Remember 1981 when the Niners drafted and started Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, and Carlton Williamson? All three were instant starters and along with a skinny legged 3rd stringer named Joe Montana, the Niners shocked the football world by beating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game (Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” Game) and went on to beat the Bengals in Super Bowl Sweet 16!!!… and the beginning of the Niner dynasty !!!
Fast forward to the 2018 draft class… The Niners drafted Tarvarius Moore, D.J. Reed, and Marcell Harris to improve their defensive backfield. In an injury plagued season, these three DB’s are getting their chance to play and Oh Boy, they are playing and playing well. The defensive play was a key in upsetting Denver and Seattle (both in the playoff hunt) in consecutive weeks. While I’m not saying that these guys can lead the Niners to the “promised land”, I am very much looking forward to next year to see the defense gel and become an important cog in the Niners success.
While we are on the topic of this year’s draft, let’s take a late season look at how they are doing…
- Mike McGlinchy – Instant starter at Right Tackle and showing that he is one the best rookies at the Tackle position.
- Dante Pettis – After battling through a knee injury, he is starting to showcase his Wide Receiver skills. He had 5 receptions for 83 yards vs Seattle.
- Fred Warner – Instant starter at Linebacker and is calling the defensive plays as a rookie. He had 9 tackles (4 solo) vs Seattle.
- Tarvarious Moore – See above. He had 7 tackles (5 solo) with 2 passes defensed vs Seattle.
- Kentavious Street – Highly touted Defensive Lineman who tore is ACL prior to the draft but Lynch and Shanahan were so impressed with his talents, they drafted him anyway.
- D.J. Reed – See above. He had 5 tackles (3 solo) vs Seattle.
- Marcell Harris – See above. He had 6 tackles (6 solo) vs Seattle.
- Jullian Taylor – Has earned a rotational spot on the Defensive Line and is playing well. He had 1 tackle vs Seattle.
- Richie James – Quick Slot Receiver who returned a Kickoff 97 yards for a TD vs the Seahawks.
I would have to give Lynch and Shanahan high grades for these picks as all of them have made the team and are already making contributions. We’ll have to see how they grade out at the end of next year to give a true evaluation of this 2018 draft class.
Once again, undrafted QB Nick Mullens had a great game throwing for 275 yards on 20-29 with 1 TD. He did overthrow Gronk Kittle twice which could have lead to 2 additional TD’s, but those were the only two bad throws he made. And, undrafted Jeff Wilson overcame a fumble that killed a promising drive and a petty unsportsman-like penalty that took away another potential TD by running excellently for the game winning field goal drive in OT.
As I said last week, I don’t expect the Niners to win any of the remaining 2 games, against playoff teams (the Bears, and Rams). But, I do expect these games to be competitive as the defense has come together and playing their best ball of the year. DeForest Buckner has become a monster. Against the Seahawks, he had 11 total tackles, 7 solo, 2 sacks (11 for the year), 4 tackles for losses, and 3 QB hits. These are Reggie White like numbers. The O-line has been playing great all year and Nick Mullens’ quick decision making skills will allow the Niners to stay in these games.
- The mighty Patriots and Rams have looked like Patsy’s and Lambs over the last two weeks as both are on 2 game losing streaks.The Playoffs will be very interesting this year as I believe that any team in the tournament are capable of advancing. Additionally, no playoff team wants to face either the Colts or Titans if they get into the Playoffs.
- After beating the Steelers last week, the Raiders lost to the Bengals with a QB named Jeff Driskel? Chuckie Gruden’s winning streak was short lived.
- Alex Smith was finally released from the hospital after 4 weeks after a horrendous leg injury and infection. Wishing him all the best for a full recovery and hoping to see him in a Redskin uniform again next year. Alex is still one of my favorite players of all time because he is the ultimate team player who spends time teaching the QB trade even if it means that his student will take over his job.
- Those Niner fans who are calling in to complain about their tremendous win vs the Seahawks and losing out for the #1 overall draft pick next year are losers and not real Niner fans. Lynch and Shanahan are instilling a winning culture and don’t ever want to be associated with the #1 pick ever again.