Next step for 49ers is to complete the defense

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


And the winner of the prestigious 49ers Coach of the Year Award, which I just made up, goes to defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

This was no easy decision. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was a serious candidate. But Shanahan has Jimmy Garoppolo, and Saleh has only half a defense.

Click here to read the rest of my column.

This article has 151 Comments

  1. I agree they need to add a CB and edge player. I would look to FA for the CB to play opposite Witherspoon. If they can get a good edge player in FA as well then great, but Lawrence is a risk. Already been done twice I believe for substance abuse. I would steer clear. Draft one. Clelin Ferrell.

        1. He sounds good on paper, but I haven’t seen enough to go beyond that.

          I heard something about the corner that Grant mentioned too this week. He balled out big time against OSU. Need to see more of him too though.

          1. Only watched one game of his. He was definitely too good for the OL trying to block him that game. Seems to have both good speed and strength. But not sure how much the level of competition helped. I have read he could be a top 15 pick, so clearly there are a few people that like him.

          2. One guy I do like that could be had a little later (I expect), if he declares, is Hercules Mata’afa. Very quick off the ball, and also very strong for his size (heck, WSU used him at 3T and NT on occasion). Very disruptive and gets a lot of TFL. Not that big so he would likely need to be a 3rd down specialist to start with.

            1. Marcus Davenport is an interesting prospect and one that I would be excited for if the Niners drafted him around the 10th pick.

              He’s a player that even Baalke could get excited about (long armed edge rusher).

              If Conor Williams and Bradley Chubb are off the board (which they should be) then Davenport or Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a great choice to help improve the defensive 3rd down queries.

              1. Davenport is an interesting prospect because he’s a prototypical edge rusher in terms of physical traits, and he’s a high twitch, high motor player as well. He’s one of these physical freaks athletically, but what he’s missing is any semblance of refined, pass rushing technique.

                Of course, technique can be taught, but he’s probably not going to come into the NFL and simply dominate physically, so he’s going to be a bit of a project IMO. High ceiling edge rusher who will need to be developed in terms of technique. I have a high 2nd round grade on him.

                Wow, Saquon Barkley breaks a 92 yard TD! ……. GOOSEBUMPS! I’ve never seen such a fast, explosive RB with his lateral quickness in a 210 lbs RB, let alone, 229 lbs. Insane! Best pro RB prospect I have ever seen, and a perfect fit for Shanny’s stretch zone concepts!

            1. 49reasons,

              I’m not sure if Davenport is as raw as you think he is.

              He shows a spin move (albeit a slow developing one) and has decent hand movement when Tackles try to engage him.

              He may not be an immediate 3 down EDGE rusher, but neither was Aldon Smith (well aware Aldon had a better bullrush and slightly more polished).

              Who would you realistically consider worthy of the 11th pick if Davenlkrt isn’t an option for you?

    1. I’ve been trying to get some sneak peeks at guys in the bowl games, particularly at Edge.
      -Landry at BC underwhelmed
      -Hubbard of Ohio State didn’t stand out
      -Lewis of Ohio State made a couple of plays
      -Previously I’d been impressed with Bryant at Clemson
      -Okoronkwo’s of Oklahoma speed was giving the O State tackles problems. He’s a couple of inches shorter than Von Miller at 6-1 245, but he gave those big guys problems.
      Looking at DraftTek’s prospects lists, I can’t make sense of their overall rankings:
      Landry BC Edge #8 Overall!
      Bryant of Clemson Edge #63
      B.Price OhioSt OC-OG #53
      Q.Nelson OG Norte Dame #34
      O.Brown OT Oklahoma #60
      C.Williams OT Texas #37 (Mid and Razor might agree with that one)
      Okoronkwo Edge Oklahoma #139
      I dunno

      1. Of the scant footage I’ve watched of edge rushers, Arden Key jumps off the screen. But he’s had mystery personal absences from practice and injury issues this year. I’d want scouting to thoroughly research his personal life.

      1. As an edge rusher? Not really. He’s a big end. His 9.5 sacks this year look great, but nearly 2/3 of those came in one game against an out-matched OT.

        If the signed him to replace Tank then that would be a good signing, but still would need a Leo.

        1. Nick Bosa not coming out this year, but he has looked like an awesome Leo prospect to me. He had presence but not dominance today vs Sooners. But yeah, we need to upgrade Leo this year.
          Someone suggested Mingo today, but he was a 1st round under achiever at Browns (yeah, I know; Browns), then a couple of flashes at NE, who now sign 95 year old Harrison cuz that’s where they need the help. Hmmmm.. Mingo could be a FA bargain, but not a solution imo.
          Much hand wringing here about S.Thomas and Buck being the inside guys 3rd down and leaving Amistead as situational sub. So what? EA is a Baalke pick, he doesn’t cost Lynch/Shanny anything. He can play some 5T and some 3T and keep rotations fresher. Our Patron Saint, BW, was a huge advocate of keeping pass rushers fresh for the 4Q.

  2. Only half the story with 1981. Duane Board also broke out. But nobody thinks about ‘Pee Wee’ as he was known.

    His story is one of great luck for the 49res and determination and fortitude on his part. We’d claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh in 1979 while he was on the way to a job interview to a non-football career.

