49ers head into offseason with renewed sense of hope for future

FILE – In this Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates after their 15-14 win over the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game in Chicago. Garoppolo looks to follow up a successful first start for the 49ers with another this week against Houston. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

SANTA CLARA — The morning after winning their fifth consecutive game and their third in a row against a team going to the playoffs, the 49ers turned in their playbooks, cleared out their lockers and went home.

Two members of the equipment staff sat in the middle of the locker room collecting iPads containing digital playbooks and crossing names off a long list. Players sat at their lockers assembling cardboard boxes and filling them with shoes and clothes before catching flights out of town.

“This year was so special,” offensive lineman Joe Staley said. “I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that would want to see us right now in the playoffs.

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This article has 168 Comments

    1. I hope Lynch is training hard for that coin flip. Eating right. Not too much partying between now and the combine.

  1. The 49ers will play the NFC North and AFC West next year. On paper, their schedule doesn’t look very difficult. I expect them to win 8 or 9 games in 2018.

    1. Predicting future success in the NFL based on this years results is a fools game. The Niners played the Panthers this year, an 11-5 playoff team, because they finished last in their division last year, probably looked good on paper last January. Both Denver and Oakland can rebound to being playoff teams next year, GB should be better, and who know how good Detroit will be with a coaching change. 4 teams that missed the playoffs this year could very easily be 10 win teams next year and the Niners schedule will look very difficult come January 2019 when all said and done.

      1. eMJay,
        That’s correct and the reason, I said that on paper, the schedule looks easy. Any number of things can change year-to-year. However, regardless of how other teams improve/regress, I expect the 49ers to be a better team next year. That should translate to +2 to 3 more wins than this year.

  2. This team played their hearts out. It’s my favorite 49er team since 94… I was all in on bringing on a top guy for wr, but then I got to thinking, what if that top wr doesn’t fit, the #wedontquit mantra. These boys played their azzes off for 16 weeks. Even after watching starter after starter go down. These boys are hungry. Kind of scared to bring in a diva. But I’m sure Lynch and Kyle will explain to whomever they bring in, the same thing. Anyhow, proud of my boys this was some special stuff. I love what Kyle and John have done. I was all in day one, and haven’t looked back. But, I honestly think it was the QB play of Jimmy that really kick started the fire. Kyle got his QB. Now we will be even more dangerous with a healthy team. I bet the falcons miss him like crazy. Well now, on to bigger and better… Happy New Year everyone…

  3. Garoppolo could not have had a better honeymoon period after joining his new team. Acceptance, great system, wins, praise by teammates, offensive success, fans love him. All on a team with massive cap space.

    Yet in today’s informal Q&A with media he could not say he wanted to remain long term. He said lots of positive things about his new team and how good he felt. Be he couln’t say “yes, I’d like to be here a while…”

    Saying “I’d like to be here long term” would not have committed him to anything. Would not indicate its the only place he’d like to be long term. Would not have undercut his own bargaining position. It would have been stating the obvious for a player having fun, enjoying success, in line to make millions.

    Just a hunch, but it feels like Garoppolo wants to be franchise tagged. In the long run its probably more money to play under the tag 2-3 years, then sign a five year contract to the highest bidder.

    Some time during the offseason if Garoppolo tells Lynch he has no intention of signing a new contract, what are Lynch’s options? Lynch could bluff “I want you long term, but if the 49ers are not your team I have no choice but to tag and trade you to recover our lost draft pick.”

    Again, this is just a hunch. Pure uninformed speculation. I’m hoping for an extension. I think Garoppolo and the 49ers are perfect for eachother. I’m definitely in the “sign him long term now” camp. If my uninformed hunch turns out to be just that, I’ll be elated.

    1. I honestly think you are just letting paranoia get the best of you. He likely has been told by his agent to keep mum on anything contract related. You just have to listen to him and watch him play to know he enjoys playing here atm. There really is no reason to think he won’t want to sign a long term deal so long as the money is right. It might not happen this offseason, but so long as Lynch and the 49ers don’t stuff it up then JG will be a 49er long term.

      1. That’s really the way I’m looking at it Scooter. It may not happen this offseason, but I think it will happen eventually. In fact, it might be advantageous for both sides to slow their roll on a long term deal this offseason. Let’s get more pieces in place around Jimmy and see if he can continue his trajectory and put this franchise in contention in 2018. Jimmy gets the tag in 2018, and an opportunity to build his stature, and cement his market value.

        I have all of the confidence in the world that Jimmy will eventually (if he hasn’t already) come to the understanding that Kyle is a coach who can help make him one of the most prolific QB’s in the league and John Lynch is a General Manager whom will always do right by Jimmy and treat him like a brother.

        There’s no reason to sweat about a long term deal this offseason. I hope they do find a way to a long term deal this offseason, but if it makes everyone a little more comfortable to kick that can down the road this season, it’s not the end of the world. As long as the 49ers take care of business next season and continue to grow and get better as a team, everything will likely fall into place for Jimmy and the 49ERS sooner rather than later.

    2. Maybe he has been instructed by his agent to not say anything that commits him?
      We are talking about millions of dollars here and it’s all part of the negotiation and business side of sports.

      1. “Maybe he has been instructed by his agent to not say anything that commits him” – Also very likely, but I don’t think saying “sure, I can see myself here long term” is that much of a commitment. Most players negotiating new contracts talk about how they hope to get a deal done.

    3. I think he’s talking from his agent. If he says of course I want to be here long term, the Niners can low ball an offer. But now both parties have to meet something like, 60/40, with the higher number going to Jimmy’s advantage

      1. I agree Lee must be instructing him in some manner. Lee has the reputation of being a good agent.

        I still don’t see how saying he’d like to be here long term undercuts bargaining position. It could be that Yee and/or Garoppolo are being much more careful than typical players when it comes to public statements.

        If you look at public statements of high profile quarterbacks in a contract year, the majority express publicly the desire for a long term deal. They still drive a hard bargain.

    4. There’s more to this than just agent speak. Agents aren’t morons. They want their clients endeared to the fans, it helps negotiate with the team. Something just doesn’t sit well when the dude keeps saying the same thing over and over. Seriously dude, just lie (if that’s what it is) and say yes you want to be here long term and be done with it. Whatever happens after that no one is going to sue you for being Pinocchio.

