Who’s to blame for 49ers’ season of repeated failures?


SANTA CLARA — Everything Chip Kelly says sounds the same.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe listening to him four times a week the past two months makes me think I’m hearing the same coded message every time he opens his mouth.

My mind tends to organize what it takes in thematically — I studied English at UCLA. Maybe I’m projecting the wrong theme onto Kelly’s words. Because no matter what Kelly says, I hear, “Don’t blame me for this horrible season. Blame Trent Baalke. He picked these players, and they’re bad. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

You may disagree with my interpretation, and I admit it’s possible I’m wrong. But let me make my case to you. Let me explicate a few of Kelly’s recent quotes the way I would have explicated The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as an undergraduate.

Click here to read the rest of my Thursday column.

This article has 242 Comments

  1. Good read Grant. They always say a team reflects the attitude of the head coach. Right now I see a soft coach with a soft team.
    90% of the blame is on Baalke but what’s more discouraging is that Kelly has not shown any growth in any area since last year, with basically the same roster.
    Yes it’s bad all around but you would think an “offensive minded” coach would have at least a 10% impact, somewhere?

    1. “… you would think an “offensive minded” coach would have at least a 10% impact, somewhere?”

      Through 8 games offensive scoring is up more than 30%. Unfortunately points allowed has also gone up by almost 30%.

      1. If that means anything!
        My issue is the play calling is so predictable.
        1st down: run or bubble screen pass.
        2nd down: hurry to the line, look at sideline, read option.
        3rd down: seam route to TE or jet sweep
        4th down: Punt

    2. Ok… not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing, but what would that say about the team that played under Singletary? He certainly didn’t seem to be short on fiery antics.

  2. This is my favorite article to date, Grant. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, ha!


    Hear the rime of the ancient mariner
    See his eye as he stops one of three
    Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests
    Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea.

    And the music plays on, as the bride passes by
    Caught by his spell and the mariner tells his tale.

    Driven south to the land of the snow and ice
    To a place where nobody’s been
    Through the snow fog flies on the albatross
    Hailed in God’s name, hoping good luck it brings.

    And the ship sails on, back to the North
    Through the fog and ice and the albatross follows on.

    The mariner kills the bird of good omen
    His shipmates cry against what he’s done
    But when the fog clears, they justify him
    And make themselves a part of the crime.

    Sailing on and on and north across the sea
    Sailing on and on and north ’til all is calm.

    The albatross begins with its vengeance
    A terrible curse a thirst has begun
    His shipmates blame bad luck on the mariner
    About his neck, the dead bird is hung.

    And the curse goes on and on at sea
    And the curse goes on and on for them and me.

    “Day after day, day after day,
    we stuck nor breath nor motion
    as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean
    Water, water everywhere and
    all the boards did shrink
    Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.”

    There calls the mariner
    There comes a ship over the line
    BUt how can she sail with no wind in her sails and no tide.

    See…onward she comes
    Onward she nears out of the sun
    See, she has no crew
    She has no life, wait but here’s two.

    Death and she Life in Death,
    They throw their dice for the crew
    She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now.
    Then, crew one by one
    they drop down dead, two hundred men
    She, she, Life in Death.
    She lets him live, her chosen one.

    “One after one by the star dogged moon,
    too quick for groan or sigh
    each turned his face with a ghastly pang
    and cursed me with his eye
    four times fifty living men
    (and I heard nor sigh nor groan)
    with heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
    they dropped down one by one.”

    The curse it lives on in their eyes
    The mariner wished he’d die
    Along with the sea creatures
    But they lived on, so did he.

    and by the light of the moon
    He prays for their beauty not doom
    With heart he blesses them
    God’s creatures all of them too.

    Then the spell starts to break
    The albatross falls from his neck
    Sinks down like lead into the sea
    Then down in falls comes the rain.

    Hear the groans of the long dead seamen
    See them stir and they start to rise
    Bodies lifted by good spirits
    None of them speak and they’re lifeless in their eyes

    And revenge is still sought, penance starts again
    Cast into a trance and the nightmare carries on.

    Now the curse is finally lifted
    And the mariner sights his home
    spirits go fromhe long dead bodies
    Form their own light and the mariner’s left alone.

    And then a boat came sailing towards him
    It was a joy he could not believe
    The pilot’s boat, his son and the hermit,
    Penance of life will fall onto him.

    And the ship sinks like lead into the sea
    And the hermit shrives the mariner of his sins.

    The mariner’s bound to tell of his story
    To tell this tale wherever he goes
    To teach God’s word by his own example
    That we must love all things that God made.

    And the wedding guest’s a sad and wiser man
    And the tale goes on and on and on.

    1. God’s inscrutable “word” includes explicit instructions for how to own slaves. We can punish them as long as we don’t damage their eyes or teeth. So much for loving all things God made.

  3. Feel this all stems from 2012, the decision to make the switch…all downhill from there, coming up short in the SB, the following year coming up short in the NFC champ, the following year just coming up short (as well as the Thanksgiving game…end all of it all).

    That team in 2012 got caught up with fools gold, a flash in the pan, and it was the initial crack in the glass castle the splintered and ended up shattering that team. Would this team still be good if Harbs was still the coach, with the personnel they have, hardly, but would they have the same personnel, would those players be better with a certain UM coach, who knows, but would have been nice to see…Seattle is still making it work with diminishing returns on their roster year over year.

    1. I couldn’t disagree with you more. The switch had nothing to do with where they are right now. Smith would be struggling with this group too.

      1. I do feel that they would have had a better chance to win in the SB with Smith than Colin…and a SB winning Harbs is a lot harder to get rid of than a 2 time NFC championship losing, SB losing, Harbs. The team took step backs after the switch.

  4. “SMITH: “You just kinda walk around the locker room, walk around outside and just kinda work yourself up mentally — it’s all mental”

    That’s what separates the great from the good. I can remember my Dad when he would get ready for a tennis tournament, he would walk around the house in his shorts and his racket in hand getting mentally prepared to kick ass.

    Yup Grant, attitude is ””’everything””’.

  5. Grant,

    This may be your best piece. My favorite line was the last one. “Blame Kelly.” I’ve been doing that since the Seahawk game. Great quotes from J Smith. Good find, good read, and good call.

  6. While I like this piece, I’d add though, Singletary wanted players to punch people in the mouth and be physical with an F. He had talent but could utilize, perhaps in line with your piece, Kelly is the antithesis. Perhaps he can utilize he just doesn’t inspire. I’m not in the locker room so I don’t know but this team is terrible talent wise and execution wise.

