Concussions and the dizzying array of misinformation

This is my Monday column on brain trauma in football. And this is a video the Seahawks use to teach tackling.

The justifiable concern about brain damage in football borders on hysteria. This is especially true after Chris Borland recently announced his retirement after just one season in the NFL. He was worried about brain damage. Now people want to know if football is too dangerous to play, if it could become a dying sport.

To find out some basic facts about brain damage and sports, I called Board Certified Neuropsychologist Elizabeth Pieroth. She is the associate director of the Northshore University HealthSystem Sports Concussions Program in Chicago, and she is on the board of directors for the Brain Injury Association of Illinois. She has been managing concussions for the Chicago Bears for 12 years, working with the Chicago Blackhawks for 15 years, and she works for the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Fire.

Dr. Pieroth argues for caution in rushing to extreme conclusions about concussions in sports, including football. You may be skeptical about what she has to say because she works for teams, but they don’t pay her — she volunteers. She is not beholden to them. She is a pure scientist interested in pursuing the truth. And she has something to say about the scientific data.

Before we get into her philosophies, let’s define terms.

“We define a concussion as any blow of force to the head that causes mental status changes — confusion, disorientation, memory loss,” Dr. Pieroth recently said over the phone. “It does not have to include a loss of consciousness. In fact, research shows only about 9 or 10 percent of concussions result in a loss of consciousness.”

Are there different types of concussions?

“Yes. A linear concussion is when the head is moving forward, someone falling forward, falling back, two people bumping heads on a football field or soccer field.”

Picture a brain bouncing back and forth against the inside of a skull.

“A rotational concussion is when the head moves on an axis.”

Now picture a brain rolling around the inside of a skull.

“If you get hit in the side of the head by a soccer ball and your head turns to the right, it’s a rotational injury. There is some evidence that rotational injuries tend to be more severe, but it’s not that black and white. If somebody falls backward on concrete — that tends to be a more serious injury than taking a soccer ball to the side of the head.”

What Dr. Pieroth is saying may seem counterintuitive. Most of the time, it’s more dangerous for a football player to get hit in the earhole of his helmet than the front of the helmet. But not every player who takes a shot to the earhole will get concussed. And some people are more susceptible to concussions than others. Why?

“That may have to do with the strength of the neck or the size of the head, the ratio of the head to the body,” said Dr. Pieroth. “There are a lot of reasons why one person may have a concussion instead of another person, and it is not all physiological. Some people just are very aggressive in their style of play and tend to use their heads without much regard for their health.”

That describes most professional football players. On almost every snap we see offensive linemen and defensive linemen bonking heads, or linebackers and fullbacks crashing head-first. Those collisions are called “repetitive blows.” Some of those are mild concussions. The players see stars.

Do repetitive blows make football too dangerous to play?

“That is one of those things that is up for opinion,” said Dr. Pieroth. “I am not anti-football. I think some have been calling for the end of football. I think we need to be looking at how we make the game safer. Are there rule changes that can affect safety? Are there coaching techniques that can improve safety? Are there turf changes? Are there equipment changes? People want it to be one thing — just get better helmets. That is only one component of it.”

Let’s linger on that last component — better helmets. We’ve heard about new helmets that have sensors to measure the force of hits. Do the sensors help?

“Once they get the technology right, I think they will be really quite helpful,” Dr. Pieroth said. “The problem is that people oversimplify it. To your question about linear versus rotational injuries, a lot of these sensors simply measure linear hits. They don’t measure rotational hits. And there is no clear cutoff, like a 65-G hit means you have a concussion and a 40-G hit means you don’t, or whatever. We don’t have those clear cutoffs.”

If the sensors don’t work, what else can people do to make football safer?

“I don’t know; I don’t play football,” Dr. Pieroth said. “I’m a petite little woman. I will leave that to the experts about how to make the game safer. The point is we need to be having a discussion. We need to be saying, ‘Can we make this game safer?’ And I think that is what a lot of organizations are doing.

“I’m on the national advisory committee for USA Football’s Heads Up Program. There are numerous components to it, and that’s why I’m so supportive of it. One component is teaching kids to take their heads out of the tackle. As the helmets became better, bigger, stronger, more protective, people started using their head as part of the tackling process. And that’s what we need to change. We need to teach kids to tackle with their shoulder and to keep their head out of the way.

“Organizations that use Heads Up football training show a lower rate of injury. There are things we can do at all levels of play to keep football and all other sports safe.”

What was Dr. Pieroth’s reaction when Chris Borland announced he was retiring?

Dr. Pieroth didn’t answer right away. “My reaction whenever these stories come up is if somebody has gotten good information, then more power to them,” she said after much thought. “If Chris got solid information, accurate information, unbiased information and he decided ultimately that the sport was not for him, then good for him. I wish him well.

“But Chris made a comment about his life being shortened by 15 or 20 years. We have no evidence of that currently. I am concerned about what kind of information he got.”

Preliminary research is being portrayed as fact, Dr. Pieroth said. That concerns her. Just because research was published doesn’t mean it was good research. The hype has outpaced the science of concussions.

“Nobody says repetitive blows to the head are OK,” Dr. Pieroth said. “But we have to look at a lot of things, and there is a lot of research that has to be done, and we have a lot of work that needs to be sorted out.

“My hope is that any athlete and, if it’s a youth athlete, their parents, simply get accurate information. And that’s very challenging these days. It is very difficult for parents and athletes to wade through the sheer volume of information that is out there, and truthfully the misinformation.

“I see really good kids who are genuinely freaked out that they’re going to have some horrible outcome because they had one concussion. Where is this coming from? It comes from the media.”

“I get people all the time who say, ‘I will never let my kids play football. I’m going to take my kids off to play hockey or wrestling or soccer.’ It’s this false notion that these injuries don’t happen in other sports,” Dr. Pieroth said. “They do.”

My parents did not allow me to play tackle football growing up. I didn’t fight them. Looking back, I probably didn’t want to play. But I played soccer for 12 years, and coaches taught me and my teammates to head the ball when we were 6. We were expected to head the ball in practice and games.

If the soccer ball hit the right spot on my forehead I didn’t feel it. But if the ball didn’t hit the right spot, if the ball hit my forehead a little too high or a little too low, I saw stars.

“That’s exactly equivalent to helmet-to-helmet contact,” Dr. Pieroth said. “There is research that shows a typical header has 160 to 180 percent higher G-force than a typical tackle or a typical check in hockey.

“If I lined up a bunch of 9-year-olds in football equipment and I had them tackle each other and bang heads, you would have me arrested. But I’ll line up a bunch of 9-year-olds and throw a soccer ball at their heads, and that’s OK?

“We need to be looking at all of these sports, looking scientifically at how are people injured, and not making the assumption that one sport is safe and the other ones are dangerous.

“Parents are being shamed, for lack of a better word, for allowing their kids to play contact sports, and that is not fair. I have two sons and they both play hockey. My son is in fourth grade now, and our school starts football in fifth grade. My husband and I are letting him play.

“People ask me (if I will let my sons play football) all the time as if somehow my opinion is more valuable, and it is not. Every parent has a comfort level with risk, and that is incredibly personal. That’s something that nobody can say is right or wrong.

“Parents just need to make an informed decision. I know this research very well, and I think it’s OK for my kid to play football. However, if he is injured, if he gets a concussion, I will re-evaluate that.”

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

This article has 464 Comments

  1. Way to go to a source with skin in the game. Her opinion should be taken with large grains of salt.

    1. I hesitate to respond but I feel I must set the record straight.

      I fully appreciate that most people assume that clinicians working with professional athletes (those who have “skin in the game”) have biased opinions. However, that is not the case. We act as independent consultants and are not employed by the team. My hospital system gets the same amount of money when I evaluate a professional athlete as they do when I evaluate a youth athlete, but we have profoundly higher liability exposure with a pro. I receive no fees personally from any pro team.

      In more than 10+ years working for pro teams (and 18 years working with concussed athletes), I have never once asked my teams for tickets or favors. I have never received any compensation from the NFL, NHL or other leagues. My colleagues are also not compensated for anything other than direct patient care. We are not paid for the countless hours we spend providing lectures, doing research, writing articles, etc. All of his work is done in the hopes of providing up-to-date education to the public and the healthcare community and advancing the science of concussions.

      For every one professional athlete, we see 100+ kids. No one makes a living by only seeing professional athletes. Our focus is on finding the best ways to prevent concussions and manage those individuals who are injured. We want kids to remain active, healthy and engaged in the sports they love, while making safety the absolute highest priority.

      I personally know countless hard-working, incredibly talented, ethical people across this country who work with professional athletes and make decisions based solely on the best interest of the athlete. You may not believe that be true and that is your right. However, painting everyone as biased is neither true nor fair.

  2. Thank you, Grant. An important subject that needs to be open to adult discussion. You’ve offered a fine post.
    I’d rather have my wits about me than $5M; but I might not have at 24 years old.

      1. They can do all the research they want, but until you have a couple of concussions you really can’t discuss the matter reasonably. I am from the leather helmet era and got three of them in one game. I quit the game right then and there. I spent time in the hospital, I had all kinds of doctors try to come up with something to stop the problems. Time did and I am fine now. Today you have guys playing who are 300 pounds and run under a 5 sec 40. They can press over 300 pounds and train year round. It is no longer a sport, It is a billion dollar business with the human body as fodder. I loved the game and still do, but I fully understand what the consequences are. I went to my college football reunion and saw all those All Americans, Yes they were great athletes now with walkers, crutches and wheelchairs. And in those days there were no million dollar signing bonuses.

    1. I concur with the others Grant. This was a great subject to debate and you wrote a terrific piece on it.

      To take it in a slightly different direction, one of the things I always wonder is why people don’t ask more questions instead of just taking a narrative as the final word. We see Dementia and depression in a large percentage of the population that doesn’t play a professional sport, and yet when it happens to a pro athlete or more succinctly a pro Football player, the issue is always linked to head trauma from playing the sport. Why do some players suffer from CTE/mental disorders and others lead long healthy lives? Probably the same reason the average person does: DNA.

      It’s become far too easy for the group think to blame the violence of the sport for things the average human being also experience in their lives. Concussions are obviously not healthy, but if treated properly and the right amount of time is taken to let the person recover, there is no evidence that it has a long lasting impact on a persons mental/physical health.

  3. I played both rugby and football in high school.

    In football, we lined up for tackling drills, and smash, seeing stars, smash, stars, repeat.

    In rubgy, (no helmets) we were taught to tackle with the shoulder and the head behind the opponent (rather than in front like football). I had my biggest concussion in rugby. Out. Seeing double, etc.

    I have a problem with this article in that it has ONE source. Lame. That is leveraging an opinion of one to further an agenda. If you really wanted to find out more you would reach deeper.

    Here is what is not mis-information:
    Since people started paying attention to concussions; (using the example above) 9 year old football players are not expected to do head to head tackle drills. Did they before people paid attention to head injuries? Hell yes. That is a win for the kids.

    More not mis-information:
    Heads up Football was created because of concussions, and the football “suck it up” culture. The NFL itself is acknowledging the issue.

    More not mis-information:
    Soccer is paying attention to the head trauma issue as well. 9 year old soccer players are not being trained on headers.

    Love the sport of football, but also love it’s truth.


      1. HT
        The truth that it is a violent and dangerous sport. Like riding a crotch rocket motorcycle, you accept the inherent risks that come with such a risky activity. Unlike boxing (where the violence and brutality WERE the show) football offers more than just mind numbing violence. Id argue that acrobatic catches (think OBJ) and barry sanders-esque runs are just as much fun to watch as smashmouth goal line stands if not more so but its a delicate balance that requires both elements grace and physicality. No one wants to watch old school big 10 style “3 yards and a cloud of dust” any more than they do “flag football”. Like P said, the fact that we are even having this discussion is a win for the sport and the people that play it. Nobody will be given smelling salts and told to go back in after “getting their bell rung” like they were even 10 years ago

    1. When you get a big hit to the head in rugby you are, naturally, at severe risk of getting knocked out as you typically aren’t wearing protection (though some players do wear protective head gear). However, there are significantly less head knocks than in grid iron, as having the helmet in grid iron encourages people to use their heads more.

      Changing the way people are taught to tackle and get their head out of the way would reduce the risk of severe head knocks (though not eliminate it), at least at some positions.

      1. And changing the way of tackling can end a players career. You train, workout and practice these things as a safety measure. What else they supposed to use? Their shoulders only? Arms only? If that’s the case get ready for average 30-35 point games. What they should start doing is really testing these althletes for steroids. Tackling is getting knocked because these guys aren’t normal size and don’t have normal strength and speed. Flying around with synthetic muscles at full speed and hitting someone has little to do with tackling techniques.
        In pee wee to highschool to college you’re taught to tackle in a way that is safest for you and effective. Changing the learning of it will only kill the NFL’ more. Start testing these machines!

        1. That would be true if tackling leading with the shoulder was not an effective method of tackling. It is.

          1. Wrapping up is the most effective way. Your head must lead with the wrap up tactic.

  4. I was beaned by a catcher throwing to second base. His throw never got past my head in the batter’s box. I did a face plant but remained conscious. It never occurred to the teacher running the game to get me checked. In fact, I continued to play, but probably struck out. I don’t remember.

    That was 1946 awareness.

    Awareness is greater now, but it’s easy to minimize something that that doesn’t happen in every case, in when each case has so many variables, and when so many years go by before lasting damage is identified.

  5. ‘Proper job’ article that Grant!

    What you may not have heard is that the work the NFL has done on brain injury has already effected other sports across the world such as Rugby Union and Soccer in how concussions are dealt with in match etc.

  6. As a former collegiate football player and an avid fan, changing the way players tackle would ruin the game. There are way too many factors to consider in the heat of the moment. If you’ve ever played any sport, I’m sure you’ve heard, “Don’t think, just react”. The moment you are getting ready to tackle someone and you pause to think about how you’re going to do it, YOU ARE DONE. It happens that fast.

    Second, there are reason when football players tackle they put their head in front of the man. One you want to try to put your head on the football. If you’re a football fan you enjoy when a player on your team forces a fumble. Two, if helps preventing a player from running through your arms. Most of the time, the side of the body that the head is on, also has majority of the tacklers body weight. No one likes arm tackles. Next we’ll be discussing how football is bad for your shoulders.