    He played a little as a rookie, including some starts. In 1980 he got hurt and missed much of the season. In 1982 he got hurt really bad and doctors gave him a 10% chance of being able walk normally. Yet he rehabbed his butt off and beat the odds and in 1983 he started a four year run where he averaged about 10-sacks a year. (42.5 sacks during that time with a low of 8 sacks).

    In fact, during the over-lap of their careers (Dean & Board), Board was the more consistent pass-rusher. Dean had two double-digit years — 1981 & 1983. But in ’82, ’84 & ’85 he was pretty ineffective pulling in just 11.5 sacks, in total, for those three years with a total of 28, 17.5 of which came in one season, during that four-year over-lap.

    But he didn’t get the press. He was good against the run. He was an excellent pass-rusher from the left side. He did everything you wanted. Yet Dean got all the glory and credit.

    And that’s the media’s fault. The king makers and king wreckers. The ones who create the heroes and ignore, or pillory, those they deem not worthy. Kind of a shame, really because Board also deserves his share of the Champion’s Portion.

    When King Conor and his court had entered Bricriu’s house at Dundrum, and were sitting at the feast, Bricriu was forced by his sureties to leave the hall, for men feared his malicious tongue, and as he went to his watch-tower he turned and cried:

    “The Champion’s Portion at my feast is worth having; let it be given to the best hero in Ulster.”

    The carving and distribution of the viands began, and when the Champion’s Portion was brought forward it was claimed by three chariot-drivers, Laegaire’s, Conall’s, and Cuchulain’s, each on behalf of his master; and when no decision was made by King Conor the three heroes claimed it, each for himself. But Laegaire and Conall united in defying Cuchulain and ridiculing his claim, and a great fight began in the hall, till all men shook for fear; and at last King Conor intervened, before any man had been wounded.

    “Put up your swords,” he said. “The Champion’s Portion at this feast shall be divided among the three, and we will ask King Ailill and Queen Meave of Connaught to say who is the greatest champion.” This plan pleased every one but Bricriu, who saw his hopes of fomenting strife disappear.

    1. Board wasn’t an addition though. Think of a guy like Thomas or Buckner as the Board character in the scenario that Grant is describing.

      1. Once again, you and the point are not in same universe. You really need to use that bag of neurons between your ears. Board, for all intents and purposes, came from nowhere to also contribute to the defense. He’d had 8 starts in the prior two years.

        But fools run with the narrative that it was Fred Dean & Ronnie Lott. It was Lott, Wright, Harty, Board, Dean, Thomas (the nickle), Williamson the SS and two prior years of building.

        It wasn’t a magic pony changed by one trade and two rookies. That’s a false narrative started by the lazy press and continued by a kid who wasn’t even alive back then.

        1. Big Mo,

          Thanks, but I know all about Dwaine Board.

          Unfortunately the article was about players who could be added to the team, which is why Board isn’t someone who would be mentioned here.

          If you want to play this game it also wasn’t just Montana and Clark. It was Solomon, Young and Elliott too. But that doesn’t have anything to do with what Grant’s trying to get across.

          And yeah it wasn’t just one trade or one draft pick. It was the addition on those guys though who helped propel the team to such great heights.

          You should try changing your underwear size to something a bit larger because you’re quite upright my little friend.

        2. Mo, you’re so preachy. A number of us were there as well. Grant’s relating events that happened in sequence and lead to the turn around.
          Of course it’s a team game! Duh! And BW stressed a choreographed approach to team work; emphasizing spacing. Yes. And he put pieces in place at the rate he was able to upgrade the roster. Yes. In the Walsh regime Board was a charter member, a solid not spectacular player, and a mentor and leader. Yes.
          But then the draft of Lott, Wright and Williamson patched holes in the roster.
          Those choices were yuge, but still the youngsters in the secondary were learning the ropes and the team was I think 1-3 and Glenn Dickey was calling for Walsh to be sacked…
          BUT THEN, with the other pieces already in place, came the Fred Dean trade and the fortunes of the team were changed forever. My lying eyes saw it, everybody saw it, but now you declare it a foolish narrative. Sure.
          The inverse came true as well. The Haley trade, and the 49ers pass rush wasn’t the same for years, effecting the defense and the entire team on game days. When the trade happened, Al Davis called JJ and told him he’d make the SB with that move.
          You can reinterpret history if you want, and do so flashing insults all around, but I know what I saw go down, and I’m tempted to not put too much credence in your next revisionist adventures.

  3. “With the right additions at cornerback and edge rusher, the 49ers could go to the Super Bowl next season.”


    “In free agency, the 49ers can sign Demarcus Lawrence”

    We have to sign Lawrence if we can. We should have signed Bouye this year.

    1. They tried to sign Bouye. But there’s this thing called ‘free will.’ You can try all you want, but players make choices. Reggie White turned down the 49ers because he thought Policy was a sleaze. We tried to resign Sanders, but he wouldn’t because he thought Policy was a sleaze. We’ve missed out on other FAs for various reasons, not all having to do with money.