    I feel reminiscent of this interview this year:
    “What are your thoughts on the team’s execution?”

    “I’m all for it.”

  7. If he did say it was Baalke’s fault directly this would be easier to handle cause that would be one person Jed York would have to hear (even if he disagreed).

    I’m more concerned he is just apathetic and going along collecting a check.

    That’s what Jed and Baalke want nut it would suck for the fans to have yet another yes man in the mix

    1. “I’m more concerned he is just apathetic and going along collecting a check.” – wouldn’t surprise me. Kelly probably knows that Jed is between rock and a hard place. Fire three HCs in three years. Another NFL record

  8. Everything you say sounds the same Grant. Remove Chip insert Tomsula. Remove Tomsula insert Harbaugh. You have said the same thing about every coach. You’re the boy who cried wolf. You stories are cookie cutter.
    It would be like when the posters here would ask why the blog was so bad. You simply ignored their comments. Most left. The difference is that Chip Kelly cannot ignore the media. The talent level isn’t hear. It wasn’t here last year, it is even more depleted this season. It doesn’t behoove him to say anything beyond what is obvious to those with the wherewithal to look at the roster.
    This team is bargain basement talent. Maybe you could write something up about what you’d do to change starting with the trades, the FA, and the draft rather than spewing more of the same.

    1. Sorry, Matt, but I disagree. Grant uses the English language to spin parables and deliver insights. His style of writing is not cookie cutter, it is new and refreshing. I peruse the other blogs, but those are the ones filled with trite pablum. I come here just for Grant’s writing, I am rarely disappointed.

      1. I agree seb, Grants pretty good. I like reading his articles. they are pretty spot on in my opinion. I would rather read an article from Grant getting his honest opinion rather than someone else who Jed or Trent uses to try and manipulate the public.

      1. Grant – Kelly is disagreeing with the GM and that’s news? Hmm, you mean Chip Kelly who coached in Philly last 3 years. To my tired old eyes he just changed his shtick. Keep it cool with the black players and tone it down with his GM critique. Otherwise same old same old. Maybe he and Gamble have a plan if your into conspiracies. He’ll be back in college one lifetime before Saban works for the Yorks. Kelly knows that Baalke got rid of Harbaugh without a fight. Chip will leave the 49ers but not without making it clear why.

      2. ESPN had the 49ers favored to lose every single game this year just like most of the so called experts on every NFL shows.

        1. They’ll probably only be off by 1 game. I don’t see another win on the schedule. With the 49ers luck, 1-15 won’t even get them the 1st pick. The Browns will probably go 0-16.

          1. I thought that the 49ers would be crappy too. You would think that after 69 years before this season, I would have known better.

        1. Yeah, wasn’t even close on the 11 game win season. Shame they didn’t, but I didn’t say Harbaugh should go like you did here…
          COACHES: F. After four seasons, the NFL figured out Jim Harbaugh’s offense – that’s been clear all year. The Niners need to hire an offensive coach who makes better adjustments between seasons, between games, between halves. Once again, the Niners scored zero points in the second half. That’s bad coaching.
          Then you followed it up with:
          Who’s got it better than us now? In your won’t-miss-jim-haraugh article

          Then is this series, you talk about all the reasons Tomsula is not a good NFL coach and shouldn’t be the coach

          Tomsula football sins -google it as my post with the links is awaiting moderation

          Now you’re writing about Chip Kelly. The difference between my guess on record and your continued regurgitations are that I do not get paid to guess about football or to give an opinion about it. If I was asked to teach how to intubate a patient, I’d be successful. If you guessed and were wrong, what would it matter. It isn’t your job.
          I don’t care that I was wrong about the prediction, I also predicted a Tenn Greebay Super Bowl. I predicted the Raiders would win the division last year. I’ve missed quite a bit much bigger than my 11 game prediction.

  9. The Niners are not well prepared. They are committing way too many unforced errors, especially at the worst times.. Get a stop on third down, but whoops, some one was lined up offsides. Reducing the mistakes require discipline and control.

    Chip needs to have a system in place where the offense can operate efficiently, without having to look at the side lines. The first 15 plays should be scripted, and random so there is less predictability.

    There should be plays designed due to down and distance. First and 10, Run left, right or play action pass.. Second and long, roll out or Zone read. Second and short, a long strike down field. Third and 4, maybe a reverse or counter. Maybe even the third down bomb.

    Chip should have the players thoroughly prepared to counter any contingency. If running the hurry up during the last 2 minutes, they should have 3 plays called ahead of time just for that situation.

    Chip needs to make adjustments. He should have a totally new game plan for the second half, so all the adjustments the defense makes during halftime will be ineffective.

    Kaep needs to be less predictable by being more deceptive. Pump fakes and looking off the safeties should be practiced every day.

    How to fix the defense? Start Dial, Dorsey or the new DT, and Buckner. Harold and Blair as OLBs, and Skov and Ahmad Brooks as ILBs. Brock and Reaser as CBs, and Cromartie and Reid as safeties.

    Reduce the stunts and blitzes, and play sound fundamental defense. Assign the proper gap alignments, and maintain gap integrity for gap control. Play to stop the run first, then go into pass rush mode if they want to throw the ball.

    Maybe the best advice is for the team to play smart. They need to play Niner Football.

  10. It is true that the talent level on this team is not top notch and this roster has a lot of holes to fill. Poor drafting and cheaper free agents {you get what you pay for} and you have the 2016 9ers.

    However good coaching and scheme can hide holes on less talented rosters.
    So Chip is either half the blame or hes not that good of a coach.

    This can be turned around in a season with a new gm and coaching staff that will work together. Theres a lot of cap space and top 5 pick in the draft.

    1. Good post roodles.

      I agree that we have both a bad GM and coach. I also think we can turn things around in a year. With a new GM, coach, QB, TE, WR and improvements to the front 7 through the draft and free agency we could be 8-8 to 10-6 next season.

      1. #80,

        I hate to rain on your parade, but there is no way this team will be 8-8 to 10-6 next season. You just stated the reasons why yourself with all the things that need to change. That much change even if it were to happen would not lead to a complete turnaround in one offseason. If they can find answers to the questions you have posed and compete over the course of an entire 16 game sched, that will be a major achievement in itself.

        1. I think it’s possible. The stars would have to align for sure. I think the most important things are HC, QB, and NT. Second most, ILB and WR or TE.

          Our current roster is bad but has serviceable players and young players that could improve with more experience.

