Grading the 49ers’ best players

How many players on the 49ers deserve an “A” or “A-” grade? I count six. Here’s my list, and I’m eager to read yours. Aldon Smith: A-. The best pass rusher in the NFL from 2011 to 2013, and a bad pass rusher in 2014. Suspended for the first nine games last season. When he returned, he was not in football shape. If he’s in shape this year, he should…

March 23, 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

Vic Fangio on the Seahawks: “They’ve evolved into a really good offense.”

This is the transcript of Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department. Last week, obviously, we saw that LB Ahmad Brooks was on the sideline. How difficult of a decision was that for you to make? “It was difficult to do, but it was an easy decision. He missed an entire meeting on Tuesday and then was 20 minutes late on Wednesday, so, at that point,…

December 11, 2014

49ers GM Trent Baalke, pass or fail?

This is my Sunday column. What about Trent Baalke? Sure, the 49ers probably will dump Jim Harbaugh at the end of the season. His quarterback isn’t improving and his offense stinks and he ticks people off. We get all that. But what about Baalke? Who’s to say the Niners won’t dump him, too? What makes him worth keeping? Let’s evaluate his contribution to the franchise. Let’s figure out how many…

December 6, 2014

49ers 3, Seahawks 19: Grades

SANTA CLARA – Jed York can’t blame Vic Fangio for this one — the 49ers’ defense gave up just one touchdown. It was the offense that failed to show up for the third game in a row. Here are the grades. KAEPERNICK: Z. Worst game of his career. His passes were inaccurate, his downfield vision was poor and he forced passes to covered receivers. Is there any doubt which team…

November 27, 2014

Vic Fangio struggles with the hand he was dealt

This is my Saturday column previewing the 49ers’ Sunday home game against the Eagles. What is Vic Fangio supposed to do? Call plays while hopping on one leg? Vic, try patting your head and rubbing your stomach in the coaches’ box. Say rubber baby buggy bumpers. Strike a pose. The 49ers’ defensive coordinator is running out of options. He tried blitzing. He tried not blitzing. Neither has worked. The 49ers’…

September 27, 2014

Harbaugh: “You tell me what you want me to tell you and I’ll help you out. We’ll save each other both time.”

SANTA CLARA — Here’s a transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department. Where is CB Chris Culliver in the protocol? “Right on schedule. Should be good to go.”   Has he gone through the — “Final?”   Yeah. “[Nods].”   So, would CB Perrish Cox be the starter on the other side? “Well, no sense to say exactly what our next plan would be.”…

September 12, 2014

Patrick Willis says the win over the Cowboys was “nowhere near satisfying” for the 49ers’ defense

SANTA CLARA – Patrick Willis was interviewed next to his locker Thursday afternoon. Here’s a transcript Q: Vic Fangio said the pass rush and run defense was not good against the Cowboys. What was your take? WILLIS: I totally agree with him. Even after the game, any time you get a W that’s the most important thing and W’s are hard to get in the NFL so we’ll take that….

September 11, 2014

49ers move Bowman to PUP, Lattimore to NFI

The 49ers just announced that they waived Jewel Hampton, David Reed, Devon Wylie, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Kion Wilson, D.J. Campbell, Kevin Greene and Colton Schmidt. Other roster moves: Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Thomas, Keith Reaser and Trey Millard were moved to the NFI list. Blake Costanzo was released from IR. NaVorro Bowman, Garrett Celek and Kaleb Ramsey were moved to the PUP list. Players on the NFI list and the PUP list will…

August 25, 2014

49ers run defense has problems

This is my Friday column. You can dismiss how easily the Ravens’ offensive line pushed around the 49ers’ front seven Thursday night. You can rationalize the Niners giving up 237 rushing yards by pointing out they had only six healthy defensive linemen, and Justin Smith and Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald and Patrick Willis didn’t play. You can simply forget the whole thing because it was a preseason game and…

August 8, 2014

Vic Fangio says Chris Culliver looks really good physically

SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio was interviewed in the 49ers’ auditorium Friday morning. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers. You finally got to see DB Jimmie Ward on the field. Any reaction to seeing him out there running around a little bit? “He did fine. You know, he was also here last week where we had those three, they were altered practices, we didn’t have the full 22…

July 25, 2014

49ers’ 2014 sack leader

Last season, the 49ers had co-sack-leaders — Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Each finished the regular season with 8.5 sacks. Justin Smith had 6.5 sacks — third-most on the 49ers. NaVorro Bowman had 5 sacks — fourth-most on the team. Which player do you think will lead the 49ers in sacks in 2014? I think it will be Aldon Smith, even though he probably will be suspended for some games.

May 26, 2014

Baalke: “I like long arms.”

Trent Baalke held a press conference Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Here is a transcript. Q: Frank Gore will count $6 or $7 million against the salary cap this season. Is that reasonable? BAALKE: The simple is there is no reason it can’t be. We’re in a good shape from a cap standpoint. There really is no decision to be made. We can move forward exactly as is if…

February 21, 2014

49ers grades and projections

This is my Thursday column. Dear player or coach for the San Francisco 49ers, This is your final report card for the 2013 season. Show this to your mother and make sure she signs her name at the bottom. COLIN KAEPERNICK: C+. I assumed you would improve, but you got worse. Somehow you became a less accurate passer, only occasionally hitting a receiver in stride. How did you get less accurate…

February 6, 2014

Harbaugh: “Superb year of football. Well, you can’t say superb.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is a transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s final press conference this season, courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.   Can you give us an update on LB NaVorro Bowman? Is the timetable impacted because of the two ligament tears in his knee? “He’s got an ACL tear. We’ll see how MCL heals in the next two to three weeks. But, that’s not known if that has to…

January 21, 2014

Why Harbaugh is so good

This is my Sunday column on what makes Jim Harbaugh a good head coach. SEATTLE — Serious question — what makes Jim Harbaugh a good head coach? Clearly, he is a good coach. His record reflects that. More than three wins for every loss as a head coach in the NFL. But Harbaugh doesn’t call his own plays like Bill Walsh or Sean Payton, and Harbaugh isn’t a defensive specialist…

January 18, 2014

Bowman: “That’s where the game comes down to, if they can lighten up the box and run the ball.”

SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of NaVorro Bowman’s Thursday press conference courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.   How much of RB Marshawn Lynch’s running comes out of the nickel when it’s just a front six that he’ll be running against? “I think that’s where the game comes down to, if they can lighten up the box and run the ball. I think that’s what makes us unique….

January 16, 2014

49ers 23, Panthers 10: Grades

CHARLOTTE – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 23-10 divisional playoff win over the Panthers. KAEPERNICK: A-. He played terribly before the 49ers defense made their second goal line stand but, then again, most of the Niners played terribly before the second stand. After that, Kaepernick and the rest of the Niners were just about unstoppable. Kaepernick accounted for two touchdowns – a pass to Vernon Davis while rolling…

January 12, 2014

Fangio: “The quarterback powers and lead draws. We’re anticipating more of those from them.”

SANTA CLARA — Vic Fangio spoke in the 49ers’ media tent Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript courtesy of the 49ers’ P.R. department.   How has CB Carlos Rogers seemed to you? “Who’s that?”   Carlos Rogers. “He’s doing, what’s the word I’m looking for, he’s still hurt a little bit. But, he’s much better than he was last week. We’ll see if he can try and do something today.”…

January 9, 2014