Five 49ers who must exceed expectations in 2018

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas (94) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Jimmy Garoppolo, DeForest Buckner, Reuben Foster. Those three are givens.

The 49ers won’t make the playoffs if one of those players underperforms or gets injured. All three are essential to the upcoming season.

But, so are other, less obvious players on the 49ers. Players who aren’t necessarily the best on the team, but ones who must step up and play well for the 49ers to make the playoffs next season.

These are the five unheralded, most important players on the 49ers:

1. DE Solomon Thomas

We’ve got to start with the defense — it was dreadful last season.

The 49ers recorded 30 sacks, which tied for sixth lowest in the league. And their sack leader, Elvis Dumervil, isn’t on the team anymore.

It’s time for Thomas to become an elite pass rusher. That’s what the 49ers thought he’d be when they drafted him with the third pick last year. A game-changer the opposing team has to block with two or three people.

Last year, opposing teams routinely stopped Thomas with only one blocker, because his pass-rush technique was terrible. He rushed directly into the chest of bigger, taller offensive linemen who had longer arms than Thomas, and he didn’t have a spin move or any counters after his initial move. He just sort of stayed there.

And he used a four-point stance, which practically paralyzed him as a pass-rusher. When Thomas lined up before the snap, his feet were parallel, and both hands were on the ground in front of him. He looked like he was doing the downward-dog yoga pose.

Explosive pass-rushers use a “jet” stance, which looks like a sprinter’s stance — one hand down, one hand up behind the body and one foot behind the other. Ready to take off.

Thomas needs to fix his technique, needs to give the 49ers no fewer than eight sacks next season. Because if he becomes a threat, then he will free up Buckner, one of the most talented defensive linemen in the NFL.

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This article has 335 Comments

  1. I agree about Witherspoon, with Johnson on the field they didn’t have to go after AW.
    As far as the defense as a whole goes, if they don’t get a pass rush it could be a real long season for that unit no matter who the DB’s are. I expect the offense to score lots, the opposing team will have to pass to keep up…..we shall see.

    1. undercenter, if Grant had simply stated something to the effect of … Witherspoon is untested because teams were primarily going after Johnson, he would have been at least partially correct. However, Grant being Grant, he had to go further, and ended up contradicting himself in the process. According to Grant, ALL of the 49ers CB’s last year had bullseyes on their jerseys, meaning Witherspoon as well, not just Johnson. And, while Witherspoon drew the opponents best WR during the 49ers 5 game winning streak to end the season, Grant asserts that opposing Offensive Coordinators neither noticed nor seemed to care that Witherspoon became one of the 49ers starting CB’s mid season (which we all know is absurd, because if it was true, those OC’s whom the 49ers defeated last season, would be collecting unemployment checks during the offseason). Of course, no Grant Cohn article these days goes up without a big fat contradiction. Teams never noticed or cared, yet they (teams) mostly didn’t throw at Witherspoon (despite the fact that he was often matched up against their opponents best WR and still managed only 2 less Passes Defended than Marcus Peters, who started 14 games for the Chiefs last season). UMM, SAY WHAT? We all know, that’s what OC’s get paid to do …. they tend to limit the number of times they throw in the direction of their opponents best CB, which was certainly Witherspoon down the stretch last season.

      Now, I don’t know if Witherspoon is truly capable of becoming the 49ers clear cut, #1 CB this year. But my gosh, give us some meat on the bones of an analysis and show us some stats that support your argument for crying out loud Grant, not some paper thin overstatement filled with more holes than a loaf of swiss cheese.

      1. Hi 49. The Seahawks noticed Witherspoon.

        “Other than that touchdown, it was a solid day for Witherspoon. He gave up three receptions on seven targets for 36 yards and that Graham touchdown.”

        As did the Eagles.

        “In coverage for 39 snaps, Witherspoon was targeted eight times only giving up three receptions.”

        1. Thanks #80, I’ve gotten used to you backing me up with smart, insightful and well thought out material. This wasn’t some of Grant’s best work. Us football junkies know that, all DC’s worth their weight make adjustments, and Saleh is no exception. Johnson isn’t the first CB to get picked on early and often, and that’s when you see the defensive coordinator step in and make defensive adjustments in order to give the struggling CB some help. Disguising overages, calling some exotic blitz packages and rolling linebackers & safeties towards the struggling CB. So if you have multiple CB’s whom a defensive coordinator believes to be a weakness as you have suggested, OC’s make adjustements of their own and counter by going after the other CB who is subsequently being left on an island of their own, without much in terms of defensive support. So if what you say is true, that Witherspoon was just another 49ERS CB with a bulls-eye on his back, this is exactly what we would have expected to see. Especially since Ahkello was drawing the best opposing WR more often than not, once he broke into the starting lineup. Well, that’s not what we saw at all. What we saw was respect for Witherspoon throughout the 49ers winning streak. However, it actually started well before that! Ahkello earned the 3rd best CB grade in the entire NFL (81.1 = ELITE) during his week 8 performance VS the league’s best team, the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles targeted Witherspoon 8 times and Witherspoon responded with sticky coverage on Alshon, ALL DAY LONG, giving up only 3 receptions despite being matched up against Alshon Jeffery for most of the afternoon. The rookie got the best of Alshon Jeffery!

