49ers camp progress report

This is my Saturday column.

SANTA CLARA – Eight training camp practices down, three to go before the 49ers play preseason game No. 1 and you see this for yourself. Until then, here are my top five takeaways from camp.

1. Colin Kaepernick is improving. It’s his fourth season in this offense and he has it down cold – that’s the first thing you notice. He shouts a million things between plays during the two-minute drill, just takes over, and he seems to know where his receivers will be before they get there. He anticipates openings and throws passes before receivers make their breaks. That’s new. He used to stare down one receiver and then scramble if the receiver wasn’t open. Not so much anymore. You can see Kaepernick cycle through his options, look at one receiver and then another and then another. One, two, three. Boom, boom, boom. That’s new. He completes passes to his second or third read three or four times as often as he scrambles. That’s new. By my count, Kaepernick is completing 68 percent of his passes in team drills. He completed 58 percent of his passes last season.

2. The coaches finally are getting the running backs involved in the passing game. Last Saturday I asked Greg Roman if that was a priority this season. He said, “I for one love throwing to the backs because a lot of the times people forget about them.” I almost choked. You’re the one who forgets about them, Greg. Last season, 49ers running backs were targeted on 17.9 percent of the 49ers’ pass plays, one of the lowest percentages in the league. Part of the reason Kaepernick completed just 58 percent of his passes is he rarely had a check-down option to throw to – Roman hardly ever put one in the pass pattern. Roman made the running backs block most of the time on pass plays. Kaepernick would play-fake, look deep, see no one open and then run for his life because there was no running back in the flat. That’s changing. There’s a running back in the flat on almost every pass play in camp.

3. Stevie Johnson is blowing it. When the 49ers traded a fourth round pick to the Bills for Johnson during the offseason, it seemed he was a lock to be the 49ers’ No. 3 receiver. Only a dreadful training camp performance could jeopardize that. Guess what. He’s been dreadful so far. Quarterbacks have thrown Johnson’s way 28 times in team drills. Johnson has caught 13 passes and dropped four. Dreadful. If he doesn’t start playing better, he will lose the No. 3 receiver job to second-year receiver Quinton Patton, who’s been lights-out in camp. He’s been targeted 35 times and has made 28 catches, including three touchdown catches. And when Michael Crabtree pulled his hamstring this week, Patton replaced him in the starting lineup, not Johnson.

4. Jimmie Ward is not the 49ers’ best young cornerback. Not yet, anyway. The 49ers drafted Ward in the first round a few months ago with the hope that he can be the starting nickel back. He played very well the first few days of camp before the players put on the pads and practices became physical. Then Ward got pushed around a bit. Ward frequently faced Anquan Boldin in the slot last week and Boldin wore him out, caught everything thrown his way when Ward was on him. Darryl Morris, an undrafted free agent last season, is the one nickel back who gives Boldin problems. Morris batted away two passes intended for Boldin this week. Boldin became so frustrated, he punched Morris in the facemask during Friday’s practice, and Jim Harbaugh kicked Boldin off the field. Morris isn’t the only young cornerback who has outplayed Ward. Dontae Johnson has, too. The 49ers drafted him in the fourth round this year. He’s huge, just an inch shorter than Richard Sherman. Quarterbacks have tested Johnson’s coverage 16 times during team drills. He has broken up five passes and intercepted one.

5. Key players keep getting injured. Every day it seems someone goes down. Twenty-one players currently are rehabbing injuries instead of practicing: Michael Crabtree, Brandon Lloyd, Jon Baldwin, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore, Trey Millard, Anthony Davis, Marcus Martin, Brandon Thomas, Garrett Celek, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Kaleb Ramsey, NaVorro Bowman, Nick Moody, Aaron Lynch, Keith Reaser and Tramaine Brock. Who’s next?

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Grant, you mentioned several weeks ago the 49ers were running more sweeps, reverses off sweeps and bootlegs. Ts this still true? It would fold in nicely with increasing passes to backs.

    1. Out standing report Grant , I have one question for you how do you think this team will match up with the hawks ?

      1. Thanks. Hyde is the X factor in that matchup. If he can get yards after contact the 49ers match up pretty well.

      2. One more thing the niners will go as far as Collin takes them he has to stop giving the game a way with 6-8 min left in the 4 quarter with turnovers that’s all the hawks do is Waite for him to self implode

  2. >> “I for one love throwing to the backs because a lot of the times people forget about them.” I almost choked.

    Grant, replay the drive that won the Saints playoff game and tell the board how may passes went to Gore slipping out of the backfield. Those are definitely in the Roman playbook.

      1. There are lots of examples of Kaepernick having no checkdown options on a given play. And Roman rarely calls a pass play for Kaepernick where the running back is the primary receiver.

        1. Grant:

          You’re backpedaling already. Your original claim was that Kaepernick “rarely had a check-down option to throw to – Roman hardly ever put one in the pass pattern. “

            1. You’re kidding, right?

              “There are lots of examples of Kaepernick having no checkdown options on a given play” is much milder than Kaepernick “rarely” had a checkdown option and Roman “hardly ever” put one in the pattern.