    Without knowing what we know now, we still knew that football was dangerous. If you thought it wasnt, you probably don’t believe in climate change either. I consider football a gladiator sport. It was a place where I could take my anger issue and try to, figuratively speaking, kill someone. I had 1 documented concussion in the 12 years I played. I’m sure I had more. If I could do it all over again, I would. If you are scared of the repercussions don’t play. It’s that simple. With any sport, there will be lifelong problems if you play it for a long time. It happens. Take care of the older players but from here on out, you know the risk you are taking. That’s on you.

    1. KY – I get what you’re saying about changing the way players tackle. I think you’re maybe missing the point. The point is to teach them young. If kids are learning a safer way to tackle at age 5, 6, 7, 8 and so on it will become more natural. You lead with you’re head and tackle the way you do because that’s how you were taught. Obviously, to ask an NFL, or even collegiate level player to change their ways after so long is a lot harder. Maybe they need to have mandatory off-season courses on the safer way of tackling, I don’t know.

      1. Players are already taught that stuff from that age. It’s always been taught. It just didn’t have the “Heads Up” name attached to it.

        1. KY, do you think players in rugby need to hesitate a second before deciding not to tackle leading with their head?

          It all comes down to how you are taught to tackle. It becomes second nature.

          1. We are not talking rugby we are talking football. Many people have said teach kids how to tackle when they are young. I’m saying proper tackling techniques have always been taught. I can’t speak on rugby. If I wanted to make an uneducated statement, it would be, I doubt rugby athletes are built the same way as football players. By built I mean 6’4, 250, and runs 40 yards in 4.5-4.5 seconds. But as I said, I don’t know anything about rugby to discuss their tackling methods. However, I do know football. I know football very well.

            1. The players may not be the same size, but the fundamentals work just as well. Tackle leading with the shoulder, with the head to the side.

  7. Grant ..
    taking the initiative to call a doctor in Chicago
    for insights .. took some moxie .. ..
    (and you ended up with a darn good column, as well)

    Sure .. it’s only one opinion .. but her opinion seems sound..
    and I bet a lot of doctors would agree with her

    I’ll grade your effort>/i> .. with an A + +

    and the resulting column with an A +

  8. In other news, Hakeem Nicks is visiting the Niners this week ,accoriding to ESPN.
    No thanks.

    1. Rotoworld on Hakeem Nicks:
      “It took nearly three weeks, but Nicks is finally getting a sniff on the free agent market. The 49ers, in search of inexpensive depth behind starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, will likely be disappointed in what they find. Lower-leg injuries have completely zapped Nicks’ once-promising career, as his last three seasons have been nothing short of poor. No other team has even poked around at Nicks in the wake of his 38-405-4 “prove it” 2014 season with the Colts.”

    2. ESPN:
      “Nicks, who checked in at No. 76 on our Top 101 free agents list when the month started, hasn’t seen a sniff of interest in free agency to date.

      The 27-year-old pass-catcher started six games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 and caught 38 passes for 405 yards and one touchdown. Nicks’ play picked up down the stretch of the season, but the Indy coaching staff didn’t think enough of the wideout to give him the snaps of an injured and ineffective Reggie Wayne.

      Nick’s career trajectory nosedived after his stud 2011 season. Injuries helped dissipate his explosiveness and left him as a JAG on the outside — a JAG with a proclivity to suffer from frustrating bouts of the dropsies.

  9. Football is dangerous? Ok, then so is driving a car, drinking alcohol, being exposed to too much sunlight, and eating fatty foods. The people who are calling for the end of football are the same ones that won’t step foot outside of their houses without protection from a blanket of bubble wrap.

    The sissification of America continues.

  10. I hope this issue gets revisited regularly in the Sportmotainment industry. It’s not possible to legislate safety into football, soccer or even hiking, but it is possible to tweak things to lower risk of injury. Heads Up tackling is an example. If one learns healthy fundamentals and drill them, then you don’t have to pause to think about it in the flow of the game.
    I think youth football is a crucial place for the safety conscience mentality in coaches, Ref’s and parents. It’s one thing to expect Ron Lott and Chris Borland to take responsibility for their choices, 9 year olds and 14 year olds could use some guidance. I know of a few HS coaches who yank a player from the game for a couple of plays every time a Personal Foul gets called.
    I hope the NFL continues to try to develop “Best Practices” on the field based on good science and medicine. They have the resources to take a leadership role (although I think the NFLPA should be partnering) and have a positive trickle down effect on other levels of football and other sports. The NFL discussion has had effect on youth soccer and even opened the discussion in the NHL. It’s a major culture clash in the NHL, as one wag said, “The single rule change that could improve safety would be to bar hockey players from the ice, as they’re the source of all the problems.” I just wanted to end on a lighter note.

    1. totally agree, BT ..

      I just wish the subject of the lousy officiating would
      come up at the annual owners meeting, too !

      but.. perhaps that’s like chasing rainbows

    2. Brotha I understand what you’re saying. The thing is, “heads up” tackling has always been taught minus the name. Many coaches teach kids to lead with the heads up and hit with their facemask first. This was/is taught because leading with the crown of the head can lead to being paralyzed. If anything kids need to wait until middle school before they put pads on, the issue there is having to teach them at a later age tackling techniques.

      1. I’m not sure what they teach in “heads up” specifically, but if it is as you say (lead with the face mask) then there is some work left to be done. If you didn’t have helmets, you’d be teaching kids to tackle leading with their shoulders, getting the heads to the side. It is the safest way to tackle. And it is also an effective method of tackling when used properly.

        1. The tackle Ahmad Brooks put on Drew Bree’s is a perfect tackle, when tackling someone properly.

          1. Its the perfect tackle based on how players are currently taught (at least as far as I am aware that is how they are taught).

            But tackling leading with the shoulder can be just as effective and safer. Leading with the face mask still results in unnecessary impact to the head.

        2. You are correct Scooter. Their mission is actually to take the head out of tackling.

          “USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling™ is a step-by-step protocol to teach the core principles of the skill and sets a new standard in player safety. The program utilizes five fundamentals through a series of drills to reinforce proper tackling mechanics and teach players how to properly tackle with a focus on reducing helmet contacts.” – See more at:

  11. Yea, I’m betting the house whichever available Pass Rusher is highest on the 49ers draft board, that’s who will be the selection at 15. One of the following, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree, Missouri’s Shane Ray, or Nebraska’s Randy Gregory….

    1. Question Razor-
      Are Beasley and Greggory fits for SF? Beasley will be good but seems like a “Will” to me. But remember about my analytic expertise: when they drafted Bowman I thought he was too light for the middle and just a Nickel LB. And I’m still analyzing from my kitchen island.

      1. With respect to Mr. Beasley(shout out to Family Affair-lol)I think he could be a “Leo” or Hybrid DE/OLB. He didn’t just beat Florida State’s offensive tackle Cameron Erving(Scooters’ OL), he destroyed him….

        Gregory is a little tougher evaluation but if used like Aldon in his rookie year, I think he could be effective….

      2. Beasley actually turned out to be a pretty good size for the OLB position with what he measured at the combine. I doubt there would be any hesitation in Baalke taking him, but he’ll be gone before then.

    2. Those top two will probably be gone before Baalke makes his pick while the latter scream bust in the making.

      1. Last time I looked Mayock had them as follows:

        1. Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida
        2. Shane Ray, Missouri
        3. Vic Beasley, Clemson
        4. Randy Gregory, Nebraska
        5. Bud Dupree, Kentucky

        CBS Prospect Ratings have Mr. Beasley and Ray flipped, but the rest the same.
        I think Gregory would have success in his rookie year coming off the bench in obvious pass rushing downs, and Ray was born to sick the QB with natural pass rushing skills. Either one would increase pressure, boost sack production and reduce the strain on the secondary, something I think Baalke will address with the first pick….

        1. I’m not a big fan of Gregory’s personally. He’s got some explosion and is active, but I saw way too many games where he was nullified and not by double teams either. He’s light and doesn’t bring consistent pressure imo. I’d stay away from him.

          1. I respect your opinion and the majority in here seem to be of the same mind regarding Gregory, but he was consistently one of the best pass rushers in the last two years within the collegiate ranks….

            1. Something tells me his bull rush won’t be as effective against NFL tackles. When fresh he showed he could hold his ground a bit in the running game, but he wore out quickly when teams ran at him.

              1. Yea, that’s why I pointed out if he was used primarily in obvious passing downs like Aldon was in his first year. I think Tarver develops his technique and he flourishes in that capacity….

              2. Razor, which of the OLB prospects do you think best fits the strongside OLB position? Because I think that is the spot they need to target. Even if Aldon Smith isn’t re-signed next year, Lynch can move over to that spot.

                I think Dupree is the best strongside OLB prospect in this draft, though I acknowledge Fowler would likely be most people’s #1 strongside OLB. Beasley, Ray and Gregory are all more weakside OLBs.

              3. Yea, Fowler has been my number one OLB, but to your point. I would agree that Dupree should be the pick over Gregory, but I’m not sure he’ll be there. I told you over a month ago prior to them finding THC in his urine that he’d be the most likely one to slide out of the OLBing group….

            2. Razor,

              I respect yours too, and obviously the sack totals are pretty good. My impression comes from watching him get handled too easily at times, and as Scooter pointed out, he tends to wear down during the game due to the difference in strength and size of the OT’s he’s going up against. I could be completely wrong about him obviously, but to me he looks like a guy that will get a few sacks with his athleticism, but be completely irrelevant far too often.

              1. Gregory reminds me a lot of Manny Lawson. Personally, I was a huge fan – he was dominant in coverage and as an edge-setter in the run game, but he was too tall and light to turn the corner on pro tackles, so the sack production was never what we hoped it would be. Gregory’s agility is amazing though, and he’s even taller/longer than Lawson. He looks like an oversized corner.

                Dupree has short arms, that’s the only knock. Same with Beasley (my favorite). Ray is an interesting one, he could be just right as an OLB, and may slip. Fowler is can’t-miss good, and he’ll be gone by pick 6.

              2. Beasley is a better athlete than Clay Matthews, who has short arms.

                Ray has a slower 3-cone time than some offensive linemen.

        2. Gregory is a lightweight who was phased out in the games I watched of him. I loved him with the Cornhuskers, but he’s not worth the draft hype.

    1. I can’t believe the WWE is still this popular. Soap opera for guys I guess. Loved it when I was a kid but thought it was ridiculous as I got older. When they admitted it was all choreographed that should have been the end of it, but here it is drawing a packed house at a Football stadium. Crazy.

    1. CFC ..

      The more important question for Grant ..
      would be …

      Did he use his 49ers credentials .. to get backstage
      at Wrestlemania ?

      and if so …
      where’s the column ?

  12. Here’s an interesting article about Baalke’s draft strategy history and tendencies. Based on this, it’s anyone’s guess as to how it actually plays out, but the conclusion, for those that don’t have the time to read the whole thing, is that Baalke will trade back in the first round to garner an extra 3rd round pick

    1. Seems like a move that most wouldn’t be too surprised by around here. Picking up a third when you’re in the #15 spot means they only slide back a few selections.

          1. They’re talking about this draft being more of a crap shoot than previous ones so yeah that many is possible.

      1. Coffee I’ve been saying for a while now that Baalke is going to trade down. I don’t believe that it will only be a few spots to pick up a 3rd, I believe he will trade back to around 28 and pick up an extra high 2nd. I don’t believe that he will stop there, I think we will end up with 1 first rd pick, 2 second rd picks and 2 third rd picks. I think this year and next years drafts will be the key to the teams success for the next 5 to 7 years.

        1. If Baalke can accumulate the picks in this draft you reference, then he no longer is a Draft Ninja, he’s a Draft Master….

        2. I don’t like the talent I expect to remain after pick 15. I’d love it if Baalke could get a late first + high second.

          But I don’t see how it would work.

          – Trade Partner?
          New Orleans is the only team with a late first and high 2nd (picks 31 and 44). Makes sense from a chart standpoint. But the Graham trade makes me think they want volume.

          – Player?
          Would you trade picks 31+44 for Andrus Peat, La’el Collins or Arik Armstead?

          For what their worth, the mocks all show coveted players stopping at pick 14. The demand for players after is pretty even. Many yo-yo in the mocks from 15-32 or later.

          – Faller?
          There has to be a faller.
          Last year Baalke said the late draft allowed the less organized teams to “catch up their draft boards”… hinting there were fewer fallers compared to a typical year.

          Its another late draft this year.

          I’m not crazy about any of the players I see mocking past 14. For Baalke to trade back, he’d have to eat chart value. The talent between 15-32 is pretty even.

          1. “Last year Baalke said the late draft allowed the less organized teams to “catch up their draft boards”… hinting there were fewer fallers compared to a typical year.”

            Brodie: I would think that other teams are becoming “more organized”. I hope Baalke doesn’t think that other teams remain static with regards to improving their organizations. This is a highly competitive league. If the niners are perceived as doing things right in the draft, other teams will follow.

            1. What Baalke said was in response to a reporter asking how the three week delay affected the draft.

              It seemed to play out in round one. You could tell the teams had pretty similar draft boards. It was tough seeing all the players I hoped might fall to within reasonable trade-up distance steadily go off the board.

    2. The consensus seems to be that after the mid way point of the first round, there are the same caliber of prospects through to the middle of the second. Not sure if that is accurate, but if it is a shared belief, then getting somebody to trade up will not be easy and the compensation will not be as high.

  13. Very informative article Grant. I would’ve liked to have heard a second opinion on the matter, but beggars can’t be choosers. Well done.

  14. I sent the following email to Dr. Pieroth: I read your interview with Grant Cohn. You implied that you have critiques of some of the peer-reviewed studies. What are your critiques of those studies? Could you direct me to what you’ve presented as a scientist? Otherwise, the information you’ve shared is as vague as the rest of the media fluff.

    1. your last line just might prompt the good doctor
      into depositing your email in the trash (recycle bin)

  15. Good article Grant.

    I could see sensors being useful in creating individual player profiles. The sensor reading would provide the value and the physicians would decide if the player has a concussion or not. Then in the future, if the player receives another shot to the head, the reading would provide additional information (based on the history of previous readings) of whether or not the player should undergo concussion protocols.

    Comparing sensor readings among players might also be valuable. Knowing the median G force for concussions and the standard deviations would be useful in helping players decide if they want to continue to play football. If the median is 50G and a guy is getting concussions at 30Gs, then it would seem that football is not a sport for him.