      I still think he wants to be here with a long term deal. I just hope he learns how to play to the crowd a bit, so to speak. Because at each opportunity he’s sending mixed signals. The fans here (including me) are starved for decent QB play and he looks like the Holy Grail. A little love for the team/fans who are greatful AF having him here would serve him well.

      Otherwise, risk being labeled arrogant if this keeps up.

      1. Most players negotiating new contracts talk about wanting to stay with their current team. Stating a desire for long term deals usually increases bargaining leverage by appealing to directly to frustrated fans.

        I’m hoping I’m just reading tea leaves too much. That Garoppolo isn’t putting nearly the thought into his words as speculating fan like me are. Its just strange he can’t say “sure, I can see myself here long term.” He could still qualify it with “if a deal can get done…”

        1. Agree. There is no reason he couldn’t say that he wants to be with the niners long term. And if it doesn’t work out, he just says the contract negotiations didn’t work
          out. He blames the niners front office, Lynch, his agent, whoever. Make up some bs. The cheques in the mail. You’re baby is cute. Whatever. We all do it.

        2. And then they leave. It’s about reputation management. Pablo Sandoval was talking about being a Giant for life. The Giants offered him more than the Red Sox. He went with the Red Sox anyway. Lucky for the Giants because he immediately turned into an historic FA bust.

          It’s like that in football. It’s like that in baseball. It’s like that in basketball. It’s like that in hockey. I don’t know a sport where a significant number of players don’t say they want to remain with their current team while unmercilessly selling their services to the highest bidder behind the scenes.

    5. It’s estimated that two years under the franchise tag would net Garoppolo over $51m fully guaranteed.
      https://www.ninersnation.com/2017/12/7/16748564/jimmy-garoppolo-franchise-tag-projection-quarterback

      Even if the 49ers offer him a contract with guaranteed money well above $51m, its still not an easy or simple decision to sign. Yee will advise to take the route with the most money.

      $51m FG 2018-2019 + Massive FG $ in 2020 contract could be far greater pay than extending in this year.

    6. Brodie,

      It sounds to me like Jimmy G is taking the Jim Harbaugh approach. To say less is to say more.

      Happy New Year everyone.

  4. Grant, your man crush, (SF should go after eliot Wolfe because the Packers know how to build an organization) might actually get his promotion. But like I said during the Niners gm search, that whole front office is a product of Aaron Rodgers. Great QB, but can’t win it alone. The Patriots know that, it’s why they continue to put free agents around Brady to help him keep winning. While the pack uses a draft and develop mentality. Well it finally bit Ted Thompson in the rear. And if whomever gets the job follows suit, they will be gone in 2 years..

    1. It also helps when you don’t have 20 million tied up in cap space in your QB. Rodgers is taking up 20 million in 2017, Tom Brady was 14 million against the cap in 2017. 6 million in cap space can get you a nice player or two, thats why the Patriots can stay competitive because they a QB who only cost them 27 million in cap last year and this, where as AR cost the Pack almost 40 mil.

  5. I thought the whole avoidance of saying he wants to be here long term is odd, he does have ties to to New England and Coach Hoody is no dummy,hope does not want to go back once Brady is done. I too sound paranoid but brodie2washington makes a valid point, hope Jimmy G wants to be here long term and he truly falls in love with the team and area.

    I too was starved for good or great play from the QB position! That jags game was a blast. Don Yee is also smart and does not try to bleed organizations if they have a plan like the patriots and put his clients in the best position to win.

    1. I was worried about that too. But I dont think it makes sense. If the Pats want to keep him, they could’ve kept him. Nobody put a gun to BB’s head and told him to shop Jimmy. They had their reasons for trading him (mostly financial), and those reasons aren’t going to have disappeared by the time the 2018 season rolls around.

      Perhaps in a few years time when Brady retires…. but thats a long time window, and certainly enough time for the Niners to become relevant again, for Jimmy to put down roots on the West coast. A lot can happen in a couple of seasons. Maybe the Pats will want him back then (and be able to afford him if Brady retires) but who knows where each team may be at that point.

      As good natured as Jimmy seems to be, these guys all have pretty big egos. They want to be the stars, worshipped by the fans, paid the big bucks. Jimmy is getting all that and more in SF. I cant see why he would want to go back to Boston and spend the rest of his career living in the shadow of Brady.

  6. It was a very interesting season. This team reached new depths and new heights unlike any other year.

    The emergence of Jimmy G captured the entire 49er fanbase and the football world. Our rookie class looks to have the pieces to build a strong foundation going forward.
    The team is trending up and it’s now become an organization that can garner interest from top-flight FA’s.
    Our veterans played with renewed energy and hope as well.

    Always love to hear from veteran leaders like Joe Staley who spoke highly of Kilgore. I hope that the rest of the O-line players (including those who were out due to injury) come back with the same excitement as Staley and Kilgore.

    Even with the positive play of Staley and Kilgore, I would still pursue Q. Nelson who would be a nice addition and definitely a day one starter.
    Nelson can be a core player to continue to build around.

    The Jimmy G contract will get worked out in due time. I like the idea of tagging him in 2018 then go from there after the season.
    Laying out big money for him right now (when we don’t need to) will limit our ability to sign top-flight free-agents.

    Can’t wait for next season to start!!!

    1. Staley, Quenton Nelson, Kilgore, Garnett, Brown doesn’t seem too bad for the oline next year. I know Kilgore received some praise toward the end of the year but I’m not a fan. He gets pushed back into the backfield way too easily. Hopefully, his improved play toward the end of the year will carry over to next year.

      1. — Tomlinson, Kilgore, & Fusco may have gotten or just looked better at coordinating, timing, etc (along with a reduction in pass protect time needed, thanks to you know who), as they should towards the end of a season together….
        — but, the three of them still have issues with the physical stuff- leverage, power, & engage/disengage OZ multi-block assignments…
        — this for me is a biggie, get to your next block in depth, then disengaging from each block assign at the right time + being able to hold your block for the right amount of time to make a lane form, has been one of the OL’s weaknesses this season, showing up in poor run yardage and a poor stretch/OZ run performance.
        — and the rehab of Garnett working out…fingers crossed…
        Fusco and Kilgore should be backups…Tomlinson in a different uni…

  7. I’m sure Jimmy G is just adhering to the lesson he learned after the meeting with Sollozzo when the Don told him, “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again.”