              1. … my original statement is true

                You think so? I think it’s yet another over-the-top exaggeration.

                Define “rarely” and “hardly ever.” Are you talking about 1% of the pass plays? 5%? 10%?

              2. I’m glad I know what you think. I was wondering about that.

                In this case I define rarely as less frequently than the rest of the league.

              3. Would you have preferred that I made a bold declarative statement of fact before I knew how you defined key terms of your “true” statement?

                You have an unusual definition for “rarely” Most people define it as “seldom.” Less-than-everyone-else would not seem to be the same thing as “seldom.” If everyone else locks their door 100% of the time, and you lock it 75% of the time, would you say that you rarely lock you door?

                How do you define “hardly ever”?

              4. For God’s sake, you’re a professional writer! Shouldn’t your readers be able to rely upon you to use words correctly?

            2. There are also lots of examples of Kaepernick having checkdown options on a given play and taking off instead.

              Running backs aren’t often a primary receiver in any offense unless the team uses a lot of screens.

              1. There are plenty of ways to make a RB a primary receiver on a pass play that isn’t a screen.

              2. Does anyone chart that? The Niners used a RB as a primary receiver only a handful of times last season. They’ve used a RB as a primary receiver every day of training camp on swing routes and texas routes, for example.

              3. It would be almost impossible for a team to use a RB as a primary receiver less frequently than the 49ers did last season.

              4. My less than professional opinion is that when Rombaugh finally had the howitzer, they decided the popgun wasn’t a necessary part of the arsenal. A couple of campaigns on, after just reaching the outskirts of Berlin, they’ve decided to blow the dust off that part of the attack plan.

                Am I mixing enough military metaphors here?

              5. Gore’s receiving numbers plummeted in Rombaugh’s first season with the Niners when Alex Smith still was the QB. Gore caught 17 passes in 2011 and he caught 16 passes in 2013.

                But Roman loves throwing to the backs.

              6. He got about a quarter of those in one drive in one game. Roman technically was correct when he said “a lot of the times people forget about them”.

        2. The only explanation is that Roman visits this column and certain of our resident geniuses convinced him the checkdown was the work of the devil.

            1. That comes from the days of “Captain Checkdown.”

              Reminds me of sweeps. 49er fans loved them under BW in thew 80s. By the time Trestman became OC, fans shouted “No More Sweeps” because they got stuffed so frequently.

              The notion was the new breed of linebackers were so fast, they could chase down the wide runs from the opposite side even when the run side ILB was blocked.

              So why sweeps now?
              – Defenses are over-focused on the 49ers inside run game
              – Defenses are staking the box. Sweeps could create traffic jams among defenders.
              – Sweeps set up bootlegs and reverses nicely.
              – Stacked defenses seem vulnerable to bootleg/pass options.
              – Secret weapon Hunter is back in 2012 form (ooops)

              1. Very interesting.

                Side thought: Imagine if the 49ers had promoted Trestman instead of hiring Mariucci.

              2. Walsh liked to sweep when LBs were dropping off in coverages or in Nickle/Dime, usually late in a Half or Game.

              3. Fans would have rebelled against Trestman, even though his offenses produced outstanding stats.

                The Mariucci hire was well liked. He was certified “west coast” and likeable. Injuries to stars (and the salary cap) made it hard for him to meet ownerships lofty expectations. His late night dumping (and eventual replacing with Erickson) was a low point. Almost Joe Thomas-esk.

              4. IMO, Trestman wasn’t as far along then, so Mooch was the better choice at themtime. Even in his next assignment, Trestman wasn’t the coach that he seems to be today. Not surprising, he grew as a coach with more seasoning.

              5. Zackly Razor. A bright protege, a rising star at the time.
                Btw, Seifert took the blame for calling all the sweeps in that game where the fans chanted ‘No More Sweeps!’

        3. This is funny. Fans spent years, literally years, whining about Alex Smith and check downs. Now suddenly having a running back to throw to (i.e., check down) is the hot new rage.

          I hope Kaepernick improves his one-read-then-run when there are defensive players in his face; but frankly I’ll believe it when I see it.

          Nice job, Grant.

    1. Never said they weren’t. The 49ers have a big playbook. It’s about the plays Roman chooses to call for Kaepernick and this offense. 2011 was a while ago.

        1. There are hundreds of plays in the 49ers play book. It’s about what Roman chooses to emphasize for the current personnel. He put the burden on Kaepernick to be his own checkdown, but that seems to be changing.

          1. Grant, I feel like people are arguing with you for the sake of arguing. You don’t need stats to show what the naked eye sees clearly, we really have check downs or throw to backs unless its Bruce miller. One series in one game doesnt change that. Great article please continue to do more of these.

