Garoppolo.

Today, they traded their starting corner back, Rashard Robinson to the Jets for their 5th round pick in 2018. They also cut corner back Will Redmond who Baalke drafted in the 3rd round (pick #68) in the 2016 draft knowing that he had a blown knee. He never recovered and never played a down for the Niners. Robinson is a good athlete but couldn’t cover deep passes. He was consistently beaten for long plays or was called for pass interference on deep passes. Two more bad Baalke picks who are no longer on the roster. They also cut Brian Hoyer as he wasn’t able to deliver at the QB position.

The Garoppolo acquisition is valuable to the Niner franchise for multiple reasons:

  • The Niners have many holes to plug on the roster but the QB position is the most glaring need. Lynch and Shanahan knew what they were getting into and made the most of a lacking roster by bringing in journeymen, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. They also drafted C.J. Beathard this year knowing that he was a project. Through two starts, Beathard has shown some promise but he is far from ready to play at this level. Garoppolo comes from a winning program and has been under the tutelage of the Hall of Famers, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, for 4 years. Additionally, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2014, he had Derek Carr and Garoppolo as his two top QB’s of the 2014 class. He couldn’t convince his GM nor the owner to draft Garoppolo so they instead drafted Johnny Manziel… and you know the rest of that story.
  • This trade also eliminates the need for the Niners to go after a much more expensive Kirk Cousins of the Redskins. Garoppolo will cost the Niner about $18k per year while Cousins will cost them much more than $30k per year.
  • This trade also takes the pressure off of Lynch and Shanahan in the 2018 draft to take a QB with their #1 draft pick. Since they have other needs, they can draft the best available athlete instead. Before the college season started, this year’s crop of QB’s appeared to be an outstanding class. After half a season, the college QB crop seems to be more of a crap shoot as inconsistent play abounds for all the QB’s that were highly touted. Garoppolo is a thousand percent safer bet than any QB coming out of college this year.
  • In the 2018 draft, they have 7 draft picks (see below). This trade affords them the option to trade down from their #1 pick and gain an additional pick or two to fill out their roster with their kind of players. Personally, I would love to see either Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB from Alabama) or Derwin James (SS from Florida State) in a Niner uniform next year.

 

The Niners have more than $50 mil in cap space in 2018. I’m sure than they will look at top free agents hitting the market in 2018. The players I like are:

  • Ezekiel Ansah, DE from Detroit. He is a fierce edge rusher.
  • Nate Solder, LT from New England. He has protected Brady… He can begin protecting Garoppolo.
  • Trumaine Johnson, CB from the LA Rams.
  • Thomas Davis, LB from Carolina.
  • Malcolm Jenkins, SS from Philadelphia
  • Xavier Rhodes, CB from Minnesota
  • Trai Turner, G from Carolina
  • DeAndre Hopkins, WR from Houston
  • Jarvis Landry, WR from Miami
  • Gabe Jackson, G from Oakland
  • Melvin Ingram, OLB from the LA Chargers. Another fierce edge rusher.
  • Weston Richburg, C from the NY Giants.

2018 Niner Draft Picks:

1st: Own pick
2nd: Own pick (Gave up this pick to the Patriots for the Jimmy Garoppolo trade)
2nd: Saints pick (49ers dealt 2016 3rd to land this + 2016 7th round picks)
3rd: Own pick
3rd: Bears pick (Acquired in Bears move up for Mitchell Trubisky)
4th: Steelers pick (Acquired in Vance McDonald trade)

5th: Jets pick (Acquired in Rashard Robinson trade)
6th: Own pick
7th: Own pick
7th: Chiefs pick (Acquired in Kenneth Acker trade)

 

The remainder of the 2017 season should be viewed to assess players who will be kept going forward. It should not be viewed as game-by-game failure as this team will continue to lose.

Keep the faith, Niner fans… I know that we’ve been saying this year after year. Lynch and Shanahan know what they are doing so give them two more years and we Niner fans will finally be rewarded.