      1. Moses,
        I don’t remember anything about White thinking Policy was a sleaze but I do remember he was very uncomfortable with the large gay community in SF.

  4. Grant, your dislike and petty BS shots at Shanahan are immature and they are getting tiresome. Not sure what he did to you but get over it. Shanahan deserves the same level of credit or blame every other coach deserves. Shanahan was part of the decision to make the trade, right? Grow up and give the man some credit.

    1. Shanahan…was part of the decision hire Saleh. As far as the team lacks discipline thing that Grant observed; which was apparent with penalties and such for part of the season, more recently the team has cleaned that up quite a bit. We are lucky things are turning out the way they are, we are about to ride another wave. If there has been a glaring lesson to be learned in the last 20 years, bring back the 49ers winning culture and good things happen.

      1. What grant doesn’t understand is that ROOKIES make mistakes. Rookies draw unnecessary penalties. So do bad players. With a roster full of rookies and bad players, you’re going to have more penalties and mistakes. It’s part of learning to play football at the NFL level.

    2. i agree. i don’t understand why Grant likes to slam Shanahan. of course the offense is going to perform better when you have a good QB under center. it’s not like Shanahan was holding on to an underperforming, aging superstar QB that was basically holding the team back.

      i imagine that Shanahan would have put Jimmy G in at some point, even if CJ wasn’t hurt.

      Grant does certainly seem to have some kind of grudge against Shanahan, and it shows with comments like this. it’s foolish too because it detracts from the real story, which is Shanahan is the right coach for the Niners, the Niners have a franchise QB in Jimmy G, and the Niners are an up and coming team because both Lynch and Shanahan are running the ship.

      and BTW, the Niners now have a competent back up in the wings in CJ. he will only get better.

    3. Shanny deserves more, because in the end, the buck stops with him. He is the conductor.

      Point being, I agree with you. Head Coach should certainly be critiqued, but not bullied by the press. But, by “picking” on the top dog, so comes the notoriety.

      1. What’s your opinion on Mayfield? He has surprised me this year and that’s probably more because I wasn’t very familiar with him prior to this year. I think he has the highest probability of being successful immediately in the NFL. Now, long-term, I’m not so sure. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a career much like Russell Wilson. Needs to mature emotionally and mentally, though.

        1. Reminds me a lil of Jake Plummer, except he scrambles to extend plays to pass. Good in the pocket, a good leader. Tall order to match RW, who has what Bill Polian calls “magic feet.” Decent accuracy even when improvising. I like him, but don’t claim to be a great evaluator of QBs.

        2. cubus,

          I love the attitude with which Mayfield plays the game. To go from walk-on to where he is now shows that he has the intestinal fortitude to be an NFL QB. I’d love to have the guy on my team.

              1. “but he might need a permanent, round-the-clock, chaperone”

                Why? Because he was arrested once for being drunk? Once?

                Other than that the guy doesn’t have a history of off-field issues.

              2. He’s a young man who will suddenly have a lot of money and a lot of opportunities to make poor decisions. His actions in that Kansas game were deplorable; he didn’t seem very remorseful. He doesn’t seem to give one the feeling that he is trying to learn from his mistakes.

                I exaggerated in my comment, but it might not be a bad idea to match him up with a teammate, in a program similar to big brother or AA, if NFL teams have such programs.

              3. “He’s a young man who will suddenly have a lot of money and a lot of opportunities to make poor decisions.”

                That’s true with every rookie.

                “His actions in that Kansas game were deplorable; he didn’t seem very remorseful.”

                His actions in the Kansas game is one of the things I like about the guy. They tried to act tough so he torched them and let them hear about it.

                “He doesn’t seem to give one the feeling that he is trying to learn from his mistakes.”

                You should go read his comments again.

                “I exaggerated in my comment, but it might not be a bad idea to match him up with a teammate, in a program similar to big brother or AA, if NFL teams have such programs.”

                Again, why? Because he was drinking and made a stupid decision once? It’s not like he was a 3-time Pro Bowl QB behind the wheel of a vehicle.

        3. Mayfield is a tough one to project because he literally plays 7 on 7 type ball a lot of the time. He definitely has the it factor as far as leadership and attitude, but I’ll be surprised if he measures in at even 6Ft and he’s not going to play anything resembling this type of offense at the next level. Somebody will take a chance on him but I’m glad we don’t have to.

          I still see Rosen and Darnold going first and second in whatever order. Darnold struggled at times last night but his OL was completely overwhelmed as it has been all season while starting multiple Freshmen due to injury. His athleticism and poise is something that can’t be taught and unlike Mayfield, he is a big guy both in height and weight to hold up at the next level. Rosen is the best passer in this class and technically as prepared as a College QB can be as far as footwork and throwing motion. He’s going to be a pretty good NFL player right out of the gate if he goes to the right team.

          Josh Allen is the biggest gamble imo. He’s got it all physically but hasn’t had a very good College career overall and a terrible season to finish it off. Some of that can be attributed to the supporting cast but he has had an issue with turning the ball over and accuracy his entire time at Wyoming. Again I’m glad we don’t have to make the decision on him. As boom or bust a prospect as I’ve seen in a long time.