  3. All these injuries are troubling. Does training camp have to be this intense or are the 49ers just getting unluckly? The team started with great depth, but that has worn thin and some guys are going to have to get healthy before you can call them deep again.

  4. Great analysis Grant, thanks for the summary, just what I was after.

    Point 3 answers my question from yesterday – I sure hope you are right and Patton keeps impressing, getting those reps with the first team ahead of Johnson when there is an opportunity. I think Johnson would make a good #3 option (as I’ve mentioned before), but if Patton beats him out for that role that is an even better outcome. From all reports I’ve seen (yours and from other observers) it sure seems Patton has outplayed Johnson this camp so far, and by some margin.

    And with everything I’ve read about Morris the last few days, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up winning that nickel role ahead of Cox and Ward. Not because Cox and Ward aren’t looking good, but because Morris sounds like he’s really showcasing some talent for that role. From what you have seen Grant, how has Morris fared on running plays when he’s been in at nickel? That will be one of the keys to winning that spot – whoever shows they can hold up against both pass and run.

    1. Thanks, Scooter. Morris looks muscular, more muscular than Ward. Morris seems strong against the run, but we’ll get a better sense of that in the preseason when there’s more live hitting. He’s a good blitzer from the slot. He has two sacks during team drills. Ward has none.

      1. Cool. Regardless of whether he wins the job, it will be a real boon if the 49ers get an UDFA in Morris playing so well they feel confident letting him fill that role during the season, either as the starter or as a backup in case of injury.

        I think Ward still has the inside track for that spot, and Morris will have to show he is clearly the better option to win it. But as I said, wouldn’t be shocked if it happened.

        1. I agree. Morris’ play the past few days has been extremely impressive while Ward’s play has dropped off a bit. We’ll see what happens.

    2. Stevie Johnson is coming into a new offensive system and could be having trouble knowing where he needs to be, perhaps that’s what’s slowing him down.. possibly. Looking great in camp is different than looking good when the lights are on. I hope Patton develops into a great receiver, but at this point in time: Johnson is a proven, consistent thousand yard receiver.. he’s been a starting quality, big play receiver most of his career.

              1. Anything is possible, of course, but to compare them you have to look at each play by itself — who threw the ball, who was in coverage, what the play was, and maybe something else I’m overlooking.

              1. Pretty good, my friend. Keep up the good work. Following sports from the sideline is full of disagreement.

              2. Btw, if you are right about your first and second points , the Niners are going to win every game of the season, I would venture.

      1. That was pointed out last year also, but I don’t get it. Sure, its just the PR Dept.’s take, but wouldn’t you think that paid staffers would have a better clue? The people paid to interface with other people paid to report details to the public?
        My theory is that since the team loves secrecy anyway that the PR Director just asks around the offices until they find a clerk who doesn’t follow football (most likely Accounting or IT) and let them put the depth chart together. Red Herring syndrome.

    1. I’m sitting in the A’s press box. Chili Davis is one hell of a hitting coach. Did you see the 8-run inning?

    2. Probably. :-(
      Are they not the spitting image of the warriors and sharks in the post season. And I could add our Niners too.

  5. Good to see the General looking good. I prefer to see production on the field rather than in our wishful dreams. I always suspected that Kaeps one read offense last year was due to more than his own inability for multiple reads. The main thing Patton has going for him is that he was not a first or second round pick. As receivers being a high pick by this front office never seems to work out. Unless they are no brainer very high picks or injured players no other teams will touch the high picks just have not done well for this team.

  6. Hey Grant, All Chuck Jacobs seems to do is catch a lot of passes, some of them spectacular and a few for scores. What are the Niners options for him?

  7. Frank Gore caught 46 passes in 11 games in 2010 — 4.2 catches per game. The next year, Greg Roman’s first year, Gore caught just 17 passes — 1.1 catches per game. Alex Smith was the QB both seasons.

    It’s the coordinator, not the quarterback. That’s clear.

    1. Amen to that, brother. I remember when Roger Craig had over 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing under Bill Walsh, so don’t say that RBs cannot be primary receivers other than on screen passes. They can run option routes out of the backfield as primary receivers with a “scat” release as the line slides to the RBs side to ensure a free release for him. Remember “Texas” and other patterns which feature the backs as primary. Tom Rathman can give you a clinic full of patterns on back’s routes as primary reciever because he played in that Bill Walsh offense. So, Roman and Harbaugh cannot say they don’t have the expertise on the staff to provide them with some legitimate plays featuring the RBs as receivers. Bottom line – it’s the OC! PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Nice job on the writeup Grant. Nice analysis. Number 5 is my biggest worry currently. While the roster is pretty deep all around, too many injuries can start to deplete that depth pretty quickly. Hopefully they can start to get some of the guys back before the regular season starts.

    Also, I wanted to ask you about the defense. Most people think that with Bowman and Aldon (potentially) out, some new guys in the secondary, and now Dorsey potentially being out that the defense won’t be in the top 5 like they usually are. Based on what you’ve seen so far in camp, how would you gauge the defense? The reports seem to indicate that they’re playing at the same level as always, but I wanted to know if that’s what you’re seeing as well or do you see a dropoff (and if so, what areas)?

