Sports is entertainment and a great way to escape real-world realities and life challenges. Sports is simply a way to “Relax Your Mind”.
With the current global Coronavirus situation, Sports has taken a back seat and made the right decision to cancel all entertainment events to avoid crowd gatherings and lessen the chance to spread this dreaded disease. My heart goes out to all those impacted by this outbreak. Focus is rightfully placed on protecting our family members and friends.
With this pause in sports, I’ve decided to comment on the three Bay Area franchises that I follow. But before doing so, I have to applaud all those sports franchises and athletes who have donated to pay the stadium/arena workers who won’t have any income until these sports venues open their doors again.
GM Farhan Zaidi has struck during this off season. He did try to sign Nick Castellanos who would have been a wonderful addition to a bad club to get this team kick-started in the right direction. After he wasn’t able to sign Castellanos, it became apparent that stars or potential stars simply want to go to a team having a chance to make the playoffs. Zaidi made a half-hearted contract offer to Madison Bumgarner who felt insulted so he left to go to Arizona. Zaidi’s only additions of note were to bring back Hunter Pence (37) and sign Billy Hamilton (29). So, instead of getting younger, the Giants got older. The Giants have fully adopted the “Go Green” principle. They will use the fewest bats in the league and kill less trees this year. I love the Giants but fans like me will have to wait a long time to see if Zaidi can turn this franchise around. The only positive for the Giants as it relates to the work stoppage is that they will be tied for first place into April and perhaps May or June.
With the Dubs simply devastated by injuries, they finish this shortened season with the worst record in the league. The NBA lottery process changed to discourage teams from purposely tanking games to get the best chance for the #1 pick. With the new process, the Dubs are guaranteed to get a top 5 pick while having a 14% chance to get the top pick. Assuming that they get a top 3 pick, my hope is that they draft Obi Toppin (Dayton, Sophmore). He is a 6’ 9”, 220 LB athletic PF who can fit well with the Dubs running style of play. If they can’t get him, then one of the top 3 Centers (Onyeka Okongwu (USC, Freshman… 6’ 9” 245 Lbs.), James Wiseman (Memphis, Freshman… 7’ 1” 240 lbs.) or Isaiah Stewart (Washington, Freshman… 6’ 9” 250 lbs.) would be solid picks as well. I happen to be in the camp that Bob Myers made a terrific trade to off-load D-Lo Russell in exchange for Andrew Wiggins plus a Top 3 protected First Round pick in 2021. While D-Lo is an offensive threat, it became quickly apparent that he didn’t fit the Dub style of play. He hogged the ball so ball movement came to a screeching halt. While Wiggins will never live up to his #1 overall pick stature, he has length and is very athletic, showed he can play defense, and can put up 20+ points on any given night. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Marquese Chriss as starters next year, they will definitely be back in the playoff hunt again. Comparing this starting team to the first 2014 Championship Team, Wiggins is better than Harrison Barnes and either Marquese Chriss or a Center that the Dubs draft this year is an improvement over Andrw Bogut. Additonally, with the growth of Damien Lee and Eric Paschall and the potential growth of Jordan Poole, the bench depth may approach that of the dynasty team. It’ll be difficult to compare this bench with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and Mo Buckets Speights but these new young guys have benefitted by being able to play and improve their games. Really looking forward to seeing this new group play next year !!!
The Niners are in a good place as they went from a 4-16 team to the Super Bowl in one year. While it was extremely disappointing that they couldn’t keep Patrick Mahomes under wraps during the last 7 minutes of that game, nobody can deny that they were the better team for 3 and ½ quarters. They do have some tweaking to do going into the 2020 season. Following are my recommendations:
My first recommendation is that the Niners trade down twice in this year’s draft and get an additional 2nd round and 3rd/4th round pick. Currently, they have one 1st round pick and their next pick isn’t until the 5th round. This draft is deep so although they won’t get any “named players”, they will get good players in the middle rounds.
QB: Stay with Garoppolo and Nick Mullens. I recommend that they look for a quick and mobile QB to replace CJ Beathard. The talk and rumors of bringing Brady here is absolutely ludicrous. Brady is 42 and on the downside of his career. Garoppolo is 28 and his career is ascending. As a matter of fact, in the first two years of their careers, Garoppolo had better overall stats than Brady.
FB: No changes. Kyle Juszczyk is the best in the league.