          1. I’ve seen Darnold play in four or five games this year and in each game I was unimpressed. Multiple turnovers, ill-advised throws into double and triple coverage (which in the NFL will most likely result in interceptions). He did flash in each game which I think is what is tantalizing scouts/fans. But will he turn into a Jameis Winston (lot’s of talent, but continued bone-head mistakes).

            I agree with Prime in that I’m very thankful we don’t have to hitch our wagon to one of these rookie QBs, with the exception of Mayfield; but I’d much rather have Jimmy G than Mayfield.

            I disagree with your notion that Mayfield won’t hold up in the NFL. One of the most durable NFL QBs is RW especially when you consider how often he gets hit (and I’ve seen almost all of the Seahawks games over the last four to five years). Mayfield seems to me to have a similar, thicker body and that, I think, helps.

            1. I knew the Wilson comparisons would be thrown out here but Wilson is truly one of a kind. Mayfield doesn’t have that kind of athleticism or escapability. We’ll have to wait and see what he measures in at but height wise I don’t think he makes 6Ft which is tough to overcome in the NFL.

              As far as your take on Darnold, you aren’t wrong in that he has turned the ball over way more than you’d like, but as I mentioned he is playing behind a truly awful OL that has been decimated by injury. Even under those conditions he played really well in some big games late in the season.

              This is an all time QB class imo. Some of the top guys struggled for various reasons but the talent in this QB class far surpasses any in recent memory even if Darnold goes back for another year at SC.

              1. With regards to RW, he has athleticism and escapability, but he is still one of the most often sacked QBs in the NFL – tied for 3rd in sacks in 2015, tied for 2nd in 2016, so far 4th in 2017. I don’t know where to look for QB hits (not just sacks).

              2. I’d say no one Cubus only because Mayfield is a unique style. He’s tough and can be very accurate but he is also small and undisciplined.
                I think if he has a strong playoff he might be the 1st QB chosen.
                If I had to pick who he reminds me of in today’s NFL, I’d say a poor mans Matthew Stafford.

    1. Wow. Would shake up draft mocks if both Darnold and Rosen stay in college!
      They {one of} might still have to go to the Browns in 2019!

  5. Shanny trolling the “tanker fans”:
    “My goal is to see how bad of a draft pick we can get,” Shanahan said on KNBR Friday.

  6. Edge and Corner are the clear defensive needs for sure. Good ones transform a defense.

    Only started paying attention to draft prospects. Haven’t even watched a game breakdown. Just highlights. Among highlights Arden Key jumps off the screen. Quick twitch, explosive, bend, length. But labrum repair and absences due to “undisclosed personal issues” make him a risk.

    On offense its O-line. Guard now and a tackle for down the road.

    1. B2W

      I’m at halftime at the Memphis -Iowa State Liberty bowl (TV)and at 75 years old, it’s strange to fall in love, but I HAVE ! Allen Lazard (sp) WR for the cyclone should be on the niner radar….8 catches in the first half…6’5″ 230, and for what I’m seeing …he’s FAST ! No hiding the fact that after Nelson at G, I want to see some TALL strong WRs…just a pipedream, but I’d love to have Lazard and Courtney Sutton in Red and Gold….

  7. One advantage to having lots of cap space is trade deals with teams in cap difficulties. There’s free agency and the draft. But once in a while a cap strapped team will offer a good trade deal. Anquan Boldin and Jimmy Garoppolo are two examples.

    1. I think more than the cap hit, was Jimmy’s desire to play. From the information I gathered, he didn’t want to be paid like a franchise QB to sit on the bench….

  8. Hopefully they don’t go the Sean Smith/ Bruce Irvin route.

    And hopefully they make Jimmy G show them he can lead them to a playoff game and win one before they pay him $25 per

  9. Let’s be grateful 49er fans we don’t have to draft Darnold or Rosen or any QB for that matter. I think both guys will be busts.

  10. Jimmy Envy in Patriotland:
    Rob Ninkovich was struck by Garoppolo’s composure in the final stages of a 25-23 win over Tennessee on Dec. 17 that was capped by his game-winning drive. “I was watching the NFL Films, the two-minute Jimmy had — he was mic’d up,” Ninkovich said. “And it was awesome. I was like ‘Wow, this guy. He’s got the smile. He’s got the tan. Jimmy GQ, he’s in Cali.’ C’mon, it’s unbelievable.”

    1. Imagine being able to play, and knowing you can play, and then having to sit for 4 long years. I know tb12 is man in NE, but JG wins the zen award.

  11. “It wasn’t a magic pony changed by one trade and two rookies. That’s a false narrative started by the lazy press and continued by a kid who wasn’t even alive back then”

    Line of the day. Kudos.

  12. Of couse lil cohn says it was Walsh back in the day that changes things around.

    But Shanahan? Not so much. Shoot, he couldn’t even win with that class A QB Hoyer. Must be crap coach.

    Eyes roll.

  13. Saleh is doing an outstanding job as DC. He’s very cerebral, understands the game, and the players like him. Compared to Jim O’Neil, it’s a night and day difference.

