Report: 49ers interested in guard Evan Mathis

The 49ers are interested in free agent Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, according to John Clatyon of ESPN.

Mathis played the past two seasons under Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly, whose running game features zone blocking. Mathis was one of the best zone blockers in the NFL.

The past few seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers primarily used gap blocking – lots of power runs and counter runs. So far this offseason during OTAs and minicamp, the Niners mostly have been practicing zone-blocking plays.

I asked quarterbacks coach Steve Logan about this change last Thursday. Here’s what Logan said.

LOGAN: “Jimmy Tomsula hired (offensive line coach) Chris (Foerster) for a reason. They’ve got a background (together). Chris around the league is recognized as one of the best there is, and he’s capable of blending those two styles, and that can be hard to do. But he has shown the ability to blend the gap schemes and the zone schemes.

“When you break down the run game, you’ve got gap schemes and zone schemes – that’s it. The ability to blend those, that’s where you’re going to find out how good you are. Some teams are really, really dogmatic about running the zone scheme. For instance, Houston over the years. For years and years, Houston was zone zone zone. They didn’t even have a gap scheme in their system.

“You go back to the New York Giants several years ago, or the Green Bay Packers 10 years ago – they were a gap scheme, and that’s what they did. In this day and age, most teams are trying to blend them. We’ll see which end of the scale we end up on.”

GC: “What do you like about the zone scheme?”

LOGAN: “What the zone scheme does up front for you is it allows you to create double teams. That’s the main thing you get. You get a double team – several. Any time you get a double team, there’s a good chance you’ll get some movement.

“The zone run is proven to be an NFL staple over the years, and it still is. Look at Chip Kelly. He’s running a zone scheme out of the shotgun, and they’re very productive. It’s just a good, solid way to run the football.”

        1. Boone is being considered for left guard because he has a past familiarity with the left side and can more easily slide over to tackle if the oldest player on the line should suffer an injury.

    1. What the hell is Baalke doing??? If you’re going to make the run game your staple offensively, draft appropriately…Quit overdrafting offensive lineman/and or bringing in free agents yearly…Walsh never did that…Also, if you are going with a run game, have the fans in perspective!!! Get a game breaker Aidrian Petersen type…And don’t tell me he’s a top 10 talent and the niners have been in championship games the last few years so did not have a high draft pick…Walsh had two super bowl trophies on his mantle and still traded up to land a Jerry Rice…Baalke is not a good GM… The proof is in the lack of home run hitters he does not have on his roster!!!!!!!!!****!!!!???

        1. To Adusoran, and your paid 49er shills (your cohorts), aka–The Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy crowd, don’t look here, nothing is wrong…
          I am the counter to your Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy Ranting (as you call it)…Your types throughout history have always objected when the flashlight of truth enlightens others…Does AJ Jenkins ring a bell?…I’m not going through all Baalke’s draft strikeouts ad-nauseum…You know what they are…Check the record…Baalke is overdrafting and using way to many free agents to cover his mistakes you jokers!

          1. LOL. Ol Tommy boy sure is a hoot. He is a legend in his own mind. I have yet to read some insightful cogent knowledge, instead we get regurgitated drivel.
            We get it. Tom just wants to be a Negative Nancy, and heaven help any true fan who just wants his team to win.
            Since he is so predictable and obsessed, I will just blow him out of the water with 1 example that proves Baalke has done a masterful job drafting. Baalke jumped ahead of the Raiders and drafted Kaep. I admit that Kaep regressed last year, but he is going to stun the league next season because he has coaches that will accentuate his skillsets.
            Personally, I like QBs who get to the SB after 10 games and can run for 181 yards in the playoffs with a 4-2 road playoff record. Kaep was 1 pass from winning it all, and 1 pass from getting back to the SB. Good ol Tommy can whine and cry all he wants, but there are Niner fans who like the team and are impressed at how Baalke has assembled a SB talented team. What the coaches did with that squad is another story.
            The jokes on him.

      1. *smh* It’s honestly hard to take your comments seriously. They just come off as angry rants with questionable logic.

      2. What are you talking about? Baalke hasn’t brought in any home run hitters? What do you call Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson, Reggie Bush, Kendall Hunter? Smelter looks like a real impact big WR. That speed among the receiving corps will help create a more explosive running game. Quit comparing today’s game with what Walsh did…it’s apples & oranges. When Walsh was running things, he let it be known what/who he needed and Eddie went out and got him. There was no cap to deal with. Walsh had his share of draft busts, too…all GM’s have them.

        1. I’m sure someone like you whose brilliantly versed in strategic offensive complexities understands that Baalke gets a new receiving core every year…And you also realize it takes approximately one half a football season to develop cohesion between the new WR’s and QB….You also remember Tom Brady berating his young WR core for half a season on TV ESPN highlighs because they were not where the football was when Brady delivered it….Great Philosophy you enjoy it, and also your new offensive line…..I’m sure you’ll be happy with another record breaking sack season over the one we had last year….Good Luck

            1. C’mon, Jackson, get with it! You know as well as I do that the receiving core is the very heart of the receiving corps. Please, a little more esprit de corps . . . :-)

    2. Mathis would be a good move at a reasonable price,

      I think he blew it himself by whining about his contract status when he was still an Eagle, he was going to earn 5 Mil. for the upcoming season. Chip pulled the plug on him instantly.

      Can’t see the 49ers paying a lot of money for a 33 yr. old OG?

  1. Grant,

    Have the 49ers been practicing much out of the pistol formation? Nevada’s version of the Pistol under Ault used zone blocking.

    1. Yes, they’ve been practicing out of the pistol as much or more than they’ve been practicing from under center.

  2. I think they will still utilize the Wham play only from the ZBS instead of an Influence Gap like Harbaugh. Harbaughs’ IGS has the guard that’s lined up in front of the DT being Wham blocked pulling away. This can give the DT the wrong keys. The ZBS version of the Wham play doesn’t utilize any pullers and reads the back side DE. Different methods but the same goal in mind. Dominate the line of scrimmage….

  3. Grant I want to just say that your last 2articles including this one have been very Good and not controversial ,not anti-49ers its refreshing,

  4. Would look good. Maybe:

    Staley — Mathis — Kilgore/Martin — Thomas — Boone

    Brown (T)
    Kilgore/Martin (C, G)
    Looney (C, G)
    Pears (T)

    Anyone care to comment on how many olinemen they are likely to carry?

