How good of a wide receiver is Stevie Johnson?

Last season, Stevie Johnson played poorly. But he had injuries. The three seasons before last — 2010, 2011 and 2012 — he was productive. He caught 237 passes for 3,123 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Is Johnson a good receiver, or just another receiver who put up numbers on a bad team?

Consider that from 2010 to 2012, Bills’ starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 20 interceptions trying to get the ball to Johnson. Fitzpatrick’s interception percentage was 5.1 when he targeted Johnson, and just 2.5 when he targeted other players.

During Johnson’s three productive seasons, Fitzpatrick’s passer rating was 79.9 when he targeted Johnson, and 84.0 when he targeted other players.

What do you make of that?

This article has 185 Comments

    1. Tells me that Johnson was good enough for Fitzpatrick to force the ball to him as much as possible or that Johnsons’ route running throws off his qb.

  1. What do you make of that? Let me see … that Stevie Johnson is a solid receiver and that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not that good of a QB.

  2. Sounds like Fitzpatrick knew who his best receiver was and therefore threw to him even when he wasn’t the best option on that play.

  3. He has elite body control and quickness. He understands which route to run based on the read from the defender. You combine those attributes, and it’s no wonder he’s able to quiet Sherman and pollute Revis Island….

    1. He doesn’t have elite anything. His 7.07 three-cone drill is below average for a wide receiver. Johnson is overrated.

      1. I don’t give a johnson about the three cone drill. Look at the production and look at the film. Video evidence says he either stole your girlfriend for an evening or you’re blind….

        1. Not a YAC threat, not quick with the ball in his hands. He can get past a jam but he can’t run by any CBs.

          1. He doesn’t have the deep threat type speed but he has good speed,great route running,strength, and quickness that him create separation and makes many dbs look foolish trying to cover him i.e. Sherman and Revis(in his prime), was productive for consecutive years but had a dropoff due to poor quarterback play. I wouldn’t call him over rated.

          2. Hatchet job.

            Do you remember Debbie Downer on Saturday Night Live, folks having a good time and then Debbie opened her mouth and it was a huge bummer? Your father writes thought provoking articles, you not so much. Seems like you just want to bring folks down with half-baked stats and trivia that has nothing to do with a real game situation.

            Grant, you were on a roll for months, great incisive thinking and a generosity of spirit that made your blog a fun place to be. Didn’t always agree but it was a good read. Now your back to writing crap. It’s too bad because you could be good at this if you would just grow up.

          3. Ill take it! this was grants same assessment of Boldin last year. Ill tell you when we have a problem……when grant LIKES A GUY !!! Thats when we know hes garbage!

      2. you still focus on the physical tangibles of football and not so much the position and the skills required to play the position. the best athletes and specimens aren’t always the best players. reading coverage and route running and offensive understanding of passing concepts will beat out many physical skills at receiver most of the time. running a go route isn’t simply about running as fast as you can and beating your defender.

        1. I mean didn’t he realize the dude was drafted I think in the seventh round? What in the johnson did he think his three cone drill was going to be?

      3. Still working the down sell for Johnson huh? You did the same thing with Boldin last year and well, I’m beginning to think you never learn from mistakes Grant.

        Not sure how a guy with 3 straight 1000 yard seasons can be overrated. Whether he’s the only guy they had or not, there is only on average about 16-18 WR’s a season that wind up with 1000 yards or more. Who cares what he got in a Combine drill. It’s about what you do on the field and up until last year when he had to deal with injury and poor QB play, he did pretty well.

        The difference in numbers for Fitzpatrick are quite obvious. Johnson was the most targeted receiver, along with being the guy who went up against the defenses best CB and had coverage shifted his way at times. Other players were freed up because of that. It also shows Fitzpatrick trusted him enough to throw his way even when it probably wasn’t the best option.

        The more I look at this trade the more I like it. Not just because of how much depth it gives them for this season, but also because he’s signed for 3 more years and is insurance if Crabs moves on. Now the big question is: will the Coaching staff incorporate more 3 WR formations to take advantage of the WR group they have?

        1. I never said Boldin would have a bad season. I said he wouldn’t complement Crabtree, and Harbaugh confirmed that was true. At the Combine he said there were times when Crabtree, Boldin and Davis were on the field together and none of them could get open.

          1. You talked about his age and how he probably didn’t have much left etc. In other words focusing on the negative just as you are doing now with Johnson.