          1. In fact, if I remember correctly, contrary to Grant’s narrative, it was Witherspoon’s week 8 breakout performance against the 6-1 Eagles, and one of the NFL’s best possession receivers in Alshon Jeffery, that caused a stir around the NFL and caught the attention of defensive coordinators. You just simply don’t see rookies shutting down one of the league’s better receivers very often. It was week 8 of last season when, in fact, teams DID notice. If you know how word travels around NFL circles, you’d have to ask yourself …. how could they not notice?

            I ask you Grant, how could they not notice. Are you really expecting us to believe that Witherspoon’s strong performance (in fact borderline elite) VS an accomplished receiver like Jeffrey, went unnoticed?

            Come on Grant!

            How about you start seriously breaking down this 49ers roster ahead of minicamp, and talk about the players who you expect to shine this week? Just how much better should we expect Witherspoon to play going into his 2nd season, with a deeper roster, Sherman’s tutelage, and better competition? How about, instead of being so unnecessarily negative about a rookie like Dante Pettis, (reminiscent to your negativity around Witherspoon last offseason), maybe we can actually break down his record breaking college career, and talk about why or how Pettis differs from other standout punt/kick returners who also played WR like Devin Hester, Dante Hall, and Cordarrelle Patterson?

            Here’s one difference:

            Dante Pettis had 24 total receiving TD’s during his college career, while Hester-Hall-Patterson had a total of 5 COMBINED!

  2. Well folks, there you have it, once again, Cohn head has decided that the 49ers are doomed. Thank you come again.

  3. “The 49ers need him to make a full recovery for his sake, for Garoppolo’s sake, for pity’s sake.”

    Very clever flourish at the end Grant… “for pity’s sake.”

    For pity’s sake — a phrase used to indicate one is annoyed with someone or something. Are you annoyed Grant?

  4. “Players who aren’t necessarily the best on the team, but ones who must step up and play well for the 49ers to make the playoffs next season.”

    “4. OG Joshua Garnett”
    So no playoffs if Garnett doesn’t play well? We won without him last year. Cooper is better than Fusco. Richburg is way better than Kilgore. Tomlinson is equal to Tomlinson, although he could be better with a full offseason. The interior OL was upgraded with or without Garnett.

    Why do you only call Garcon a flanker? He lines up at X a lot, like his long reception against the Rams. I know Shanny moves his guys around, but I think Kyle would say Garcon is his Split End WR like he was in Washington.

  5. I believe marsh will have more playoff implications than everyone on this list besides Sherman and Thomas.

  6. Grant: More doom and gloom….”JUST FOR PITY’S SAKE?”
    1) Even you admit the offense will score more points, keeping the D off the field and fresh.
    2) “Five 49ers who must exceed expectations in 2018.” Depends on who’s expectations they must EXCEED?
    3) Solomon Thomas: With 1st full off season work out program, he’ll improve from rookie year,
    3) “They need Joshua Garnett to beat out Tomlinson in training camp.” Or Johnathan Cooper could work?
    4) Two players that could step up and surprise. Arik Armstead and Jeremiah Attaochu.
    5) Rookies stepped up and contribute last year, looking forward to Dante Pettis and others contributing this year.
    6) I expect a 10W – 6L 9er season.

    1. Ribco:
      * Yep, Dubs are the world class of the NBA….again! But no big surprise, we kind of expected it.
      * Anyone care to venture a guess where LeBron signs? Rockets, Celtics, Lakers, don’t care?

      1. Rockets if he really wants a chance at challenging the Warriors steamroller as soon as next season. Celtics? I have this hunch he doesn’t want a reunion with Kyrie. Lakers? Are they really just a LeBron away from elite? And it’s not like the league’s most dominant player needs that market exposure. Sixers perhaps? (I have no idea what salary machinations would be required for any of the above moves).

  7. While I generally commend Grant for his diction, in this case, I think he used a phrase somewhat improperly.
    ‘For pity’s sake.’ That is more intended towards feeling sorrow towards some person.
    Pierre Garcon does not need some one’s pity. He actually did very well last season. He caught those errant throws from Hoyer, barely tapping his toes in bound for several catches. Until he was injured, he was making difficult catches. At 32, I do not think he is over the hill.
    I think a more appropriate mild oath would have been- ‘For goodness sake’. Garcon aiding JG to becoming better, entails making good plays.
    I know, I know, just quibbling over semantics, but it IS the off season.

  8. While I agree with Grant at times, this time, I will strongly disagree.
    All of those players may be important, but they are not crucial for success.
    1. Thomas- He is redundant, and may be a good rotational player, but the defense will function without him.
    2. Sherman- The Niners should not count on Sherman until at least mid season. That means they need to count on Ward filling in until Sherman is fully healthy. That is, unless one of the rookies shine.
    3. Witherspoon- He may be targeted, now that Dontae Johnson is no longer the weak link, but he has already exceeded expectations, and seems to be a solid player.
    4. Garnett- He may be side lined because they signed Cooper. Tomlinson actually played better when JG was QB, so Garnett needs to shine before he can be more than the second string.
    5. Garcon- He played well before he was injured. He needs to stay healthy more than improving.
    My 5 players that must be crucial for success are-
    1. Jeremiah Attaochu- He needs to get sacks. They did not draft a LEO because they signed JA.
    2. Cassius Marsh- They did not draft a DE because they signed CM. He also needs to pressure the QB.
    3. Arik Armstead- He needs to solidify that defensive line, and stop the run more. He needs to stay healthy.
    4. Jimmy Ward- He may replace Sherman in the line up, so he needs to stay healthy and be productive.
    5. Jerick McKinnon- He is replacing Carlos Hyde, who gained over 900 yards the past 2 seasons. Hope he survives the pounding he will take as the Number one RB.

