49ers fans should wish for a Bears victory

This is my Sunday column. Twelve reasons to root for the Bears Sunday if you’re a 49ers fan: Reason No. 1. The Niners front office may start thinking Blaine Gabbert is the franchise quarterback if he beats Chicago, and may decide against taking a quarterback in the first few rounds of the upcoming draft. This is very bad thinking. See reason No. 2. Reason No. 2. Gabbert is not the…

December 5, 2015

49ers’ salvage plan probably far too late to matter

This is my Friday column. The San Francisco 49ers hit the iceberg weeks ago. So, why are they benching Colin Kaepernick now? What does this move say about the mindset of the franchise? We’re looking at two issues here: the Jim-Tomsula issue, and the Jed-York-Trent-Baalke-dynamic-duo issue. Although the issues are similar. Let’s deal with the Tomsula issue first. Tomsula is desperate. He realizes he’s in over his head, and probably…

November 5, 2015

49ers and their flexible code of conduct and punishment

This is my Friday column. Whatever they need, however they can justify it. On Aug. 31, 2014, 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He was throwing a birthday party at his house and allegedly got in a fight with his pregnant fiancé. Police arrived at 2:48 a.m., found bruises on the woman’s arms and neck and arrested McDonald. He was never charged for the…

August 27, 2015

Trent Baalke on Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis

SANTA CLARA – 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke just spoke with 49ers’ beat reporters at Levi’s Stadium. Here are selected quotes. Q: What’s your impression of Aldon Smith these days? BAALKE: Aldon’s like any young player, he’s growing up, he’s maturing. You see that with a lot of these guys. Some of them get themselves in a few more situations that you wish they didn’t. If you asked them, I…

August 4, 2015

For 49ers, this season all about one man

This is my Sunday column. SANTA CLARA – Training camp for the San Francisco 49ers started today. What person on the 49ers is this season all about? Is it the man standing in the middle of the practice field directing drills — head coach Jim Tomsula? No. Practice isn’t the full picture. Games may not even be the full picture. Look beyond what the team presents you. The key figure…

August 1, 2015

49ers face facts about their identity

This is my Saturday column. SANTA CLARA Do the 49ers have a face? They certainly used to. They had Jim Harbaugh, hands down the face of the franchise the past few seasons. Who made the Niners nationally relevant for the first time since the ‘90s’? Harbaugh. Who made them winners again? Harbaugh. Who made it possible for the Niners to build a new stadium? Harbaugh. Who did the cameras constantly…

May 30, 2015

Tom Brady and Patriots claim the crooked crown from 49ers

This is my Wednesday column. The 49ers are off the hook. They can thank the Patriots. Until Monday, the Niners were the NFL team with the worst history of cheating and paying for it. Until Monday, the Niners had received the largest fine in the history of the league. The NFL fined owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr $1 million for “conduct detrimental to the league” in 1999. Gov. Edwin Edwards of…

May 12, 2015

49ers’ draft had a distinct NFC West influence.

This is my Tuesday column. Look at it from Trent Baalke’s perspective. The 49ers’ general manager has to build a team that plays in the NFC West — the toughest division in the NFL. Last season, the Niners’ record was 2-4 against NFC West teams. Against the rest of the NFL, the Niners’ record was 6-4. They were pretty good, but they couldn’t compete in their own division so they…

May 4, 2015

Baalke on not drafting a corner: “There were times we tried to address it. The board didn’t fall that way. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s post-draft press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ public relations department. Today was an offensive-heavy day, but I’m curious about the 5th round selection of Bradley Pinion. What did you see in him as a punter and what does it mean for P Andy Lee? “First thing, what we saw in Bradley is a big, strong-legged punter that also kicks off….

May 2, 2015

Baalke: “Five or six guys you could say that we coveted at that spot.”

SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s post-Round-1 press conference, courtesy of the 49ers public relations department.   Can you talk about what happened at 15? Obviously, Armstead still on the board, Kevin Johnson. Were both of those guys considerations and that is what enabled you to drop two spots down?   “First of all, you never trade back unless you have a alternative plan in mind….

April 30, 2015

49ers need talent, not good manners

This is my Saturday column. Let your general manager do his job, Jed. You keep saying you want to win with class, as if you know what it takes to win in the first place. As if winning is a given and what matters is the players’ moral standing. You should make yourself the general manager if class is what you want. You sign and draft the players. We’ll see…

April 10, 2015

49ers have no simple solution to Willis’ absence

This is my Friday column. SANTA CLARA It was a test. I knew the correct answer to the question I was going to ask Trent Baalke. I wanted to see if Baalke knew the answer, too. Baalke was sitting in the 49ers’ media room facing a semi-circle of reporters, answering questions about the state of the franchise. This was Wednesday, March 11 — the day after Patrick Willis retired. Losing…

March 13, 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 announce Patrick Willis’ retirement

The 49ers just sent out an e-mail announcing that Patrick Willis will announce his retirement in a press conference this afternoon at Levi’s Stadium. Here’s a written statement from Jed York: “On behalf of the entire San Francisco 49ers organization, my family, and our Faithful fans, I would like to thank Patrick for everything he has brought to this team and our community. Some of the greatest memories in the…

March 10, 2015

Jed York throws Trent Baalke under the bus

Jed York made a vow to win with class on December 29th, 2014. Less than three months later, the 49ers signed Jerome Simpson, who has been arrested three times since 2008. One arrest was for DUI. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving. He was suspended by the NFL when a 2.5-pound package of marijuana addressed to his house was seized by the authorities. Ann Killion recently asked York what was…

March 6, 2015

Trent Baalke’s pattern with running backs

Trent Baalke has a pattern when it comes to drafting running backs. One year Baalke spends a second-round pick on a running back, and the next year he spends a fourth round pick on a running back. Then he repeats the pattern. In 2011, Baalke drafted Kendall Hunter in the fourth round. In 2012, Baalke drafted LaMichael James in the second round. In 2013, Baalke drafted Marcus Lattimore in the…

February 25, 2015

Baalke: “Head coach at University of Michigan is a heck of a football job. I know that’s something that he always wanted to do.”

This is what what Trent Baalke said Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine. Q: What are some of the things you consider when you evaluate wide receivers? BAALKE: Can they catch the football, probably No.1. They come in all different sizes, as we know. All different speeds. You really try to match that guy up with your quarterback and what your quarterback’s skill sets are. Some teams put a premium…

February 18, 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

Baalke’s baffling hires

This is my Friday column. Trent Baalke, you sly dog. I thought I had you figured out. I thought I could read you like a map. I knew you revealed your master plan for the 49ers’ coaching search when you said, “This isn’t a rebuild situation. This is a reload situation,” at the end-of-the-season press conference. But, I still couldn’t predict who you would hire. I figured you would promote…

January 30, 2015