Get ready in the red zone

Here is my Friday column.

The 49ers’ biggest need this offseason is not a player.

Not a wide receiver. Not a cornerback. Not a safety.

Talent isn’t the Niners’ problem – they might have the most talented team in the league. Sure, they could use a speed wide receiver, but they need something else. If they had what they needed, they would be Super Bowl champions already. They would have beaten the Ravens last season, and they would have beaten the Seahawks for the NFC championship this season, and they’d be preparing for this year’s Super Bowl.

The 49ers need Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman to improve their game management and play calling in the red zone, especially during the last few seconds of the game. This is called situational football. All great coaches are masters of it. Tom Brady continually says coaching situational football is one of Bill Belichick’s strongest skills. And you know that Bill Walsh was brilliant at situational football. All you need to think about is “The Catch.”

Two seasons in a row, Harbaugh seemed to forget he could use timeouts when his season was on the line. In the last Super Bowl, the Ravens sent an all-out blitz on fourth-and-goal. Harbaugh could have called his last timeout and Roman could have called a good play. It was the last play of the game. What were they saving a timeout for? Harbaugh didn’t call it, and Kaepernick chucked a prayer to Crabtree and the 49ers lost.

On the final drive of this season’s NFC championship game, Vernon Davis caught an 11-yard pass and got tackled at the Seahawks’ 18 with 50 seconds left. Harbaugh had two timeouts. He should have called one right then, right when Davis got tackled. Harbaugh, Roman and Kaepernick could have figured out a clever set of plays to methodically work the ball into the end zone and win the game. Harbaugh could have said to Kaepernick, “Make sure you don’t just chuck it up to Crabtree like you did in the Super Bowl.”

Harbaugh didn’t call timeout. He let it ride. Go for it, guys.

The offense ran to the line of scrimmage, no huddle, Kaepernick frantically yelling instructions over Seattle’s berserk crowd. Kaepernick dropped back and chucked it up to Crabtree, just like last season, and the 49ers’ season ended in the red zone, just like last season.

Last offseason, the 49ers hired former head coach Eric Mangini as an offensive assistant. The man has no offensive background – he was a defensive coach before becoming a head coach. He probably can’t help the 49ers’ red-zone offense. If he can’t even improve the 49ers’ clock management, the Niners need another offensive assistant.

The 49ers need coaching help. Someone needs to tutor them in situational football. What to do from the opponents’ 20-yard line to the 12. What to do from the opponents’ 11 to the 3. What to do on third-and-goal inside the 3. You get the point.

Their red-zone offense fell apart the second half of this season. When Crabtree returned Week 13, the Niners should have gotten better in the red zone, but they got much worse.

The final eight games of the season including the playoffs, the 49ers scored touchdowns on just 42 percent of their red-zone trips. If they had averaged 42 percent over the entire season, they would have ranked dead last in the league.

Inside the opponents’ 10-yard line, Kaepernick was the second-worst passer in the league this season. His quarterback rating was 54 in that part of the field. Even Terrelle Pryor wasn’t that bad inside the opponents’ 10.

The 49ers make games closer than they need to be.

The Seahawks fumbled on the first play of the NFC championship game, gave the 49ers the ball at Seattle’s 15-yard line. Greg Roman called a run up the middle on first down, a 2-yard pass to Crabtree on second down and a quarterback draw on third down. The Seahawks were ready for that stuff. The 49ers did not get a first down. They had to kick a field goal. No creativity. No understanding of situational football. No plays ready to go, ready to score a touchdown for that situation.

If the 49ers had scored a touchdown instead of taking the field goal, the game would have been different. The Niners may have beaten the Seahawks.

Harbaugh and Roman must make a more concerted effort to practice situational football – especially red zone offense, and end-of-the-game clock management. They have to devote significant time to those areas during OTAs, minicamp, training camp and even practices during the season. However much time they devoted to situational football in the past clearly was not enough.

If the 49ers don’t improve their red-zone offense and clock management, if the Niners blow a third consecutive Super Bowl season the same way they blew the past two, their biggest need next offseason will be finding new coaches.

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

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  1. Agree with everything you said. It’s almost as if you’d been reading my rants all week.
    You are wrong about one thing. If Harbaugh gets close again and again, they will not let him go. He will be west coast version of Andy Reid. See, getting close is better than never getting there at all. And as long as the Yorks are making money and the Niners are getting to the playoffs, Harbaugh will stay.

    Do the coaches need to get better in certain areas revolving around clock management and red zone efficiency? Yes. Add improving third down efficiency to that list. Which means they need to get better on first down as well. The million dollar question is will Jim Harbaugh put his ego aside and admit he needs help and is he willing to alter his game calling to accommodate the changes that need to be made. Harbaugh is more Singletary than people like to admit. But he’s winning.

    1. Bay, I would say yes Jim H would put his ego aside and get better for two reasons:

      1) he is a total competitor and coaches like a player so he wants to win

      2) His brother has already won a Super Bowl and I am sure Jim would like to join the family

      3) Jim is open to ideas from his coaches and allows everyone to contribute

      4) Jim H is still very young as a NFL head coach and he will learn from his mistakes and success

      I still have faith in him despite the painful L.

      1. I like very much Jim Harbaugh as a coach, BUT :

        4) I hope the learning and winning would still be with the 49ers….it would be sick to see him learning from the mistakes and go winning on another team.

        In any case I find it very difficult to accept the same error two years in a row in decisive games, in the same situation.
        Something HAS to be done.
        Go Niners !!!

      2. Thanks for this column, I hope they read it and ‘get’ it. They also need to work with Kap on checking down and being able to go to second and third read receivers. Not sure who should do this, but it also must be done.

    2. Best article of the YEAR…. and here’s the quote of the last three seasons:

      ****The 49ers make games closer than they need to be.****

      This x 1,000,000

      1. Careful Hammer and his band of sycophants are about to show up and start beating you over the head with their “Roman=Harbaugh” clubs.

      2. You’ve done a good job of explaining yourself on the matter, any other nuggets of gold your holding onto up in your sphincter?

      1. I agree on this one,I’m tierd of seeing that play where Kap turns around on first down an hands off to Gore for a 5 yarrd loss,then on the next play they complete a two yard pass to a reciever,and on third hand off to Gore again for a 2 yard gain and a three and out they rely to much on the defence,like in Arizona they go up 17-0 in the first quarter and then they go conservitive they do that to often In Seattle as soon as they kicked that field go after getting a turnover on opponents 15 yard line,I knew we would lose,we need an offensive coordinator that calls plays to win not one who calls plays not to lose and loses anyway,as long as Greg Roman is there,sorry my fellow 49ers fans but it be the same heartbreaking finish next year.

  2. So grant judging by the last paragraph, I assume you are expecting the 9ers to be back in the same situation (NFCCG, not neccisarily end of game situation) again next year?

    1. He’s not going to be an assistant. He’s getting like seven million next next year to do nothing. They do need an established offensive mind though, and it has to be somebody that gets along with Harbaugh.

  3. I may be wrong, but wasn’t “The Catch” a broken play, not an example of execution of brilliant red zone situational play calling tactics. While the Niners can certifiably improve on that front, a lot of it seems to me to be execution problem. Wasn’t the Vernon Post a red zone play, or the 2011 pass by Smith to Walker in Detroit? I’m confident that the Niners will improve red zone execution next season,. To what extent is the question.

    1. That is my memory as well, Mood. Montana rolled right, couldn’t find anyone, was pressured, and threw off his back foot. Clark, who had reversed his route, snagged the ball, which was thrown quite high. To this day, I am not sure if Montana intended to throw that one away and Clark made a great catch to snag it, or if Montana threw it high so only Clark could get it and then Clark made a great catch to snag it. Either way, there is no disputing that Dwight Clark made a great catch!

      1. JPN,
        Good points. If Montana throws it an inch higher perhaps DC doesn’t make the catch and Montana’ legacy takes a blemish.
        Let’s face it. It truly comes down to the old adage of it being a game inches.

        One more inch higher on CK’ throw to Crabtree and perhaps the ball gets over Sherman’ outstretched hand.
        One more inch and maybe Rodgers bats the ball away from Kearse that went for a touchdown.

        If the ball would have bounced a couple of inches higher during the scramble for the ball after Lynch’ goal line fumble perhaps A.Brooks picks it up and runs for a while.

        It’s amazing what an inch or two can make in sports.
        As I remember the play, Everson Walls was in coverage on DC but throw was high enough to clear his reach.
        Dwight Clark made a great effort to catch it at the highest peek of his jump.
        That’s why it’s called “The Catch” rather than ‘The Throw.’

    2. No – it looked like a broken play but it was not. It was methodically (i.e. with method) taught by Bill Walsh and practiced during training camp. Look up the video. Bill tells the offense that the receiver will reverse direction on the end line and Montana can throw it high and away where only the receiver can get it.

      1. Thanks, tigermks. I have not seen that video. I was 13 when that play happened, and at the time I thought it was a lucky throw. As I have watched the replay over the years, I began to believe Montana put it pretty much where he wanted it (although it may have sailed on him). That clears it up for me.

    3. The Catch was an improvisational play that Bill had Joe and Dwight practice repeatedly after practice as a means of ad libbing if the occasion demanded it, and it came to fruition and both knew what to do.

      1. What they did was practiced, but according to Clark they never completed the pass in practice. The instruction was standard football — throw it where no one else can get it.

        Walls didn’t jump because he was trailing at that point. Clark was all alone when the ball arrived.

        It was a finger tip catch, and most of the players thought Clark jumped higher than he ever had before or ever would again. Also Clark was sick during the game, and had taken himself out of the game two or three plays earlier. He went back in because of that play call.

        Clark was the second option.

      2. The first option was Freddie Solomon. In fact the Niners had scored on the same play to Solomon in the first quarter. On the “catch” play, Freddie fell down making his cut so Montana went to the second half of the play as planned.

      3. If Kap is COACHED to do the same, we get another chance to win because that pass would be incomplete and not an interception. Rather, as Grant says, Harbaugh was like “just let em wing it…” We all know winning football is 90% prepare, prepare, prepare and 10% “wing it.” It’s not the same as Kap running through a defense, trying to make players miss.

      4. Watch the complete history of the 49ers DVD…they talk about the play (sprint right option will forever be etched in my brain) plus Bill Walsh talks about quarterbacking 101…it’s great stuff, something Kaep AND Coach Harbaugh should watch…

    4. The catch isn’t what people think it was, I didn’t know until this
      year that the catch was a throw that Joe was attempting to
      throw it out of the end zone, and it just so happened that Clark
      was tall enough to leap for it and snagged it.

    5. The Catch, definitely was situational football. Situational doesn’t always wind up successful but tries the maximize the situation. Notice what Grant was mentioning with the timeouts and discussing options. Right before the Catch, Bill Walsh did the following:

      1. Called a timeout
      2. Discussed the situation with his QB. NFL Film’s caught that moment. Walsh said to Montana, “If it isn’t there, simply throw it away….”

      Montana put that ball where he thought Dwight might be able to get it. Some people claimed that Montana was trying to throw the ball away, leaving time for a fourth down. Clark disputes that assertion, claiming that it was a backup plan that they practiced many times. Montana confirmed that he could not see the end zone through the defenders, but claims that he knew exactly where Clark would be.

      Notice, they practiced many times!

      NFC Championship, 2 timeouts, no discussion and Kaep made up his mind before the ball was snapped he was going to Crabtree. He had Patton, wide upon for 6 yards and out of bounds to stop the clock at least, possibly a 1st down.