    1. Boone played left tackle in college, so for him to play right tackle might not be his best suit. If he proves he can play RG effectively, sure, put him in.
      The long term goal is uncertain about Boone, as he’s been asking for more money, and if he plays well, he’d hold the Niners hostage for a big contract.

    2. They generally keep between 8 to 9 offensive lineman. Last year they kept 8 the year before they had 9 and the year before that they had 8 again.

      Staley / Thomas / Martin / Boone / Pears. If we sign Mathis then surely he’d replace Thomas on that list and I would assume that Thomas would replace Boone next year. For reserves I’d guess they keep; Hooey, Kilgore, Looney (Thomas if we sign Mathis)

      1. I don’t think Hooey is anymore than a camp body. I can’t see them signing Mathis, but if they did, Looney would be in tough to stay on the roster if they went with 8.

              1. It’s not me saying so, it’s the reports from OTA’s. If they are that high on Brown already, I don’t think a late addition who is barely hanging on to a PS spot is going to beat him out.

              2. Nope, imagine I had said; “I’ll take your word for it.” I wasn’t disagreeing with ya.

    3. That sure would look pretty good George. I hope they make it happen. They’ve freed up a lot of salary cap space in 2016 with the retirements they’ve had, so a backloaded two year contract wouldn’t be that big a problem.

      As CfC said, they typically keep 8 or 9 OL on the roster and I’d expect they’ll do the same this year.

    1. That is interesting. I would bet that the 30m meetings versus 2h go over well with the non-millennial crowd as well but at least they are able and willing to adapt.

      1. Color me surprised .. I always thought
        the term “millennials” .. referred to those
        born in the 21st Century ..

        h-mmm .. learn sumtin’ new every day, huh ?

        (not bad for a “Boomer” ..who has
        no need for a cell phone )

        1. Millennials -eeck the pods have landed and hatched and are now Google bussing the new hybrids into the populace.I prefer to call em’ Selfies -you know them right, they look like tat laden hipsters but think like Donald Trump. Oy – ok I got that out of my system .I feel better now Doc I’ll try to relax….AHHHHHHHH!

    2. Interesting read Jack, thanks. If nothing else it sounds like Tomsula is a coach that is willing to adapt, and isn’t someone that allows himself to get too stuck in his ways.

        1. I think MWD just means the perception in general to millennials. Being one myself, we often get the “lazy” or “lax” label, and sometimes rightfully so. Being in my late 20’s I don’t think I’m that bad, I’m not on twitter, IG, or facebook (now). But as I see these younger kids coming up I can definitely see where this is coming from. Personally I don’t like being lumped together with early 20’s and younger. But I’ll admit my attention span can use some lengthening, and I could see where these tactics would be useful.

          1. I’m not sure what Mid meant. Maybe he meant that by changing their practices to better meet the personality of the players they are therefore making concessions to the players and “pandering” to their needs, thus making it a “lax” work environment. I don’t know.

            What I do know is that changing how you engage your young workers to get the best out of them is just smart. And nowhere in that article did it suggest that in making these changes they are making it a lenient or easy work environment, a lax work environment. Just that they have realised the players aren’t taking much in after about 30 minutes so there is little point continuing without a break.

            I work in an office environment and I take a short break every 30 mins to an hour just to stretch, grab a coffee, whatever. If I don’t I find I become unproductive. Does it mean I work in a lax work environment because they don’t chain me to a desk for two solid hours? I don’t think it does. And by allowing me these breaks they have a more productive employee.

            1. It is more envy than anything. The meetings that I have to attend where I work can take anywhere from two hours to a full day with a 30 min. meal break if it lasts longer than six. Less than that means that you can forget about a break of any kind. Compared to that, the new way the team is going about meetings is lax and something I would love to have.

              1. Yikes, I wouldn’t like that mate. Maybe you should suggest 5-10 minute breaks every half hour to an hour :-)

                Yes, compared to that the approach the 49ers are taking is easier on everyone. I guess its the word lax I was (and still am) against, as I don’t see what they are doing as being lax (being lax to me would be to allow the players to bring in and use their phones in the meeting with no repercussions). But based on your last comment I don’t think you really mean lax, so much as less tedious.

              2. Hehe, funnily enough I’d disagree with that term as well, as we have no idea how intense or laid back the 30 minute sessions are. But I’ll leave it there.

    3. There are two changes. 1) Information is conveyed electronically. 2) Meetings are shorter.

      I’m more interested in shorter time increments. A software company I worked for in the 90s had customers fly in for seminars. Retention was poor. Customers still flooded tech support with “how to” questions.

      We switched to one hour seminars over the internet (tied in with conference calls for questions). User competency soared. Support calls plummeted.

      I’m all for it if there’s a measurable improvement in how quickly players learn. I’m against its all about accommodating interruptive “push” technologies.

  5. I think they’ll just kick the tires on Mathis and nothing more. He would be a big upgrade on an OL in flux, but I just don’t see Baalke overpaying for a player this late in the offseason.

  6. This article leaves me full of ?????

    When he says blending the two schemes, does he mean a hybrid of the two or does he mean an ease of switching from one to the other?

    Ether of those approaches puts a lot of complication on the plate for a young offensive lineman. It also requires an offensive line that once comfortable as a group with scheme to stay healthy otherwise things can go very bad quickly.

    Will the running back or backs in this case be comfortable with a blending.? A back comfortable with gap / man / power may not be so with zone. What is Hyde most comfortable with? A back by committee makes this even more messy.

    Harbaugh was mostly about power / gap / wham but now sounds more like a transition to zone. Can that be an easy overnight transition? Outside zone fits small and fast line men, but if Pears will be left tackle that does not seem like a fit. On the other hand it does not rely so much on pulling guard to hit gap before back.

    Is this “blend” toward zone largely happening to more compliment Kapernick’s style? That means the QB will be running more. Running more means you better have a scheme in place as well that is suited for the back up when he inevitably comes in.

    1. He means they’ll be able to run both schemes Bruce. Some plays they will run a zone and others a gap. It will depend on the play call. A lot of teams already do this.

