In this new NFL, no practice makes imperfect

This is my Thursday column.

Your favorite NFL team probably isn’t good.

Ten weeks into the season, only 11 of the 32 teams in the NFL have winning records. That’s the fewest number of winning teams this late in a season since 1990, when the number was also 11. Then, the league had 28 teams, not 32.

When did the NFL become so mediocre? Where have all the good teams gone?

“That’s a great question; I have no idea,” cornerback Richard Sherman said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. Sherman’s Seahawks went to the Super Bowl the past two seasons — they used to be great. Now, they’re just another sub-par team whose record is 4-5.

“Why don’t you guys have a winning record?” a reporter asked.

“Because we lost more games than we won.”

“Can you go a little bit deeper? Why do you think you guys have five losses?”

“Because we didn’t score more points than the other team.”

Thank you, Richard.

In all fairness, he isn’t paid to philosophize on the state of the NFL. Better to ask Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

Pete, how come only 34 percent of NFL teams have winning records right now?

“I think we’ve seen a good number of teams have undefeated records long into the season,” Carroll said Wednesday on a conference call. “I think that’s why the imbalance is there. We had a bunch of 6-0’s and 7-0’s putting a lot of losses on people … I don’t think it means much.”

In other words, it’s a fluke 21 teams don’t have winning records a week before Thanksgiving.


With all due respect to Carroll, I disagree with his theory. I have my own:

Teams don’t practice enough anymore.

In 2011, the players union and the owners signed a collective bargaining agreement which reduced the amount of hours teams are allowed to practice, and the amount of padded practices teams are allowed to have each week.

Now, teams conduct more “walk-through” practices, where players don’t run or hit each other — they just go through the motions slowly. Somehow, this is supposed to prepare players for games.

Since the new CBA came into effect, the average rushing yards gained in the league has dropped every season. In 2011, offenses averaged 117.1 rushing yards per game. In 2012, they averaged 115.9 rushing yards per game. In 2013, they averaged 112.0 rushing yards per game. In 2014, they averaged 111.3 rushing yards per game. And this season, they’re averaging only 109.0 rushing yards per game — the lowest average since 1999.

How can teams have sharp, crisp running games if they don’t practice aggressive run blocking during the week?

Since the new CBA came into effect, the average punt return has gotten shorter every season. In 2011, teams averaged 9.9 yards per punt return. This season, teams are averaging only 8.8 yards per punt return.

How can teams have effective return games if they don’t practice tackling?

Since the new CBA came into effect, there has been an average of 1,198 sacks per season. The five seasons before the CBA came into effect, there was an average of only 1,106 sacks per season. Sacks are on the rise.

How can offensive linemen be ready to take on highly-paid pass rushers without practicing live pass protection during the week?


Players these days have more athletic talent than ever, but their football skills are worse than ever due to insufficient preparation. As a result, the quality of the NFL’s product is inferior to what it was before the new CBA.

But, an inferior product seems to be exactly what the suits on Park Avenue want. The NFL likes parity. Parity keeps more teams alive for the playoffs, and keeps more fans interested for an entire season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t care about the mediocrity of the league, as long as viewers keep tuning in at record numbers and the league cash register keeps ringing to the tune of more than $10 billion a year.

Every year, the NFL charges fans more and more for this inferior game. They charge outrageous prices for season tickets, seat licenses, concessions, parking and apparel. Fans think they’re paying top dollar to watch a cutting-edge expression of their favorite sport.

Really, they’re just watching second-rate entertainment.

Welcome to the new NFL.

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

  1. You could have taken the points you made from comments around the NFL when the salary cap was started.

    The CBA gives an advantage to good coaches who have good or lucky GMs. So does the salary cap. Back in the day there was a cry to bring back the dynasty NFL. You are a generation late.

    1. I think there’s a push-pull when it comes to parity.

      Parity – Salary Cap, Draft
      Anti-Party – Constant rule changes favoring pocket passers.

      The draft and salary cap are structured to encourage parity. (That’s one thing soccer fans around the world admire about American football). The league thinks lack of parity reduces revenue.