    1. The weakest part of the defense in camp has been the starting CBs when they are Perrish Cox and Chris Cook. Cox bites on the first move all the time and Cook is passive.

      Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite have played well so far. Corey Lemonier has been pretty quiet.

  9. “Part of the reason Kaepernick completed just 58 percent of his passes is he rarely had a check-down option to throw to – Roman hardly ever put one in the pass pattern.”

    In 2013 49ers halfbacks were in a route on 325 of 505 dropbacks, 64.3% of the time. They had fullbacks in a route 187 times, 37%.

    For comparisons sake, the Green Bay Packers had halfbacks in a route on 366 of 648 dropbacks, 56% of the time. They had fullbacks in a route 108 times, 16.7%.

    Saying that Kaepernick rarely had a check-down option is completely false.

      1. Yeah, those pesky facts, getting in the way of everyone’s strongly held opinions. Facts suck.

        1. It’s not the facts that suck. It’s the ones manipulating the facts to further an agenda that really do all the sucking Deputy Balls….

          1. Who manipulated facts? Grant made an absolutely false assertion to support his argument, and Jack simply provided facts that exposed that assertion as b/s.

            Sorry if those facts don’t support your agenda, but they are what they are.

            1. Jack’s position is to blame Kaepernick for the 49ers completing the fewest passes to RBs last season. Jack couldn’t be more wrong.

              1. As I said, he could be more wrong. He could make the absolutely false assertions that “Roman hardly ever put [a running back] in the pass pattern” and “Roman made the running backs block most of the time on pass plays.”

                According to your own PFF bible, those assertions are absolutely wrong.

              2. How do you account for the 49ers’ RBs’ catches and targets plummeting as soon as Roman got hired?

            2. Apologies if I inferred anyone without naming them. I merely pointed out what happens when a stat begins sucking from my perspective. Everyone is different I imagine….

        2. No Claude it really is a bunch of nerds trying to explain football with numbers.
          They are facts but really, do not tell the entire cause or reason in its entiroety.

          1. Prime:

            Facts are facts. You don’t get to ignore them just because they don’t fit a preconceived agenda.

            1. I never use them when it comes to football. Sure they might be facts but then there’s so many other subjective factors to them that they don’t reveal the true measure.
              Because some of you use them,you guys look at these facts as the law when in reality they are nothing but further from the truth.

        1. According to Mary, you pass the eye candy test. “He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part”….

          1. As usual Razor, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. The thing is, I had a really nasty accident this weekend. And while there was no alcohol or “violence” involved (not my style), there was a lot of blood. The good news is I don’t have a concussion (I didn’t loose any IQ points) and I get the stitches out in 5 days, — my head just hit it sidewalk with a thud. I guess big scalp woulds are like that, cause when I leaned up partially, I could just feel the hot blood streaming down my neck and I actually thought I was going to bleed to death. I’m sure you guys have been through far worse, I just never have.

            Okay, I’m done. Don’t beat me up for sharing.

        2. It works in baseball, in football it’s a cheap parlour trick writers use to mask the essence of the game.

          1. If you object so strongly to the use of metrics in football, you may want to find another team. As long as Marathe and Baalke are running the 49ers, the team is going to use that tool.

          2. The comparison between baseball and football stats is interesting. Perhaps one reason for a perceived better applicability of raw stats in baseball is that there are fewer confounding variables. While both are team sports, so much of every play is the one-on-one battle between pitcher and hitter and less about 9 players vs 9 players. So a play between Crabtree vs Sherman is also about the SS & FS, about pass rush and pass protection, timing & placement of the throw.
            Accounting for all those extra variables is nigh-on impossible in most statistical modeling. Not accounting for them obscures any analysis from the data.

            1. Bingo! They are not facts, they are partial facts with so many underlying issues contributing.

            2. There are a number of variables in baseball as well.

              The argument against stats in football being laid out here sounds almost exactly like the argument in “Moneyball” when Beane sits with his scouting staff and lays out who he is going to sign and why.

              1. Of course I agree lots of variables in bb too, but most of them surround the 1-1 confrontation, so, imo, those variables can be understood more clearly. Weather is a variable, but its the same for everybody. Situational considerations (down&distance, field position, Game Clock, score in fb vs score, inning, # of outs, who’s on base factor in baseball) even-out for comparative purposes.Randomness (weird bounce of pointy ball vs round bat hitting round ball moving very fast with spin) evens out in comparison too. I just think ‘safer’ conclusions can be drawn from baseball stats, but maybe I’m missing some nuances. Shrug.
                I’m not one to say stats don’t count in fb; the professionals whose careers depend on winning use them! I just see some leaps to conclusions based on questionable analysis or too much faith in any one way of slicing data in the media and the unwashed masses of fans.
                If 1+1=2, and 3+4=7, then so & so is a chump. ; >)
                I don’t get that from you much, but its rampant in Sports Infotainment.

