Top five Niners questions heading into training camp

Top five questions as we head into training camp, starting Monday: Will Dashon Goldson hold out? He wanted a multi-year extension from the Niners, but the July 16 deadline passed and the Niners didn’t give him one. All he can do now is sign the one-year franchise tender. The same situation happened to former Niners nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin two seasons ago. Franklin wanted an extension and didn’t get one,…

July 22, 2012

Is the Niners offense evolving?

Greg Cosell just wrote a blog on football theory which I find interesting, and you can read here. He asks why NFL teams don’t structure their offenses around great running backs anymore. As we know, the 49ers spent much of the last decade building an offense around a great running back – Frank Gore. Gore rushed 282 times last season for 1,211 yards and eight touchdowns. The Niners offense attempted…

July 10, 2012

Taking stock of Trent Baalke

Here is a list of every player Trent Baalke has acquired since he became the Niners general manager in 2010. I categorized the players by offense, defense and special teams. Is there a pattern in how he acquires players? OFFENSE Mike Iupati – 17th pick in the first round of the 2010 draft. Pro Bowl alternate in 2011. Randy Moss – signed in 2012 to a one-year, $2.5 million contract….

June 20, 2012

A.J. Jenkins by the numbers

Some readers have expressed concern regarding my minicamp analysis of Niners rookie wide receiver, A.J. Jenkins. I called him the biggest letdown of minicamp and one of the worst wide receivers on the field for those three days. Some readers said those statements were hyperbolic and lacked evidence. Below are my unofficial stats from last week’s minicamp. Hopefully, they clear up my statements from my minicamp review. Keep in mind…

June 19, 2012

Minicamp review

Here’s my minicamp review. Keep in mind, it was a non-contact minicamp. No pads, no tackling. It was basically two-hand touch. So I’m focusing on the players involved in the passing game – quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, cornerbacks and safeties. BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS Vernon Davis: He got open almost every time in one-on-one drills. He caught a few touchdowns every scrimmage. After he scored I often heard defenders say…

June 16, 2012

Harbaugh takes stock after the Niners minicamp

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke to reporters after Thursday’s practice. He was thrilled with how his team performed in this minicamp, and he detailed what he liked so much. Here’s the transcript of his interview, courtesy of the 49ers.   Opening Statement: “Very excited. That was an A++ practice today, and that goes for the whole Mini-Camp. It was outstanding by our guys. Tremendous effort, and really over the…

June 14, 2012

Minicamp notes: Alex Smith shines in Wednesday’s afternoon practice

SANTA CLARA – Here are some unofficial stats from today’s minicamp. Alex Smith completed 27 of 32 passes. In red zone drills he completed two touchdowns. For about an hour he didn’t miss a single pass. Most of his throws were short and intermediate ones to open receivers. Smith is clearly the most confident Niners QB when it comes to making decisions in the pocket. He was throwing the ball…

June 13, 2012

Greg Roman on the state of the offense

SANTA CLARA – This afternoon offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke for the first time this offseason. He explained how the offense is working on red zone and third down situations, and he said the main goal for the team is to not jump offside at all this minicamp. Below is everything Roman said. ROMAN: Obviously we’re knee-deep in minicamp right now. It was neat during Phase 1, with our first…

June 12, 2012

OTA notes: Moss makes remarkable one-handed catch

SANTA CLARA – This is the last week of OTAs for the Niners, and today was the one practice open to the media. It started like all their other practices – drills first, then scrimmaging, but one thing was different. Alex Smith flat out dominated the quarterback drills. Nearly every warm up pass to every uncovered receiver was perfect. Last year during training camp he’d miss a few passes as…

June 5, 2012

Preview: How the Niners match up against the Patriots

49ERS DEFENSE VS. PATRIOTS OFENSE: Arguably the best offense against the best defense in the NFL, but San Francisco matches up well and here’s why. The Niners can harass Tom Brady with their four defensive lineman – Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks – and cover the skill players with their seven other defenders (linebackers and defensive backs). The Niners can do what the Giants defense did…