      But the league also thinks it needs super-star pocket passers to maintain a high level of fan interest. (I disagree, but I think that’s what NFL higher-ups believe) They constantly change rules to keep passing offenses at the forefront, and provide special safety protections to pocket passers.

      The problem is there are only 8-12 high level pocket passers. This has an anti-parity effect.

      I think it would be a better game without all the rule changes favoring passing. I’m not holding my breath for a return to the good old days.

        1. B2W,

          You mean the good old days when every team had a Montana, Marino, Favre or Young? I don’t completely disagree with what you’re saying, but there have always been QB’s who are a cut above and teams with those QB’s typically were the NFL’s best. IMO, regardless of the rules, in football, you need a good QB.

          Another factor is there are more teams now than in years gone by and there aren’t enough good QB’s to go around.

      1. Brodie-
        I agree the cumulative effect of all these tweaks to the rules are to accentuate the passing game. I attribute this to pressure from the TV networks to make the game more “entertaining.” I think this pressure has been exercised for many years and changed the game a lot. I even think some of the Safety rules are to address the image of the game, not actual player safety.
        There is sooooo much money that nobody is going to walk away from it. The owners, the league, the NFLPA, the players, their agents; nobody.
        It’s like when bears discover a landfill. They’re not going back to Huckleberries once they’ve discovered the Twinkie & Bacon Fat Mine.

  2. I would agree as I’m sure most do that softening up the practices does nothing to improve the league. I’m sure it’s something coaches complain about on a regular basis in the new NFL. What I’m not sure I agree is that there is a connection between the intensity of practices and the league wide standings.

    “In other words, it’s a fluke 21 teams don’t have winning records a week before Thanksgiving.”

    Yea, it could be.

    “When did the NFL become so mediocre?”

    Exactly, this is a question you should have answered in this piece. How many teams had winning records this time last season and the year before. Is there a trend or is this a one year singularity? You mention a decline in stats but has there also been a decline in overall team wide standings as well?

  3. When player reps bargain with the NFL over comfort and safety issues player losses are usually monetary, wins mainly non-monetary. For example…

    – The players wanted reduced number of preseason games. They lost that one. Preseason games make money for the NFL.

    – The players hate Thursday games. They lost that one too. Thursday games bring in a boatload of cash the NFL.

    – The players wanted less off season training time and contact practices. The NFL let them win that one. Shorter practice time has no effect on cash flow. It also saves face for the player reps not to get skunked at the bargaining table.

    Expect future league concessions to follow the pattern. Degraded quality of play? Who cares as long as the money rolls in. If the league really did give a hoot, they wouldn’t have bombarded us with increased advertising time outs over the years.

  4. NFL and 9ers charge big $…but no one has to pay. One trip to Levi’s last year was my last. Horrible experience, TV fine plus I could care less about domestic beer. And now 9ers suck so I don’t plan my Sunday around the game anymore ;(

    1. Lol, scroll down on the page. I’m pretty sure Jack posted on there as Mertons_merkin. You’ll know which one it is.

      1. Holy wow. Now I’m convinced that Merton is Jack. Keep scrolling through the comments. He’s clearly Blaines #1 fan.

        1. Nah. This is the only place I comment and I don’t really read NN.

          Good to know though that someone else out there see’s the brilliance of the Gabber.

      1. Coffee’s for Closers® November 18, 2015 at 9:43 pm
        Lol, scroll down on the page.
        Heh, I know Cub. :) I was enjoying it quite a bit.

  5. I beg to differ. The main reason the RB yardage has declined is because the league is more pass happy. The new rules have made passing much safer, but it is also glorified 2 hand touch. Ronnie Lott was feared, and only the bravest took a pass over the middle.

    1. I think Grant’s observation is valid, but I think there may be an additional causal influence. Its been well documented by several sources, but the proliferation of the spread offense in college is producing lineman that don’t know how to play a pro style running game. So you add players in experienced at this style of game and less practice you get poor performance.

      Defenses have caught up to NFL offenses right now too. Seb RB’s are moving up the draft again. Teams are putting more emphasis on running the ball but its not working well because of the factors Grant listed and O lineman. Someone less lazy than I am should look what the trend is for average passing yds per games are over the past 5 years? There’s been a trend according to the link below for a slight increase in passing yds but there’s no data beyond 2012.