              2. In this case its not a “dependant stat” if you will. Like for example completion % which has many factors like drops and DB play or the YPC average which depends on the line, but a “constant stat” like the amount they had 2 TE 2 WR formations it can be independently tested/measured and does not depend on play of players. Its not like using QB rating to argue who is better.
                If I were to say ” the 9ers used 3 wr sets more than any other team last season” i would be dead wrong (theyre actualy one of the lowest) and stats could be used to prove me dead wrong.
                Saying they “rarely have a rb in the pattern” is just as factualy wrong as “the niners run 4 wr sets all the time and pass 50 times a game”

              3. BOS9er:

                If I were to say ” the 9ers used 3 wr sets more than any other team last season” i would be dead wrong (theyre actualy one of the lowest) and stats could be used to prove me dead wrong.
                Saying they “rarely have a rb in the pattern” is just as factualy wrong as “the niners run 4 wr sets all the time and pass 50 times a game”

                Exactly. It amazes me that some people are so afraid of statistics that they can’t see/refuse to acknowledge such a basic truth.

              4. Absolutely too many variables in football for stats like the ones provided to be facts. It’s like trying to model weather where there are so many variables that even the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Africa could affect the weather pattern in America weeks later. That is why weather modeling is so unreliable. So let’s assume that you are correct on RBs being in pattern the 64.3%. Did that include the times the RB completely whiffed his block and had no choice to go out on a pattern and wasn’t planned? Because that doesn’t count because it wasn’t planned, therefore Kaep wouldn’t be expecting him to be open.

                Or does it include the times the RBs did a play action pass and faked the hand-off and ran into the teeth of the defense. Because if it does, just because he happened to be uncovered after that in an area where a pass pattern is usually run, doesn’t mean he’s on a designed play and Kaep wouldn’t dump it off because he’s surrounded by defenders.

                Or does it include the times a RB is sent on a decoy to the flat because tendencies show that the CB/safety/LB bites on that route in order to get a TE or WR to the vacated area? Because if it does it can’t really count because there was no intention to throw to the RB and if he did because its probably a pick-6.

                See, that 64.3% really means nothing. The fact is that when teams like New Orleans are getting speed rushed they figure out a way to screen or throw it to the RB ALOT more then the 49ers do with Roman. Now THAT’S A FACT, LOL!!

    1. Did you factor in Randall Cobb’s targets out of the backfield?

      Those PFF stats are meaningless. Gore rarely is part of the progression, which is why his receiving numbers plummeted as soon as Roman got hired. It had nothing to do with Kaepernick. This trend started when Smith was the QB.

      1. Grant:

        Those PFF stats are meaningless.

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA …

        [Deep breath]

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        Whatever you do, man, please don’t change. Please.

        He just destroyed you entire argument. You probably want to drop this one. If for nothing else, for the sake of your future children.

      2. Stop moving the goalposts. You said, “Roman hardly ever put one in the pass pattern.” so where any of the backs are in the progression is irrelevant.

        1. You said the RBs’ catches went down because Kaepernick chose not to throw to them. You couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s on Roman.

          You cling to PFF stats to a fault. These and the coverages stats which also are bogus.

          1. Sure he could. He could have said “Roman hardly ever put one in the pass pattern. Roman made the running backs block most of the time on pass plays.”

          2. “You cling to PFF stats to a fault.”

            Says the guy who uses their yards after contact stats to “prove” Frank Gore has lost steam.

              1. Glad to see this site is in mid season form. Picture a woman with OCD on all fours scrubbing a tile floor with bleach in the morning and repeating the process in the afternoon even though that floor is sparkling clean. The only reason is that she can’t help herself.

                That’s Claude digging through posts and correcting people. None of it based on football knowledge, just getting off on throwing out stats and winning a debate.

                I have an idea Claude, lets make 2014 the year that you DONT have to win a debate, lets make it a year that you can agree to disagree and lastly, a year where others can have an opinion : )

                You know an OPINION. Like last week when I shared my opinion that Stevie Johnson might not make the team and I got lambasted over it.

              2. Neal, if they keep 6 WR’s then you are correct. If they don’t, then either Johnson or Lloyd are gone. How can you get rid of Lloyd if his salary is 1/3 that of Johnson’s and if he’s just better?

              3. Smh.

                Everyone’s free to post his opinion. And, when that opinion is based upon ignorance, or when someone trots out false statements of fact to support that opinion, I’m free to call b/s.

                It’s funny that when you try to insult me, you almost always do so by likening me to a woman. Your misogyny is showing.

                As for football knowledge, I regret deeply that I don’t have the respect of the guy who thinks teams make roster decisions based upon jersey sales and that Trent Baalke cruises 49ers chat rooms looking for guidance on personnel matters.