    1. Houston,
      Ha!
      One of my all-time favorite movies (have all 3 DVD’s).
      Alfredo was too timid for leadership and Sonny was too impulsive.
      Michael remained behind the scenes until he was ready.
      Jimmy G waited behind the scenes in NE as well.
      Now his time has come! (lol)

      1. True. I’m just happy they took Baalke on a little fishing trip. I expect Jimmy G to lead the Family to legitimacy and take this franchise to the next level.

  8. Wouldn’t be a surprise to find out Jimmy picked the 49ers as the team he most wanted to be traded to out of the available suitors. That’s got to alleviate some of the “paranoia”, and concern. I would encourage Jimmy to address his footwork during the offseason….

    1. Hoping that Scangarello will be spending time working on that left foot placement and hip rotation (particularly on the deep throws).

  9. I’m sure the Niners and Jimmy G will get it done. It might take a while to iron out the details but it will get done. He’s had a great honeymoon and isn’t about to leave the marriage. Both parties are in love. It isn’t all about the money but that is the issue that needs to be worked out. When people are in love, they compromise. I doubt either side would walk away over a couple of million dollars.

    1. What makes you think it’s over money?

      Jimmy and his agent declined a long term contract when he was traded to the 49ers because he wanted to see if the 49ers would be a good fit. Maybe they are in the evaluation phase.

  10. The contract will take care of itself. Jimmy G is here next year, that’s all that matters! Let them hash it out in private instead of the media. Jimmy is playing it right and so are the Niners. It’ll get done!
    Question:
    Should the team give the O-line another year to gel, since they played pretty darn well down the stretch, and concentrate on drafting a corner, pass rusher, and a big wide receiver, and maybe a running back? I think so. Thoughts?

    1. Juan,
      I believe the team needs to brace/prep itself for Staley’ his eventual retirement. Kilgore may have played better but I would still draft a top tier O-lineman for the immediate future. We may also get some O-line help through FA.

      This team may have a lot less holes to fill than we thought a few months ago.

  11. Even though he’s measured in his responses when questioned explicitly about “long term”, I’ve heard enough unrelated answers about the “good thing going forward”, the “perfect match”, and “looking forward to a full offseason learning the playbook”, and “having things slow down” for him” that tell me he likes the fit, and that he’s fully on board.

    Some of the more indirect spontaneous stuff is not as easy to fake.

  12. Optimism:

    1. We have a HC coach with a brain. Someone who actually knows how to design plays and call an offense. Watching those route combinations and how virtually every passing play put stress on the defense with one or more ‘no win’ coverage situations, is great. Haven’t seen that since Marty Mornhinweg was the OC.

    2. Garoppolo isn’t going anywhere. Worse comes to worse, he gets franchised a’ la’ Kirk Cousins. However, Marthe has a very good working relationship with Don Yee and I don’t expect a Redskins type of situation to happen. The only spanner in the works could be if Garoppolo really doesn’t want to be a 49er and is willing to only play the franchise tag game.

    3. We’ve made a vast improvement on defense. We gave up 23.9 PPG this year, that’s 6.1 PPG less than last year. We also gave up 900 yards less of offense to other teams while playing rock-solid run defense. Our pass defense was 24th this year, moving up from 27th based on a strong second-half by Witherspoon and Colbert. And we did all that with a lot of rookies and back-up level players while hampered by a poor pass rush.

    4. We’ve acquired some foundational pieces for the team.

    On offense Kittle, after struggling early with drops came on strong. Brieda, who is still a bit one-dimensional (poor receiver) has otherwise shown himself to be NFL worthy. Juszczyk has been a very good full-back even if all our offensive troubles this year limited his opportunities and Fusco has shown himself to be worthy of resigning. Goodwin, however, was probably the biggest surprise and went from a gimmick 3/4 WR to a legit ‘take the top off’ #2 while expanding his route tree.

    On defense we’re way ahead of last year just by the addition of Thomas, Foster, Witherspoon & Colbert. Tartt breaking out was a pleasant surprise, but Reid’s second-half of the season play has shown him to be worthy of resigning, even if we chose to move on from him.

    5. We have good position in the draft. A high #1, a lowish #2, a pair of 3’s and 6 Day-3 picks. If they’re half as successful as this year, it’d still be a solid draft.

    6. We have cap space. And there are some good, high-quality players in areas of our weaknesses coming into FA.

    1. MosesZD – “Marthe has a very good working relationship with Don Yee” – That’s what I like to hear.

      Wonder how much guaranteed money would be if a five year deal got done? I’d guess $50m minimum guaranteed along with impressive annually salary.

  13. Lol AES! I think Warner’s camp was fine. You just can’t go into it thinking you don’t need help and you know more than the teacher.

      1. Actually Juan Kap went to that camp because he knew he needed to learn how to become a better pocket passer. Unfortunately they changed a number of things including his throwing motion to get more touch on passes and it completely screwed him up going into the next season. That was actually a key moment in Kap’s decline. He wasn’t very good in the pocket before then, but was still making plays and playing confidently. After his time at EXO, he looked unsure and wasn’t even making the plays he had before he went there. I wonder how things would have gone had he taken Jeff Garcia up on his offer to work out instead.

        1. Maybe you missed it, but Kaep was very clear about the issue in 2015 during in a piece by Maiocco:

          “Mechanics are, I’m not huge on them.” And he went on to defend his mechanics. And, FWIW, his QB rating for the 2nd half of 2014 was 76.9. It wasn’t Warner that made him crap. It was he now had to produce to help a defense in free-fall and he couldn’t. Add in mediocre coaching minds on the offense side the ball, a group of clowns who had no answers beyond smash-mouth football that was no longer working… 7-4 to 8-8…

          1. No I didn’t miss it at all and like most things you comment on about Kap you misrepresent it and ignore other facts that were brought up with it. He changed his mechanics during his time at EXO:

            https://www.ninersnation.com/2015/3/28/8305073/colin-kaepernick-throwing-mechanics-dennis-gile-quarterback-coach

            Secondly, as usual you are using half truths to promote your biased opinion. When he made that statement about not worrying about mechanics it was in regards to arm motion during the heat of a game:

            From this very blog:

            ME: Your college coach, Chris Ault, recently said in a radio interview that you’ve been dropping your elbow when you throw. Is that something you’re aware of when you watch yourself play, and is it something you work on?

