49ers season preview: 5 storylines to follow

NaVorro Bowman stretches before practice

The 49ers have a new coaching staff, a new general manager, a whole new regime. Their job is to slowly rebuild a team that won only two games last season.

Because of a few critical veteran additions and a relatively easy schedule, the Niners could return to the playoffs as soon as this season. But a few things must go their way, especially during training camp.

Here are their top five training camp storylines.

And here are the Raiders’ top five training camp storylines if you’re interested.

This article has 156 Comments

  1. While I agre that the niners could trade Hyde, since they have a dearth of RB’s who are more a fit for KS offense, release Bowman? Are you nuts? It is not like they have cap problem and who knows how Foster’s shoulder is going to hold up. If he rides the bench, I would rather have on the team than be thin at the position by releasing him. Plus, just as they were willing to trade Vance during the draft, you think they are to release him rather than try to get something for him? That would be foolish.

  2. Good read Grant.

    1. Hoyer is the perfect bridge QB for Shanahan.
    2. Interesting 1st and 2nd down stats for Hoyer. Great job tying those stats to Kyle’s play calling.
    3. and 4. I’m cautiously optimistic.
    5. Big question marks here. The biggest being Foster’s shoulder. A healthy Foster could make the field smaller for Bowman. We should keep Ray Ray Armstong for depth.

    1. Totally agree on#2! Interesting information about Shanahan and Hoyer. Will be interesting to see the first couple of preseason games to see how effective they are at execution!

    1. Agree on all points. Hyde is a very good back but I think he may need some time to fit his running style to this offense. His most successful experience is without a lead blocker where he has to make moves to find the hole. In this offense he will need to be patient and be a 1 cut upfield runner. We haven’t seen him really do that in his career so it may take some time for him to get in synch. I hope he gets the chance to develop those skills because I think he has the talent to be an All Pro RB if given the chance.

  3. Interesting to note that this blog blew up a few months ago when some people were stunned that the 9ers appeared to be moving more quickly to rebuild than thought. Recall the mini-firestorm/outrage over signing ‘aged’ vets? Then there was a shift in the blogs vibe–the assertion we had gone from a slow rebuild to something faster…gasp! We could compete this season!

    On a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is very slow, methodical learning and growing and 10 is a near-panic sign/trade orgy to get any talent now), I’d say we’ve been at 5 given the moves the team has made. Grant says we’re back to the slow approach to rebuilding…a 2 on the pace scale?

    So, where are we…slow or something other?

    1. I’m still not convinced that the team will be very competitive this year. I think they will be better but last year had so many lows. Offensively the team is still very much in rebuilding mode.

      Defensively we don’t know. They will be better but how much better? Truth is that we simply don’t know. Too many pieces changed and young players.

  4. IMO two things have to happen for the Niners to make the playoffs this year.

    1. The defense has to be a top 10 defense. That’s a tall order.
    2. Hoyer has to have a solid journeyman performance. I expect that.

    On paper the talent is on the defense.

    2013 Eric Reid first round 18th pick
    2013 Corneilius Carradine second round 46th pick
    2014 Jimmy Ward first round 30th pick
    2015 Arik Armstead first round 17th pick
    2015 Jacquiski Tart second round 46th pick
    2016 DeForest Buckner first round 7th pick
    2017 Solomon Thomas first round 3rd pick
    2017 Reuben Foster first round pick 31

    That’s eight players picked in the first two rounds in the last five years. This is why I am harping so much on the defense. Lots of high draft choices and its all up to coaching to get them to play up to their lofty draft status. Just using draft position alone this defense should be outstanding – we shall see shortly.

    As far as Hoyer – for him to be solid the running game has to work and his receivers need to be on the same page as the QB. Low turnover rate and first downs will go a long ways towards a reasonable performance by Hoyer.

          1. Won’t surprise me either way. What I find interesting is that fans Accept Hoyer as a bridge quarterback that could be upgraded at the first opportunity, but when it comes to Saleh, most refuse to consider he could be a bridge DC….

            1. Admittedly, there are a few fans who believe we should see how the season plays out. Hoyer could be the pre-designated bridge only, or his play could move him past that in a positive way, or quickly to the bench. I’m willing to see what happens and accept the outcome. Same with Saleh–he could find himself unemployed by late November, or could be the DC again next year. Just wanting to keep things open.

              1. Are you suggesting that fans who are trepidatious about a first year DC, an afterthought so to speak, aware that their first choice was denied them, and that he is destined to be available the following year, are incapable of letting the season unfold, and let the chips fall where they may? If that’s the case, I think you have unfairly misjudged me, sir….

              2. Geez Razor… All I’m saying is the season–it’s outcomes–will dictate what happens across the spectrum–offense, defense, special teams. I believe Lynch and Shanahan will make the changes necessary to keep their vision for the future moving ahead. And they will act.

                What happened with Fangio is past (not necessarily over, just past). If the defense plays poorly and Lynch wants to make a change with the DC, he will. I’m confident lynch will look at all options and make a good decision.