      1. Speaking of Kaepernick, it looks like his collusion case is going to be successful. Sounds like some one is dropping a dime, and providing proof. That will succeed in voiding the CBA, which will make the players happy, and Kaep will become a hero. A new CBA will rein in the power of Goodell, and maybe provide some long term health care, which is urgently needed. A new CBA could stop the reefer madness.
        The owner depositions also revealed that some owners thought that Kaep is good enough to be a starting QB in the league.
        Jacksonville could have won a SB if they had replaced Bortles with Kaep. Texans tanked when Watson went down, because they preferred Savage over Kaep. Denver stuck with Siemian, and failed to make the playoffs. When Rodgers went down with his collar bone injury, McCarthy thought Hundley would be good enough, but he was less than adequate. Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and the Jets all had terrible QBs, but Kaep was being blackballed. Arizona even gave Gabbert a chance, until he benched himself.
        Those teams would rather have lost, than win with Kaep. They missed the playoffs. Even the Niners, with Hoyer, were content to lose without Kaep. It took a miracle to let JG fall into their laps. Now, with JG at the helm, Kaep is not needed, but he is way better than CJB right now, who seems to skip the ball to his receivers.
        I am not too worried about Kaep. I think he is a starting QB in the NFL, and some team will want to win SO much, they will take a chance on Kaep, and he will lead his team to wins. I am resigned that he will never be a Niner now that we have JG, but I wish him well, and hope he takes the league by storm, AGAIN. However, if JG and Kaep meet in the SB, I hope Kaep throws for 2 TDs and runs in one, but I hope JG Throws 3 TDs and runs in two.
        Thanks again for bringing back Kaep into the conversation.

  9. For mine McKinnon and the OL are the most critical pieces after JG. They need to step up and be very good for the 49ers to be really competitive.

    1. I would agree but would add pass rush. Whether it’s Thomas, Marsh, Harold, Attaochu or someone else they have to be able to put pressure on QBs for the D to have any modicum of success!

      1. Yeah… to me this season will hinge on the ability of the offense to score points and control the clock. The D is secondary to that. It just needs to be ok so long as the offense performs.

        1. The offensive prowess will only be good at defeating lesser teams. To beat the better teams the defense will have to step up!

          1. If the offense is only capable of taking it to lesser teams then the season will be a long one. I don’t see this D as being a dominant one. At best they will play hard and do enough to support a good offense.

            Just like the last five games of last season, really.

            1. “Just like the last five games of last season, really.”

              So 16-0 then?
              :-) Just kidding.

              The offense played better once Garoppolo took over. But that applies to the D too.

              The D went from 28th to 7th in defensive yards allowed/game. Of course time of possession affected this, we went from 31st to 3rd in TOP. But we also went from 18th to 9th in defensive yards allowed/play . Part of that was getting healthier (Foster and Thomas), and part of it was the emergence of Witherspoon and Colbert. Those four guys should be even better barring injury.

              Points/game Pre-JG 17.0 (28th), with JG 28.8 (5th).
              Points allowed/game Pre-JG 25.82 (28th), with JG 19.8 (T-9th).

              I don’t see dominance either, but I think we have a potential top 10 defense.

              1. Maybe. But only if the offense keeps them off the field.

                Basically the way I see it is that compared to last year the two position groups that most need to improve (or exceed expectations) are the OL and RB. So long as the D plays at a similar level as last year (though better CB play would be nice), with an improved offense this team can be dangerous, and the OL and RB groups are the key to that improvement.

                It also makes sense from an investment point of view that these are the position groups that the 49ers feel they most need to improve (or exceed expectations). It is where the 49ers put their money this year.

              2. I think it’s a given the defence will play better only because they will all have had another year of experience in the same system.
                The only concern I see is who will be the sack leader?

              3. Agreed. The running game might take some time with three new starters on the OL. Shanny’s offense is incomplete without the outside zone. Would be nice if Joe Williams and McKinnon exceeded expectations.

              4. The part about the Jags running game was something you missed. I did what you did.

                “was actually 2 yards worse on the same number of carries than they were the week before against Tennessee.”

                Wow. They were two yards worse against the #1 rushing team in the league, compared to the Titans, who were #15. They held the Titans to 90 YDs and the Jags to 92. I think the latter is more impressive.

                “This team was much improved against the run all last season with one or two exceptions”

                Agreed, they couldn’t have got any worse than 2016. Dallas was a good rushing team and ran over us. Now compare that to the Jags game.

                “the incompetence of the opponents faced in 3 of those 5 had a lot to do with it.”

                I never denied that it had something to do with it. I mentioned that every team has bad teams on their schedule.

