Manning out-thinks everybody

Here is my Friday column. SANTA CLARA Peyton Manning has a tragic flaw. Out of respect for greatness, let’s not deal with that now, not until we discuss what makes him great. Jim Harbaugh, you’re first. How is Manning different from other great quarterbacks? What is his best quality? “All qualities,” Harbaugh said with a smile Wednesday afternoon in the 49ers’ auditorium. “Great competitor, great player. He’s done it and…

October 17, 2014

49ers have chance to show quality

This is my Friday column. The 49ers have been by far the worst team in the NFL during the preseason. In two games, the Niners have scored three points and given up 57. That means they’ve been outscored by 54. The Cowboys have been the second-worst team in the preseason. They’ve been outscored by merely 27. That means the 49ers have been twice as bad as the second-worst team. We…

August 22, 2014

49ers’ backup plan stuck in reverse

This is my Monday column. Trent Baalke has to be swallowing hard this morning. Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback Baalke acquired to back up Colin Kaepernick, has a passer rating of 17.6 through two exhibition games. Trading for Blaine Gabbert was Baalke’s worst decision as an NFL general manager, worse than his decision to draft A.J. Jenkins or to trade for Jon Baldwin or to invest in a red-shirt draft choice…

August 18, 2014

Jim Harbaugh: “We’re off right now. We’re not a precise team.”

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium after the Broncos beat the 49ers 34 to nothing. Here is a transcript. Q: Last week you said your guys got pushed around. Did that happen again today? HARBAUGH: Didn’t think we executed well enough in any area today. I’m sure we will see some good individual play, but, as the units go, there might have been a kickoff…

August 17, 2014

49ers fans boo Blaine Gabbert at open practice in Levi’s Stadium

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during the full-speed portion of team drills at Friday evening’s padded practice in Levi’s Stadium. THE GOOD 1. Michael Crabtree. Participated during all of team drills and caught five passes. Worked harder today than he had during any other open practice this offseason. 2. Colin Kaepernick. Completed 13 of 19 passes. Carlos Hyde knocked down one of the pass attempts –…

August 15, 2014

Jim Harbaugh says he is “very pleased with the job Blaine Gabbert is doing.”

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Friday afternoon. Here is a transcript. Q: What happened to Blake Costanzo? How did he get injured? HARBAUGH: Something with the knee. Q: He was placed on I.R. Could he return at some point this season? HARBAUGH: I don’t think it’s a season-ending injury, but I hate to talk and then be wrong and then get criticized for not…

August 15, 2014

Chris Cook intercepts two, Quinton Patton catches eight

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during Monday afternoon’s padded practice in Levi’s Stadium. THE GOOD 1. Chris Cook. His biggest weakness is defending the deep pass and he picked off two of those today. First he picked off a deep pass intended for Devon Wylie (Josh Johnson threw it), and then Cook picked off a deep pass intended for Chuck Jacobs (Blaine Gabbert threw it). Cook…

August 4, 2014

Greg Roman says Carlos Hyde has “a Frank-Gore type of trait”

SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman was interviewed by Bay Area reporters in the 49ers’ auditorium Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. staff.   Opening comments: “Good afternoon. Into the meat of training camp right now. Guys are working hard. You get to this point in training camp and you’ve kind of installed your base offense. It’s about the fourth time that we’ve done it. Now…

July 31, 2014

Dontae Johnson shuts down Anquan Boldin, Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me at the 49ers’ second padded practice of training camp. THE GOOD 1. Dontae Johnson. Played like a monster. Broke up three passes. First, he swatted away a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Anquan Boldin in the back right corner of the end zone. You rarely see a cornerback beat Boldin on a jump ball. Next, Johnson almost intercepted a Kaepernick pass…

July 27, 2014

Jimmie Ward catches one, Carlos Hyde drops two

SANTA CLARA — Here’s what stood out to me at the 49ers’ first non-padded training camp practice of the year. THE GOOD 1. Jimmie Ward. Faced Stevie Johnson once during one-on-one drills. Johnson faked a move to the outside and quickly cut back to the inside but couldn’t shake Ward. Ward ran in front of Johnson and swatted the ball to the grass. Ward played with the second-team defense during…

July 24, 2014

OTA Notes: Good Kap, Bad Kap

SANTA CLARA — Here’s what stood out to me during Thursday’s mini-camp. THE GOOD 1. Red-zone Kap — Two-for-two during the full-team red-zone drill. On first-and-ten from the defense’s 15 yard line, Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. On attempt No.2 — first-and-goal from the 6 — Kaepernick rolled to his left and threw a high pass to Vance McDonald who reached…

June 19, 2014

OTA Notes: Kaepernick misses open receivers, Lloyd impresses Harbaugh and Willis, Johnson beats Johnson for a TD, and more

SANTA CLARA – This is what stood out to me at Tuesday’s OTA. THE GOOD 1. Brandon Lloyd: Best receiver on the field by far, although Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Stevie Johnson and Quinton Patton weren’t there. Lloyd made the catch of the day. He was running deep toward sideline and Blaine Gabbert threw the ball behind him. Lloyd jumped, twisted, caught the ball and landed both feet…

June 3, 2014

49ers’ QB depth a puzzle for the preseason

This is my Saturday column on the 49ers’ five quarterbacks. SANTA CLARA – Five 49ers quarterbacks. Only three can make the team. Which three will it be? We know Colin Kaepernick will make the team and start unless he breaks his leg or starts missing receivers by 30 yards and sailing passes into the stands. That leaves two spots for four quarterbacks – 24-year-old former first round pick Blaine Gabbert,…

May 17, 2014

49ers sign QB Josh Johnson

The 49ers just announced that they have signed quarterback Josh Johnson.  He was the Bengals’ backup quarterback last season, but they replaced him this offseason by signing Jason Campbell and drafting A.J. McCarron. Do you like the Johnson signing? I do. I think he has the ability to beat out Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers’ No.2 QB job. Johnson turns 28 on Thursday. He went to Oakland Tech with Marshawn…

May 14, 2014

Baalke plays it cool

This is my Friday column on Trent Baalke. After Day 1 of free agency, I thought the 49ers’ moves were weak. Not bad, but weak. Trent Baalke didn’t really do anything. He cut Carlos Rogers, let Donte Whitner leave and replaced him with an older, cheaper safety – Antoine Bethea – traded a sixth-round pick for Blaine Gabbert, and traded a conditional seventh-round pick for Jonathan Martin. Woo hoo! Meanwhile,…

March 14, 2014

My thoughts on Gabbert

I am not a Blaine Gabbert fan at all. He hardly ever threw the ball downfield in college. He was a system guy who threw bubble screens, smoke routes and other quick passes. At Missouri, he completed just 30 percent of his passes that traveled more than 15 yards downfield. Obviously, Gus Bradley saw enough of Gabbert last year to know he was not and will not be the long-term…

March 11, 2014

Kaepernick vs. the QBs on the 49ers’ 2013 schedule

49ers fans and Bay Area residents are hyper-aware of Colin Kaepernick’s excellent 2012 season. He took Alex Smith’s starting job Week 10, started the final-seven games of the regular season and was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over that stretch. I thought it would be interesting to compare Kaepernick’s final-seven regular season games to the final-seven regular season games of each of the quarterbacks the 49ers will…

May 20, 2013