5 things to know about the Raiders before camp opens

Here’s my training-camp preview for the Raiders. The Raiders may be on the upswing. They have a quality head coach (Jack Del Rio), college football’s top offensive weapon from 2014 (Amari Cooper) and a franchise quarterback (Derek Carr). But Oakland still has a ways to go before it becomes a playoff contender. Here are five key questions the Raiders will face during training camp: 1. Do they have a deep-threat…

July 22, 2015

49ers or Raiders? Closer than you might think

This is my Sunday column. Better team right now: Raiders or 49ers? Serious question. Less than a year ago it would have been a joke question, but the Raiders are on the rise. And the Niners have plateaued – that’s the nicest thing you can say about them. A harsh observer might say the 49ers have gotten worse. There’s truth to that. The Niners won 12 games in 2013 and…

May 9, 2015

Kaepernick’s diminishing returns

This is my Wednesday column. Colin Kaepernick is in the tank. Every week he sinks a little deeper. I picture him diving into a pool like Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” swimming to the deep end, sitting cross-legged on the bottom, covering his ears and screaming inaudible gurgles while Simon and Garfunkel sing “The Sounds of Silence.” Let’s put the plunge in context. Kaepernick is 27 years old and declining….

December 10, 2014

Vic Fangio on Derek Carr: “For him not to be sacked very much, that speaks of his feel and knowledge of the game and their offense.”

This is the transcript of Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. LB Chris Borland won yet another award. He’s the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. You’ve talked about him at some length this season, but has he surprised you with what he’s been able to accomplish? “Well, I think anytime a rookie comes in and has some success there is some element of surprise…

December 4, 2014

Raiders overmatched even against lowly Texans

This is my column on the Raiders’ upcoming game against the Texans. WARNING: This is a Raiders column. 49ers fans, feel free to skip this. You know what Sunday’s Raiders’ game is? It’s the Raiders’ best chance to win a game until late October. They are playing the downtrodden Houston Texans. If the Raiders lose this one, they’ll be 0-2 and their next three opponents will be the Patriots, the…

September 13, 2014

Raiders put rookie QB in a vise

This is my Friday column on Derek Carr, Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie. WARNING: This is a Raiders column. 49ers fans — feel free to skip this. The Raiders don’t have to do it. The Raiders don’t have to start Derek Carr this Sunday against the Jets. Dennis Allen still has time to bench the Raiders’ future franchise quarterback before the Jets smash and steamroll him like a character in…

September 5, 2014

Top-five QB prospects in the draft

Jim Harbaugh says David Fales is a top-five quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft. I agree with Harbaugh. Here is my full top-five list. Please leave yours’ as well. 1. Blake Bortles, UCF 2. David Fales, San Jose State 3. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville 4. Derek Carr, Fresno State 5. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

April 28, 2014

Ted Tollner Q&A

I interviewed former USC and San Diego State head coach Ted Tollner last week. Here is the transcript. Q: Why do smaller schools like Fresno State and San Jose State have a pedigree for producing NFL quarterbacks, and bigger schools like Alabama and USC don’t? TOLLNER: You can recruit the most physical players in the country at some big schools. Other schools, you’re not going to get all of those…

April 28, 2014

NFL draft prospects at QB shine spotlight on smaller schools

This is my feature on the allure of quarterbacks who went to non-major-conference colleges. For the past five years, every quarterback who was chosen in the first round of the NFL draft went to a major-conference college. Meaning a college in the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or ACC. Forget that trend. Draft gurus expect three quarterbacks who went to non-major-conference colleges to get drafted in Round 1 this…

April 25, 2014

NFL’s impressions of the top-50 draft prospects

One of the best reporters in the country, Bob McGinn, spoke off the record with NFL personnel executives and scouts and got their impressions of the top-50 prospects in the upcoming draft. Here is a brief excerpt about cornerback Bradley Roby from McGinn’s report: “When you talk about quickness, speed, athletic ability, change of direction, he’s got all that. Then he just gets beat every game. It’s mental.” To read…

February 23, 2014

Rebuilding Raiders, a blueprint

Here is my Wednesday column explaining how to rebuild the Raiders. WARNING: This is a Raiders column. 49ers fans — feel free to skip this. TO: Reggie McKenzie, general manager, Oakland Raiders FROM: Grant Cohn Reggie, as a favor, I want to help you rebuild the Raiders’ roster. First, let me commend the job you’ve done the past two years tearing down Al Davis’ and Hugh Jackson’s expensive mess. You’ve made the…

December 18, 2013