49ers facing a summer of questions

This is my Monday column on the top-five questions the 49ers face this summer. Even though the 49ers are among the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl, like any other team, they confront certain issues. Two of their best players – Justin Smith and Frank Gore – are in their 30s and declining. The 49ers’ offensive MVP last season – Michael Crabtree – tore his Achilles tendon in OTAs….

July 22, 2013

49ers place Manningham, Hunter, Williams and Fleming on the PUP list

The 49ers just announced they’ve placed Mario Manningham, Kendall Hunter, Kyle Williams and Darius Flemming on the Phyisically Unable to Perform list, and Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Luke Marquardt and Marcus Lattimore on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. Manningham potentially could miss all of training camp and start the regular season on the PUP list, meaning he would miss the first six games. The 49ers potentially could activate Williams and Hunter…

July 20, 2013

49ers playing-time predictions: offensive skill players

Predict how many snaps each of the 49ers’ offensive skill players will play during the upcoming regular season, and explain your predictions. Keep in mind, the 49ers’ offense played 1,032 snaps last regular season. Here are my predictions. 1. Vernon Davis – 1,000 snaps. He’ll play every single snap he’s physically able to play. 2. Anquan Boldin – 900 snaps. With Crabtree out, the 49ers need both Boldin and Davis…

June 21, 2013

49ers’ mini-camp: Day 2 – Asomugha dominates, Boldin does not finish practice

SANTA CLARA – Here is what stood out to me at Day 2 of the 49ers’ mini-camp. If you have questions about anything else that happened at practice, ask me in the comment section. THE GOOD 1. Nnamdi Asomugha – Played left cornerback for the first team defense and did not give up a completion in full-speed team drills. Asomugha broke up two passes from Colt McCoy in a three-play…

June 12, 2013

LaMichael James says he’s “way more explosive” this year

SANTA CLARA – LaMichael James spoke to Bay Area reporters Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: You’re getting a lot of reps this offseason. From last year to this year, how much more comfortable do you feel out there? JAMES: I’m completely comfortable. Last year I wasn’t even here. I didn’t get to do any of this stuff. But I’ve been in the offense for a year, I picked…

May 29, 2013

How much of an issue is speed for the 49ers’ offense?

This upcoming season, the 49ers arguably will have the slowest base offense in the NFL. I’m talking 21 personnel – Frank Gore at tail back, Bruce Miller at fullback, Vernon Davis at tight end, Michael Crabtree at flanker and Anquan Boldin at split end. When those players are on the field for the 49ers, their fastest players are the tight end and the quarterback. If the 49ers want more speed,…

May 15, 2013

The 49ers’ top 10 offseason position battles

Here are the top-10 position battles on the 49ers I’m looking forward to this offseason. Which battles interest you the most? 1. No.2 and No.3 cornerback: Carlos Rogers vs. Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Chris Culliver. Tarell Brown probably is a lock to start, so Rogers, Asomugha and Culliver will compete for the other two cornerback spots in the 49ers’ Nickel defense. Rogers and Culliver will compete to cover the slot. The…

May 5, 2013

Trent Baalke’s pre-draft press conference transcript

Trent Baalke held a press conference in the 49ers’ defensive meeting room Wednesday morning. Here’s a transcript. Q: Where are you guys in the process of putting together your board? BAALKE: We’re probably 50 percent there. Q: That’s all? BAALKE: It’s pretty much set. We’ve got some touch-up stuff we’ve got to do, cleaning some guys up. For the most part it’s set. Q: Last year at the this time…

April 17, 2013

49ers vs. Seahawks: Which team is better right now?

Many of my readers have been comparing and contrasting the 49ers and Seahawks this week, so I thought it would be interesting to break down the two clubs by offensive, defensive and special teams units. In other words, at this point in free agency which team has the better starting QB? Which team has the better backup QB? Which team has the better group of running backs? And so on….

March 19, 2013

Report: 49ers interested in Josh Cribbs

Accord to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the 49ers are one of five teams interested in free agent return man Josh Cribbs. Cribbs, who will be 30 years old next season, was a Pro Bowl return man in 2007 and 2009, when he averaged 30.7 and 27.5 yards per kick return, respectively. Last season, he averaged 27.4 yards per kick return. Cribbs could be a replacement for the 49ers’ free agent…

March 9, 2013

Baalke: “We have to have a good draft. We have to have a good free agency period.”