              5. “They were two yards worse against the #1 rushing team in the league”

                Except the Jags weren’t #1 in ypc, they were 9th. And as I keep saying, the 49ers were much improved against the run almost all year. They gave up 3.3 ypc to a Jags team that averaged 4.3 ypc. That’s good, but doesn’t show improvement. They gave up 3.1 ypc to a Panthers team that also averaged 4.3 ypc.

                I think this is a case where you’re trying to attribute improvement to an area that doesn’t really hold up. Again, it’s a myopic view of the season.

              6. Bortles had 31 yards rushing, Newton had 3. Stewart and Caff averaged 3.6, Fournette and Yeldon averaged 2.7 and 2.6.

              7. Stewart YPC season: 3.4.
                Stewart against SF: 3.6,

                Fournette YPC season: 3.9.
                Fournette against SF: 2.7.

              8. Defense stats.

                YPPass 6.8, YPRun 3.1
                YPP 4.3, YPR 3.5
                YPP 10.4, YPR 3.9
                YPP 5.6, YPR 2.3
                YPP 7.6, YPR 4.5
                YPP 8.6, YPR 2.8
                YPP 8.7, YPR 6.2
                YPP 5.5, YPR 3.6
                YPP 6.7, YPR 3.9
                YPP 6.5, YPR 5.0
                YPP 6.7, YPR 3.0

                YPP 5.0, YPR 3.3
                YPP 5.4, YPR 3.9
                YPP 7.0, YPR 3.2
                YPP 7.5, YPR 3.3
                YPP 4.0, YPR 3.9

                Pre JG.
                YPP allowed 7.0, same as Wash, NYJ, and NO who were ranked 16, 17, and 18.
                After JG.
                YPP allowed 5.78, would have been ranked 1st.

                Pre JG.
                YPR allowed 3.8, 7th
                After JG 3.5 would have been tied for 3rd.

                So yes, they were already good against the run, but they did improve. We played some bad offenses pre JG too.

              9. “We played some bad offenses pre JG too.”

                Right, and against those bad offenses the results were almost the same for the most part. When they faced a team with competent NFL QB play the results were very similar.

                You keep trying to focus on a very small part of the season, and even in those numbers you just posted you are proving my point. They faced 3 teams with terrible QB’s which played to the 49ers strength of run defense which will obviously skew the averages if compared to a sample size of 11. Hence the myopic viewpoint.

              10. “You keep trying to focus on a very small part of the season”

                It’s almost a third of the season. I’m not the only one that has talked about the team before and after JG.

                “They faced 3 teams with terrible QB’s which played to the 49ers strength of run defense”

                Look at our best games against the run pre JG.
                2.3 Ari, bad QB.
                2.8 Wash, good QB.
                3.0 Sea, good QB.
                3.1 Car, good QB.
                3.5 Sea, good QB.
                3.6 Phi, good QB.

              11. “Look at our best games against the run pre JG.”

                Goat, I know. Thanks for making my point that the run defense was far improved for me.

                At this point you’re arguing just to argue.

                The 49ers run D was good. Their pass D was not. Their ypp was greatly helped by facing teams that struggled to pass. 3 of the 5 faced when JG took over were terrible. Their ypp over the final 3 games, 2 of which were against good QB’s wasn’t much better than it was for the year as a whole.

                You are suffering from confirmation bias.

                “I’m not the only one that has talked about the team before and after JG.”

                I know, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Especially given some of the opponents faced.

              12. “At this point you’re arguing just to argue.”

                I’m ‘not really’ arguing. I acknowledged that our run D was good compared to 2016. However, there was an improvement post JG.

                “Their ypp was greatly helped by facing teams that struggled to pass.”

                I never denied that, I acknowledged that it was a factor along with the stuff I mentioned.

                “3 of the 5 faced when JG took over were terrible.”

                Car. 23rd.
                Twice Ari. 21st.
                Ind. 24th.
                Dal. 19th.
                NYG 31st.

                After JG opponents.
                Chi. 25th.
                Hou. 16th.

                So six of the first 11 were terrible as you put it.

                “wasn’t much better than it was for the year as a whole.”

                But it was better as you just said. So who is arguing just to argue?

              13. Chicago had the 31st ranked passing offense.

                Houston’s season ranking was high, but most of that was due to the stellar play of Watson. The 49ers spent most of that game against their 3rd string QB.

                You left out LA for some reason. The fact that they played almost all backups certainly helped the 49ers stats.

                Those 3 games featured a special kind of terrible: a struggling rookie, a 3rd string QB, and a backup QB making his first start surrounded by backups. Of course those numbers are going to look good for the 49ers.

                In the 11 games prior, they gave up an average of 5.24 ypp. Against Tenn/Jax they gave up 5.67 ypp. Which as I said was about on average with what they’d been doing all season.

              14. “Chicago had the 31st ranked passing offense”

                I thought we were talking YPP.

                “Houston’s season ranking was high, but most of that was due to the stellar play of Watson.”

                Agreed. Note that I’ve never said that the Texans were good, nor have I ever claimed that the Rams win was anything to write home about.

                “In the 11 games prior, they gave up an average of 5.24 ypp. Against Tenn/Jax they gave up 5.67 ypp.”