    Of course this is oversimplified and doesn’t include rotational concussions (since the sensors measure only linear concussions).

    Also, if this were a good idea, when would players start developing the “sensor” history: pop warner, high school, college, pros? Would the NFL be able to access any available sensor history when deciding which players they want to draft?

  16. Grant this was a very interesting article. It seemed a little one sided, I would like to see you do another interview this time with someone who sees the concussion problem as a much more serious situation so we could contrast and compare.

  17. MW or it might provoke Grant to ask her what kind of material she shares with her colleagues

  18. A bit off topic, but does anyone have any information on whether or not Justin Smith is going to retire?

    1. Cubus,

      I don’t know what JS’s decision will ultimately be, but imo he’s already retired whether he comes back or not. If you struggle this much with the decision then you are already out of the game in your mind. If he does come back he won’t be the same player so I think he should retire.

      1. Rocket:

        Maybe, but I prefer to think that Smith hasn’t made an announcement because he is not planning to retire. Since he’s not planning to retire, there is nothing to announce. I think that sort of mindset would be consistent with Smith’s character.

        1. Cubus,

          That’s one way to look at, but I see it more as a case of Smith trying to talk himself into returning and struggling to do so. If he had made a decision not to retire, he would have told the team by now. Whatever he decides at this point, I think the Justin Smith we are used to seeing is gone. He will not be fully invested in coming back if he’s thought this long about retirement imo. There’s a saying that once you start talking about retirement, part of you already is. I believe that to be the case with the Cowboy.

          1. You may be right, but hasn’t there been talk about Smith retiring since he signed his, I believe, 3 year extension? I wasn’t paying attention in past years, but were there announcements in past years that he WASN’T retiring?

            I think if he does give it a go this year he’ll give it all he has. At his age, whether that’s enough or not, we won’t know until the season starts. But, I suspect, just having him on the team will be a big advantage because of his leadership abilities and ability to player coach and motivate the D line.

            1. I agree with rocket. The fact that Smith has taken this long to make up his mind means that mentally he’s not fully committed to playing this season, or at least that he has doubts whether he will be fully committed. Its tough to keep the required level of intensity if part of you isn’t sure you want to be playing, or putting in the hard work to be ready, especially if the team goes through a tough patch.

              Regarding past seasons, the discussions and rumours about Smith potentially retiring never came from Smith himself, and he was quick to quash those rumours.

            2. And in all honesty if he is struggling to make up his mind I hope he retires, for his own sake.

              1. Apologize if this link has already been posted:


                From the article:

                “The man called “Cowboy” is one man who can stand up in the locker room and tell his fellow employees to ride along with Tomsula, to trust and believe the coach no matter what. Smith is easily the most admired and esteemed veteran still on the 49ers roster for the 2015 season — as long as he really is still on the 49ers roster for the 2015 season.”

  19. I don’t believe Grant wrote this on his own………please paste link you copied from

    1. Good golly, that wins the Half Empty Award for the blog so far today. Interesting conclusion.

  20. From McShay’s newest mock:

    15 Trae Waynes San Francisco 49ers (8-8) COLLEGE: Michigan State
    Class: Jr HT: 6-0 WT: 186 POS: CB

    Analysis: The Niners added Torrey Smith in free agency as a wide receiver who can stretch the field vertically, but they could still look to upgrade at wide receiver or along the offensive and defensive lines. But perhaps their most pressing need is at cornerback, having lost Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox in free agency. Waynes is a solid value here as the top-ranked corner on our board. He displays very good technique and straight-line speed (4.35 40-yard dash) for the position, and is at his best in press-man or Cover-2 alignments.

  21. I came across this on another board and found it interesting. I think it could be enlightening for some of our anti Kap crew especially:

    Let’s look at a comparison between Kap and Russell Wilson seeing as though Wilson is considered elite or on the verge of elite and Kap is being described as somebody who has been figured out and in decline:

    Kap threw 297 passes within 10 yards of the LOS last year and completed 215 for a percentage of 74%.
    Wilson threw 285 passes within 10 yards of the LOS and completed 208 for a percentage of 73%

    Kap threw 93 passes in the 11 to 20 yard range and completed 42 for a percentage of 45%
    Wilson threw 97 passes in the 11 to 20 yard range and completed 45 for a percentage of 46%

    Kap threw 61 passes over 20 yards and completed 15 for a percentage of 25%
    Wilson threw 45 passes over 20 yards and completed 15 for a percentage of 33%

    The biggest discrepancy between the two is in the throws between 21-30 yards where Kap attempted 45 and Wilson 28. Kap completed 28% while Wilson completed 36%.

    Other than this one area of the field, these two are literally neck and neck in completion percentage and overall production with Wilson having throw 20 TD’s to Kap’s 19 and 7 ints to Kap’s 10.

    The idea that Kap can’t hit a short pass is not supported by the numbers, along with the idea that he is way behind Wilson as a QB. While I believe Wilson is the better QB at this point, the belief that Kap has regressed, been figured out or just plain sucks, is not supported by the facts.

    What happened was he played a terrible game against Seattle on Thanksgiving night and a lot of people overreacted. All of a sudden the narrative is that this guy has been figured out and the internet piling on began. The reality is, he played a lousy game against a division rival and had an inconsistent season overall. What people fail to acknowledge is that the offense as a whole was inconsistent. There were weeks they couldn’t run the ball or the pass protection was awful, but the focus turned to Kap because he was an easy target.

    Kap has flaws, no doubt about it. He needs to learn how to slide in the pocket as opposed to escaping. He needs to be more accurate in the 21-30 yards area with his throws, and he needs to stop letting the opposition get in his head. These are all things I would imagine he’s working on with Kurt Warner and the QB Coaches in AZ at the moment, but to say a player who has accomplished what he has, and how close his numbers are to a young QB everyone thinks is on the verge of stardom if not already there, clearly shows that the evidence doesn’t fit the narrative.

    1. Nice breakdown.

      The difference as I see it is in how each guy deals with the pass rush. Kap doesn’t escape as effectively, though when he does, he is a dynamic runner and pretty good thrower. Wilson is amazing at escaping the rush – frankly, he’s better than anyone in the league by a country mile – and he’s much better at making decisions outside of the pocket. He’s not as fast as Kap, but is close in his ability to make big plays as a runner.

      Remember, though – Kap isn’t trying to be better than Russell Wilson, he’s trying to be a top-10 QB. Kap is currently in the Andy Dalton-zone, based on QBR, and we need him to be Tony Romo/Matt Ryan.

  22. Rocket I don’t know who you have been reading or listening to that call Wilson elite or bordering on elite but I certainly have’nt been hearing that. The Seahawks have been winning because their D is better than the 9ers and Beast Mode has been far better than Gore the last 2 years. Wilson has 2 advantages over CK, escapability and game management other than that they are pretty identical. Neither CK or Wilson are even close to elite.

    1. I agree with your assessment Old Coach, but there are many out there who have anointed Wilson as an elite QB, or at least a franchise guy. I know a few on here who certainly feel that way. I just found it interesting to see those numbers and how close they really are and how perception is often out of sync with what is actually happening on the field.

      1. In general I agree with your and OC’s assessment. However, it just seems like Wilson makes the big plays when needed and does so consistently. That’s something I didn’t see from Kaep last year.

        1. it just seems like Wilson makes the big plays when needed

          That’s the perception and Wilson does make some plays when he breaks contain, but the reality is he’s not really that different from Kaepernick in style or production. Last year was also the first time he was ahead of Kap in the ratings. Perception gets influenced by winning and losing, and that is exactly what happens in this comparison.

          1. Wilson is not better than Kaepernick.

            The Seahawks have been better than the 49ers the last few years not because of the QB position, but because Carroll and Schneider were a better unit than Harbaugh and Baalke, and because Marshawn Lynch is considerably better than Frank Gore.

        2. “However, it just seems like Wilson makes the big plays when needed and does so consistently. ”

          Well he certainly made a big play for the Patriots with that awesome pass to Butler to hand NE the Super Bowl! It’s funny fans and the media everywhere blamed Carroll and the Seattle OC, but I never once heard any blame assigned to Wilson. If the 49ers were in the same position in that SB as Seattle and the same throw to Butler was made by Kaep he would’ve been ridiculed for years.

  23. I’m trying to catch up with what I’ve missed lately, but it doesn’t seem like the niners have added ILB depth yet despite visits from Briggs and Henderson.

    So, what about Larry Grant, the former 49er backup at ILB? He’s 30 years old and I believe is currently a free agent. I thought he filled in well when called upon. I know he’s had some issues, but so have Simpson and Henderson.

    1. Larry G appeared in two games for the Bears in 2013 and recorded 1 tackle. He spent a month on the Brown’s roster in the 2014 before getting cut(didn’t even make it to training camp before being released). No one else signed him in 2014.

      Fair to guess he’s probably reached the end of his career.

      1. Yes, that conclusion sounds reasonable. Too bad, because I thought he filled in well for Willis a couple of years back.

        1. Yes, he filled in well. And then got busted for PEDs after the season, if I remember correctly. That leads me to wonder whether his good performance was fueled by a chemical advantage.

  24. No trade mock.

    #15: CB Trae Waynes.

    #46: OL Jake Fisher.

    #79: WR Tre McBride

    #127 ILB Hayes Pullard

    #132 RB Cameron Artis-Payne

    #151 DE Ray Drew

    #189 QB Sean Mannion

    #246 S Isiah Johnson

    #254 DT Leon Orr

    1. Nice mock Coffee. I like a lot of your picks. I especially like mannion later in the draft. I like him as a QB prospect. I like Wayne’s a lot but I think it’s close to a zero percent chance balke drafts a corner in rnd 1.. People look at ward last year and say he is a corner but he is a specialized corner/safety that plays the slot. Balke drafted 4 dbs last draft and he won’t invest in a corner the first 3 Rnds.. I believe it was razor that thinks the niners will want a pass rusher to fall to 15 or balke will trade down. I agree with that conclusion..

      1. Thx. I don’t see either of our current “starting” CB’s as players that Wayne couldn’t step in and compete against. That’s probably giving the rookie too much credit but it’s really more how I feel about Brock and Wright. I see Johnson as our slot. I don’t believe that selections at previous positions regardless of the quantity would cause Baalke to pass on a player he likes, if he likes Waynes he’d draft him even if they drafted 5 CB’s last year.

        As far as rush linebackers go seems to me the team is still all in with Aldon and the kid is a year older a year more mature(hopefully) and highly motivated to perform. I think we’ll be seeing a banner year from Mr. Smith. Lynch/Brooks on the other side doesn’t give me hesitation which means if we do draft OLB I see it as a depth move. Not likely to be a top 3 pick in my opinion.

        1. Well you need to rectify that. There needs to be a draft day trade for Murphy and a move up in the second to take the 3rd best QB in the draft. Make it so.

    2. This might be counter to sound reasoning, but I think its equally important for a player like Waynes to fall to 15 then to actually select him.

      – If the 49ers select Wayens, great. They have a good CB.
      – Waynes would fetch some pretty good trade-back offers. That would be great too.
      – If the 49ers select another player, at least I know Baalke got a player he values at least as much as Waynes. I’ll be fine with it. Baalke’s not perfect. Made mistakes. But he knows 1000 times more about football talent then I ever will.

      What I don’t want is for all the coveted players like Parker or Waynes to go by pick 15. Every draft has talent cliffs. I’m afraid this year’s starts at 15.

      1. I think there could be 2-3 very interesting talents available at#15. We don’t know if they’ll be system fits yet. There will also be some decent guys who might be only slight reaches.

        1. Bro Tuna….I agree with your 2-3 interesting talents, but I think that we’re going to see several beyond that when the clock strikes 15….I think that WR White will be off the boards, but Peats and Fisher (OT’s) could both be available, as well as Parker, and Cooper (WR’s) or several other quality wideouts and QB’s. About three weeks ago, I mentioned that I like our position…the middle of the pack should provide a picnic for Baalke to trade up, down, or sideways as the need is shown….despite all of the so-called ‘experts’….I think that this draft is going to be excellent for several teams to ‘get well’. I also think that the 49ers are only a couple positions shy of the playoffs.

      1. Yeah, probably a good idea. I was just looking over at Niners Nation and someone actually proposed a mock where we trade back in the first round and then take Maxx Williams at the end of the first round followed by Perriman and Anthony in the second round.

        My own belief is that we will draft OLB in the first round and ILB (probably Anthony) in the second round followed by OL in the third round. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baalke does more drafting this year on the basis of best available at a position of need. So that’s why I don’t feel any pressure to actually name names. :)

        1. I said earlier that I’d be surprised to see an OLB go in the first 3 picks and that was mistake. I still don’t expect to see one in the first round but after that sure.

        2. cubus,
          I like that scenario with making a move for these LB’s.
          I’d be happy to come away with even one of these LB’s:
          McKinney in the 1st or 2nd rd.
          If we could find a way to draft a combo of either of these guys I would be ecstatic!

          1. AES:

            The last couple of years the niners have been known for outstanding LB play. Although I’m no expert, it seems that the 3-4 defense really funnels plays towards the LBs. With the loss of two ILBs, a disgruntled OLB in Brooks and question marks with Aldon Smith, it just seems likely to me that OLB and ILB will be priorities in this draft.

      2. Maybe Cam Clear? I know a pre-draft visit doesn’t mean much, but an interesting late round prospect that is more of a blocking TE.

        1. Someone to fill the role the team had envisioned when they selected Vance.

            1. Hmmm, maybe. Two pretty different looking players though. McDonald is/was far better built and suited to be on the OL as a blocker. Heavier, longer arms and stronger. Millard to me is far better suited as a FB/H. If we lose McDonald due to back issues I’m not sure I’d want to plug Millard into the offensive line.

              1. From all reports, wasn’t the role they envisioned for Vance to replace Delanie Walker (or at least the role people in the media assumed was what they envisioned for Vance)? Walker was more of a FB/HB/TE, which is what Millard provides.

                As far as an in-line blocking TE goes, McDonald has improved that part of his game to the point it is a role he does well enough not to need to replace him.

              2. I made the comment in the beginning about adding a TE after reading comments about McDonald’s back. The team might have ‘concerns.’

