Jaguars offer opportunity for 49ers to test-drive a few options

Here is my Thursday column on the 49ers’ upcoming game against the awful Jaguars. Beating the Jaguars is way down the list of important things the 49ers must accomplish this weekend. Beating the Jaguars isn’t even top-three. Beating the Jaguars is expected. Everyone beats the Jaguars. The Jaguars are the worst. The 49ers should treat this game like an exhibition or a scrimmage. There is no way the 49ers lose…

October 24, 2013

Choice between two richly talented quarterbacks more a matter of taste than stats

Here is my Tuesday column comparing and contrasting Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck. Who is a better quarterback right now, Colin Kaepernick or Andrew Luck? Simple question. I could give you a simple answer. I have a gut feeling it’s Luck and I could validate it but that is not the responsible answer. Reality is not simple. Let’s not deal in simplicity. Let’s deal in reality, which is complicated and…

October 22, 2013

New code of behavior for NFL fans flies in the face of game’s violence

Here is my Tuesday column on the wave incident at Candlestick Park last Sunday, October 13. SANTA CLARA – You and I are supposed to feel contempt for certain football fans in San Francisco and Houston this week. Last Sunday in Houston, some Texans fans cheered when Matt Schaub, their own quarterback, sprained his ankle in the third quarter and limped out of the game. Cold. A few hours later…

October 15, 2013

Deep trouble for 49ers’ passing game starts with play-calling

Here is my Tuesday column on Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ 31st-ranked passing game. SANTA CLARA – You could argue Colin Kaepernick has been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season. He definitely has been the worst starting quarterback in the Bay Area. The Raiders’ Terrelle Pryor has outperformed Kaepernick in nearly every statistical category. Kaepernick was great Week 1 against the Packers but since then Kaepernick…

October 8, 2013

The Skelton signing is a huge development for the 49ers and here’s why

Here is my Thursday column about the 49ers’ signing of John Skelton. SANTA CLARA – You think you know Jim Harbaugh, and then he goes and signs John Skelton as a backup quarterback. Signing Skelton is a defining move of the Harbaugh Era. Not because Skelton is good. He isn’t. He represents a dramatic shift in the 49ers’ offensive philosophy. Skelton does not fit into the offense the 49ers have…

October 3, 2013

Seattle’s noise makes 49ers’ play-calling methods ineffective

Here is my Thursday column. SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh must change his offensive play-calling system this week for the 49ers’ game Sunday night in Seattle against the Seahawks. Not changing his system would be an ego-driven mistake. Harbaugh wants to be perfect on every play. As a result, his system is one of the slowest in the NFL. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman typically calls not one but two wordy…

September 12, 2013

Kaepernick’s brilliance masks issues for 49ers

Here is my Monday column. Enjoy. SANTA CLARA – Let’s focus on the good after the 49ers’ Week 1 win over the Packers, a very good team, probably not a great team. THE GOOD After just 11 starts, Colin Kaepernick probably is the best quarterback in the NFL. You could say he singlehandedly beat the Packers. His defense gave up 28 points, he had no rushing attack and still he…

September 9, 2013

Packers have a painful plan for 49ers, but a solution is in the strategy

Here is my Friday column previewing the 49ers-Packers game. Jim Harbaugh has to understand Clay Matthews isn’t bluffing. Matthews wants to take out Colin Kaepernick. Every Packer does. Matthews said so. If the 49ers run the read-option, the Packers will try to hurt Kaepernick. They’d be nuts not to. It’s legal. It’s smart. Knocking him out is the Packers’ best chance to win, and the read-option play is the best…

September 6, 2013

Scott Tolzien deserves better than to leave on a fade route

Here is my Wednesday column. Scott Tolzien is no longer a 49er. He deserves a proper goodbye. The 49ers’ third-string quarterback the past two seasons got cut on Monday. He was a terrific quarterback at the University of Wisconsin, the Johnny Unitas Award winner in 2010, but no team drafted him after his senior season. His arm wasn’t strong enough for the NFL then, it isn’t strong enough now and…

August 28, 2013

This won’t be a rehearsal, this is a game to shape the 49ers’ roster

Here is my Saturday column previewing the 49ers’ Sunday preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. If you expect the 49ers to treat Sunday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings like a dress rehearsal for the regular season, you may be disappointed. Most NFL teams treat the third exhibition game like a dress rehearsal. The 49ers did that last season – Alex Smith played the entire first half. But, I’ll be…