            Nobody is saying Johnson is the best WR in football. All that is being said is that this is a proven 1000 yard receiver who makes this receiver group much stronger. He’s also in his prime so this is not necessarily a short term thing. It was a heck of a deal for a SB contender who has had problems with WR depth the past 3 years. You can acknowledge a good move once in awhile instead of trying to rip it apart Grant. Nobody will hold it against you.

      4. Combine stats don’t tell the whole story.

        “I’ve seen guys run real fast and then play real slow. I’ve seen guys run slow and play fast. That’s why, to me, the film doesn’t lie.”
        – Trent Baalke

  4. Probably a top 30 WR in the league, has his problems with drops but he runs great routes and is excellent at getting off press coverage. Wouldn’t read too much into his stats considering he faced the oppositions best corner regularly considering the complete lack of other options and had Fitzpatrick, a gunslinger with a weak arm, throwing him the ball.

      1. Nobody really gets ‘open’ in the NFL unless there’s bungled coverage or a slip, it’s about creating space and giving the QB an angle or window to get you the ball. Stevie Johnson is elite in this area.

        1. The numbers don’t bare that out. Fitzpatrick’s completion percentage was five points lower when targeting Johnson as opposed to other players. And Fitzpatrick’s INT rate doubled when targeting Johnson as opposed to other players.

    1. Your avatar appears to be having identity crisis. Although I’ve always been partial to the original logo. I like the version with the red ring and the name in gold letters around the logo.

      1. I liked the one with David Shaw in tan khakis and black 49er hat hoisting the 6th Lombardi Trophy……

      2. It is! First the new guy yesterday decides to use the same one, and today I realized my second choice was too close to another commentor. This one should work for.

  5. “How good of a wide receiver is Stevie Johnson? ”

    If you take away his best catches, he’s not very good.

  6. Stevie is a solid receiver, but what does it matter unless we start doing a ton of 3 WR sets? Does anyone really think he will get the same time as Boldin or Crabs? Therefore, he doesn’t need to be elite to be an awesome contributor and a huge upgrade over our #3 last year. Simple.

  7. We will see how well “The Genius” Roman integrates him and Ellington into the offense. There’s loads of potential, but will he untap more than 10% of it? That would be a good blog topic, Grant.

    1. I think you can say the same about Kendall Hunter or James. Hunter, a proven play maker, is like an afterthought in our offense, and I ask myself why he would ever want to extend his contract. It seems our offense is where dynamic play makers go to die.

  8. His state line against the Seahawks was something like 8/120/1 . That qualifies as good numbers against a very good D. Let’s also consider he was really the only receiving option so he was probably seeing significant double coverage.

  9. Look at him spouting stats as if he knows what they mean. How difficult of passes did he throw to stevie by comparison? How long of throws by comparison? Maybe he forced throws to stevie. Correlation is not causation, homie. Solar flares have a direct correlation with the amount of Republicans in congress. What do you make of that?

  10. Seems as though the ball was being forced to Johnson, and the other receivers were the beneficiaries of single coverage, or no coverage. Still not sure why you and your Dad both gave the team a hearty fail for this draft, when it seems like it answered their needs for now and for years to come. Let’s face it, they can coach up DB’s.

    Like everyone else I was pretty surprised at Ward at 30, but after considering it for, oh, say 30 seconds, I realized it was the best pick to make. They got the second rated slot defender and a future FS, when they’ll move Reid to SS, or just interchange them, so it saved them a pick, which screams value.

    Don’t know why you’re hating on Carlos Hyde, they were always going to find a replacement for Dixon, and getting the best one on the board seems good. James was never going to fill that role. His absence from camp is well noted. Maybe they can get something for him somewhere, maybe the Ravens, with Rice injured, or maybe he just goes away, but Hyde, again, fills two holes, short yardage and Special Teams.

    Marcus Martin I always thought they would draft, best center on the board and can play both guard positions. Great acquisition.

    We’ll see about the two corners, and the All ACL red shirt team, but overall it must be said that the other draft pros give this class an A or A+.

    1. Let’s not.

      “1999- Garrison Hearst

      Until ‘99, John Madden himself was featured on the cover of each game. Short of exponential weight gain and powerful punishment to his arteries, Madden seemed to fair well after being featured. For the PAL release of the game, EA decided to feature a player rather than Madden himself, and San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst was chosen. Hearst was breaking records with ease and seemed to be destined for the Hall of Fame. After receiving the cover honors, he then helped lead the 49ers to a divisional playoff game, where he broke his ankle. Badly broke his ankle. The break was so severe that Hearst missed two full seasons and was never the same again. The curse had begun.”