              3. Fair enough, but I think in terms of what his role is, he’s more of a blocking TE than receiving TE (regardless of what they envisioned for him). I think Millard can be used in the move TE/ H-Back role, and I think Carrier is as good a receiving TE prospect as a lot of the prospective mid to late round TEs in this draft.

                If they want more of a blocking TE to replace McDonald if his back is no good then they can go later rounds, and someone like Cam Clear might be a good option.

              4. Clear is an interesting one. Beefy but they say he’s agile for his size. Had essentially zero production as a receiver but “they” again say that he was underutilized. Were his coaches really that inept?

                I’m not sure there are enough 7th round picks for all of these late round players you find but It wouldn’t surprise me to see someone use one on him.

              5. I don’t think they should (or can) draft all the late round guys I mention CfC. I’m just outlining the guys I think would make decent later round picks or UDFA signings. Clear falls into that category.

        1. Got it.
          But can a 4th rd pick at LB have the same impact or be given the same attention as a higher LB pick.
          I like Pullard but he is not in the same class as the LB’s I mentioned above. We may be in position to draft at the very least one these LB’s, why not pull the trigger since there is a need.

          If we can bring pressure on the QB with our 3-4 or 4-3 configurations our CB’ will benefit.
          Carlos Rodgers and Terrell Brown looked very good a few years ago when our front 7 were consistently bring the heat on QB’s.
          My belief is that a strong core (front 7) will aide the extremities (CB’s).

          1. “My belief is that a strong core (front 7) will aide the extremities (CB’s).”

            Nice comparison!

          2. I feel stronger about the current OLB’s and their long term potential then our current CB’s(excluding DJ)

            If Baalke doesn’t see it the same way then an OLB early makes sense.

  25. I played quite a bit of football and never had a concussion. It seemed like common sense not to use your head as a weapon, so I never did. Many guys did and ended up with concussions and or stingers. My coaches always stressed not to lower your head and use it as a battering ram. Again, it comes down to common sense. These players know the risks and accept them because of the money and fame, plain and simple. I feel bad for some of the old timers, but today’s players know what they signed up for. Read Ronnie Lott’s book, he goes into great detail about how much it took for him to get ready for game days. He was very candid. I guess my point is that this whole concussion thing seems like a money grab by players who knew the risks and decided to keep on playing. Chris Borland, like others, assessed the risk and personally found it not to be worth it. He has plans for his future that don’t revolve around football. Many of these guys don’t have that. Many of them are meat heads that coasted through school because of their athletic ability. When their NFL opportunity runs out, they don’t have any training or skills that are relevant to a professional work place. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

    1. Well said Big P. I was one of the guys who go non-Stop stingers. I was not because I wasn’t taught properly, it was because of the way I decided to tackle. I was smaller than many people playing ILB. I refused to be ran over, so I was essentially a missile. As soon as a whole opened up, I flew through it, hell bent on taking a RB’s legs out, before he got going.

      I say pay the old timers, but from here on out, you know the risk. The risk has always been there. No need to change it now.

    2. Nice post BigP. I was always taught and have Coached others, to use the shoulder while focusing on the area between the shoulders and the knees when preparing to make a tackle, and to drive through the ball carrier. A perfect form tackle not only saves you from getting hurt, but also cuts down on the chances you are faked out by a movement and miss the tackle completely.

      1. Same here. I know where KY’s coming from because I was very under-sized playing OLB in high school, but I was a starter because I went all out every play and attacked the gap by throwing my body around. Never got a concussion that I know of, but hurt my shoulder a few times.

        But that’s what I’m talking about, the coaches should have corrected that and encouraged better/safer form. The culture needs to change, but I think that’s what’s happening now.

        I have 2 boys (4 and 2) and I’m already teaching them not to tackle with their heads. But for some reason that’s natural to them. I think its their mom’s thick-headedness coming out in them. lol.

      2. Rocket,
        I appreciate it. My first year of organized football was my freshman year. It just seemed smart to not use your head, but our coaches would not hesitate to make an example of the players who did. There are always going to be guys that play that way and just don’t care. The NFL is full of those guys. They are hypocrites. Sean Gilbert was running for NFLPA President and was aggressively campaigning. He was thought to pose a legitimate challenge to D. Smith. He advocated for a 18 game season because of the extra money it would provide them. What was the chink in his armor? He was listed as having “100 percent permanent disability as a result of a cumulative trauma injury to various parts of his body.” So he was 100% disabled from football injuries but he wanted to be (and proved to be fully physically functional) the NFLPAP and advocated for an 18 game season because of the money? Some of these ex players are lucky they aren’t indicted for insurance fraud.

      1. Rebel,
        I just think it’s important to know that coaches do teach that and many players refuse to listen. Some players are just idiots. Brandon Merriweather comes to mind. He has been concussed, fined and suspended on numerous occasions. His response: “I’m not going to change.” He’s an idiot and when he’s broke in five years he’ll wish he had the money he gave to the league in fines. 90% of the guys in the league are like that, most of them just don’t last long enough for you to ever get to know their name. That’s why they have the weakest Union in pro sports.

    3. When I was a kid the word “tackle” was common. “Hit” was less common.

      Not to say play wasn’t sometimes brutal. Football impact forces are different then rugby even with shoulder tackles. Before helmets, there were 18 fatalities in 1904 alone. Football is a tough game. As late as the 1960’s, head slaps by defensive linemen were legal (hello Decon Jones). Receivers could get decapitated over the middle.

      But the transition from shoulder tackles to head on “hits” was still underway. And I think that’s key. Will football be a grappling sport, or a striking sport?

      1. Even through HS I played with a two bar face ask. I didn’t lead into tackles with my head much. You might say it was auto-correcting.

      2. As far as risk… players know there’s a risk. The real issue is to what degree.

        If the NFL knew the likelihood of long term brain injury was x, but communicated to players the likelihood was a fraction of x, then players have a legit beef.

        1. If you play in the NFL for more than 5 years you’re probably looking at knee/hip replacement eventually. Chronic arthritis and nerve damage. Kidney and liver damage from pain killers and anti-inflammatory abuse. The concussions are the hot topic, but these players knowingly subject themselves to great pain and sacrifice to their bodies. Most of them will say they would do it again, unless they are broke and doing a sit down with Jeremy Schaap, then they go into victim mode and the violin accompanies the montage of photos from the players playing days.

  26. Very nice article! Well done Grant! Grant did you or your dad see a documentary on PBS that also had some well know Dr.’s debating the risks of soccer players using their heads in a game and some debating if they should take heading out of the sport? My nine year old played tackle football last year and loved it but he played corner back. Not many huge collisions’ but enough to worry my wife and I a little bit. We know kids only get one childhood and anything can happen, but we have and will continue to have lots of discussions on this. I appreciate your hard work!

  27. In my memory, ‘head-tackling’ came of age in the 60’s down from coach Jim Owens from the U of Washington. I had a room-mate at the Uof O who was a Dlineman for the Ducks. After every practice, he would show up with a bleeding gash on his forehead. I mentioned it to him, and he said “I’m 275 lbs, think of what it does to a 185 lb RB”. Later it was suggested that they take away the facemasks…maybe they’d find a way to avoid those helmet to helmet collisions….

  28. Ninersnation posted a well thought out draft strategy developed by a fan. This was yesterday. For those who have not seen it:

    The writer also formulated an interesting mock, assuming we trade back in round 1, which he advocated:

    Round 1 / Pick 15: Traded to Carolina

    Round 1 / Pick 25: DL Eddie Goldman (Florida State) 6’4″ / 336# / 5.28 speed / Combine Grade: 6.24

    Round 2 / Pick 46: ILB Stephone Anthony (Clemson) 6’3″ / 243# / 4.56 speed / Combine Grade: 5.82

    Round 2 / Pick 57 (Caro): OG Tre’ Jackson (Florida State) 6’4″ / 330# / 5.52 speed / Combine Grade: 5.84

    Round 3 / Pick 79: WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami FL) 5’10” / 185# / 4.33 speed / Combine Grade: 5.82

    Round 4 / Pick 115 (KC): OLB Lorenzo Mauldin (Louisville) 6’4″ / 259# / 4.85 speed / Combine Grade: 5.64

    Round 4 / Pick 126: Traded to Kansas City

    Round 4 / Pick 132 (Comp): WR Darren Waller (Georgia Tech) 6’6″ / 238# / 4.46 speed / Combine Grade: 5.44

    Round 5 / Pick 151: RB Karlos Williams (Florida State) 6’1″ / 230# / 4.48 speed / Combine Grade: 5.43

    Round 6 / Pick 189: Traded to Kansas City

    Round 7 / Pick 246: QB Brandon Bridge (South Alabama) 6’4″ / 229# / 4.72 speed / Combine Grade 5.00

    Round 7 / Pick 254 (Comp): OT Corey Robinson (South Carolina) 6’7″ / 324# / 5.33 speed / Combine Grade: 5.16

    1. “The 49ers are desperate for interior defensive linemen because Justin Smith is retiring.” – NFL Pundits

      “We have great depth at defensive line. Best I’ve ever seen.” – Jim Tomsula.

      I’m siding with Tomsula. I see the 49ers going interior D-line rounds early only if really good BPA falls into their lap.

      1. Exactly B2W. Im so sick of hearing we need to adress our DL because Smith is retiring. As if the Niners havent drafteda DL since signing Smith. I think its our deepest position whether JS comes back or not.

        Or we need a CB because we lost our 2 starters, as if we’re completely lost. Brock was our best corner in 2013, Wright has been a stater for 2 years, D johnson showed a lot of promise, and cook looked solid. We’re not as deep, bu. Its definitely not a pressing need as they make it out to be.

        1. You can say the same about pretty much every position. Even ILB has two starters in place and a backup that got some starting experience at the end of last season (Moody). If they sign one of these FA LBs then it definitely isn’t a “need” as such.

          But there are a lot of positions that could be upgraded with a quality player and/ or have depth added in the draft, including DL and CB.

        2. Alot of mocks are created by simply observing departures, without paying attention to depth.

          Two deep on a 3-4 line is good. Carradine, Dial, Dorsey, Williams, TJE, Dockett. The depth should be the envy of the league. All (except maybe Dockett) are crossed trained in another spot. The 49ers are three deep at this point already.

          Then add the possibility of Justin or Okoye being on the line, and the roster math gets pretty sticky. I’d be fine if Justin goes on IR, then steps in as a late season closer.

          Waiting in the wings is (oft injured) Kaleb Ramsey. He really knows how to crash a pocket. Kaleb may never play a full season, but would be ideal as a late closer too. Maybe the 49ers can stash him on NFI-IR-PS, then spring him on offenses in the post season.

        3. Another reason not to draft DL unless its ridiculous BPA… Baalke/Tomsula have a nack for finding and developing DL talent with late picks, cheap trades and UFAs.

          Why buy the cow when you can (almost) get the milk for free? May as well use high draft picks on other positions.

          1. The only late round pick/ UDFA Tomsula has really developed into a quality starting DL is Ian Williams. What Tomsula is good at is developing low round picks and UDFA DL into decent rotational players.

    2. Interesting that this person does not mock for any DB’s.
      I personally feel that we will draft DB but sometime after the 3rd Rd.
      Now if Wayne falls to 15, he’d be hard to pass up.

    3. George….Thanks, I had a couple of those, but some pretty good ‘sneakers’ in there.

  29. Good stuff Grant.
    The problem with concussions in football has been an ongoing issue since its inception. The leagues effort to make their sport more safe is now beginning to go into high gear since the aftermath of a multi-million dollar lawsuit along with the death and suicide deaths of some of their past stars.

    Training its players how to tackle is one way to help stem concussions, but the league needs to put an exorbitant amount of money in creating much safer equipment as well.

    The average sports fan also needs to change their approach to concussions.
    Let’s face it, we love to see the Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum type hit against our opponents.
    Their have been times when fans on this blog (myself included) have made a comment about wanting to see one of our players knock the crap out of RSherman.
    The TV sports media also feed and promote this violent frenzy by showing us the hardest hits on Sunday nights during the football season.

    I like the Rugby approach to tackling, but unless the league installs this across the board for every team we will be talking about this same subject 5-10 years down the road.

    1. Your post prompted me to start looking at some statistics regarding NFL viewership. The link below cites statistics that younger viewers are “walking away” from NFL broadcasts. According to the article the median age for an NFL viewer in 2006 was 45.8 whereas in 2013 is was 48.4.

      My own extremely limited experience seems to bear this out. I often try to engage young guys in a discussion about football and am surprised at how few follow it.

      I once was on a Southwest flight out of Oakland to the LA area and saw Steve Young walk on the plane with his wife (a real looker). I mentioned something to the two young guys sitting next to me playing games on their handheld devices and they responded with “Who’s Steve Young”. It was a strange flight. Kristi Yamaguchi was sitting in the aisle across from me.

      1. My wife and I have wound up shopping with Steve Young several times. He has the ability to remain private in a crowd. I’ve never seen anyone ask him for an autograph. He did make his little boy move his kid’s shopping cart so that I could get by. I wanted to say that his kid was fine, let’s chat for a while, but I didn’t.

        1. Same here. Even though he was one of the last people on the plane and didn’t have a seat number (it was Southwest), someone had boarded early and saved a seat by the window for him and middle for his wife. It was tough to get to him and I didn’t see anyone pay any attention to him or Kristi. I felt strange and uneasy for some reason about asking for an autograph so I didn’t. What surprised me is that they were travelling on Southwest where there is only economy seating.

          1. I’ve never wanted to ask for autographs, but I’ve been close enough to say thank you to a lot of local football people, mostly 49ers, and didn’t do that either. I should have.

  30. From Rotoworld:

    “The Florida Times Union reports the Jaguars “have never been interested” in free agent Michael Crabtree.
    “The same goes for Reggie Wayne,” writes beat reporter Ryan O’Halloran. The Jags are in the market for a veteran wideout, but prefer Greg Jennings to Crabtree and Wayne. The outlook for Crabtree’s free agent market remains soft and ultimately bleak. He’s probably going to have a tough time finding a starting job.”

    I just can’t see Crabtree coming back to the niners. If he were to come back, I expect to see a “pissed off” young man who will get even more angry once he realizes he can’t win back one of the two starting positions.