      The Catch has situational written all over it… And Clark was the 2nd option on that play.

      And again in 1988. Superbowl 23 on the winning drive, Walsh calls a timeout to discuss the play. Understanding situational football Walsh calls a play using Rice as the decoy and John Taylor was the 3rd option the the play!

  4. The best thing that could happen to the offense is for G Ro to get hired elsewhere. After watching the end to last year’s Super Bowl and this NFC Title game, who in their right mind would hire him?

  5. The Niner’s redzone offense is both helped and hampered by Kaepernick.

    It’s obviously helped by his mobility.

    It’s hampered because he still doesn’t read defenses and coverages quickly enough. He still waits a second to see a receiver get open instead of knowing the coverage and anticipating where to go with the ball (unless it”s an obvious 1st read slant route). Kaep’s disadvantage because he needs to see receivers get open is amplified in the redzone because defenses are tighter and there is less space to to see things and less time for plays to develop.

    1. AFFP,
      I can’t disagree with your take.
      But do you believe that after just 1.5 seasons under CK’ belt that he has hit his ceiling?

    2. Agreed. This is the main thing Kap needs to work on during the off season. I believe we will see an improved Kap in that regard in 2014.

      People forget that this was Kap’s first full season as a starter. His college game plans were nothing like what he is asked to do in the NFL. Unlike Andrew Luck, Kap did not have the advantage of playing in a pro style system in College, nor having a father who was a former Quarterback to tutor him as a child. And, he still has won more playoff games than Luck so far.

      Kap is a special, once in a lifetime talent, Harbaugh knows it, York knows it, Baalke knows it. Only the nitpicking media types and the nattering naysayers in the blogosphere don’t seem to know it. Luckily they are not the ones making the decisions at the Niner headquarters.

      1. True but that doesn’t change the problem of Roman and Harbaugh not taking those facts into account and properly responding.

    3. I would take your point a step further and suggest that the 49er’s total offensive production this season was hampered by Kaepernicks inability to read coverages and defenses as well as going through his progressions…..CK has evidently started his offseason workout program, I would hope to see some improvment in his skill set next season.

    1. Any suggestions on who to replace him with?? Remember, this is Harbaugh’s offense we’re talking about, so a new OC needs to work under those guidelines, and not expect bring his own system in to the bldg and put it in play.

  6. Could not bring myself to read press coverage of the loss until today. I would have expected this to be heavily covered by now. “A plus plus” for Grant.
    In the NFC Championship, the team had just marched the length of the field with a lot of short and medium length gains. We were 1st and 10 on the 18 yard line with 2 time outs and 50 seconds left. There should have been no rush and no needless risks. They could have picked up another first down. They should have worked the clock. Instead they were frantic, ran a bunch of time clock and heaved up a desperation type pass. This was a coaching choke in my opinion.
    Obviously, Harbaugh is an extremely good coach and I hope that he becomes great. To do this he needs to improve on his situational and particularly Red Zone coaching. Please read Bill Walsh’s book again, bring in Brian Billick, Shanahan something. He is getting out coached in this area. I bet stats would back this up even in his first year with the 49ers.
    They have relied on solid place kicking every year under JH. If they just picked up the Red Zone scoring, they would have had multiple blowouts and would have allowed a lot more rest for the vets, as well as development for the subs.
    Way to go Grant.

    1. Here’s a different take — What if the team can’t practice situational awareness if the QB can’t even grasp just regular basic “read the defense” schemes? What if the team has to spend more reps on covering up Colin’s short-comings?
      It’s been a trend throughout the whole year. Nothing has changed,
      In 3 years the red zone offense has been spotty, although they always score field goals. Someone has to compare the type of red zone plays during the first year and a half with Smith, and then this year. Last year doesn’t count because Colin came on the scene and took the league by surprise.
      Hey I like the guy, he’s exciting, but winning is even more exciting!
      He’s really not getting better and that’s a concern. He’s getting all the starter reps and there was a stretch in the middle of the season when some of the teams weren’t that good and the team still relied more on the running game. It’s when then face a good team do they try to open it up, because they know a good team will take away the run.
      Remember in the Saints game when they just dared Colin to throw it, and he didn’t?

      1. Fan you don’t like the guy. You have disliked the guy and have been calling for his head regardless of what happens. Colin will be the 49ers starting QB next season so get use to it my friend. I know you are a Alex fan and just a bit ticked off but its too late now and frankly i still believe CK will get better. Trust me i am not just a CK fan but you have to see the positives and the negatives while looking at the big picture. We should try to draft a QB, heck i would have been happy if we could kept Alex on the same team since you can not ever have too many good QBs. Colin needs more time and better coaching.

      2. Chicago is right. You say you “like the guy” when you constantly call him a punk or trash his play or his character, repeatedly badmouth him (which is 95% of your comments)…come on man, get real, you’re not fooling anyone. It’s clear you don’t like him so why don’t you just be a man and own up to it. Simply stating you like him doesn’t make it true, especially when all your comments suggest otherwise.

      3. Whether I like or dislike him is irrelevant. I like the team first and foremost. I always said I want him to play better and clearly stated the issues I have with him. If Colin played a great 4 quarters I would gladly say he’s great. But he did not.
        So what’s to like moving forward? In my book a QB doesn’t turn it over 3 times in the 4th quarter and make an ill advised pass, and if indeed he threw that pass to show up Sherman, then there are serious maturity issues.
        This is 4th year and he’s not a kid. He hasn’t improved as a passer the whole year.
        Just look at the first 5 game winning streak against mediocre teams. The team scored over 30 points, but just look at his offensive production. Niners beat Houston 32-7. Do you know what his stats were? 6-5 for 116, with 64 coming on a garbage pass at the end of the game.
        Everyone wanted to overlook his faults and remedial passing. Until it showed up at the worst time.
        Until he improves as a passer, this team is going to have a hard time beating the good teams.
        It’s no guarantee he figures it out, he hasn’t so far.

      4. You may be correct, time will tell. My head told me that too much was stacked up against us this year – Superbowl come down, the extra wear and tear, losing Crabs and Cully, the brutal travel, the division winner schedule and most of all the QB sophomore slump/learning curve. I predicted 10-6, lick our wounds and rebound big next year.
        Based on reports, CK is willing to work hard, so he may learn how to go through his progressions by repetition. He has been able to go long drives at game’s end and come from behind. But he needs the pocket passer’s precision and skills to make it work in the Red Zone and week to week through the season. I hope his craftsmanship catches up to his physical talents.
        To me the jury is still out.

      5. Fan,
        You say that last season doesn’t count for CK because he took the league by storm, then you contradict that statement in your next thread by saying that CK has been in the league for 4 years and he’s longer a kid.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re saying CK’ wins last season leading to the SB mean nothing because he as you say, “he took the league by storm.”
        So, if last season doesn’t count (because he took the league by storm), why are you counting 4 yrs in the league and saying he’ not a kid.

        Look fan, I don’t think that anyone here has crowned CK the ‘chosen one’ as one poster remarked a couple days ago.
        But the other extreme of the spectrum is to call him a ‘choker’ as the host and others have called him.

        I’ve said since the middle of the season when CK was struggling that he was far from a finished product but still had a high enough ceiling to give up on him.

        CK has taken the brunt for last Sunday’s loss without shying away from the horrible truth that he made crucial mistakes in the 4t Qtr, and I would wholly agree with that.

        But I also saw a young QB (1.5 season starts) who made some incredible runs and one unbelievable laser pass for a TD off a stop on a dime one legged hop.
        It’s those type of plays that give me hope for a continuance of greater play from CK for years to come.

        I certainly can’t and won’t try to stop people from calling Kaep a choker. And I guess they won’t be satisfied until CK wins a SB.
        But sadly, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that even if CK were to win a SB that some would still find some fault in his play.

      6. AES,
        Let me clarify: Last season counts in the sense that KAEP came out of nowhere and he played a role in getting the team to the Superbowl.

        He was running the Read Option and other teams didn’t have a chance to prepare for him.

        This year was different, because the Niners didn’t base their offense around the Read/Option, which forced Kaep into a more traditional QB.

        So it’s body of work to use a barometer of the type of QB is. Colin has a lot of potential and upside, there’s no denying that.
        I’m not sold on him, obviously. It doesn’t mean I want him to fail or the team to lose, only that I believe his faults will get exploited and cost the Niners a chance to win the SB. Last year was inexperience. Did you know that during the SB, that was the first time Colin had a red zone situation like that the whole year?
        It’s crazy.

    1. Why bring in a coach?? As I see it, why not bring in Joe Montana, he could do 2 things, learn CK to read defenses, in general and to optimize the red zone %, self being af former QB.

      1. I agree, I wish they would bring in some one like Joe,
        because it seems like CK is not getting the proper
        training, and I thought JH was a QB grue , I guess he’s not.

      2. Then you’d have two ex-QB’s second guessing each other; That would be worse than Alex Smith having 6 different OC’s….Kap wouldn’t know which way to turn….

  7. When the Niners only scored three on the first turnover, I said to my buddy that is going to cost the Niners the game. In essence it did that additional four coupled with a field goal at the end of the game would of won it. Eh who really knows. Red Zone has been a problem for many years. The Niners did prove to me that they can win in Seattle.

    1. it is becoming a pattern in seattle, failing to take advantage of early september dahl blocks a punt early and niners get to 5 yard line beofre kaepernick throws a pass that bounces off a receiver’s hands trying to bring in the wild pass, pick for settle

  8. I agree totally…and I agree third down efficiency should also be included…a very concise, well written article…great job Grant

  9. Maybe this is an area that Harbaugh can focus his competitiveness on during the off-season.

    We know that he’s not adverse to seeking help, he has a history of looking for new ideas. Get 1% better every day.

  10. Grant,

    I have a ton of respect for Harbaugh so I hate to admit this but I think you’re right. 49ers should have called a timeout before the last offensive play in Seattle. They should also coach smart football. Crabtree should have gotten out of bounds on his last reception. Perhaps he didn’t go out of bounds expecting Harbaugh to call a timeout. I do think the players need to execute better but situational coaching has been an issue in the final games of the season for the past 2 years.

      1. With 1st down and 32 seconds to go with two time outs and the ball on the 18 yard line, they were in good shape. All they needed was a throw that only Crabtree could get to. What I haven’t seen commented on is that the pocket was collapsing as CK made the throw and he shortened his stride. Davis was being pushed back into him.

        CK needs to work on his fade passes which should drop out of the sky, and not come in on a somewhat flat trajectory.

        Anyway, it was a great season. The past three years have been great. I’m looking forward to more.

    1. Houston,
      I was critical of Crabs on not going out of bounds there as well, but after watching it again, I suspect that Crabs thought the db would assume he was heading out of bounds, and was hoping to catch that guy off guard. He faked out of bounds then tried to dart in and past him, but it didn’t work. He would have had quite a few more yards if it worked.

  11. Yep, red zone has been a bug bear for the 49ers under Harbaugh. The offense doesn’t put a lot of stress on the defense to make their reads, very little subtlety to it. They also rely far too heavily on the jumbo package.

  12. Grant,

    Quick question. If the 3rd down play gets them into a red zone but the next play is 4th down is that considered a red zone trip?

    For example, 3rd and 12 from the 26 and they complete a pass for 8 yards to the 18. They then kick the FG. Does that go against their percentage?