                I already mentioned Jax skewing the passing stats in garbage time. Much like Hoyer having big numbers against the Rams while playing catch up. We also had 3 INTs against Jax.

              15. “I thought we were talking YPP.”

                We are. Go back to my first response to you on this last night in which I said that you could add in the fact that 3 of those last 5 teams faced featured QB’s named Trubisky, Savage/Yates, and Mannion. That is a big reason for the “improvement” over the last 5 games in ypp.

                The discussion came off the rails a bit because you then decided to add YPC to it, hence my moving the goalposts comment.

                “I already mentioned Jax skewing the passing stats in garbage time.”

                Remember the discussion is about YPP, not passing stats. The Jags finished with 6.0 ypp for the game and garbage time stats didn’t skew the numbers. Up to the point where the 49ers went up 30-19 they had allowed 5.9 ypp. From that point on they allowed 6.1 ypp.

                Yes teams will face opponents of varying degrees during the season. It just so happens that 3 of the 5 faced were about as bad as the NFL has to offer which helped skew the numbers in the 49ers favor.

                If you need to hold on to those as some way of making yourself feel good about the prospects for 2018 that’s cool.

              16. “The discussion came off the rails a bit because you then decided to add YPC”

                I was talking about points per game allowed and yards per play allowed (YPP includes rushing yards allowed). You added context to the stats and so did I.

                Don’t forget that we jumped out to a 16-0 lead against Jax. Having a lead through most of the game and shutting down Fournette made them pass more, and probably made Saleh more conservative in his play calling.

              17. “Having a lead through most of the game and shutting down Fournette made them pass more, and probably made Saleh more conservative in his play calling.”

                Perhaps. According to the numbers you posted last night/this morning the yards per pass allowed was in line with what they’d allowed most of the season though.

                Again, this is confirmation bias on your part though. You feel they showed a improvement, and they did if you don’t want to factor the quality of opponent in.

                I’m not saying they played poor, only that the “improvement” can mostly be attributed to 3 teams playing 4 terrible QB’s because the 2 other games against decent QB’s are in line with what they’d done all season.

                Perhaps you failed to notice in my first response to you that I didn’t say you were wrong, only that you’d left out one factor?

              18. I agree Scooter, that’s why I have 2 OG’s and McKinnon in my top 5.

                I think Grant got 1 out of 5 right,
                and that’s Solomon Thomas

            2. “we also went from 18th to 9th in defensive yards allowed/play . Part of that was getting healthier (Foster and Thomas), and part of it was the emergence of Witherspoon and Colbert”

              and part of it was facing QB’s named Trubisky, Yates/Savage, Mannion.

              1. We’ll face lesser teams and QBs this year too. Same with every other team. We also shut down the Jags running game, Jax led the league in rushing yards.

              2. Meh. Don’t try to move the goalposts. You said, ” But we also went from 18th to 9th in defensive yards allowed/play” and those numbers were helped out greatly by playing 3 teams with the lousy QB’s that I mentioned. In those 3 games they gave up 4.1, 4.9, and 4.0 yards per play.

                They finished the season 17th in ypp allowed and over their last 3, 2 of which they faced actual starting caliber QB’s, they ranked 15th and that’s including the 4.0 effort against LA.

                3 of those 5 games were against some of the worst offenses in the NFL.

              3. I never denied that the quality of QB didn’t play a part. I mentioned that we will play lesser QBs this year too, and that all teams have easy or easy-ish games on their schedule. The Vikings got to play the Bears twice.

                I love how you mention the quality of the passing offenses we faced, but ignored the part about us shutting down Fournette and the Jags #1 ranked rushing attack. Did you think our run D against Jax was encouraging? I don’t expect you to answer this specific question because you would actually have to admit that Jacksonville was good at something.

              4. ” Did you think our run D against Jax was encouraging?”

                Not really because defending the run was not the issue for the 49ers last year. They ranked 8th in ypc allowed.

              5. I ignored the Jacksonville deal because you were moving the goalposts after bringing up the ypp “improvement”.

                Against Jacksonville they gave up 6.0 ypp. Not good.

              6. “Not really”

                Hahaha. Nice vague answer, a Jack Hammer classic. What was their ypc allowed before and after Jimmy? Honest question, I’m not sure.

              7. Bortles got some garbage yards and points late when we had two possession leads. We were up 37-19, the Jags scored 3 TDs and gained 175 YDs. Our 1994 defense was better than the numbers indicated.

                So while the overall YPP wasn’t great, let’s isolate the running game. Bortles had 5 carries for 31 YDs, not bad. But what about Fournette and Yeldon?
                Fournette: 18 carries for 48 YDs, 2.7 average.
                Yeldon : 5 carries for 13 YDs, 2.6 average.

                Moving the goalpost? We were talking about YPP. You mentioned the quality of the QBs, I mentioned the quality of the Jags’ running game. We both brought up opponent quality. How was my comment any different than yours? If I moved the goalpost (I didn’t), then you did too.

              8. Yeah, I put in something that you missed. The stats show improvement, but reality tells you that 3 of those offenses were garbage.

                You then pointed to the run D against Jacksonville which was actually 2 yards worse on the same number of carries than they were the week before against Tennessee.