    1. Sounds like Crabs might hafta wait for a few
      WRs to drop before any team feels desperate enough
      to ring …

      Until then .. he’ll hafta be content playing #15 …
      … on Madden

    2. I see someone signing him after TC. An injury will happen and someone will give him a one year deal like Nicks. And he better make the best of it or he’s done. I still think Eagles are a good fit.

    3. Crabtree was on his way to becoming a bonafide #1 WR before the Achilles tear. Losing a step he couldn’t afford to lose really set Crabs back. I’m guessing he could have been signed by now if he agreed to a one year low money deal but he obviously doesn’t want to do that at this point.

  31. Elite prospects at #15? Making the case for Bud Dupree.

    Picking at #15 the 49ers are tantalisingly close to being in a position to take a real difference maker in the first round this year. However, there is a general consensus that pick #15 will likely be a spot that just misses out on the truly elite prospects, the guys that will be true difference makers at the next level. I understand this line of thinking, but I disagree. I think there are a handful of guys likely to be available that fall into the category of potential elite prospects. First up, I present Alvin “Bud” Dupree, OLB/DE from Kentucky.

    Anyone that has paid attention to my mock drafts and comments regarding the OLB prospects will know I like Dupree. First lets look at the measurables:

    – 6’4″, 269 lbs, 32 5/8″ arms.
    – 40: 4.56s
    – Vert: 42.0″
    – Broad: 138.0″
    – 20 yard shuttle: 4.47s
    – 3 cone: 7.49s

    The things that stand out are Dupree is big, he’s straight line fast, and he’s incredibly explosive. All of these things show up on tape as well. However, some perspective is needed to appreciate just how impressive these numbers are, in particular his vertical and broad, for a guy his size.

    The below article outlines how Dupree’s explosiveness score (measured as (vert+3.5*broad)*(weight/height)/3000) is the highest in combine history for an edge player, with a score of 1.16. Who cares you might say. Well as the article also points out, there is a statistically significant relationship between explosiveness scores above 1.05 and NFL success, and the top scores before Dupree’s combine efforts included JJ Watt, Brian Orakpo, Jamie Collins, Khalil Mack, Mario Williams and Shawne Merriman.

    Now I am not suggesting that Dupree’s combine numbers will mean he will succeed in the NFL. As a rule I don’t put a lot of stock on the combine. However, the explosiveness measure is one measure I have been a firm believer in for some time when it comes to edge players.

    But the real question is how does his athleticism translate to the field? Lets take a look at the stats:

    – 23.5 sacks and 37 TFL in his career, including 7.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL last season. Also had a game winning pick 6 last year.
    – 267 tackles total in his career, including 74 last season. That’s top shelf #s for a DE/OLB.
    – Held runners to 125 yards on 65 carries directed at him last season.

    Dupree primarily played on the strong or left side of the formation at Kentucky, and as his numbers show, he does a great job setting the edge and stopping the run while also providing an explosive pass rushing threat. And he did all this in the SEC, against some of the best in college football. So this is a player that is not only an exceptional athlete, but also has production against top competition. Furthermore, he is not a prospect that is rising up draft boards because of his combine results – he was considered a bona fide mid-first round prospect before the combine, and if anything draft sites have kept his draft ranking steady post combine.

    Aside from measurables and stats, Dupree has shown a lot of versatility and discipline while at Kentucky, rushing the passer, setting the edge, and also dropping into coverage a fair bit. He has really good speed in pursuit and closes in a hurry, but also has good power in his game to hold up against OL and TEs. He is a sound tackler that hits with power, and he has a truly explosive first step rushing the passer. And on top of that he was a team captain that is widely praised for being very coachable, mature and dependable.

    Its not all sunshine and rainbows with Dupree – there are elements to his game that are very raw and unrefined. He needs some coaching up on technique, in particular, and he could be more consistent play to play. But to me Dupree is a guy that definitely has the potential to be an elite player from this draft.

    If the 49ers drafted Dupree at #15, I’d see him as the perfect long term replacement for Ahmad Brooks at LOLB. He’s a natural for the spot. Aaron Lynch is widely expected to play there this year, but Lynch looked better filling in for Aldon at ROLB last season in my opinion and I think that is his best spot long term. Drafting Dupree would mean they aren’t beholden to Aldon Smith next season – they could even look to franchise tag then trade him.

    1. Great assessment Scooter and we’re on the same page. I’m convinced the 49ers will look to ramp up the pass rush with the first pick, but I’m not so sure Dupree will still be there….

      1. I agree Razor, but I think we’ve got a pretty decent shot at Dupree being available at #15. In the mock drafts I’ve looked at most have him going anywhere from 13-24. So there’s definitely a realistic chance he falls to us.

        I would be content with any addition to our defense that is going to make an immediate impact. Waynes is a guy I really like also and I think would start right away next to Brock.

        But to coincide with Grant, if we go offense then I would like to see us grab an OG. Our O-line needs to be as physical and dominant as it once was in order for us to have success.

      2. Scooter_McG Nice write up. I’m going to research Dupree when I get a chance. He sounds great.

        I agree there are players after 15 that are “potential elite prospects.” I think several taken after 15 can become pro bowlers. But the key word is “potential.”

        Another example is Arik Armstead. He has some of the best potential in the draft. He has measureables and flashed play that could potentially make him a star.

        But because of real or imagined shortcomings, Armstead’s yoyo-ing between picks 15 and 36 in the mocks.

        Players mocked after 15 seem to have far greater draft slot elasticity compared to players like Parker or Waynes.

        Unless there’s a “faller”, Baalke won’t get much for trading back.

        1. You are right, these are potential guys. Not the slam dunk can’t miss elite prospects (though that is of course baloney as there is nothing such as a can’t miss prospect).

          As we progress closer to the draft I intend to do similar write ups of a few other prospects I think fall in the same category as Dupree, as “potential” elite prospects that I think have a pretty good chance of being available at #15.

          Full disclosure, Arik Armstead won’t be one of them – I’m not a fan.

    2. Scooter,
      Nice work bud.
      There is a good chance that Dupree will be there at 15, but if Wayne slides to 15 who would you pick?

      1. I’d pick Dupree. I really like Waynes, but on further consideration I question whether he really fits what the 49ers like at CB. I think he’d be a better fit for other teams.

    3. Scooter, I’m sold! I’m still hoping the Niners can and do grab one of the top 4 Wr’s in this draft; Perriman, Strong or DGB, but I know they probably won’t so I would be very content with Dupree at pick #15, solely because you did a hell of a good pitch on him.

    4. Scooter
      Great work, thanks. I have a high (although less detailed) opinion of DuPree as well.
      I saw some variety in his pass rush moves that coaching can build upon. The vert numbers stand out to me too. I recall seeing impressive vert from Ngata when he came out, and in his case it translated to the field.
      I have a concern that Gregory’s troubles and possible slide might make DuPree get picked a little higher than otherwise, but if he’s there, its a pick I’d support.
      As the blog discussion kept mentioning the “cliff” of 1st Round talent I reviewed the consensus board and without doing a team-specific mock I came up with 13-18 guys who could be picked before #15. There could be a few (2,3,4?) real good talents left when SF is on the clock. I agree that DuPree could be one of them.
      Waynes? Peters? WR? Blue Chip OL or DL? Edge Rusher?
      Hah! Draft speculations are like the preview time before an auction begins.

    5. Scooter:

      Nice work. I found the explosiveness score interesting so I looked at the poster’s work. He’s a guy with the handle “Waldo” over on He listed players from the 2004 through 2011 draft. Some players including Aldon Smith were not included but that’s probably because Smith was considered to be a DE coming out of college instead of a 3-4 OLB. I calculated the score for Aldon and got a value of 0.95, which is the same value that Quinn received. Von Miller got a score of 0.97. So the formula is only an extra piece of information.

      However, as you mention if a prospect scores above 1.05, then the player becomes a “low risk” selection; i.e. a very high likelihood that the player will become a pro bowler. So while using the score alone may result in missing prospects such as Quinn, Miller and A. Smith, a score above 1.05 seems to indicate a can’t miss, safe prospect (barring injuries). Although the article says above 1.05, it is interesting to note that Justin Houston scored 1.05. The poster’s data only goes through 2011 which is why Houston was not listed as Pro Bowl player. His ascension to NFL stardom has occurred only over the last few years.

      1. I remember reading Waldo’s post in 2011 and, being something of a stats guy myself, being very impressed. Prior to that I already was a believer in looking at the explosiveness score (vert and broad) for edge players, but putting it in terms of a unified explosiveness measure and running the analysis like Waldo did, very impressive.

        The “low risk” idea he came up with is a great way of looking at it. Its not “no risk”, but it gives you a lot more confidence in the player. Especially if they have college production to back it up.

    6. Love the enthusiasm. Nicely written evaluation Scooter enjoyed the read.

    7. Great job Scooter. You’ve been singing this kids praises much like you did OBJ’s last year, and like last year I think you are all over it.

      The only thing lacking from his game that I can see is consistency with his positioning in the run game and some rawness in his pass rush technique, but that is easily improved with Coaching. He has the physical skills and motor already. He’d be a great pick imo.

      1. Definitely shorter than ideal for an edge player. He makes up for it in other ways though.

        I should clarify that I don’t see Dupree is an elite pass rusher that will consistently put up double digit sack seasons. I think he could be a 7-10 sack a season guy. I think he’s more of an all round strong side OLB prospect, that can excel against the run (both setting the edge and chasing in pursuit), drop back and defend the pass, while also being a good pass rush threat. The team’s premier pass rusher would operate from the weak side (Aldon or Lynch).

          1. Yes, sometimes. At other times he does a fantastic job shedding a blocker, playing with great upper and lower body power. His technique needs work in order to be consistently effective, and that is one of the areas it needs work.

              1. I can see that, but I think he’s more a cross between Brian Orakpo and Jamie Collins.

            1. That’s all he needs. He’s raw so he needs coaching up. Coach Tarver has that license….

    8. Thanks all, glad you enjoyed reading what ended up being a longer than intended piece!

    1. Good stuff Grant. I think your statement that the niners failed their mission to eliminate their needs in free agency is a bit overstated. Yes they still have those needs, but I don’t think the point was to eliminate the need, but rather to suppress them in order to mask the priority or importance of those needs. The niners could take anyone of those position at any time without really having to reach, I believe that was the point.

      Anyways good write-up. I just recently read a mock draft on yahoo sports, which mocked Perryman to the niners in the 1st, you wanna talk about reaching…

          1. Wow, Shaun King wrote that.

            Kendricks is a solid 3-down LB, but he didn’t make many tackles for losses in the college.

            1. Yea I’ve read that also about Kendricks. But they say he’s a lot more instinctual for the position than Anthony, who seems to be guessing a lot. Not many are high on Anthony.

    2. Grant I really like the Stephone Anthony pick but instead of trading up in the 2nd rd I believe they will trade down in the 1st and pick up an early 2nd where they can draft Anthony while using a late 1st to pick up a DB.

    3. Some good options Grant. The Funchess 40 time at his pro day screams of embellishment by the school to me though. Going from a 4.7 to a 4.48 is pretty unusual and he doesn’t look that fast on film.

      Golson doesn’t fit what Baalke traditionally looks for in a CB from a size perspective, but he’s a gamer and would be a decent choice in the 4th.

      1. Thanks, Rocket. Could be embellishment. He looks faster than a 4.7 guy to me. And he played with a terrible quarterback. He’d be a terrific fit in the slot for the Eagles his rookie season, like Jordan Matthews last season.

        1. True, he’s probably somewhere in between the two times. I think he’d actually be a great fit as a hybrid for the Niners. You could move him around to get the matchup advantage. Not much of a blocker, but he could probably be effective in a Delanie Walker type receiving role with more targets than Walker got. They may have designs on Millard filling that role as well.

          1. He certainly would give the Niners something they haven’t had since Walker left.

      2. He looks more like a 4.6 guy to me. I don’t think he has the speed or hands to be a perimeter WR in the NFL. But I think he’d make a good split TE, playing a similar role to Jimmy Graham.

        1. I had D.Funchess in my first mock a couple of weeks before the combine. His combine 40 of 4.7 was a little disappointing and with only 17 reps he didn’t do much to excite anyone with upper body strength.
          Yet, I agree that he may have suffered at Michigan due to any true QB consistency.

          I like DF as a hybrid WR/TE that can play in certain packages. Yup, this guy could be the closes thing to D.Walker as Rocket mentioned. I had DF sliding to the 3rd rd but after his pro-day he could go somewhere in the lower-end of the 1st to a mid 2nd.

    4. “Niners still need a wide receiver, cornerback, running back, inside linebacker and guard.”

      I’m surprised no one mentions safety.
      – Bethea played great but is no spring chicken.
      – Reid’s concussion prone.
      – Ward is a slot corner that can play safety in a pinch but his size might be an injury risk.
      – Dahl is exactly what we think he is.

      That leaves McCray. He has the size, speed, hitting to be safety. I have no idea if he’s ready.

      Which begs another question… is there a rule a GM can’t draft similar positions in the first round for “3 years in a row?” What’s the actual drawback from a team building standpoint?

      1. Brodie I believe that the 9ers think of Ward as a Safety who also plays CB as opposed to the opposite. I believe they see him as their future starting safety who will drop into the slot on 3rd downs.

      2. Tight end, too.

        No rule against it. The Lions didn’t benefit from drafting receivers three years in a row.

        1. Poor Matt Millen. That really cost him. Remember when Willis said on a KNBR interview “I don’t know who this Millen guy is…”?.

          Heck of a linebacker. Great football IQ. Will be known as the guy that whiffed on receivers three years in a row.

          Good point. Little discussed about VMac’s back issue.

          1. B2W…….and killed the career of Joey Harrington, his QB, in the process….not only couldn’t those WR’s catch the ball…they also couldn’t pass-protect….

    1. Perriman has become the most interesting WR in the draft for me. He actually had good production and looks fast on film with a questionable QB throwing him the ball last year, and then goes out and clocks under 4.3 at his pro day. He’s almost 6″2, looks strong and has great speed. He could move into a position where he’s the 3rd WR on the board for some teams. This is why I love the lead up to the draft.

        1. Cubus,

          I was waiting until the compensatory’s were announced, but I’ll have one soon.

      1. rocket,
        I like Perriman as well.
        The one intriguing WR for me is Jalen Strong. I like how he attacks the ball and plays physical.
        Only concern is that he is a long strider that takes a while before reaching full speed.

        But saying that, I would go with Perriman given the choice between the two.

