SF 49ers – Week 6 Loss – Niners Loss That Felt Like A Win

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After last week’s embarrassing loss to the Cardinals where the Niners dominated in every offensive and defensive category except for the gut wrenching 5 turnovers, they again dominated the Packers for 58 minutes. Unfortunately, there are 60 minutes in an NFL game. Aaron Rodgers took over and scored 10 points in the final 2 minutes to squeak out a victory, 33-30.

Once again the same theme cropped up as it does every game. No pass rush and poor defensive backfield play when it mattered. The corner back position opposite Richard Sherman gets toasted every week and last night was no different. Jimmy Ward played really well but hurt his hamstring late in the game. Greg Mabin replaced him and Rodgers immediately targeted him and roasted him for a TD, then completed 4 passes in succession against Mabin for the game winning drive. During the last drive, DeForest Buckner sacked Rodgers with 43 seconds remaining in the game on a 3rd down play and it appeared that the Niners finally got the big sacked with a chance to win in the final seconds. But, Richard Sherman was called for illegal contact which gave the Packers a 1st down and Rodgers picked Mabin apart… game over. What remains a mystery is why Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t play last night.

As in every loss including this one, there was a lot to like about the effort that the Niners gave. Marquis Goodwin had a monster game with 2 TD’s on 4 catches for 126 yards. The O-line had an outstanding game opening holes for both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. Breida, playing with a severe ankle sprain, still carried 14 times for 61 yards and Mostert had a career game with 87 yards on 12 carries. CJ Beathard had a great game except for the 2 drives at the end of the game where the Niners had a chance to ice the game with a 7 point lead. This team simply doesn’t have the experience or wherewithal to finish a game yet. The defense also played better but 33 points is 16 more than the 17 point goal that they have established.

These gut wrenching loses are in a way a positive as the Niners are playing without their franchise QB, Jimmy Garopollo and their #1 running back Jerick McKinnon this year. They play good enough to win but key mistakes cause them to lose. Last night’s game was no different. Playing at the legendary Lambeau Field and facing a future Hall of Fame Aaron Rodgers was a tall order but the Niners met that challenge with a great effort.

The Niners have enough good pieces to be competitive in most games. It is my hope that this group can grow together, work on reducing their mistakes, and become better football players in their remaining games. Before the start of the 2019 season, it is absolutely critical that they acquire a legitimate pass rusher and cover cornerbacks and continue to add depth in all positions.

Around the League:

  • Both the Sunday night game (Chiefs vs Patriots) and the Monday night game (Niners vs Packers) were great entertaining games. Both games were won by the team having control of the ball at the end of the game, the Patriots and the Packers. Both games were high scoring, Patriots 43-40 and the Packers 33-30. The only difference is that the Chiefs/Patriots matchup was highly anticipated while the Niners/Packers matchup was expected to be a blow-out.
  • The Buffalo Bills vs the Houston Texans game was a tight defensive game. With a minute left in the game and the score tied at 13-13, the Bills brought in Nathan Peterman at QB after Josh Allen injured his elbow. Peterman is best known for throwing an NFL high 5 interceptions in the first half of the Bills games vs the Chargers last year. So with a minute left in a 13-13 game, what did Peterman do? He threw a pick-6… game over. To add insult to injury, after the Texans kicked off and the Bills took position, Peterman’s next pass was also picked off. Yikes !!!
  • This past Sunday, the Seahawks and Raiders played in London. Seattle traveled on Wednesday, got acclimated to the time change and prepared for the game in London. The Raiders, on the other hand, didn’t travel to London until Saturday. The result was a 27-3 pounding that the Seahawks gave the Raiders. There is now a website that is counting down Jon Gruden’s $100 million, 10 year contract. After trading their All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack and starting 1-6, Gruden’s tenure now is at 9 years, 13 weeks and 1 day. Incidentally, their one win was against the Cleveland Browns in a game that the Browns should have won but was given to the Raiders via poor officiating.
  • The Titan’s QB, Marcus Mariota, had a rough day. He was sacked 11 times by the vaunted Raven’s defense. Mariota completed 10 passes, so he was sacked more than passes that he completed.
  • The NY Giants played like Midgets. Three Dog Night made their song, “Eli’s Comin'”, famous. They are now writing a new song called Eli’s Goin’. This will become Odell Beckham’s favorite song.
  • The Cleveland Browns played like the Browns as we know them… What their Dog Pound produces… Stinky Brown stuff…

SF 49ers – Week 5 Loss – Niners Are Now Officially Worse Than the Cleveland Browns

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Throughout the many lean years under the ownership of Jed York, there was one constant: The Niners were always better than the Cleveland Browns. Now, the “Jed York lean years” have taken on a whole new meaning as his team is much worse than the Browns. Even when York and Baalke hired a puppet as coach in Jim Tomsula in 2015, they still had a better record than the Browns (5-11 vs 3-13). This year, the Niners and the Raiders are the two worst teams in the NFL… period !!! The Niners will square off with the Raiders on Thursday night, November 1, in a game which may very well determine who gets the #1 draft pick in 2019. It was NOT a good weekend for Bay Area football fans as the Cal Bears and Stanford Cardinal also lost… sigh…

This past Sunday, the Niners found an incomprehensible way to lose. They completely dominated the game in all statistical categories except for one glaring stat that lost the game for them.

  • The Niners had 33 first downs to the Cardinals 10.
  • The Niners had 447 yards to the Cardinals 220. This includes the Cardinals first play of the game where they threw for a 75 yard TD on a blown coverage.
  • The 49ers controlled time of possession 40:12 to 19:48.
  • They had 92 total plays to Arizona’s 49.
  • They converted 10 of 17 third-down plays, while the Cardinals went 2 for 12.

Throughout NFL history, when a team gains 30 or more first downs and allows 10 or fewer first downs in a game, they almost always win. In fact, since 1954, teams had been 46-3 in that situation. Now, that record stands at 46-4.