      Here’s one, it only goes through 2012 so it doesn’t really compare to Grants figures.

      1. Wilson, I concede that RBs are gaining importance in the draft, but that is because teams need balance. Marino proved that a very very potent passing attack cannot offset having no running game. Both are needed for success.
        However, the new rules accentuate the passing game, so RBs are used more for blocking and an outlet pass.

          1. Marino would’ve checked out of most running plays called, LOL!
            He did get into a Super Bowl with an all aerial attack.
            I’m just teasing Wilson. A run game always helps, but it’s just hard for me to imagine Dan any way but as the slinger he was.

            1. Actually, I think Marino’s defense let him down. He just could not outscore the opposition. Guess it takes an entire team with no weak links.

            2. You’re right BT, he wouldn’t have used the run game. Marino was a marvel back in the day. I watched him get annihilated by the Redskins as a child. But all the AFC teams save for the Raiders got killed during that era.

              Seb, having an arial attack means your drives are quick and don’t eat up clock. Which leaves your defense on the field forever. Also, look back the Redskins that beat him had a great running game and a good defense.

              1. I remember the Niner-Dolphin Super Bowl. Marino was supposed to be unstoppable, but the Niners had a Pro Bowl defensive backfield. However, the Niners won because they made Marino one dimensional. I think they allowed only 25 yards rushing. Niners had over 200 yards rushing, so they blew out the Dolphins. They also had Joe.

              2. My recollection is that the 49ers put pressure on Marino and he folded like a deck chair.

                I believe he was barely touched, let alone sacked that year. The 49ers hit him and he flinched.

  6. Hmmm. I’m not sure I understand the parity argument. Doesn’t the large number of teams with very good records mean the bell curve has been squashed (i.e. fatter tails)? That doesn’t seem like parity to me. And is there any evidence that the teams that are winning are practicing more?

    You noted increased sacks and fewer rushing yards. Maybe this is the natural byproduct of more passing plays?

  7. Players nowadays are so much bigger, stronger and faster. Lawrence Taylor was a freak of nature, now he would be the norm. 300 pound players were rare back then, now they are the norm, and can run faster than many QBs.
    Bigger stronger faster means more bone numbing collisions. Lack of practice time does not affect injuries as much as physics. Borland got hit, and figured out he would be permanently injured if he continued, because flying bodies deliver such deadly concussive force.

    1. Guys are bigger faster stronger because of substance. If the NFL really wanted to lower injuries, get the substances out of the players. How many non-contact injuries have we seen this year(and over the last 10), guys tearing tendons and ligaments just running in practice (and as everyone knows, you bulk up too quickly from substances and your tendons don’t, they don’t react the same way, big muscles + weak ligaments = injuries).

      The reason for lack of practice is less about injuries as it is head trauma. If they want to fix that, learn to tackle head up, don’t lead with your head.

      1. Proof? just watch a player deflate after his playing days are over.
        Roids also contribute to roid rage and domestic violence.
        I hope they design better helmets. Helmets contribute to the problem because they can be used as a weapon, and still do not protect the head enough.

      2. I haven’t seen the numbers to verify it, but I doubt there is a drastic change from recent decades as far as non contact injuries. They’ve happened for as long as I can remember, and while I agree PED’s are a problem, there isn’t much the league can do beyond what they have in place due to the agreement on testing having to be agreed to by the players association. Getting rid of them is a pipe dream.

  8. spot on, Grant – even allowing for the fact that our team sucks, i find even other games to be almost unwatchable with the inconsistent play and the constant interruptions (commercials, replays, etc). NFL football has the nation’s fascination and attention, but if it were a stock i’d say that without some changes it’s in danger of having peaked.

  9. Grant whether the postulation is accurate or not is one thing but I do want to give credit for coming up with the idea and the effort put forth fleshing it out. It’s easy to be critical and attack the concept but that shouldn’t take away from the effort put into it. Good job.

    1. Hmm, Grant postulating and theorizing? What happened to the negative attacks and screeds? Those generated more hits.
      Grant may try hard, but he is like a bad plumber. His ideas are problematic and his theories cant hold water.