  32. OK here goes my first attempt at a first 2 pick mock. The 49ers trade the 15th pick in the first rd to New Orleans for the 31st pick in the first rd and the 44th pick in the 2nd rd.
    #31 Marcus Peters CB
    #44 Stephone Anthony ILB

      1. Cubus If we could get Peters at #31 it would be an absolute steal as far as talent goes. As far as character goes at least his issues are not drug or violence related. Blow ups with coaches may just be maturity.

    1. 49ers trade 15+126 for Carolina’s 25+57.

      Pick 25 – Breshad Perriman
      Pick 46 – Stephone Anthony
      Pick 57 – Jay Ajayi

      If you choose the same position two years in a row, will the draft police come looking for you?

      Alternates at 25… Landon Collins, Andrus Peat, Arik Armstead. Maybe even Malcom Brown.

      1. If you choose the same position [in the same round] two years in a row, will the draft police come looking for you?

        1. At some point the Niners must add premium young talent to the offense, too. The offense is a bigger problem than the defense.

    1. Their bottom line:

      “Late bloomer who is faster than quick and has coveted size-speed combination. Waller isn’t just a tall receiver, he has legitimate hands and body control and can impose his size on mismatched cornerbacks. Waller has a low floor, but with a little more competitive fire and technique work, he could become a legitimate touchdown maker in the league.”

      I realize his needing “a little more competitive fire” is not a small issue.

    2. Here’s another thought: Could a guy like this be converted into a 6’6 linebacker that Baalke spoke of to cover the likes of Jimmy Graham? I realize that’s a stretch.

      1. If the 49ers ran a 4-3, Landon Collins could work covering Graham in a nickle scheme. A nice trade-back option in the mid 20s.

        But the 49ers don’t run a 4-3, and it would put Ward’s role in limbo.

    3. A bigger, not as fast version of Stephen Hill.

      Have to wonder why a guy with his athletic talent wasn’t the #1 WR on the team.

      1. Here’s another analysis on Waller. The conclusion: “I really like this guy as a WR/TE hybrid, and think he should be open to a position switch or at least adding to his repertoire at the next level to be able to play. With some refinement in technique and more development in terms of his strength, this guy is going to be a red zone nightmare and possible touchdown machine in the NFL.”

  33. Niners sign Desmond Bishop to a 1 year deal.. This to me means they are targeting a middle linebacker in rnds 2-3…

  34. From PFF, Desmond Bishop has two of the top ten highest rated single games for an ILB. He had the third highest rating (+7.4) in 2010 against Washington and 7th highest rating (+6.9) in 2011 against the Giants. Patrick Willis was number one in a 2007 game against Tamba Bay. That year Willis was a rookie and had a rating of +8.4 in that game. According to Wikipedia he had a significant hamstring injury in 2012 and tore his ACL in 2013.

    1. Man, I need an edit button for this post. Should be Tampa Bay. The “he” that had the injuries was Bishop not Willis.

  35. From Rotoworld:

    “”Sources around the league” tell Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole that free agent Michael Crabtree’s market has “crashed.”

    Cole’s sources are just stating the obvious. Per Cole, Crabtree apparently believed he was going to make $9-$10 million per year before the start of last season. It would be a miracle for Crabtree to get even half that. The most likely outcome is Crabtree accepting $2-$3 million on a one-year, “prove-it” deal. To date, his lone visit has been to the Dolphins.”

      1. What are your thoughts on his rejoining the niners? I’m against it for reasons stated earlier.

          1. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get” spoke the truth and I got mad bro….

    1. The foot and Achilles injuries have robbed Crabs of what little speed he had. Not sure what the future holds for him at this point.

      1. I think more importantly the Achilles injury has robbed him of his burst and foot quickness. He was never fast, but in 2012 he really demonstrated excellent foot quickness and burst to create separation and avoid the jam.

  36. As unimpressed and disappointed as I have been in Michael Crabtree’s overall performance throughout his first contract…I think that he will sit down and have a good talk with himself…get back to upping his performance and get signed to a more reasonable contract . Swallow some of that oversized ego, correct his dramatic episodes, and be more of a ‘team mate’

    1. I admit a little schadenfreude when it comes to Crabtree… but I have to acknowledge if not for injuries, he’s an outstanding WR. More physical then given credit for.

      In some ways, Crabs (when healthy) is a Biletnikoff who never had a Branch to open underneath or a Stabler to hit those precision routes. I wish the best for him.

    2. So sad that it’s come to this. My son and I were so jacked up when Al Davis did the unthinkable and let Crab fall another spot to the 49ers back in ’09. It’s hard to believe Crab flamed out so soon. You’re right about the oversized ego and the drama.
      Crab will have to eat a whole truckload of humble pie in the near future.

    1. Thanks! I’ll go over it after lunch.

      I was a Value Group guy even before I became aware of them. I used to call them “draft plateaus.”

      Group … Picks … 3YR Starter … Pro Bowl
      VG1 … 1-13 … 74% … 44%
      VG2 … 14-40 … 61% … 19%
      VG3 … 41-66 … 44% … 13%
      VG4 … 67-86 … 30% … 6%
      VG5 … 87-149 … 19% … 4%
      VG6 … 150-189 … 12% 3%
      VG7 … 190+ … 8% … 2%

      Data from 1993-2012

      But I’m VG more from a philosophical standpoint. The seven VG ranges are chosen somewhat arbitrarily. They also differ year to year.

      Also missing was VGs broken down by position. A center chosen at 25 has a higher chance of being pro bowl then a QB.

      1. It would be nice if I could find the data unvarnished. For example, what is the percentage of pro bowlers in just pick 17 or pick 23?

    2. Here are some conclusions from the article (bear in mind that the dataset is 1999 through 2012 drafts, so 2013 and 2014 are not included):

      The author uses approximate value to rate players, which attempts to measure a player’s production. He uses AV3, which is the sum of a given player’s best 3 seasons. The author then uses “hit rate” plots to assess actual selections. The “hit rate” refers to all players who produced in the top 30% of their position according to the criteria used regardless of where they were drafted. The author also breaks up the first round into picks 1 thru 16 and 17 thru 32.

      On offense:

      1)The hit rate for TEs in the first and second round is the highest of all positions at 100% and 91% respectively. This means that historically, a tight end selected in the first round has a 100% chance of producing in the top 30% of the position. The author notes that the sample size is small relative to other positions and also notes that the dataset is only up to and including 2012.

      2) There seems to be a large drop off in RB from the top half of the first round to the second round. Hit rate goes from about 90% to about 34%. But the hit rate in the third round is almost 30% so the author makes the following statement: “beware the second round running back. I’d let another team take the first RBs off the second tier and wait for whoever falls.”

      3) Through the first two rounds the hit rate for OL is 51% to 78%. In the third round it drops to 28%.

      4) WR hit rates are about 80% in the top 16, 70% from 17 to 32, 50% in the 2nd round, 33% in the third round, 27% in the fourth round and 10% or lower thereafter.

      On defense:

      1) Edge rushers seem to have the most variability in hit rate. For picks 1 thru 16, the hit rate is about 69%, 61% for picks 17 thru 32, 32% in round 2 and then jumps up to 42% in round 3. The reason he gives for this variation is “The implication is not that Round 3 Edge players are better than their second round counterparts. It’s that the evaluation process is so scattershot that there isn’t much of a difference in outcomes. The second tier of the draft was not correctly identified by NFL scouts over the 14-year sample.”

      2) LB, CB, DS (safety? or defensive secondary?), and DL seem to maintain the highest hit rates (roughly 50% or higher) through the first two rounds.

      3) CBs seem to have the lowest hit rates in rounds 3 and higher. Doesn’t Baalke tend to select most of his CBs after round 3?

      Some other statements the author makes:

      1″While the data says that there’s less value at some positions in some rounds, it doesn’t imply that there’s never value there. Antonio Brown was drafted in the 6th round, defying the odds. Most superstar pass rushers are selected in the first round, even if the bust frequency is a little high relative to other positions.”

      2) “My recommended draft strategy would tend toward drafting offensive players in the 2nd and 3rd rounds while peppering the 4th-6th with volume picks on the defensive side of the ball. Though I don’t support strictly ruling out certain positions/round combinations, there would have to be compelling evidence toward a given prospect for me to feel comfortable drafting from a severely negative area, like 2nd-round pass rushers, 3rd-round corners, or 6th-round receivers. Perhaps most importantly, I would utilize the plateaus, like 2nd-5th round EDGE and 2nd-3rd round RB, to acquire prospects with similar hit rates to peers that were drafted earlier.”

      1. I made an error on the TE statement. The hit rate for TEs selected 1 thru 16 is 100% and 91% for TEs selected 17 thru 32. In round 2 the hit rate is 61%. After round 2 it drops off precipitously to less than 30% in the remaining rounds.

        It looks like TEs need to be selected early for a high probability of success.

      2. Great stuff Cubus.

        Amazing how high the hit rate for TEs are. I think in large part it would have to be the idea that tight ends normally do not have as high of a value to a team as other positions, arguably 2nd to last on the offense, after a FB (just my opinion of course). So when a tight end is taken in the 1st two rounds its normally due to the fact that they truly are freakish type athletes for the position and size (i.e. Vernon, Fleener, Eifert, etc).

        Plus teams don’t tend to reach for this position like they do others such as QB, WR, LT, RB, etc. because it’s not thought of a position of need, or at least that big of a need. A team can, and most do, get by fine without a premier TE. But the thought is its a lot harder to get by without an elite WR, OL, QB, RB (RB not so much anymore). The TE position almost becomes a luxury in a sense.

        With all that being said, I hope VMac finally lives up to his 2nd round status.

        1. Thanks, Leo. One more statement the author made with regards to TEs:

          “It’s still apparent that the hit rate on tight ends diminishes significantly after the 4th round. Now, this analysis does not distinguish between blocking and move tight ends, and that may be an important caveat to consider. My contention is that that prolific receiving tight ends are gone by the 4th and that it’s more difficult to make an assessment of blocking tight end value in the last three rounds of the draft.”

          I added this because of the different roles a TE can be asked to play.

          Also, for TEs, rounds 3 and 4 have pretty much the same hit rate at 26% and 28% respectively. In Round 5 it drops of to less than 10% but then jumps to 20% in round 6 and about 5% in Round 7. The Round 7 hit rate is the lowest for all of the offensive positions analyzed. QB position was not analyzed.

        2. Leo….I am probably outnumbered by the thousands, but VMac is my pick for the “from the ashes rises Phoenix” award. He’s crashed and burned, and earned some bench time, but I think that he’ll erupt this season, and open up some ground for our WR’s and RB’s……I could be wrong…..

          1. I’m with you Oregon. I gotta believe Sparano will do wonders for him, maybe he sees some Witten in him. I would love to see him get more involved in the passing game.

          2. I just looked at all of Vance’s tweets since November of last year. A few tweets regarding recovery right after the surgery, but nothing recent regarding the status of his back. He’s been hiking and spending time in Mexico and Haiti for charitable causes. Depending on the terrain, hiking can be hard on the back, so maybe this is a good sign.

            1. First I heard of this, thanks Cubus. Maybe he is ok. Maiocco is the one that had me concerned with one of his reports….

    1. “Vernon Davis was the Jiff Ramsey of tight ends last season.”

      Love it.

      1. The Niners are going to surprise some people next season. Grant and pretty much the entire NFL media have written them off, but the Niners will sneak up on their opponents like Fake Purse Ninjas.

    2. Grant
      Nice job on the list. I don’t have too many gripes with the grades you have listed. I think you might have been a little too harsh on the TE grade, since Vernon had been a good player up until last year. For me he gets a slight pass for one bad season, but I get the D grade (he was that bad).

      My only question would be about Tomsula’s grade. You said he was in the running for worst coach in the NFL and that might prove to be true over time, but don’t you think that’s difficult to say right now? I mean, it’s not like we have anything to go on since he hasn’t coached a game yet. I was just curious as to what makes you feel Tomsula is that bad without seeing him in his current role.

    3. Any analysis that references Bowfinger is a winner in my book!

      I think we’ll see an improved performance from Vernon Davis this year though.

    4. Solid article Grant. A little more negative than I like but a lot of truth to it. I think most of your analysis is based off of one really bad year for us, and pretty much assumes the worst in every scenario.

      RB – Could move to a B+ or an A- by season’s end if they draft a RB from this year’s deep crop. Hyde could emerge as an elite RB behind a solid O-line, and 2 good complimentary backs if Hunter cans stay healthy. Along with a rookie that will take some pressure off of Hyde.

      WR – Could move up to B+ if niners take a WR in one of the 1st 3 rounds and he produces. Plus Jerome is a very solid deep threat as well. And Ellington looks perfect for the slot role.

      TE- D is tough to swallow. Again this is an extremely pessimistic view based off of one bad year by one of the best tight ends in the game. I see a big comeback year for Vernon, and with Sparano at coach we could finally see some solid production out of VMac. Plus Carrier looked filled with potential and may be used more in a Delanie role. This could and should move up to a B- or B

      OL – Another pessimistic analysis imo. Davis, healthy, is one of the best RT in the game. Joe is still top 10. Boone is top 15. Kilgore was looking to be top 10 C before he went down. Really the only quest mark is at LG. I think this should be a solid B right now, but by season’s end may be a B+ to A-

      DL- The grade was solid but I thought the analysis was tough. I think this is a B group with the potential to be a B+ group even without JS. Dockett will be the pass rush specialist. Couple him with Tank, Lynch, and Aldon on passing downs and that’s a very good group. Ian is one of the best NT in the game. Dorsey can move over to DE in running situations and should thrive there. And Dial should have a great year at DE as well. TJE should only be in rotation and should not be seen as a starter.

      Secondary – When all healthy this is a B group. Reid and Bethea is a very good safety duo, top 10, but I understand the health concerns. Corners is a bit of a concern. But Brock was great in 2013 and should be to form in 2015. Wright, you said yourself is an upgrade to cox. D. Johnson showed a lot of potential as well. And Ward will improve in the slot next year. Not to mention the young depth we have behind them. Add another 3rd or 4th rounder and we’ll be fine.

      I’m fine with your grades, but just seemed a bit too negative. This team has more holes and weaknesses then we’ve seen in a while, but still has the talent to make a playoff run. It will be up to this coaching staff to utilize it to its fullest potential. Whether they can is a whole other story.