            KAEPERNICK: It’s something that I constantly work on my mechanics and fundamentals to make sure I’m out there throwing the ball the best way I can. Ultimately, whether the receiver catches the ball and the ball is in the right position is the only thing that matters.

            Q: When you’re in a pocket that’s constantly changing shape and you’re avoiding guys, can you have a uniform throwing motion, or do you sometimes have to drop your elbow and throw sidearm, things like that to adapt?

            KAEPERNICK: Once again, mechanics are…I’m not huge on them. You can look at Philip Rivers throw, you can look at Tom Brady throws – looks completely different. They’re both great quarterbacks

            Q: But do you change it up just depending on what you have to do on a given play?

            KAEPERNICK: Yeah, you have to be able to change arm angles, especially on underneath throws to throw around linemen, to throw under windows.

            ME: Is Chris Ault correct in his assessment?

            KAEPERNICK: Of…

            ME: Your mechanics, that you’re dropping your elbow when you throw.

            KAEPERNICK: I don’t look at film that closely about my mechanics of where my elbow is at.

            Q: You’re not big on mechanics. In your view, you’re just getting the ball where it has to be no matter how you get it there?

            KAEPERNICK: Yeah, that’s the job of a quarterback – throw it to the receiver so he can catch it. It’s that simple.

            There were a number of factors that went into Kap’s downfall and the changes at EXO were part of it. The biggest factor was Harbaugh getting canned. Even during that final season with a ton of injuries and backbiting from his owner, Harbaugh got decent play out of Kap and one 3 game stretch that started with the infamous Thanksgiving tweet from Jed, ended their playoff chances.

            1. Even during that final season with a ton of injuries and backbiting from his owner, Harbaugh got decent play out of Kap and one 3 game stretch that started with the infamous Thanksgiving tweet from Jed, ended their playoff chances.

              That Thanksgiving game (which precipitated the “infamous” tweet) was some of the worst QBing I’d ever seen from a 49ers jersey. That’s when I exited the Kaepernick bandwagon for good. It was obvious then they were not going to the playoffs, FO turmoil aside.

        2. It seems to me that the time to make large changes to one’s mechanics is in high school. Sure, there is scope to make small adjustments in college (although most schools don’t appear have very good QB coaches — the latter can make more money operating QB clinics) and in pros. But Kap needed a significant overhaul and that was not going to happen at the age of 27/28.

          1. Very true Mood which is why I am against messing with a QB’s throwing motion if he’s had success with it. Kap was worse after going through the EXO program and a big part of that was because they tried to change his throwing motion. That’s not ultimately why he failed, as his pocket ability never did reach what it needed to, but he was still a middle of the pack QB until Harbaugh was fired and he went to EXO.

            1. Why Kap failed as a pocket QB is surely a complex mix of the shortcoming of his mechanics, his insufficient pocket movement skills, the absence of Harbaugh, the absence of #1 receiver, the lack of his field vision, and his inability to quickly do post-snap diagnosis of the D. I don’t I will quite understand to what extent each of the factors played a role.

              1. That was a pretty good breakdown. Thanks for posting that Mood. Goes to show how much perception differs with reality sometimes. People like Prime and Moses just say what they believe to be true instead of what is. Confirmation bias happens when you aren’t dealing from an area of knowledge; it happens when you are basing opinions on a dislike of the individual. For Prime that is due to the Niners trading away Smith and keeping Kap. I’m guessing it’s the same for Moses but don’t truly know for sure.

              2. Still defending Kap? You should get together with Seb and hold a vigilance.

                Kap was a one trick pony. I said from the beginning and the proof is right there in front of us. The league agrees with me. Black ball my arse, he was crappy then and crappy now!
                No bias, just fact.
                Just like Harbaughs tenure as a coach.

              3. Holy good mother of God when in the actual f@ck is this blog gonna quit being hijacked by Kaepernick apologists? I swear by all things good and holy anyone with half a damn clue can see that Colin Kaepernick was simply not a very good NFL quarterback. He could run. He could improvise. He had a cannon for an arm. But he was limited in reading defenses and could not reliably execute a full complex NFL offense. Its over. Its not 2016 anymore, Leave Kaepernick in the past where he belongs. Sheesh.

        3. Rocket,
          I also felt that working with Garcia would have benefited Kaep.
          Garcia put up very good numbers with the 49ers and was closer to CK’ playing style than what EXOS provided.

          1. AES,

            Yeah at the time I figured spending time with Warner would be good for Kap in that he could learn how to be a better pocket QB, but it didn’t work out that way at all. In hindsight working with Garcia could have possibly helped him become a better player without changing much of what he was.

            1. It didn’t matter who he worked with. Stop kidding yourself.
              He is a running QB that never dedicated himself to changing toward the NFL game.
              Not like he could have anyways. The body can only achieve what the brain tells it. He didn’t have the intellectual property to process the game.

  14. Jimmy’s contractural issues are so far out of mine and our control that I’m not going to get sucked in to hand-wringing or wrist watch tapping speculations about it.
    We might have a rainy January in NorCal.
    In both cases, it’s a spectator sport; wait and see. Don’t worry. Be happy.

    1. Brotha,
      The rain could not come soon enough and in “atmospheric river” quantities, hopefully. We are way behind average for the season.
      With regard to Jimmy G’s contract, without the requisite dose of paranoia and pessimism, once just can’t be a true fan, I suppose ;-)

  15. Happy New Year everyone!

    Good win on Sunday, very excited for this off-season to see what Lynch and crew have planned. I think the O-line and edge rushers will be the focal point going into next year. It’s nice to know that Garnett will be full go next year, but he’s still an unknown at this point. I think we have decent depth at OG with Laken and Fusco, but we need some major upgrades in the interior, and a swing tackle (and Joe’s eventual replacement). I wonder how we will address the edge rushers though. I’m really not sure what will happen with Jimmy, but I’m confident this FO will get it done right.

