Niners Beat Jags for 4th Win in a Row

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Un-drafted Players:

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

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

Key Players on Injured Reserve (IR):

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

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

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

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

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

Niners Beat Titans for 3rd Win in a Row

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Are you now a Garoppolo believer? I am…

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

Statistics don’t lie:

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Niners Beat Texans for 3rd Win in 4 Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garoppolo’s First Start A Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head shaking happenings around the league:

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

Niners Get Their First WIN

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

 

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

 

Age 21

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

Age 22

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

Age 23

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

 Age 24

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

 

PS = Practice Squad   IR = Injured Reserve

 

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

Marquis:

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

Morgan:

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

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

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

 

Jimmy Garoppolo: Niners get their QB

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

2018 Niner Draft Picks:

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

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

 

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

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

SF 49er’s Week 6 Loss to the Redskins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Anthem Controversy and Sports

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The intent of my sports site was to send the message that all sports should be fun, entertaining and relaxing… To escape for a few hours a week from the many evils that take place in our world on a daily basis… Since this has become a national issue, I now feel obligated to speak out and convey my thoughts.

In our free country and the best country in the world, everyone should express their views on the social injustices that continue to exist.  Common sense dictates that these issues seriously need to be addressed. Both Democratic and Republican platforms make these social injustices a priority during their campaigns. But, once elected, nothing (or very little) ever gets done. Sad to say, but the politicians simply use the segments of our society who are impoverished or victims of social injustices to gain their votes during election years. Once elected, they move on with their own agendas and move away from their false promises to close the gap on existing social injustices. Since our government has become more about “buying” votes instead of truly addressing real issues, I feel that these problems must be addressed by grass root efforts such as the NFL and all sports in general.

The NFL owners along with selected players will meet and discuss this topic in the near future. Wouldn’t it be nice if both the owners and the players association agree to begin a fund to be used exclusively to address social injustice issues? Wouldn’t it be great if the MLB, the NBA, and the NHL also join in on this grass roots effort? After all, sports has a huge impact on our society as these athletes are our “heroes” and represent role models for a large part of our population. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if corporate sponsors of sports begin participating? Wouldn’t it be nice if other entertainment businesses (movies, TV shows, etc.) begin participating? Lastly, wouldn’t it be amazing if our government finally sees what need to be addressed and begin providing funding to address these issues?

While I vehemently support what the NFL athletes are doing to express their views on social injustices, expressing these views during our National Anthem is the wrong forum. When the Anthem is played, it is time to live those words. Expressing social injustices should be done after the games.  Perhaps it was initially the right forum to use to catch the attention of politicians. Now that it has caught national attention, it is now time to move on to the next phase and start programs to begin addressing problems in our society. Get as many entertainment businesses and their sponsors involved, start grass roots programs in our inner cities, show some successes, and lobby Congress to provide funding for these efforts.

A good start is to allocate much more funding to our poor and lacking education system. Improve the schooling systems in the inner cities and have “name athletes” come and speak to these students to honestly tell them what it takes to become successful and contributing citizens. The goal is to give them hope for success. The main challenge to this plan is that public education is a service and not a money generator, thus, this important service cannot “buy” any votes for the politicians so they will continue to play the status quo card.

John Lennon got it back in 1971 when he wrote “Imagine”. Great words to live by and not simply listen to….

My plan for a grass roots effort lead by the sporting industry may be just a dream, but some dreams actually do come true.

SF 49er’s Week’s 4 & 5 OT Losses

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Evaluating the Niner’s five losses, they were soundly beaten in week 1 by a very good Carolina Panthers team. In their last 4 games, they were in the game until the very last possession and have lost those games by a total combined 11 points. Their last two losses at the Cardinals and at the Colts came in OT.

The take-away for me is that this team is still bad but twice as good as the 2016 team. This year’s team is competitive and plays hard entertaining games. They are heading in the right direction but still have plenty of gaps to fill before they turn those close losses into W’s. On offense, it is clear that need a franchise QB, a remake of their interior O-line, and one or two impact WR’s. On defense, they need a total remake of their LB’s with the exception of Reuben Foster. Sad, but true that NaVorro Bowman no longer can play like he did prior to his knee and achilles injuries. They also need two new CB’s.

This is the state of the roster that Trent Baalke left behind. After the Colts’ win over the Niners last week, Frank Gore said it best when he was quoted, “Trent messed up this team.” Baalke must have drafted at least 10 CB’s in his last three years and none of them have turned into impact players and most of them are no longer on the team or on any other roster. Half of the CB’s that he drafted had known knee injuries but he still drafted them. But the most egregious error that he made was a political one where he and Jed York ran a proven winning coach, Jim Harbaugh, out of town. This is what Gore’s message really meant.

In this league, the gap between a bad team and a good team is not that wide. Losing 4 games by a total of 14 points is proof of that. But the consistence by which a bad team like the Niners lose is glaring and the gaps in the offense and defense that I define above have to be addressed if they are to turn this franchise around. I still have plenty of confidence in Lynch and Shanahan.