The Niners lost because of one statistic… 5 TURNOVERS !!! When a team is minus 1 in turnovers for a game, they lose 80% of the time. The funny thing is that half way through the 4th quarter, when they had only 3 turnovers (ha ha), they scored and had a chance to actually tie the game with a 2-point conversion (which they failed on). Their dominance over the Cardinals almost worked but their incompetence in taking care of the ball insured a loss.

Acknowledgement goes to the Defense (except for the 1st play of the Cardinals possession where they allowed a 75 yard touchdown pass). Their solid play showed up in the stats (above). The front four held the highly touted David Johnson to 55 yards on 18 carries.

Although the Niners have had a disastrous years in terms of injuries, all teams have had their share and it is part of the game. What is troubling is that this team cannot perform basic things like tackling and covering on defense and blocking, catching, and holding onto the ball on offense. Additionally, they are not disciplined and commit needless penalties at key moments of the game. This is very unlike a Shanahan-lead team.

The foundation of this Niner team is much better than before the Lynch and Shanahan era began 2 years ago. They are going through growing pains now and it is unclear when they can grow out of it. Faithful fans have gone through a lot of draught years and have to hope that the oasis in the horizon isn’t just a mirage.

 

Around the League:

  • Looking like this year’s Super Bowl is set… Chiefs vs the Rams !!!
  • This is the difference between the Rams and Cowboys… The Rams had a 4th and 1 at their own 42 yard line with 1:39 left in the game holding a 33-31 lead. The Cowboys had a 4th and 1 at the Texans 42 yard line in OT in a 16-16 tie. The Rams went for it, got it and won. The Cowboys punted and lost. This is why the Rams are 5-0 and the Cowboys 2-3.
  • This past Sunday, there were 14 games played with 7 losing teams. There is one more game scheduled for Monday night, the Redskins vs the Saints. Of the 8 losing teams (including the MNF game), the Niner game was/will be the most disappointing while the Raiders showed that they are just plain bad.

SF 49ers – Week 4 Loss – Niners Are Good Enough To Lose

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The Niners lost to the Chargers in week 4 (29-27) showing that they are just good enough to lose. Of course, one can easily say the same thing about the Atlanta Falcons whose power ranking was #8 after week 3 and now have the same record as the Niners (1-3). Additionally, the Chargers had a power ranking of #13. The most important factor for me is that this year’s Niner team is fun and entertaining even though they are going through a lot of growing pains, especially on defense.

C.J. Beathard showed that the drop-off from Garopollo isn’t as wide as most people think. He had a great game throwing for 298 yards on 23 completions on 37 attempts and 2 TDs. Phillip Rivers, one of the league’s top QB’s threw for 250 yards on 25 completions on 39 attempts and 3 TDs. Beathard displayed plenty of grit and toughness as he took hard hits in the pocket. He was rocked on a third down play where he ran and gave it his all to try to get a first down in the red zone. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured and only had the wind knocked out of him. With a fourth down and one inside the Charger’s 20 yard line with a chance for the Niners to take the lead, Shanahan made the right decision to have Robbie Gould make the sure field goal to close the score to 29-27 as Beathard needed a breather (no pun intended).

I don’t like to criticize one individual in a team sport, but in this game, Tight End Garrett Celek lost the game for the Niners. They were driving nicely when Beathard threw a dart to Celek on the Charger’s two yard line. The ball hit him in the chest and both hands, then bounced to a Charger defender who ran it back 90 yards to the Niner’s six yard line. The Chargers later scored so that one play created a 14 point swing for the Chargers. Celek was also called for holding three times killing Niner drives.

As I said in last week’s post, Beathard fits Shanahan’s system really well but his ceiling is limited whereas Garopollo’s ceiling appears unlimited. This was the year for Garopollo to have a full year of experience under Shanahan’s tutelage and learn from his mistakes. Unfortunately, he won’t get that opportunity until next year so my belief is that he won’t be a top notched QB until 2020. Under Beathard, the Niners will be in most games with a chance to win, but they will be just good enough to lose.

 

Around the League:

  • Earl Thomas, the Pro-Bowl Safety of the Seahawks, broke his leg against the Cardinals. He had been holding out for a new contract and also very vocal about wanting to be traded. Unfortunately for Thomas, with this injury, he will lose out on millions of dollars as he is at an age where he is still playing brilliantly but most teams including the Seahawks will be unwilling to give him a large long term contract. As he was being carted off the field, he flipped a bird to the Seahawks sidelines… Did you see that, Pete Carroll? When asked about it, this was Carroll’s response… “Somebody said something about that,” Carroll said of Thomas’ gesture. “It’s a big stadium. I don’t know where it was aimed at.”
  • The Chicago Bears may have re-awoken the Monsters of the Midway. They absolutely destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-10 with Trubisky throwing for 6 TD’s. Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Jameis Winston but he threw 2 INTs, good enough to be named the starter in the Buc’s next game.
  • The Cleveland Browns got jobbed by the referees twice in yesterday’s loss to the Raiders. The first bad call came with about 6 minutes remaining in the game when Derek Carr clearing fumbled (he was still standing up). The Browns picked up the fumble and started running toward an apparent TD but the referees ruled the ball dead so the Raiders maintained possession. The second bad call came with 1:28 left in the game with the Browns leading by 8 points. Carlos Hyde was ruled to get a first down so the Browns would have run out the clock. But, the NFL decided to review the play. Although Hyde’s elbow hit the ground, there was no conclusive camera angle that proved that the ball didn’t reach the first down marker. Thus, there was no reason the change the call on the field. But, they overturned the call, the Browns had to give up the ball, the Raiders scored and converted on a two point conversion and won in OT. The Browns deserved better but the Browns are the Browns.