    A bit off topic here but I just saw that Alex threw for 4,000 yards this season. I know the Chiefs went through their peaks and valleys this season, but I never thought I’d see the day Alex would throw for over 4k. Congrats to him on his best season. I’m pulling for him in the play offs.

  16. I don’t think there is any question that he begins the season playing under the franchise tag but my guess is that based upon how the team does over the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the season the they get a long term deal in place by the midway point of next season.

    1. I thought QB contracts, in particular, were not getting done during the season at least over the last few years. I think the reason generally is that the players want to focus on playing and not get involved with negotiations despite the fact that they have agents. Cousins is the major example. Maybe I’m remembering wrong but wasn’t there a date in July that was important regarding a potential contract for Cousins?

      BTW: Your call on Seattle was correct and mine was wrong; but, I couldn’t be happier.

  17. JG was obviously the missing piece, but the offense as a whole got better and better as the season went along. You could see the comfort level with receivers especially as they got a feel for finding the open space and we saw more and more big plays as the season wore on. That is the beauty of this system and how effective it can be when the players gain a comfort level and knowledge of it. Kyle Shanahan did a hell of a job in his first seasons as HC not just for the way it finished, but the fact he kept the locker room together through a miserable first couple of months. He has been criticized by Grant and others repeatedly and all he has done is finish with the hottest team in the league and a few additions away from being a playoff contender. For the first time since Harbaugh left, I’m truly excited and optimistic about the future of this team.

    1. “That is the beauty of this system and how effective it can be when the players gain a comfort level and knowledge of it. ”

      The one thing that does concern me is when new players have to play. I’m concerned about the amount of time it takes to learn and be comfortable with this system. Aren’t most non-starters working on the scout teams during the season? During OTA and TC, they only get limited snaps within the system, since they aren’t starters. So for them, it would seem to take much longer (possibly several seasons) before they gain a comfort level and knowledge of the system.

      Also, it would seem that the QB is the “key” within this system well beyond what you would typically expect from a football team.

      Bottom line: It’s harder to “plug and play” players into this system.

      1. It is as much about how hard they study the playbook as it is the reps they get in practice. Obviously practicing is important, but knowing the assignments is critical and that is something players on the roster can study whether they are playing or not.

        1. Wondering if Harbaugh could get any NFL job he wanted after that great performance yesterday against the Gamecocks?

          1. Harbaugh is missing the same thing at Michigan he missed with the 49ers – team speed and a great QB.

            His brute force and grind you down philosophy doesn’t do good against opponents that are fast.

            1. Harbaugh picked up a pretty good QB a couple weeks ago who should give Big Blue a lift in ’18 or ’19 depending on what the NCAA rules on his waiver.

            2. Harbaugh has a very young team at Michigan this year. He and Kap were both the victims of some really petty excrement all the time they were with the York-a-Niners.

              I don’t think JG will stay. The Niners are a small-town market whether you like it or not. Lousy stadium in a strip-mall. The Yorks still own the team. I’m thinking he wants to be a Jet. That would be the perfect landing place for him for many reasons…

              1. Yeah ok. Jimmy G will be a 49er. The fan base will burn Levi Stadium to the ground if they don’t sign him.

              2. Can’t sign him if he doesn’t want to be here. Odds are he wants to stay on the east coast and beat the Patriots twice a year and lead a great life with the local swells…

              3. John Barsat,
                The team can franchise tag Garoppolo even if desires to play elsewhere. I believe, however, that he wants to play for the 49ers. The non-committal messages are a way to keep leverage.

          2. I don’t recall Harbaugh being the one turning the ball over multiple times with a big lead.

            Just listened to Ian Rappoport on Rich Eisen today saying Harbaugh turned down job offers in the NFL again recently. You keep on believing your made up story though Prime.

            1. I do believe Harbaugh went for it on 4th and 10 on his own 25 yard line with a rookie QB. That’s great coaching.
              I can see NFL teams lining up to hire him. Especially what he’s done in the NFL and now at MICH.

              He’s ego is what is killing his career as is yours on this blog on not being able to be wrong.
              Might be time for another hiatus. I thought I recall you sayin you would not return? Hmmm, funny how long that lasted.

              1. Yep he did because he didn’t think he’d get the ball back. Worked out fine considering SC didn’t score again and he did wind up getting it one more time. Teams have been lining up for him since he left the Niners Prime. That has been stated over and over by different info people like Schefter and Rapport. What’s true and what you believe are very different things. Harbaugh is still highly regarded within the NFL and getting an 8 win season when he lost more than half his starters to graduation and his QB due to injury early in the season won’t change that. You clearly don’t have any idea what you are talking about so why you continue to state an opinion that is clearly wrong is beyond me.

                I did leave for sometime and eventually came back. I didn’t think I would, but I guess I was wrong. It’s been known to happen. You gave me such a nice welcome back too Prime. Guess your thin skin has been punctured again. You can dish it out but sure can’t take it.

              2. I’m just saying you talk the praises of Kap and Harbaugh and then base everything off of what YOU read on the internet.

                If both guys are so highly regarded, one being a franchise QB as you term it and another being so highly touted, where are they?

                Harbaugh continues to make bone headed decisions and he got lucky with his gamble yesterday but once again, it still cost him. Like it did in SF.
                What’s he done for MICH? They are ready to tar and feather him but somehow you think the NFL wants him?

                So, again, let’s see if he can make it back into the NFL and if not, he will continue to be mediocre in the NCAA.
                Rumours are rumours. I’m going off his track record and reputation and to date, it’s not that good. Maybe your rumours say otherwise.

                In the meantime wether you are here on this blog or not, I could care less. I just knew you could not stay away and as for my welcome back, just a small courtesy.

                I can take it, I’m just calling out your BS about how great Harbaugh is. You obviously cannot accept the fact he isn’t that good of a coach.