              4. Brandon Lloyd isnot better. In fact he is a one route guy. Johnson is better to play on the outside, slot and move around in between.
                It’s a new offense for him unlike Llyod. Give it time and he will be starting or close to as the #3 this year. As for salary, that will no be an issue. The 49ers might be the best team in the league at managing the cap.

              5. Don’t forget the organization makes decision on which players get booed at home games.
                This according to the insignificant and intolerable world of Bayareafanatic!

              6. “Glad to see the site is in mid-season form”
                Yup! Fights breaking out on the practice field! Bay & Claude & Prime jostling each other! (But MUCH more civil this year; not a bad thing.)
                Oh yeah, the season is nigh, folks rounding into shape again! I’m digging it, brothas and sistas. : >)

      3. The difference between the PFF stats and the drop in Gore’s receptions in the stats Grant provided is telling. In the PFF states there are a many other variables to be considered. In the one that Grant provides the only variable is Roman/Harbaugh making his conclusion more obvious. JackHammer- what you are doing is a perfect example of using stats for rationalization rather than augmentation of an argument. Jack Grant is right on the money-You just got your panties in a twist because Grants statement doesn’t correspond with the negative perspective you have about Kaep. Use of the PFF/s is not providing an argument but is just being argumentative. Big difference.

        1. My argument has nothing to do with Kaepernick. Saying that Roman hardly ever put backs in a pass route because they were kept in to block is completely false.

          The only reason I backed up this argument with the PFF stats was I didn’t want to take the days it would require to cut up the all-22 to prove it.

          The drop off in receptions by Gore says nothing about if he was on a route or kept in to block. As Grant said in the comments section, it could show where the RB’s are in the progression but that’s not what was written in the piece.

  10. Sounds like Ward will have to start using his brain a little more. Anytime you’re undersized you have to be smarter than the man across from you and the QB.

    Excited to see Kaep in action. If he’s going through his reads, using check downs, and keeping his run game ready as a last case scenario, that can be dangerous.

    Gore / Hyde / Lattimore I’m excited to see that combo as well

  11. Frankly, this is one of your better blog entries, recently and of all time.

    Ward has an obvious knack for forcing interceptions, if his game tape is telling. Does Darryl Morris?

    Does Lawrence Okoye make the team now? Looks like the season starts sans Williams and Dorsey.

    Oh, and for that blowhard Jack, why don’t you get your own blog! You hang on Grant’s scrote whenever you can, sniffing to get a scent; now you’re trying to school him? C’mon, man!

    Anybody with a pair of eyes and a hint of a memory of Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk know that a pass to a running back is a brilliant move and not the pathetic last resort of a 1st round bust QB; Roman has been seriously derelict in calling short pass plays, especially since having Hunter and James around, both of whom should have been getting 40 target a year to put the ball in a dynamic guy’s hands.

      1. Oh, baby Jackie. If you have two other blog sites, why don’t you stay there and interact with your legions? And take Jean-Pierre La Claude de Van Damme with you. Roman needs to go.

  12. “It’s more of a case where the QB has chosen to use his legs instead of his arm.”

    Incorrect. It’s a product of Roman. That’s the main point.

    1. Regarding that, I already said I should have done my research prior to commenting.

      Instead I should have said that writing, “Roman made the running backs block most of the time on pass plays” is completely false.

  13. Grant writes a most decent summation of TC to this point and some of you go into hyper-assbite mode. Weird…

    1. Ghost:

      How do you know if Grant’s summation is decent? None of us were there, so we have to trust that his statements and characterizations are accurate. Unfortunately, the only statements he made that can be checked turned out to be false.

      1. Because what he has written doesn’t disagree with other’s assessments and claude when did you become so unpleasant?

        1. Ghost:

          I must have missed all the other beat writers’ reports on how Stevie Johnson has been dreadful and is blowing it. Do they also claim that Roman is putting RBs into pass patterns for the first time ever?

          Is there any chance that you like the summation because it says things you want to hear?

          I apologize if I have been unpleasant, but I have a low tolerance for b/s. Perhaps the lengthy off-season has worn me down.

              1. Hey Napoleon, before you ask someone “Who are you?” don’t you think you should stop to recognize the irony of trying to assert your superior identity over his, when this is in fact an anonymous blogosphere?

                As in, “Who do you think you are … ?” or “Who died and made you God?” or “Who are you to tell me … ?”; you get that that’s what you’re doing, right?

                “Who are you to criticize the great, and anonymous ME?”

                Can I offer a tip? Maybe stop shaking your head so much. You’re going to hurt yourself. And it’s condescending. And in this anonymous space, there is no pecking order aside from the blogger himself; Cohn is the King and you are an insignificant smurf who exists by his grace.

                Adieu, Napoleon.

              2. Stop Cohn:

                I think you misunderstand me. I asked that question because “Neal” stole his screen name from an pre-existing commenter and refused to select another name after being told there already was a Neal. (When the new Neal refused to change his screen name, the original Neal felt compelled to change his screen name to The Real Neal.)