SF 49er’s Week 6 Loss to the Redskins

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San Francisco and Cleveland have developed quite a rivalry, just like Golden State and Cleveland. The only difference is that one is vying for the #1 draft pick while the other for the #1 seed throughout the playoffs.

Kidding aside, the Niners have now lost their last 5 games by a combined total of 13 points. A break here and a break there could have found the Niners record at 5-1 instead of 0-6. They should have beaten the  Seahawks in Seattle, the Rams at home and the Cardinals in Arizona and be sitting atop the Western Division. Having said that, good teams find a way to win while bad teams find a way to lose. The Niners are clearly still a bad team with much rebuilding still left to be done. They are two years behind the Rams and hopefully become as good as the Rams in 2019.

A few of the signs attributed to young and bad teams are that they have too many penalties, drop too many passes, and give up too many 1st downs on 3rd down plays. The Niners are near the top in each of these categories. Some of these issues are on the coaching staff but the reality is that players need to be smart and make plays. These issues will be fixed over time.

Also, bad teams don’t get any breaks from referee calls. In yesterday’s game, they had a legitimate chance to win as they were on the Redskin’s 40 yard line with 0:28 seconds left in the game (and behind by 2 points). At that point, Pierre Garcon was called for an offensive pass interference when the defensive player ran into him. So instead of a potentially game winning field goal, they suffered their 6th loss. A similar call was made in the last minute of the Niners/Rams game that resulted in a loss instead of a win.

In this first year for Lynch and Shanhan, W’s serve no purpose. They are determining which players they want to keep and build with. The fact that they have 30 new players and kept only 23 from the Baalke disaster regime tells me that Lynch and Shanahan had eye opening experiences to see how bad this roster really was. They released NoVarro Bowman because as good as he was in his hey-day, he was no longer an impact player and sadly no longer even a good player. In the coming weeks, you will see them trading or releasing Aaron Lynch and Eric Reid. Lynch is still over-weight and looks very slow. They will promote Pita Taumoepenu (this year’s 6th round draft pick) to take Lynch’ spot. Jaquiski Tartt is much faster than an injury-prone Reid. A possible trade partner for Reid are the Cowboys. They were set to draft Reid when Baalke moved above them via a trade and stole Reid from Jerry Jones in 2013. Another possible trade bait is Carlos Hyde as he is in his contract year. It would be wise to trade him now while his value is high. He will not be on the roster next year as the Niners will not offer him a new contract.

In the 2nd quarter of yesterday’s game with the Redskins, Shanahan made the tough decision to replace Hoyer with C.J. Beathard (this year’s 3rd round draft pick). He came into the game behind 17-0 and brought new life to the team and lifted them to a 17-17 tie with a potentially game winning drive at the end of the game. Beathard will play for the remainder of the year to allow Shanahan to see if he can become their QB of the future. Whether he shines or not, the Niners should draft a QB with their first pick next year.

Another change that Shanahan made yesterday was to activate and play Ahkello Witherspoon at Corner Back (this year’s 3rd round draft pick). He played soft and didn’t show any toughness. Witherspoon appears to be the only bad pick from this year’s draft.

While this year appears to be lost from a wins/losses perspective, there are many good things going on rebuilding this team. Reuben Foster will be a star, Soloman Thomas appears to be getting better each game along with the rest of the defensive line (Buckner, Armstead, etc.), Tartt and Jimmy Ward are starting to play better, and the offensive line is starting to gel (although they need to replace their interior line next year and begin thinking about replacing Joe Staley). LB Malcom Smith will be back next year after suffering a season ending pectoral injury during training camp. Smith was the Super Bowl MVP when the Seahawks won it all in 2014. He along with Foster will hopefully remind us of Patrick Willis and NoVarro Bowman. As painful as this year appears on the surface, Lynch and Shanahan will turn this ship around.