                This team was much improved against the run all last season with one or two exceptions. It was the pass that they struggled with.

                So while their ypp went down over the last 5 games, the incompetence of the opponents faced in 3 of those 5 had a lot to do with it.

            3. “Perhaps you failed to notice in my first response to you that I didn’t say you were wrong, only that you’d left out one factor?”

              I noticed. That’s why this discussion has been civil, pleasant when compared to some of our othe conversations. I appreciate your take on this. It led to finding more stats and better context for those stats. Still don’t think I moved the goalpost though.

    2. Agree. The o-line is still a patchwork process at the moment. How they mesh will be critical. Richburg really needs to play well and Garnett must beat out Tomlinson as Grant mentioned. On defense, I agree Sherman needs to return to form. I disagree on Solomon Thomas. Obviously he needs to get better but the guy that really needs to step up is Arik Armstead. This is a make or break year for Armstead but if he is able to develop into a good player then that will make all the difference in the world for the 49ers defense.

  10. I agree what many of the posters on here.
    – Thomas will improve but he’s not an edge rusher so he doesn’t really offer much to the team. Our rush will depend mostly on Marsh and Attouchu as Seb stated.
    – Witherspoon and Sherman will both be very important but I would add Tartt and Colbert as well. I expect the team will be in many shootouts and they don’t have much in terms of a pass rush. The question is, can they generate turnovers and limit coverage breakdowns?
    – Armstead is the second best pass rusher on the team… can he stay healthy and provide an additional interior pass rusher to help push qb’s into out edge rusher.
    – Garcon doesn’t need to improve he just needs to maintain his current level which shouldn’t be a big problem. His neck injury is as minor as they come. A fracture to a bone with no nerve damage should hardly have any lingering effects.

    1. Shoup – You say, “…he doesn’t really offer much to the team…..” So, isn’t that a tough phrase for a guy who was taken so highly in the draft? Kind of inferring that he was not worthy of that high of a selection.

      1. MIKE,
        I never thought he was. I saw him as a redundant player thats best role was the same as Armstead’s.
        He doesn’t really have the game of an edge rusher… he could be a good interior rusher but those guys seldom have a ton of sacks.

    1. 🎶
      Don’t mean a thing
      If it ain’t got that-
      -meaningful endorsement
      From one of Grant’s rants-
      Doo wah, doo wah, boddabing 🥁 🎵

      (With sincere apologies to Duke Ellington)

  11. Grant,
    Seven of the top 10 WR’s last year were on teams that missed the playoffs. Your still a young man but your thinking is old school. A team no longer needs a true #1 WR , they need a QB who spreads the ball around IE Jimmy G. A offensive system that is highly creative that throws the ball to their RB’s their FB included, their TE’s and assorted WR’s. Kind of sounds like Shanahan’s system. The era of the needing a highly paid [usually a diva] #1 is done. imho

    1. Every good team needs a go-to guy in the passing game. The 49ers don’t have one. Garcon is the closest they have, so they can’t afford to lose him.

      1. And who was thier go-to during the Harbaugh years? Until Anquan Boldin arrived it was basically Vernon Davis and a bunch of hacks. Mario Manningham? Crabtree? (snicker). Randy Moss? About 10 years too late. Boldin? His 1200 yards in’13, I could see either Goodwin or Garcon easily matching.

        The Harbaugh teams had success in spreading it around, same as I expect the Shanahan team to do.

      2. I agree. Sure would be nice to find another Jerry Rice.
        However, finding a player like Rice is very hard to do. Too many times, they either get injured, or become a diva like TO. Dez Bryant fits that bill, but he also brings baggage. Locker room dynamics are hard to build properly, and can be destroyed in a nanosecond.
        I still think you are putting too much emphasis on Garcon. The Niner WRs were top 10 when JG was slinging the pigskin, and Garcon was already injured. Granted, Garcon will make JG’s job easier, but the Niners have depth. They do not have space for Louis Murphy, and I thought he was a very good target for JG. Wonder why he is still a FA.

        1. Seb

          As strange as it may seem… I believe that we should give TO a shot to make the team…. If we cannot count on any of our PRESENT WRs, why not ? No one can deny that he has (had) the talent..’makes me want to reach down my throat…but what would it take to give him a tryout…A coke and a sandwich ? Make it conditional on drops and keeping his mouth shut…no kneeling, and not appear on TV with Kaep….just a thought….

    2. Football lingo changes alot. “Number one receiver” is a phrase that’s gained momentum the last five years. Is it a specific position lined up on a specific spot… or is “number one” just a popular nickname for a receiver that’s really good and also route versatile?

    3. You are correct OldCoach. As long as Kyle has an outstanding QB, and a duel threat RB, he certainly doesn’t need a true “#1 WR”, in order to have success. We saw how productive they were once Jimmy took over last year, and that was without Garcon all-together. It was also a Garoppolo led offense that struggled with run blocking, featuring a couple rookie receivers (Taylor, Kittle) and a RB whom Grant himself felt was a poor fit for the scheme. Yet, despite all of this, the offense was still absolutey prolific with Jimmy G at the helm (and no Garcon). So if we are going to project this season, we should expect it to be even better, with or without Garcon. And if Garcon doesn’t exceed expectations, rather he simply meets expectations? ….. oh my, seriously, the sky is the limit!