          1. There are too many needs and no answers at the most important positions to expect a bounce back that quickly. You are lucky if you get two good starters out of a draft class. This team needs a lot more than that and it’s going to take time. Even then, it’s dependent on whether they can actually find, draft and develop a QB. Not a given by any means. As I said, I don’t want to rain on the parade, but the reality is no matter what this team does going forward, there is no quick fix. It’s going to take time and how much depends on the people they have making the decisions.

            1. rocket,

              Here is a more detailed plan to get to 8 to 10 wins next year.

              Fire Baalke and Kelly. We would have limited options here because of Jed. Hire Holmgren as GM and Shanahan as HC. They would be on the same page for the most part.

              FB John Kuhn
              WR Alshon Jeffery
              TE Martellus Bennett
              DT Kawann Short
              MLB Manti Te’o

              1st round Garrett
              2nd round Best QB available. It’s too early to project who will be available and who would be the best of the rest. The QB decision will determine the fate of the team next year and beyond.

              1. 80, I like that you have thought of good ideas and players to help the team win.

                I would take a different approach, but do not know if it is more feasible than yours.

                Jed should kick Baalke upstairs and let him deal with scouting and contracts. He should promote Gamble as GM, and he will retain Chip to provide continuity. Gamble will fire O’Neil and Modkins, and find competent replacements.

                I like all of your FA acquisitions. I especially like Short.

                I agree with Garrett, but may also advocate trading back to get 3 picks in the first 2 rounds. They should bundle players and picks to get another second or third rounder. That way, they would have 5 selections in the first 3 rounds.

                With those 5 picks, they should choose a DT, 2 ILBs, an OLB and QB. Best player available.

              2. seb,

                Solid plan, I would prefer continuity but you know I don’t like Kelly. I don’t think Short would sign with Chip as coach.

                I think Garrett is the only slam dunk in the draft, maybe Peppers but we have to go front 7. If Cleveland takes Garrett I would be all for your idea of getting 5 picks in the first 3 rounds.

                I’ll admit your plan is more realistic because Chip will probably return. Your draft stategy makes sense as it would fill more holes. Time will tell I guess.

              3. 80, while I drool over the prospect of drafting Garrett, the Niners spent the last 2 first round drafts on Armstead and Buckner. They need bodies, lots of them.

                If Chip manages to win a few games, he may stay. If the Niners lose out, you may get your wish. Oregon will throw money at Chip, and he would be stupid not to flee this dumpster fire.

                Since this election has gone as well as the Niner season, I guess I will follow my father’s advice and roll with the punches.

              4. It doesn’t happen often Seb, but I agree with the idea of trying to trade down this coming draft, even if it means missing out on Garrett. Plenty of good looking edge players this year, and the 49ers need an influx of talent, not one guy.

              5. Scooter, the CBS top prospects have players possibly going in the first 2 rounds up to the 84th player. While the QB position is not terribly impressive, this looks like a strong draft class.

        2. This is going to be, pretty much, the new normal. The foundation of this team will not change in a meaningful way until York either stays out-permanently- of all football decisions of any kind or…they sell the team.

          Otherwise, we are going to see the same people making the same horrible judgements, indefinitely.
          Its sad, too, because this team was really the benchmark for the NFL, once upon a time. Now its just a punchline to a joke.

          I’m really hoping to see a stadium count of less than 5000 or less for rest of season.

    2. No coach would come coach the 49ers until they spend money for big free agents and get a franchise QB. They tried to trade Torrry Smith our biggest free agent in 2015 actually our only one and the Eagles would barely give us a 5th lol That should tell us what other teams think about our players.

      Here’s an example; Let’s say the 49ers traded for WR Seth Roberts from the Raiders he would automatically be our #1 WR and he’s the Raiders 3rd or 4th WR, that my friend should tell you everything you need to know about this roster.

      1. The Truth,

        “No coach would come coach the 49ers” I agree, I’ve said that nobody wants to work for Jed and Trent. That leaves Kelly or Mike Shanahan.

        You seem to be implying that I’m overrating this roster, that is not the case. We have one of the worst rosters in the league. If you read my post again you will see that I said we could turn things around next year if we got a new QB, WR, TE, and improved the front 7. To be more specific about the front 7, I mean NT, ILB, and OLB. That is six new players through the draft and free agency.

        There is parity in todays NFL. It doesn’t take 22 pro bowlers to be competitive. It takes good to great players at key positions. Even the best teams have their weaknesses.

        With all the cap space and good draft position we very well could turn things around next year, but Kelly and Baalke have to go. They have to be replaced by Gamble or Holmgren at GM and Shanahan at HC. They are the only ones willing to work for Jed unless Jed throws an obscene amount of money at someone

        1. #80,

          My post was meant for Grant but I agree with most of your post that it can be turned around if we upgrade the roster it would need a major upgrade. Now how many years has Baalke been failing us? Chip Kelly has been here for 8 games is that a fair amount? This dumpster fire has been going on before Chip got here so I think it’s unfair to blame Chip for that, why not upgrade the team like your saying first and give Chip a chance to coach a better roster then we can judge him better and if he fails next year then we’ll know for sure because he did get the Eagles to back to back 10-6 his first 2 years after taking over for Andy Reid who was 4-12 before Chip took over.

          1. My bad Truth, I don’t think Chip is a NFL coach. I think keeping him for another year will set us back another year. I don’t see any defensive FAs like Short willing to play for a Kelly team.. That means we would have to go all D in the draft and pass on drafting a QB in the early rounds.

            I get your point and I would usually agree but Chip is a gimmick college coach IMO.

            1. That’s fair enough #80 I respect your opinion and I’m not saying I’m a Chip Kelly fanatic but he’s the least of this teams problems.

              1. This team does not inspire loyalty, so Chip will probably bail. luckily, like JH, he will have a soft landing at Oregon, because Phil Knight can throw some pocket change at him.

                With Chip gone, Kaep will leave, so they will be forced to draft a QB instead of a stud defender, and keep losing. Jed will be ecstatic abut being rewarded with such a high draft pick, but Baalke will whiff again.

              2. Seb,

                Hopefully Baalke will be fired he shouldn’t be allowed to ruin another draft for the 49ers but we shall see.

      2. I disagree, if and that’s a big if they fire Baalke this would be a very attractive job. Getting a different gm could help bring in a good coach, which could help bring in top free agents.

  11. Hey Grant can you name ONE player currently on our defense that would start on the Raiders defense???

    I was going to say Eric Reid but every time I see him taking bad angles and missing tackles I don’t think he could and don’t get me started with Bethea he would’ve been cut or benched by now on other teams he’s horrible he shouldn’t be playing over Tartt.