SF 49ers – Week 3 Loss to KC Was Disastrous

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The Niners lost to the Chiefs in week 3 (38-27), but, they lost their leader on offense for the remainder of the year and may have lost their leader on Defense for a prolonged period of time. Jimmy Garoppolo went down in the 4th quarter trying to gain a meaningless extra yard and tore his ACL in his left knee and will be sidelined for the year. Richard Sherman strained his left calf in the first half and did not return to the game. The extent of his injury will be known after an MRI.

In a year where expectations were so high, Arrowhead punctured a huge hole into the Niner Nation balloon. With Jimmy G., the Niners are a top tier offense… Without him, they are in the middle-of-the-pack. With Richard Sherman, the Niners opponents needed to focus on only one side of their defense… Without him, their defensive backfield is as porous as a broken dam.

The Chiefs are the real deal. Their offense with Patrick Mahomes is Super Bowl caliber. They will be limited by their defense which is in the lower tier. The Chiefs had the ball five time in the first half and scored five touchdowns… game over.

In years past, the Niners would have folded. Shanahan’s team will not quit under any circumstances. They actually out-played the Chiefs in the second half to the tune of 17-3. This team is much better than last year and will continue to surprise even without Garoppolo and Sherman. C.J. Beathard is a good QB for Shanahan’s system but his ceiling is limited while Garoppolo’s ceiling is the Super Bowl. Lynch and Shanahan have a solid core from which to build and they will get better year by year. Their offense is solid now with a good O-line and a good core of running backs. They need a game breaking receiver to become real contenders. On defense, they have a solid D-line and Linebackers who can develop into one of the league’s best with Reuben Foster and Fred Warner. They sorely need an edge rusher who will make the D-line even better. Regarding their D-backs, the Niners have gone through so many without success, one has to wonder if they actually have the athletes but need a new Defensive Coordinator. Robert Salah came from Seattle and came highly regarded. But, his defensive schemes have not yet worked. Saleh was not Shanahan’s first choice so look for a change next year.

At the beginning of the year, I thought that if the Niners went 2-2 in the first four tough games, that they would make the play-offs. Sadly, the Faithful will have to wait yet another year before those dreams become reality.

Around the League:

  • The NFL has to do something about the roughing-the-passer rules. There were multiple cases again where a defensive lineman hit the QB with his shoulder and not his helmet and landed on the QB with his weight. Once again, Clay Matthews was involved and once again, he and the Packers got screwed. When the lineman is on top of the QB as they both fall to the ground, the law of gravity takes over. Can the NFL and Roger Goodell change Newton’s Law?
  • The Buffalo Bills shocked the Vikings in Minnesota. In the NFL, anything can happen.
  • The Cleveland Brown’s let the Dogs out, won a game, and found their QB of the future in Baker Mayfield.

SF 49ers – Week 2 Win That Felt Like A Loss

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The Niners got their first win of the season in their home opener against the Detroit Lions. They played and looked fabulous for 3 quarters as they built a 30-13 lead. Then the wheels came off as the Lions came roaring back, cut the lead to 30-27, and very well could have won the game. While trying to run the clock out, the 49ers (Shanahan) made a curious call on a 3rd down play with less than 2 minutes left in the game. He spread the offense with no running back so the Lions knew that Garoppolo would be throwing a short pass. That signal blew up their face as the Lions cornerback anticipated a sideline throw and intercepted it and ran down the sidelines to the Niners 6 yard line for a go-ahead score. Fortunately, for the Niners, a defensive holding penalty against the Lions nullified the interception and the Niners got new life. They were still unable to get the game ending first down so the Lions got another chance to win the game but were unable to convert on a 4th down pass… Niners won but they showed that they have yet to develop a killer instinct.

The weak link in the game was the Niners defensive secondary. Mathew Stafford threw for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns on 34/53 passes. Stafford never looked in Richard Sherman’s direction and picked apart Ahkello Witherspoon as he was playing with a sprained ankle. There were also too many missed tackles leading to the Lions getting a new set of downs.

The Niner offense showed brilliance through 3 quarters as they scored 30 points. The running game exploded with Matt Breida running for 138 yards on only 11 carries. Breida deserves the game ball as he had a break-out game. His 66 yard touchdown run was the highlight of the day. He ran right, then cut into the middle, found Pierre Garcon blocking on the left sideline, and followed Garcon’s block for 30 yards for the TD. Garcon also had a great game. In addition to the 30 yard block which is unheard of and truly remarkable, he had 4 catches on 4 targets for 48 important yards. Alfred Morris got the tough yards carrying 14 times for 48 yards. The fact that the running game came together showed that the offensive line had a very solid day. Garoppolo was sacked 6 times but those sacks were on him and not on the offensive line. He held the ball much too long waiting for a receiver to get open. Jimmy G must learn to throw the ball away instead of taking those drive killing sacks. Garoppolo did have a good game otherwise as he threw for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18/26. My belief is that Shanahan’s poor play calling in the 4th quarter allowed the Lions to stay in the game. He along with the rest of the team have a lot of improvements to make.

Around the League:

  • The Cleveland Browns are a much improved team but they are still the Browns. They played a very good Saints team and actually should have beaten them. But, their field goal kicker, Zane Gonzalez, missed 2 extra points and 2 field goals in a 21-18 loss. Ouch…
  • The Packers vs Vikings game was a thriller with controversy involved. Aaron Rodgers continued to amaze as he went 30 for 42 on pass plays for 281 yards and a touchdown with an injured leg. The controversy involved Clay Matthews who hit Kirk Cousins as he was releasing his pass and was called for roughing the passer. Matthews, didn’t hit him in the head nor knees and hit him in the chest leading with his shoulder and not with his helmet. The play resulted in a Packer interception with them leading 29-21 with 1:45 left in the game. They would have iced the game. Instead, the Vikings got new life and scored and converted a 2 point extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime. The referee said that Matthews lifted Cousins up and slammed him into the ground. Replays clearing show that he merely tackled him in text-book fashion. In addition to that controversial play, the Vikings missed a field goal from the 17 yard line with 2 seconds left in overtime, so the game ended in a kiss-your-sister tie.
  • The Buffalo Bills corner back, Vontae Davis, abruptly “retired” at halftime vs the LA Chargers. He said that reality hit him and he told himself that he shouldn’t be out there any longer. I certainly don’t have any issues with any player retiring from the NFL as it is a brutal game. But, at halftime when his teammates are counting on him??? C’Mon Man !!!