              3. I’m not basing my opinion on what I read on the internet. I have and always will deal in facts Prime. If you look at facts you see quite clearly that Harbaugh is one of the best Coaches in football today. He put together one of the best 3 year runs in the history of the NFL with a team that stunk before and after he was the HC. He took a Michigan program that had toiled in mediocrity for 7 years and turned them around in one season. He did the same thing at U of SD and Stanford. The guy knows how to Coach football Prime. To say different is ignoring the facts.

                As for Kap, we all know why he isn’t in the NFL or at least should but you keep on believing your made up stories are real. Trump became President doing that.

              4. A good coach is a coach who can sustain winning and developing players.
                Harbaugh‘s tenure in the NFL was a good three-year run but in that time he did not develop any players nor did he win any big games. He took over a ready made team and still couldn’t win it all.That’s his legacy. Thats what he does. He goes somewhere, has moderte success but can’t sustain it.

                And for the love of humanity, please take that weak a$$ excuse about Kap and Trump and shove it. That is so weak! It’s embarrassing!

              5. so Rocket, your argument for the Harbaugh flame-out back in 2014 would be, what, Baalke/Jed vs. JH intrigues/infighting/politics?
                so the rumors in the press of JH losing some or most of the locker room in ’14 were Jed/Trent leak campaigns?
                I’m curious to hear your take on JH’s performance in 2014 (calls for Roman to be fired notwithstanding)…
                that is if you’re willing to offer your take on JH’s downfall in 2014…

              6. You seem very emotionally involved with your opinion on Harbaugh and ignore the facts. He has coached 4 teams and improved all 4 of them. This is not in dispute by any thoughtful person. All one has to do is look at the record.

                You imply you don’t believe he is well thought of and has been offered nfl jobs recently. You can believe anything you want to but the evidence is certainly against you.

              7. tjf,

                I wouldn’t call 2014 a flame out considering they achieved 8-8 with a ton of injuries and all the drama going on behind the scenes. The problems started before the season when Jed York tried to trade him to Cleveland. Then you have the rumors circulating that he’s lost the locker room when on the field the team was busing their collective asses’ and playing hard for the guy to the final game. One player – Alex Boone – stated a negative opinion of Harbaugh. Everybody else backed him.

                When looking back on that season it was clear that the intention was to change the offense to a more wide open passing concept. The first few games they were running a lot of spread elements and Kap was doing pretty well overall. The turning point seemed to come in Denver when they lost Kilgore to injury and had other injuries piling up. Before then they had been playing pretty well overall. The wheels fell of on Thanksgiving when they got shut down by Seattle and Jed publicly criticized the effort and used it as a means to get rid of Harbaugh which he had been trying to do since the offseason. With all the injuries and nonsense he had to put up with, I think that was one of the Harbaugh’s best Coaching jobs.

                Ultimately Harbaugh was too strong a personality for Jed and embarrassed him in a meeting supposedly which is why Jed fired the most successful HC in the York ownership run. Thankfully after two poor hires, it looks like we finally have a worthy successor in place.

              8. Harbaugh’s 8-8 “flame out” is still the best record for the organization in the last 4 years. There’s a reason why Lynch/Shanahan blew that roster up prior to this season.

              9. I’m not in the Harbaugh is trash camp. He’s a good HC and could have any NFL job he wanted, except maybe Oakland since they’re close to hiring Gruden. But on the flame out.

                “The wheels fell of on Thanksgiving when they got shut down by Seattle and Jed publicly criticized the effort”

                If the teams performance suffered because of a tweet, then JH isn’t quite the leader of men he is made out to be.

                “There’s a reason why Lynch/Shanahan blew that roster up prior to this season.”

                No doubt about Baalke sucking. But if Harbaugh’s 8-8 record was because of a poor roster, isn’t it fair to say that to a degree, his three straight NFCCG appearances may have been because he had one of, if not the best rosters in the league?

                He’s good, but he’s not God.

              10. As rocket already pointed out earlier today and I did back when it happened the team was 7-4 and playing for first place on Thanksgiving night. When the owner of the team basically undercuts the coach for everyone to see it’s easy to see how a team already scrapping to win games can spiral.

                The loss of Kilgore in the Broncos game was a big blow. The numbers for the offense show as much.

                That Harbaugh could go even 8-8 with basically the same roster that won 7 games over the next two seasons shows the job he and that staff did.

              11. No doubt about Baalke sucking. But if Harbaugh’s 8-8 record was because of a poor roster, isn’t it fair to say that to a degree, his three straight NFCCG appearances may have been because he had one of, if not the best rosters in the league?

                This is something else I’ve been meaning to address but haven’t yet. I keep reading comments like Harbaugh had a ready made roster to compete for a SB with and yet when I look at the roster his first year, it really wasn’t. They had a number of pretty average players starting for them especially on defense and didn’t have an offseason, and yet they made the NFCCG.

                https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/2011_roster.htm

                This idea that the Niners had a great roster is severely misrepresented. They had a number of players play at a higher level under Harbaugh and Fangio is what it was truthfully. It wasn’t a bad roster by any means but they had fewer high end players than most of the teams they went up against in the playoffs.

                He’s good, but he’s not God.

                Nobody has said he’s God. The issue has been all the revisionist history being posted on here downplaying and disparaging how good of a job he’s done every where he’s gone. A lot of people including myself complained regularly about the offense and the time count violations. However, the bottom line in this game is winning and he did that.

              12. I think Harbaugh did a great job in his first year, so I don’t really want to downplay his role in that season. He turned things around and taught the team how to win. He helped develop Alex.

                I said he had one of if not the best rosters because I know that stuff is open to interpretation. But I think we can agree that we had a playoff quality roster during the three straight NFCCG’s.

                He inherited a pretty good run blocking OL and a HOF HB, which fits his style of offense. Fangio inherited J Smith, Willis, Aldon when he was elite, and a very solid secondary.

                I said good but not god so I wouldn’t be put in the revisionist camp. Looking back, that sentence was unnecessary since I had already said I wasn’t in the Harbaugh is trash camp.

                “When the owner of the team basically undercuts the coach …”

                Isn’t that a situation where the HC (and veteran players) should get the team to not dwell on that kind of stuff, dwelling on it so much that it affects their quality of play?