    I’m glad the team finally has a competent coaching staff.

  14. There is speculation the Giants might trade Odell Beckham for multiple draft picks. Is this a trade the Niners should seriously consider? If yes, what should they be willing to give up?

  15. As we approach the end of the season, I want to congratulate the rookie GM – Lynch, the rookie HC – Shanahan and the rookie DC – Saleh on jobs well done.

  16. Really disappointed to hear about Clayton Thorson’s injury. Hope he can fully recover because he was going to be a good QB in the NFL.

  17. — as to the premise of “needing to complete the defense”, I accept that this is a very important priority…
    — however, an even greater priority, IMO, is the revamp of OL and making the OZ run game, at least marginally, effective…
    — once the OL & OZ improvements happen, even with the rcvrs & RB’s we have now (with a healthy Garcon and Williams), the O can become dominant…
    — yes, DB + pass rush help is needed, no doubt, but I suggest getting KS’ offense working “on all cylinders” is 1st on the shopping list for KS & JL after this Sunday…
    — remember, Kyle’s O is truly effective once the oppo’s D has to defend against Power, IZ, and OZ run schemes…

    1. Even with the limitations we see on offense they’ve scored the 5th most points in the league over the last 3 weeks. Pretty good.

      The defense on the other hand has given up the 9th most points in the league over the last 3 weeks. Not good.

      1. Does that even matter?
        In a league where every game is so different and there is no statistical evidence to show that if you give up a certain amount of points or score a certain amount of points, that it has any influence on wins and losses?

  18. — 5th most points against mediocre D’s– even Jax’s D turned out to be not as special as we’d feared…
    — the O is operating at half of what is possible in KS’ offense…
    — if I were JG– before I signed the on the dotted line…I’d want commitment to substantive improvements in the OL and run game, if for no other reason than to ensure my physical well being for next season…

    1. tjf,

      Yes, the defenses faced have been middle of the road, but how about the opposing offenses?

      16 points, 2 TD’s against a Texans team using its second and third string QB.

      22 points to a Titans team that was averaging 16 points per game on the road and had been held to only 7 the week before against Arizona.

      33 points to a Jaguars team that didn’t have its 2 best receivers and still went for 382 yards in the air and 474 overall.

      1. I might add that those offenses put up those points while the Niners offense was controlling the clock. It seems like the Niners offense is going to put up points while the Niners defense is stopping the run. Conclusion is that opposing offenses are going to have to pass to stay in the game much like the Jags game. I am on the side of finishing the defense and besides defenses travel well and defenses still win championships. Edge rusher and corner back are a must if there is any hope of being in the playoffs next year.

        That doesn’t mean the O-line doesn’t need upgrading, it sure does….

      2. “33 points to a Jaguars team”

        That like saying our offense scored 44. You can’t put the Jags’ Defensive PAT Conversion on our D when they weren’t on the field. So you should say 31points to a Jaguars team…

        The Jags scored two garbage TDs and a 2 point conversion in the 4th quarter. On those two TD drives, they racked up 131 YDs and Bortles (who had been playing poorly) got to pad his stats.

        Disclaimer: I agree that we need an edge rusher and a CB. I also agree that we need to fix the OL.

        1. Yes, I was off by 2 points.

          Those points while “garbage TD’s” continue a trend of this defense not being able to make stops when in Nickle/Dime.

          Two weeks in a row we’ve seen them give up two score leads in the first half.

          1. “Two weeks in a row we’ve seen them give up two score leads in the first half.”

            That’s accurate. As I said, we agree on what needs to fixed. I just thought the overall game stats against the Jags needed to be viewed in its proper context.

  19. nope, still say OL and run game are the top priorities…points scored for/against with missing key players on oppo’s O narratives can be applied to the IR issues on our D as well…
    I await your next group of stats to support the “D is # 1 FA/draft priority” narrative…

      1. We both agree on the priorities. Our difference in opinion is what’s first and what’s second.

        I say D, because we’ve seen the offense play at a high level as it’s currently constituted, while the defense has not.

        The fact that we are even discussing the need to add, OL, pass rusher and CB magnifies the failings of the previous administration considering all the draft capital they spent in those areas.

    1. and just a thought or 2 about Bortles carving up our D thru the air….the true alarm klaxon for our D recently:
      — IF we had a healthy Ward at CB and Tartt at S, would Bortles have had as much success?
      — turns out that the Jax rcvrs: Cole, Westbrook, Yeldon, etc., weren’t “chopped liver” either…

      1. We’ve never seen Ward play at a high level at CB, and there a reason this staff had moved him from that spot to FS.

        Right Cole, Westbrook, Yeldon, etc looked good because Johnson is terrible and that’s made worse by the lack of a pass rush.

        1. I’m sure a healthy Ward at CB would have been better than DJ, and Tartt @ S would have helped too…
          however…Ward, Tartt, & DJ will be likely wearing other uni’s next season, so I’m on board with drafting+FA help at S & CB, and drafting rushing help too…
          but not before the re-build of the interior OL…

          1. “I’m sure a healthy Ward at CB would have been better than DJ”


            “and Tartt @ S would have helped too…”

            You think he’s better than Reid?