August 24, 2013

Getting Baldwin in a trade for Jenkins is a real win for Baalke

Here is my Monday column on the A.J. Jenkins-Jonathan Baldwin trade. The 49ers traded A.J. Jenkins to the Chiefs for Jonathan Baldwin Monday morning. Hallelujah for the 49ers. Heaven help the Chiefs. Why on earth would Kansas City trade anything for Jenkins? Why would they want him in the first place? Just this past Friday, they saw firsthand how bad he really is. Jenkins played 38 snaps and caught no…

August 19, 2013

49ers can’t catch a break when it comes to drafting wide receivers

This is my Saturday column on the 49ers’ recent history drafting wide receivers. By now, you’ve seen what I’ve seen from A.J. Jenkins the past two training camps: A wide receiver utterly overmatched by starting NFL cornerbacks. Friday night against the Chiefs, he faced their starting right cornerback Sean Smith and could not shake him. When Smith decided to press Jenkins, Smith swallowed him up. Jenkins couldn’t get past the…

August 17, 2013

Meaningless exhibition? Not when you know what to watch

Here is my preview of the 49ers-Chiefs preseason game. Five things to watch in the 49ers’ preseason game against the Chiefs Friday night: 1. Colin Kaepernick in the red zone. Kaepernick has something to prove here. As terrific as he’s played in his brief career, he needs to improve his passing in the red zone. Last season, his red zone passer rating was 83.9, nothing special. Compare that to Alex Smith…

August 15, 2013

While Raiders mix and match at QB, their best bet for future sits

Here is my Saturday column about what we learned from the Raiders’ first preseason game. OAKLAND – Dennis Allen, the Raiders’ head coach, will attempt to ride two horses at quarterback this season – Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor. Think the Alex Smith-Colin Kaepernick arrangement for the 49ers during the first half of last season. Is Allen making the right decision? Or will he fall off the horses? Allen explained…

August 10, 2013

Too early to worry, but 49ers show they have issues to solve

Here is my Friday column about what we learned in the 49ers’ first preseason game. It’s almost impossible to evaluate the 49ers’ starters after their first preseason game. We don’t know how much the 49ers game planned for the Broncos – probably not very much. And the starters played just one series. Frank Gore and Justin Smith did not play at all. That should change next week. Gore should get…

August 9, 2013

NFL teams need to rethink regimens for players’ safety

Here is my Friday column on the recent rash of NFL offseason and training camp injuries. Have you noticed how many NFL players already have torn ACLs or Achilles’ tendons this offseason? We’re not even two weeks into training camp, and already nine NFL players have torn ACLs and three have ruptured Achilles, and most of these injuries involved no contact. So far, 14 49ers have injured themselves and they…

August 2, 2013

The Jim Harbaugh Game: The coach and his world of contradictions

Here is my Monday column on Jim Harbaugh. SANTA CLARA – Here’s how you play The Jim Harbaugh Game: Listen to his next interview. Write down the exact time he sets himself up for future contradiction. Then, predict how long it will take for the contradiction to occur – a year, a month, a day, an hour, a minute, etc. Harbaugh most recently set himself up on June 11. One…

July 29, 2013

Raiders will go as far as McFadden can carry them

Here is my Wednesday column on Darren McFadden. Darren McFadden is the most important player on the Raiders this season. If they have any shot to make the postseason, McFadden must carry them. That’s because the Raiders’ defense has at least eight new starters and the passing game has more holes than Swiss cheese. The Raiders have no wide receivers to scare opposing cornerbacks, and almost zero experience at tight…

July 24, 2013

49ers facing a summer of questions

This is my Monday column on the top-five questions the 49ers face this summer. Even though the 49ers are among the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl, like any other team, they confront certain issues. Two of their best players – Justin Smith and Frank Gore – are in their 30s and declining. The 49ers’ offensive MVP last season – Michael Crabtree – tore his Achilles tendon in OTAs….

July 22, 2013

Coach or QB? You make the call

Here is my Thursday column on play calling in the NFL. It won’t happen, but I wish it would: NFL coaches should throw away the headsets and let quarterbacks call their own plays. Football has become more like a chess match or a military campaign than a sport. Coaches orchestrate the entire game from the sideline or the coaches’ booth like generals at the U.S. Central Command, or like teenagers…

July 18, 2013