  10. You mention that the win percentage is the lowest since 1990 and the RPA is lowest since 1999…what was the reason for those numbers to be so low back then? As you stated those yards per attempt/carry have dropped since 2011, but how about between 1999 and 2011, how much did it fluctuate? Also, what about the win percentage between 1990 and now, for the week before Thanksgiving, how much did it fluctuate, what was the high point, etc? If these were the lowest numbers ever, then you’d have a better point, but it could be more than just practice that is the issue.

    I feel that the offseason practice is the issue, training camps and preseason. You have teams going into week one who aren’t week one ready by 1980s, 90s, and 2000 standards. I think that is playing into why teams are underpeforming across the board.

    As far as the YPC/YPA numbers, its the olines. Linemen are coming out of college not knowing how to properly run block, they to are impacted by the spread offenses in college.

  11. Interesting topic, but I don’t think the practices are the biggest issue personally. Teams had gone away from physical practices prior to the last CBA because they didn’t want to lose key contributors to injuries from their own team. All the CBA did was extend the down time for players so they wouldn’t be forced to join the offseason program a month after the season ended.

    There is also the fact that the league goes through ebbs and flows that result in competitive imbalance in some years. There are seasons where a team makes it into the playoffs with a losing record and then others where a team can miss the playoffs with 11 wins. There is no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens.

    I agree the product is not as good as it used to be, but that is due to the rule changes more than the teams practice habits imo. In an effort to protect themselves from future injury lawsuits and to try to convince the coming generation that it’s still safe for their children to play the game, the NFL has invoked rule changes that have changed the product dramatically. The physicality of the sport, the big hits and aggressiveness that defined it, have been systematically removed and replaced with penalties that take away that aspect of the game and disrupt the flow of it. The worst thing about watching a game now is seeing a big play or a big hit on defense and then cringing because you expect to see a flag and often do.

    The biggest problem I see is in the rule changes and officiating; not the players or their practice habits, and it’s only going to get worse as they continue to take hitting out of the game completely.

    1. I don’t recall Jim Brown or Jim Taylor ever skipping practice; Butkus almost quit football at Illinois because of a lack of hitting…maybe we have too many racehorses pulling plows…?

  12. This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to collect people’s thoughts on Gabbert’s performance against ATL (compared to his last appearances for Jacksonville in 2013), and what people think about Gabbert’s future (if any) in SF?

    I’ve noticed Jack Hammer is supportive of Gabbert to some extent and Jack I’d be interested in your thoughts, pro and con on Gabbert.

    Can anyone in here make a case that Gabbert could be the QBOTF and we can allocate our top draft pick towards another critical need (probably replacing Justin Smith or Aldon Smith’s production)?

    1. I had a whim that I never followed up on but if anyone is interested enough to go find out how that performance compared to Gabbert’s entire career. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in his top 5. Hell it might even be top 3.

    2. My personal opinion is that Gabbert demonstrated some capable if not athletic pocket manipulation instincts, read progressions, and competitive fire (!) in a way that was a surprise. I also think that 1 game samples are dangerous (Troy Smith, Shaun Hill or JT O’Sullivan anyone??) and Seattle and Arizona will provide true tests on Gabbert.

      1. I was one of the few on this blog that was not totally anti-Gabbert before he started against the Falcons. As I said then, I’d not watched him play for the Jaguars and therefore had few preconceptions. I think he played fairly well for his first game. BUT, I think we need a substantially larger sample size than 1 game in order to make any predictions.

      2. If Quinn did not go brain dead, the Niners should have lost the game. Gabbert did throw that interception when it could have lost the game, but all in all, Gabbert did enough to win and did have many good playmaking decisions.
        You are correct, this next game will be the true test.

    3. Can anyone in here make a case that Gabbert could be the QBOTF and we can allocate our top draft pick towards another critical need (probably replacing Justin Smith or Aldon Smith’s production)?

      That case can’t be made based on what he’s done in the NFL to date. I don’t know if you saw it, but there were some links posted here a couple of weeks ago that put Gabbert’s career performance among the worst in NFL history. If he starts the rest of the season and plays well, then there is reason to believe they will go with him next year, but I would imagine they would also bring in serious competition and/or a drafted QB.