  12. Rashard Robinson is better then any corner they got. Kid is a stud… I think A Lynch is better then Bruce Irvin. Buckner and Armstead are better then any D lineman they have not named Mack. Just my opinion though.

    1. I have the NFL ticket and I watch every 49ers game and trust me it’s hard to watch and I watched probably 6 of the Raiders games and I respectfully disagree with you. I wish I could agree with you being a lifelong 49ers fan out here in Lubbock Texas.

        1. Everybody that knows me friends and family knows I’m loyal to the 49ers but you’d be surprise there’s a lot of 49ers fans in Texas didn’t you see all the red in AT&T Stadium in 2014 when my 49ers came to Arlington I was at that game and we took that stadium over what a great memory it was for me. Patrick Willis was a beast in that game he was everywhere especially when he picked off Tony Romo in the end zone it got so loud in there I couldn’t here myself LOL Some people underestimate how much of a loss P-Willy was and it sucks! Him and Frank Gore were my 2 favorite players and I miss Goldson and Whitner, dam I better stop I’m getting depressed.

    2. RAW,

      No chance any of the Niners players you mentioned would be starting for the Raiders. The Raiders struggled defensively out of the gate trying to incorporate so many new players into the system, but the last 3 weeks they have been getting progressively better and their talent is far superior to ours.

          1. Ward would start at FS for Oakland. He also could start at Nickel. Brooks would play in the base defense over Irvin, who can’t set an edge. And Dorsey would start at NT.

            1. I disagree. The Raiders have a nice S tandem right now that is starting to play well and Irvin is a better player at this stage than Brooks. The Raiders have two NT’s I’d take over Dorsey.

              The problem for the Raiders is not talent, it’s been getting on the same page.

              1. We will have to agree to disagree. They brought Irvin in mainly to give them another pass rushing presence opposite Mack and I’d take Nelson and Joseph over Ward every day of the week. If you are comparing Ward and Hayden at NCB, then it’s closer but Hayden has played pretty well this year so it’s not a slam dunk.

    3. Robinson has looked good against no-name WRs. Then he faced one when the 49ers played against the Bucs and got smoked.

  13. Blame who ever you want but it all comes back to the owner,Jed York and his personal policies. As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; his mother did the same thing firing a winning Super Bowl coach and replacing him with a losing Cal coach. What we need is a new owner, then a new GM and coach

    1. If you are talking about Seifert and Mariucci I completely disagree. Siefert had coached well overall for 8 years and had won 2 SB’s, but he had lost control of the team when the move to Mariucci was made in 1997. Eddie D. was still running the team with Carmen Policy as VP. Mariucci did a good job, considering that the Yorks took over soon after he was hired. Walsh was GM and we had to go through salary cap hell during the 1999-2000 seasons. We also lost Steve Young to retirement in 1999. By 2001, Walsh had rebuilt the roster enough (signing Jeff Garcia was a big part of it) that we finished 12-4 but finished in 2nd place. We wound up having to go to Green Bay in the playoffs against Farve and we came close to beating them. In the following year, 2002, we were 10-6. That was the year that we had that great comeback against the Giants and beat them 39-38. That was a very physical game and we wound up with a bunch of injuries. We had to play at Tampa Bay, another physical team, the next week. We were hobbled by so many injuries that we had no chance and lost 31-6. The Bucs went on to win the Superbowl. Maybe this is what you were thinking of; After that season, the Yorks fired Mariucci. The reason? He lost a power struggle with GM Terry Donahue.(Another terrible GM who wrecked our franchise). Sound familiar? They obviously had no one in mind and they interviewed extensively for a replacement. They eventually settled on Dennis Erikson. There was one more thing in common with 2014. When they fired Jim Harbaugh,they again had no plan in place for a new coach! They made a laughing stock of the organization with their coaching interviews. Whoever they interviewed would say that they weren’t interested, probably because of Baalke’s meddling. Jed and Baalke finally found their yes man by hiring Tomsula. They have done the exact same thing twice in 11 years. Baalke has to go. I’m guessing that a new GM would want his own coach, but we’ll see.

      1. KT, good post. The problem is, Baalke should have been let go after last year, but was retained. Then we had another ACL draft and decent FAs avoided the Niners like the plague because of Baalke. Word gets around.

  14. –Oh, and let’s remember that part of the reason Kelly’s staff is so weak is that good candidates shied away from this volatile situation. For good reason.

    –This wasn’t a great job when Tomsula took it, or when he was fired, or when Kelly took it (or when Hue Jackson exited the negotiations), and it won’t get more attractive for a new coach after Kelly departs.

    From Tim Kawakami Mercury News

  15. Ultimately it’s Denise. She owns the circus. The circus may have fools in management and weak/suspect performers; but the fact remains the owner owns the circus.

  16. Nice piece Grant.
    But in all honesty, the team that was handed to Kelly is sadly low on talent.
    Baalke has been incompetent in drafting over the last few years and the poor play bares it out. Imo, the good teams with quality players always rise to the top in the 2nd half of games because of their better talent. I think we’ve become all to familiar to watching the 49ers play somewhat respectable football in the 1st half of games this year only to be overtaken by teams with a stronger roster in the 2nd half. And yes, this includes the coaching as well.
    I harken back to Bill Walsh’ first year as head coach and I see some similar aspects with this years team: the obvious one is lack of talent.

    I said back in July that I would go into this season with low expectations because we had minimal talent among veterans and had to wait 2-3 years for our young players to establish themselves.
    Well those young players like Dial, Tank, Tartt, Ward, Hyde, VMac have either not raised their game or have only made a slight impact.
    The next group of young players like Armstead, Buckner, Garrett, Harald are still feeling their way and Armstead is now out of the picture.

    This has to come to roost on Baalke’ lap. Sure, I can’t blame the injuries on him, but I can blame his poor drafting philosophy and bad judgment in ignoring an obvious QB problem.

    I’ve got so much more to say on this, but I think I’ve said enough for now.
    I’ll will finish with this: “Blame Baalke!”

  17. nice read grant. 2 things

    1. In the last paragraph you used they’re and it should be their* ^_^ . At least i think it is i could be wrong.

    2. What do you think about fans crowd funding a “fire balkee” banner to be flown over the stadium this game and the next? Do you think Jed and Co will acknowledge it or say anything about it? Do you think its worth it for the fans to do this kind of thing?