      The difference for the RB’s will be speed to the hole. In a gap scheme it’s contingent on hitting the hole quickly; with a zone it’s about using more patience and finding the backside gap.

      Neither scheme affects Kap unless it is a called running play for him, and those will usually only be out of the pistol.

      1. Thanks rocket. But now that has me worried about just too much stuff for a young line. Once they get comfortable with all of that as a unit they may be a force to be reckoned with but they could also be one injury away from disaster.

        Dramatically switching O line scheme to match the running back in the huddle, points to running back by committee. That has me worried about one of my pet peeves, telegraphing.

        Won’t the zone be better for Kapernick? The field is more balanced and it is arguably a better fit for a gun formation?

        1. BruceZ,

          I don’t think they’ll change based on the back. They’ll change based on the play they want to run and the situation in the game. Telegraphing won’t be an issue as long as they don’t get into a habit of running the same plays out of the same formations all the time. Kap will be effective running the ball as long as he makes the right read in the read option. The blocking scheme won’t affect him much.

          1. Yes,
            I did not mean to imply that the choice of RB was the starting point. Far be it. The situation – down, yards to go, time on clock, defense facing them, etc., will determine the play and thus the schemes. But a situation that dictates a running play or run / pass option play will determine which RB is best suited to options at hand. Of those in the current 49er stable they have a range of strengths and weaknesses that will mandate a fit to a play and then require a blocking scheme to match both situation and personnel.

            If, lets say C Hyde is stronger at power / gap where as R Bush is stronger at zone and / or pass reception then each is coming in with their respective given plays and thus formations – all to most perfectly fit given situations.

            So there will be a certain amount of telegraphing by both personnel, formation and line subtletys. It is hard to hide your cards with high degrees of specialization and precise matching to situation. That is the great compromise.

          2. On QB and blocking scheme, I would agree with you with a nuance of difference. I would say that the blocking scheme effects the QB less especially when he is improvising. But even then the choice of scheme can limit his improvisational choices.
            If he scrambles to the left for a pass or run on a power play that was overload right then he will have less protection / prospective blockers. Where as a zone scheme does not need to commit before the snap and thus offers more protection / blocking for that scramble to either side.
            The power play blocking scheme can limit his choices and then slap him hard if he makes the wrong choice.

      2. If you want to see the contrasting styles going up against each other, you don’t need to look any further than the Big Ten. Harbaugh versus Meyer. Classic IGS against ZBS….

    2. The only way I know how to effectively “blend” zone and gap and not overload the lineman with two much scheme is a diamond formation. It shifts the complications from the lineman to back field skill / blocker positions. It also avoids O line from telegraphing either in position (gap) or footwork (zone).

  7. Holy Smokes Taylor Mays was released today and I can’t find any posts asking if we should re-sign him. Color me shocked.

      1. Well he was on the Bengals. He only lasted 3 months on the Vikings and that was with Bengals DC Zimmer on the team. Doesn’t look good, he might get invites to be a camp body but I would have to think his only chance of getting back in the NFL is if Cincinnati has an injury.

  8. So if the plan is Mathis plays LG and Boone is back at RG who is RT? Isn’t that the hole we are trying to address. Plus, I thought LG was being handled by Brandon Thomas.

    I was under the impression that Mathis would play RG and Boone moves to RT

    1. From my understanding Pears is the early favorite to be RT. As far as Thomas, would you rather have a two time pro bowler as your left guard or a second year rookie who’s recovering from and injury and still hasn’t taken an NFL snap? Let Thomas sit for another year and get reps and learn behind two very good guards Mathis and Boone. When Boone leaves next season Thomas could take over on the right side.

      1. Yep. if Thomas does start, I’d rather it be because he earned it, not because there wasn’t much in the way of competition.

      2. Frankly, i would feel a lot more comfortable with Pears on the bench. I can just see robert quinn licking his chops.

    1. Grant bluntness meets Bleacher slide show, I enjoy these analysis this time of year.

      I thought the reason for not passing to the running back during previous years was more about Kapernicks limitations (touch passes and check down) than Harbaugh’s general approach to offense. But you put that on Harbaugh in this article?
      I read that one of the large disagreements that Baalke and Harbaugh continued to have was that Harbaugh wanted more West Coast, where as Baalke / York want more power running. W C would be short dump off passes to backs among many other characteristics. Can you shed some light on this?

      If Reggie represents a change in that philosophy and I hear that CK’s soft passes have improved, then this bodes well. This matched up with a deep passing game that this year looks to be better than ever is a superb use of the vert. field .
      Even if Kapernick never gets real good at check downs if a proven receiving back, a deep threat WR, and Boldin are all in the set together and nothing telegraphs offense’s intent then the Niner passing game just got much more challenging for an opposing defense.

      They will need this because the offensive line looks to be a step down this year.

      1. I forgot to mention the tight end threat that hopefully will be real again this year. Unfortunately, the TE may have to stay in to help O line in order to make the deep threat viable.

        Carlos Hyde was a good receiver in college maybe he can bring that back. Kendal Hunter is not to bad either. It would be good if all backs offer the dual threat.

        It would be nice if the outside backs are in when CK is less of a threat to the outside, as when he is in the pocket. The inside backs could come in when CK offers the sideline threat, as when he is in the gun.

        Threatening to the sidelines plus the field vertically stretches that nasty little box that so plagued the Niners last year, to the bursting point. We just blew up the defense!

    2. The safety position seems to be covered, the corners are another story. Let’s hope that a couple of the younger players step up.

      1. Nah, I’m no oracle. If I was, then I wouldn’t have been lobbying for us to draft Da’Rick Rodgers a few years back. You know, that guy that went undrafted, was released by the Colts last season, and then released by the Chiefs today

      1. I for one don’t think it’s out of the question. I think there are similarities between this year and Harbaugh’s first year. This team might surprise a lot of people.

        1. Agreed, George, I sense that things could really come together this year. If things really go right for the 49ers, they could go 12-4 and win the division and who knows how far they could go?

            1. George,

              This is definitely an upper bound outcome, but stranger things have happened…

  9. This sounds like agent talk. The agenda here: leak some interest to the media from a team that has a potential need and some cap space. Then negotiate with the real suitors. When Aldon’s deferred cap hits, the team really only has about 5 million in cap space I believe. That alone puts them out of the market for Mathis. Then, imagine the fall out from a certain Diva who already sat out training camp last season for more money. No. I just don’t see the upside here aside from allowing an agent to float your name in hopes of getting a concession when they are negotiating future contracts with his clients.