RB: Stay with Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. If Jerick McKinnon can come back with a lower restructured 1 year salary and proves that he is healthy, I recommend keeping him over Matt Breida. For some reason, Breida had fumble problems during the latter part of the season and thus didn’t see much action during the playoffs.
TE: Stay with George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo. They may bring in a Free Agent or draft a TE to compete for that 3rd job.
WR: Keep Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd. Both Taylor and Hurd were on IR all of last year and are expected to make contributions going forward. I would love to see E-Man Sanders stay but this depends on if they can agree on a team/player friendly contract. Now that the CBA has been approved, this raises the salary cap for all teams by an additional $10 million. Part ways with Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Look for another WR either through Free Agency or the draft.
LT: Joe Staley may retire. Justin Skule did a decent job while Staley was injured but he can’t be considered a full time starter. The wild card is Shon Coleman who was on IR last year. They will have decide if Coleman can be a full time starter at this critical position. I recommend that they look to Free Agency and not the draft to bring in another LT if Staley retires.
LG: Stick with Laken Tomlinson. Look to Free Agency or the draft to bring in another Guard.
C: Weston Richburg was having an All-Pro year until he broke his leg during the season. Ben Garland did a great job filling in for Richburg so no changes are needed.
RG: Mike Person should remain the starter but the Niners should bring in a number of new candidates either through Free Agency or the draft.
RT: Mike McGlinchey will be the starter and Daniel Brunskill his backup. New candidates will be fighting it out for the third slot.
DE: Arik Armstead deserves a long term contract. With the new CBA contract approved raising the salary cap by $10 million, there will be no excuses for the Niners not to come to an agreement with Arik. Nick Bosa and Ronald Blair are the other two that I feel are guaranteed to come back. The interesting player to me is Dee Ford. Although he is a force, he also has a $85 million contract and the Niners are on the hook to pay him $19.75 in 2020. While I don’t endorse trading him, I recommend that Lynch explore what he may possibly get in exchange for Ford. If they can get enough value and also allow them to keep Sanders, Armstead, Sheldon Day and Ward, then Lynch should pull the trigger. Guys like Kentavious Street and Anthony Zettel will have to prove themselves to make the team this year.
DT: DeFo Buckner, DJ Jones, and Julian Taylor are guaranteed to be back. I really would like the Niners to pay Sheldon Day appropriately and bring him back. He plays like a starter and other teams will offer him a good salary. I recommend that they pay Day and release Soloman Thomas.
LB: Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw will be starters. Niners should keep Mark Nzeocha and Azeez Al-Shaair. The other two slots will be a dogfight for those jobs.
CB: Richard Sherman and E-Man Mosely will be starters. Ahkello Witherspoon will be the 3rd CB. The other 4 or 5 jobs will be up in the air. I feel that this is the position of greatest need so their first draft pick should be a CB. I also recommend that Lynch look hard and deep at the Free Agent market for this critical position.
SS: Jaquiski Tartt is the starter and Marcell Harris will be his backup. Niners will be looking for another player at this position.
FS: Jimmie Ward is a key decision. He will be offered a hefty salary by other teams so the question is if the Niners will match what other teams offer. The most important free agents on the Niners team this year are Arik Amerstead, Jimmy Ward, Sheldon Day and E-Man Sanders and I list them in my priority order. If the new salary cap allows them to keep all of them, GREAT!!! But if they can’t, then I say that is where potentially moving Dee Ford comes into play. If they lose Ward, then Tarvarious Morre becomes the starter by default. But, this position then becomes a priority in Free Agency or the draft.
ST: The Niners are set with Wishnowsky and Gould. Having said that, I recommend that the Niners bring in a new FG kicker to compete with Gould as he is getting long on his age.
Off season needs in priority order:
- A shut-down CB.
- A FS if we lose Jimmie Ward.
- A very speedy WR to stretch the field allowing Garoppolo options to either go deep or find open receivers in the mid-level.
- A Left Tackle if Staley retires and Coleman isn’t the guy.
- Another Edge Rusher
- A stout Guard.
With respect to this year’s draft, the Niners have the following picks:
Round 1 (own)
Round 5 (own)
Round 5 (via Broncos in Sanders trade)
Round 6 (own)
Round 7 (own)
Round 7 (via Lions in Eli Harold trade)
With a very deep draft class, I am hoping that the Niners trade down twice from their #1 pick to accumulate more picks.
Whatever they do, I have utmost confidence in Lynch and Shanahan to make this great team even better going into the 2020 season!!!