              13. It was a good team. My point was it wasn’t this great talented team he just walked into that anybody could have had success with, which is what a number of people on here try to imply. Harbaugh had them playing over their heads the first year and to a degree the entire time he was here considering our QB situation and the lack of playmakers at WR for a good amount of the time.

                “When the owner of the team basically undercuts the coach …”
                Isn’t that a situation where the HC (and veteran players) should get the team to not dwell on that kind of stuff, dwelling on it so much that it affects their quality of play

                The stuff with Jed was an obstacle that was overcome. It was a major distraction, but the team continued to play hard for Harbaugh. That shows he was able to keep his team focused despite all the efforts to undermine him. The biggest reason they went 8-8 that year was injuries. They lost way too many players to stay in the hunt that season.

            2. rocket,
              If Harbaugh does decide to go back to the NFL the Bears would likely be a good fit.
              Not only does JH have history with Da Bears, but he would be reunited with the godfather Fangio.

              Harbaugh has pretty much run his 3-4 years coaching cycle in Michigan and the Bears org might make him a offer that’s hard to refuse.
              If I were Harbaugh, I would at the very least check what they put on the table.

              1. AES,

                It would be but I honestly don’t think Harbaugh wants to leave anytime soon. Michigan was a dream job for him and I doubt he’d want to leave after a disappointing season like this one and with the experience the young players have going into next year.

    2. I have definitely been critical of Shanahan at times, but he really impressed me with how well he kept the team together during a very difficult start to the year. I didn’t think he would have the personality to pull that off. I was wrong.

      Obviously the second half of the year puts a nice shine on how we feel about the season as a whole, but even taking that into consideration all in all KS did a very good job this season.

      I said at the beginning of the year that the team would be much better in the 2nd half of the year than the first. I didn’t factor in JG which certainly skewed things, but in the end that is exactly what happened. As the team increased in comfort (and got a good QB) they played better. With a few key additions I really think this a team that should be challenging for a playoff spot next season.

      1. I said the same thing and the key was the players getting more and more comfortable in the system as the season wore on. We’ve got a good one it appears Scooter. Now it’s about increasing the talent on this team.

    3. “finish with the hottest team in the league”

      Much tougher level of competition in the first half compared to the second.

      1. Really? All I heard on the blog then was “look at the mediocrity of who they are playing”. Now I guess it’s the “look at the mediocrity of who they were playing at the end of the season”.

        1. Yes really. In the first half they played 5 teams who finished over 500, and 7 of the 8 games were against NFC opponents. There should be very little debate about the NFC being the stronger conference from top to bottom this season.

          In the second half they played only 4 teams over 500, and one of those is a Rams team which sat 17 starters. Even Tim Ryan earlier today on KNBR stated that we didn’t see the “real” Rams on Sunday. Also the schedule included only 5 games against the NFC and the 2 “best opponents” they faced, Tennessee/Jacksonville, went a combined 2-6 against the NFC West. Those two “big” wins in weeks 15/16 came against teams that also lost on the road to Arizona.

          So yeah, the schedule was much softer in the second half.

          1. Then we really should wait until the end of the season to declare what opponent is mediocre or not. On this blog, there was a distinct downplaying of the early level of competition – including Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, Colts, Redskins – as the reason for the Niners “only” losing by 3 or less.

            And here you are implying the level of competition at the end of the season as the probable reason of the Niner win streak? Damn… beginning of season, end of season, this team can’t catch a break from you glass empty types.

            1. Glass 1/2 empty? Nah. It’s called being realistic. And I didn’t say anything about the first half being easy during the season.

              1. What kool-aid? You don’t think the Niners have improved themselves over the period of this season, will have improved themselves going into next season? There’s Kool-Aid, and there’s being a contrary @sshole for the sake of contrariness.

              2. First Hammer cried about the play calling and that Shanny was a product of his Dad.
                Then Shanny got a real QB and all the sudden Shanny adjusted his play calling and became a good coach after winning 6 of 7.
                Criticized Jimmy G because he only had 2 career starts and wasn’t legit. Jimmy slings it around and shows the world he is legit and now Hammer changes his tune.
                Comical!

              3. Yes they improved, however I also think the record had a lot to do with the quality of the opponents.

              4. Prime,

                Shanahan changed his play calling prior to Garoppolo being inserted into the line up and I gave him kudos for it.

              5. Maybe they improved because the players got better in the scheme and that they got a real QB.
                2 things you criticized.

              6. Jack he changed the play calling from more runs to pass cause they were not behind. And because Jimmy G is ten times the QB CJ is.
                That’s not a surprise.

                My point is you spoke too soon about Shanny being a bad coach and that Jimmy G should not be crowned so early.
                I think the proof is now pretty clear of what both guys are.

              7. They were close in the 2nd Cardinals game and he went off the rails with over 50 passes called.

                From that point forward there was a change in his balance. Even when the running game wasn’t going well after Garoppolo took over he was sticking with it.

                We’ll see where they end up next season. If they prove me wrong that’s cool.

  18. For anyone who did or didn’t see Baker Mayfield’s performance last night, it was a great example of why it’s going to be hard to take him in the first round or predict the level of success he can achieve. As I mentioned last week, it’s often like he’s playing 7 on 7 due to the lack of pressure he faces and the wide open receivers he throws to and that’s how it began last night. However as the Bulldogs started collapsing the pocket, Mayfield started to break down and didn’t step up, instead resorting to breaking the pocket completely and relying on making a play that wasn’t scripted ala Russell Wilson. Problem is he isn’t Wilson and you could see how teams are going to attack him at the next level. He’s got some great intangibles, but he doesn’t deal with pocket pressure well and doesn’t have great awareness for moving within it. I also have yet to see him truly have to put a ball in a tight window and complete it. I’m glad we aren’t in a positon to gamble on him.

  19. “The San Francisco 49ers announced on Tuesday they have signed WR DeAndre Carter, FB Malcolm Johnson, OL Andrew Lauderdale, LB Boseko Lokombo, QB Nick Mullens, T Pace Murphy, DB Trovon Reed, CB Channing Stribling and TE Cole Wick to Reserve/Future contracts. All of the players, with the exception of Johnson, finished the 2017 season on the team’s practice squad.”