      1. LOL you sound pretty lame dude, if you believe in the madden curse then that’s sad. As long as he doesn’t make bone head mistakes and takes hits like Vick then I don’t seen him getting hurt.

        But injuries happen and just because you’re on the cover doesn’t make a difference.

  11. Did you ever consider that teams would use the best corner or double team johnson. Maybe that why Fitzpatrick had a bad passer rating & more int’s when he targeted Johnson.

    Your views on the 9ers are always NEGATIVE. Maybe thats just your Schstick?? But it’s getting old bring back Maiocco!!

  12. Stevie Johnson is a good receiver. Even if he’s overrated then so what. We basically got him for free. He’s going to take up some salary cap room but thats better than the alternative which was to not have him and hope Patton and Ellington develop and can contribute this year which seems highly unlikely.

    1. Why is it highly unlikely that Patton contributes this year?
      You know something that we don’t?
      Just curious…

  13. That’s the way Grant, keep hammering home how a 3 time 1,000 yard receiver isn’t any good. :-P

    Seriously, has anyone here said he’s a great WR? I don’t recall seeing it. If he was our #1 WR heading into the season I agree we’d be in trouble. He’s a great #3 receiver though. He’s even a very good #2 WR. He was easily Buffalo’s best WR for 3 seasons. As many have pointed out here today, and I know I pointed it out the other day, he was the only receiving threat on that offense for a long time and teams adjusted their coverages accordingly, yet he still put up very good numbers. If you aren’t any good you don’t do that. Heck, Fitz didn’t even put up as good numbers and Johnson when he was the only receiving threat at the Cards in 2012.

    Downgrading him because his QB threw him the ball even when he shouldn’t seems like a strange way to make the case he is overrated. He was so bad his QB would try and force him the ball even when he shouldn’t… something doesn’t sound right there. I’m pretty sure that only happens when the QB trusts the player.

    1. Johnson tipped some of those interceptions. He dropped 29 passes from 2010 to 2012. That’s an 8 percent drop rate.

      1. Yep, his biggest problem is concentration. He has too many concentration drops to be considered a great WR.

        But boy can he get open. He’s a very good WR, albeit inconsistent. You can carry those kind of guys as your #3 quite comfortably. I’m guessing Boldin and Crab will still be the guys Kaep relies on on 3rd downs. But Johnson provides a nice option if teams commit their coverage to Boldin and Crab, as you can generally rely on him to work himself open.

  14. “What do you make of that?” Simply that you’ve proved yet again that you are an idiot. You so clearly have your panties in a wad towards all things 49ers it’s a wonder you have a job covering them. You constantly take things out of context and numbers/stats for your own agenda.

    You don’t have to be a hater to not be a homer, but that is probably over your head. Continue your senseless bashing…

    1. Leo,

      Why do you always feel the need to jump to Grant’s defense? Let him fend for himself!
      Especially when he asks for a bunch of flak for constantly hating on the Niners on a Niner Blog! Carlos Hyde’s not a good runner, Stevie Johnson’s not a good receiver, etc., etc.

      1. Bar none-

        I dont always defend him. I think most of us come here for a good argument and discussion about the topic at hand. And most of us strongly disagree with a lot of what he says. But when the comments are on a more personal level like calling him idiot or bringing up family then i just think its taken too far.

        This is his blog and if your really that bothered by it just stop reading it and find anothet blog. This is honestly the most entertaining blog ive been a part of and i think Grant should get a little bit of respect for taking out the time to be so interactive in his own blog.

        People are just too serious this stuff.. at the end of the day its just football.

        1. Well, if not always, then let’s say you frequently defend him. Yes, it’s Grant’s blog but he was hired by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat to cover and write about our local team, the 49ers. Even the name of the blog itself makes it a 49er blog. To me that makes it “our” blog, the local 49er fan’s blog. Grant writes some good stuff once in a while, but more often than not, he comes off as a Niner basher and a Seahawk homer than a Niner beat reporter or Niner blog writer. That is going to constantly rile 49er fans, and Grant knows it. My point is, it’s his bed, let him lie in it! Some of us love to see him get a verbal wedgie whenever possible. My guess is he got a lot of actual wedgies in elementary, middle and high school because he riled up a lot of guys then too.
          Stay out of it and let it happen, Bro. He earns it!