      1. Yes. My understanding is the pro-rated signing bonus of a retired player still counts against the cap unless the player gives the money back. Anthony Davis and Chris Borland are the only one giving the money back that I am aware of. And based on the linked article, Davis’ salary cap hit this year still includes his pro-rated signing bonus that he is paying back. The 49ers should get a salary cap credit for it next season.

    1. It could be agent talk, but Rosenhaus and Baalke do business together, so it might not be. You would think that Baalke has expressed interest within the limits of his general business plan, and I don’t see them breaking the bank for a guard, as good as Mathis has been.

  10. Rotoworld commented on Bobby Wagner earlier today:

    CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner is seeking “in the range of” $10 million per year on a contract extension.
    Ten million annually would make Wagner the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker. He deserves it. And according to La Canfora, the Seahawks see him worthy of that kind of money and the deal could come together “quick.” Wagner has missed seven starts the past two seasons, but has been dominant when on the field, excelling across the board in run defense and coverage.

    1. He does deserve the money, he is great. In other news, salary cap nooses are starting to get a little snug around Carroll’s and Schneider’s necks. I can’t wait until they sign Wilson.

  11. Nice article/interview. Does anybody know if any of our RBs have experience running behind a zone blocking scheme.

    I recall people blaming zone blocking on McFadden decline in production, though I think he remained poor when they shifted back, so maybe it was a bad excuse?

    1. Was it scheme or lack of OL talent that held McFadden back? Yeah, yeah, durability, but the RayDuhs didn’t invest much in their OL. McFadden may have some moments for the Pokes as a change-of-pace back in ’15.

      1. McFadden never had the leg strength to hold up as a downhill inside runner in a gap scheme. That’s why Michael Bush was the starter and McFadden was the scatback. He should have embraced the outside stretch runs.

      2. McFadden can’t stay healthy. That’s his biggest problem, he’s also not as quick as he used to be. He should be able to put up better numbers with Dallas, but if they rely on him to be any more than part of a rotation, they are in trouble.

  12. mathis coming available like this when we are in desperate need of o line help is a gift. if baalke doesn’t make a move to get this guy then it makes me question his and the team’s commitment to actually competing next season. we have more than enough cap room to get this done what with all the departures this offseason and this guy seems tailor made for us and the new offense that we are trying to install. I guess the only question is, are we going to tank next year and rebuild, or (and i’m talking to you trent baalke) are we RELOADING to make a playoff run next year.

    1. Signing Mathis is not the difference between trying to win and tanking. They let Iupati go because they don’t place a high monetary value on OG’s. So far it’s worked out pretty well for them, and they won’t spend a lot of money to bring in a 33 year old FA. If he is reasonable with his demands, there is a chance, but I would expect another team to pay him more than the Niners would.

    2. But isn’t our primary concert at RT, not guard? Pears is probably an upgrade from J Martin, but likely a downgrade from A Davis.

      Kaep took a ton of sacks last year. Some of that is his fault, but a big part was the line. Sacks are a good barometer of overall pressure, and not surprisingly Kaep’s QB rating has correlated with the avg sacks per game over the last 3 years. So, I agree we need better line play, but I’m not sure the guard position is the primary issue.

      Presuming Kilgore is healthy and can play C, we have Boone at G, 2 guards that were drafted in the 3rd round last year (B Thomas & M Martin), plus Looney if he makes the roster.

    1. He’s like that in the off season. During the regular season he’s more guarded, but there seemed to be a shift late last season, when he was heavily criticized then heavily praised.

      1. Yes, I saw that shift as well late last season. But I suspect he will be different his coming season. My suspicion is that some of it will result from Harbaugh no longer being here.

    2. George,

      I wonder why that would be? Hmm, who was in his ear and is now gone? According to many, whose method of communicating with the media did CK adopt?

      It may be just a coincidence, but maybe not.

      1. It’s hard to say from where I sit, but I think one or more of the following could be involved:

        — It being preseason, like Grimey noted
        — Tomsula’s more laid back approach, a la cubus
        — Kaep feeling more confident about a friendlier offensive system
        — His being an NFL QB longer (hitting critical mass)
        — His work with Gile/Warner
        — His being older
        — Something else?

  13. Found this interesting on PFF:

    “Ravens first-round WR Breshad Perriman had four drops on the opening day of minicamp.
    The Ravens talked up Perriman’s pass-catching at OTAs, but his drop issues are starting to resurface. “Just really paying attention, getting too tired and really not focusing,” Perriman said. “I don’t really make excuses. They should have been caught.” Drops were Perriman’s biggest flag going into the draft and could carry over into the regular season. Perriman is being counted on to play the high-volume X role under Marc Trestman.”

      1. We’ll see. I still think he’ll be a guy that changes how teams have to defend the Ravens, open things up for everyone else.

              1. Someone out there is destined to be a millionaire if they can somehow invent a sarcasm font.

    1. Here is some more details on his day.

      One of his drops came on a “deep sideline pass after he had sprinted past cornerback Jimmy Smith and was wide open”. Obviously the drop is bad, but its his ability to get open deep with ease that will have teams fearing him.

      Also worth noting “Perriman didn’t appear fazed by the drops and later caught several passes in full-team drills.”

  14. Scooter I don’t know if I just missed it or if you never said anything about it but I was curious about your thoughts, given your obvious interest, in the latest triple crown winner. How does this performance pan out in comparison to the past greats?

    1. Can I use a Harbaugh-ism and say I don’t like to compare? I think any horse capable of winning the triple crown is a champion horse, no matter the era.

    1. Are you breaking down every position? I’ll go with Boldin, Smith, Simpson, Ellington and Anderson emerging from training camp victorious….

    2. He caught 10 passes 20 yards or more downfield that season, according to Pro Football Focus.
      He was also ranked 42/43 and given a rating of 52.7 when thrown to by PFF. He was targeted 96 times but only had 48 receptions and also allowed 6 Int’s when targeted. He also had 1 TD.

      Best deep threat in the NFL, I sure hope not.