                Nice thing about Lynch is he appears not be someone who will allow chips to fall where they may. He will assess, conclude, and act…with prejudice.

              3. Captain Obvious, what have you done with, Cassie?

                …there are a few fans who believe we should see how the season plays out.

                That suggested to me that I might not be one of them, since it was in response to my comment.

                I’m willing to see what happens and accept the outcome.

                So am I. Even if I weren’t, do I have a choice? Kinda what I meant by let the chips fall where they may.

            2. The difference between Hoyer and Saleh are their ceilings. Saleh could become the next Fangio or greater. Hoyer will never be the next Montana or even the next Cousins.

              1. How does one know what his ceiling is ceiling if he is being judged on incomplete data. Rarely do you have a quarterback that comes into the league and is instantly successful. IMHO there are several reason why QBs are successful. You can be exceptionally gifted, and never reach stardom. Same goes for the reverse. You can be physically limited yet become a superstar. It really depends on several thing like how you process the game & , the opportunities given / choose, coaching you receive, desire to get better, how quickly you learn the game. etc Plenty of players get #$%^& because of the system they get put in and never develop. I for one he does well and get a shot to play again next year to see what his true potential is.

              2. 7 different team in 8 years. Horrendous QB play in his only playoff game. That defines his ceiling.

              3. Fair enough, although I suspect the odds of him being the next Fangio or greater are slim. Here’s to his success!

          2. I doubt that Kyle gives t Saleh the hook after one season unless the defense plays very, very poorly. And I very confident in saying that Kyle is a huge fan of fan of this 4-3 Under base defense.
            Kyle likes this defense in part because it gives his team an advantage of stopping the run, turning the opposition’s offense into a one-dimensional attack, which in a lot of ways compliments what he wants to do offensively. While this front can be combined with a number of coverage and blitz packages to maximize the talent on the field, it’s hard to imagine Fangio would be high on his list of DC replacements if he’s unhappy with Saleh, not because Fangio isn’t a fine DC, but because his defensive philosophy (30-Front, with a lot of zone concepts), doesn’t really fit the defensive style Kyle is trying to build. You need specific types of players to play specific styles of defense, and from a personnel standpoint alone, it seems to me that making such a drastic change while they are in the process of acquiring the right kind of players to run this 4-3 hybrid defense, would really throw a wrench into any kind of defensive progress they want to make early in their tenure. It’s entirely possible they decide at some point late in this season that it makes sense from a personnel perspective, to go back to a more traditional 4-3, but it seems highly unlikely to me.

  5. 1. Good point about the learning curve aspect, and how it could be limited due to the familiarity of the personnel brought in.

    2. Another excellent point on Shanny’s ability to evade 3rd downs, because that’s when the Hoyer bridge becomes rickety.

    3. Carlos needs less Mr. Hyde and more Dr. Jekyll. Takes more punishment than necessary due to his high profile. He doesn’t trust his vision, and consequently suffers impatience. Running into his lineman, he lacks elusiveness. He’s in a contract year, in an offense known to make the average back look elite. His competition for carries has never been as heated. We’ll find out if he needs to get out of the kitchen.

    4. Spot on here, Grant. My biggest trepidation involves your talking points listed. Saleh has never been a coordinator. He has to learn how to install a defense during training camp, how to make weekly game plans, how to make halftime adjustments and how to call plays. The italicized part being of most concern to me. Lucky for them, York has Fangio on speed dial just in case, next year.

    5. Bowman is playing for his career. I liken it to a dangerous animal that’s backed into a corner. Expect him to bite back.

    1. Number 4… For every DC working in this league there was a time in their careers when they passed from no prior experience to experience. With Lynch’s background and eye for defense (and role in bring Saleh in…), I suspect Saleh will not drop into a fetal position and soil himself. I think he’ll do better than last year’s DC–who came to the 9ers with prior experience. Let’s not forget that the defensive position coaches don’t appear to be duds in their own right.

      Let’s not open the Fangio worm can just yet.

      1. I think he’ll do better than last year’s DC–who came to the 9ers with prior experience.

        Bold prediction, Cassie considering his unit finished dead last.

        1. I’m not concerned about bold or not. Yes, coming in last defensively with a DC having prior experience kinda erodes the ‘DC has no prior experience therefore we’re doomed’ assertion. I think the 9ers will be in the top half defensively this year.

          1. Good for you. I was making the point that your prediction risked little in a light hearted, comical fashion, and that it won’t be too difficult being better. If you’re adverse to laughing at yourself, I apologize if I’ve offended you….

            1. No offense taken…that’s a Seb quality. I’m optimistic about this year’s defense. Hope we can generate a few more turnovers.

              1. Typical troll tactic. Insult, bully goad, deride some one, then when they return fire, whine and cry.
                Maybe your name should be Cassie Binky.

    2. Number 5… I’m a Bowman fan and have much respect for him, but I don’t see him having a game changing impact this year. Two major injuries, recent and back-to-back, plus getting a tad older don’t bode well. Opposing offensive coordinators will scheme to take advantage of his on-field limitations.