  13. Grant- Now we’re talking. Finally, an analysis that is basically spot on. I don’t contribute much to this blog, but I did opine 2 days ago that Sunday’s loss was primarily on Harbaugh. Some don’t like to hear this including you Grant but Kaepernick is still growing into his roll as a staring NFL QB. He is clearly responsible for that throw to that now ‘thuggish’ corner, but any non-expert fan like me could see that a timeout was needed. Call timeout, settle things down, think through your options and go. But Harbaugh thrives on adrenaline. He rants and raves on the sideline half out of control. Kap needed guidance with 30 seconds left. He couldn’t find it on the Niner sideline. Kap was on his own. And the result was we lost. Kap’s talent is huge, but he shouldn’t be expected to left out there on his own with no thoughtful input in the last 30 seconds of the biggest game of the season. I’m a Kap fan and becoming a bigger fan every time I watch him play and listen to him. He has everything the Niners need and more. He deserved better. (By the way, I don’t think Sherman is a thug).

  14. Grant, there is a tremendous amount of truth in what you say. But can we temper it a little, jim harbaugh although brilliant is still a baby in coaching terms, in nfl coaching terms. Three years, thats it, three years! Bill Walsh (after all he is the man that all present and future 49er coaches will be judged against) had years at the bengals before hitting the heights of head coach, harbaugh had one year with the raiders, one year as an nfl assistant coach, he’s still learning, still perfecting his art, give him time, he’s done pretty well for a beginner after all. It will come he will succeed, the quest for six will reach a glorious conclusion. Then the seventh and ever onwards.

    Ok i admit im a bottle of wine to the good and, well i’m hoping for the best.

  15. Grant well said. This is a great example of an excellent post. Great Job and i wished you would write like this more often.

    I am just a football fan but on so many situations its frustrating to watch this team in the redzone and there is no creativity. Specially in a huge game like the Super Bowl or NFC championship with a very young QB. why not call a time out and really make sure to coach the QB about all his option:

    For example if its fire (all blitz) go to a check down underneath with a quick pass.

    or with 30 seconds left if you have a one on one coverage with crabtree and Sherman if you go for it you must throw it to the back of the end zone or pump fake to single coverage and then go to the open receiver on the other side. Colin has taken all the blame for losing the past two big games and he should. But to my opinion a great coach should understand the situation and help his young QB by making sure he is in the best position possible. Coach Harbaugh is a great coach and we are lucky to have him but hopefully he realizes losing the last two big games is partly his fault and he is hurting his QB/team.

    Grant, I also have a question for you, do you remember the first Qt of the AZ game how the offense was so creative and the play calling completely caught the AZ defense on their heels, and we scored 17 points! My question is who called those plays? was it really GROW? Somehow the play calling was much different than what i have seen before.

  16. Grant you and your Dad are exactly right. After all, he wrote a book on Bill Walsh. Yes their redzone offense is pathetic. Alex Smith was better at it than Colin. On the last play QPatton took a step back for a wide receiver screen. His DB back peddled to the goal line. A quick throw to Q and they meet half way at the 10. Q steps out of bounds. 40-30 seconds to go and two or one timeouts remaining if Q does not get out of bounds. VD was also open for the same pass underneath with quick timeout. 2nd down with 30 seconds to go on 10. From there 50-50 chance on Colin just running it in. I’d take that chance. Walsh never would have thrown a fade in Super Bowl or that pass ever in that situation because of low percentage of success. He would have thrown sideline or crossing pattern or tight- end. Worst case he would have let Colin win it with his feat. Apple does not fall far from the tree with Harbaughs guy at Stanford David Shaw who ran 4 times in a row in position to win Rosebowl with half field. So I believe it is a coaching philosophy which reminds me more of MidWest football Michigan Ohio State smash mouth than Walsh West Coast offense. Harbaugh needs to find a balance. Harbaugh lost Super Bowl and 2 NFC Championships in three years. David Shaw 1-2 in Bowl Games. Both guys better learn to attack with the pass to win big games like Walsh did.

    1. in the superbowl from the 5 yard line the fade pass was something i dont recall them throwing before all season..i certainly dont recall them completing such a pass…in the pass however, they had sucess in crucial situations lining 2 receiver right, and having the outside guy cut inside the inside receiver, who broke out…smith hit delanie walker for the winning score vs lions with such play, and hit crabtree for a td in the saints playoff game on such a play…they didnt call if for kaepernick..i suspect maybe they dont have confidence in his touch to make that throw…of course, maybe they felt the ravems defense could defend it better than the lions or saints did

  17. How much does playing 4 of their last 8 games against teams in the top 7 in red zone TD % factor into those numbers?

    1. It plays a part but they struggled converting red zone opportunities into td’s in some games that cost them or made the game tighter than it should have been.

      That’s why I questioned your opinion that it was a myth along with their playclock management.

      You can’t look at a season average to determine effectiveness in games against tougher competition.

  18. I would have just trusted from the 18 Colin running at least three times using those timeouts 50-50 he scores just with his legs. Or do you remember in the NFC Title game a year ago against the Falcons Colin running the read option to Frank and Frank runs it in with complete determination? What happened to the read option this year and this game? Would it have been appropriate in this situation? Weren’t we supposed to be the best at running it? Had We run it this year against the Seahawks? Are the 49ers and Harbaugh going to become the next Marv Levi and Buffalo Bills or Cincinati Bengals and Sam Wyche in Big Games! Is Colin Kapernick the new Steve DeBerg good enough to get there but not win the big game because he throws the big interception? is he Steve deBerg and going to strive to get “The Monkey off his Back,” and win the big game? Blasphemy! Yes Lowell and Grant you should further your friendship with Harbaugh and send him a copy of Bill Walsh’s book to re-read with a CC to David Shaw before its too late for both of them! I’m one of their biggest supporters and so was Bill who hired them at Stanford, but C’mon!!!!!

  19. It was vs Dallas. The 2nd 49er game in Harbaugh’s career.
    With a lead late in the 4th qtr. The 49ers kick a field goal to extend the lead.

    But wait…. Dallas commits a penalty. The 49ers have a 15 more yards and a new set of downs… in the red zone! Even if the 49ers failed to sore a TD, 4 more plays will chew major time off the the clock. The kick would be a chip shot and easily seal the victory. The game is in the bag.

    What? Harbaugh declines? The old “didn’t want to take points off the board” relic that died back in 1977? OK if its early in the game, but this late in the 4th qtr… when minutes are like air to a drowning Dallas team? (I was going bananas)

    Of course Dallas had one of its rare lucky days in their long “Romo Roulette” nightmare. He played great. The 49ers lost a squeaker game that actually had in the bag had they taken the 15 yards.

    Two weeks later, up 41-3 with 4 minutes left on 4th down, Harbaugh calls a long pass play to Josh Morgan. Morgan gets hurt. Out for the year…. which leads to Ginn playing more WR… which leads Ginn getting hurt vs Seattle near the end of the season… with leads to Kyle Williams catching punts. We know how that story ended.

    So… I love Harbs. Glad he’s the coach. Don;t want anything else. But he does have some kind of electrical storm in his head late in games. Drives me nuts.

    1. I was at that game Brodie and I shook my head in disbelief when he accepted the penalty on the kickoff instead of taking the points off the board…it definitely became a pattern and it’s frustrating to watch sometimes

    2. good one Brodie! It reminds me of the Direct TV commercials. “If you have cable you get depress, and when you’re depress…”

    3. Not to pile on a bit, but…

      Another pattern seems to be the 49ers coaching staff not recognizing soon enough when a player is having a terrible game.

      Kyle Williams kills a promising drive after having an uncontested fumble on a reverse. He stays in the game. Then he turns the ball over on another punt. The coaches keep playing him. The he fumbles again. The game is over.

      Sunday Kapernick didn’t see the pass rusher and fumbles. On the next drive he failed to see underneath coverage to his left (now becoming quite a playoff tradition) and turns the ball over again. On the very next drive, on the 18, 37 seconds left, first down, two times outs, Harbaugh doesn’t call CK over to give him the same advice Walsh gave Montana before sprint-right-option…

      “Throw it if he’s wide open. If not, throw it away.”

  20. Yep, I agree with the criticims. Harbough plays by his gut feeling. He’s not a real thoughtful or cerebral sort of guy……unlike Walsh. I’m not sure we can coach him to change that. Emotion is an important part of his game and our 49ers played with LOTS of that in their NFC contest. Great!
    Sharpening Harbs (& Roman’s, if he stays) contemplative and analytical skills would seem to be in order. Noticing things about the situation we’re in that can be exploited. Those always exist and without taking the time outs to notice, reflect on these, sometimes one looses control of the game flow.

  21. Great Article Grant. One of your best. Creative and on the money.

    The 9ers are a collection of great players and talent that is a lot of fun to watch, but they are not yet closers. I really like the Beats commercial too, but Kap is not yet a closer.

  22. The 49ers problems in the red zone stem from 2 different problems, the first affecting the 2nd. Kap doesn’t read defenses, or go through his progressions quickly enough. This affects his ability to throw a receiver open instead of waiting for him to get open. The spacing in the red zone doesn’t allow for a QB to hold onto the ball as long.

    The 2nd problem in my opinion is that we used to be able to run the football regardless of the defensive alignment. We just aren’t as physical running the football as we were a couple of seasons ago. Defenses are stacking the line and daring Kap to throw, just like they did against Alex Smith. The difference was we could still pound the the ball against those fronts with success, and that would eventually force the defense to bring the secondary closer to the line of scrimmage. Then we could run downfield routes more effectively with the safeties playing up. We need to get back to a more physical offense and that would give Kap time to grow a bit.

  23. The 49ers problems in the red zone stem from 2 different problems, the first affecting the 2nd. Kap doesn’t read defenses, or go through his progressions quickly enough. This affects his ability to throw a receiver open instead of waiting for him to get open. The spacing in the red zone doesn’t allow for a QB to hold onto the ball as long.

    The 2nd problem in my opinion is that we used to be able to run the football regardless of the defensive alignment. We just aren’t as physical running the football as we were a couple of seasons ago. Defenses are stacking the line and daring Kap to throw, just like they did against Alex Smith. The difference was we could still pound the the ball against those fronts with success, and that would eventually force the defense to bring the secondary closer to the line of scrimmage. Then we could run downfield routes more effectively with the safeties playing up. We need to get back to a more physical offense and that would give Kap time to grow a bit.

    1. Simple. When defenses stack the middle you spread out your line to create space, not stack them in a bunch. Roman still hasn’t figure that out yet either.

  24. Best article yet on the status of the 49ers. Greg Roman is a good college coach but is lost in the pass-oriented NFL. He is simply incapable of developing a creative pass scheme a la Walsh. His addiction to Frank Gore up the middle on first down is becoming pathetic and he’s probably the only one who doesn’t notice. Harbaugh is a great coach but a terrible time manager in crunch time. Jed York should FORCE these two “geniuses” to sit down and study two 49er drives in history: the first against Dallas in the NFC Championship game in 1981, and the second the great final drive vs. Cincinnati in the Super Bowl. Had we had just a coach who knew how to manage the clock, we would have two more Super Bowl victories in our trophy case. Wake up Jed and put the pressure on these two coaches to go to school and study. ..

  25. Is the genius behind the possible Mangini move to quarterbacks coach based on him being able to help Kaepernick with his defensive reads?

    1. That was what Maiocco suggested… could be right. But surely he can help with that as an offensive assistant as well. Call me crazy but I’d much prefer a QB coach that can coach the fundamentals of the QB position.

    1. He’s like a bill cowher. He needs great coordinators around him, yet his offensive one has failed on many levels. I worry he rides the wave but get trampled by a maverick. Hire kubiac!!!!