    1. Good listen, Leo.
      Also interesting commentary about Shanahan using cut-ups of Garoppolo as the quarterback “standard” he was looking for back in February.
      You get the player “type” you covet, and oh by the way, he’s been preparing under Belichick and Brady for the past 4 years.

    2. I hadn’t realised Kittle had that many receptions to be honest. He did very well for a rookie, but needs to cut down on the drops.

      I would still like to see the 49ers add another decent TE in the offseason though. Kittle may well stay the #1, but someone that can be another good receiving option as well as blocker at TE would be very nice in terms of the KS system, as well as JG’s experience working with good TE duos and the 49ers need for some extra size in the RZ.

  20. With regards to Jimmy’s genial finessing of contract questions, it occurs to me that someone who can process stuff as fast as he can in the pocket is probably not too challenged in avoiding mis-speaking or over-speaking at the podium.

  21. The Niners have a choice with Jimmy G; either give him the exclusive Franchise Tag or give him a contract so big he can’t turn it down.
    If they want to observe him some more, see how coachable he is and how he does against better teams who now have film on him; then do the Tag.
    If they are convinced he is the Franchise QB the team has been looking for since Steve Young retired; then sign him. This would probably be a 6 year deal with the first three years guaranteed. The signing bonus would probably be around $35M and another $40-50M in guaranteed salary over the first three years for a total of $75M-$85M guaranteed. The total value of the contract will probably be between $160-$200M. But the reality is QB contracts are going to continue to get bigger and the longer they wait the more it will cost.
    I think they should sign him now and try to front load as much of the money as they can to count against the 2018 cap. They have over $100M this year and they won’t use up all of it unless they spend money on free agency like the Kardashian’s spend money on clothes and jewelry.

      1. I expect the team to re-sign Eric Reid. He’s played well is Saleh’s system, the team is trending up, and his little brother Justin plays at nearby Stanford. Why would he want to leave?

        Also, of the other safeties on the team – Tart, Ward, and Colbert – Tart is unproven and Ward is often injured. The 49ers will be motivated to re-signing him.

  22. Garoppolo will sign, just as soon as the Niner’s marry New England’s offensive playbook to Shanahan’s.

    In the 80’s, teams borrowed from the 49ers, now teams borrow from the Pat’s.

    1. In addition to the NFL’s most cap space ($117 Mil.) + a top 10 or 11 draft pick to trade down giving the 49ers 6 picks in the 1st four Rds., they’ll have some playmakers.

  23. When the 49ers were 0-9 I stated this from day 1, now someone actually wrote an article on it. Shanny has an entire offseason to plan with:

    “When Shanahan was hired, he could not start the job until after Super Bowl 51. It was a foregone conclusion he would join the 49ers after the Atlanta Falcons’ season was done, but he had a lot to focus on preparing for the Super Bowl. When it came time to form his coaching staff, he was behind the eight ball in many ways.”

    https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/1/2/16842740/kyle-shanahan-coaching-staff-49ers-college-jobs

    1. Thanks Tom I know some of us spoke of some of these hirings being temporary. It’ll be interesting to see what if any changes KS makes to the coaching staff.

      Grant, any thoughts?

  24. “Although it’s difficult to assess a draft class after just one season, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch’s first NFL Draft appears to be a gem. By season’s end, six of his 10 selections were starters

    But only one of Lynch’s draft picks had a truly historic rookie season.

    Tight end George Kittle — whom Lynch selected with the 146th overall selection — had the best rookie season of any tight end selected in the fifth round or later, in the history of the modern NFL.”

    https://ninernoise.com/2018/01/02/49ers-tight-end-george-kittles-rookie-season-historic/

  25. Yahoo Sports:
    9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    Draft Tek
    9. San Francisco logo San Francisco Quenton Nelson* OG Notre Dame

    Baltimorebeatdown.com
    9) San Francisco 49ers–Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    thebiglead.com
    9. San Francisco – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State.

    247sports.com
    9. 49ers – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

    Landof10.com—Lists Sutton here. TomD believes Sutton could be the target.
    13 Courtland Sutton SMU WR

    49ers top 3 Yds/Rec:

    Marquise Goodwin 56 962 17.2 avg.
    Garrett Celek 21 336 16 avg.
    Kendrick Bourne 16 257 16.1 avg.

    1. Guard may not be one of the typical core building blocks positions (OT, Edge, CB etc…) but if Quenton Nelson is as good as people say, he’d be a good pick at 9. Some speculate Guard has higher importance in Shanahan’s system (for those that know why, I’d love commentary). Also, Garoppolo is “only” 6’2″ so building a line the same way the Saints built theirs for Brees could be the way to go.

      Many say the 49ers and Raiders have similar needs and could target the same player at pick 9, so the coin flip takes greater importance. Nelson could go at 9 no matter who drafts there.

  26. Wonder if the Cousin’s situation will have any bearing on the decisions that JimmyG and the Niners will be making.

    1. Cousins to San Francisco has always been a fan and media guessing game. It has nothing to do with what Jimmy and the brass are working on. That ship sailed when Jimmy landed

    2. still holding on to the cousins thread…….you can dream whichever way you want…cousins will never be a 49er…….and Thank God…..because he is mediocre and overrated

      1. Rocket – correct I was merely suggesting that maybe the Niners and JimmyG might be waiting to see how the Cousin’s contract works out before they do much on their own contract. Yup I wasn’t a fan of Cousins.

    1. Juan,
      He is indeed 7-0 as a career starter.
      I think the referenced article was written prior to the Jaguars game, at which time he was 5-0 (3-0 with SF).

      Also, I have to ask… did you break out the bong after the Jaguars game?

  27. LOL St. Louis! No the bong is still collecting dust. About the time the Niners won that game I was standing in line at Disneyland with some of my grandchildren! Our bi-annual family Christmas trip to southern California! My eldest lives down there with his family. By the time I got to sit down and watch the game this last weekend back home all the “bongcitement” had worn off! Maybe someday. I have a sneaking suspicion a few of my kids were up to something down there though. My sniffer still works pretty good!

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