    1. mcniner,
      Jed would need to live in a cave for him not to be aware of the teams situation. And although he and Trent have a good relationship, the business of running a successful enterprise compels the owner to make the tough decisions.
      In this case, that decision will need to be to dismiss Baalke as GM.
      When Jed addressed the faithful at the end of last season he made a reference to seeing the planes flying over his head – so yes, Jed is aware of the fans frustrations, disappointments, and anger and if he really is sincere in the state of his team he will make the tough decisions.

  18. Grant, I agree with your premise. Chip has deflected blame.

    At least with Tomsula, he accepted personal blame for every loss. He stood tall and took the slings and arrows, shielding his coaches and players.

    Players cant Tackle? Maybe Chip should put players in position to tackle. Lack of execution? Maybe Chip should put in players that can execute the scheme. Waiting so long to put in Kaep and DuJuan Harris was a grievous lack of judgement.

    Blame Baalke? Well, I can agree with that. Baalke, with his poor drafts and lack of decent FAs, hung an albatross around Chip’s neck, which has turned into a millstone while he is trying to swim. With a 1-7 record, it sure looks like he is drowning.

    1. Seb,
      Tomsula was a buffer for Trent and Jed. He was so happy with his promotion to head coach that I believe he would have taken a bullet for either of them and likely felt obligated to protect them from criticism (which did not work in the end).

      Kelly (imo) has been a good soldier in his diplomatic efforts not to point the finger at the front office failings. And could be that he has had private meetings with Jeb regarding Baalke’ future.
      I’m only guessing on this simply because I believe at this point that Kelly is more important to the teams success than Trent.
      And I hope that Jeb feels the same way.

      1. AES, I want Baalke gone so Chip can be persuaded to stay. If Chip stays, maybe he can persuade Kaep to stay.

        Chip cannot succeed with O’Neil as DC. With Baalke gone, maybe Jed could convince Tomsula to come back as the DC. They are paying him anyways.

        Tomsula lives and breathes coaching. It must be eating him up to be relegated to the couch. He would instill passion into the defense, and I guarantee he would not let the other team make 571 yards on his defense.

  19. Typically puerile analysis by Grant pandering to those fans looking for a convenient scapegoat in an organization deeply mired in ineptitude. We all have our own ways of analyzing, and my analysis is that Kelly is the least of Niner’s problems.

    When I parse Kelly’s comment I see no deflection of blame, just a statement of facts. When Dial moves to the wrong spot enabling the 75-yard TD run by Ingram and points the finger at himself, I don’t see O’Neill or Kelly’s hand in it. The Crimson Tide front 7 is better than the current Niners front 7, especially without Lynch.

    1. This is what you wrote on April 18: “I think the Niners have more young talent in this team than most people give them credit. The question is whether the current staff can use that talent, apart from continuing to coach them up.”

          1. Correction; They were favored to lose every game not predicted, sorry Grant.

            Either way it shows what they thought about the 49ers as a team and the organization.

            1. Those were Vegas odds. I predicted the 49ers would win 4 games this year, and that was the lowest prediction among the best writers.

      1. Grant,

        I am not going to quibble to defend my short-sighted comment from April about young talent. But I did not anticipate wholesale change of the front 7 due to injuries (Williams gone, Bowman out, Dorsey slow recovery, Lynch out for 4 games followed by injury, Armstrong out, Armstead injured and now out.). Perhaps others did.

        IMO, Niners still do have young talent in areas like DBs, TEs (dropped passes notwithstanding) and O line. The problem is that they have gaping lack of talent, young or veteran, at two critical positions – QB and D line, as well as three other important positions like receiver and LBs. (I misjudged the development of Eli Harold.) They have career backups and special teams players starting at many of these positions.

        I’m not sure which coach in the league you have in mind who could have made lemonade out of this lemon of a team.

        1. Fangio’s defense in Chicago has almost no talent and ranks 12th in the NFL. He could have done a good job with this team. Del Rio, too.

          1. No question that Fangio and Del Rio a better DC than O’Neill. Kelly would have loved to have a more competent DC for sure.

            But I strongly disagree that the Bears defense has less talent than the Niners if that is what your are implying. The Bears front 7 were ranked 9th and the Niners 23rd by PFF at the beginning of the season before the disastrous attrition of the Niners front 7.

            Interestingly, PFF noted the decline of the run defense even last season in the sub-packages with Williams out of the line.

            Currently, DVOA ranking of defense of Chicago is 16 and Niners is 28 by Football Outsiders, not very different from what I’d expect from their talent levels.

            1. I think I had the Niners taking Leonard Floyd in my final mock draft. I was the only person here who thought Floyd was better than Buckner.

              1. So there it is Grant not only did we pick higher then the Bears but now you’re agreeing with me that the Bears have the better 1st round pick of the two lol

              2. Well, in some of my mocks, I had the Niners trading back to get 3 picks in the first 2 rounds. I also picked Floyd and Shaq Lawson with one of those later picks.

  20. Good piece Grant.

    However, I don’t understand why you are unwilling to touch the subject of the 49ers going into the season $ 40 million under the cap. To me that is the elephant in the room nobody is willing to discuss. Baalke left $ 40 million dollars of cap space unspent instead of addressing the weaknesses that we all knew about going into the season: lack of pass rush, lack of playmaking wide receivers, lack of depth behind Navorro Bowman at ILB position.

    Kelly was not the guy who left $ 40 million under the cap that should have been used to improve the roster. Blame Baalke.

    1. Exactly! You nailed it and what about all the Draft picks that have no impact. Grant only focuses on Chip Kelly for his personal reasons but keeps ignoring the real problems on this team.

      1. Exactly. The way I look at it, the Niner roster is 45 mil less talented than the other rosters.

        Niners are trying to go cheap, with cheap results.

        1. Ain’t he playing where he was playing in college? He even stated after he got drafted that the 49ers defense was similar to Oregons defense.

          1. Yes, but just because he had success at that position in the Pac-12 (as a pass rusher) doesn’t mean he’ll have success there in the NFL. He simply is too tall stop the run as a 4-technique in the NFL. He is not suited to two-gap in this league.

              1. Why do you think Baalke keeps selecting DL who are not suited to the 3-4 such as Tank and Buckner? I’ll even argue that using Dial as a NT is ill advised. Maybe you won’t blame Baalke for that, since Dial should work at DT, but Baalke’s neglect at the NT position has led to Dial being used at NT.

              2. I think they’re suited to a few different styles of defenses, just not Kelly and O’Neil’s defense.

              1. Exactly this is the NFL not college that’s also my point. In the NFL you have to put your big boy pants on because sometimes it can be rough on rookies and sometimes rookies adjust quickly but I’m still hoping Buckner will be better next year as he gets stronger in the run game because Jon Gruden did say in during the 2016 Draft when Buckner was selected that the only thing he feared about Buckner was how he got pushed around in the run game.