      Of course, we’ll have a better feel for his effectiveness and role once the season begins–if he’s on the squad.

      1. I agree on paper, it doesn’t look too good for him. If there’s anything I’ve learned in football, it’s a mental game. 80% mental, 40% physical. Nothing wrong with Bowman’s mentality….

            1. I think he stole that from Yogi Berra and modified it for football. Yogi said: Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical. Maybe Bow can transition to baseball if things don’t work our here.

              1. Love those Afflek (sp?) commercials with the duck. It’s the insurance you don’t know you need until you need it. Classic. Should have gave him a M E award.

  6. I think this season will come down to how Hoyer plays. IMO he is a journeyman QB and not at the level to lead us to the playoffs. He is not a top 15 QB in this league and that is what we need to make the playoffs.

  7. It is interesting to watch how management is turning over players in a methodical fashion. A handful of Baalke’s players are still on the team by the start of the season those numbers may dwindle further. There will be plenty of developments this year-hopefully more positive than years past.

  8. 1. The QB position is pedestrian, and the Niners are probably content to wait until next season to sign Cousins. Slow footed inaccurate QBs will get buried, and ones that crumble under pressure will play themselves off the team. Can Hoyer excel in this system? Maybe, but it depends on the O line.
    2. I am hopeful that KS can devise schemes that will get the offense going, The tricky question is if the players can play in unison cohesively. O line will determine that.
    3. The running game was number 4, and Hyde does have good running skills. It will help to have better backups, not cut couch potatoes. Once again, the O line will determine how the RBs do. Glad they got better TEs to help the blocking. Kittle, coming from Iowa, may take the team by storm. Baalke screwed the Niners as a parting shot by signing Vance, so maybe the Niners should trade him by offering to pay some of his salary to a team that just lost their TE and are in desperate need.
    4. Can the defense stop the run? Everything is on Saleh, but he will have good help. John Lynch will be a great asset for the coaches, and hopefully, they will not be playing players out of position and playing favorites. Bellore is gone. I expect to see a big shake up on defense, once they finish the 53 competition. Saleh may do well because the Pete Carroll/ George Seiffert style defense allows the players to be aggressive, and they will not have to read and react. They will just react, because reading takes too much time.
    5. I like Bowman and hope he gets back to his former elite play, but he did suffer 2 terrible injuries that affected his speed and mobility. Maybe they should still let him play in the middle, but do not make him cover the TEs and RBs. Let the other ILB do that. Of course, they are planning on moving on from Bow because they drafted Foster, but if Bow can still play at a high level, they should be cautious, and let Foster’s shoulder heal more. Foster, after not being able to work out on that shoulder, needs to build back muscle, so sitting and studying may help him become a better player in the future.
    To me, the biggest story line may depend upon the O line play, because that will affect QB, TE and RB play.

      1. “Kittle, coming from Iowa, may take the team by storm…”

        Seb …
        The storms in Iowa … usually generate from west to east ..
        not the other way around ! …

        1. It may be that perfect storm. Kittle has good blocking skills, but he is also fast, and with the proper scheming, can create mismatches.
          I am hopeful, while I liked Vance’s blocking and speed, his stone handed drops hurt the team. Kittle, on the other hand, had only one drop in his college season last year.

          1. Seb. Remember, there’s no 5 second rule for your binkie. Be sure to wash it when it’s found. Okay?

            Now, about that play action question…?

    1. pretty good, Sebs!….

      Other than your typical pot-shots at the QB (from bitterness), pretty good points. Amazing how the 9ers have come full circle to the Walsh/Seifert coaching ideology
      despite Old man York’s and Bulky’s best efforts.

  9. Best laid plans.

    I’m pretty sure every offensive coordinator out there is trying to have as few 3rd downs as possible. Gotta have the offensive play makers for that to be possible.

  10. Grant, you were drawn in the direction of the truth, but you overlooked the one item that will determine how well the team overall does this year. At this point I’m cautiously pessimistic.

    How the offensive line plays will be the key factor, and it speaks to the first three items you identified. Unless the OL is a lot better than it deserves to be:

    1. However clever the Shanahan offensive scheme is, it won’t matter if the OL gets dominated and can’t execute.
    2. Hoyer’s best (maybe only) capability — deft play-action — will be useless if the running game is not a threat because the OL can’t execute.
    3. Neither Carlos Hyde, nor any of the other running backs, will be a factor if the OL can’t open running lanes. And the fact that two of the new heart throbs — Williams and Breida — have never demonstrated pass catching skills, makes their contribution even more one-dimensional, playing into the hands of opposing defenses when they’re in the game.

    On the OL, we have at least two players on the downhill slopes of their careers, a second year guard who may or may not be fast and nimble enough to execute Shanahan’s offense, a 7th round tackle in the Jenny Craig program (ditto as a fit with a Shanahan offense). and a center who at least might be better than any of last year’s starters. The backups are of dubious quality, so any injury could be fatal (OTOH, there may be a better player or two available after the 53-man cutdowns, so at least there’s some hope). Will this motley crew make people forget about the Dallas OL this year? Will they even play together competently and execute Shanahan’s offensive scheme effectively?