                I wasn’t trying to assert my superior identity (is that even a thing?); I was trying to call out the new Neal for being arrogant and presumptuous in taking someone else’s screen name. Plus, his first ever comment to me was an unprovoked personal insult. I think that entitles me to respond pretty much as I see fit.

                But, thanks for teaching me about blog etiquette, Obi Wan. I look forward to future lessons.

                PS – if you’re going to suck up to Grant, you might want to do so with a different screen name.

              3. Did not realize I was asked to change my name. My name is actually Neal.
                As for Claude Balls, you are an itchy wool nut on here playing judge and jury. Just let people talk and if it’s bs, it’s bs, who cares.

  14. On Greg Roman calling more passes to backs, I think its multiple things.

    First the backs…
    – Gore is a pretty good pass catcher because he works like crazy on all aspects of being a good back… but he’s not a natural pass catcher. His catching radius is small.
    – Hunter was still getting over his Achilles.
    – Miller out injured (after a pass reception)
    – Dixon’s a pretty good WR. He had a few tossed his way.

    Then the QB…
    – Despite glowing training camp reports from last summer, Colin’s touch passes to backs were often way off. A back risked his ribcage going out into the flat. A bad match when the main back has a small catching radius.

    Then Roman/Harbaugh…
    – Its not WCO. Its a pressure offense. Pound the ball, then play action with Gore pass blocking, or run blocking for CK.

    But 2014 is (hopefully) different
    – Lattimore and Hyde are natural pass catchers. That’s the exciting thing about Lattimore. Not just in the flat. He can run a variety of routes.
    – If Colin is truly better at progressions, that will be another reason to add in more passes to backs
    – Passes to backs should fit well with the new sweeps/reverse/bootleg-option plays

    If Roman doesn’t call more passes to backs this year, its not the backs fault.

  15. I know the Cowboy spoke highly of Dial last year, saying he had the nasty streak he likes to see. He thought he did a good job when he was in there. My hope is Dial is the next Michael Carter….

    1. >Freddie P. Soft says:
      Nahhh, let me fix that for you:
      – 2 defensive starters may be on suspension
      – 3 new starters in the secondary
      – Best defensive player to miss 8+ games
      – Presently lacking a true Nose Guard
      – New starter at Center. RG too probably.
      – WR Corps = 3 turtles, a stiff, and a bunch of smurfs
      -The Niners will just have to muddle through and try to cope and hope to finish .500 in their Division. They’ll probably just concede the Thanksgiving Day Game and stay home to eat turkey and crow; those Seahawks are soooo scary.
      There, fixed.
      > Tuna says:
      Nope, not what I really think, but this is a new year, a new squad, and nobody’s proved anything yet. Sauntering into the season with a sense of entitlement when there are still some wrinkles seems like a good way to get off to a sputtering start. They need a chip on their shoulder and to remember they’re in every team’s gunsights.
      Actually accounts of TC have been hopeful regarding some of the defensive questions, but nothing short of a bunch of snarling dogs will do.

  16. I tend to think that a good portion of training camp injuries are conjured up in the minds of the players to get out of Summer practices. Veterans are especially susceptible to these types of injuries. In the case of other Veterans some of these injuries could be the team letting an old dog sit out a few reps to keep him fresh without telling the press that they’re giving certain players extra days off. Besides never hurts to make your opponents wonder if those guys are 100% or not.

  17. The reviews on the opening event at Levi’s last night are out. Sounds like for the most traffic was a disaster and the VTA public transportation option was about the same. That was with only ~ 48k in attendance.

    1. I just spent 3 days at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The stadium is quite nice to look at, and seems to be an upgrade over the Stick, but it’s obvious that it is sited too far from the freeways and among too many other businesses to be adequately provided for in terms of traffic and parking. Also, it’s in Santa Clara. The Niners really screwed this thing up. Glad it wasn’t my money.

      http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Santa-Clarans-backup-plan-on-49ers-stadium-3279135.php

      1. One thing occurred to me last night about the stadium. My understanding at the time was the Yorks backed away from Candlestick Park as a site because the City wouldn’t give them what they wanted in terms of parking and tailgating access for the new stadium. Tailgating wasn’t a problem that I know about at the Old Stick, so I didn’t get that.
        Now this beautiful new high tech showcase stadium has been financed, permitted and built in Santa Clara. It has all kinds of modern amenities but its (apparently) glaring failure is lack of parking & tailgating space, and access/traffic management. Somewhat ironic in hindsight.
        I’d think dealing with the Commisars in SF guvmint and the uncertainty of passing a Bond Measure with the SF Electorate played a bigger factor.

        1. I vaguely recall an offer to build a stadium next to ATT Park. The offer included a parking garage to make up for the lost Giants game parking.

          The NFL (not the city) required parking that allowed tailgating BBQs. (can’t BBQ in a structure) They refused to bend on the issue.

          China Basin would have been a better location.