    1. I just read this. I do not know what to think. I’ve thrown my hands up in the air, told myself I’ll just wait, and see what BARK has in store.

    2. I just checked Tebow’s Twitter account and I didn’t see the tweet that the article referred to.

      1. It’s fake! Not one other outlet has this. You really think it wouldn’t be all over the TV.

        1. I was pretty sure it was a fake and an easy way to check was to just check his Twitter account.

          1. Would today being April Fools Day ..
            have anything to do with this “story” ?

          1. Jack:

            You and Webzone are just having some April Fool’s Day fun, right? I just looked at Schefter’s Twitter account and the last post is from 3 hours ago.

    3. This happens every april fools…. you guys gotta stop falling for this…. i’m pretty sure it was tebow last year too

      1. Leo, that’s the whole point of April Fools Day! Some fools gotta fall for this s#@%!

  37. Ok here goes my first shot at a mock:

    1) Breshad Perriman WR: A physical marvel who can run past defenders or outmuscle them for the the ball. Improved each season he played even though the QB play dropped during his Jr. season. Can make plays anywhere on the field and his speed shows up both in testing and when the lights are on. Needs to improve his route running ability and drops to many passes he should catch. Comes from good lineage as his father was an excellent WR with the Lions for a number of years.

    2) Ronald Darby CB: PJ Williams got most of the attention, but Darby was the better CB imo. Very good at tracking the ball in the air and has great instincts to keep himself in good position. A little smaller than Baalke normally likes, but he is strong and doesn’t mind the physical part of the game both in press and against the run. Needs to add a little more weight as he can be pushed around a bit by bigger WR’s.

    3) Danielle Hunter OLB: May go higher than this based on potential, but is extremely raw as a pass rusher and was not great in the stats dept. Excellent run defender who can hold up at the point of attack. A relentless player with top end talent who needs to be Coached up. Has never had to play much in coverage so that will take time. His natural talent would put him in the second round at worst, but right now is unpolished which may push him down. His motor is always running which is a huge plus.

    4) Kyle Emanuel ILB: A bigger ILB than the 49ers currently have but has good size/speed ratio and has good recognition. Will be a work in progress in coverage but at his size will be handle some bigger TE’s.

    5) Corey Crawford DE: Athletic big man who reminds me a bit of Tank Carradine in regards to pass rush ability and potential. Will drop because of off field concerns and lack of effort at times, but this is a guy Tomsula may be able to turn into a steal.

    6) Jeremiah Poutasi OG: Huge man who is strong as an ox. Remind you of anybody we just lost? Played OT at Utah, but is a Guard at the NFL level. Needs a lot of work on playing lower and struggles against speed at times, but has the build and strength to be a pretty good OG with proper Coaching.

    7) Karlos Williams RB: Similar in size and style to Hyde but not as elusive or quick to the hole. Was investigated for assault a couple of years ago so character risk is part of the analysis in taking this kid.

    8) Connor Halliday QB: Good arm and intangibles at the QB position. Recovering from an ankle injury but a pretty good developmental prospect.

    9) Justin Manton K: Yep I’m taking a Kicker. Dawson is showing signs of losing some leg strength and his salary is pretty high too. Manton has a very strong leg and can even Punt if he has too.

    1. Good stuff Rocket. So no OG until #6, so you must have a lot of faith in Thomas. I think depending where guard is taken will give us clear indication how much they believe in Thomas. I like Perriman in the first but I think 15 may be too early, but if we trade down he’ll likely be gone.

      I like your ILB prospect but seems too much of a project. So you must also be high on Bowman coming back and Wilhoite or Moody next to him.

      Love the Darby pick.

      1. Leo,

        Yes I have faith that we already have the starting LG on the roster in either Thomas or Martin. Poutasi could become Iupati lite with some Coaching on technique and balance.

        Emanuel is very athletic and really had good instincts to make the switch to ILB. I think they will sign another FA ILB as well.

    2. Nice mock rocket.

      Good to see you’ve got Kyle Emanuel in there as an ILB prospect. I really like the way he plays and think he’d be able to make the transition to ILB in a 3-4.

      1. Thanks Scooter. Every time I’ve seen Emanuel he sticks out in a good way. Really seems to have a nose for where the play is going and holds up well with his size in the running game. Could be a real steal for somebody.

        1. Agreed. I had a conversation with CfC about him as a possible ILB prospect a few days back. He’s fast becoming one of my favourite mid to late round prospects.

      1. Razor,

        I understand why you think that, but I’ve really been looking into this kid and I think he may overtake Parker for 3rd WR. If he doesn’t, I’d be happy with him at 15. Kid is a playmaker at all levels of the field, and has speed to burn. The only reason he hasn’t received more attention until now is because of where he played. When you watch the game film he is as talented as anybody in this draft and has the potential to get a whole lot better. By draft weekend I think he’ll be firmly entrenched as a top 20 pick.

        1. Perriman is one of the potential elite prospects I see likely to be available at #15, along with Dupree.

          1. Key word “prospects”, because they both are not at an elite level like Cooper or Fowler Jr. in my opinion….

            1. They aren’t as refined prospects as Cooper or Fowler, and that is exactly why Cooper and Fowler will likely be top 10 draft picks. But the potential is there.

              1. You said they aren’t elite prospects. I disagree. They just aren’t currently as refined as the top prospects.

              2. No, I highlighted the word “Prospects” because they have not reached elite level and won’t until their technique and consistency have been coached up….

              3. Razor,

                I think Scooter is referring to both what they are and can be, rather than just what they are right now. I think Draft analysis has to include projections on what the player can become after spending time with your Coaching staff. What makes an elite prospect is both what they have shown and how much further you think they can go. I’m not trying to say you don’t know this, I know you do, but in the case of Perriman, I see a player who has gotten far less attention than he should because of where and who he played with. He’s shown elite skills already. The next step becomes whether you believe he can be consistently elite once you get him into your program.

              4. Top ten players in the draft played at an elite level in their respective collegiate careers and are projected as plug n play players in the NFL. The next tier is what is called elite talent but not consistently showing up on tape during their respective collegiate careers and therefore they are “projected” to become elite. Might be schematics, but I never said they weren’t “potentially elite”….

              5. Razor, every guy in the draft is a prospect, even the top guys that come in looking more refined. None of these players are sure things. I assumed you highlighted the word accidentally but meant “potential”.

                But you also said “both are not at an elite level”. That is where I disagree. They are “elite talents” as you then went on to say in a subsequent post. But in all honesty I think we are actually saying the same thing but have a misunderstanding of terminology.

              6. Yea, top ten picks to me are guys that have played at an elite level consistently and have little to no holes in their games. Then there are degrees of talent that have the potential to be elite(pro bowl), starter, rotation, backup, etc.

              7. Like I said, a terminology issue. We are on the same page, but I got confused by your use of the word prospect.

          2. Yeah I agree with that Scooter and I’d be happy with either one. The more I look into it, the more I see some pretty talented players getting underestimated.

        2. Could be right, but I’m a little leery of wide receivers whose hands aren’t the greatest when receiving bullets from Kaepurnicus….

    3. Rocket:

      I’m wondering why you think Baalke will select a WR with the first pick? We made a big move for T. Smith and picked up Simpson as well. If Baalke selects a WR in the first round, isn’t that pretty much an indication that he will be the #3 WR. If so, Ellington and Patton will languish again; however, that’s not necessarily a reason to not select a WR, but it would be a side effect.

      1. I see Perriman as a pure X receiver. The Niners already have one of those locked up longterm.

        1. I don’t think he’s restricted to being an X WR. I could see him playing the Z, Smith the X and Ellington the Y in 2016. We’ve both compared him to Roddy White, and White can play both.

        2. I definitely see Perriman being able to play the Z at a high level. He needs refinement in his route running, but his strength and YAC ability will fit in fine at Z.

      2. Cubus,

        I don’t think who they have on the roster currently influences who they will take with the first pick. The WR depth chart doesn’t nor should it, preclude them from taking what could be the BPA. They essentially have their starters and a group of question marks. One of the starters is 34 and in the final year of his contract. In regards to Patton and Ellington, they were 4th round picks which are hit and miss at best, and in Patton’s case, he has had some issues with injury that have held him back so drafting another WR is not only and option, but a necessity imo.

        Perriman is somebody I’ve been looking into a great deal and I really believe he has a chance to be the best WR out of this class. If they can get him at 15, I think in time it will prove to be a steal. However, there is also the chance some other prospects that are as good or better drop to that spot, in which case, they can go to a greater area of need if it presents itself.

        I think the available options at 15 will be better than initially thought is what it comes down too.

        1. Rocket: Your logic is sound, but I guess there are two issues that I have with regards to the 49ers and WRs.

          1) For many years now, I have not seen the 49ers develop quality WRs from the draft (perhaps Crabtree but for only 1 to 2 years and now his career has taken a nosedive).

          2) I’m still not convinced that Baalke feels comfortable selecting a WR in the first or second round of the draft particularly after the AJ Jenkins miss. I was encouraged that he considered moving up for Odell Beckham last year. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong this year, but at the moment I’m skeptical.

          1. Reasonable points Cubus. I guess I’m hoping the change at WR Coach will mean better development of prospects at the position, and I’ve never bought into the idea that Baalke is trigger shy on WR’s in the first round. I think it’s more of a value vs. draft position angle rather than a conscious decision to avoid WR’s in the first round.

    4. Rocket -that would be fine hall ,as you know we agree with several picks here! Nice!

      1. Thanks hightop. I’m guessing I’ll change my mind multiple times a week between now and the draft, but I was happy with this mock.

  38. Walter’s Football has us taking La’el Collins with the number 15 pick. Here’s what they had to say:

    “I’m not sure if San Francisco’s incompetent front office is willing to copy what the Cowboys did around this juncture last year, but perhaps there’s a chance the 49ers will address the interior of their offensive line with the best blocker available. The guard position is a big need in the wake of Mike Iupati’s departure. Alex Boone entering his contract season doesn’t make things any better.”

    After reading the opening line, I thought I was reading a Grant article or Grant had found another new gig.

  39. Walter’s Football sure doesn’t like Jed or Trent. Here’s what they had to say about the mock pick at 46 (Denzel Perryman):

    “The 49ers are both inept and unfortunate. They said goodbye to Patrick Willis and Chris Borland this offseason, and now they have to find another inside linebacker to go along with the injured NaVorro Bowman.”

    1. Wow those are pretty harsh words from an “unbiased” source. I like the idea of a Perryman replacing Borlands role. I think Bowman will be fine, maybe never back to 100%, but a 90% Bowman is still probowl level. But I’d rather have more of a well-rounded player against the pass and run. Wilhoite is surprisingly poor against the pass even though converting from a safety in college. I also still have hope for Moody.

    2. Hey, F#@% Walter Football !! Who the H are they anyway? The 49ers inept front office had their team playing in 3 of the last 4 NFCCG games and in a Super Bowl. As a Niner fan I take umbrage at that kind of insulting s@#% talking.

      1. Hahaha. I had a blistering retort to Walter half typed, but deleted it and went and hand washed my car. The Experts will be picking SF last in West. We’ll see who they sneak up on.

    3. Walterfootball’s another example of a site that builds mocks by simply counting departures without knowing anything about the actual roster depth or scheme fit.

      A while back he ripped Baalke for trading a 7th rounder because “he could have gotten similar talent in free agency.” (not exact quote but close)

      I emailed him explaining that if Baalke acquired similar talent through free agency, it could cost more in compensatory value then a 7th rounder. He wouldn’t have it, and simply repeated his criticism.

  40. I think it’d be in the 49ers best interest to resign Crabtree. I don’t care what the market claims his worth is. He’s good and would be an upgrade over Torrey Smith any day.

  41. Something up with Jed Y.?
    ” Alas, poor Yorik, I knew him well.” from W.S.
    Breaking approx 420 years ago

      1. Just a dumb Shakesperean joke on April 1st.
        Much more impressive: Byron Jones ran a 4.36 at his Pro Day.

    1. After viewing his “squats”, to my untrained eye it looks like the knee is about 85%….

        1. Cubus, what percentage would you put his knee if you had to speculate after viewing?

          1. I don’t know. One thing I would like to know is how much weight did he squat before his injury.

            I looked at the video again and it looks like he actually went beyond the 90 degree position (i.e. less than 90 degrees). I was always taught that this is not a good idea because it really stresses the ligaments – but that is general guidance for regular people not necessarily elite athletes. So, if he is able to handle that, it might be really good news.

            I think you’re probably right on the 85% – but I’d really like to know what he used to squat.

            1. Oh I’d be surprised if he wasn’t squating 500lbs prior to the dismantling of his knee….

  42. Now for the first OldCoach mock draft of the year [including mock trades] The 9ers trade the #15 pick in the first rd to N.O. for #31 in the first and#44 in the second.Then they trade the #46 pick in the second to Seattle for #63 in the second, #95 in the third and #130 in the fourth.
    RD1 #31 Marcus Peterson CB Wash
    RD2 #44 Stephone Anthony ILB Clemson
    RD2 #63 D.J. Humphries OT Fla
    RD3 #79 Mario Edwards DT\DE Fla ST.
    RD3 #95 Mike Davis RB S. Carolina
    RD4 #126 Mycole Pruitt TE S. ill. RD4 #130 Davis Tull OLB Chattanooga
    RD4 #132 Ben Heeney ILB Kan
    RD5 #151 Darren Waller WR G. Tech
    RD6#190 Adrian Amos S Penn st
    RD7#247 Corey Grant RB Auburn
    RD7 #255 Julian Wilson CB OK

    1. OC: I wish I had enough knowledge to comment on the individual selections, so instead I’ll comment on the positions. I like many of the position selections that you have in the draft. I found it interesting that you have two selections at RB (although one is a late round selection). I also found it interesting that you don’t select a WR until the 6th round. I assume that means you are comfortable with the current receiving corps. I see you have the 49ers selecting depth at both TE and Safety, which seems like a good idea.

  43. @AdarnSchefter 2min

    Just filed to ESPN: The 49ers have traded Colin Kaepernick to Tennessee for a 2015 1st Round draft pick, 2016 2nd Round draft pick and QB Zach Mettenberger. Wow.