    Jury’s out.

    1. I’m soooo happy that more people are starting to focus on Oline…I might break down at any moment….
      no, sorry, I am really glad the “expectations engine” seems to be coming round to Messrs. Benton, Embree, and Turner’s efforts on the line, tight ends and running backs (both full and half) as I see more saying: Hoyer and his rcvrs will only work if the line and running game works!

      On Saleh and his 1st gig with a MAJOR share of responsibility for the outcome of games, I think his reported preparation focus/attention to detail along with help from Tarver, Ryans, & Zgonina, should be enough resource-wise to place in upper 50% in the 1st half of season. How well the Offense does with the new running game will have a huge influence on how much will be put on Saleh’s shoulders.

      Teaching KS’ new system should go well, since QB and some other parts of offense know much already (didn’t Alex do an informal “camp Alex” back in 2011 to get some players started on JH’s new offense?) so the pass game could be competent early in season IF run game is good.

      Is my Oline and running game bias too blatant?

  11. 1. Camp Alex.

    2. Every QB has limitations. It’s can you live with them. And does he have enough positives to over-come them.

    3. Hyde (probably) isn’t going to resign. Never mind you want him gone and have done some of the shoddiest and inept analysis of your journalistic career to paint that picture. As for moving on, I don’t blame him. RB careers are too short, better for him to move on than labor on a bad team that’s likely to be pushing him aside by the time it’s a contender.

    4. Ok, we’re both, more-or-less on the same page with that… I’m not so much up for Saleh, but glad we’re moving on from O’Neil…

    5. Last year we were starting special teamers. It’d be hard not to be better. I mean, we’re talking you’d have to put in effort not upgrade.

  12. I would add the storyline “Can Ward stay healthy?”

    I take promising rookie training camp reports with a grain of salt. If Ward goes down, the whole defense could go with him. Such is the importance of the SHS spot. If he gets hurt early in the season, we could be looking at a top 5raft spot.

    I’m excited for the new defense. Can’t wait to see it in action. But it has a vulnerability.

    1. I’ll add that if the Niners have injury rates approaching anything like 2014, 2015, 2016 it will be a long season.

  13. Good read.
    Our 3rd down ineffectiveness has been an issue since the days of Alex Smith.
    If Shanahan can muster an offensive game plan that avoids 3rd downs (or cuts back on 3rd downs) we could see an immediate impact.
    Also, Lynch is not going anywhere because he is still one of our best QB pass rushers. While we are hopeful that Buckner, Armstead, Elvis and Thomas can get to the QB – one should not forget that Lynch has already shown that he can.
    Hyde will be our starter out of the gate but may lose his job if he gets injured and Williams shines.
    Not sure why Bowman is being hung out by Grant but he may very well be our best LB. You can’t get rid of an established player based on the potential of other players who have yet to prove themselves.

  14. I preferred my top storylines from the previous post :-P

    Kidding. Number 1 and 4 are of particular interest to me. How the players go about learning the system, and how the first time HC and DC perform, are going to be critical to the season.

  15. Going into TC, there is a 3 play sequence I wish they would consider.
    The first is on first down, Hyde should line up deep in the I with Juzcyzck in front of him. Hyde would be able to build up a head of steam before hitting the line of scrimmage, so he should be able to fall forward for another yard or 2. The play could go either to the left or right, with the play action option available. The FB could block, then swing out for a short pass, or even go in motion like Roger Craig did in the SB. This would threaten 3 areas, so the defense must cover many areas. The trick is to be able to take what they give them, and exploit their weaknesses.
    The second play in the sequence is a second down play that entails the read option. The offense must be able to get this play off in a hurry, and since the Niners have no running QBs, the FB dive may be the best option. Let the HB make a deceptive move to attract attention to add a distractive element. Still, the QB may come free if he runs the bootleg. The offense must be able to get the play off quickly, and hopefully make them jump offside, for a free play, which will turn into a deep strike downfield.
    The third play assumes the offense is on their 27 yard line, with third and 3 yards for a first down. I call it the Third Down Bomb. The QB fakes the handoff, bootlegs to one side to buy time, then heave the ball to the 5 yards line, for a jump ball. If the WR cannot make the catch, he must become the defender, and tackle the DB so he cannot advance the ball. Do not throw it into the end zone unless he is wide open, because the ball would come out to the 20 if intercepted in the end zone.
    There are 2 good things that could happen. The Receiver could catch the ball or he could be fouled for a PI which puts the ball at the spot of the foul. There is one indifferent outcome. It fall incomplete, and its 4th down. There is a bad outcome, the pass is picked off, but if tackled early, It pins them deep in their territory, and it becomes a 70 yard punt. Of course, they could also run it back for a score. Still, there could be 2 very good outcomes, and only 1 terrible outcome. It would also take a QB who can throw it the length of the field.
    This play would be run out of a standard set, and with the hurry up offense, they could prevent the defense from substituting, or make them burn a time out. If 12 men on the field, it is a free play. Have Kittle run hitch then fly, and maybe get a LB on him.
    Those are 3 plays I would like them to do this year. They do not need them done in sequence, but it would be more effective that way. It sure would be nice to see the WCO, with minor adjustments, running smoothly in San Francisco. I hope the Niners are deceptive, unpredictable and innovative.