    3. There’s a huge difference between being underrated and not being able to stay out of trouble off the field Grant.
      I also have to question the validity of the statement that Harbaugh preferred veteran WRs because after the second loss to the Seahawks where Harbaugh was told that he was gone at the end of the season is when we saw Ellington get more snaps. That’s too much of a coincidence to be dismissed.

    4. I like what I hear about DeAndrew White. With his injury history, he runs the risk of being the Kendall Hunter of the receiving group. If he can keep his body together, he’s a steal.

      Cut down day will be a tough choice between the gifted but oft injured White and another less gifted but more durable player.

    5. I keep trying to figure out a clear role for Ellington. When he was drafted I thought of him as a blue collar version of Tavon Austin and Percy Harvin. Not quite as twitchy fast, but thicker and more durable. Athletically gifted too. I really like him as an athlete and person.

      But with Bush on the squad there’s already a guy that’s done most of what Ellington hopes to become good at… scat back, receiver out of the backfield, returner.

      That leaves the slot. He has to be a legit slot receiver. Using a scarce roster spot for a special package player makes me wince knowing a starter quality D-lineman like TJE or special teams ace like Nick Bellore might get cut to make room.

    6. What about Dres anderson? I would rather the team develop DA than cling to Simpson. QP is a good receiver who never got a chance to play. That is a shame. We should have never wasted salary and draft pick on Stevie johnson .

      I still am convinced the niners have 3-4 very good # 2 receivers. We dont have that true #1. We need a guy who can out muscle a CB for a jump ball – and a guy who has the speed to defeat a double team – and a guy who can catch the back shoulder fade in the redzone. We need a Dez/AJ/Julio.

      Do you recall the niners chargers saturday night game? It was late in the season and a meaningless game for the niners. Before the end of the first half ellington took a handoff from kap and broke a tackle and scored a td – cool play.
      But , two plays before that Kap threw a very catchable back shoulder fade to Ellington which he could not hang on to. Dez makes that catch in his sleep. Demaryius makes that catch with guys hanging on his back.

      We need that receiver.

      1. Patriots number one wide receiver is the Gronk, while the 49ers have VD. I see Ellingtons’ role similar to the one Edleman fills….

  15. Grant I really enjoy your bleacherreport articles. They have been informative with reasonable opinion’s and for the most part I agree with lots and that scares me.

          1. I didn’t say that it did. Cubus asked if Martin was getting work at C and to my knowledge it has been RG where Martin has been predominately getting his reps in OTAs.

              1. That will probably depend on how much depth on the OL that the coaching staff wants plus how much faith they have in Kilgore and Martin staying healthy throughout the season.
                Right now I will say no, but we won’t truly know until the end of the preseason.

      1. I haven’t ruled him out, but it sounds like Jimmy T is more comfortable with the low hanging fruit. Pears could get bruised and that would open the door for Brown….

        1. The only positive I see from Pears at RT would be his pass-pro. At least that would be a major upgrade from Martin and even Davis, but we will significantly be lacking in the run. I’m still not giving up on Boone @ RT with Thomas and Martin at the 2 guard spots. IF we net Mathis then Boone will definitely make the move to RT.

          1. I don’t see Mathis enlisting for blue collar wages and it looks like they want Boone as the backup LT and Brown backing up the RT….

  16. It appears there may be a new guard whose name will pop up in discussions with the 49ers need at guard. John Moffitt. This is a name I can get excited about. I think his road is one that leads directly through the questions marks appearing in SF’s locker room.
    He retired amid concerns of future health and had a major drug problem. He is 28. Younger than the other names tossed around. John’s apparently overcome his addiction and he is hungry.
    We shall see.

    1. I saw that story and didn’t even think about him coming here, that might be a solid signing. Even if he doesn’t start he’s still probably better than Looney.

              1. Does anyone know how many snaps Looney has played in his career so far, and how he has rated according to PFF?

              2. No argument there jack, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Looney’s not even in the discussion as a replacement for either spots.

              3. Ha! Here we go! No, but he’s had his opportunities in 2014 to instill faith that he deserves more. He didn’t fair well in that regard with Roman. Deactivation is the writing on the wall, unless he’s a better fit in Foersters’ run zone hybrid scheme….

              4. Scooter,

                Looney’s played 406 offensive snaps, 335 of those this season and 71 in 2013. In 2014 his overall PFF grade was -9.8, pass -7.2, and run -1.9.

              5. I wouldn’t read too much into the deactivation against SD. Martin was back healthy that week and they used Farrell as an emergency backup at TE.

                The next week he started against Arizona in place of Boone and played well.

              6. Thanks Jack. His PFF grade pretty much fits with my memory of how he played last year – not great.

              7. You’re welcome. His grade was really brought down by his poor performance against Denver. Other than that he was ok and finished the season out with his best start to date.

              8. How many snaps did Kilgore have on his resume before he became a starter last season, and what was his grades with PFF?

              9. Kilgore had 170 snaps from 2011-2013 and a PFF grade of +7.5.

                Those snaps were primarily as a “move TE” so that needs to be considered if trying to compare.

              10. If he had a poor performance against Denver, what adjective would you use to describe his performance Thanksgiving evening?

                If deactivation isn’t legible, how about the acquisition of Pears and the two draft picks?

              11. “what adjective would you use to describe his performance Thanksgiving evening?”

                You tell me since he played a total of 3 offensive snaps in that game.

                “If deactivation isn’t legible, how about the acquisition of Pears and the two draft picks?”

                They are looking to replace 3 guys from last years roster I believe.

              12. His grade was really brought down by his poor performance against Denver. Other than that he was ok and finished the season out with his best start to date.
                I think Ok is being fair if not a bit gracious. The highest overall grade he received all season was a .7 and outside of a 1.2 run block score against STL he doesn’t have an individual grade higher then .5.

                It should also be noted that the games in which he played the most snaps were also his worst graded.

              13. You tell me since he played a total of 3 offensive snaps in that game.

                My bad, I meant week 15 instead of Thanksgiving. He was horrible….

                They are looking to replace 3 guys from last years roster I believe.

                Yea, and Looney is one of them….

              14. Looney would be #4 after Iupati, Davis and Martin.

                And yes, he struggled mightily in Seattle during his first NFL start at center.