      He played efficiently against Atlanta, but he also made some mistakes like the bad pick late in the game and missing some deeper targets that were open in favor of the shorter option. There is also the fact that Kap had played so poorly in the previous two games that Gabbert’s performance seemed like a major step up which it was, but likely not to the level it appeared. This game in Seattle and next weeks against AZ will tell us a lot in how far he’s come in his time away from Jax. I hope he does well and we can have the discussion in the offseason about whether he is a serious candidate to move forward with, but right now it’s one game at a time.

      1. Brotha Tuna
        Bro Tuna,

        Spot on, and with the York’s busily creating their arrogant mirror image and legacy by ignoring past 49er SuperBowl winning coaches and their offspring during recurring (neverending?) coaching searches, it will be years before they realize the wheel has already been invented, and it does not look anything like the York’s mirror image, not matter how much they want it to, nor how much they wish their NFL bretheren to get on their knees to worship the York family.

        November 19, 2015 at 7:26 am

        I agree the cumulative effect of all these tweaks to the rules are to accentuate the passing game. I attribute this to pressure from the TV

        1. I meant, I agree with Bro Tuna saying “I agree the cumulative effect of all these tweaks to the rules are to accentuate the passing game…”

          TomD’s comments were posted above those.

    4. I couldn’t be bothered trying to refind the article, but I read that his QBR against the Falcons was good for 3rd highest in his career.

  13. Adam Schefter – NFL expected to allow teams to begin trading compensatory draft picks, per NFL sources.

    I’m taking that as good news. I just wish the rule change happened three years ago.

    1. This might mean a small change in Baalke’s injury redshirt strategy. When the roster was talent packed 2011-2014, promising late picks might have to be cut. The NFI picks made more sense. They saved roster space, and you still had the player for 4 years because of the added RFA season.

      Now he has the flexibility to package those picks if he thinks there’s a roster space bind, which could reduce the number of redshirt picks. (Last year he only had one… Smelter.)

      I’m not the critic of Baalke’s ACL red shirts most are. (That doesn’t mean I always think he chose the right player. Tank would be struggling if his knee was perfect.)

      *** Redshirt Tracker ***

      Draft – Overall Pick – Player – Status

      2013 – 40 – Carradine – Active Roster. Knee fine.
      2013 – 132 – Lattimore – Cut. Knee never recovered.
      2013 – 157 – Dial – Starter. Foot fine.
      2014 – 100 – Thomas – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
      2014 – 170 – Reaser – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
      2014 – 180 – Acker – Starter. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
      2014 – 245 – Millard – Cut. Knee fine.
      2015 – 132 – Smelter – Current Redshirt. 2016 “Rookie”

      Average Draft Spot – 144 (5th round)
      Number of Players – 8
      Elidgeable To Play in 2015 – 7
      Active Roster – 5
      Did Not Recover From College Injury – 1

      Player Notes:

      Carradine – Highest ACL player picked. He was activated in his rookie season, which means we lost an RFA season. Knee fine, but a possible a bust. He needs to play outside in a 4-3. This pick was poorly thought out.

      Lattimore – Only red shirt that never recovered. Everyone knew it was a long shot. Dumb pick.

      Dial – Starter. One of the 49ers better players. Great pick. (Missed some of rookie season with college injury. Did he play late in his rookie season?)

      Thomas – Active Roster. Disappointing so far. Some think he’s a bad fit for zone blocking. Injury reportedly fine.

      Reaser – Great camp. Almost won starting job. Now a rotational player.

      Acker – Great camp. Won starting job.

      Millard – Cut. OK camp. His knee (seems) fine, just didn’t make the cut. Are the 49ers still a fullback oriented team?

      Smelter – Knee way ahead of schedule. 2016 will be his “rookie” season. Impressive camp.


      – Thomas, Reaser, Acker, Smelter have an extra RFA year by league rule.

      – None of the 12 players that went on IR in 2014 were injury red shirts. Non-redshirt picks seem to be riding the pine as much (if not more) that the NFI squad.

      1. Brodie,

        Good stuff, but I don’t think Acker and Dial were drafted with a red shirt season in mind as the others were. Acker was hurt at the end of TC and Dial from what I remember hurt his toe in his final year at Bama but wasn’t expected to miss an entire season at the time.