            1. didn’t Saleh think so for the last stretch of Tartt’s activity– till his latest visit to IR land??
              anyway, the “healthy Tartt & Ward scenarios” are fiction…
              if you look at it coldly, Witherspoon, Colbert, & possibly Reid will be the in the mix for 2018, not even sure K.Williams will be @ slot/xtra DB next year…
              so shopping list includes 2 CB’s, 1-2 Safeties, + rush/LB help…

              1. Williams signed an extension so he’ll be back in the slot next year.

                And yes on what the coaches thought regarding Tartt/Reid.

    2. Exactly rocket. This isn’t a case of picking one side or the other to fix. Need to fix OL, CB and edge rusher. All three. After that there are some other areas that also need attention, but those are the urgent ones.

  20. — if we carried the same unit on offense into 2018 as we’ll be starting tmro, the “high level” play would deteriorate by the 3 rd -4 th game…
    — assuming the JG magic will continue to make up for mediocre OL (‘cept Joe, natch) play into 2018 is not realistic…
    — assuming a mediocre run game that gets a chunk play once every, what, say 20 run snaps- will continue to keep D’s honest?
    — JG and KS’ current passing attack is certainly “beating the other guy to the punch” as BW used to say…but for how much longer, when the current # of run snaps seem to be means of setting up a pass play next snap– with negligible yardage on the run snaps?
    — offense, the prolific style that is, puts the “bums in seats” as they say in show biz, and we’ve got a QB that can do the deed, but for him to keep doing it, he needs a run game that gets yards and moves chains, and sometimes move the chains a good 20-30 yds…

    1. I haven’t said the offense shouldn’t be tinkered with. My top needs are Edge Rusher, Corner and interior o-line.

      I’ve said that for a few weeks now, but the defense absolutely must get better. They’ve been winning almost in spite of them the past 2 weeks especially.

      1. JG has been performing well in spite of the protection time he gets & the lack of ground game yardage…do you really think this gift will keep on giving???
        Top needs: Center (Jensen?), OG, along with Garnett’s successful transformation…and a backup plan if Garnett doesn’t pan out– no, not Fusco…
        that’s right– total interior Line makeover…far more than “tinkering”
        then go after DB & rush help…

        1. Again, I am not disagreeing with that being a priority, I just believe that the defense is first in order for them to be a contender.

          Either way, I appreciate your ability to debate.

        2. I actually have no problem with Fusco as the emergency starter. Let Garnett and Fusco fight it out for the RG spot. I bet Fusco looks a lot better with a good centre and LG with him in the interior.

          1. — that would have to be an awesome C & LG combo to pull that off– Fusco’s value will be as a backup (yes, pay the man) and a “zone technique teacher’s asst.” for Garnett and a drafted LG…
            — but C is a biggie, and I’d like to get Jensen from BAL, watching him and his mates walling off diagonal lanes in OZ is pretty cool, wish we could do that kind of thing…Brieda and Williams would prob agree…

  21. Nice article, Grant.

    Your blue print is solid.

    Many ways to build this offseason. Should we spend free agent cash on Chicago CB, Fuller or draft Iowa’s CB, Jackson, as you say ?

    Sign FA, Demarcus Lawrence or draft LSU’s Arden Key.

    Well, if the Niner’s would listen to TomD’s Blue print for 2nd time in 3 years, maybe we move from the outhouse to the penthouse quicker (The 1st time they listened to TomD in the last 3 years was when I wrote to them to sign Kyle Shanahan).

    My solution ? Lets see what we have on the practice squad Sunday. Perfect time to check these players vs. the Rams who are trying to get healthy for a playoff run by resting their starters.

    Bench Garoppolo Sunday and play Nick Mullens vs. NFL calliber players, not just summer camp rentals.

    When we lose, we maintain a top 10 pick, something still valuable enough for covetous teams.

    At the same time we check the progress of Mullens.

    Then, in 2018, the 49ers sign Demarcus Lawrence, trade down from # 10, acquiring as many picks as possible. (Siding with Grant on this one because Lawrence is proven, Key is not and was injured half the season)

    1. * The Niners currently have nine total picks for April — including four in the first three rounds.

      By following my above advice, that number could easlily change to 12 picks, 6 in the first three Rds.

      1. Is this team really in need of lots of picks but none until late first round, or would a high first round pick be better value? I think like last year, if they can move down a little and pick up an extra day 2 pick then great, or alternatively if they get offered a lot by a team in need of a QB, but otherwise stay where you are and take a premier talent. Use a combo of FA and the draft to load up the roster.

        Adding heaps of players through the draft will likely just mean they will have lots of guys that don’t make the roster.

        1. — FA acquisitions will be pricey and very targeted– C, G, OLB/rush, CB…
          — we’ll be at the mercy of the FA marketplace, but thankfully the JG factor will have helped our marketability among highly touted FA prospects…
          — if we got solid guys at the positions above, the draft could help round out other needs– but no repeat of the Zuttah fiasco, please….