      Why? The 49ers OL projects to better in run blocking, with or without Garcon or Garnett. And that alone opens things up tremendously. We should expect receivers like Tyalor, Bourne & Kittle to improve this season. Not to mention Pettis or James, who could both find some kind of role.

      I am simply not buying this article at all Grant. In fact, I’m selling.

    4. I agree with you OC. My impression is that Shanahan really wants the formations to look neutral so that it is hard for the defense to determine that a run play or pass play has been called (I suppose all OCs would like this but KS seems to be more fanatical about it, although I can’t point to any links to confirm this at the moment). If I’m correct, why wouldn’t he want the same neutral look from a WR point of view when it is an obvious passing play? Having a stable of good WRs instead of one great guy and then several marginal guys seems like a good idea to me. It reduces the impact of injury, contract disputes, etc. on the effectiveness of the offense.

        1. Because he already had Jones to ride. He wasn’t going to come in and tell the Falcons to sell the prize bull. That is different than coming to a team that does not have a #1 WR and demanding that they get one. Has he done that yet? Do you have any knowledge that they tried to sign any #1 WRs in free agency?

            1. Aren’t you the one that says Garcon is not a #1 receiver :). Just because they spent a top 45 pick on a WR doesn’t mean they are getting a #1. I’m not even convinced that they should have an expectation of getting a #1WR with a 2nd round selection.

              1. Pettis is a Swiss Army knife. He’ll be asked to do multiple things and that includes special teams. He doesn’t have the size to be a number one WR and I highly doubt he was drafted to be one considering what he did at the college level.

            2. The five year, “$47.5 million” deal Garcon inked included a “chance” to earn $16,025,000 in the first year, which he wasn’t able to max out, or $23 million over the first two years, with a $12 million signing bonus. Once again, that $47.5 million is not reality.

              The deal included $20 million guaranteed, $17 million is fully guaranteed at signing. Given the $12 million signing bonus, this would mean his 2017 base salary of $3.625 million is fully guaranteed, and $1.875 million of his 2018 base is fully guaranteed. The remaining $2.525 million of his 2018 base salary is guaranteed for injury, and becomes fully on April 1, 2018.

              For cap purposes, it’s a 3 years @ $8 million per year deal, seeing the 49ers have outs over the final 2 without any dead money.

              2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons are all option years. Mike Garafolo described Garcon’s deal as a 3 year deal, with the final two years being “dummy years”. Which makes sense for an aging vet.

              That’s a nice deal, but NOT #1 WR money!

              By contrast, the Texans signed DeAndre Hopkins last year to a five-year extension worth $81 million, with $49 million guaranteed.

              1. And, it’s not about whether Pettis earns the #1 WR moniker. It’s about his versatility, which adds to his value on this roster. If you have a WR who can be productive doing “a little of everything”, lining up at multiple spots, it increases his value in terms of a roster spot.

              2. As for Dante Pettis …..

                The 2018 draft class wasn’t strong when it came to WR’s who were considered your classic #1 WR type. That said, there were a number of scouts who believed Dante Pettis could end up being the most valuable NFL WR of the bunch. Does that necessarily mean he’s the classic #1 WR? No. Will he be able to separate and get open running any route? Yes.

                One of my favorite NFL writers and talent evaluator/analysts is Matt Waldman. He’s a full-time NFL writer who does an in-depth film based analysis of NFL draft prospects, both pre and post draft, called the Rookie Scouting Portfolio. And Matt believes in Dante.

                Pettis was the No. 1 pre-draft WR on Matt’s overall draft board. He posted this tweet right after the draft :

                By the way #49ers fans….

                Dante Pettis was my No. 1 pre-draft WR on my overall board. Very tight with him, Ridley, and Moore. But underrated route runner.

                Matt felt it was tight between Pettis, Ridley, and Moore, but gave the edge to Pettis based on his route running ability.

                It’s Pettis’ ability to separate that made Kyle Shanahan a believer.

                Kyle has made mention of the way Dante moves laterally within the route stem, and his ability to separate against press coverage. Dante has an incredibly quick and efficient stutter step, and he covers more ground than the average receiver when he cuts and moves laterally, because he has a freakish ability to step wide-outside of his base, making it very difficult for DB’s to press him and stay on his hip. He’s quick like a cat, so he’s able to separate running slants and flats, and he can really sink his hips, so he’s good running curls and dig routes. And Dante also has enough top end speed to run any of the deep routes, so my guess is, by his second season, he’ll be able to run any route on the tree, making him an excellent value as a round 2 pick.

              3. “For cap purposes, it’s a 3 years @ $8 million per year deal, seeing the 49ers have outs over the final 2 without any dead money.”

                You are wrong. There is dead money in every year of the deal. Get your facts straight bro.

              4. OK, you are right Jack, let me rephrase that: “Very little in dead money”, how’s that? We are talking about $3 million per year, over the final 2 years (2020 & 2021) in dead money. That’s certainly not enough to discourage the team from cutting him, and that’s really my point.