  15. Not to oversimplify…but some WRs just know how to get open.
    He gets OPEN.
    Whatta ya want?!

  16. Seeing all these screen name and avatar changes makes me wanna spruce up my avatar a bit….. i’m thinking of going with a pic of that Hill billy looking guy I always see on the sidelines during games… I think he’s the equipment manager…

    I think that mustache is just too awesome not be on display.

  17. Jack, sorry to hear that someone else has stolen your avatar. You are one of the earliest posters on Grant’s blog, but even if you weren’t, there is common-sense etiquette. We can rip each other in good fun, but taking someone’s avatar is bad form. I hope this individual gets the picture. Besides, the new one you are using sucks, IMCBHO (in my considered but humble opinion).

        1. By the way, maybe you can tell me how I can post my own avatar. Do I simply enter a link after “Website”?

      1. I’m diggin’ it.
        The classic look is cool.
        Like mine better though.
        My brother’s friend took the photo at a 49ers fan appreciation event.
        Those Lombardi’s are the real McCoy.

    1. Who loves ya baby!

      As far as Johnson goes, (I watch a lot of Buffalo games) he’s in fact a very underrated receiver…due to being a late round pick, and playing in Buffalo on a bad team. He’s one of the best in the league at getting open, great route runner and knows how to get open in zones.

      His shortcomings include drops and brain farts.

      Grant, measurable mean nothing, but tape don’t lie!

      1. Stavros, get in here!!

        AC, I haven’t followed him till now. He’s a highly animated, exciting receiver. His ability to get open reminds me of Brandon Lloyd, Neither of them are considered fast but both make plays. On 3rd and long, instead of calling for a run into the middle of the defense, maybe Roman will design a simple play for Johnson. That’s all you need to keep the chains moving.

  18. What do you make of that?

    I make that it took you 6 days of digging through Stevie Johnson’s stats before you found something you could spin into a negative.

        1. I hadn’t looked him up yet on Pro Football Focus. Bills quarterbacks’ passer rating was just 75 when targeting Johnson outside, and 80 when targeting him in the slot.

  19. Grant are you conscious that the majority of your articles regarding players and/or coaches are pessimistic and negative? Did they teach you that at UCLA or does that come from your Dad?

      1. Yea, that’s what I’m asking. Good to see you take it that direction. Shouldn’t have expected anything different I suppose.

        1. I gave my honest assessment of the draft. That’s my job. Sorry it wasn’t positive enough for you.

          1. You’re worse then my wife, trying to deflect the point by bringing up something that was never mentioned.

            Did I say anything about your draft assessment? Nope. I said “the majority of your articles regarding players and/or coaches.” When you decide to write about a player or coach more often then not you do it from an attacking or negative angle.

            I really didn’t think that sentence needed clarification so can you please stay on subject going forward to make this easier.

            1. Besides;

              Johnson who I mention because he’s the topic of the parent subject here wasn’t even part of the draft PLUS before today when I have I made any comments about your draft assessment? Last time we wrastled it was over the bust Tyler Wilson.

              1. I don’t write positive or negative columns. The concept is dishonest. I give honest takes on subjects that interest me.

              2. If that’s what you’re going to tell yourself so you don’t have to listen to criticism then by all means don’t let me stop you but from my point of you your full of poop.

              3. The Niners’ draft was really great and they’re going to win the Super Bowl next season. Feel better?

              4. Balance Grant. That is all people are looking for. Instead of just posting any negative info you can find, also include some positive info. For example, when talking about how the passer rating was lower when the ball was thrown to Johnson, include the fact he was also their #1 weapon who teams game planned for and put their best defender on. Meanwhile he still continued to put up 1000 yard seasons.

                You have been on a run of negative columns that are wearing people out. That’s why you have been getting all the flak you’ve endured the past few days. You try so hard to not come off as a homer, you go too far the other direction. Find a happy medium and you’ll do much better around here.

              5. No one knew the passer rating stats I presented about Stevie Johnson. I also presented the stats people know about him: He caught 237 passes for 3,123 yards and 23 touchdowns from 2010 to 2012.

              6. I think I’m finally getting the hang of journalism! Be the bearer of good news! No one cares if you’re wrong!

              7. Seriously Grant, with the amount of times you’ve been wrong, you should be looking to change your approach in any way possible. I give you credit for making predictions and voicing your opinion, but your track record is pretty bad.