  22. Ex-Patriots LB on trading Garoppolo to 49ers: ‘I think that was a mistake’
    By Eric BranchDecember 29, 2017

    “I think that was a mistake trading Jimmy because Jimmy’s an unbelievable quarterback,” Ninkovich said . “He’s a guy that you can build a franchise around. Obviously, he’s going to be the franchise guy in San Francisco.”

    New England’s could have placed the franchise tag on Garoppolo in the offseason, but that would have meant they would have given at least $23 million guaranteed to a quarterback destined to be a backup for a fifth straight season in 2018.

    He’s smart. He understands how to manage a game and that’s what you want in your quarterback is a game manager. He understands the right thing to do in different situations.”

    Ninkovich, who played with the Patriots from 2009-16, acknowledged he didn’t have a solution to the conundrum the Patriots faced.

    “I’m not a GM,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t know the perfect answer here.

    Ninkovich was struck by Garoppolo’s composure in the final stages of a 25-23 win over Tennessee on Dec. 17 that was capped by his game-winning drive.

    “I was watching the NFL Films, the two-minute Jimmy had — he was mic’d up,” Ninkovich said. “And it was awesome. I was like ‘Wow, this guy. He’s got the smile. He’s got the tan. Jimmy GQ, he’s in Cali.’ C’mon, it’s unbelievable.”

    SF Chron.

    1. I think the better strategy is to go after FA -Allen Robinson and trade with Steelers for Martavis Bryant who wants out.

      1. far more important FA targets than WR’s, as nice an addition as it undoubtedly would be…
        I’d say better to spend big FA $$ on C, G, OLB/rush, and CB…
        and KS/JL have shown an aptitude to find good rcvrs in the draft…

        1. This is why I listed early, mid, and late round possibilities. If we sign an edge rusher, CB, and O-linemen in free agency, then drafting a WR early is more likely. If we sign Allen Robison or Sammy Watkins, we might draft a WR late or wait to see who goes undrafted.

        2. They found 1 WR in the draft who is a decent slot receiver. Not sure we can draw any real conclusions from that. We still need that true # 1 receiver. Garcon is a pretty good 2 but not the dominant 1. We need our own Julio, Aj, Antonio , Dez from 5 years ago etc.

    2. Last year they liked Ross. They might have been willing to take him somewhere in the 1st round after trading down if Thomas and Foster were gone. So to answer your first question, it could be in the 1st round if they really like someone.

      “Who should they target?”

      Last year they appeared to be really interested in adding a slot WR (Ross and Taylor). This year I think they would target a larger WR that can make plays when the coverage is tight. So I would guess.

      Potential Round 1-2 targets.
      Courtland Sutton
      Arden Tate
      Equanimeous St. Brown

      Potential mid-round targets.
      Simmie Cobbs Jr.
      Cedrick Wilson
      Marcel Ateman

      Potential late round targets.
      Deon Cain
      Jaleel Scott
      Jake Wieneke
      J’Mon Moore
      Allen Lazard

  23. Edge rusher, Oline , replacement for Hyde, wr and CB are all definite needs . I am nervous about drafting a CB in the first. There have been far too many busts. If we do draft 10th we should trade back or trade way – way back like into the 2nd and a first next year.

    1. Thanks Cube, very good analysis of his footwork and why he isn’t doing the long pass well yet.
      Didn’t we have another QB with footwork problems?
      Gotta ask Grant about that.

      1. The question is can it be fixed or the better question is did BB try to fix it and JG didn’t improve and hence the trade? Let’s hope he’s not another one trick pony with no room for improvement. Time will tell

        1. one trick pony: one that is skilled in only one area; also : one that has success only once

          He’s been successful twice. In New England and San Francisco, so you couldn’t have meant one trick pony as in one that has success only once.

          So you’re saying he’s a one trick pony as in one that is skilled in only one area. He is skilled at short passes, intermediate passes,handling pocket pressure, extending plays, add sidearm passing to the list.

          I don’t think you meant that, but I can be pedantic too.

          1. in fact, one could consider JG to be dominant in the performance areas that the “prior qb with footwork problems” was weak in…
            oh yeah, add super quick release to that JG skills list, will ya?
            yet another contrast from the “prior qb with footwork problems”…

            1. “oh yeah, add super quick release to that JG skills list, will ya?”

              Oops, sorry about that.

              Also, ball placement, catchable balls with zip. clutch, director of traffic, and goes through progressions (quickly).

          2. OK if you want to be pedantic, name ONE QB who is a one trick pony, ‘as in one that is skilled in only one area.’ Go Ahead!
            Kaep was successful in the beginning because he presented something different. He also energized the team into believing that they could do anything (they almost won the SB). If you look at the vid, you can see why JG mechanics are a hindrance to his development. Actually it’s kind of shocking to see that a 26year old QB fights with his own body when he throws.
            So the real question becomes, did BB know about this? It’s hard to believe that they didn’t.
            2nd Q did NE try to improve this default that JG has? It’s hard to believe that they didn’t.
            3rd Q did JG improve from the lessons or go to default? It’s hard to believe that he didn’t……..