June 1, 2012

Five ways the Niners offense should improve next season

I’m waiting to hear from the Niners about media availability this week, but as a prelude to that here’s something for you to think about. We don’t know if the offense will be better this year, but let’s assume it is indeed better. How will it be better? Here are five ways. 1. The Niners got fast receivers who can beat single coverage – Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. At…

May 14, 2012

Moss steals the show

SANTA CLARA – The Niners called today’s practice a Veteran Football School On-field session. Most of the veterans showed up. Frank Gore didn’t, and neither did Mario Manningham or Brandon Jacobs, but that’s OK because VFS is voluntary. But Alex Smith showed up. He stretched with the offensive lineman and chatted with Alex Boone, one of his good friends on the team. Michael Crabtree showed up, too. He stretched next…

May 10, 2012

The 49ers top-10 offseason battles

With rookie mini camps around the corner and OTAs around the bend too, let’s rank the Niners top-10 offseason battles in reverse order. 10. Michael Crabtree vs. his left foot. Will Crabtree win the battle against his left foot this offseason? He’s 1-2 in his professional career when he’s faced the foot in the summer. It beat him in ’09 when it sustained a stress fracture and held him out…

May 4, 2012

Grading the 49ers: Red zone offense

Before: Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams and Frank Gore. Grade: F Why: Vernon Davis is a monster red zone target, but he got double covered constantly last season. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman wanted to establish his red zone offense with Braylon Edwards at the beginning of last season – force feeding him fade passes in the corner of the end zone. Edwards couldn’t catch a single…

April 29, 2012

Grading the 49ers: Third down offense

Before:  Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter. Grade: F Why: Double-cover Davis and the Niners were dead on third down. Crabtree was rarely open enough for Alex Smith’s taste, Kendall Hunter didn’t have reliable hands and Smith rarely even considered throwing to Delanie Walker. Now: Subtract Walker, Williams and Hunter. Add Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, LaMichael James and A.J. Jenkins. Grade: B+ Why: If teams…

April 29, 2012

Grading the 49ers: Pass catchers

Now that the draft is over, I’m going to grade each area of the Niners offense, starting with the pass catchers. Before: Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Brett Swain and Joe Hastings. Grade: C- Why: Vernon Davis is a stud, so this group couldn’t have a failing grade. But everyone else is ordinary at best. Swain and Hastings probably won’t be in the league…

April 29, 2012

How A.J. Jenkins might help the Niners offense this season

SANTA CLARA – The Niners first round pick A.J. Jenkins spoke to the Bay Area media in person for the first time this afternoon. He’s warm, talkative and humble. Also, he has huge hands. After the interview I told Kevin Lynch that Jenkins’ hands looked like E.T.’s hands. In a second interview a few minutes later Jenkins told the media this: “They used to call me E.T back in high…

April 27, 2012

Alex Smith: “It feels like I’ve been through way worse than this.”

Here is the transcript of Alex Smith’s Wednesday conference call. Q: What are the emotions like right now for you having put this thing to bed? SMITH: You know, obviously happy. I’m glad that this is finally done. For me this was the plan all along. Since the season ended I wanted to be back here. It dragged out a little bit but I’m glad it’s over. Glad it’s done….

March 21, 2012

Why the Niners should go with Kaepernick

Here’s why I think the Niners should let Alex Smith sign with the Dolphins, and then the Niners could sign Mike Wallace and Josh Johnson instead, and then let Johnson and Colin Kaepernick compete for the starting quarterback job in 2012. Last season, Alex Smith was a game manager who played his best when he was losing in the second half, and whose best attribute was not turning the ball…

March 19, 2012

Moss might be problem on 49ers (Lowell column)

My dad wrote a second column just now for Tuesday – this one’s on Randy Moss. My dad isn’t convinced this is a good move for the Niners. He is convinced that Moss is a hall of famer, but he’s not so sure he can still play. My dad believes Moss has a problem personality, too. To read my dad’s Moss column, click here.

March 12, 2012