    2. Which free agents should Baalke have massively overpaid to sign? That’s the only way he could have signed anyone significant.

          1. Interesting statistic on Better Rivals. In the first Q the team is 8th in DVOA on offense and 13th in DVOA on defense across the league.

            To me that suggests that the game planning is good. After the 1st Q it’s difficult to say why everything falls apart. It seems to be more of a lack of talent issue than game planning though.

            1. Dirk Koetter explained this. Teams can’t prepare for the 49ers’ game-tempo in practice. Takes them one quarter to adjust. Once they adjust, the game is over.

              1. I don’t have a link, but this is from his post-game press conference after he beat the 49ers:

                Q: You gave up a score on the San Francisco 49ers first drive and then after that pretty sturdy on defense.

                Koetter: “We couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. We said during the week one of the hardest things about a [San Francisco 49ers Head Coach] Chip Kelly offense is getting used to that tempo. They went through us like Swiss cheese in that first drive. We were inconsistent keeping [San Francisco 49ers QB Colin] Kaepernick in the pocket. We were trying to keep him in the pocket. We were inconsistent doing that and we had other chances to get him down. The D-line kept saying, ‘Coach, he’s fast!’ No kidding. Yeah, he’s fast. He’s just not your typical quarterback. The guy can run and we didn’t tackle as well as we should have but we thought if we could keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball we could make some plays on it. [Tampa Bay Buccaneers S] Bradley McDougald, of course had the nice interception, almost had another one. [Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB] Brent Grimes had two balls that he poked out there that were nice plays. The sack fumble by [Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB] Jude [Adjei-Barimah] coming off the slot, that was a big play. I was a little nervous there in the first quarter after they scored and we threw that pick. There we go, our offense putting our defense in a bad situation. Then that ended up as our only turnover, so I think we were plus two on the day. I think we got another one off of special teams. I go back to our punt team. Those gunners, our gunners, [Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Russell] Shepard, not only on special teams but on offense, he had an awesome day on offense. Our gunners do such a good job forcing fair catches even when our cover guys are right on top of them.”

              2. Also, when you say teams can’t prepare, I beg to differ. Fangio did a brilliant job of preparing for the Eagles who were playing at a significantly faster pace than the 49ers.

              3. Yes, but it’s impossible to replicate game-tempo in practice. That’s why Kelly’s offense often looks good early in games.

              4. “impossible to replicate game tempo in practice”. I don’t believe this is true. I can’t remember the exact particulars, but Fangio changed up his practice significantly while preparing for the Eagles. I believe they did try to replicate that fast tempo on the scout team. I’ll see if I can find some of the old articles on this.

              5. “Every coach and player will tell you that.” Agree that this is the conventional wisdom, but Fangio debunked it.

                Here’s what Fangio had to say after the game:

                “We really stressed them on Friday with the tempo and getting the calls in and out,” Fangio said. “Even to the point where we stressed them to where it was above and beyond what they would see and that was the thinking behind that.”


              6. What do you mean by “speed”? Are you talking about the velocity at which players are running? What I’m referring to with the quote/link is the speed at which plays are being snapped. Clearly that can be replicated and, as Fangio said, even exceed what the players will see from the opposing team during the game.

              7. Cubus,

                Coaches try but you can’t replicate game speed and intensity in practice. Adrenaline is a powerful thing.

              8. Agree with you guys regarding velocity and intensity at game time, but clearly increasing the pace at which snaps are run can be replicated and even intensified as Fangio did.

              9. True. Every team should prepare for Kelly’s offense the way Fangio does. He is the gold standard of defensive coordinators.

      1. Are you going to make that same argument during 2017 FA? The team will be in the same boat then as it is now? Many successful teams integrate FA with drafting and don’t rely solely on drafting. The Seahawks, for example, had several years where they effectively did not have a first round pick. They prioritized their needs and looked for the best player to fill those needs regardless of whether that person was obtained through the draft or FA (see Bennett, Avril, Graham). I’ve been arguing for this approach since I started posting. Unfortunately, Baalke/York has now put the team in a position where they will have to overpay for FAs. But they’ll have to spend a sizable chunk of that cap space in order to meet mandated spending requirements.

        1. The comparison is the Raiders when they had to sign LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck and Matt Schaub to meet the cap requirements. Top line free agents won’t come to a team that has no QB.

        2. Thank you cubus you took the words right out of my mouth. The thing is sometimes you might have to overpay for free agents to infuse some veteran leadership into this young roster. For example just look at Justin Smith when the 49ers signed him from Cincinnati he wasn’t a great vocal leader but he lead by example on and off the field and he mentored players on the defensive line like Aldon Smith and yes I know Aldon had his demons off the field but Justin made Aldon on the field.

        3. Cubus,

          This philosophical change of harmonizing FA signings with draft picks has to come from above the GM — from the team President.

          Baalke will be fired but what is needed is for Denise to kick Jed upstairs (make Jed the Supreme President and Pooh-Bah of all Things Below John and Denise York), and hire a President of football operations — someone like Steve Young who in turn hires the GM and brings into the building a collection of bright football minds.

          1. Why? I don’t see any reason why it can’t be the philosophy of the GM. I highly doubt that the Seattle president has directed Carroll and Schneider to create their philosophy. Now if you mean it would have to come from someone above Baalke in order to get Baalke to do it, then I can see that. But a simpler solution is to dump Baalke.

            1. Why? Because, IMO, the occasional (but needed) splurging (and overpaying) of players in FA when cap room is available is not just a football personnel decision, but also a financial/business decision. The President has to justify to the ownership that over-payment to players in FA is an investment that will pay off in the short and mid-term.

              Baalke appears to have sold his value to the organization as a draft-and-develop GM who will not splurge in FA (or , for that matter, sign long-term contracts at market rate to players coming out of rookie contracts as in the case of Iupati) but maximize draft picks and keep a constant inflow of young talent. He has failed spectacularly and Jed, who bought into that line of thought, is equally culpable.

              1. Okay, Mood, I see where you’re coming from now. I’m thinking more in terms of ownership, but I believe you are only going to the President level. I would agree that the GM/HC might need to justify to the President, but not that the President should have to justify to the ownership. After all, haven’t we all (including you, I believe) been calling for Jed to step back from the management of the team. Let the underlings run the team and if the results aren’t at least trending in the positive direction evaluate firings at the end of the year.