        Of the picks Baalke drafted knowing they would likely miss a season, the only one who has played much of a role is Reaser and that has been on a limited basis. There is still time and hope of course, but the return on these types of picks has not been good so far.

        1. Great points. Not all were intended NFI picks, and Tank and Dial actually played in their rookie season. I lumped them to point out the perceptions vs reality gap when it comes to drafting or retaining rookies with injuries.

          I look at it relative to average draft spot 144 (5th round). Factor in trying to squeeze late round rookies onto the 53 man roster in talent packed era 2011-2014.

          I’m not so sure Baalke would have had a better hit rate drafting non-NFI players during the 2011-2014 era. The lack of roster spots would mean rookies or developmental players getting cut.

          Baalke said after two separate drafts he tries to trade up day 3 picks but there weren’t takers, and the comp picks couldn’t be traded.

          It was understood Dial would miss early games when he was drafted. Acker was hurt in TC. They might have been able to injury settlement him out, but chose to .IR him for a season. I lumped them in.

          Tank, Thomas and Millard could be simply poor talent (or talent fit) assessments. Does that mean drafting players expecting them to go on NFI is philosophically wrong?

          So far only one redshirt player failed because of his injury… Lattimore. An extreme longshot. I hope Baalke fired the medical examiner. A mindless pick. Stupid.

          1. I hear ya Brodie. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of taking a player and putting him on IR for a year because you believe his talent is better than where you can get him, but if you use a pick in the first two days and it doesn’t work out it’s a problem. Hopefully both Tank and Thomas will improve enough to make it worthwhile.

            Using a late pick I have no problem with as it’s a total guess at that point, and if you have a player you believe is 2-3 rounds better than where you are getting him, it’s worth the gamble.

            1. “Using a late pick I have no problem with as it’s a total guess at that point…” +100

              I think that’s the way Baalke is leaning. End of the 4th-7th… unless its a Todd Gurley situation.

          2. Brodie,

            Thanks for the personnel updates.
            This just adds to my record keeping as it helps me to log Baalke’s draft day mistakes, esp. the 2012 draft, his offensive line, WR, and QB selections as well.

            1. Tim Kawakami ‏@timkawakami · 2h2 hours ago
              ‏@ll0yd_d0bler @timkawakami is baalke the type that could work with any jerry west type advisor that York brings on board?

              Tim Kawakami Retweeted lloyd
              No chance. Either could York

              10:42 AM – 19 Nov 2015

            1. Yup. Makes sense to roll the dice. I also think Millard might have been a philosophy cut with the team going more towards multiple TEs and H-Backs.

            2. Sometimes it pays to employ a “David Strategy.” Long bombs have a low success rate, but if you’re down late in the game sometimes you have to.

              David Strategy can also apply to draft picks. Good teams draft late. The low risk-high reward players are off the board. What remains are middling talents that could make decent backups, but good teams don’t have roster space for these guys.

              What remains are high risk-high reward players. Guys that have flaws, but are athletically unique. There’s a better than average chance the player will flop, but sometimes you gotta swing for the fence.

              I think the NFI players are another type of David Strategy pick.

              1. I think long bombs may defeat them. They do not employ 2 safeties deep, so Torrey may shine this weekend, if Gabbert can roll out to avoid the rush and give him time to get downfield. Also, Torrey is adept at drawing the PI flag for a big gain.

        2. Redshirt Players did or doing a (full) NFI season

          2013 – 132 – Lattimore – Cut. Knee never recovered.
          2014 – 100 – Thomas – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
          2014 – 170 – Reaser – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
          2014 – 245 – Millard – Cut. Knee fine.
          2015 – 132 – Smelter – Current Redshirt. 2016 “Rookie”
          2015 – 254 – Busta Anderson – Current Redshirt. 2016 “Rookie”

          Average Draft Spot – 172 (6th round)
          League hit rate for that spot for 3-year starters is roughly 12%.


          – I included Busta Anderson because I think Baalke had hoped to stash him on NFI due to his triceps issues.

          – I excluded Tank even though Baalke may gave drafted him intending to NFI him because I’m a no-good cheat that loves to cherry pick data to bolster my own fragile ego.