      1. Actually, every play has been drawn up before. It is just my spin on things. I expect a KS offense to be innovative and efficient, since every other stop he had top 10 offenses.
        Misdirection, screens, fakes, reverses, and play action with mobile pockets and throwing on the run. Sure am glad KS likes mobile QBs.

        1. Wow such innovation. A true pioneer and original orchestration of thoughts.
          We are all so privileged to hear these ideas.
          I’m so impressed

          1. Sure would be nice to get them to jump offside or have 12 men on the field, but I guess you cannot incorporate the meaning of being deceptive and forcing the other team into committing an error for a free play, into your tiny mind.

            1. Unreal. Why didn’t the great Vince Lombardi ever think of that.
              So impressed with the amount of intelligence.

              1. Going from admitting that Kaep took the league by storm to being impressed by a poster you used to call a moron and DB.
                Hmmm, maybe there is hope for you.

              2. Yeah Seb, I’m just astonished at your football IQ lately. Its simply ingenious!
                Take a bow.

              3. Coming from a poster who bet that the Niners would draft Trubisky, I am not impressed with your sarcasm.

              4. Too bad you were not here the entire time. We all would have benefitted form your original thoughts.
                I mean why didn’t the NFL employ a rule where if an offensive player possessed the ball, he must immediately fall to the turf and avoid contact and injury. The NFL would have saved millions and millions of dollars.

                Seb, I’m just glad you are here now to grace us with your sharp mind.

              5. Prime I know you are clueless, but maybe you should read the rulebook and try to become a little better informed.
                QBs can slide feet first, and defenders cannot hit him. The QB will avoid contact and injury, saving millions.
                Please try to keep up. Next you will be saying that Brandon Marshall, the LB for the Broncos, is a cancer in the locker room.

  16. I think the Niners are going to be better, because Lynch signed so many Free agents. He filled all the holes, then hit a grand slam in the draft. With Armstead healthy, Mitchell stout in the Middle, and King Solomon mining gold, the defense will be much improved.
    If Ward is playing in the proper position, If Reid plays better at SS, and Tank can play in his natural position, They can stop the run.
    I hope Bowman is not asked to cover the TEs and RBs, and he proves his naysayers wrong.
    If this squad can play NINER DEFENSE, they can win games.

    1. This is the reason I say Green Bay isn’t as good as Grant and alot of other people think they are. That team is all Aaron Rodgers and a prayer. The one Super Bowl they won with him, they actually had quality vets and a couple of free agents who helped them win a title. Baller made the mistake of thinking he can only draft players and plug in sorry players like the Packers do. Only problem is we don’t have Aaron Rodgers. And the way John Lynch went and signed quality bodies, not just bodies, shows me he’s on the right track of learning the right way to win a title. I’ll say this forever, nobody wins titles exclusively through the draft… Nobody

      1. Yup, Niners got Fred Dean, Hacksaw Reynolds, Ken Norton, Deon Sanders, and won SBs. Niners were so formidable, FA former pro bowlers would accept less to get a ring, so the Niner second string was as good as many other club’s first string. Lately, they signed Cowboy, and went to 3 NFCCGs.
        However, I think GB will be in the playoffs because they are in a weak division, and they shored up their secondary by drafting Kevin King CB, and Josh Jones S, with their first and second picks. They also drafted 3 RBs, so they improved the running game, too. GB signed 8 FAs, so they were kinda active this season.

        1. Seb, people always say they have good drafts, but nothing ever comes of it. Your right, the division is not good at all. It’s like the pats in afc east. But bill knows how to take on free agents and trades. The Packers hope for Rodgers to do his thing. They did get some decent free agents this year. Maybe it will be for the best out in Green Bay

          1. Steele, that Niner 81 draft helped propel them to the SB. The 86 draft was stellar, and almost every player contributed to winning more SBs. This past draft had them trade back, garner additional 2018 second and third round picks, while still getting both players they coveted in the first round.
            Atlanta beat GB because the Packers were decimated by injuries to their secondary, and could not run the ball. Yet, the Packers beat the Cowgirls and made it to the NFCC game. Grant may be right, but I think the Cowgirls and Seasquawks will make to the NFCCG. Ugh, hope both could lose.

              1. I was going to mention Carolina, but they just fired their GM, so there seems to be turmoil. They spent their first picks on offense, but ignored glaring needs on defense until the later rounds, so maybe they were mad at Gettleman for losing out on elite DB prospects.

