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 face key decisions in free agency

This is my Sunday column. Is it too early to predict which free agents the 49ers will re-sign this offseason? The 49ers still haven’t announced the hiring of Eric Mangini as the defensive coordinator or Geep Chryst as the offensive coordinator, and we still don’t know what schemes they plan on using. On defense will they use a Tampa-2 scheme or a single-high safety scheme, a three-man defensive front or…

February 7, 2015

49ers 20, Cardinals 17: Grades

SANTA CLARA – Hey, at least the 49ers didn’t lose to both Cardinals’ backup quarterbacks this season. KAEPERNICK: B+. Played his best when it really mattered. Threw two touchdown passes and zero picks for the first time since Week 6. Also threw zero fourth-quarter touchdown passes for the 18th game in a row. Would have committed a Delay of Game penalty with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter if Marcus…

December 28, 2014

49ers’ coaching choice important and perilous

This is my Wednesday column. Trent Baalke will move against you first, Jed. After you get rid of Jim Harbaugh, Baalke will set up an interview with someone you’re supposed to trust — some hot-shot NFL offensive coordinator, maybe Adam Gase or Josh McDaniels or Darrell Bevell. And at that interview, the coordinator will guarantee to Baalke he can fix the 49ers’ offense. Do not let Baalke hire him, Jed….

December 24, 2014

49ers 7, Seahawks 17: Grades

SEATTLE – Trent Baalke folded his arms and hung his head in shame. The 49ers’ season was over. The Niners and Seahawks were shaking hands at midfield and Baalke was staring at his desk in the press box. Bad look, Trent. Time to face the failure you created. KAEPERNICK: C. Played like Alex Smith. Didn’t turn the ball over – a first for Kaepernick against the Seahawks. Yes, he scored…

December 14, 2014

49ers 13, Raiders 24: Grades

OAKLAND – Before we get to the grades, let’s have a moment of silence for the Jim Harbaugh Era.       That’s enough. KAEPERNICK: Ω. He gets an omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet, because English just won’t do. An ‘F’ isn’t low enough. A ‘Z’ isn’t low enough. This was the worst performance of Kaepernick’s career, the kind of performance that gets a quarterback benched and…

December 7, 2014

Redskins 13, 49ers 17: Grades

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers defied the odds and beat the first-class Redskins 17-13 Sunday afternoon. Here are the Niners’ grades. KAEPERNICK: B. Unusually efficient. Completed 20-of-29 pass attempts (69 percent) for 256 yards (8.8 yards per attempt). Three of his nine incomplete passes were dropped. He threw a long, beautiful touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on the first drive of the game, but he never came close to throw…

November 23, 2014

Kaepernick on Crabtree: “He’s out here doing everything he can to help this team win. That’s the vibe I get.”

SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Colin Kaepernick’s Wednesday interview, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. You can go back just to the fourth-down completion to WR Michael Crabtree, what made that play work so well? “Our offensive line did a great job of blocking up front. Crabtree did a great job of making a play down the field staying alive.”   Did you think that that ball…

November 12, 2014

49ers 27, Saints 24: Grades

They aren’t dead yet. The 49ers beat the Saints 27-24 in overtime Sunday afternoon, handed Sean Payton his first loss in the Superdome since 2010. Now the 49ers are 5-4. Here are their grades. KAEPERNICK: B+. It was fourth-and-10 from the Niners’ 22-yard line, one minute and 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Niners’ down by three. Kaepernick had to save the game. He rolled to his right. Nowhere…

November 9, 2014

Michael Crabtree: “You’re looking at the same game I’m looking at, right? I can’t do nothing about it.”

SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Michael Crabtree’s Thursday interview. Q: The way the offense is going right now, how would you sum it up? Is it a disappointment or do you think you guys are where you need to be at this point? CRABTREE: I don’t like that choice of words. We’re just not playing how we need to be playing right now. Obviously you guys see…

November 6, 2014

Greg Roman: “Don’t buy into the fact that we’re really doing that many more things. We’re probably doing less things.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Opening comments: “Good afternoon. First of all, congratulations to the Giants. What a game, huh? Some high drama there at the end. What they’ve done is pretty remarkable. I know the city’s just pretty excited, as well they should be. Here we are facing the Rams again, division opponent, very good…

October 30, 2014

Grading 49ers at the break

This is my Sunday column. The 49ers just finished dead week. These are their midterm grades. COLIN KAEPERNICK Pocket proficiency: B. Was a C-minus last season. Completed just 57 percent of his passes and posted an 81 passer rating inside the pocket in 2013. Has completed 69 percent of his passes and posted a 90 rating inside the pocket this season. He’s finding the open receiver quickly and throwing the…

October 27, 2014

49ers 17, Broncos 42: Grades

The Broncos eked out a 42-17 win over the 49ers Sunday night. Here are the Niners’ grades. KAEPERNICK: D. Carried the team in the first half. Posted a 140 passer rating in the second quarter. Would have been a 156 rating if Anquan Boldin hadn’t dropped a touchdown pass on third-and-goal from the 4 yard line. Kaepernick led a 7-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that took 2 minutes and 58 seconds…

October 19, 2014

49ers 31, Rams 17: Grades

The 49ers dismissed the Rams 31-17 in St. Louis Monday night. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: A. His best game this season. The Rams stopped the 49ers’ run game and forced Kaepernick to win with his arm. He did. His deep 80-yard touchdown pass before halftime hit Brandon Lloyd in stride. On the opening drive of the second half, Kaepernick converted a third-and-12, anticipated an opening downfield and fired…

October 13, 2014

49ers 22, Chiefs 17: Grades

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers eked out a 22-17 win over the Chiefs Sunday afternoon. But the 49ers should have lost. The Chiefs gave away the game. With four minutes and 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter Kansas City committed one of the stupidest penalties you ever will see: Fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs’ 36-yard line. Phil Dawson was on the field to attempt a 54-yard field goal and, if…

October 5, 2014

49ers 26, Eagles 21: Grades

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers beat the Eagles 26-21 Sunday afternoon. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: B-. Made both of the 49ers’ touchdowns happen. On the first one he scrambled left, drew the Eagles’ entire defense and threw back to the right, across the whole field to Frank Gore who was wide open. One of the most thrilling plays you’ll see. Next, Kaepernick scrambled to the left and threw…

September 28, 2014

Greg Roman’s mistake on the 49ers’ final play against the Bears

Before we move on to Week 3, one more thing about Week 2. I question Greg Roman’s play call on the 49ers’ final play against the Bears. The 49ers were at the Bears’ 17 yard line with 1:17 left and it was fourth-and-9. Roman called a play where Michael Crabtree ran a post route and ended up in the end zone and Anquan Boldin ran a hitch-and-go double move and…

September 20, 2014

Kaepernick’s reads aren’t right

This is my Thursday column on Colin Kaepernick. When Colin Kaepernick says he sees pass coverages, does he really see pass coverages? It is the essential question about him as an NFL quarterback. The question might have seemed impertinent before Sunday night. But, at his postgame press conference, Kaepernick kept bringing up the Bears’ coverages without being asked about them. He was coverage-obsessed. This after he had thrown three interceptions….

September 17, 2014

Kaepernick misread the Bears’ coverage on the final play

On the 49ers’ final offensive play Sunday Night — the fourth-and-nine from the Bears’ 17-yard line, the incomplete pass intended for Michael Crabtree, the loud thud on the end zone grass — Colin Kaepernick claimed the Bears’ defense was in Cover 3. His exact words were, “They had Cover 3, we got the look we wanted, we just have to make that play.” The Bears were not in Cover 3. The Bears…

September 15, 2014

49ers 20, Bears 28: Grades

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers lost 28-20 to the Bears Sunday Night. Here are the 49ers’ grades. KAEPERNICK: F. His worst game since two games ago. Looked like Tony Romo looked last week. Committed four turnovers – one fumble and three interceptions. Would have been five turnovers but one of the interceptions hit the grass before a Bears’ defensive back caught it. Also committed a delay of game penalty on…

September 14, 2014