            1. “OK if you want to be pedantic, name ONE QB who is a one trick pony, ‘as in one that is skilled in only one area.’ Go Ahead!”

              Why would I? You were the one who got it wrong.

              “Actually let me pedanticly rewrite your comments:
              JG has an accurate quick release which helps him with ‘short passes, intermediate passes,handling pocket pressure’ .
              That’s a nice one trick pony!”

              You still don’t know what one trick pony means. Not even Kap was a one trick pony.

              1. LOL

                Not even Kap was a one trick pony.

                Yip, that was my point!!! You see 80, you keep on referring to Kaep as a one trick pony, and that’s why I keep using your vernacular to get your attention to show that you’re a one trick pony!

              2. “You see 80, you keep on referring to Kaep as a one trick pony.”

                I’ve never said that. Prove that I ever said that, you can’t. YOU called JG a one trick pony,

              3. 80, now you are getting too cute to be true.
                You HAVE called Kap a one trick pony, not on this thread, but before.
                I have no idea how to do research and backtracking on this site, but I know that you HAVE called Kaep a one trick pony on this site! I do have a good memory.

              4. “.You HAVE called Kap a one trick pony, not on this thread, but before.”

                Baseless claim. Prove it or retract your claim. The burden of proof is on you.

                Enjoy the game Dee Lusional. We got a blow out.

          3. Actually let me pedanticly rewrite your comments:
            JG has an accurate quick release which helps him with ‘short passes, intermediate passes,handling pocket pressure’ .
            That’s a nice one trick pony!

        2. “…BB try to fix it and JG didn’t improve and hence the trade?”

          The conspiracy theory that BB didn’t believe in JG has already been debunked.

          “According to SI’s Albert Breer, the Patriots were actually willing to give Garoppolo another contract — one that would pay him like a starter — to secure his services until Brady was ready to retire.”

          The Pats and BB were willing to pay JG as a starter. You really should let this BB conspiracy theory go.

          1. 80, there is NOTHING absolutely nothing in that article that debunks anything. It’s just BB saying the right thing at the right time as if he’s known for telling the truth…..

        3. OK 80, I’ll prove that you said it when you can prove that I said it!

          YOU called JG a one trick pony

          When was that 80….

          1. Dee Phiant says:
            December 30, 2017 at 5:46 pm
            “The question is can it be fixed or the better question is did BB try to fix it and JG didn’t improve and hence the trade? Let’s hope he’s not another one trick pony with no room for improvement. Time will tell.”

            You used the term one trick pony in a reply to someone else’s comment. I wasn’t even in that discussion at the time.

            Then you try to say that you used the term because I said the same thing about Kap. But that is false and you can’t prove otherwise.

            1. 80, So sorry to see that English is NOT your first language, otherwise you would have known the difference between “Let’s hope he’s not another one trick pony” and what you accuse me of saying:
              “YOU called JG a one trick pony,” (comma instead of period by poster #80)
              Want to try again?
              Happy NY!

              1. “Let’s hope he’s not another one trick pony”

                Implying that you hope he gets better, but right now he is a one trick pony.

                Happy NY to you too!

              2. Dee,

                A couple of weeks ago you asked me to quote you again. So, if you insist.

                Dee Phiant says:
                December 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

                “After a few more weeks it will become clear how fragile he is.”

                Nice one Nostradamus.

              3. LMAO 80, I had no idea you are that desperate!
                I’ll go slow to make sure that you can understand what is written.
                “YOU called JG a one trick pony,” would be called an assertion, a statement of fact and would be a conclusion after you found somewhere that I wrote “JG is a onetrickpony”. Instead you drag up quite the opposite of a statement it shows a WISH starting with “Let’s hope”.
                Not only does it start with a wish, but the wish continues with the OPPOSITE of your assertion of what I said; “YOU called JG a one trick pony,”
                “Let’s hope he’s not “ means the exact opposite of what you accuse me of saying, it implies that I hope he is NOT a one trick pony but that there might be others that are.
                If you want me to debunk more of your BS, let me know!
                You must have voted for Dotard, caus he LOVES people who make up FAKE statements!!!

              4. Thanks 80 for setting the record straight!
                “After a few more weeks it will become clear how fragile he is.”
                Yip, I was right on that one!
                I also said something about his deep passes, care to quote me on that for everyone to see!!!
                It was very apropos for yesterday’s game!!!

              5. No I didn’t vote for Dotard Trump. You must have voted for Clinton, because she can’t handle defeat either.

              6. LOL 80, you are a piece of work!
                You spend so much time in your own world that you believe everything you think is true!
                You wear your fallacies with pride though, like the emperor with no clothes!

  24. When considering the amount of rebuild necessary for Lynch, I found it instructive to scroll through the Niners’ draft history. Look at BWs drafts from 1979 on to get a sense of how he was rebuilding, and they certainly weren’t all hits. The Lott draft was his third.
    That old time stuff got me thinking that JinnyG reminds me more than a little bit of Ken Anderson; a big compliment.

  25. Saw a headline on the Facebook sidebar that some guy’s obit from Sandusky Ohio jokingly attributed his death to the miserableness of the Browns.
    Sucked the life out of him

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