              15. We can’t say that for sure Razor. I’ve been saying something similar in regards to Lemonier but now I honestly don’t know. Heck, the team could shock us all by cutting Ellington since Bush is on the team.

              16. Jack, not sure they were aware of Anthony Davis’ retirement plans until after the draft….

              17. Mid, I wonder if we’ve seen Looneys’ ceiling and that’s versatile backup. Whereas with Ellington, I think he’s an ascending player….

              18. I agree on both accounts Razor, but I have to wonder just how much playing time Ellington will get with Bush in the fold.

              19. “not sure they were aware of Anthony Davis’ retirement plans until after the draft”

                I think they were aware that it was a possibility and prepared for it.

  17. From PFF:

    “Frank Gore ran against eight or more defenders in the box a league-high 76 times last season.
    Defenses understandably had zero respect for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ pass game. Gore’s move to Andrew Luck means he’ll be operating against six- and seven-man boxes a majority of the time, and he also projects to be used as a receiver far more. No back in the league will benefit more than Gore from a change in scenery.”

    It will be interesting to see how Gore does this year.

    1. Cubus, to follow up on that Gore in Indy theme, there is an article in USA Today about Gore giddy over chance to play with Luck. Here is a quote from writer Lindsay Jones that tells a lot::

      “Gore looks at Luck and a deep arsenal of receiving weapons – wide outs Johnson, T.Y. Hilton and first – rounder Phillip Dorsett, plus tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener – and imagines facing defenses spread thin in front of him after so many years in San Francisco, when he frequently fought eight – man boxes designed to stop him.”

      Don’t we 49er fans know about the box exhibiting a blatant lack of respect for the passing game. On the other side of that coin, the article goes on to talk about how Pagano was surprised to see 49ers so easily give up on Gore. He discusses a 2013 49er / Colts game:
      “I don’t know why they quit giving it to him. I was thankful. I was very grateful. But I don’t know why they quite giving it to him because he was gashing us. We were trying to do everything we possibly could to slow him down”

      It will be fun to watch Gore and Luck in Indy this season. I will be rooting for him.

    2. If Gore stays healthy, if O line stays healthy and the Colt’s defense plays better than they look to be, then they just might have their way this year with Belicheat and the Bradyflate bunch.

  18. Quick take on 49ers and Mathis. The 49ers show interest in just about every big name free agent. They won’t offer the type of money he’s looking for. Remember, this team won 15 games a few years ago with Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder playing right guard.

        1. …a lot of injured WRs plus one malcontent and a guy that had zero business being a #2 WR in the NFCC game.

            1. Yep. Credit to Fangio for keeping up in the top 10 defenses despite having to do a lot of patchwork to the unit.

              1. Whoops. Read that wrong Rocket. Instead I should say credit to Fangio for making it work in his first year.

            2. The defense was terrific, and the offense wasn’t too shabby either. Their ppg was in line was only 1 less than their Super Bowl season in 2012.

              1. The optimist in me says, the Niners will have an incredible defense this year. Ian Williams and Dorsey are both very good when healthy. Dial looks poised to break out, Tank could become a legit edge rusher on 3rd down, and we have a 1st round freak athlete to mix things up. 2 Probowl safeties, 3 very talented OLBs, and a MLB that was the best in football 2 years ago. Yeah, the corner situation is in flux, but there is a lot of young talent. The biggest question on D by far for me me is Mangini.

        2. The 49ers had a plus-93.4 run-blocking team grade from PFF in 2011, highest in the NFL. Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Delanie Walker were three of their best run blockers.

          1. Yep the running game combined with Smith not turning the ball over and that defense, was the perfect mix. If only Ginn hadn’t gotten hurt…

            1. The loss of Ginn would have hurt less if the team had someone other than Swain after releasing Edwards.

    1. They only feign interest, just PR to placate fans and create the illusion they are willing to compete with the rest of the NFL when it comes to big names in FA. Iin reality they never do squat to really try to sign these players.

      1. Yeah, and how did it go for some teams doing their big free agent splashes? Philly’s Dream Team? Ask TB how the Revis, Goldson, and DL signings worked out for them. And how did SF FA losses work out for other teams? Smiley to fins? Baas to Giants? Josh Morgan? Goldson?
        The grass always looks greener, but….
        Mathis probably won’t want to play for what Trent would offer, and let’s see what kind of deal he eventually lands.,if he and Trent can work something out I’m ok with it, but Im not going to cry if not.

        1. Bro, of course not all, maybe not even most, big FA signings work out well for the new team, but I think itr’s a safe bet that a 2 time pro bowler’s a better option than a journeyman like say, Pears from Buffalo, who I believe was ranked dead last out of starting players at his position by PFF. If our Oline sucks our offense will suck again and a guy like Mathis tips thew scale in favor of not sucking over a cobbled together Oline with only 2 proven players, one of which has a crappy attitude.

          1. Not a Pears fan; but I hope to be proven wrong. At least he is mediocre at both G & T. I’m hoping for but not expecting he’s an upgrade over J.Martin at RT.

    1. He calls the coaching staff “high, high level” and “being overlooked.” Mentions how talented the roster appears to him.

      1. I look forward to the 49ers leaving the same look on the faces of Arians, Fisher and especially Carroll after defeating them….

        There’s this beautiful girl just rocked me forty ways from Sunday… we’re done, she’s walking to the bathroom, she’s trying to walk, she turns… she looks… it’s me. Not the Trojan army just rocked her. Little ol’ me. She has this look on her face like: “How the hell did that happen?”

          1. Pacino’s the Man! Michael Corleone, Tony Montana, Col Frank Slade, Satan…
            He kicked butt on every role…

          1. I think about closing the door
            And lately I think of it more
            I’m living well out of my time
            I feel like I’m losing my mind

            I should be at the table round
            A servant of the crown
            The keeper of the sign
            To sparkle and to shine

            Never, no never again!
            Listen to me and believe what I say if you can
            Never, this is the end
            You know I’ve seen the faces of doom and I’m only a man
            Help me, tell me I’m sane
            I feel a change in the earth, in the wind and the rain
            Save me, take me away
            You know I’ve seen some creatures from hell and I’ve heard what they say!

            I’ve got to be strong
            Oh, I’m falling off the edge of the world
            Think you’re safe, but you’re wrong!
            We are falling off the edge of the world!

