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 49ers Pre-Draft Edition

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Going into this year’s NFL Draft, my philosophy is “In Lynch and Shanahan I Trust”. In other words, no matter what they do in the draft, the team will be improved. In one year, they have turned this franchise from worst to fun-to-watch-respectable. To reach “first”, they still have some work to do but the arrow is clearly pointing in the right direction.

While they are drafting in the #9 position, there are 4 and maybe 5 teams ahead of them who are likely to pick a QB. This benefits the Niners tremendously as they already have their franchise QB in Jimmy Garoppolo. Thus, they will have their choice of the top 4 or 5 non-QB players in the draft.

The Niners need to address these weaknesses on their roster: Pass Rusher, Interior Offensive Line, Line Backer, Corner Back, and Wide Receiver in that order. They have already made some off-season moves to improve on these weaknesses.

 

Pass Rusher:

The Niners re-signed Cassius Marsh to a 2 year contract as he had a good year and showed flashes of brilliance as a pass rusher.

Jeremiah Attaochu (San Diego Chargers): 6-3, 243 lbs: Attaochu was a 2nd round 2013 draft pick by the Chargers and had 2 sacks in his rookie season. He then broke out and had 6 sacks in his second year. Injuries limited him the last two years. The Niners signed him to a 1 year contract for $2.5 million making this a low risk deal. The Niners are still hopeful that Arik Armstead can develop into an Edge Rusher but injuries have also plagued his career.

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 #9. If, by a miracle, Chubb is still on the board at #9, Lynch should not hesitate to draft him.

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.

Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio): 6-6, 264 lbs: Davenport is a legitimate pass rushing threat and could turn out to be a home run.

Both Landry and Davenport will be available at #9 and one or both will be available at #12. If either one of these two prospects are at the top of Lynch and Shanahan’s board, they should try to trade down with Buffalo who have 2 picks in the first round… #12 and #22. They also have 2 picks in the second round… #53 and #56. Buffalo needs a QB. Lynch should ask for #12 and #22 along with another draft pick or another player like Kelvin Benjamin who is the big young WR that the Niners are looking for (6-5, 243 lbs). This works only if one of the top QB that Buffalo likes is available at #9 and they are worried that their QB may be taken before #12.

Interior Offensive Line:

Weston Richburg (Center for NY Giants): 6-4, 300 lbs: The Niners signed Richburg during the off season to a 5 year contract. He was at the top of Lynch’s free agent list and fills a major weakness. Richburg is only 26 so his prime years are still ahead of him. By far, the most valuable signing for the Niners during this off season.

Jonathan Cooper (OG for Dallas): 6-2, 312 lbs: Cooper was a first round (7th overall) pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and played 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys last year on a very good offensive line.  The Niners signed him to a one year low risk deal. He will be competing for a starting job at Right Guard along with Joshua Garnett and Erik Magnuson. Laken Tomlinson appears to have the Left Guard starting job locked up for now.

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.

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 at #9. If Nelson is available, Lynch should draft him without considering trading down.

Line Backer:

With the unfortunate situation with Reuben Foster, a position of strength is now a position that the Niners must address. They did re-sign Brock Coyle to a 3 year deal as he had a great season with the Niners last year. Also, we can’t forget that the Niners still have Malcolm Smith who missed last year with a torn pectoral. He was a valuable member of the World Champion Seattle Seahawks team and won the Super Bowl MVP that year. Since our Defensive Coordinator, Robert Saleh, came from Seattle, Smith fits in perfectly with his scheme.

We also have Pita Taumoepenu who the Niners drafted in the 6th round last year. According to Saleh, he has the smarts, speed and instincts. He needs to improve his strength, then he’ll be hard to keep off the field. Pita has had an entire off season to get stronger.

Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech): 6-5, 253 lbs: Exceptionally athletic and is still only 19 years old.

Roquan Smith (Georgia): 6-1, 236 lbs: Has great instincts and has quickness to get to the runner. Also has good pass coverage skills.

Both of these top rated LB’s should be available at #9. In my mind, it’ll depend on whether Lynch values Edge Rushers higher than LB’s in this year’s draft.