    1. Blockbuster trade of epic proportions. Does the Mettenberger come with fries?

  44. This from Niners Nation today: Peter King’s mock that we will draft Peters at 15. Here’s what else NN said, illustrating how often the “experts” get it wrong. It’s kinda funny.

    “For those curious about Peter King’s mock drafting “skills”, he has generally been all over the place with 49ers picks. In 2014, he projected Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer. I couldn’t find his 2013 mock, but in 2012 he went with Stanford tight end Coby Fleener (but said they “should” pick Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill), and in 2011 he had the 49ers trading down and going with cornerback Prince Amukamara (but said they “should” pick TCU quarterback Andy Dalton).”

    1. Baalke would trade his entire 2012 draft for Coby Fleenor if he could do that one over And, I wouldn’t mind trading Jimmy Ward for Cody Latimer right now. I am very glad we didn’t pick Andy Dalton.
      Kap has his faults but he does know how to win playoff games, and the Red Rifle apparently never will.

    2. The “experts” are lucky if they get 2 or 3 picks right in any given year.

      Just getting a player in the correct round is a feat in itself.

  45. Funny, this years draft will seem like a referendum on player health. If the 49ers don’t draft a….
    – cornerback, that cold mean they feel pretty good about Reaser and Acker’s recovery
    – offensive lineman, that means they feel pretty good about Brandon Thomas’s knee
    – tight end, that means McDonald’s back is healing nicely
    – safety, that means they think Reid’s concussions won’t be ongoing if he uses better tackling technique

    1. Nice breakdown. I am finding it hard to believe any of Beasley, Waynes or Parker fall to #15, but stranger things have happened. I think there are other potentially elite prospects that may be more likely to be available.

      1. Good job Grant. Another fine article. I check in to Inside the 49ers every morning and see the same post and I think, damn Grant’s slacking, and then I scroll through 400 posts to see that you have been working hard, but your efforts all go towards your new Bleacher Report gig. For readers that only look at your headlines though, you appear to be doing nothing. You should have a separate sidebar or something directing readers to your new and previous BR articles, assuming the PD would be okay with that.

    2. Nice write-up.

      I want the 49ers to trade 15 back so they can
      – Get that run stuffing ILB, or cover ILB to counter the Graham signing.
      – Take advantage of a good running back class
      – Take advantage of another good receiver class

      But I’m skeptical of trade scenarios that give the 49ers a late first + second rounder for 15… unless there’s a “faller.”

      Randy Gregory just might be the faller. If that happens and the 49ers get good trade-back value, they can thank the cannabis gods.

      Dupree could be another “faller” that entices teams to trade up to 15. Not every GM drools over long arms like Baalke.

      Say the 49ers do trade 15 for a late first+second.

      Late First – Breshad Perriman (Jalen Collins, Andrus Peat if they fall)
      Second – Stephone Anthony
      Second – Jay Ajayi

      1. You guys are dreaming if you think Baalke is going to get a 2nd Round pick to move back….

    3. “Of the past 15 players who were taken 15th, only four made All Pro”

      (Jason Pierre Paul, Derrick Johnson, Albert Haynesworth, Deltha O’Neal)

      27% isn’t bad for the Value Group, but I still want to bail from 15.

      Picks – Pro Bowl
      1-13 – 44%
      14-40 – 19%
      41-66 – 13%

      1. 27% of past 15 picks at #15 made All-Pro (not just Pro Bowl), but only 19% of picks 14-40 make a Pro Bowl and 13% of picks 41-66…

        I’m a believer in the idea of value groups and the idea that overall you increase your chances of receiving value from two players compared to one, but I think these percentages show that being just outside the first value group (and being able to select a guy that is a fringe first value group player) may be better value than a pick at around the middle of value group 2 and middle of value group 3 (which is where you would likely expect to be picking from a trade back that nets a first and second rounder).

        1. I don’t consider VGs bible. There’s alot they don’t take into account, like position. Quarterbacks will be drafted higher then a center, even if they have a lower chance of making pro-bowl.

          But I like how they show talent (and trade demand) isn’t a smooth, somewhat curved diagonal as the trade value charts suggest. There are plateaus and cliffs.

          Teams will trade up for specific players. When those players are gone, trade demand suddenly decreases.

          I see the VG value spots differently. I think its best to pack draft capital at the bottom of each VG, not just outside it.

          They vary from year to year, but I see the BPA sweet spots this year as picks 9-14. The 20s this year looks good too. I’d ignore the VG and stand pat if picking 9-14 or 20-32.

          1. The chart shows the usual sweet spots. Of course each year will be a little different. Again, I’m not saying sweet BPA spots are always in the same place, or that there are always seven. (These are chosen somewhat arbitrarily. I wish I just had the raw data for each draft slot.)

            The main point is that they exist. The fun is figuring out where they are.


            “The vertical lines separating the rounds.”

            “The blue line is the % chance of drafting a 3 year starter.”

            “The brown line is the salary of the draft pick relative to pick #1…”

            “While not exact, generally speaking where the gap between the blue line and brown line is the biggest represents where the most value…”

            “…it does not mean anything when the brown line is above the blue line.”

            1. Best to ignore the brown line.

              The blue lines (Value Groups) and vertical lines (Rounds) are really what I’m talking about.

            2. That is a simplification of the actual curve. pick 13 does not actually have the same % chance as pick 1, and pick 14 does not fall off a cliff from pick 13.

              It is a curve like any other. They chose those groups based on where the steepness of the curve was highest, as this denotes where the value of picks has a genuine “break”, but it obviously was nowhere near as steep as outlined in the graph.

              1. Correct. I wish he’d just publish the raw data for each draft slot instead of arbitrarily making VGs. Then I could make a simple two line chart.

                One line would be the % of 3-year-starter. The other a draft value charts (Jimmy Johnson or the new one).

              2. I find all those breakdowns as informative as they interesting but one thing I do know is that in the war room as they’re sitting there, no one is saying “we need to move up to spot so & so because if we pick a player at that spot they have a 3% higher chance of becoming an all-star.” Nor do I believe they choose to trade out of a spot for similar reasons.

          2. Why picks 9-14?

            I think there is a group of 5 to 8 really elite prospects, then a second group of around 10 to 12 guys that are either nice, safe but not quite elite prospects or potentially elite but currently raw/ flawed prospects. Of course as usually happens, it is unlikely these guys will all be in the top 15 to 20 picks – some guys will likely fall for one reason or another. I think the worst places to be picking in round 1 in terms of value are likely to be around the 9 to 13 mark (as they will be looking at the top of the second value group) and the early 20s through to the end of the round (as this will be mostly the third value group, and I think it extends a fair way into the second round).

            1. I like the players mocked at 9-14. Simple as that. I really like Parker. I like Waynes too.

              1. Fair enough. Way I see it the top value group is:

                – Leonard Williams
                – Jameis Winston
                – Vic Beasley
                – Amari Cooper
                – Dante Fowler Jr

                You then have three guys that could easily be considered in that group too, though I think they are part of the next tier:

                – Kevin White
                – Marcus Mariota
                – Danny Shelton

                I then see the following group of very good and pretty safe picks as well as guys that could be potentially elite but have some flaws (though as mentioned, I actually put all these guys in the same tier as the three above):

                – DeVante Parker
                – Trae Waynes
                – Andrus Peat
                – Brandon Scherff
                – La’el Collins
                – Alvin Dupree
                – Shane Ray
                – Landon Collins
                – Breshad Perriman
                – Dorial Green-Beckham
                – Marcus Peters
                – Cameron Erving

            2. The sweet spots must vary by year and what each team is looking for.

              For example, say a team graded every player in the draft on a 1-1000 scale. Then made a line chart from best to worst.

              I doubt there would be flat spots like the chart above, but there would be varying degrees of decline. Some shallow. Some steep.

    4. Beasley won’t fall. Dupree is not at an elite level in the top ten and it’s not just his wingspan. His pass rush moves in general are lacking, he rarely if ever bull rushes blockers, and spins and swims are uncommon too. He struggles to get off blocks, and is an inconsistent tackler. I’ve noticed his motor idles when he has to chase a play down the line of scrimmage or towards the backside. Quick first step sure, but his get off is inconsistent and he’d have higher sack totals if he learned to finish. He needs to be more consistent getting the quarterback to the ground especially against a guy like Wilson….

      1. Your breakdown of him is correct. I am surprised there’s a possibility of him getting taken so high.

      2. Scooter_MG ….Very good grouping on your value chart…this should give some relief to the “…Sky is falling…” contingent. Their are plenty of good players out there, and I believe that Baalke will score at least 3, possibly 4 starters out of this draft class……

      3. Those are mostly fair comments, razor. And that is why I think he has a pretty good chance of being available at #15. He’s still unrefined. Though I do think your comment about chasing down the LOS or backside pursuit is off the mark, as well as his inconsistent tackling – his pursuit skills, effort and tackling technique are big reasons he has such high tackle totals.

        I think the main knock people have on Dupree though is he’s being as good or refined a pass rusher as guys like Beasley, Ray, etc. If you are drafting him to be an elite pass rusher then you are drafting the wrong guy (though he does have the potential to be). What he offers is a far more rounded skill set. His value is in being a true 3-down OLB (or even 4-down, as I think he’d be excellent on STs), that is best playing on the strong side of the formation.

    5. I would add Gurley as an elite player, not prospect, that might be available at 15….

      1. Yeah, I think this is where the confusion was happening earlier. The use of the word “prospect”. All of these players are prospects.

    1. I think it’s time to move on from Crabtree. If they signed him, he’d back up Boldin. What makes more sense to me is drafting Boldin’s eventual replacement and making him the backup.

      1. Unless that guy can be Patton, but he might not be built to avoid injuries and might have to play slot all the time.

        1. George ..

          Sure hope Geep “remembers” that we have Patton and The Duke
          on the roster, b/c I’m sure both are anxious to show what’s
          in their quivers .. and .. who knows ?

          Both may turn out to be gold !

            1. I might be wrong, Razor, but doesn’t it seem to you that in a run-type offense, Patton is ill suited for anything but the slot? I don’t understand football the way I would like, so try to get by on what I think is common sense. IMO it comes down to Patton and Ellington for one position, in which case I think Ellington has more upside.

              1. And I think Ellington has the makeup, physical and mental, to have been a steal.

              2. Not sure he can’t play outside but I think his best position in this offense would be the slot, so I would agree with you….

  46. Yeah .. but …
    we haven’t seen enough of either of them to make
    a conclusion on their abilities, either ..

    That’s why I say .. we may have some gold there

    1. Razor glad you included Gurley as an elite player who would be available at 15,sans the acl he would have been a top 5 pick imo. This is a strong RB class or we would be hearing his name mentioned more often-personally I would be be excited if we picked him( wont happen) in the first.

      1. Oh, I’d be ecstatic if Baalke took Gurly but like you, I think the chances are slim and he just left town….

  47. I’ve heard recent speculation there’s such a big shortage of pocket quarterbacks coming out of college, more teams will switch to running based offenses. Running backs will start getting drafted higher then they used to.

    I would not be against trading back and getting Gurley. A three back rotation would really help the longevity issue that’s devalued backs in the past.

    1. Given time to heal up he could be an absolute beast,I know there will be detractors at this notion given Lattimore’s scenario but Gurley’s injury did not appear anywhere near that severe.Again won’t happen in all likelyhood but interesting idea.

      1. It’s way too risky to spend a first-round pick on a running back. They take too many hits. Gurley couldn’t withstand the hits he took in college.

        1. He’s fumbled once every 191 attempt. He averaged 38 yards per kickoff return with 2 touchdowns. He doesn’t have to come off the field, checks the box in pass pro, and reliability out of the backfield. He runs with controlled chaos and it’s as if the 1st defender isn’t there, he’s already setting up the next guy. That’s what a special back does, and he’s special. He’s worth the risk….

  48. Now in the last weeks before the draft is when I, and we and the Experts begin to talk ourselves out of certain prospects, usually by over-analyzing. I did it with Alshon Jeffrey and with K. Benjamin in recent years.

    1. Baalke talked alot about that. He says he tends to go with first impressions. My first impression pick is DeVante Parker.

      1. I did like Mike Evans. He passed what I call “The Bowling Ball or Bowling Pin Test.”

        If a receiver leaps for a catch on a long pass, do the DBs tumble like bowling pins while the receiver keeps running? (or at least falls forward?)

        The ability not just to run fast, but run with balance and power at the end of long passes is huge.

        Though limited in his routes, Devin Smith passes the bowling test on long bombs. He’s off my day two with list now that Torrey Smith’s signed.

  49. Good bye, Josh Johnson.

    Bengals signed QB Josh Johnson.
    An eighth-year journeyman, Johnson will serve as a camp arm for a team he made two appearances with in 2013.

  50. I saw Jameis Winston on his pro day. Guy has serious man boobs, a beer belly with a swimming pool belly button and flabby arms. Jamarcus Russell 2nd.

    1. He had the same body making play after play for two years in college. Did you see Tom Brady’s combine film?

      QBs get it done between the ears. Winston is gifted as a football intellectual, not quite Andrew Luck, but pretty damn close. He’s got balls, charisma, accuracy and arm strength, not to mention good size.

      Russell was born lazy, and developed a drug problem (syzurrup or whatever that downer crap is). Winston, on the other hand, studied game film while he sat in the bullpen. I’d trade Kap for him straight up, wouldn’t you?

  51. “volunteers” for 4 different pro sports teams. I think the topic from her was watered down. True, there may not be statistically significant data to support Borlands’ decision. But if you are telling me that there is a chance that when “all the data is in” that football may not be shown to have life impact, at this point we need to go to common sense. I mean really, “volunteers” Grant please re-read your own comment and see if you buy that.

    1. For the record, you are correct. Grant was mistaken and I did tell him so. My hospital system gets paid a fee for any professional athlete I see. However, it is the same fee as any other patient. The “volunteer” comment was regard to lectures, research and other work that I and my colleagues do. We receive no personal compensation from any professional team or league. The point Grant was trying to make is that the opinions of the independent consultants are not influenced by large fees or special treatment.

      1. Thanks Elizabeth for bothering to make these responses. Public education will be on going, as is mine. I can’t speak for others but I’m guessing the skepticism is deep rooted due to the old school machismo ethic among coaches at all levels and the role of team paid physicians serving the owners’ perceived view of players as disposable, depreciating assets. That’s all a bit outdated, but long set impressions and preconceptions take
        a while to change.

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