              8. That’s right! Be happy and give them what they want. The consumer is always right.

              9. I can do that! The 49ers have the best wide-receiver trio of all time. Stevie Johnson will go down as the best acquisition of the offseason and the signature move of Baalke’s career.

          2. You even lie to cover your lies. You’re not the least bit honest. Rather, you’re disingenuous. At least your dad admits when he’s wrong.

      2. Would you like me to lie in my next column …?

        You mean like when you declared that Johnson was “not a YAC threat,” despite the fact that in his last healthy season (2012), he ranked 12th among WRs in YAC?

    1. CfC:

      Knock off the conspiracy theories. Grant’s pessimism and negativity are simply a reflection of the 49ers’ performance over the past 3 seasons.

      [Checks 49ers’ record over past 3 seasons]. Never mind.

      1. I hold the 49ers to a high standard because they’re Super Bowl contenders. Some of you hold them to a very low standard, like it’s still ten years ago.

        1. The 49ers have finished in the top 4 each of the last 3 years, losing in a close game to the eventual Super Bowl champion each time. Your columns in no way reflect those facts.

          1. Sure they do. They reflect why the 49ers haven’t won a championship, the only thing that matters in sports.

            1. Smh. That’s weak. And trite.

              Your columns do not read as objective explanations of why a serially-contending team fell just short of the championship three years running. Instead, they read as judgmental, selective and subjective criticisms of a bumbling organization.

              1. I’m sorry you don’t like my analysis, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. You are not nearly as balanced and objective as you claim to be, particularly when you get defensive in the comments.

                I’m not the only one who has explained this to you.

              2. All of the blanket statements you’ve made about me. Prove I’ve portrayed the 49ers as a bumbling organization.

              3. Ha, just look at your last few opinion pieces Grant. You question their draft, the ability of Hyde to even be a competent RB based on the history of the Big 10, you question Stevie Johnson, the only picks you thought were ok were the 4th rounders for development. You can’t have that bad a memory.

              4. Not the fact you are questioning it; the fact that the negative angle is all you focus on in those pieces.

              5. Your first sentence includes the fact he didn’t play well last year, injuries played a role and his stat line for the 3 1000 yard seasons. Good start. Problem is you then focus on making a case that he is not that good. Focusing on the QB’s passer rating and interception rating when you should know that is going to fluctuate based on how many times Fitzpatrick threw his way, the quality of the throw and decision, the fact the defense is focused on covering Johnson. In other words, you took low hanging fruit to portray a negative angle without going into detail on why that is the case and what could effect it.

              6. It wasn’t low-hanging fruit. For a team’s No.1 receiver and three-time 1,000 yard receiver to consistently induce the lowest passer rating and completion percentage and the highest interception rating by far from the quarterback is unusual and worth discussing.

              7. “Show me how I focused on the negative angle in the Stevie Johnson blog.”

                You didn’t. You asked the questions. The negative angle came in down here in the comments section.

              8. First comment on the blog: “It’s you job Grant to tell us what YOU think of that.”

                Second comment: “Exactly. Leave it to others on Grant’s blog to do his work for him.
                Does he get paid for this stuff?”

                I can’t win for losing.

              9. That’s asking a lot from someone whose time and access to the relevant data is limited. To be meaningful, the analysis would have to be fairly comprehensive; I’d need access to your columns (including comments) for the past three years. Can/will you provide that kind of access? Since the switch to the new format, I haven’t been able to access columns from prior to the switch.

                To be objective and fair, for each column, I’d have to

                (1) characterize it on a positive/negative scale (e.g., positive, negative, or neutral);

                (2) measure its balance (not so much in the sense that you have to balance every negative comment with a positive one, but in the sense that you can’t be selective and ignore relevant data/facts that don’t support your position;

                (3) measure the level of objectivity/subjectivity;

                (4) log the particular positive and negative comments made towards Baalke, Harbaugh, other coaches, players, etc.;

                (5) find a way to measure/track/characterize your responses in the comment section to comments made about the column;

                (6) make note each time you take a position (in the column or in the comments) that is inconsistent with positions taken in prior columns/comments;

                (7) track other relevant aspects of the column/comments.

                Frankly, I don’t see how one person can do all that.

                Since I have raised these issues multiple times in the past, however, it might be possible to collect and summarize those comments. It wouldn’t be a comprehensive analysis of course, but it would at least provide examples of the things I think demonstrate your non-objectivity. Again, what kind of access could I get to past columns/comments?