Corner Backs:

Richard Sherman (Seattle): 6-3, 195 lbs: The Niners snatched Sherman after he couldn’t come to an agreement with the Seahawks management over his contract extension. While he is recovering from an achilles tear, Sherman says he will be ready in time for training camp.

Sherman, along with Ahkello Witherspoon are earmarked as CB starters.

The Niners have also said that they will work very hard with Jimmy Ward at the CB position this year. This raises an interesting question about what the Niners intend to do with Ward’s Free Safety position. When Ward suffered a broken arm to end his season, the Niner’s 7th round pick, Adrian Colbert, played fantastically well at that position. This either means that the Niners have seen enough of Colbert to make him their starting Free Safety, or they will be looking at the Draft for another FS. The best Free Safety in this year’s draft is Derwin James, 6-3, 212 lbs. James is being compared to Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars. He will likely be available at #9 so the Niners would turn some eyes if they drafted James instead of an Edge Rusher, Interior Lineman, Line Backer, or Corner Back.

In terms of CB’s in this year’s draft, all the talk is about Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Denzel Ward (Ohio State), and Josh Jackson (Iowa). I’m thinking that the Niners will not draft a CB in the first round and instead go after either Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) in the 2nd round or Quenton Meeks (Stanford) in the 3rd or 4th round. Both have the size and speed that the Niners like. Oliver played with Witherspoon at Colorado so they’ll have an instant connection if the Niners go after him.

Lastly, the unsung value of Richard Sherman will be his teaching skills with this young group of CB’s. He did it in Seattle and there is no doubt in my mind that he can turn this group into one of the better defensive backfields in the NFL.

Wide Receiver and Running Back:

There is so much talk about the lack of good receivers on the Niners squad. I dispute that notion and think that the Niners have a solid set of receivers on their team already. Additionally, I grouped the RB position together with the WR’s because the Shanahan offensive uses the RB as a WR in a large percentage of their plays.

The Niner receivers (Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Kyle Juszczyk, George Kittle and Garrett Celek) all had career years with most of their catches coming in the last 5 games with Jimmy G at QB.

Do the Patriots have any All-Pro WR’s? They don’t need any as they have Tom Brady.

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 this year? Also, Garcon happens to be very good in the Red Zone.

Jerrick McKinnon (Minnesota): Age 25, 5-9, 216 lbs: With the signing of McKinnon, the Niner RB position went from being respectable to being great. Carlos Hyde ran with power but McKinnon runs with power, shiftiness, and speed. McKinnon also has great hands and runs great routes which makes him doubly dangerous. With the defense having to worry about McKinnon coming out of the backfield, this alone will make the receivers that much better.

There is a WR in this year’s draft that I feel can be had in the 3rd or 4th round.

Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame): 6-5, 203 lbs: St. Brown comes off the line of scrimmage well, showing good, quick feet in his release. Despite his size, St. Brown played regularly both in the slot and out wide with the Fighting Irish. Although his long-term projection should be as an outside wide receiver, St. Brown repeatedly displayed the feel for space and comfort in traffic to succeed inside. He finds space underneath really well. On vertical routes and over the middle of the field, St. Brown sets up his breaks with false steps and creates separation that way. Lastly, he has the size that the Niners are lacking in the Red Zone.

The top rated RB’s will be long gone by the end of the 2nd round (Saquan Barkely (Penn St), Derrious Guice(LSU), Ronald Jones II (USC), Nick Chubb (Georgia), Sony Michel (Georgia). With the acquisition of McKinnon, spending a high draft pick on a RB would be unwise. There is a RB that I like in the draft that could be available in the 4th or 5th round.

Rashaad Penny (San Diego St): 5-11, 220 lbs:   Penny is a well built back and runs with exceptional balance and strength. Penny also has great athleticism for the next level and is impressive in the way he runs with speed, burst, and power.

It’ll be interesting to see what value that Lynch and Shanahan places on Corner Backs vs Wide Receivers in the middle rounds of the draft. Will they value CB’s like Oliver and Meeks higher than a WR like St. Brown? This is why I would prefer that they trade down from their #9 position to gather more draft picks.

 

To summarize, I 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. With the free agent acquisitions and confidence that they will add quality players in this year’s draft, Niner fans will be treated to some exciting years ahead.

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.

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…