            Look out! there’s danger! no where to run!
            It seems like desperate measures but sometimes it has to be done
            Over, it’s over at last
            There’s a message inside as we build a new life from the past

            We’re falling off the edge of the world!
            Yes, the edge of the world!
            It’s the end of the world!

            1. So you’re hearing voices from creatures from Hell? Not a very good sign, I’d say. Take an aspirin and go to bed.

              1. Aspirin won’t cure Rock & Roll.
                “Two degrees in Be-bop,
                A PhD in Swing,
                He’s a Master of rhythm,
                He”s a Rock&Roll King”

              2. Still like that old time rock ‘n’ roll
                That kind of music just soothes the soul ooh
                I reminisce about the days of old
                With that old time rock ‘n’ roll
                Won’t go to hear them play a tango
                I’d rather hear some blues or funky old soul
                There’s only one sure way to get me to go
                Start playing old time rock ‘n’ roll
                Call me a relic, call me what you will
                Say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill
                Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
                I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll

              3. Mid
                I was just talking today about Bob Seegar with someone. He gave his musicians an Even Share of proceeds, and roadies and techies a Half Share.
                The Robin Hood of Rock&Roll.

  19. Mathis is a stud, no doubt. Tell you what, line up Evan Mathis and Joe Staley on the left side and forget it. My dead grandmother could run behind those two guys…

    1. I wish Frank well and think he’ll have a productive season with the Colt.

      It’s just strange seeing him in a blue uniform.

      1. Do they have the horses up front he needs? He’ll get the most out of whatever, but they’re drafting ballerinas, not Big Uglies.

        1. Bro T,
          I should think the horses up front in Colt land won’t have to be as big as here since all those ballerinas that you speak of – Luck and the speedy WRs, will take away the 8 man box that Gore had to continually deal with when in red and gold. The defense will be stretched every which way between Luck, the WRs and Gore. Watch out for that offense, it suddenly got much better.
          If you go several comments up from here in this post, you will see some quotes that I dropped in from an article in USA Today, that shed light on this and the general view from there looking back to here. Since it is a subscription I am not able to link it quite yet. I for one will be rooting for him even in that blue uniform.

          1. Bruce
            Frank was going to do pretty well wherever he went. Philly’s scheme could’ve worked for him. You pointed out all the reasons it can work in Indy. I just don’t like the approach for that team of not prioritizing OL and D more than they did. If they go OL they help the D with a bit more ball control when they need it. Instead they grab Dorsett in round#1 and while it added a potential OW, it may be a hedge against Hilton’s coming free agency. Luck will continue to be in scoring contests which encourage him to take the chances that leads to his intercept rate. If Luck is my legacy QB I build strength around him to protect my asset, which by the way helps out the running game. The RayDuhs and Cowpies neglected their OL for a few years to bad effect. IMO the Panthers are making that mistake also.As good as Luck is he can succeed with just decent talent at WR/TE. I think that the Colts’ flakey owner desperately wants Luck to win a SB before and instead of Peyton, that he’s put the GM and Pagano in a Win Now mode.
            I’ll watch Frank this year with respect, but he’s no longer a “trusted agent”. : -)
            I do rate him right there with Roger Craig and Garrison Hearst as the best 49er RB. Waters had a couple of good years, Del Williams was good, and McIlhenney was before my NFL & 49er awareness.

              1. R.
                The passing of John David Crow this last week, he was all we had at the time,reminds me of the blue-ish turf covering the concrete field at the Stick. When JD Crow ran his feet never lifted more than 6 inches off the ground.

            1. Can’t disagree with much of your assessment of the Colts. With Frank’s pass protection ability and if their OLstays healthy this year, protection for Luck should be better. Blocking for Frank will be another story.
              Yeah Colt’s draft did not make much sense. May have been more about saving money, as I think you are alluding to, and less about best available and it certainly was not about need.

  20. Its only minicamps, and its only the Jaguars, so I take this with a large grain of salt right now, but WR Allen Robinson is getting a lot of praise out of the Jaguars camp this week. I really liked him in last years draft. I rated him the equal 3rd best WR with Mike Evans, behind Watkins and OBJ.

    1. I saw that as well. Like you said, grain of salt. However I think Bortles is poised to have a great year with the receiving corps he has, and the talk of Robinson getting a lot of praise supports that theory.

    1. Confining the question to “playmaker” Simpson could be the most underrated.

      Overall, I’d say Bethea is underrated. Bruce Miller.

      In a weird way Aldon Smith is underrated. He’s kind of dropped under the national radar. What national media saw was Aldon’s drop in production after Justin got hurt in the 2012 Pats game. But Aldon’s shoulder was messed up in that game too. I won’t be shocked to see 2011-2012 numbers from Aldon.

    2. Grant, another good article. If Simpson doesn’t do something stupid off the field, he could turn out to be a great off-season acquisition.

    3. Your Simpson infatuation is going to disappoint. 2013 is the only year that he’s caught more then 4 passes deeper then 20 yards and the Vikings thought so much of his performance that they and every other team in the league for the matter in 2014 let him sit at home on his couch. Is it really possible that you’re secretly aware of some hidden potential that the league has overlooked? Don’t take it personally but I’m guessing not a chance. Frankly I just don’t think he’s very bright and has never been able to learn an NFL playbook. He uses his athleticism to beat lesser players on the field but his stats and rankings show that overall he’s a poor quality NFL receiver.

      1. Coffee, Simpson has great hands and is long, very fast, and very quick. He’s an acrobat on the field and moves like few other players. He’s also played against NFL defenses in a bruising division and has produced against them. I think it’s unlikely his potential has been overlooked or that he “has never been able to learn an NFL playbook.” What’s likely is that teams have been put off by his history with weed. Because of that I’m not going to bet money on him, at least now, and Baalke isn’t either. This is one of those high ceiling/no risk bets Baalke sometimes makes. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

        1. It’s well beyond just teams not trusting him George. He’s never produced at a high level in the NFL. I can clearly see he’s gifted physically but his lack of production and that fact that teams have little interest in him tells me that he isn’t getting it mentally and I don’t just mean making bad decisions I man he doesn’t give coaching staffs confidence to trust him otherwise his physical talents would have been used more by now.