SF 49ers – Week 1 Loss But They Proved They Can Play With The Big Boys

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For 49er fans, the week 1 loss wasn’t a bad sign for the remainder of the season for multiple reasons.

Despite losing to a Super Bowl contender in their hostile environment, the 49ers showed that they can play toe-to-toe with the big boys.

Multiple injuries to their Right Guard position forced Shanahan to move his rookie Right Tackle, Mike McGlinchy, to play Guard and Garry Gilliam to play Right Tackle. The Offensive Line held their own against the league’s best defense under these conditions. Starting Guard, Mike Person, and backup Joshua Garnett both suffered foot injuries forcing this move.

Marquise Goodwin, the 49ers Home Run Wide Receiver, injured his quad early in the game so couldn’t contribute.

Then, there were the Turn Overs and Dropped Passes which were the deciding factors in the game. The 49ers had 4 Turn Overs (1 Fumble and 3 INT’s). The reliable Alfred Morris fumbled on the 1 yard line. The sure-handed Pierre Garcon dropped a Touchdown pass. George Kittle dropped a perfect long pass from Garoppolo and could have run all the way back to San Francisco without being touched. On the very next play after the Kittle drop, Garoppolo threw a Pick-6. Kendrick Bourne, the target Wide Receiver on that play, admitted after the game that he ran the wrong route causing the Pick-6. Those two plays created a 14 point swing against the 49ers. In the 4th Quarter, Garoppolo over-threw a wide open George Kittle in the end zone. Thus, they left a potential 28 points on the field. Then, to put the icing on the cake on errors, with a little under 3 minutes left in the game, Defensive Tackle, Solomon Thomas, committed the sin of all sins by biting on a hard count with 1 second left on the play clock and jumping off-sides giving the Vikings another 4 downs to run the clock.

Now, onto the positives…

DeForest Buckner had a monster game on Defense recording 2 ½ sacks. In general, the entire Defensive Line (including Solomon Thomas) had a solid game. Shanahan said that he was pleased with his Defensive Line play as they held the Vikings to 17 offensive points which he thought would be good enough to win.

Rookie LB Fred Warner had a game high 12 tackles and looks like the real-deal. Richard Sherman looked like he is fully recovered from his achilles tear injury and had a solid game. He also said that Middle Linebacker is the toughest position to come into as a rookie and commended Warner for his performance.

Rookie WR Dante Pettis also had a good game and made a fantastic 22 yard catch in the back of the End Zone for the 49ers only Touchdown.

Garoppolo had the 3 INT’s but otherwise had a decent game as his stats match that of Cousins. He had 266 yards passing to Cousin’s 244 yards.

Many mistakes that the 49ers will correct as this is a much improved team from last year…

Around the League:

  • The Chicago Bears won the Khalil Mack sweepstakes. He was a 1-man wrecking crew on Defense vs the Packers.
  • Aaron Rodgers is more dangerous with 1 leg. He came back to play in the 4th quarter after suffering what looked like a season-ending knee injury in the 1st half and threw 3 Touchdown passes to secure a 24-23 comeback win vs the Bears. The Bears were ahead 20-3 when he limped back onto the field. This was the greatest come-from-behind 4th quarter deficit victory in Packers history. Rodgers played like a wounded bear (no pun intended)… something that nobody wants to deal with.
  • Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson, two oldies who haven’t received the respect that they deserve over the last couple of years, showed that they still have plenty in the tank by demolishing the Cardinals in Arizona.
  • The Cleveland Browns ended their 17 game losing streak. BUT, they didn’t start a 1 game winning streak either. A tie is like kissing your sister.
  • The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs last year and traded their starting QB, Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns so that they can start Nathan Peterman at QB. Against the Ravens, Peterman went 5 for 18 for 24 yards (I didn’t forget the zero at the end of 24) with 2 INT’s and a QB rating of ZERO. In case you are wondering, the Bills lost 47-3.
  • Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, the other Super Bowl contender, got trashed by the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a back-up QB, Ryan Fitspatrick, who threw for 417 yards and 4 Touchdowns. Jameis Winston may have to go back to stealing more crabs…

2018/2019 SF Forty Niners 53 Man Roster Projections

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Here are my projections for the Niner roster which will be determined by Saturday 1:00 pm, September 1, 2018.

Most are straight forward but a few will be hard decisions that Shanahan and Lynch have to make.

The 6 WR’s: The hard decision is whether to keep Burbridge or Bourne. Burbridge has the edge as he is an excellent Special Teams player. Bourne developed a great connection with Garoppolo last year and is still in his second year. He has the length (6-4) and the speed that Shanahan likes. Stay tuned…

The 4 OG’s: The Niners signed Jonathan Cooper during the off season and they were hopeful that he would be one of the starting guards. But he has been slow to recover from various injuries and both Person and Garnett have played well so Cooper is behind both. Thus, the choice boils down to Cooper or Magnuson who can play both OG and OT so I give the edge to him.

The 6 LB’s: Reuben Foster is suspended for the first 2 games. When he returns, either Watson or Taumoepenu will be released. I give the edge to Taumoepenu as he was drafted by Lynch and Shanahan last year. Plus, he looked really good in pre-season games.

The 6 CB’s: The tough choice here is between Mabin and Reed. Again, I give the edge to Reed as he was drafted by Lynch and Shanahan this year.

The 4 S’s: Marcell Harris is recovering from a torn Achilles but Lynch and Shanahan still thought highly of him so drafted him this year. He is currently on the Niner’s IR list but has made good progress. When he is fully recovered and ready to join the team, Exum will be cut.