      2. Sean Smith. Niners could have outbid the Raiders because the Raiders spent a lot for Osmele and Irvin. Baalke did not need to massively overpay.

        Then Baalke did not have to waste a third round draft choice on ACL Redmond. Yannick Ngakoue went next pick.

        After Robinson in the 4th, Dak Prescott went 2 picks later.

          1. Because the Raiders offered him more money, all players use that BS about I wanted to play on a certain team and bla bla blah and whatever lol They do that so they won’t look greedy but the fact is every player goes for the money. Trust me if the 49ers would’ve gave Sean Smith Jenioris Jenkins money he would’ve been a 49er so come on Grant we both know that’s BS.

              1. With 50 mil in cap space at that time, Niners could have easily outbid the Raiders without massively overpaying.

              2. The point is if the 49ers offered more he would’ve came but they didn’t that’s why he’s a Raider. Clearly the 49ers didn’t offer more money nor any other team.

              3. The point is, with a ton of cap space, the Niners should have offered more, then they would not have spent their 3rd and 4th round picks on CBs. And certainly not on another ACL pick who is on IR.

              4. Honestly we should be happy we didn’t get Sean Smith he’s not even better then the other Raiders CBs he’s the weakest link on that Raiders D. Didn’t he get benched at one time this year? The 49ers don’t need that because we already have plenty of players that should be benched.

              5. After getting benched, he is still playing. He also is light years better than a gimpy ACL player. Everyone touted Robinson, but in a couple games, he got torched, and is a flyweight who gets pushed around.

                MOAR Smiths!

              1. They also won’t take less money to go to certain teams. Players think about themselves and there families before they think about QBs. So I guess N Sue was thinking about Tannehill when he left the Lions for the Dolphins for that 100+ million LOL Mathew Stanford is balling right now.

              2. Oh, how I long for the Glory Years, when elite FAs would take less to come to the Niners because they wanted a ring.

              3. He was? LOL Okay if you say so, I guess the Lions not outbidding the Dolphins didn’t have nothing to do with it.

              4. I even heard somewhere that the Raiders have the most expensive O-Line in the NFL. Hudson is the Highest paid C in the NFL and Osemile is the highest paid OG at 12 million a year. Don’t say money don’t matter because it does.

              5. You said free agents go wherever there’s a good QB and I’m sure they hope that’s the situation but it’s not there priority money is.

          1. Grant Cohn November 10, 2016 at 9:13 am
            Which college QBs do you like this year?
            I like a lot of them, if they return to school for another year. Despite our pressing need I’m not a fan of taking one before pick #50’ish. Middle of the 2nd is when the risk/reward scale tips closer to the teams side. As seen below if we had our choice I’d go with Mahome in the third. He’s got a lot of intangibles but that goofy offense he’s in doesn’t encourage me to use anything higher then a third on him. I could be talked into going up into the last third of the 2nd for someone as we get closer to the draft but right now I’m thinking we still need to focus on the defense for the first couple of picks.

              1. Then count on it happening if Yoralke are still here. And whoever it is, they’ll have an ACL problem.

            1. The smart QB’s with good people around them will return to school. What does that leave for teams this year? Seniors and well…

              1. Not against Glennon, but will he fit in Chip’s offense. The QB has to at least threaten the ability to run. Glennon could be another Bradford in Chip’s offense.

  21. If the draft was tomorrow my first three picks would be:

    (This is assuming we’re picking within the top 3 of the first 3 rounds)
    Jonathan Allen – DE
    Tre’Davious White – CB
    Pat Mahomes – QB

  22. The Seahawks’ defense has played 244 snaps the past three weeks, more than any other group in the NFL. They’ve given up 56 points.

    Over that same period the 49ers’ defense has given up 120 points.

    Skilled players and good coaching makes the difference.

      1. SMITH: “You just kinda walk around the locker room, walk around outside and just kinda work yourself up mentally — it’s all mental — to get ready to play and try to whoop somebody’s ass. That’s basically what it comes down to. Techniques, this and that — if you really watch tape, there’s a lot of bad technique out there. It’s just guys getting after it and using whatever they’ve got to try to get the job done. That’s about all it is.”
        Smith basically summed up how he played and approached the game and seriously how many people play or have played like Justin Smith? I wouldn’t expect most players to be able to do what Justin Smith did so is that quote really relatable? Sure Justin Smith could get away with sloppy technique because he was a freak of nature using speed and force in a combination rarely seen in human beings his size.

        You don’t say the 76ers suck and lack passion because they aren’t all playing like Michael Jordan.

        1. Football is different than basketball. Football is a game of passion. Smith was not just speaking for himself.

          “It’s all mental” — Justin Smith.

              1. Shooting a jump shot is all skill, not passion. It’s different than stopping the run, which is a mentality, as Justin Smith said.

              2. Hehe, yes shooting a jump shot is different then stopping the run but the ability to execute your technique in the pressure and physical stress of the moment is where the passion comes in.

              3. That’s different. That’s more like pitching in baseball. Sure, there’s pressure. But that’s not what I mean by passion.

              4. When he says it’s all mental, he’s removing the physicality aspect of the game and talking about reaching down within yourself and just simply making yourself be the better player. Clearly football is a physical sport so he’s talking about mentally psyching yourself up to go kick somebody’s arse but in basketball it’s about psyching yourself up to make that jump shot with the player hanging off of you while your flying through the air half contorted.

                Passion isn’t the right word for that I’d agree but I do believe that is what he’s talking about it it’s what I was trying to describe as well when I referred to ‘passion.’

              5. Smith is right. A football player can have all the talent and technique in the world. If he has the wrong mentality, the wrong attitude, if he’s soft, he’s going to be a bad defensive player. Period.

              6. To my original point though, we’re still talking about the rare specimens of their sports. The elites. There are no elites on this team.

              7. Tank Carradine isn’t a failed draft choice for this defense because he isn’t being sufficiently mentally encouraged each game.

              8. Chris Borland is a good counter example. Not much physical talent, but the perfect attitude and mentality for a defensive player, and that’s what made him good.

              9. Missed tackles, bad angles, and generally slow players are not the side effects of a lack of mental encouragement.

              10. “Eric Reid has all the talent, but he’s soft. That’s why he’s bad.”

                Was Reid soft in 2013 when he went to the Pro Bowl?

              11. Reid also started playing soft around the time the HC was losing interest.

                In my opinion, Kelly heard the critics of his style in Philly and went 180 degrees the other way and is trying to be the “nice guy”.