                Because that still sounds like too much nonpaid work, I’ll offer this alternative. Let’s see if we can agree on scales/measurements for items 1-7 above. If so, I can provide you with my analysis of each column going forward and you can log those analyses somewhere accessible to us both.

              10. Why would you rate a column based on objectivity? A column is supposed to be subjective — one guy’s opinion. A news story is supposed to be objective — the facts. Do you think my news stories from the draft were subjective or objective?

              11. that’s interesting Grant,

                WHY would you not strive for objectivity? In theory objectivity would provide the best analysis for you to provide to the reader. Obviously you can’t be completely objective because you (like everyone else) lacks all the information.

                You are heavily criticized (even by many of your supporters at times) for being heavily biased with your opinions and often times fitting facts to support those opinions. Do you do this with the belief that you’re not striving to provide a mostly objective opinion?

              12. I don’t have a biased opinion. I felt the 49ers’ draft/offseason didn’t get them past the Seahawks in the short term and it should have. And I considered that a failure. Just my opinion. Seems most people here are upset that I expressed it, or wish I would have just made up a more positive opinion.

              13. Why would you rate a column based on objectivity?

                I struggled with the wording for (3) and obviously worded it poorly. Yes, your job is to provide us with your subjective opinion. But that opinion ought to be based upon/informed by the actual relevant facts, particularly if you’re opining on what went right or wrong in a play/game/season/draft/trade. etc. I sometimes get the sense that you form an opinion and then go looking for facts to support it.

              14. I’m sorry you get that feeling. That’s not how I do business. I always base my opinions on the relevant facts and extensive research, including discussions with on and off-the-record sources.

              15. “Like you do when you get hundreds of conflicting comments in a day on your blog?”

                I love those comments, and something makes me think that you do too.

              16. Don’t go poor me on us now Grant. You know damn well you consistently leave out relevant info to make a point. We all have done this at times, but you have been a major offender. When you write articles, objectivity has to be the goal or you are pretty much admitting a biased opinion.

                I understand the intent behind playing Devil’s advocate. I do it regularly on here, but more and more you have become critical without objectivity. Voice your opinion, but also allow for the fact there is evidence to the contrary when you voice it.

              17. I always allow for the fact that there is evidence to the contrary. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But I’m paid to argue my point of view, not both points of view. Feel free to disagree with me as much as you like. That’s the fun of it!

              18. Seems most people here are upset that I expressed it, or wish I would have just made up a more positive opinion.

                I don’t know about most people, but several commenters merely expressed disagreement with the philosophy of drafting for the short term and with just one team in mind. Others expressed the opinion that several of the 49ers’ moves would not only help the team in the long run and against any team, but also would help improve its performance against Seattle specifically.

                Do you distinguish between those commenters who object merely because you’re not a homer and those who object for other reasons?

              19. I always base my opinions on the relevant facts and extensive research …

                Ahmad Brooks and I beg to differ.

            2. Grant,

              Most don’t have a problem with you expressing a dissenting opinion (yes there are some rah-rah type fans that believe that if you ‘re not 100% with us you’re against us…but they’re a minority). That’s your M.O. And that’s fine. As long as it’s fair.

              But much of your reasoning seems very biased and limited to support your opinions. Which seems to be unfair.

              Usually when I see a move made by a team that I didn’t predict, I think of why they did it. And usually I learn something because they’ve thought of things I hadn’t. I will usually give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise because I’m not an NFL player coach or GM.

              1. So I should have given the 49ers the benefit of the doubt and praised their draft, or said nothing at all?

                I’ve given plenty of reasons why I’m not thrilled with their draft/offseason. If slot corner is the biggest need, take care of it in free agency. It’s the toughest assignment on defense. Asking a MAC safety to do it as a rookie in the NFL is asking a lot, no matter how well he played in college last season. Hope that foot holds up, too.

                Relying on Culliver to play 1000 snaps at LCB next cornerback seems way less than ideal, although it could work out.

                Carlos Hyde may turn out to be the best Ohio State running back since Eddie George. The problem with Ohio State running backs is they tend to run behind great offensive lines in college that push around Big Ten defensive lines. NFL offensive lines don’t dominate NFL defensive lines like that.