This-n-That’s:

I am so glad that the Niners signed Alfred Morris. He is an established pro running back who had his best years at Washington under Shanahan. He will be a great complimentary power runner to the speedier McKinnon, Breida and Mosterdt.

The addition of Richard Sherman was genius. He still has the speed and skills to compete at a high level. More importantly, he is a great teacher and will make the entire defensive backfield play “together”.

Richie James has been a stand-out WR since being drafted in the 7th round this year. His play is very similar to Trent Taylor’s style of play so one could question why they need two similar players. But James played so well during pre-season, he’ll make the team.

Jullian Taylor has also been a stand-out DL since being drafted in the 7th round this year. He, along with the stellar play of D. J. Jones and Sheldon Day are the reasons that make Arik Armstead expendable (although I still do have Armstead on the roster, I look for him to be traded).

Joshua Garnett has gone from being on the brink of being cut to fighting for a starting job at Right Guard. Mike Person will be the starter but Garnett’s solid showing gives Shanahan the luxury of turning to him if either Tomlinson or Person get hurt.

Watch for Jerick McKinnon to pile up a lot of yardage on screen and flare-out passes this year.

Look for Lynch and Shanahan to scour the league’s cut list for a Safety. Other than Tartt and Colbert, this position looks weak.

Also look for Lynch and Shanahan to look for trade partners for Arik Armstead and Jimmy Ward. They were both #1 draft picks from the Baalke era and are serviceable players but not as #1 pick players. A dream trade would be trading Armstead, Ward, and the Niner’s #1 draft pick next year for Khalil Mack.

With this roster, the only players remaining from the Baalke era are Joe Staley, Arik Armstead, Jimmy Ward, Ronald Blair, and Bradley Pinion. I think Lynch and Shanahan have done a truly remarkable job in turning this franchise around in 2 years.

QB (2)Jimmy GaroppoloC.J. Beathard
RB (4)Jerick McKinnonMatt BreidaRaheem MostertAlfred Morris
FB (1)Kyle Juszczyk
WR (6): Pierre Garçon, Marquise GoodwinTrent TaylorDante PettisAaron Burbridge/Kendrick Bourne, Richie James
TE (3)George KittleGarrett CelekCole Wick
OT (3)Joe StaleyMike McGlincheyGarry Gilliam
OG (4)Joshua GarnettLaken TomlinsonMike PersonErik Magnuson/Jonathan Cooper
C (1)Weston Richburg

DL (10)DeForest BucknerSolomon ThomasArik ArmsteadCassius MarshEarl MitchellD.J. JonesSheldon DayRonald BlairJeremiah AttaochuJullian Taylor
LB (6)Malcolm SmithMark NzeochaFred WarnerDekoda Watson/Pita Taumoepenu, Brock Coyle, Reuben Foster
CB (6)Richard ShermanAhkello WitherspoonJimmie Ward, Tarvarius Moore, K’Waun Williams, Greg Mabin/D.J. Reed
S (4)Jaquiski TarttAdrian Colbert, Tyvis Powell, Antone Exum Jr./Marcell Harris

K (1)Robbie Gould
P (1)Bradley Pinion
LS (1)Kyle Nelson

2018 SF Giants Multi-Year Payroll Woes

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The 2018 San Francisco Giants have the second highest payroll in the league and hopelessly out of playoff contention. In 2016, they had the worst record in baseball after the All-Star game. In 2017, they lost 98 games. In 2018, as of August 24, their record is 63-66, three games below .500 and heading closer to San Diego instead of chasing Colorado, Los Angeles and Arizona.

This week, they finally realized their plight and put Andrew McCutchen on waivers but no team claimed him. The next move that they need to make is to put Buster Posey on IR and perform surgery on his injured hip so he can be ready for the beginning of the 2019 season. This is an example of poor management decisions made since they promoted Bobby Evans to run baseball operations in 2015. After last year’s dismal 98 loss season, Brian Sabean re-inserted himself to again be the top dog running operations but kept Evans on their payroll. Therein lies the biggest problem that the Giants have… they hang onto losers much too long simply because they have done a good job for them in the past.

In my previous article, I lauded the Oakland A’s, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves. All four of these teams have payrolls in the lower half of the league and they are all Playoff contenders. These teams have outstanding management in terms of scouting, drafting, and trading for players who don’t command top salaries but who play as well as the top salaried players in the league.

The mindset of the SF Giants management is that they have the need to compete against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers to go after the most expensive players in the league. Even in 2010 when they won their first of three World Series since coming to San Francisco, they made some horrendous financial decisions by giving Aaron Rowand a $60 million five year contract and Barry Zito a $126 million seven year contract. While I do have to say that Zito came through and helped win the 2012 World Series, his overall performance as a Giant was dismal. And Rowand never played in any of our World Series playoff games because he was so bad.

Let us not forget that in 2010, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were both in their second year and making rookie money and Sergio Romo was in is his third year. In 2012, when the Giants won their second World Series, both Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were in their second year and were paid rookie salaries and Pablo Sandoval was in his third year making a rookie salary.

In terms of pitchers, while both Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain were in their prime, the Giants rewarded Cain with a $112.5 million contract over five years in 2012 when he had already pitched for 8 years. They gifted Tim Linecum with a $32 million contract over two years when he had already pitched for 7 years. Tim actually took a pay cut as he was earning $18 million per year on one year contracts. I must confess that both of these contracts were well deserved as both Lincecum and Cain meant so much to this organization and they grew up as Giants. Having said that, I would have preferred that they paid Cain more per year for 2 or 3 years like they did for Lincecum. And the Barry Zito story is a classic example of what not to do. A seven year contract for any pitcher is about four years too long as all pitchers are prone to arm injury.

Our good position players came up through our draft and farm system during our winning years. And other than the Rowand and Zito disasters, the Giants brought in players that “fit” and had reasonable salaries. Jeremy Affeldt, Pat Burrell, Aubry Huff, Javier Lopez, Edgar Renteria, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, and Marco Scutaro were all great contributors during our World Series years and they didn’t break the bank.