    2. I am no longer going to bash, the Pillsbury DoughBoy Yes man Greg Roman without putting Harbaugh in the same sentence. As the saying goes, it Rots from the Top.

  26. Grant – I agree. The 49ers were less than efficient in the red zone this past season. I think the team needs to get out of this mode of coming down to the last drive or play of the game. Remember the good old days when the 49ers had a 14 or 21 point lead in the 4th quarter? My blood pressure was lower during those times. The whole “cardiac kids” thing is WAY overrated. I think the existing coaching staff and team roster is capable of turning this around…but I think Kaepernick needs to spend more time in the classroom and film room. I think he is a championship QB, but he needs to work on his progressions. I don’t even have a problem with him running when it is there. The bottom line – take what the defense gives you; no need to force things to a single receiver (i.e. Crabtree).

  27. The 49er team is just like their head coaches Professional Football Carrier…..a yard short. In the Pro’s Harbaugh was a serious scrapper but was always a play or a yard short of the trophy. Buffalo Bills….Eagles, great teams but always just short……..The new 49ers??????

  28. Considering one of managements biggest priorities is resigning Harbaugh isn’t this article going overboard, like, a lot? Yes niners need to improve in red zone, yes Kap needs to grow a qb, but hucking these coaches under the bus is blasphemy. To say if we don’t win the Super Bowl the coaches should essentially be fired is completely absurd. Teams would be tripping all over themselves to secure Harbaugh and staff. Grant writes articles just to incite responses. C’mon man.

    1. Most 49ers fans would take it, but when you lose your last game in the playoffs everything is on the table for improvement.

      1. As everyone knows only one team each year gets to win their last playoff game. Being in the chase every year, or even most years is as good as it gets. Enjoy.

    2. He may be a Harbaugh hater but he is still right. Harbaugh has gotten that “who is dumber than me” deer-in-the-headlights look all too often during clutch time. I never saw Walsh make a dumb mistake like that amateurish final drive. 3 minutes and 3 timeouts, including several spikes if we wanted to use them. Walsh would have kneeled down with Montana or Young and told them what he wanted. Poor Kaepernick doesn’t get the advantage of great coaching and is forced to rush into a helter skelter pathetic offense at crunch time. Harbaugh needs to study film on Walsh…FAST!

  29. I agree with the theme of this post, and it definitely feels like the 9ers are horrible in the red zone. But similar to Jack, I wonder if the stats you picked have bias in them. Specifically, is there a way to see how the 49ers red zone success was compared to the other defensive stands the teams they played had? That would show if they were outperforming the rest of the league early in the season, and underperforming the last 8 games.

    Also, I wonder why you picked Kaps stats inside the 10 – was he much better from 10-20? How big are those samples/vs what teams?

    Again, this is definitely somewhere I want better performance, but I can’t tell from this column if that means I want the 49ers to move up to average or from average to league best.

  30. Hey Grant, How bout them cowboys! Yeeeeaaaaahhhh! !!!
    You troll niner fans because your really a cowboy fan..
    Worse writer ever, second best troll ever.

  31. So I see the NFL fined Sherman $7800.00. Really? Why bother? That’s not going to get anyone’s attention. If that’s their plan they should have just shined the whole thing on. Heck, if they wanted to punish him they could’ve fined him $1.00 but banned him from speaking to the Media during SB Week. THAT he would appeal!

    1. Tuna that was a joke! I would suspend his sorry arse for at least one game without pay and see how fast he would change.

    1. jack ..
      this guy would make a good lawyer for Sherman ..
      after reading this piece .. my first thought was …

      Sherm wouldn’t want me on that jury

  32. MW,

    He states that Sherman was wrong, and is pointing the finger at some fans reaction here, “If one scans the wording, it is obvious that some of the criticism of Sherman is rooted in blatant racism. But some of it also seems to stem from a subtle racism. When a white player talks trash, he is considered quirky and cool. But if that same smack comes from a black player with dreadlocks and a snarl, he is a cretin? Sherman didn’t say anything that hasn’t once been said by the likes of Larry Bird and John McEnroe, yet nobody ever called them a thug.”

    Some of the stuff on social media like Twitter and Facebook was really bad. Take a look at some of the comments from this site alone.

    “Richard Sherman is ghetto trash”

    “That classless, low-life, ghetto BS will come back and haunt Sherman at some point.”

    “He’s a bottom feeder punk from one of the worst ghettos in our country and he acts like it.”

    “Sherman does it because he is just a crappy human being.”

    “…and Dick Sherman is a classless thug.”

    1. “But in his comments later, he was simply the embodiment of his sport. He was a symbol of the mindless recklessness required to play a game that will likely scar him for life, and the dark motivation often necessary to summon that swagger.”

      1. He wasn’t the embodiment of the sport, he was an a$$hole.
      2. He wasn’t a symbol of mindless recklessness, which is not required to play or conducive to winning football. His made a terrific play, which is a symbol of preparation and hard work, not mindless recklessness.
      3. He isn’t some victim. The game may scar him for life, but that is his choosing. He’s making that trade off for millions of dollars and fame. How many times have you heard a player that is basically crippled at 45 say “I’d do it all over again.” The ones that play victim are the usually ones that blew their money.
      4. Dark motivation? That’s a fancy word for money.
      5. Swagger? Swagger is complete confidence in your abilities. Sherman just acted like a jerk and detracted from his teams victory. T.O. had swagger and crossed the line into jerk territory when he danced on the Cowboys logo-twice! It was about him, not the team. I’ll never forget Derrick Deese running out to back up T.O., only for Owens to jump up and start acting like an idiot again while Deese was still dealing with the Cowboys players. Sunday was all about Sherman.

    2. yeah .. jack … I get all that ..

      and, yeah ..if you go to and
      click on any story about him … scroll down
      and read the hundreds of comments posted there..
      everything you’ve said above … (and worse)..
      is posted there ..
      but …
      someone (here) posted the link which includes
      what he actually said to Crabtree after Sherm made the play ..
      and one would think that Crabs is the one who
      probably would be responsible for Sherm’s
      post-game rant … but, I question what happened before that ?

      I saw Sherm in Crabs face .. all game long …
      what was he saying to Crabs ?

      Sure … Crabs shouldn’t have pushed him in the face..
      but something tells me, Crabs had had enough of Sherm ..
      by the end of the game…

      Whether or not Sherm is a thug … I dunno …
      (I don’t know him) … but .. his directing the “choking”
      sign at Kaep tells me that Sherm is an unprofessional
      player …

      Bottom line … I don’t like Sherm … and
      I don’t care what color he is

      I didn’t like Romanowski (when he was a Raider), either

      Since the SeaChickens had so many players busted
      for PEDs … my thought after watching his rant was ..
      ” ‘roid-rage” ..

      I still think so

      1. MWN,
        Good points.
        And to add to that, how many times do we see players shaking another players hand before the game is over?
        Congratulations are usually saved until there’s a few seconds left on the clock or when the game is over.

        Sherman offering his hand to Crabtree after the INT seemed to have more to do with him making a good play and wanting Crabtree to agree with that rather than congratulating Crabtree for a good game.

        Like I said last Tuesday, these teams will be meeting two times a season and there will certainly be scores to settle in those games.
        Losing a game that the 49ers felt they could have won along with Sherman’ antics will weigh on the 49ers players minds during the offseason.

        I’m already looking forward to these teams playing each next season.
        This rivalry is far from over!

      2. What’s interesting about that final sequence with Sherman is what he said to the other DB’s on the sidelines before even going onto the field.

        Paraphrasing, “They’re going to come my way on this series.”

        It’s ok that you don’t like his act, which is what all the talking he does is about, that dislike fuels the rivalry and is part of what makes it what it is.

  33. gotta disagree to some degree Grant….the problem is as much execution as it is calls…
    as far as calling a time out after the pass to VD with 50 secs left, remember that a time out also gives the seahawks a chance to regroup and call defensive plays or substitute….
    the main problem was that kaepernick is not a touch passer and the closer you get to the goalline the less effective his strong arm becomes…it can be a hinderence, witness his 1st pick in the game vs seahawks in September when he bounced a laser pass off a receiver, ball went up into the air and got picked

    1. Mark, you make a great point! Ck currently does not have the skill to throw a soft pass and to throw the fade you need to take a little off the ball with more arch in the trajectory of the pass. That pass was so close. I watched it over 20 times and man CK almost had it. Just a few inches and Crabtree would had a TD despite the coverage by Sherman. Game of inches, what a shame.

      1. Chicago,
        The frustrating thing is that I think about 99% of people would walk up to the line and think to themselves “Sherman….that’s not where I should go with the ball.”

      2. Yes BigP, This is one of the reasons that i like CK. He has the mojo and the courage to go for a big play. Now if he just was a little more accurate or put just a bit more touch on the pass he would have become a historical Icon for bringing our team back to beat Seattle at home. He also needs to become more aware of the game time situation rather than always going for the kill! I personally believe Ck and Crabtree wanted to go after Sherman for all the trash talking which makes this even worse.

  34. in my view the jury is still out on kaepernick—i think alot of fans look at an occasional play he makes showing off great athletic skills, and ignore the other plays where he fails to make a read, locks on to a receiver or doesnt seem to understand the game situation (like going out of bounds when niners are trying to milk the clock to protect a lead)..
    there is alot more to playing qb than the physical part
    As a niners fan id be willing to trade off a bit of the running kaepernick can do for a more competent passing game

    1. Hey Mark.
      These were my concerns with Kaep last year and this year. He holds the promise of running a dynamic & exciting offense, but right now he’s not there as a complete QB. A lot of people thinks he’s special, and while on the surface it looks like he is, I think the results of this full year shows he’s just another version of Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. He’s a highlight reel and that’s it. Take away his running ability and he’s in the bottom half of the league.

      We use to criticize Alex Smith because his limitations prevented the team from stretching the field. Now Colin is in the same situation, but for different reasons. Alex showed in KC he’s not as average as he thought. Now we need Colin to show us that he read the defense, go through progressions, and then run as a last resort.

      I think the coaches know all of these, and are trying to help him develop. The bigger question isn’t red zone deficiency, it’s whether Harbaugh really is a quarterback whisperer.

      Alex Smith showed promise under Norv Turner, his first year, and then the wheels fell off. Time will tell what happens to Colin..

  35. Fan77,
    “This year was different, because the Niners didn’t base their offense around the Read/Option, which forced Kaep into a more traditional QB.

    So it’s body of work to use a barometer of the type of QB is. Colin has a lot of potential and upside, there’s no denying that.”

    How many QB’ do you know have the wherewithal to change their read/option run style to a more traditional (pocket QB) during the season and still make a run through the playoffs and get 1 game from the SB?

    CK had has struggles this season having to make adjustments to become more of a pocket QB as well as learn to be patient in the pocket to make his progressions.
    But he still had enough raw talent to make this team a SB contender.

    And yes, his stats declined over lasts years numbers but that should have been a given considering the adjustments he was asked to make.
    Now, if Kaep’ stats continue to drop next season, than there is cause for concern.
    But I believe that CK will continue to grow as a pocket QB while still keeping this team in playoff and even SB contention.

    1. AES, well said. Its funny how anti CK fans make statements that are contradictory! First of Ck has not been in the league for 4 years like it was mentioned earlier. This was his 1.5 season as the starting QB and we still had a Super Bowl and a NFC championship appearance and came up short just one play away from winning the big game or beating the Seahawks at home to go back to the Super Bowl. In both games our defense choked in big situations as well where the opposing defenses showed up!

