We’re down to real games now. It’s time to put away the following five extraneous topics about the 49ers.
1. The grass
You’re fined a nickel if you mention the grass, and all nickels go to me.
Grass Watch 2015 needs to end right now. No more reporting about clumps of uprooted grass. It’s boring. We get it. The grass isn’t very good. Enough already.
Yes, Jed York probably made a deal with the wrong grass company. But he seems to be doing everything he can to fix the issue. The Niners are installing brand new grass about a dozen times this season.
No, the grass probably won’t ever mesh with the soil underneath it. And yes, a few players probably will slip and fall every game. It’s a bad playing field. But it’s also a level playing field. Both teams have to play on the same grass.
The grass will have zero effect on the Niners’ record. The grass is past.
2. The loss of players
Almost every time we read a preview of the 49ers’ season, we get reminded of all the players the 49ers lost this offseason. As if we don’t already know.
As if we’re thinking, “Wait, Patrick Willis AND Chris Borland retired?! Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
They retired in March. That’s old news, offseason news. It’s time to talk about who the Niners have, not who they don’t have. Every team loses players during the offseason. No team gets a special dispensation or an extra win because they lost players.
The fact is the Niners have the best group of skill-position players on offense since Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and Steve Young were on the team. And the defense is rock-solid up the middle, from nose tackle Ian Williams, to inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, to safeties Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea.
The Niners have more than enough talent to compete in a parity league.
3. The lawlessness of players
Depending on whom you read, you get the impression the 49ers should just fold the franchise because some of their players got arrested the past few years.
It’s as if NFL teams are allowed to exist only if their players have no criminal records. And if some of their players DO have criminal records, that’s all we can talk about.
Why should we care about the 49ers’ image? Why should we care if York says he wants to win with class and then contradicts himself? It’s his image, his reputation, not ours.
The only things that really affects York’s reputation are wins and losses. So don’t bemoan the fact that outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks will play despite facing charges of misdemeanor sexual battery. We’ve discussed that. Just analyze whether Brooks plays well.
Anything else is off the point.
4. Jarryd freaking Hayne
If I hear one more media question about Jarryd Hayne, I will sucker-punch myself in the face. I’m talking no warning. Just two hits: me hitting myself, and myself hitting the floor.
How can a preseason sideshow like Hayne take over every press conference? Why does Jim Tomsula have to answer 20 questions about Hayne every day?
I mean, it’s cool that Hayne switched sports. He’s a cute little story. But he’s by far the worst running back on the team. He’s not got going to carry the ball unless every other running back breaks his leg.
He may play some on special teams. He probably won’t return kickoffs — he returned only one during the preseason. Hayne may return punts but there’s no guarantee he’ll even do that. The Niners already have a punt returner, and his name is Bruce Ellington. He was a fourth-round pick last year, and he missed most of the offseason due to various injuries. But he seems healthy now, and he may be a better punt returner than Hayne.
Hayne might not even suit up for some games. Enough about him.
5. What a down-to-earth, swell guy Jim Tomsula is
This guy coached one game five years ago, and all we hear is how innovative and real he is, as opposed to that other guy he replaced. What was his name?
Oh yeah, Jim Harbaugh. What an overrated coach he was! Sure, he won almost 70 percent of his games, but his ego was too big — he thought everything was about him. And he worked his players so hard. Some may not have liked him.
Tomsula is the opposite of Harbaugh. Tomsula wants players to like him, wants them to know he cares about each and every one of them. So he makes the schedule to their liking. Shortens meetings to 30-minute “blocks,” meaning the players are free to check their phones every half hour. They must love that.
Until they start losing a lot — if they start losing a lot. Everyone loves a players’ coach until the team goes in the tank. Then, the coach is the reason. The team lacks discipline. The easygoing approach everyone liked in training camp becomes the problem. Tomsula will be the scapegoat, and he’ll get replaced with a disciplinarian like Harbaugh. That’s how the league works.
So don’t talk about Tomsula’s likability. Can he win?
Bring on the games.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.