          – I’m stunned Thomas sucks.

          – If Smelter works out as a serviceable receiver and Reaser lives up to Grants training camp reports, 2 out of 6 is a really good hit rate for the 6th round.

          1. As per my post below, Busta is not on NFI. He went through TC, and is now on IR. Like Acker, he will also not be a RFA at the end of his contract.

      2. B2W, Acker will not be a RFA at the end of his contract. The rules for accruing a year of NFL service is if the player is on “full pay” for six games or more during the season, they accrue a year of service. “Full pay” is anyone on the 53, as well as those on IR and PUP. NFI and the practice squad are not considered “full pay”.

        Acker was on IR last year, not NFI. He is considered to have accrued a year of NFL service.

        Thomas, Reaser and Smelter are/ were on NFI lists, and therefore did/ will not accrue an NFL season for their respective rookie years, and will be RFAs at the end of their contracts.

        1. Correct. I rechecked on Anderson and Acker are UFA at the 5th season.

          Redshirt Players did or doing a (full) NFI season (Adjusted)

          2013 – 132 – Lattimore – Cut. Knee never recovered.
          2014 – 100 – Thomas – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
          2014 – 170 – Reaser – Active Roster. Knee fine. 2015 “Rookie”
          2014 – 245 – Millard – Cut. Knee fine.
          2015 – 132 – Smelter – Current Redshirt. 2016 “Rookie”

          Average Draft Spot – 156th (late 5th round)

          League hit rate for that spot for 3-year starters is somewhere between 12-19%.

  14. TomD

    November 19, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Tim Kawakami ‏@timkawakami · 2h2 hours ago
    ‏@ll0yd_d0bler @timkawakami is baalke the type that could work with any jerry west type advisor that York brings on board?

    Tim Kawakami Retweeted lloyd
    No chance. Either could York

    10:42 AM – 19 Nov 2015

    1. Back on November 2, I pointed out that San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde may need surgery to repair a stress fracture on his left foot while also missing at least four to six weeks.
      A source close to the situation told me early this morning that Hyde may not even make the trip to Seattle. “It doesn’t appear that Hyde will play against the Seahawks, I’m almost 100 percent sure about that.”

  15. I predated this article last summer with my own assessment of P. Marathe and noticing his constant presence in TV-Cutaways in the coaches booth, in addition to his Flag Challenge job in the booth, given to him by the York’s, and that Harbaugh, tiring of this, spoke purposely rude to J. York, knowing he would be fired. Harbaugh read the room correctly and knew he was never going to get power in personnel matters above Baalke or Maarathe.

    Marathe active game involvement is something that has been discussed in a limited manner, but has picked up a bit of steam more recently. Play calling and other football decisions – normally reserved the coaching staff – was a point of escalating tension under Nolan, Singletary and finally Jim Harbaugh’s coaching tenure. Marathe – an analytics guru and numbers cruncher – often

  16. Grant I posted earlier this week that the play in the NFL is worse recently than it has been in the over 55 years i’ve been watching. I watch the 9ers and sometimes thats the only game I watch on Sunday. The real entertaining football happens on Saturday and if the NFL doesn’t watch out college football will surpass it in popularity.
    I believe there are a couple of other reasons for the mediocre play in the NFL
    #1 The spread offense in college and high school. The NFL is having to teach these players a completely new game when the arrive.
    #2 the hard cap salary cap. Players that have been developed by a team who would love to stay with that team, who are coveted by the team are forced to leave that team. There is little continuity in the league. I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of teams since the cap arrived, that along with the cut back in practice has resulted in really poor football being played in the NFL. Great article Grant

    1. OC:

      But when you say ” play in the NFL is worse recently than it has been in the over 55 years i’ve been watching”, you don’t necessarily mean that you believe that the best team from an earlier era would be better than the best team from this era, do you? I haven’t been watching as long as you, but it seems that defenses are significantly better now than they were previously (of course, it’s all relative, so it might be because the offenses are worse, so the defenses look better). It also seems like NFL schemes both offensive and especially defensive are better. Curious what you think on these points.

    2. I agree re he hard cap. Long term players that want to finish out their careers with the same team should have a percentage or their pay applied to the cap depending on tenure and position.