      Whats even more interesting, FAN states that CK took the NFL by surprise in his first season but then he had to adjust to a more conventional NFL offensive system this year. Ok so if that is the case then Colin truly has only played in a conventional NFL offense without his starting WR just one season so he is still learning how to become a pocket passer! I personally believe CK improved during the season as a pocket passer by going through his progression, using pump fakes, setting his feet and moving or stepping in the pocket to deliver the ball. Now is Colin a complete pocket passer at this point of his career? NO he is not. He is not consistent with his throwing mechanics, setting his feet, going through his progression and adjusting his decisions based on the game time situation. So who needs to take responsibility for some of this inconsistency? I think coaching staff and some of the key leaders on the team should take the burden of the responsibility as well. He completely gained my respect for coming to the media and taking all the blame for losing the game! Yes, he did not point fingers to any of his team members or coaches and took the burden of the lost on his shoulders. I respect Colin as a competitor to do what he did. Did you guys watch RGIII and his lack of accountability and how he threw his coaches under the bus.

      Just like you i am not sure if Colin will become the next franchise QB for our organization however based on what i have seen so far it would be crazy for us to make a change without giving him a good chance to develop. Trent and Jim H should continue to search for more options since we will need a back up QB anyway and meanwhile the coaching staff should work with Colin to help him to improve. GO NINERS

  36. It’s simple. Roman is the problem. The only problem with harbaugh is that he still keeps roman around. Harbaugh is the head coach yeah obvious, but he’s not a coordinator. This offense has not evolved in 3 years and that is not Kaps fault. Roman has no creativity, no killer instinct or any common sense.

    What happened to bootlegs or screens? They work against aggressive defenses. They ran 5 screens all year like wtf? Kap needs a new qb coach and coordinator. All those stupid pointless shifts and trick plays don’t work. Just line up and run a play!

    1. Troll, you have a point about not running screens. Ull tell you why we dont:

      Gore cant catch! Why do you think he is known for his PASS BLOCKING???? ’cause he never runs patterns. he always stays and blocks…..’cause he dosent catch the ball very well. I agree, screens are a big part of the game! A QB should be able to amass 50 yards a game with 4-5 easy screen passes. Kap dosent reap these benefits…..Ill touch on that later.

      We also dont have any pass catchers over 6’1 or 6’2……not one. ( dont mention Baldwin, he played like 10 snaps all year) other teams have TE’s that are 6’4 or taller. and there are many 6’4 or taller Wr’s in the league too. But not on our team. THIS IS THE TRUE RED ZONE KILLER!!!! Im drooling of guys in the draft like Evans and Benjamin…..both 6’5! And theres another kid thats 6’6! We need tall guys not just for the red zone…..but to beat Seattle!

      We also suffer from not having a speed guy, home run threat. We have VD, but hes a TE. It would be nice to have some speed AND size on the outside!

      The point im making: Kap dosent rip of big passing yardage #’s ’cause:

      we dont take advantage of the screen game ( 50 yards a game)
      no deep threats outside of VD
      No big targets in the red zone (6’4 or bigger)

      to me, this is a personnel problem. We need to acquire some weapons that fit specific roles.

      Criticize roman if you will, but hes no Jimmy Ray

      1. another reason kaeprnick dpesnt put up big passing numbers is because he is stil unrefined as a passer…i think a valid argement could be made that a guy like carlos hyde would add as much to the niners offense as would a speed receiver or a tall receiver, because (1) at heart, the power run game is still the basic of the niners offense, and may well be as long as harbaugh and roman are running things, (2) kaeprnick may not be ready to bring out the talents of a young receiver…especially if he has boldin, crabtree and davis

        lots of criticsm was heaped on guys like mcdonald patton and baldwin because of their lack of production, but that was in part due to kaeprnicks seeming reluctance to give them many chances (well ok baldwin stinks, but patton and mcdonald look to have skills)

      2. Mark, i agree that power running isnt going anywhere. As for Mcdonald and patton, i like both players. Patton missed most of the year. I hope he breaks out next season.
        Mcdonald needs to be more consistent. I heard his blocking DRASTICALLY improved as the season went on. However, my memory of him dropping that pass against Carolina ( wk 9) on a seem route, wide open, was my lasting memory of him this season. I think he will get better. VD couldnt catch either as a young player.

        Above, i mentioned my wish list. At the very top are 6’5 WR’s with speed. But i also would love to see a big, punishing Running back. A guy who weighs 225+ !!
        Someone to punish defenses! Someone you have to gang tackle! A guy like that would open things up down field and on the outside.

      3. I understand the attraction of guys like Evans and Benjamin, that sort of size and speed combo is impressive, but if you watch them play neither guy is really that good a receiver. I imagine both guys will be dangerous downfield targets and red-zone targets at the NFL level simply due to their physical attributes, but I don’t think either guy will be a consistent player.

        I wouldn’t use a 1st rounder on either guy. If you want big-bodied WRs I prefer Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews. Robinson looks a bit like Crabtree with his quick feet and run-after-catch ability, as well as willingness to make tough catches. Matthews is probably a little less athletically gifted but he has strong hands, knows how to use his big frame, runs good routes, and you won’t find a guy that is a harder worker. I think both of these guys are more likely to be consistent, move-the-chains WRs with some big play ability.

        1. Don’t the 49ers have enough move-the-chains WRs? Crabtree and Patton are two. If Boldin comes back, that’s three.

      4. Scooter,

        It will be interesting to watch how Evans and Benjamin perform at the combine. Neither seems to be a quick burst guy and that is so important for NFL WR’s.

      5. Exactly Jack. They both look very straight-linish to me, with build up speed. They’ll be useful to clear out the underneath areas and will likely be dangerous on downfield throws where they can use their frame to get above the defender. Vincent Jackson has made a living out of it, so they can be good players. But for every Vincent Jackson there are 10 Jon Baldwin’s. The risk isn’t worth a 1st rounder in my book.

      6. Not really a good comparison with Jeffrey. Jeffrey is a big guy but measured 6’3″, 216 lbs at the combine. He’s not the same big, bulked-up athlete as Evans and Benjamin. He’s also a legitimate sub-4.5 guy, and is a more coordinated athlete overall. Very good at contorting his body to make the catch. The only thing I didn’t like about him when he came out were concerns regarding his attitude/ commitment – turns out they were overblown and the 49ers should have drafted him.

        Now I’m not saying Evans and Benjamin won’t turn out to be good. I just think they are very high risk, and other options may be wiser.

        Regarding having enough possession type WRs, I didn’t call either Robinson or Matthews possession WRs. They aren’t. They can attack all levels of the field. They are guys that you can rely on to make tough catches and move the chains, but also have the ability to get downfield and make a play, or turn a short catch into a big play, and have the size to be good red zone targets. They are well rounded WRs. With Boldin maybe gone, and Crabtree in his final year, they need to be thinking of complete WRs.

      7. It does seem like a good overall crop of receiver’s to be developed. So far I like (no order):
        Mathews, Adams, Beckham, Evans. Davis of Texas is OK. Benjamin, sure. Norwood, Lee. The young man from Clemson ain’t bad, but SF won’t see hide nor hair of him. Many a speedy smurf mid to late.

      8. Jack and grant make good points. Scooter, i dont watch a lot of college football. I only get to know these kids leading up to the draft and so i cannot argue your assessment. and i get the skepticism about using a 1st round pick on another “john Baldwin”. But as Grant pointed out, we have enough gritty chain movers. We need field stretchers! Guys that can beat Sherman, Browner and Chancelor in a jump ball scenario too. You gotta draft those type of guys, they dont hit the free agent market very often…..and if they do…….they COST BIG $$$$$$$.

        As jack pointed out….it will be real interesting to see how these guys measure up at the combine!

  37. Jack Hammer, do you have any incite into why the 49ers, CK and Gore, have so many plays where CK looks for Gore on one side and Gore has gone to the other side? They do it so often that it seems like it’s a designed play.

      1. I saw my first football game about 70 years ago, and that’s a little after the T formation came into being. I’d say it’s happened to the 49ers more this year than it did the first two years with Harbaugh, and more in those three years than my entire football experience. What’s even stranger is that so far they haven’t suffered for it given how often it happens.

    1. No special insight needed it’s just a blunder the real question is, who’s making the mistake. Is Kaep turning the wrong way on the fake or is Gore running to the wrong side. There is no play action play where the QB is designed to fake it to thin air, if the running back isn’t there it’s because he ran the wrong direction or the QB faked the wrong way.

      This kind of mistake is high school level tomfoolery and frankly makes the coaches look bad.

  38. Guys, sure the last throw could have been better, but you guys are missing few things.
    1. Our OL got completely dominated. No scheme or play call around this fact.
    2. You call a play based on the defense you see. In press coverage you have to go to a fade pass with the WR covered one on one. Over the shoulder or deep to the corner depending on the aggressiveness of the DB play. So you can’t compare this game with another game.
    3. Not sure why people want to take a time out at that point? They knew what they wanted and they got the play off. The execution wasn’t perfect but they knew they had a better shot of a TD from the 18 than say the 8.
    4. Had we scored, we would have been up by only 1, so you don’t want to leave to much time on the clock.

    Grant, now that the season is over do you still think the Niners capitulated at the end because of lack of good corner back play? You said that will hold us back at the start of the season and now all of a sudden we don’t lack talent but coaching. How ironic …

  39. Guys, sure the last throw could have been better, but you guys are missing few things.
    1. Our OL got completely dominated. No scheme or play call around this fact.
    2. You call a play based on the defense you see. In press coverage you have to go to a fade pass with the WR covered one on one. Over the shoulder or deep to the corner depending on the aggressiveness of the DB play. So you can’t compare this game with another game.
    3. Not sure why people want to take a time out at that point? They knew what they wanted and they got the play off. The execution wasn’t perfect but they knew they had a better shot of a TD from the 18 than say the 8.
    4. Had we scored, we would have been up by only 1, so you don’t want to leave to much time on the clock.
    Grant, now that the season is over do you still think the 49ers season capitulated at the end because of lack of good corner back play? You said that will hold us back at the start of the season and now all of a sudden we don’t lack talent but coaching. How ironic …

      1. Davis was pushed back into him on the last play. He got the pass off but the time he had wasn’t ample. Maybe he would have had ample time if he had gotten it off a hair sooner.

  40. I blame Jed. What the hell is he thinking hiring this college coach. He was supposed to change the culture of this franchise after years of misery. But no, that a hole drafted a QB in the 2nd round and not in the 1st round. Has he not seen Alex played? And of top of that he took the team to the NFCCG in his 1st year! What a lucky b@$t@rd! We were suppose to suck to get luck the following year. Now three years have passed and we have accomplished nothing. Who wants to be in a NFCCG game 3 yrs in a row? Jed better get rid of this guy and start over again. Three years and no super bowl trophy. That is not acceptable and the fans deserve better. So Jed if you’re listening, please do the right thing.

    1. LOL, yes the glass is half empty right now after three incredible seasons. I love this fan base for having high expectations but any changes in coaching staff would be a potential disaster!!! All we need is a few changes and more production in the red zone for our offense. And don’t forget our defense, we can definitely improve defensively with more physical and speed pass rushers.

  41. Mark, the last play he was being pressured. Just to answer your question he was hurried or pressured more than 11 times during drop back to pass, and mostly from the right side. It was by design since the Seahawks didn’t want him to roll out to his right.

  42. Mark, the last play he was being pressured. Just to answer your question he was hurried or pressured more than 11 times during drop back to pass, and mostly from the right side. It was by design since the Sea hawks didn’t want him to roll out to his right.