Before the 2019 season starts, what should the Giants do with their payroll and player woes? Here is my humble opinion. In looking at the player and salary chart below, the situation is fairly bleak.

The “buried” salaries list shows how much the Giants are paying to players no longer on the team. Matt Cain’s $7.5 million will go away next year. Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin were both traded to the Texas Rangers on July 8 as salary dump moves. I never understood why they signed Jackson as he has never been a good player. It was a desperation move as they couldn’t sign anyone else. Cory Gearrin is simply a minor league pitcher who was a disaster in the majors. As approximately $10 million comes off of the buried salary list due to these players next year, I recommend that list grow next year as the Giants need to part ways with some expensive players.

Brandon Belt is being paid $17.2 million per year through 2021. The Giants had plenty of opportunities to trade him as some teams like the NY Yankees were in need of a good first baseman. Belt is a great defensive player but very inconsistent at the plate. He can go on a hitting streak of 10-15 games, then fall into a .200 hitter for the next month. I would try real hard to trade him and hope that his new team picks up some of his Giant contract. The rest would go into the Giants buried salary list. Another key reason to move Belt is that Buster Posey’s days as a catcher is now numbered and he must be moved to first base. The catcher position has taken a toll on his body to the point where Buster can no longer use his lower body to hit the ball. Thus, his home run total is at an all-time career low. The Giants made a wise drafting move by picking Joey Bart as their #1 pick. I’m hoping that the Giants bring Bart up to the majors in September when the roster size expands to give him some major league experience with the hope that he can become our every day catcher in 2019.

Madison Bumgarner deserves a big payday even though he may be approaching the age where his pitching skills start to decline. He has been the Giants best pitcher and is the acknowledged G.O.A.T of World Series pitching. MadBum has been extremely underpaid and now needs to be rewarded. Clayton Kershaw is being paid $30 million per year for seven years. The Giants should pay MadBum $25-30 per year for a maximum of three years. If he demands a five or more year contract, the Giants should listen to trade offers.

Major mistake by signing Evan Longoria for $81 million through 2022. He is batting .250 at age 33. The Giants won’t be able to trade him without paying for most of the remainder of this huge contract.

The signing of Johnny Cueto was not necessarily a bad move but the amount and length of the contract was a huge mistake ($150 million for seven years). Apparently the Giants did not learn from the Barry Zito fiasco. He is out indefinitely as he just had Tommy John surgery. The only choice that the Giants have is to keep him and hope that he comes back next year with almost the same stuff that he had as a winning pitcher.

The most atrocious signing was that of Jeff Samardziya to a $90 million five year contract. The Oakland A’s in 2014 had a very weak pitching rotation and Samardziya was still cut by them. The Giants picked him up, gave him a huge contract and his pitching didn’t improve… surprise surprise… The Giants need to cut their losses and simply cut him and eat his contract. They won’t be able to trade him as his trade value is zero.

Finally, the signing of Mark Melancon to a $62 million contract for four years is beyond atrocious. He has ONE save this year. So, that one save has cost the Giants $20 million this year. The Giants need to eat his contract as well since he no longer adds value and no other team will want his services.

If they release Longoria, Samardziya and Melancon and eat their salaries, their buried salary will total $146 million.

To get themselves out of this salary hole, their seemingly only option is to rely on their top prospects. Next year, they should:

  • Bring up Helios Ramos to play Center Field and rotate with Steven Duggar.
  • Bring up Chris Shaw to play Left Field and rotate with Buster Posey at First Base. Move Austin Slater to Right Field.
  • Bring up Tyler Beede to replace Jeff Samardziya.

The Giants MUST avoid chasing big contract players for the next several years at all cost. They have made some noise about going after Bryce Harper. He will command a salary over $300 million. That is simply NUTS !!! He is batting .249 this year and like Giancarlo Stanton who is batting .276  and making over $325 million, he either hits a home run or strikes out.

They need to get back to the 2010-2012 years and build their core from within and add complementary players as needed.

GO GIANTS !!! (I hope)…

CATCHERS POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Buster Posey C $22,177,777  $22,177,777  $22,177,777  $22,177,777  $22,000,000 
Nick Hundley C $2,500,000 UFA
1ST BASE POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Brandon Belt 1B $17,200,000  $17,200,000  $17,200,000  $17,200,000  UFA
2ND BASE POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Joe Panik 2B $3,450,000 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Kelby Tomlinson 2B $560,000 ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Alen Hanson 2B $545,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
3RD BASE POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Evan Longoria 3B $13,500,000 $14,500,000 $15,000,000 $18,500,000 $19,500,000
Pablo Sandoval  3B $545,000 UFA
Chase d’Arnaud 3B $545,000 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Miguel Gomez 3B $545,000 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
Ryder Jones 3B $545,000 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
SHORTSTOP POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Brandon Crawford SS $15,200,000  $15,200,000  $15,200,000  $15,200,000  UFA
OUTFIELD POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Hunter Pence RF $18,500,000  UFA
Andrew McCutchen RF $14,750,000 UFA
Gregor Blanco RF $1,000,000 UFA
Gorkys Hernandez LF $561,500 ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Austin Slater LF $545,000 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
Steven Duggar CF $545,000
Mac Williamson RF $545,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
STARTING PITCHERS POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Johnny Cueto  SP $21,000,000 $21,000,000 $21,000,000 $21,000,000 $22,000,000
Jeff Samardzija  SP $19,800,000  $19,800,000  $19,800,000  UFA
Madison Bumgarner SP $12,000,000 $12,000,000 UFA
Chris Stratton SP $552,500 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
Andrew Suarez SP $545,000
Dereck Rodriguez  SP $545,000
Casey Kelly SP $545,000 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Tyler Beede SP $545,000
RELIEF PITCHERS POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Mark Melancon RP/CL $20,000,000  $19,000,000  $19,000,000  UFA $1,000,000
Matt Cain RP $7,500,000
Sam Dyson RP $4,425,000 ARB 3 ARB 4 UFA
Tony Watson RP $3,000,000 $3,500,000 $2,500,000 UFA
Will Smith RP $2,500,000 ARB 4 UFA
Derek Holland RP $1,750,000 UFA
Hunter Strickland RP/CL $1,550,000 ARB 2 ARB 3 ARB 4 UFA
Ty Blach RP $565,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
Josh Osich RP $558,000 ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3 UFA
Julian Fernández  RP $545,000
Reyes Moronta RP $545,000 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
Pierce Johnson RP $545,000 TC TC ARB 1 ARB 2
Ray Black RP $545,000
Jose Valdez  RP $545,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
Derek Law RP $545,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
Steven Okert RP $545,000 TC ARB 1 ARB 2 ARB 3
Retained/Buried Payroll Figures
POS. 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Matt Cain RP $7,500,000
Austin Jackson CF $1,629,035
Cory Gearrin RP $909,575
Roberto Gomez RP $47,312
D.J. Snelten RP $29,300