              2. the first problem with your analysis (which I’ve pointed out on multiple times) is that you still think of the slot defensive back as a CORNER. You have not accepted that the Niners probably desire more versatility from the position. Yeah, like you I thought they’d go with a slot corner like Verret or a corner that could be developed into an outside corner. But they had other plans. And those plans make sense. I and other have brought this up before (that the Niners want more versatility from the position), yet you stick to your guns because for some reason you think you know better?

                Given that they were looking for more than just a Corner for the slot DB position what free agent alternative would you suggest?

                With limited resources the Niners had to address the Corner position. Given that Brown and Rogers weren’t the most talented Corners, the Niner’s DB backfield seems to be more systematic (less dependent on individual performance). So if they’re going to skimp at a position, I guess Corner is it. And dump money into Safeties, D-line and Linebackers. Culliver isn’t that far off from Rogers and Brown (remember I asked you to compare the rest of the DB backfield over the same time period that you critiqued Culliver. And as I suspected, the rest of the DBs didn’t fair too much better. So yes, it would be nice if they could upgrade the Corner spot but it just wan’t in the cards right now.

                Pretty much everyone has dismissed your Big 10 criticism of Hyde. His upright running style is a legit concern but his power and productivity shouldn’t be so easily dismissed…that just seems irrational.

              3. Beanie Wells had power and productivity, too. And he was much faster than Hyde.

                Versatility is great, but if Ward can’t hold up in man coverage in the slot next season he will have no impact on defense next season. Man coverage is more important than tackling for a slot corner in the NFL. If he can’t cover, say, Percy Harvin man-to-man in the slot, that severely limits the defenses Vic Fangio can call.

              4. again, as I’ve mentioned before, Man Coverage isn’t necessarily what is played in the slot. like the strong safety position, often times it will be a hybrid of man and zone.

                Rogers had problems with some quick/fast slot receivers. But often times he was successful. The reason was not due to his man coverage skills (which weren’t too great). It was his ability to read offenses and routes. A slot receiver often times runs options underneath depending on the coverage read (1 high or 2 high). If the slot db knows or can read the route, he has a much higher chance of defeating the route.

              5. If Ward can’t hold in man, Fangio has to call all zone.

                Rogers was a top-10 pick at cornerback who played 6 years in the NFL before taking over the slot position and playing it well for the 49ers. Ward has good instincts, but he’s still a rookie and slot cornerback still is the toughest assignment on the defense.

              6. you can make a looooong list of failed running backs (or most positions for that matter) that didn’t work out despite their expectations. that doesn’t take much effort and is pretty weak to support a weak argument.

                you’re approaching a sort of reverse straw man argument with your big 10 criticism.

                again, you’re stating an unsubstantiated opinion that goes against the consensus opinion. most draft analysts and GMs had Hyde as one of the top running backs available in the draft.

              7. What does consensus prove? Don’t fall victim to group-think.

                The thing that’s interesting about Big 10 running backs the past 20 years is that with the exception of Eddie George and Larry Johnson, every single one has not lived up to his draft position. And yet NFL teams keep drafting them early. Maybe Hyde will break the trend, but Wells was a better athlete and more highly rated than Hyde coming out of Ohio State. Wells was a first-round pick who ran a 4.38 at his Pro Day.

              8. i’ve tried to explain pattern matching to you before. i thought you would have looked it up by now. there’s no reason to think Ward shouldn’t hold up in man coverage.

              9. Not saying he won’t. I’m saying it’s not a wise risk to ask a bordeline first-round pick from the MAC to handle the most difficult assignment on the defense from Week 1 of his rookie season. Maybe Ward will rise to the challenge though.

              10. Rogers was a top 10 pick. But he turned out to be a journeyman corner that played well in the Niner’s scheme. I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s limited as a corner.

              11. they still have Cox who performed adequately in the slot in the playoffs. And Wright, who was supposed to be better than Cox (but wasn’t ready or was ill or something at the time). So there are fall back positions if Ward isn’t ready.

              12. I agree. But the 49ers didn’t draft him in the first round for him not to be ready. The 49ers are in win-now mode.

              13. Consensus is usually an objective indicator. the only thing it’s vulnerable to is “group think”.

                And yet NFL teams keep drafting them early.

                and why do you think that is? the first question you should have is, “what do they know that you don’t know?” not, I’m right and they’re wrong for these reasons. not that they are infallible and you’re not capable of being right. but your burden of proof for credibility is huge compared to the consensus.

                what are the success and failure rates of running backs from other conferences? should a prospect be judged on his own merits and not those of his conference or past running backs? did scouts like what they saw of his game film or at the shrine or senior bowl?