    1. Well if Colin had developed as a pocket QB, he could have thrown the pass away to the left, or fired it to Patton. I’ve been watching some of the All-22 and Colin really is a running QB first. He’s going to take off and run instead of stepping up in the pocket and going through his progressions. In the first Quarter he was pressured, he steps up and runs. That’s his instinct. There was a great pick pick to Boobie Dixon running off into the flat and he didn’t pass it. he had LMJ sprinting down the sideline with a step on the LB with no safety and he didn’t throw it.
      That’s who he is right now.

      1. Fan,
        You may be right regarding CK being a running QB. Truth be told, he should have been used as a runner a little more against the c-hawks in the 2nd half and perhaps we’re preparing our food menu’s or SB plans for a 49er vs Broncos matchup.

        CK ran for 130 yrds against the hawks with most of those yards coming in the 1st half.
        It baffles me that they (game plan) went away from that in the 2nd half, but what’s done is done.

      2. AES,
        Some more all-22 details,
        Kaep couldn’t scramble because the Seattle defense adjusted. The critical series was the 2nd one in the 3rd quarter. After the touchdown pass to boldin, Seattle answered with a long return, but they were held to a field goal, at that point the rhythm of the game was set. Seattle has been in every game this year, so they are more mentally tough then I give them credit for,
        So the niners have that ball and they go 3 and out. First it was a short run, and then a pass to vd that he dropped, and then kaep feels pressures and scrambles. This was more on roman’s play calling then Kaepernick What was telling was the 3rd down pass. Seattle pressures, and the two linebackers spy kap’s immediately. The whole game kaep had running backs underneath but he never passed to them, so the linebackers just watched kaep. The pressure came fast and instead of going to his read to bolden running a slant, he tries to avoide pressure then makes a rushed throw to crabs.
        This has been going on the whole year so that’s nothing new.
        Either the team is not coaching him right, or they are but that’s what his instincts tell him to do.
        It will be interesting next year to see if he’s willing to stand in there more often and take that lick. You know he really needs to learn from Kurt Warner. He would stand in there at the last possible moments and then flick a pass,
        The problem is kaep has that big wind-up.
        So he’s got a lot of work head of him.
        I know people want to make kaep seems special because this is only his 2nd Hera, but Marino looked liked a pro passer in his 2nd year and he was only 24. Rodgers looked ready in his first year too.
        Remember when kaep came around in he beginning of last year? Harbaugh said kaep was a weapon and they plan to use him.
        Maybe that was the best role for kaep after all. Because to be a qb it’s 60 full minutes and eventually his limited passing ability gets exposed.

  43. simple question , ak you father if you dont know. how many teams have since the bill walsh era been ranked last int he nfl in passing , won the super bowl?
    49ers vs Giants ( 1 third down in the second half -alex smith, super bowl, cant socre int he red zone, 4 incomplete passes in the red zone ( ray lewis said the ravens KNEW Kap could not beat them with his passing), vs Seattle 3 turnovers in the 2nd half) But for the incredible amount of probowlers on this team , this team doesnt make the playoffs with such miserable passing offense. Simple math Harbaugh NFL = what the tv moguls wants. tv moguls want qb throwing to wrs. Game is slanted and will be slanted this way form now on. If you cant pass you cant win a SB. PERIOD! ( no we didnt have a super duper great with a g , wonderful awesome , best since mankind was ever created, and whatever childish sarcastic asinine hyperbole you can think of, year. the thought Magini was to be qb coach if Roman left is nauseating. think Bill Walsh, Marrucci, norv turner, Holmgren or shanahan would agree?)

  44. Grant I disagree with you that the 49ers have the most talent in the NFL. I believe that they might be the most talented team outside of back up QB and O line. I believe the O line was over rated all year and got beat at the point of attack regularly by good defenses. I believe that Frank Gores less than outstanding numbers after you subtract his big runs was a product of terribly inconsistent run blocking rather than Gore losing a step. As to who they should draft, its ridiculous to make guesses until the FA period is over. I do feel regardless of what they do they need to up grade at O line.
    Now I agree with you that Harbaugh has to share in the blame for the last play but they shouldn’t have taken a time out, he should have had CK spike the ball it would have left approx. 40 seconds on the clock. It would have given Rombaugh time to call a play and communicate with CK and would have left 2 time outs in case they wanted to run the ball twice. So Grant even you would have played the last play wrong and you had a week to think about it with no more pressure than your Pops looking over your shoulder. imho

      1. I would be happy with Josh McCown or Dan Orlovsky and it would be nice if Jim Harbaugh would add George Jr Whitfield to the staff to work specifically with Colin.

      2. Orlovsky? Shouldn’t the mentor be someone who has actually played?

        I like McCown as a backup though.

        I doubt a guy like Whitfield would want to deal with the coaching grind, but couldn’t hurt for Kaepernick to spend some time working out with him this offseason.

      3. Cam and Luck both worked with him. I am sure if 49ers offer him a good pay on part time bases or at least just the off season he would be all over it since is good marketing for him. Also, CK has to buckle down this off season and focus on his opportunities like Brent Jones mentioned in his interview.

      1. Prime if the 9ers extend CK in the off season I agree he needs a mentor but if they don’t renegotiate that means they will be drafting competition and a possible replacement.

    1. I’ve been reviewing Fales’ film, I must admit I was impressed. The concerns regarding his arm strength are valid, but he has enough arm strength to get it in there on intermediate routes. His deep balls sail a bit, but so long as he is putting it where only his WR has a chance to make a play its not that big an issue. He’s definitely worth looking at.

    2. Watched the Senior bowl to see the two California QBs in action and they did not disappoint! I think Fales would have had two touch downs in that game if not for the trick play called in from the sidelines. WR tosses a floater across field; of course it is going to be picked.
      Fales had one deep throw with not enough on it that resulted in his interception proving that he can have trouble with deep balls. But then, just to disprove the critics, came back later to put a nice long on target one down field.
      Keep in mind that defenses often rule in the Senior Bowl. Rotating QBs, no film to study, no serious game planning, little time for player QB WR cohesion, etc. So for Fales and Carr to do what they did, in my opinion, speaks volumes. Thanks McCarron for declining the invite. Two that showed and shined just got pay raises in their upcoming pro careers.

      1. He is the best of the best. I love his humble attitude and the belief to just go and play. All this trash talking is getting boring.

  45. Imo Niners Red Zone problems and short passing game problems are related. It’s why so often our best 3rd and 5 to 9 yrds for a first down is a Kap run. Last play Kap had maybe 2.5 to 3 seconds to throw. Its not wrong to want to throw to your wrec in single coverage; only wrong to throw when he was NEVER open and other options were available. Coaches and Kap have to learn it. There was time…..and still is. Go Niners 2014-2015!

    1. Even the great Joe Montana said Kap has to get use to throwing to covered recievers. It’s the NFL, guys are rarely WIDE open. That’s what makes Brees, Brady, & Manning so great is where they put the ball. If Kap throws that ball earlier and it goes over crabs shoulder so he can run under it, it’s perfect. OR If he throws it to the back pylon, it’s perfect. It’s not that fact Crab wasn’t open, it’s Kap under threw the ball.

      1. Yep. I hate to say, “There’s always next year.” I’m the grand scheme, we’re a young team. We have minor problems that need to be addressed and we’ll get ours. I’m confident we have learned. Kaps second full season I expect a lot more.

  46. Coulda shoulda woulda’s are great.

    If Vance McDonald catches that long pass against the Panthers we win … and have home field throughout the playoffs … or, if Frank Gore catches that pass against New Orleans, or if the refs don’t throw the flag for the hit on Brees– we win that game and also clinch home field.

    1. Yah but we still end up in the championship game and were leading 10-0. The team failed in all areas, Offense, defense and special teams. So ultimately the coaching staff failed as well.

  47. I agree with this. I said it all year to anyone that would listen. We need to score touchdowns in the redzone. It comes to a point were it’s almost enbarrassing we can’t cross that line with all of the talent we have. Greg Roman & Jim have got to do something about kicking field goals every time we are in the red zone.

    1. Crabtree was blanketed. Hunter was wide open with a short easy pass and Hunter probably would have scored. Bad decision by Kap.

  48. Our passing offense is a poor scheme and Roman isn’t a good OC. Can’t adjust, poor in the passing game. They should hire a creative passing game OC such as: Linehan, Hue Jackson, Shanahan, etc, etc.

  49. So I’m at a fundraiser tonight and one of the silent auction items is a Seahawks helmet. Would it be wrong to grab it, smash it and then urinate on it? Just asking.

    1. You have almost the right idea Prime. Just set it upside down in your guest bath toilet, perhaps with a bullseye painted on the inside.

  50. Sure, they need to get better in the red zone, but let’s not go overboard here. It is very easy to analyze this after the fact, but the Niners had a well designed and well executed play on the pass to Crabtree. If the ball is 6 inches higher, we are singing the praises of the coaches for NOT getting in the way of the momentum of the drive and keeping Seattle’s defense off kilter.

    Statistically, it is obvious that the Niners need to improve in the red zone, but all this talk about how the coaches blew it on the last drive by not calling all their time outs is over the top. Last year, if Kap puts a little air under the ball (and Crab isn’t grabbed by the defender–or if that grab is called and the Niners have 1st and goal fro the 1) we win the Super Bowl. This year, it’s six inches on a pass. Two plays, both close, and we’re killing the coaches?

    1. Kap once again locked onto Crabtree, just as he did last year in the end zone. Kap had 3 other options on that last play. Patton was wide open at the line of scrimmage. Vernon Davis was open underneath and Boldin was in the end zone w/ no one in front of him. We also had two timeouts left. We lost 4 points on our 1st possession. If we had scored a TD on our 1st drive that started on their 15 – we would have only been down by 2 on our final drive. Sure would have loved to be able to kick a field goal and win by 1 instead of HAVE to score a TD and throw a pick.

      1. Now you are being plain silly. If the Niners had scored a TD on the first drive, every subsequent decision made by both Harbaugh and Carroll would have been different. The game would not have unfolded the same way.

        Just one example: Harbaugh probably does no go for it on 4th and 1 if he is leading 7-0 instead of 3-0. He would have kicked a FG t0 go up 10-0

        Also Carroll probably does not try and punch it in on 4th and goal from the 1 if he is behind by 1 instead of leading by 3.

        The game would have unfolded in an entirely different way if the Niners had punched it in on the first drive. The 4 points left on the table were not the reason for the loss. The big play allowed by the punt coverage team in the third quarter, the defensive lapse on Lynch’s big run, Carlos Rogers whiffing on the TD throw to Kearse, and Kap’s three turovers in the 4th quarter are the reason for the loss.

  51. Three(!) people voted for Stephen Morris…really??? That guy is AWFUL. Nearly as bad as Jacory Harris, the scrub that started at Miami before him.

  52. Fantastic article! Grant: You forgot to mention that 3 years ago, David Akers set a record for point scored in a season. This is also due to the 49ers settling for field goals instead of punching it in the end zone. Three years and counting. You would think the coaching staff would put some creativity into their playbook. It is so painful to continually knock on the doorsteps of the endzone and not have the ability to punch it in.

  53. THANK YOU Grant!!!! Bad coaching has now cost us two Super bowls. I wouldn’t mind if Roman took a hike, it’s like he doesn’t even think things through… Knee jerk BS. So bitter.

    1. Your post is a perfect example for Roman in the art of “thinking things through”. Should he read it, I’m sure it will then be clear to him what he should be doing.