  17. The 3rd Down Bomb. So that’s been the missing play the last 4 years? It has merit, except in the above proposal it will be 3rd and 8 as these 1st,2nd down running plays will be difficult to optimize the many options for a new offense. 3rd and 8 will already get you a safety deep enough over the top who will read the long routes and get help early in the play. Will teams respect 9er run game enough to load the box and enable a long route here and there?

    Winning football teams move the chains. Losing teams try the home run as a core part of the offensive game plan. It rarely works for one game.

    But I loved running 3rd Down Bomb in grade school. We also played Smear the Q…(not appropriate to say anymore, but innocent back then). The QB on 3DB often gets smeared.

    There is zero going on in sports right now. Lets get a pre-season game , anything at this point.

    1. Max… Teams will never respect our run game if the quaterback is proven to be useless. So the question is, will teams respect the QB enough to give them the choice of respecting the running, and or the passing game

    2. Of course, they should not start every drive that way, but the Third Down Bomb may be utilized in the 4th quarter while behind, as a form of the Hail Mary pass.
      Still, lining up Hyde deep in the eye would be playing to his strengths. I consider him a thousand yard rusher, so they should accentuate his skills, and not force him to do something he is weak at.

        1. If past the first down marker so they will get a new set of downs. What he should not do is run upright, struggle to stay in bounds, and invite the defense to gang tackle him and strip the ball, while getting injured.

  18. Obviously the team will be going into each game far more prepared offensively than they have in many years, plus they are acquiring players that fit the scheme better than they have in years. So the offense should be improved and moving in the right direction, and we all know what is needed to really move forward, but that is not happening this year. The defense will be improved due to players coming in healthier and some great additions in draft and fa. My vision of best case scenario is for the team to lose a lot of close games, being competitive all the way as to have high draft picks, and hope Chicago sucks so the second and third round picks from them will be high. With a good draft they could acquire several more impact players in key areas (including free agent signings) oline, wide receiver, edge rusher and of course qb. Simplistic vision, but if niners are able to develop all this young talent they now have combined with 2-3 impactful players next year, things could really be looking up.

    1. Actually, the second round pick is from New Orleans, so you should hope TB, Carolina and the Falcons sweep them.

  19. Garcon is simply not that good. He is on the downslope of his career.
    Their top draft pick is 1 of 3 rookies who isnt signed.
    Shanahan will win 4 games this year. There are more moving parts to an offense than the 3 players who know it. The signings are all 2 years minimums so the team thinks it will be competitive next season. I think they are right.
    Hyde is a china doll.
    The LB position is still going to be weak. You have a rookie and a geriatric who cant cover apeedy wrs. This is the NFL. It will be exposed early and often.

    1. Better watch out, some will accuse you of not being a true fan because you did not predict a SB victory.
      Garcon is a battle hardened, and battle tested WR. He may be one of the catalysts that will attract Cousins next season. He is an big upgrade over those cut third string WRs they were playing last season.
      King Solomon is wise, and he will see the need to sign before TC. If not, blame Paraag for lowballing him.
      Sure, the Vegas odds have them at 4.5 wins, so your prediction is pretty solid. Still, Lynch signed replacements at every position, and drafted really well. I sure hope they will be competitive, and if they can upgrade the QB position, they might win 8 games.
      Hyde does get injured, but that defender dove at his knees, so it is hard to blame Hyde for a dirty tackle. He also started to play smarter, and ran out of bounds when past the first down marker, so he did not get gang tackled while struggling to stay in bounds. He also almost ran for a thousand yards, even with a 28th ranked O line.
      The LBs will be better, because Bellore is gone. They also picked up a LB who was MVP in a SB, and one who Pete Carroll liked, so he will fit the new 4-3 system well. Stopping the run will be the crucial test, so getting Mitchell and DJ Jones should clog up the middle, and make the others have an easier time defending.

      1. Why would parrag low ball him?? There is a rookie scake in place. If anything his agent ifms trying to get more for a player who hasn’t stepped foot on an NFL football field yet.. just sayin. Don’t blame Paraag, he’s probably just doing his job.

              1. I knew Paraag was not dictating policy, and was just following Lynch’s directives. Still, he was outed as the leaker, and he leaked recently, so Lynch had to apologize to Kaep, again.
                Sure, some would say that he was only doing the bidding of Baalke, but now that Baalke was fired, and there were more leaks, Paraag is still up to his old tricks.

        1. Paraag is in charge of contracts. He is the logical person to blame for an impasse, and he learned everything from Baalke about lowballing.

        2. Actually, since it’s a salary scale, there’s no negotiation of salary by either side. It’s all about offsets and bonus language and timing. Offsets only apply to a player’s Year 4 salary.

          Personally, I think arguing over those things in rookie contracts is ludicrous. With rare exception are you going to cut a Top-10 draftee without giving him way too many chances to succeed. And if you do, his Year 4 base salary (the guaranteed part subject to the offset) will be a minor thing in your cap. Bosa, for example, his Year 4 base salary is just over $4 million against a cap that might be pushing $180 million by 2019.