          1. he doesn’t give coaching staffs confidence to trust him otherwise
            He doesn’t give coaching staffs confidence that he’ll execute the play properly otherwise…

        2. I don’t disagree that there is very little risk to the situation and that wasn’t the argument I was making. My take is that Grant is referring to the player as one of the most underrated on the team and I’m making the case that it’s far more likely that he wont even be on the team this time next year.

          In Torrey Smith we get the same psychological advantage in that defenses and defenders will have to treat him as a deep threat PLUS he’ll also give us actual production outside of catching balls past the 20 yard mark. If Vernon Davis is focused and going to be included in the game planning that’s your second deep threat that can also produce outside of catching deep balls.

          The team could very well cut Simpson and bring him back if they need an injury fill in.

            1. For what it’s worth George I once thought Simpson had big potential. I thought the Vikings were getting an explosive under the radar type receiver that just hadn’t been utilized but then he was flat in Minny too and then after no one signed him for 2014 I basically wrote him off. I think he’s got a million dollar body with a ten cent head.

    4. Grant’s point about who was throwing to Simpson is well taken. It’s always important to factor stats into context.
      I’m thinking(hoping) that Bush’s presence can provide some horizontal stretch of the D under the vertical stretch of Smith and/or Simpson.

    5. Good stuff Grant. I could see him getting a Brandon Lloyd role as our 3rd receiver likely in rotation with Bruce and maybe Patton. But you know Kap will be scoping him out deep when he sees #14 lining up on the outside. And I see what you’re saying CfC but I think Grant’s point is that he’s more of a one-trick pony but he’s pretty darn good at that one trick. He’ll help this offense, along with Torrey, to really clear some space for Hyde and company, and Boldin as well.

      I’m really excited to see this new look offense, although I’m still very skeptical about our O-line play.

        1. that’s pretty underrated….lol

          if white is as good as he they say and can stay healthy, you may be right razor

          1. Hey, I saw The Cars at the first US Festival in San Bernardino. I believe it was Saturday along with The Kinks, Tom Petty, Santana, Dave Edmunds, Pat Benetar and Eddie Money. I went for the 3 day “Woodstock” experience.

            Now the second US festival was where I went for the bands. Day 2 consisted of Motley Crue, OZZY, Quiet Riot, JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, Van Halen and Triumph. Over 500,000 people, girls topless rockin out. It was fantastic! As you turned around in the night, you viewed an endless sea of bic lighters as far as the eye could see. A striking image that I’ll never forget….

        2. Patton has now been the subject of a few comments by coaches and Baalke suggesting that they expect big things from him this year, and all he’s been lacking in the past was an opportunity. I think he’ll need to tank it in TC and pre-season games to not find a role on this team.

    6. Grant, you’re the only one that I know of that is beating the drum on this. Everyone pretty well knows that the talent is there for Simpson; it’s just whether he can stay out of trouble off the field that remains to ve seen.
      If you want to talk underrated, then look no further than Bruce ‘Duke’ Ellington. Here’s a guy that showed some enticing potential as a WR/RB combo, so what does the team do? They sign Bush who has a similar playing style to Ellington. Tomsula has done nothing but praised the addition of Bush, so it begs the question of what type of role Ellington will have this year if at all. Ellington is a young player that can be a difference maker (as his stats against the Chargers will attest), yet the front office goes out and signs an older player with the same skill set. Now that’s underrated.

      1. Mid, you think you’ve seen enough of Ellington to say he has big play capability on ST or be a valued contributer at the WR position? If so, what makes you think he does?

        1. Just look at the game against the Chargers FDM. He had a TD in the air and on the ground in that game.

            1. It was the only game that they really tried to get him involved. They had a specific package for him and he excelled before getting injured on a punt return.

      2. I’m not sure I really get the Bush being the same type of player as Ellington comment. I understand they are both quick/ shifty guys, but they are different types of players.

        Bush is a legit RB, that can also catch passes out of the backfield and occasionally be shifted out wide as a WR on a pre-snap shift a la Darren Sproles. But he’s not someone you line up out wide often. He’s not learned the WR trade, he’s a guy that is good getting open against slower LBs marking him rather than through excellent route running.

        Ellington is a WR that can play any of the WR spots and has the elusiveness/ quickness to take some carries on sweeps. He could probably play some snaps out of the backfield on occasion too, a la Randall Cobb. But he’s not a guy you’d hand the ball 10-15 times a game from the backfield. He’s not learned the instincts and patience you need to find the gap and follow your lead blocker, pick up yards through tight spaces. As a WR he’s adept at running all kinds of routes, learning how to get open against faster DBs, as opposed to LBs like Bush is used to.

        I’m not really seeing the comparison. Bush is more like Hunter, but a better receiver out of the backfield, maybe not as strong up the middle. I think Hunter is the guy that should be worried about having his snaps reduced due to the addition of Bush.

  21. Gonna be interesting. I hope Boone fits somewhere. I like the dude because he overcame his demons to become a legit NFL player.

  22. For the many of you-all that are outside the NorCal area, the Dubs Parade & Street Party is going well in great weather. Each player will get two minutes on the microphone; the politicians are limited to one minute each. Appropriate priorities.

    1. How the D copes with the losses they’ve had and how the players adapt to the scheme adopted by Mangini I think are two of the biggest question marks on this team. If the D plays strong the 49ers will surprise a lot of people this year.

  23. Last year OB Jr. really lit up the NFL as the season progressed. He got a lot of positive press and seemed to enjoy basking in it. This year he’s chafing at the predictably incessant questions about his hammy injury and his availability, and worse, he’s gone all pouty and whiney about his teammates teasing him.
    Some points of consideration for the young man:
    > The media always has been and always will be a double-edged sword; you have to take the bad with the good.
    > Buy a GPS device! You’re in NYC for goodness sake, where the media limelight burns bright 24/7/365. Relentless as rust.
    > Don’t go public with stuff from the locker room! Duh. You think that’ll stop the teasing?
    …….Which brings us to:
    > Cowboy-Up, young fella! You’re supposedly a big, tough, millionaire Pro Football Player.

    1. Much ado about nothing, but I guess its the time of year for that. OBJ was mainly just trying to say he hates not being able to practice.

    2. You think he’s complaining now, wait until he’s 8 games into his sophmore slump and the media wont let up. I hope the Giants have plenty of bippys.

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