              12. Good point. Tough to say why he makes those “business decisions” during games, but he makes them.

                Agree about Kelly. Now this nice guy coach has a team with absolutely no fire.

              13. For mine, Reid’s problem is limited commitment. He’s no longer fully committed; ask him why. I’d be nervous with an uncommitted or partially committed team mate as well. Can I count on you, or what?
                While I’ve been on board to questioning why unarmed civilians are getting gunned down since long before Colin expressed interest, I note that he and Eli Harold and Reid all kneeling before games are three noted underachievers. Distracted, fellas? Maybe concentrate on your day job.

    1. Agree, Jack. Except for near the end of the season (games 13-16), I just don’t see how around 5 to 6 extra snaps a game (beyond the midpoint) on defense has a major impact on blowout losses in early season games.

  23. Who is to blame? Jed.

    Jed hired Baalke. Jed could not get along with JH, so he dropped him like a hot potato. Jed blew it when he tried to force Tomsula on Fangio as his DC. When Fangio bailed, Jed insisted on hiring Tomsula.

    When Chip was fired, Jed decided to fire Tomsula by stabbing him in the back. Chip is now 1-7, and Tomsula is looking like a lot better coach.

    Jed did not fire Baalke after last season, so we got more ACL picks. The draft was not great, and free agency was an unmitigated disaster.

    Jed should fire Baalke now, but does not have the guts to do it.

    I blame it all on Jed, and hold him accountable. Too bad he will not hold himself accountable, when he told all of us to do so.

    1. While I detest the Seahawks, because I consider them pretenders, especially all during the 80’s and 90’s, I must applaud their recent success. They have come from missing the SB, to winning a SB, to losing a SB, and a lot is attributed to Pete Carrol. He was a former Niner coach, but I developed my distaste for him when he was a coach at USC.

      I must grudging admit he is a master motivator, a clever tactician, unrelentingly upbeat and optimistic. He wrings every last drop of energy from his players, and he gets them to perform at elite levels.

      I wish he were the Niner HC, instead of an adversary.

      However, my hatred is especially reserved for the Cowboys. They were so arrogant, They kept knocking the Niners out of the playoffs, The Niners beat the curse with The Catch, and dominated during their SB run, but once Charles Haley was sent to the Cowboys, they returned the favor. I am indifferent to the Raiders when compared to my limitless hatred towards the Cowgirls.

    2. Seb-skov………

      That is some of the finest deductions you have made. Jed is, as the York’s are, a curse-with all that it implies-on N. California. It’s as if a plague has been sent to us.

  24. Grant:

    I believe that passion and team pride go hand in hand. The Seahawks defense isn’t as good this year as in the past. But when they make major mistakes they come together as a unit and you can see that their pride has been damaged (all of this is visible when they show sideline shots of various defensive players). Almost always they come out and play much better in the next series. I do believe it is true, however, that you need to have passionate players in order to instill and maintain that pride.

    Just to be clear: I hate the ‘Hawks more than any other team, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize a superiorly managed team.

    1. Cubus I have a sour taste in my mouth for the Hawks as well but they are a true team with a unrelenting competitive spirit.
      That’s all Pete Carroll and drafting hungry players yearning to win.
      Instead we draft projects and previously injured players.
      If I was a scout my top two questions for players:
      1. How much do you hate to lose?
      2.What matters more? Winning or getting better as a player?

  25. With a good or a hot hand QB Kelly can consistently get 10 regular season wins but even if that’s good enough that year to get you into the playoffs he’s always going to be a one and done coach in the tournament. Tape can kill Kelly and defenses that are successful are so because they put extra time into studying film. Kelly is the NFL coach version of a c**k tease. Will only take you so far and then leave you disappointed.

    I wouldn’t hold it too harshly against him. Peyton Manning is a clear first ballot and he was constantly killed in the playoffs and even the SuperBowl by defenses watching his predictable tendencies on film

    Guess the moral of the story is watch your film and don’t be predictable.

    1. I’ve been reading a lot of mock drafts lately. Almost all of them have Trubisky in the top 10 and Kizer in the top 5. Watson is a no go. I would take Trubisky, Kizer, Kaaya, Falk, Webb, and Mahomes over him.

    1. 49ers could do a lot worse than bringing Alex back. If they did they would have the leeway of not needing to reach for a QB in the draft.

      1. Please. Alex would have to be brain dead to come back here. He will pick a team with a defense that is so good, it just wants the QB to not screw up.

        Even though I hoped he learned not to huddle up while running the hurry up, I must admit he is a solid QB.

        Alex is way too smart to come back here with absolutely no chance to sniff the playoffs. Gave me a chuckle, tho…..

          1. Alex would have to OK any trade for it to work. It would be pointless to trade him to a team where he would not want to play for.

            The better option is for the Chiefs to facilitate a trade with a team of Alex’s choosing, like he did with the Chiefs when he was a Niner. A win-win situation. Maybe the Rams would want him. They have a stout D and Gurley as the RB.

    1. It is alarming to see how easily the way a game is reffed may determine the outcome. Many plays have holding that could be called, so the lack of balanced calls make it almost predetermined.

      Some time, it is the flag that was not thrown that is crucial, and I question the integrity of the game when they make a ticky tacky call away from the action.

      I hope they reform the system. Make everything reviewable with the main mandate to get the right call.

    2. #80 – I don’t believe the refs can stand over the ball if the offense doesn’t substitute. Kelly has the ability to decide.

  26. Who wants to look this closely at a big steaming pile of turds in order to examine what makes it different than a Lombardi Trophy? To look close enough to see the details, you become overwhelmed with the stench of losing. It gets in the fabric of your clothes, and your wife sniffs it the moment you walk through the door. Even as a fan, the losing becomes you if you don’t walk away.

  27. Coleridge!!! Love it, Grant, and I agree with you 100%. Do you talk to Kawakami about his insights into the burgeoning power struggle at 4949? If so, would you consider writing a piece of your own on this?

  28. Grant,

    Every spot in your article you say Kelly is blaming Baalke, you could substitute that Kelly is blaming the coaching, or both the coaching and the talent, not just the talent (i.e., Baalke).

    Also, the fast start and then flop MO of the 49ers, isn’t limited to the offense, but your explanation is. The defense also plays much better early in games. How is that a by product of the 49ers offense playing fast?

    Maybe the 49ers flop, after relative first quarter success, because they’re just not that good.

    Additionally, a lot of the 49ers post fast start woes are error related: TO’s and penalties to extend opponents’ drives. These things aren’t due to bad game plans or scheme.

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