Here is my definition of a good team. In last week’s Packer’s vs Cowboy’s game, when Dak Prescott scored the go-ahead TD for the Cowboys with 1:13 left in  the game, my first reaction was that they left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers. And, you know the rest of the story as Rodgers lead another amazing come-from-behind win.

And here is my definition of a bad team. In both of the Niner’s OT losses, when the Niners had the ball, all my thoughts were on “how the offense will screw up”. And on defense, more often than not, on third down and short or long, they will either allow the other team to get a first down or be called for a defensive penalty. Bad teams will somehow find a way to lose close games.

I expect to see these kinds of losses on a consistent basis for the remainder of the year. I’m sure that Lynch has his scouts busy looking for impact players who will either be free agents next year or good college draft prospects.

SF 49er’s Week 3 Entertainment

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Thursday night’s 41-39 Niner loss was entertaining, fun, and frustrating.

I must say that this was by far the most entertaining game played at Levi Stadium since the Niners moved there. I found myself jumping out of my seat and throwing fist pumps on many occasions.

Such a change of pace from the bland brand of football that we have been suffering through for the last three years. There is still a lot of re-building to be done, but as long as the ShanaLynch team can make the games exciting, it’ll be a fun process.

The first thing to mention is that I was very impressed with the LA Rams. Sean McVay, the youngest coach in the NFL at age 31 and his coaches and their front office has done a remarkable job in their re-building process. They have surrounded QB Jared Goff with a quality offensive line and secured great WR’s in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, and Sammy Watkins who had a monster game last night. Along with Todd Gurley, who is no longer “girly”, they have a fairly potent offense for years to come.

Regarding the Niners offense, one can easily make a case that the game was lost on the very first play of the game when Brian Hoyer threw a horrendous interception giving the Rams a quick and easy 7 points. Since the Niners lost by only 2 points, one can deduce that that one play was the difference. However, there were so many ebbs and flows in regards to turnovers, key 3rd down conversions and misses, and horrible referee calls, that one play was only one of many game changers.

Game changing plays:

  • The Hoyer interception on the first play of the game.
  • The bad pass interference call on Dontae Johnson on the Rams first drive on 3rd down when Goff was sacked. Instead of the Niners getting the ball back, the Rams got a first down that lead to another touchdown.
  • The pass interference that was not called on the Garrett Celek on a 3rd down play in the end zone where the Rams defensive back had an arm bar on Celek’s left arm for a good 10 yards as Celek was running directly at the referee. I don’t know what the referee was looking at. Ultimately, the Niners did score on a 4th down play but it never should have gotten to 4th
  • The Rams 3rd down and 12 yards to go play in the late 3rd quarter where linebackers Ray Ray Armstrong and Novarro Bowman chased covered receivers toward separate sidelines and left the middle wide open for a big 1st down gain for Gurley. I know it’s blasphemous to say, but Novarro showed both his age and the slowdown in his speed from his knee and achilles injuries.
  • Lastly, the phantom offensive pass interference penalty on Trent Taylor on a 3rd down play after the Niners recovered an on-side kick-off and started a potentially game winning drive. Instead of a 1st down at the Ram’s 40 yard line with 2 minutes go to in the game and down by only 2 points, the Niners were faced with a 3rd and 20 on their 40 yard line. The way that the Niners offense was moving the ball, they had a great chance to get another 1st down putting themselves in great position for a game winning field goal. This was the biggest game changer.
  • Although not game changers, the Niners had to challenge two great completed sideline catches by Pierre Garcon and Marquis Goodwin. The Niners won both challenges but the mere fact that the referees initially called the catches incomplete gives you an idea of how atrocious the officiating was in this game.

There were some great “You Got Moss’ed” catches in this game:

  • Pierre Garcon’s great sideline catch where the ball was thrown a good three yards out of bounds but he stretched full length to grab the ball while acrobatically keeping both feet in-bounds.
  • Garcon’s wonderful 50 yard catch down the right sidelines fully stretched over pro-bowl corner back, Trumaine Johnson.
  • Marquis Goodwin’s sideline catch on the Rams’ 3 yrd line which was a mirror image of Garcon’s sideline catch mentioned above.
  • Sammy Watkins’ amazing catch of a downfield bomb thrown by Goff.

To be sure, the Niners are further behind the Rams in their re-building processes. Next year, the Niners must address the QB position foremost followed by the interior offensive line. For the O-line, they should look at proven free agents as O-linemen in the draft are a crap-shoot. For the QB, if there is any chance for the Niners to draft Sam Darnold (USC) or Josh Rosen (UCLA), they should do whatever they can to get one of them. QB draft picks are also crap-shoots but these two seem to be the real deal even though they do have flaws. In addition to drafting a QB, if there is a chance that the KC Chiefs move on to Patrick Mahomes and make Alex Smith available, they must get him. On the defensive side, even with Reuben Foster coming back in a few weeks, the next biggest priority is re-building the line backing core and getting an impact edge rusher. By plugging those defensive holes, I believe that our D-line, CB’s and Safeties are good enough to be successful in this league.

I’ll end this post by saying that Carlos Hyde is having a monster year and last night, he fought through a hip injury and still produced in a big way. I also must say that the entire team gave it their all and put in a gutty performance. Win or lose, that is all a true fan can ask for….