This is my Wednesday column.
Trent Baalke will move against you first, Jed.
After you get rid of Jim Harbaugh, Baalke will set up an interview with someone you’re supposed to trust — some hot-shot NFL offensive coordinator, maybe Adam Gase or Josh McDaniels or Darrell Bevell. And at that interview, the coordinator will guarantee to Baalke he can fix the 49ers’ offense.
Do not let Baalke hire him, Jed. Here’s why.
Offensive coordinators believe in themselves to the max. They think they can fix any offense, even yours. In this, they are deluded. They will delude Baalke, too.
Baalke doesn’t have the franchise’s best interest at heart. Baalke wants to protect his reputation first and foremost, wants you to believe he’s a superstar who put together great offensive talent that Jim Harbaugh bungled, wants you to believe a new offensive coach will salvage everything.
But the offense is not salvageable — it needs a complete overhaul. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing smoke at you. That goes double for Baalke.
Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down position by position.
You don’t have one. You have two backups who shouldn’t be in the league and an athlete who throws hard.
No coach you hire can convince Colin Kaepernick to master the art of playing quarterback. Coaches can’t brainwash athletes. Bill Walsh didn’t force Steve Young to master the position. Young forced himself, and he took pride in it.
Kaepernick has to want to learn the fundamentals on the field and in the classroom, has to grab a blank binder and fill it up. Start at A, end at Z. Learn every single aspect of playing quarterback — pre-snap reads, footwork, drop-back progressions, sight adjustments, blitz pickups – everything. Total immersion.
If Kaepernick has no interest in quarterback school, if he says, “I am what I am, take it or leave it,” say, “Sorry, I have to leave it. It’s not good enough.”
If he’s interested in learning, keep him. But draft another quarterback, anyway. Kaepernick may not have what it takes to become a real quarterback even if he tries.
Frank Gore is a free agent. Bring him back on a one-day contract so he can retire with dignity. Do NOT bring him back as a football player.
Keeping Gore hurts the offense. He’s old and slow and he runs out of gas after 10 carries. This season, he averaged 4.5 yards per rush during his first 10 carries of every game and just 3.6 yards per carry after that.
If he’s good for only 10 carries, he’s not a starter. He’s not a special teams player, either. He’s nothing.
The offense needs speed — it’s the slowest offense in football, and Gore makes it slower. Explain this to him. Offer to throw him a parade down Tasman Drive if he retires with the Niners. If he signs with another team, hold a press conference and pay homage to the greatness he attained for himself and your franchise.
And then say goodbye.
Say goodbye to Michael Crabtree, too — the injury prone, pouting slow guy. He’s not worth re-signing. You already have one slow receiver — Anquan Boldin. You don’t need another.
Boldin is worth keeping for one more season. He’s still a go-to guy on third-down and medium, but he’s getting even slower if it’s possible to be any slower than he already was. The man runs in slow motion.
And, like Gore, Boldin deteriorates as the game goes on. This season, the 34-year-old receiver averaged 14.0 yards per catch in the first half of games and just 9.7 yards per catch in the second half of games.
Baalke has to draft a legitimate No. 1 receiver this offseason, someone who puts opposing defensive coordinators in a state of agony, someone who makes them think, “How can I possibly stop that guy?”
You don’t have a player like that.
After you hire Harbaugh’s replacement, one of the first things he has to do is talk to Vernon Davis and ask him the following questions:
1. Who are you?
2. How badly do you want to play football?
Davis seemed to mentally check out early this season. The new coach has to find out why. In Davis’ defense, it’s not easy to stay engaged when the game plan never features you.
If Davis still has the passion to play, great. But he still doesn’t know how to run routes. He used to be so fast he could run by any safety, and defenses had to cover him with cornerbacks. Not anymore. Average safeties can cover him now.
Davis never developed the art of move-making. Coaches tell receivers not to fade, float or drift in their routes. Davis does all three. Football people call what he does “running banana routes.” Think the shape of a banana. He is the best banana-route runner in the NFL.
The new coach should offer to teach Davis how to run routes. Find out if Davis is willing to take coaching at 31 years old. Davis must convince the coach he wants to become a better route runner. Put it on paper in a blood oath. If not, the coach should shake his hand, say, “Great talking to you,” and then cut him.
Joe Staley and Alex Boone are keepers. Anthony Davis and Daniel Kilgore might be keepers if they stay healthy.
Mike Iupati has to go. He’s the most overrated player on the team.
He’s top heavy, he doesn’t bend well, and quick defensive tackles kill him. He can’t protect the quarterback.
Iupati is not a great run-blocker, either, although he can block the guy in front of him at the point of attack. He’s what you call a phone-booth player, meaning he can’t move. Boone is much better at running around and pulling.
Of all the players I mentioned, Iupati is the one player Baalke doesn’t have to replace this offseason. Baalke drafted a guard (Brandon Thomas) last offseason, and Baalke’s good at drafting guards.
Unfortunately for you, Jed, Baalke stinks at drafting the other positions I listed – quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. The last time he tried to do what he has to do this offseason – draft home-run threats at wide receiver and running back – he picked A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James. Those weren’t home runs. They were bunt outs.
You need to hire a coach who can help Baalke draft skill position players. Maybe a college coach, someone who really knows the amateur athletes. Someone who will see your players for who they are, not for who he wants them to be.
One other thing. Baalke has to agree to share power with the new coach.
If Baalke doesn’t agree, get rid of him, too. His ego will only bring you down.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.