  54. Grant, the next opportunity you get you should ask Harbaugh why he didn’t bring in Chris Ault as an offensive consultant.

      1. Same thing I want. I don’t want him to run more. I want him to be a great pocket passer which will then make him more lethal as a runner. I think there are more passing concepts to be explored with the pistol than what we’re using.

      1. ahah….no problem….here we say that when we strongly agree with something

        but I think you’ve already understood my irony…:-)

  55. Mr. Coach Greg Roman not good NFL coach material. No good at calling offense plays. Great legend coach Mr. George Seifert making triumphant return 2014 to coaching booth. Yes! Also bringing back talented Uwaezuoke 89 spirit of Lagos Pride! Yes! Go’s

    1. Mr. Uwaezuoke not good at English. No good at using proper sentence structure. :)

      Don’t feel bad somehow even though we’re just fat Nascar watching Duck Dynasty fans we still somehow created one of the hardest languages to learn.

      1. Mr. Coffee is For Closer, you must respect Great Lagos Pride #89 Iheanyi Uwaezuoke! Greatest kick return special in’s History! Making triumphant return with Hall of the Fame Coach Great Mr. George Seifert 2014. Yes! Back on the field! Win many football matches next year with Iheanyi Uwaezuoke

  56. A major issue I’ve noticed with CK is his inaccuracy with short range passes. It amazes me how many times he just flat out misses wide open receivers in the flat or 5-10 yards downfield. Sometimes they make a circus catch but it takes too long and there’s no YAC. These should be routine completions. The good news is that I think this flaw can be corrected but will require a lot of drilling and reps in practice to make it routine. If the flaw is corrected, Kap’s completion percentage will rise drastically from current 55% to maybe 65%. This will result in more first downs and more points. And maybe the 9ers can actually run screen passes–they must be the worst screen pass team in the league right now. The question is: can Roman and the QB coach fix this? Do they have the skills? Do they even recognize the problem?

  57. I have zero interest in the Super Bowl, unless I am invited to best friends house to watch, might just go to the beach instead. Also going to take a break from here,tired of rehashing in my mind the last offensive play, going over an over again in my mind on here, not good for my head. Nothing really to discuss until the draft, which is now in May I believe.

      1. Jack,
        They did not learn a damn thing about last year Super Bowl. Boldin was the Super Bowl hero last year, he was a Red Zone animal, along with being clutch, made our secondary look like a bunch of Division 3 scrubs.
        If you were going to throw the ball in a crowd, he was our best bet, now it might of been his last game as a Niner. Harbaugh is a stubborn old fool, and lacks the clutch factor as of now. He is not even the best coach in his family. As I said, not blaming Roman anymore. Harbaugh takes loyalty over performance. with the Roman situation. He wants YES men underneath him. We need a Sean Payton type of O-coordinator and no one exists inside the team. Jack I appreciate your comments, your the knowledgeable person on the blog.

      2. Harbaugh came on the season as a college coach, who really didn’t win anything. He turned around the Stanford program, and he turned around the Niners. But he didn’t finish at Stanford, they were a ranked team but didn’t with the BCS. And now the same thing with the Niners.
        He’s a great coach, could be the next Lombardi, but his emotions seems to get the best of him. He’s too busy jumping up and down and yapping with refs and not thinking about the next play.
        I watched some of the all-22 from the Packers game. In the first quarter in the red zone, Colin almost always went to Crabs on his first read. Niners don’t score so they get only FGs.
        It’s been a pattern. He should be throwing to Boldin in the red zone because he will fight for the ball. Not sure what he could have done with that under thrown fade route but I rather take my chances with him!
        I watched that last play a few times. It looks like a 3 step drop play, designed for Davis to run in out, where Boldin shields the two LBs. If it’s not there, he has Patton on the quick hitch.
        I hope to God Kaep learns something — he needs to sees the whole field and not lock onto his first read.

      3. I think Baalke would be the one to make that OC change…or influence Harbaugh to do it..Cause I know Trent can’t be too happy with the offense

  58. This will be one of the first years that I am anticipating the schedule release. I simply can’t wait for our rematches with the chickens.

    1. Mr. Coffee is For Closer, take heed to these words. My name is Iheanyi Uwaezuoke represent Lagos. Wearing 89 for these’s many moons ago and again 2014. With help of Mr. Coach George Seifert yes! We are the new life in San Francisco. Return of former legend coach and star player take’s to promised lands. Yes I, Iheanyi Uwaezuoke will score 16 touchdowns in 2014. One every game yes! You will see! Lagos Pride #89

  59. Sherman is a smart guy. He was a communication magor with a 4.0 average from Stanford.

    That rant was planned tu upset you whitty idots, Because of his rant he will make millions from being a spoke person for various companys.

    Once his football carreer is over he will be a football announcer on one of the three networs.

    Brillant move Sherman you have guaranteeed your future.

    1. Hey hater, Sherman certainly has the IQ however you are so blind with hate that fail to realize Intellegence has nothing to do with a mans character! If indeed his rant was a strategic plan to gain attention and generate more income so be it however his legacy when he gets old will not be based just in how much cash he made on this earth. On one of the biggest stages in his life he insulted other men and took the attention from his teammates, that’s reason for regret.

      Since we are idiots and you are a very knowledgable individual what don’t you focus your energy on positive thinks than hate! Go Niners

      1. Hear! Hear! Self defined Niner Hater: not a fan of anyone or anything, just an anti-fan stalking a fan site. Weak. Like the dumbass Alex’(Mom); not even an Alex or KC fan, just a Harbaugh hater/stalker.
        Besides. Exactly which companies are going to entrust their brand’s stature to this man? Yeah, everybody knew who Bill Romanowski was, and what he was. Same with Hollywood Henderson. Fame ain’t the same as respect.

  60. If the 49ers were to grab a Cornerback in free agency, who’m should they go for?

    1) Vontae Davis
    2) Peanut Tillman
    3) Aqib Talib
    4) Captain Munnerlyn
    5) Someone Else.

      1. DC
        Talib is fragile and has off field issues (of the gun toting kind as well as substance abuse) I liked Davis until he was abused in the playoffs. teams seemed to target him with great sucess

    1. Whoever they go for it will be someone that slips through the first (and probably second) wave of free agency, and signs for pretty cheap. Davis, Talib, Grimes and Munnerlyn will get decent deals.

      The guys they should look at in my opinion are Chris Cook of the Vikings and Corey Graham of the Ravens. Chris Cook is a former 1st rounder with great size, speed and leaping ability, but has struggled in the mostly zone coverage played by Minnesota. He needs a more aggressive scheme that allows him to get in the face of the WR. While the 49ers don’t play press-man all the time, they do use it, and he may be a good fit for the 49ers. Graham is a solid vet CB option with good length. Both guys should be had relatively cheaply.

  61. A few thoughts about the “young developing QB” chatter…

    Alex Smith was only 20 in the run up to the draft. He started in his rookie season, playing all games at the tender age of 21.

    Colin Kaepernick turned 24 in the middle of his rookie season. He rarely played. He turns 27 next November. The development window isn’t nearly as open most believe.

    Colin will certainly develop… but the older the athlete, the harder it is to hardwire new techniques to the point they are done properly under duress.

    2014 will be his his 4th season. One gimpy knee away from being the next Drukenmiller. There had better be major improvement seeing open receivers, coverages, progressions and pocket footwork.

    (this is not about Alex vs Colin, but about development windows.)

    1. Brodie,
      Alex Smith didn’t “develop” until Harbaugh came along during his sixth season, when Smith was 27. Smith didn’t start his entire rookie year, he was blown up by Lavar Arrington and played in nine games. “Colin will certainly develop… but the older the athlete, the harder it is to hardwire new techniques to the point they are done properly under duress.” There is certainly some truth to that, but using Smith as an example counters your argument.
      “One gimpy knee away from being the next Drukenmiller.” Isn’t that who Smith turned into after he injured his knee during his rookie season? Druckenmiller started one game for the 49ers and threw one TD. Smith threw one TD his entire rookie year, during the very last game. A lot of people are a gimpy knee away from being somebody else.

      1. You can’t compare smith with Colin. Smith was a bad team from the get go. Colin is a championship team with leaders all over the field. Now it’s up to him to step out and play better. He’s not a kid anymore and if he never learns how to throw from the pocket he’s going to be another mike Vick.

      2. I’m not sure where all this “he will certainly develop” talk regarding CK is coming from. I really hope he develops, I believe he will work as hard as anyone to develop but many hard working QB’s never develop the ability to read defenses or have great vision. Its a lot like Grants criticism of the 9ers coaching staff for not developing CK, anyone who has coached at any level knows that you can spend equal amounts of time with two different athletes using the same training techniques one athlete will succeed and one won’t even though they both work equally hard. I have a hard time buying into the theory that Harbaugh\Roman\Chryst have some how failed to instruct CK properly in QB fundamentals. Lastly I will be rooting hard for CK to make the improvements he needs to but if I were the 9ers I think I would hedge my bets and draft a QB reasonably early in the draft.

      3. Old coach,
        Those are my sentiments. Kaep is a professional and no doubt he’s trying. But close doesn’t really matter, this is a results driven business and he’s had his chances.
        He has to spend more time in the film room and less in the weight room. There’s no guarantee he figures it out but he’s the niner qb for next year so let’s hope he does.

      4. Fan,
        Yes, you can compare them and I will. Smith was the #1 overall pick and was supposed to be a franchise QB. Kaepernick was a second round project pick. Smith struggled his entire career until Harbaugh reigned him in. Smith, like Kaepernick does now, benefitted from the strength of the defense. Smith, like Kaepernick does now, put up modest stats under Harbaugh.
        For all of your talking about Kaepernick developing, you completely ignore Smith’s development, which didn’t take place until Harbaugh showed up during his sixth season. “But close doesn’t really matter, this is a results driven business and he’s had his chances.” Smith has had eight years of chances to fulfill his potential as a franchise QB. He has had less success than Kaepernick while having similar production. You just don’t like Kaepernick, which is why you feel the need to defend Smith and take cheap shots at Colin every opportunity you get.

      5. I was at that very last game (The Bush Bowl). I was also at his first game vs the Colts in week 5 of that year.

    2. Only mentioned Smith to emphasize Colin is not as young (or new to the 49ers) as most dialogue seems to imply. I should have left Smith out of it entirely and said….

      Colin was not a rookie last year. Next season will be in his 4th as a pro. In November he will be 27. If Colin is to become a top level QB, he needs to make more then merely incremental improvements in pocket skills next season.

      Six years of training repetition hold up under stress better then two years of repetition. When a boxing trainer gets ahold of a promising pupil, they can correct bad techniques far better if they start early. If learned later, the bad habits then to return in later rounds.

      There is a sweet spot in an athletes career when his techniques and understanding of the game are peaking… and his physical abilities haven’t started to decline. For many, its a bitterly short period.

      For Colin to grow into the monster we had hoped for, he needs to show big improvement next season. Footwork, getting the ball out quicker, pre-snap reads, seeing the whole field has to happen not three years from now, but soon.

      1. Brodie,
        I agree with everything you just said. I have even stated that I would like them to draft a talented QB that could push Kaep and provide a insurance policy in the event that he doesn’t progress.
        I took issue with Smith being used as an example for your argument because he didn’t show that he could be a smart, winning QB until his sixth season. He also went to Tom House before his seventh season to correct his mechanics, which helped him.
        Players constantly grow and learn. Smith is going to be 30 next season and he’s in his prime. He runs quite often but I don’t hear people forecasting his doom like they do Kaepernick’s. Kaepernick will be 26. He will have two NFC Championship and one SB appearance under his belt. He has produced 40 TD’s in a little over a season and a half of starting.
        The season ending losses are absolutely gut wrenching, but there are quite a few teams that would love to have Kaepernick. I expect next year to provide a fairly clear picture of his long term viability as a starter.