          Teams waste more than that every year on mediocre FAs that will never live up to their salaries. Yet will scream and yell over the timing of money to a player they believe to ‘be the next big thing…’

          1. Lynch is not stupid, and will not let his number 3 overall pick languish in limbo, because that is a recipe for losing. It may take until the 11th hour, but it will get done.

            1. It’s Thomas’ agent — Todd France. He’s not as bad as the Poston brothers were, but he’s a right pain in the rear and is known for hold-outs of his high-profile clients.

              1. France operates under CAA and they represent lots of football players. Sure he held Bosa out last year, but for good reason. The Chargers were trying to defer part of his signing bonus and write offset language in his deal. Usually it’s one or the other, never both. Even though I thought he would be signed by now, I won’t be surprised if in the next couple of days he gets signed….

      2. Nobody’s “lowballing” Solomon Seb. The rookie wage scale is set. It comes down to offset language . The fact that Myles Garrett agreed to all of the offset language in his contract, it’s going to be hard for Thomas to argue against it.

        1. 49, there are monetary considerations, but there are offset language clauses which will translate into more money later. He is getting lowballed over the Offset specifications. It seems specious when the Niners have 70 mil in cap space, with a projected 100 mil next season, to be quibbling over offset language.
          It would be in the Niner’s best interest to get a deal done before TC. If Paraag is holding up the negotiations by being tight fisted, he needs to talk more with Lynch, who would call for a fair deal for both sides.

    2. The “geriatric” LB, or any linebacker for that matter, shouldn’t be in position to have to guard a we. And since when is 29 geriatric?

    3. Hyde tried to run over a defender and injured his shoulder. He can’t stay healthy and the yards mean very little when the team was still running the ball down 25 points in the 4th quarter. The ineptitude of the previous coaching staffs have given you some false hopes and inflated statistics.
      It takes time for teams to gel. Think of the big names signed to Jacksonville. On paper they spent 178 million on free agents and still whiffed.
      The Giants landed Jenkins, Vernon, and Harrison. They still couldn’t put together any real consistency in the playoffs getting destroyed by the Packers. And they have a QB and an offense in place, playing in one of the weakest divisions in football in 2016.
      None of these free agent signings compare to the mortgage of 1993 when the free agents actually contributed to a super bowl win. This team won 2 games last season. They are more than a journeyman QB and some aging veterans away from competitive. Garcon has only had 2 seasons of over 1000 yards. He even had your savior throwing him the ball and still only managed 1041 yards last season with 3 TDs. Those are Anquan Bolden type numbers and Garcon will be used in similar fashion.
      4 wins is the goal this season. It’s my prediction Garcon will be a ghost in 2017. A veteran of 10 years, 3 teams, and only 2 years of 1000+ yards with QBs of Manning, Luck, and Cousins at his disposal isn’t hungry enough in my opinion. This was a signing of necessity to implement an offense. Garcon is a coach at this point. He’ll have 45 catches on 72 targets, 500 yards, and 3 tds…

    4. Sam,

      Garcon is that good. He has never relied on his speed, so his current age isn’t an issue. Mr. Garcon only had one drop last season. He is an above average possession WR. That kind of player tends to be a QBs’ best friend, especially on 3rd down.


      This isn’t Madden or fantasy football. People always mention all of the weapons that Cousins had last year. Garcon still managed to have over 1000 YDs. You have said in the past that Garcon is only successful when he had talent around him, yet in 2013 he had 113 receptions. RG3 was his QB for 13 of those games (RG3 sucks). Full Shanny was running the show in 2013, so we could see similar numbers from Garcon this year. At least 80 catches.

      “isn’t hungry enough in my opinion.”

      Based on what?

      “We thought with the way he ran routes, with his competitiveness, his toughness, his speed, his ability to come out of breaks, his ability to block, that he would be a good fit for us,” Mike Shanahan said.”

      1. I didn’t say Garcon was successful when he had talent around him. I said he had Manning and Luck throwing to him and his numbers weren’t great. Manning gave him his best year which he hasn’t replicated since.
        A veteran with the coveted Cousins throwing him the ball who only gets 3 tds is not hungry enough. The numbers indicate as much. He is at the point in his career that he is reminiscent of Anquan Boldin. Here are Boldin’s numbers:
        2013 85 REC 1,179 Yards 13.9 AVG 7 TDs
        2014 83 REC 1, 062 Yards 12.8 AVG 5 TDs
        2015 69 REC 789 Yards 11.4 AVG 4 TDs
        2016 67 REC 584 Yards 8.7 AVG 8 TDs

  20. Seb,… Do you believe the 9ers will be successful with play action? If so, to what degree? If not, why not?

      1. Not looking to rip you on this. You have strong opinions on running back play and was curious how you feel about 9er prospects this season with play action–knowing that Shanahan likes to refine and use it. Three elements are immediately involved–the OL, QB, and RB. Just asking as I don’t recall any lengthy discourse from you on it.