MLB Teams With Best Cost-to-Win Ratios

posted in: Baseball, Uncategorized | 0

Typically, small market teams in any professional sport are at a huge disadvantage as they simply do not have the financial power to compete with the “Big Boys” who seemingly do not have a payroll ceiling as they have the willingness to pay high luxury taxes. In 2018, there are some astounding exceptions to this rule and as a sports fan, you simply have to root for these “David” teams against the “Goliath’s”.

Four teams stand apart from the rest of the league in terms of having the best cost-to-win ratio in 2018… These teams are in the top 10 in the cost-to-win ratio and equally as important, they are in Playoff contention. The Oakland A’s have the best ratio by far while having the third lowest payroll in MLB. The other standout teams are the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Atlanta Braves. All four of these teams have payrolls in the lower half of the league and they are all Playoff contenders. These teams have outstanding management in terms of scouting, drafting, and trading for players who don’t command top salaries but who play as well as the top salaried players in the league.

Of course, there are the “Goliath’s” who have very high payrolls but who are also Playoff contenders. The difference is that these teams are expected to win the World Series and anything short of that would be a failure. Teams with the 10 highest payrolls who are Playoff contenders are the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners. The management for these teams are second tier as they spend top dollars for the MLB super-stars. In other words, they don’t have to worry about being frugal to trade for the best players in baseball. But they also do a good job of scouting and drafting as their minor league teams are filled with good future MLB players.

Lastly, there are the teams with poor management who have the highest salaries who are not in Playoff contention. These teams are the San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Mets. These teams are in the top 12 in having the highest payrolls but who have no hope to make the Playoffs. Of these teams, the SF Giants are in the poorest position going forward. They have the 2nd highest payroll and their roster is filled with old, high salaried players who do not command any trade value. In essence, the SF management have been overly loyal to players who brought home three World Series titles since 2010. At this point, there are no good options over the next few years except to hope that their minor league players come of age soon and can be effective major league players.

As an avid SF Giants fan since they moved here from New York, I am worried that they won’t be a competitive team again for years. But, I am amazed and thrilled that I was able to celebrate three World Series titles in seven years. And, since my motto is to simply relax and enjoy my favorite sports teams, I will forever be a Giants fan regardless of how they perform.

I am also a Bay Area sports fan in general so am thrilled to see how well the Oakland A’s are performing this year. As amazing as they are playing, they simply don’t get the press that they deserve. The press focuses all of their accolades to the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros. For this reason, I would dearly love to see the A’s conquer these “Goliath’s” !!!

 

Go A’s !!!

 

Team Total Payroll Rank # of Wins as of 8/21/2018 Cost per Win Rank (Cost per Win Playoff Contention
Oakland Athletics $79,105,049 28 75 $1,054,733.99 1 Y
Tampa Bay Rays $70,973,984 30 64 $1,108,968.50 2
Pittsburgh Pirates $91,842,537 26 63 $1,457,818.05 3
Milwaukee Brewers $105,550,229 22 70 $1,507,860.41 4 Y
Chicago White Sox $71,168,615 29 47 $1,514,225.85 5
Philadelphia Phillies $103,424,036 23 68 $1,520,941.71 6 Y
Cincinnati Reds $98,923,352 25 55 $1,798,606.40 7
Miami Marlins $91,038,480 27 50 $1,820,769.60 8
Atlanta Braves $128,573,847 19 69 $1,863,389.09 9 Y
Minnesota Twins $114,689,120 21 59 $1,943,883.39 10
Cleveland Indians $141,133,243 14 72 $1,960,183.93 11 Y
San Diego Padres $99,474,315 24 49 $2,030,088.06 12
Arizona Diamondbacks $140,597,981 15 69 $2,037,651.90 13 Y
Colorado Rockies $142,828,448 13 68 $2,100,418.35 14 Y
Houston Astros $161,093,262 9 75 $2,147,910.16 15 Y
Seattle Mariners $159,985,757 10 72 $2,222,024.40 16 Y
New York Yankees $177,530,798 6 78 $2,276,035.87 17 Y
St. Louis Cardinals $162,540,882 8 69 $2,355,664.96 18 Y
Texas Rangers $138,989,968 16 56 $2,481,963.71 19
Detroit Tigers $129,892,009 17 51 $2,546,902.14 20
Boston Red Sox $227,835,760 1 88 $2,589,042.73 21 Y
Chicago Cubs $188,649,397 4 71 $2,657,033.76 22 Y
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $173,543,411 7 63 $2,754,657.32 23
New York Mets $149,728,579 12 54 $2,772,751.46 24
Toronto Blue Jays $156,766,332 11 56 $2,799,398.79 25
Los Angeles Dodgers $194,197,232 3 67 $2,898,466.15 26 Y
Washington Nationals $186,810,505 5 62 $3,013,072.66 27
San Francisco Giants $207,025,940 2 62 $3,339,128.06 28
Baltimore Orioles $124,161,594 20 37 $3,355,718.76 29
Kansas City Royals $129,537,133 18 38 $3,408,871.92 30