      I also think there should be housing and state tax allowances for high rent regions like NYC and SF. (never happen, but it should happen)

  17. These next two weeks are going to get really ugly. For those thinking that Gabbert is going to play well against these two teams coming up will have a rude awakening! These next 2 game’s will force major changes at the end of the year. I hate to say it we will get blown out bad the next 2 weeks. This could end up being a blessing is disguise.

    1. I read this and immediately thought Chip Kelly would be a perfect fit. He coaches off science and algorithms. Maybe we can trade Baalke, Jed Yorks favorite car, and 3 ipads to the Eagles to get Chip to the Bay.

      1. Yeah, Houston, I’m not sure. I posted a while back that I’m a seasoned consultant, but am very wary of consultants who try to apply analytics outside their area of expertise. If Marathe were a seasoned football guy (most likely a coach) who has a penchant for analytics that would be one thing, but he is not. Regardless, I think the analytics should be presented to the football coaches to use if they believe there is value, but the analytics shouldn’t be forced on them (same applies to drafting). If that’s not what the 49ers want, then they should hire younger coaches, who are more used to analytics. But even in this case, the analytics shouldn’t be forced on them. IMO.

      1. Thanks for the new nightmare, ht (where’s that sarcasm font). From your link:

        “— Dr. York didn’t let Marathe pick the coach in ’05, but he thought that “over time” he could gain the experience required to be the team’s general manager.

        (Hold up. I just realized something.)

        If Baalke gets fired after this season — an unlikely event, but one that’s certainly possible if the team goes further into the tank and the younger players he drafted don’t show much improvement — it isn’t out of the realm that Marathe would replace Baalke and become the 49ers President AND General Manager.”

        Marathe replacing Baalke ??!

        1. (Sigh) Jed assigning Marathe as GM is something I would view with as much trepidation and disdain as Eddie hiring Joe Thomas back in the day. At least Thomas was a football guy even if he was a jerk. It was demoralizing at the time.
          This year, next year; if TB gets the hook and Jed goes that way it will cement the notion that leadership is clueless, and the Faithful descend into hopeless despair leading to disinterest. Empty seats in the Taj Mahal, Jed?

      2. I’d give anything to see the analytic that made them pick JT as head coach. My bet is that it was a doodle on a cocktail napkin.

  18. Perhaps teams have fewer padded practices but the players may live to see 70 instead of dieing at 50. Perhaps these players will be able to walk on their own instead of with a walker. Perhaps they’ll be able to keep the knees God gave them instead of replacing them with titanium. I’m fine with these players safety being taken into consideration.

    Stupid article.

    1. Maybe Marathe didn’t like Harbaugh because Jim was the only person on the planet worse at calling for reviews than Marathe himself.

    1. The Niners are 3-6. My assessment is that Jed does not have a clue. Waiting until the end of the season just means he does not want to win.
      Eddie would be biting and clawing, trying everything in the book to get a win. Jed is sitting on his hands.

      1. I didn’t need this season to know that York doesn’t have a clue because it was pretty obvious beforehand.

  19. Like it or not, Carroll is correct. The fact that a high number of teams went deeper than usual into the season with undefeated records mandates that other teams will have bad records.

    It’s simple arithmetic. The combined records of all teams will always show an equal number of wins and losses. If a few teams hoard the W’s then other teams will be sporting the losses.

    Over time some of those fast early teams (GB for example) will start losing a few and things begin to shift back. So the small sample size and drawing early unwarranted conclusions is also at play here. Add it up at the end of the year.

    Finally, the premise of the article is bogus. Win-loss records say nothing about what quality of play is going on. You could imagine the 8 greatest teams in history one season, all going 16-0 or 15-1. The next 24 teams could each be equivalent to typical Super Bowl winners of years past but because of the 8 immortal teams, there would be a bunch of losses to divvy up. The combined league w-l percentage is always.500. It is a fixed constant. Says nothing about the distribution of wins.

    1. People use statistics like a drunkard uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination. I don’t know who first said it but I’ve found it to be almost universally true. Like Adlai Stevenson said: “These are the conclusions on which I base my facts”.

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