49ers know questions, but can they find answers?

This is my Sunday column. Remember dead week in college before finals? This is dead six weeks for the San Francisco 49ers. They have the next month and a half off to prepare for the exam that will make or break their 2015 season. What questions will be on that test when the Niners arrive for training camp? In ascending order of importance, here are the top five questions the…

June 20, 2015

Grading the 49ers’ offensive line: Past and present

The San Francisco 49ers had the best offensive line in the NFL when they played in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Here’s how I grade that offensive line player by player: LT Joe Staley: A. The best offensive tackle in the league in 2012. LG Mike Iupati: A-. One of the best left guards in the NFL along with Evan Mathis of the Eagles and Ben Grubbs…

March 25, 2015

49ers mock draft: Post first wave of free agency

These are the players the 49ers should take in the upcoming draft given the players they already have signed in free agency. Round 1: Andrus Peat, OT/G, Stanford Andrus Peat is the most athletically gifted offensive lineman in the upcoming draft. He’s tall (6’7”), he has long arms (34 3/8 inches) and quick feet. He has the potential to become a Pro Bowl left tackle, but his rookie season he…

March 16, 2015

Trent Baalke answers lots of questions

SANTA CLARA— Trent Baalke answered a few reporters’ questions in the 49ers’ media room Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript of the interview. BARROWS: Has Justin Smith decided whether he will retire? BAALKE: As I said at the end of the season, I think at this stage of his career, he has earned the right to make that decision when it’s right. I think he’s still sorting through that process. He’s…

March 12, 2015

49ers’ 2015 mock draft 1.0

This is my first 49ers’ mock draft of the year, but it won’t be my last. Feel free to make your own and post it below. Round 1. La’el Collins, OG, LSU. Trent Baalke says he wants the 49ers to run the ball, but Mike Iupati is a free agent and Alex Boone has just one more year on his deal. Collins is the best run blocker available at the…

March 1, 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’ 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 35, Chargers 38: Grades

SANTA CLARA – On third-and-5 with 3:43 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Niners up by seven, Colin Kaepernick ran out of bounds after losing a yard, stopped the clock for the Chargers and set up Philip Rivers’ game-tying touchdown pass. No, Kaepernick hasn’t thrown a touchdown in the fourth quarter this season. But Rivers threw one today, and Kaepernick helped him do it. Give Kaepernick credit. KAEPERNICK: D. That’s…

December 20, 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

49ers doomed by play-calling

This is my Tuesday column. The Bears and the Cardinals and the Broncos and the Rams are not defeating the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman are defeating the 49ers. Before the season started, if you had known the 49ers’ defense would rank second after eight games without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, what would you have expected the Niners’ record to be? 7-1? 8-0? If anything diminished the Niners…

November 4, 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

Jim Harbaugh on Vance McDonald: “We’d like to get him the ball more.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Monday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. How are you? “Good, how are you?”   Good. How was your bye week? “Good.”   You come back to some team photos. Why so late? Do you always take team photos this time of year? “It varies. It was a good day, good day. Got good practice in today, good…

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

Patrick Willis and Mike Iupati are out. Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Anthony Davis and Jimmie Ward are questionable.

Here are the 49ers’ and Broncos’ game status reports, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. 49ers Out: G Mike Iupati (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (toe) Questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), T Anthony Davis (knee, ankle), S Jimmie Ward (quadricep) Probable: CB Chris Cook (quadricep), CB Perrish Cox (quadricep), TE Vernon Davis (back), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (shoulder), WR Stevie Johnson (hip), DE Justin Smith (not injury related), DT Ian Williams (ankle, shoulder)…

October 17, 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

Greg Roman on Frank Gore: “We don’t want to just ride that stallion all day everyday.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Greg Roman’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Opening comments: “Afternoon. We’ve got a division game against the Rams. We know them well, they know us. [Rams defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams is back there as the d-coordinator. We have a lot of respect for him. He’s doing a great job with that defense. And, it really starts up front…

October 10, 2014

How the 49ers mauled Josh Mauga in the second half

Did you notice how well the 49ers ran the ball inside in the second half against the Chiefs? Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton primarily used a two-gap scheme without a strong safety in the box to play the eighth gap. Chiefs’ linebacker Josh Mauga often lined up in front of a guard and was responsible for two gaps. Mike Iupati and Alex Boone mauled Mauga, and the 49ers gouged the…

October 7, 2014

Greg Roman says LaMichael James is a really good football player

SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Opening comments: “It was great to start off the season with a win. We moved onto a Chicago Bears team on Monday that has a very experienced defense. Starting with their front four, they’ve got one of the best pass rushers over the last decade in [Chicago Bears DE] Jared…

September 11, 2014

49ers’ biggest concern is the offensive line

This is my Tuesday column. Forget Colin Kaepernick and his development. Forget Frank Gore and his old legs. Forget NaVorro Bowman and his busted knee. Forget all of those concerns. The biggest concern facing the 49ers is the offensive line, from center to right guard to right tackle. Through the first three preseason games the 49ers have gained just 38 yards on 15 direct handoffs, running plays designed to go…

August 25, 2014