          1. I think both sites were in the discussions as part of a possible plan for hosting an Olympics as well as replacing the Stick for 49ers. In the end big bucks from Silicon Valley and the team’s residency in south Bay figured in.

        2. Tuna,
          fear not the neighboring tech companies are allowing their lots to be utilized for tailgating purposes. It’s the same way in N.O. In fact the Saints have no main parking lot. They have various parking lots and each one has it’s own set of rules. That is how I anticipate it will be here.
          I am happy about the fact that they have special event buses here in Fremont. 28 minutes door to door and it’s only $13 round trip. I think more people than we know will be utilizing VTA transportation to the Levi….

          1. With VTA it took over 2 hours to get from the stadium to Tamien Station last night. In two weeks there will be 20,000 more fans.

      1. Claude,

        I was basing my first comment off what I read on Twitter last night. I read both of the pieces today, and my take away was that if you’re going to the game, plan on getting there EARLY.

        1. Hey, if you’re tailgating, that’s already the plan. Of course, Brotha Tuna’s comment suggests that there won’t be much tailgating. That would be too bad.

  18. This could be the Niners’ year. They seem mover stacked then previous years and experience does help. 12-4 with home field throughout will be the difference. There’s not juggernaut team in the AFC, and last year was simply the Seahawks’ year. The teams that will be there at the end will be the Packers again and they just can’t beat the Niners.

  19. Sounds like Aaron Lynch looked good in his first practice with pads this morning. Dial and Purcell shared the reps at NT.

  20. On A sidenote my buddy went to levis for the soccer game last night..He said that place is way louder and the third deck didnt even have people in it..Their suite theory might be true

    1. Baldwin was cut to make room for L’Damian Washington whom they selected off waivers.

        1. He’s a tall, speed guy. But have to admit, he wasn’t a guy I thought much of during the draft process. Camp body most likely.

      1. Is Washington really getting a shot, or was he brought on because he was in the Cowboys camp and we want to pick his brain a bit?

  21. Hey Grant,

    Thanks for the insite. It’s a lot of the stuff that I have wanted to know but I haven’t heard from other articles. From the other articles, I’ve read I haven’t heard that Johnson has stunk it up. But everyone has said Bruce Ellington is a gamer. With him and Patton and Lloyd, Johnson can stink. But he’s good insurance and by the end of the year hopefully he’s connecting with Kap.

    So good to hear that Roman is throwing to the running backs. It seems like to all of us that was a NO BRAINER…..why hadn’t Roman done that before. Roman made the excuse that Goodwin didn’t have much range. Kilgore seems way more athletic. Kilgore is the player I want to know about the most and he’s going under the radar no one is talking about him. I guess that’s a good thing. He isn’t the type to be a dominating player, but intelligent, good technician, mobile kind of like the centers of the old west coast.

    The other players that I want to hear about is Dial, and Carradine. Can you do a comparison of how Jerod Eddie, and Dobbs are doing. How does Joe Looney look?

    Keep the information flowing Grant. I don’t always agree with you but I appreciate you and your dad and your coverage of the 49ers.

  22. Absolutely too many variables in football for stats like the ones provided to be facts. It’s like trying to model weather where there are so many variables that even the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Africa could affect the weather pattern in America weeks later. That is why weather modeling is so unreliable. So let’s assume that you are correct on RBs being in pattern the 64.3%. Did that include the times the RB completely whiffed his block and had no choice to go out on a pattern and wasn’t planned? Because that doesn’t count because it wasn’t planned, therefore Kaep wouldn’t be expecting him to be open.

    Or does it include the times the RBs did a play action pass and faked the hand-off and ran into the teeth of the defense. Because if it does, just because he happened to be uncovered after that in an area where a pass pattern is usually run, doesn’t mean he’s on a designed play and Kaep wouldn’t dump it off because he’s surrounded by defenders.

    Or does it include the times a RB is sent on a decoy to the flat because tendencies show that the CB/safety/LB bites on that route in order to get a TE or WR to the vacated area? Because if it does it can’t really count because there was no intention to throw to the RB and if he did because its probably a pick-6.

    See, that 64.3% really means nothing. The fact is that when teams like New Orleans are getting speed rushed they figure out a way to screen or throw it to the RB ALOT more then the 49ers do with Roman. Now THAT’S A FACT, LOL!!

  23. I seriously had to scroll up and double check that this was a Cohn article. Way too many nice things said about Kaepernick. Grant you’re slipping.

  24. Grant:

    Now it seems like you are just being spiteful. Why does that word warrant moderation?

  25. Ask my boss. I’m the one who gets in trouble, not you. I’m protecting myself. It’s nothing against you. I like your joke.

  26. Grant:

    Thanks for the explanation. I have no interest in getting you in trouble.

    That said, censoring that word makes little sense.

  27. ribico:

    Not so much the work of the devil, but, rather, a pass thrown only by weak, unstudly QBs.

    Remember, only wimps take what the defense gives them.

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