              14. I agree. But the 49ers didn’t draft him in the first round for him not to be ready. The 49ers are in win-now mode.

                and I’d assume they feel he is capable of being ready.

                again, I know that drafting a top flight corner would have been sexy and seems like a big team need (and it is needed). these things don’t happen in a vacuum and resources need to be allocated. the Niners don’t spend much on their secondary and prefer spend money on the front 7. I’m guessing with negotiations with Kapenernick and probably Aldon Smith…money is tight. Plus I don’t think there were many options in Free Agency anyway.

              15. A bit late to the party, but just to chime in:

                Ward will only be playing the slot if he beats out Wright and Cox for it – both of whom have experience playing the slot in the 49ers system. He won’t be handed the job, he’ll have to earn it, and if he does earn it I don’t see why he’d be a liability. If he doesn’t earn it they are no worse off than if they took Grant’s approach of taking an outside CB in the first round – who also may not have started.

                But as you say Grant, they wouldn’t have taken him in the first round if they didn’t think he’d be able to handle it this year. We’ll see if he can, but I like the player and I like the pick.

        2. I don’t think that’s true. The standard I personally hold them to is what I expect with the team they have assembled. They’ve gone to 3 straight NFCCG’s and have developed some excellent players. The issue many have with you Grant is there is no balance in your writing. You constantly harp on negative angles and virtually ignore the positive. Nobody is asking you to be a homer; all they’re asking for is fair and reasoned arguments instead of a constant barrage of criticism. If this team was half as incompetent as your articles suggest, they would not be one of the best teams in the NFL.

          1. I don’t suggest this team is incompetent. I’ve written columns explaining Harbaugh’s best qualities as a coach and Kaepernick’s best qualities as a quarterback and Baalke’s best qualities as a GM.

        3. And some of us hold them to the Joe Montana standard, which is that any season without a Super Bowl is a failure. Irregardless of the standard we apply, you should remember that you are to be bound by the standard of journalistic integrity, which is to present ALL the relevant information on a matter, and not just cherry pick some facts, and exclude others, to make a point. Your readers are not 8-year olds, and your amateurism should embarrass you. You were born at the wrong time. You would have made an all-time great Nazi propagandist.

            1. Claude, Grant beat Humphrey to it. He called someone’s view “fascist” earlier in this thread. I believe that qualifies under Godwin’s law also.

  20. It would sure be nice to come here and start the day for once with a positive piece written about the team, should I look somewhere else?

    1. CFC – Don’t go Hoferfan on us buddy. We need you in here. It’s the off season, weird crap happens in here at this time of the year. Next time your agitated at the negativity in here, watch a “Frank T.J. Mackey” seminar. Respect the .o..! :)

  21. Hey Grant: Blah-blah-blah…

    Your failing is that you come off as a know-it-all but in the final analysis, except for the obvious you are usually off in your analysis. Plus you are young and a bit of a wise guy. You don’t want to be that or if you do, you’re in the wrong biz.

    Guys who wrote before you offered more, much more of value and moved on to better jobs. Unless you do a radical rethink of who you choose to be to the public I don’t see you as going very far, which is a shame because when you write like a grown up you can be very good. But the stuff above (“prove it…” I haven’t heard that since 4th Grade) is embarrassing to read.

    Man up, kick back, some of us know a bit about the sport, let’s have fun and please stop being a ball hog. This should be a good time, not the teeth grating affair it keeps reverting to under your watch.

    Said with sincerity,

    Tom Quinn
    aka Ghost
    Sacramento CA

  22. Grant, not always (rarely?) a fan of your perspective, but I love your willingness to roll up your sleeves and get dirty with the posters in the response section of your pieces. IMO, this particular one has got to be top-5 since you’ve taken over the blog; I literally laughed out loud several times (and received requisite “dirty looks” from my co-workers). Thanks for that. Kudos.

  23. Geez, for all of the grumbling you people do about Iggy’s offerings, you sure do spend MUCH time on his blog.
    I mean, sure he writes from a ‘glass-is-half-empty’ perspective (like his Dad).
    But that’s his STYLE people.
    Take it or leave it.
    Just stop crying about it!

  24. Stevie Johnson had a 15.4 percent drop rate last season, a 13.9 percent drop rate in 2012, a 6.6 percent drop rate in 2011 and a 15.9 percent drop rate in 2010.

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