Trent Baalke held a press conference on Thursday, and here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers.   [Question inaudible but was in regards to the 49ers use of the read option offense.] “You’ve got to do what the skill sets of your quarterback allow you to do. As long as you do that, I think you’ve got a chance.”   Did QB Colin Kaepernick scream “franchise-caliber” to you when you…

February 21, 2013

Top 5 storylines of the 49ers’ offseason

Last week I listed the five biggest questions the 49ers must answer this offseason. This morning I’m sitting on my bed thinking about the five biggest storylines of the 49ers’ offseason. Here’s what I came up with. Trent Baalke. He’s been inconsistent. In 2011, he arguably had the best offseason in the NFL, drafting Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick and Bruce Miller and signing Carlos Rogers and Jonathan Goodwin and…

February 18, 2013

Cosell on Kaepernick: “He had brain freezes on two of those final three plays.”

Greg Cosell spoke about the Super Bowl on KNBR Thursday morning. Here’s what he said. Q: What did you think of the 49ers’ final four offensive plays? COSELL: Here’s a perfect case where because the plays failed, everybody thinks that they’re bad play calls, therefore something was horribly wrong. The first play was perfectly understandable because Gore had just run 33 yards and he was not in the next play….

February 7, 2013

49ers Super Bowl XLVII grades: Offense

The 49ers lost the Super Bowl 34-31 on Sunday. Here are the grades for the offense. Offensive line: A-. This group struggled in the first half when Haloti Ngata was healthy. They couldn’t open up any holes for Frank Gore, who had 11 carries for just 29 yards. And Anthony Davis gave up a sack on third and goal from the eight yard line. But the 49ers’ O-line dominated in…

February 4, 2013

How the 49ers built a championship roster

This is my Saturday article on the gradual construction of the 49ers’ roster. By GRANT COHN After the 2004 season, the 49ers were the worst team in football. They had practically no talent, they had won two games, and they had one Pro Bowler, long snapper, Brian Jennings. This season, the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl and they have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL. Nine…

February 2, 2013

Harbaugh: “I don’t know where you’ve gotten the impression that I don’t enjoy talking to the media.”

SANTA CLARA – This is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.   Any complaints? “New haircut there, [Bay Area News Group beat writer] Cam [Inman]?”   I got it in Atlanta. I like to go to barbershops on the road. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t. “High and tight, looks good.”   What resonated with you from your chat with John Madden on KCBS…

January 25, 2013

LaMichael James on Moss: “Randy is my guy. 1a, 1b. Me and him.”

SANTA CLARA – LaMichael James spoke at his locker Thursday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: You said earlier you were hitting the hole a little too fast. Have you adjusted to that? JAMES: I have not. I really haven’t, but I will eventually. I’ve just got to keep doing me and not try to be someone else. Just continue doing what I’m doing. If I’m going to hit it…

January 24, 2013

Whitner: “Miscommunication is why we had difficulties in the first half last week.”

SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner spoke in the locker room Thursday afternoon. This is what he said. Q: You said Joe Flacco has made improvement. Can you put a time stamp on that? Did you see a change when Jim Caldwell was made the offensive coordinator, or just during these past playoff games? WHITNER: I don’t know if you can say that, but I know since they changed offensive coordinators…

January 24, 2013

49ers NFC Championship grades: Offense

ATLANTA – The 49ers beat the Falcons 28-24. The 49ers are going to the Super Bowl. Here are the grades for the 49ers’ offense. Offensive line: A. Mike Iupati gave up a sack and was flagged for a holding penalty, but the other four offensive linemen played almost perfectly. Collectively, they helped the 49ers average 5.1 yards per rush. Running backs: A. Frank Gore got the 49ers’ offense going in…

January 20, 2013

Kaepernick: “I eat a lot of five guys right now.”

SANTA CLARA – This is the transcript of Colin Kaepernick’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.   What are your emotions right now as you’re about to jump on a flight and head to Atlanta? “Excited to get there.”   You mentioned a couple of days ago that you liked watching Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, some of those other guys. Did you watch how they disguised the ball and…

January 18, 2013