 

2018 Golden State Warriors Boogie Thru NBA Free Agency

posted in: Basketball | 0

As expected, LeBron James stole the free agency show by signing with the LA Lakers, a 4 year $154 million contract at age 33. The other key free agent signings were reported with very little fanfare although, in my opinion, had much more of an impact on the NBA landscape:

Chris Paul, age 33, signed a 4 year $160 million contract to remain a Houston Rocket

Paul George, age 28, signed a 4 year $137 million contract to remain an OKC Thunder

DeAndre Jordan, age 29, signed a 1 year $24 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks

Trevor Ariza, age 33, signed a 1 year $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns

To me, the real headline is that none of LeBron’s buddies followed him to Hollywood. Magic Johnson losing Paul George (PG-13) to the Thunder is indeed very surprising and even shocking on many levels. PG-13 is still in his prime and he would have legitimized the Lakers. He grew up in LA and made comments about wanting to go home. Very curious why he chose to stay in OKC. Yes, I agree that the Lakers will be much better with LeBron but without PG-13, their roster now looks much like the Cavs roster that LeBron just left.

Also, in looking at the 4 year contracts for both LeBron and Chris Paul, both are age 33 and on the downhill slope of their careers. While both are still playing at a high level, father time always has a way of catching up. After losing PG-13 to the Thunder, I’m surprised that Magic Johnson didn’t offer a max contract to Uncle Drew. He got game, is from Hollywood, and looks younger than LeBron.

LeBron’s signing with the Lakers immediately became the headline. Then, two days later, the Warriors shocked the NBA world by signing DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins to a mid-level 1 year contract for $5.3 million. This, in fact, will cost the Warriors more than $20 million due to the NBA luxury tax for going beyond the allowable salary maximum. The World Champions just filled their only weakness with the most dominant Center in the league. Last year, Boogie averaged 25 point, 13 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game and is still only 27 years of age. JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia combined averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game.

Boogie is an All-NBA Center meaning that the Warriors now have all five starting positions filled with All-Stars (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant). How in the world could this have happened? The short answer is that when an organization develops a winning culture, treats their employees with class, and treats all of their opponents with respect, great players will want to migrate to that organization.

Boogie has a torn Achilles tendon which most likely had a lot to do with him signing with the Warriors for much less than his worth. He said that he is working very hard to be ready for the start of the 2018-2019 season. Knowing the Warriors, they will be very cautious and won’t play him until they are absolutely certain that he is fully recovered.

So here are the events that lead to Boogie’s decision to sign with the Warriors. He couldn’t sleep Sunday night as he had zero offers on the table including nothing from his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Boogie called his agent and told them that he is going to call Bob Myers, the GM for the Warriors, to express his interest in joining the team.  He then called Kevin Durant, Draymond Green who is vacationing in Greece, and Steph Curry to make sure that they were comfortable with him coming on-board. They all greeted his interest with shock and awe. Boogie said that Steph was especially thrilled thus sealing the deal for Boogie to join the team. Boogie also said that he played his Ace of Spades with the Warriors this year hoping that his role in another successful year will lead him to a lucrative contract next year.

Why the Pelicans didn’t offer him a contract is beyond my comprehension. They had their best season in their franchise history last year and really had the inside track to make some real noise this year. They, instead decided to go in another direction for unknown reasons. The Lakers also had plenty of salary cap space to offer Boogie a good contract. After losing PG-13, you would have thought that the Lakers would go after Cousins. Very curious why they didn’t. Instead, the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo and got rid of one their young stars, Julius Randle. I’m not sure that these are LeBron’s kind of guys and I’m fairly certain that they will supply Shaqitin with some good Tweeting materials next year.

These are the kinds of decisions that make teams like the Pelicans and Lakers just average teams. I can say that about most teams who are desperately trying to catch the Warriors. They start on the right path but if they don’t win immediately, they make desperate decisions. Take, for example, the Toronto Raptors. They had the 2nd best record in the league next to the Rockets last year. Their coach, Dwayne Casey, won the NBA Coach of the Year award but they lost to the Cavs in the playoffs so they fired Casey. Another example is the Houston Rockets who had the best record last year but bought players putting them at their max salary. This year, they were forced to give Chris Paul a max deal for 4 years at $160 million even though he is 33 years old and has a history of leg injuries. Because they are at the salary cap, they couldn’t afford to bring another star to their team and instead lost one of their stars, Trevor Ariza. This is a big blow to them as Ariza was their best defender.

For Warrior haters who dislike their “Super Team” image, of the 5 super-stars, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were all draft picks. Kevin Durant, is the only super-star who signed from another team whom the Warriors recruited. The Boogie signing was initiated by him and not by the Warriors. I am also very curious if these Warrior haters also hated the Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, and Lakers in their dominant years. Or, are most of these haters just millennials who never saw those other dynasties play? The NBA has survived all of these dynasties and will also survive the current Warrior dynasty. After all, they are the model of greatness and plain fun to watch.

All of the other “Super Team” pretenders have spent millions (up to their salary cap) to sign the next level stars in their attempt to beat the Warriors. If these teams would draft better and/or sign complimentary “team” players instead of signing individuals who play for themselves, they would have a better chance to catch up to the Warriors. They would also be better off to stick with their plans instead of blowing it up if they don’t win immediately. The Warriors won their first title in 1975 and took another 40 long years to win another championship in 2015. So Warrior fans have suffered through many lackluster years prior to the current organization putting together this dynastic team.

NBA fans may hate the Warriors now but they will continue to spend money on their teams in the hope that their team will one day become champions themselves. Everything is cyclical so Warrior fans are enjoying their time to shine while it lasts.