    1. Play action passing is routinely the most statistically effective pass play in the NFL. For any QB. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tout it. Deep ball passing the least effective. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point that out.

      Yet at times you have to work with the least effective to make the most effective to work. That’s why teams still run the ball. Passing is vastly more effective than running. But running serves as a constraint play that forces the defense to play sub-optimally. Just as deep passing forces defenses to defend the entire passing game in a sub-optimal fashion.

      1. I think the salient point is for the team to be balanced. That way, they do not end up with a Marino situation, where the passing game is king, but once the passing game is stymied, the running game cannot work well enough to win games. It also helps to have a defense, too, for balance on both sides of the ball.
        The Pats did not have stellar RBs, but Brady, with his ball control short passing game, did enough to win. Guess he mastered the WCO.

            1. Oh Seb, don’t be humble now. The entire 49er faithful should be thanking you daily for what you bring to the fan base.
              Ideas and innovations unknown to mankind.

              Many thank you’s Seb.

  21. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000821386/article/nfl-training-camp-thirteen-potential-surprise-cuts

    Maybe so maybe no!

    “12) Ahmad Brooks, OLB, San Francisco 49ers: Brooks specializes in escaping lists like this unharmed, having survived off-field concerns and four head-coaching changes in San Francisco. Penciled in as a starter to open camp, Brooks is 33 years old and has a cap number over $6 million for a team that is rebuilding. A strong camp by some younger teammates could leave Brooks vulnerable.”

    “13) Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Coach Kyle Shanahan was going to be “sick” and dreaming of rookie Joe Williams if the team didn’t draft him, according to the MMQB’s Peter King. So general manager John Lynch wound up trading up to get a guy in Williams who wasn’t even on his draft board.

    Compare that investment — emotional and otherwise — with the team’s lukewarm appraisals of Hyde this offseason. A talented and extremely elusive runner, Hyde has one year left on a contract signed three head coaches ago. He’s admittedly the biggest long shot to lose his job on this list, but Shanahan and Lynch are just starting their extreme makeover and have proven they are ready to act with conviction.”

    1. Every year someone predicts that Ahmad Brooks will be cut. This is nothing new. Yet, he continues to perform at a high level. He’s led the team in sacks in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

    2. I’m actually looking for Brooks to lead the team in sacks with 8, two more than he had last year. So I’m definitely in the no category there.

      1. What? That’s not what you said a couple months when you were creaming your g string about King Solomon.
        10 sacks remember!

  22. Prime Time says:
    May 10, 2017 at 11:49 am
    10 sacks right for the King?

    EastCoast9er says:
    May 10, 2017 at 11:55 am
    That’s very optimistic!

    Razoreater says:
    May 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm
    What do you expect from the fool on the pill? Try more like 6 sacks, with tackles for loss in the running game. Pressures and disruption that assist his team mates in making plays. That’s what I’m expecting from King Solomon in his first NFL campaign….

    Is there any member of this board that writes more bad checks with his mouth than TomD’s little prime?

  23. 1) Yes, Kyle runs a complex offense, but Kyle has a way of teaching his offense in a way that’s easy to digest for the players, and that’s good news for 49ers fans!

    2) Working around Brian Hoyer’s limitations is going to come down to how efficiently the team can run the football. Third and long is tough on a lot of QB’s, but especially hard on Hoyer. He struggles with his deep accuracy, as well as finding open receivers down the field. I have a lot of confidence in this stable of RB’s, and the 49ers have a great FB, so for me it’s going to come down to run blocking along the OL.

    3) I think Carlos is going to have a great season if he can stay healthy, but it remains to be seen whether the team wants to open up the checkbook for him, even if he makes the adjustments to this new scheme (I suspect he will), and has a big season.

    4) I think Saleh is going to have at least a couple seasons to prove himself, unless this defense goes south in a hurry this season. And I am not one who thinks Fangio would be on their radar if he becomes available in the offseason. Fangio is a fantastic DC, but his defensive philosophy (30-Front, with a lot of zone concepts), doesn’t really fit the defensive style Kyle is trying to build. From a personnel perspective, going back to a more traditional 4-3, after one season seems highly unlikely to me. If Saleh fails, Kyle will certainly be looking for someone from the Pete Carroll coaching tree.

    5) If Reuben Foster’s shoulder has healed properly, the 49ers are in fantastic shape at ILB this season.

  24. never fails… a Bowen can be cut statement and the place goes wild…

    What if Malcom Smith or Foster or Bowman gets hurt? Same issue as last year? I suspect they may carry an extra ILB to cover…

    1. They’ll definitely need one to fill the role of special teams demon. That will probably mean Coyle, the 5th ILB behind Bowman, Foster, Smith and Armstrong.

  25. The most incendiary topics on this blog–in no particular order…
    – Bowman
    – Kaepernick
    – Seb’s presence (kind and self-effacing…)
    – Hyde
    – Paraag
    – Solomon sack predictions

    I’m sure I’ve missed a few…

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