      2. I feel lucky to have Kaepernick. Jumped for joy when we drafted him. I’m a big supporter and frequent defender of him when people knock him. He has a blend of talents unheard of, and is the frequent victim of unfair utopian comparisons like “Montana would have done it this way…” The 49ers are lucky to have him.

        Like any athlete, Colin has good points and bad ones. Colin was dang near the 49ers total offense last Sunday.

        Yes, I should not have mentioned Smith at all. It was a sloppy comparison on my part. I only mentioned Smith to emphasize draft dates and ages are not always the same thing. (why I’m glad the 49ers skipped drafting Margus Hunt)

        Smith was drafted in 2005, Colin in 2011, but as of now Colin is 26, Smith 29. Colin’s potential “sweet spot” (when experience and physical ability peak at the same time) is shorter then many realize.

    3. it helps to have a coach who knows how to develop a qb….bill walsh didnt throw joe montana into the fire and start him right fact he would pick spots to put him in, like when niners got into the red zone…his thought being having early successs would bolster montana’s confidence….mike nolan on the other hand chose to start smith for his first start against the undefeated indy colts, then considered the best team in football…in judging smith, few niners fans ever stopped to consider how poorly mike nolan did in handling a young qb

  62. Thanks Neal. Nothing against Sean Payton but he has 6 post season wins in 7 seasons and Harbaugh/Roman have 5 in 3 seasons including a win over Payton.

    Enjoy the Sharks season, they are playing terrific hockey.

  63. Have to love the Dolphins. Get turned down by multiple people for their GM opening and end up hiring a guy who was about to be fired from a team that also had a GM opening and just hired a new HC that he had worked with for 5 years. Can’t make this stuff up. What a train wreck.

    1. Mr. Hammer Jack! I just conclude phone conversation with Mr. Coach George Seifert. Mr. Coach confirm yes I Iheanyi Uwaezuoke make return in 2014 along side great legend coach Mr. George Coach Seifert. Yes! Lagos Pride 89

      1. Is Joe Montana also coming back from retirement to restore the glory days for the 49ers Mon? The news is Jerry Rice and Brent Jones is also coming out of retirement to play for the 49ers next season. That’s great, there’s nobody that can stopped the 49ers from winning it all next season.

  64. The Iheanyi Uwaezuoke says this. Mr. Coach Jim Harbaugh is relieved of head coach position with team. Now just Mr. Harbaugh no coach position with’s! Also Mr. Greg Roman terminated! Bad at plays for offense yes! Legend Mr. Coach George Seifert welcome back to’s! Fans welcome back your new coach! Also return of I, Iheanyi Uwaezuoke to’s as head receiver and return special. Lagos Pride 89! Say hello to the Iheanyi Uwaezuoke!

    1. Iheanyi …
      What are you saying ?

      Something is apparently getting lost in the translation ..
      because .. if you’re calling for the firing of
      Harbaugh and G-Ro … plus the return
      of Seifert …. then .. you’re a dreamer …
      (and a troll) … but ..

      if you’re not advocating these things …
      I apologize

      1. MW. Niner! Let me translate for you. I am Uwaezuoke, Pride of Lagos #89 uniform for San Francisco’s. I am head receiver and special teams return coming back in 2014. Iheanyi Uwaezuoke am return from retirement along with Mr. Coach George Siefert. Yes in 2014! Mr. Jim Harbaugh and Mr. Greg Roman are head coach no more and off coord no more. No dreams no trolls. This is reality and Uwaezuoke is a man of truth and honor and pride. Announcement will be in short future. Yes!

  65. u-hhh … gee ….Iheanyi …

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news … but
    the #89 jersey has already been claimed ..
    (and.. he’s a TE…. not a WR)

    (see HERE)

    So … you’re outta luck.. there, bud …so … I’m guessing
    I was right (above)

    Since you appear to be a noob, here … a piece of advice..
    unless you want to be /*ignored on this blog …

    1) take some real steps to rectify the situation
    coffee mentioned (above) .. and ..

    2) stop talking bs

  66. Well, since razor has already put a mock draft out there, I may as well have a ridiculously early crack too. I’m assuming they will sign at least one CB in FA to compete for a starting job, and they receive a 3rd round compensatory pick.

    1. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
    2a. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood (may need to trade up to get him after a very impressive Senior Bowl, this year’s Jon Cyprien – I’ll assume they use the 4th rounder)
    2b. Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
    3a. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State (I’ll assume they use a 7th rounder to trade up into the early third round for Richburg)
    3b. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin (again, they use another 7th rounder to move up a few spots for him)
    3c. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU (David Fales would also be a good pick here IMO, but for the sake of conversation I’ll go Mettenberger)
    5. James Morris, ILB, Iowa
    6. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma (will be on IR for the year)
    7a. OL or DL developmental player, or trade for 2015 pick
    7b. OL or DL developmental player, or trade for 2015 pick

    No doubt this will be knocked for not having a really big, physical WR. I’m not convinced that the way to beat the Seahawks physical DBs is to play them at their own game. Beckham Jr is a very good WR that will add a legitimate deep threat and playmaker to the offense. He’s also surprisingly good at beating the jam and press coverage. Abbrederis reminds me of Brian Hartline – a better WR and athlete than he gets credit for. Very reliable but also finds his way past DBs surprisingly often.

    Desir is the type of big, long CB that Baalke loves, and was outstanding at the Senior Bowl. He played against weak competition at College, but I’ve read he had 4 INTs and 8 pass break-ups last year… while being thrown at just 14 times. Yep, that’s right, in 14 targets against him he intercepted or broke-up the pass 12 times. Not surprising teams started looking the other way. If he keeps his upward progress he might not be available mid-2nd round.

  67. Grant,
    I am going to agree up to a point before complexity factors in. Better situational play comes down to the tools in the tool box as well. In the red zone good players can make the difference even when play calling is not so good.
    The run game was too easily shut down. The outside QB scramble was corralled. When these two are taken away the passing game should open up. But that did not happen.
    The run game needs more than a Gore ground game between the tackles. The QB needs to be a better passer in the pocket and particularly in check downs.
    As far as coaching, they need to put in more options when in the red zone; use more tools in that well stocked tool box.

  68. Don’t forget that one of Walsh’s signature traits was to “script” the first 20 plays of the game, some of which were creative passes the team had never run before. We’re talking about brand-new options that served two purposes: they threw off defenses by being bold and unpredictable; they could be practiced repeatedly during the week so as to minimize the chances of making mistakes early in the game.

    When you saw those 1980s Niners march down the field and score on their first possession, you had a good feeling that they were going to win. And not just because Montana was so great. Because the other side had been confused by the new pass plays, which also served to set up San Francisco’s underrated running game in the fourth quarter. Part of Walsh’s brilliance.

    That list of scripted 20 provided another benefit. It gave the quick-thinking Montana some well-practiced second- and third-read options. I’ve often believed that one reason Montana excelled was due to his superb talent at at looking off defenders. He could drop back and focus on one side of the field for three or four seconds while in the pocket, then turn in an instant and fire a strike to the other side. Almost as if he had some kind of superhuman peripheral vision on the flip side of his helmet. That sort of ability kills planned coverages — and sets up opposing defenses to guess all game long.

    The single biggest factor preventing the 49ers from winning a Super Bowl is Colin Kaepernick’s subpar ability to read defenses.

    He’s a young gunslinger who has said some disturbing things about his own fourth quarter play. Hearing him talk about that last failed pass to Crabtree gave me the sense that he was determined to throw it no matter the coverage, and that his high level of confidence in his arm strength has done him a disservice. Chucking up that corner fade without caring about how it would be defensed is just not smart. Particularly when he’s relying on an easily recognizable play that’s been run many times and with limited success. Indeed he ran it three times in the Super Bowl and missed each time. They should junk that red zone route to Crab for ever more.

    Kaep’s approach reminds me of a baseball pitcher with sky-high velocity who fails because he doesn’t understand that success in the big leagues depends largely on one’s ability to out-think the hitter. It’s not about merely having the muscle to blow a fastball by him. (Todd Van Poppel is an example, a simpleton who had the strongest arm in the game yet bounced around through six teams and retired with a career 5.58 ERA. All because he never learned the fundamentals of smart pitching and wrongly assumed his 100-mph heater was all he needed.)

    Harbaugh is a good coach, but if he doesn’t inject some creativity and unpredictable innovation to his offense, he’ll never win a title. It wouldn’t hurt if he schooled Kaep in the basics of reading coverages and looking off defenders — or get someone on his staff who can.

    Maybe he should pull a page from the Walsh’ repertoire and script a dozen or so plays to start each game, mixing in stuff that no one has seen.

    That would give them a better chance of wining the Super Bowl.

  69. LOL. Love people jumping ship when the team loses. Where’s this guy been all year? While I totally agree that they call too many TOs, that actually improved as the season went on.

    I love that he brings up “The Catch” That play was made because Montana is a friggin’ stud and Clark jumped higher than he’s ever jumped before or since. The play pretty much broke down and the two great athlete’s made the play. This writer is a bozo.

    Yeah, maybe Harbaugh should have called TO last year, but it’s not like the Ravens broadcast their play call to the 49ers before Kap audibled.

    Last week, they had just called TO on the previous play (because Crab didn’t go OB like an idiot) and they had plenty of time left with two TOs. Remember that when you call TO, Seattle ALSO gets time to think about what they want to do and can change personnel if they want to. He’s using hindsight. Wow, who wouldn’t be better with hindsight?

    Mangini was brought in precisely because he’s a defensive coach. The idea being to analyze what Defenses would try to do to the 49ers.

    Maybe they should have gotten better with Crab, but they didn’t. However, if you look at what they did for the whole year, they were pretty good. AND, the offense was pretty good after week 13, they averaged almost 27 points a game and won each game. DESPITE playing the 1-7-13 ranked D’s in the league.

    He points out Kap’s lousy numbers in the red zone, is that coaching or the player?

    I do agree that I didn’t like the draw play on third down last week. I thought that was a poor call that showed he didn’t really trust Kap. That said, maybe he was right since Kap threw a pick in a similar situation the first time in Seattle and threw another one at the end of the game.

    Does this guy go to the 49ers practices? Does he have ANY idea of how often they practice their red zone/situational offense? Very doubtful since the 49ers close their practices after warmups.

    This guy is a hindsight harry who I doubt ever coached football.

  70. FOR ONCE! I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU GRANT! Greg Roman is terrible inside the Red Zone and it HAS to improve for the Niners to take the next step up the rudder! I was hoping Greg Roman got hired away that way we would be forced to find another offensive coordinator.

  71. Amen, Grant. Situational Football.

    Walsh was a master at preparing his team for situations, however unlikely, that they might face. How many times did we hear Walsh’s players say after another miracle win or seemingly improvised play, “We practiced that play every week.” Really? Yes, really!

    Harbaugh has the fire, the motivational skills, the staff, the schemes and the players to make it work. He has work to do on red zone situational football. He needs to be preparing Kap during the off season, during pre season and during the season. It’s not about firing Roman, that’s too easy. It’s about recognition of the problem, then preparation that gets you to execution when it’s 4th and goal in the playoffs.

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