                The point is Jack, the 49ers did not give Garcon #1 WR money in this “5 year deal”, because the big money portion of the contract is over the final 2 seasons ($23.2 million, or $11.6 million per year), both of which the 49ers can get out of with very little in dead money penalties against the cap. The 49ers are paying him approximately $8 million per year, over the first 3 years, and those are the years he’s basically protected via $34 million in dead money penalties (or $11.3 million per year). That’s not #1 WR money now …. is it Jack?

        2. cubus

          Doesn’t it seem wierd that after 100+ years of playing football, that it’s only 2017 that we discover that we don’t need a #1 WR ?…ironic…

  12. Grant, do you even proof read your own work these days?

    In one paragraph you say this: Last year, receivers were always open against the 49ers. Opponents feared none of their corners. They were all bull’s-eyes. Sherman needs to change that.

    Two paragraphs later you say this: When Witherspoon became a starter Week 8, other teams didn’t seem to notice or care. They mostly didn’t throw at Witherspoon. Next season, that may change.

    So, let me try to get this straight. Last year, the 49ers CB’s were all bull’s-eyes, and opponents feared none of their CB’s, yet …. opponents mostly didn’t throw at Witherspoon (despite the fact that he was often matched up against their best WR). In fact, even though, according to you, defensive coordinators didn’t even seem to notice or care that Witherspoon became the 49ers starting CB mid-season, they coincidentally didn’t throw his way either?

    Seriously Grant, you’re getting lazy. When I attempt to dissect your columns in order to understand your angle these days, your entire narrative simply falls apart under it’s own weight.

    Why in the world would you think Garcon has to exceed expectations this year, considering how well the offense finished last year without him even on the field? If anything, with the way Goodwin broke out last season in Garcon’s absence, along with Taylor, Bourne, and Kittle likely to take the next step forward and grow up in their 2nd season, and Kyle now having a bonafide, duel-threat RB to feature in his game plan, wouldn’t Garcon be one player on this roster who probably doesn’t need to exceed exceptions in 2018? I would think it be more than enough for Garcon to simply match our expectations , which ought to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-110 receptions for 850-1,000 yards?

    1. Please explain the logic behind the need for Garcon to exceed expectations this season, with Goodwin coming off of a breakout season, while Kyle and Jimmy have more weapons to work with, a handful of young relievers (Taylor, Bourne, Kittle) who are likely to improve in their 2nd seasons, and a true, duel-threat RB who will likely be featured in his 2018 offense?

      Wouldn’t logic tell us that it would likely be more than enough for Pierre to simply meet our expectations, and put up the kind of numbers he’s averaged over the last 7 or 8 seasons?

      Please Grant, do tell.

      1. You are forgetting that the narrative is to produce debate amongst Niner fans. To do that Cohn head takes the pessimistic and controversial angle. It’s what his Dad did, it’s what his idol Dickey did

  13. And Garnett?

    I am not even sure Garnett is going to beat out the other 3 OG’s on the roster, and even make the squad. I think he’s almost certainly going to be behind Cooper, who is coming off of a very good season. Tomlinson is a guy who, like a bunch of other players, played pretty well after Garoppolo took over the helm. Erik Magnuson is a young player who exceeded expectations last season, and a player whom Kyle and John really like. And Mike Person is a veteran who has played his best football while playing for Kyle, in this outside-zone system.

    In fact, the OL already projects to be a better all-around group than last season, with or without Garnett, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the 49ers ended up trading Garnett (to another team that uses a power running scheme), before the start of the season.

    So no, Garnett doesn’t need to exceed expectations in order for this team to have offensive success. It would be nice if he did, but certainly not critical to their success this year, IMO.

        1. So you want to identify 5 49ERS who might need to exceed expectations this season if the Niners are going to make the playoffs?

          1) Solomon Thomas – You certainly nailed this one Grant. As Razor can attest to, I absolutely hated this pick, and did my best to argue against this pick well before the draft. Why would anyone want to spend a top 10 pick, let alone a top 5 pick on an undersized interior defensive lineman? Playing on the edge of a defensive line is absolutely one of the tougher defensive positions to play in the NFL, which is one reason you RARELY see successful edge rushers at the NFL level who didn’t also excel as edge rushers in college. Solomon was primarily an interior DL with Stanford, and did all of his best work on the interior of that line. It’s no surprise to see Thomas rushing out of a 4 point stance when you think about it now, is it?

          If you are reading this Razor, I’ve got 2 questions for you: 1) Which would you rather be …. an undersized interior defensive lineman, or a stubby edge rusher without refined pass rushing technique, the natural ability to bend the corner, or the desired length to counter offensive tackles? 2) Nicknames aside, are you still standing by the “King” (uggh) Solomon pick at #3?

          2a) Laken Tomlinson, and
          2b)Jonathan Cooper – I am not holding my breath while waiting to see this new and improved Josh Garnett to reach the potential that his lofty draft status would suggest. While both Tomlinson and Cooper have mostly disappointed since being drafted, they both have shown more potential than Joshua Garnett has up to this point. Like a number of 49ers last season, Tomslinson absolutely stepped up his game after Jimmy G took the reigns, while Cooper is coming off of the best season of his career. Both of these guys skill sets, at least in theory, fit the mold of run blocking OG in this scheme, and if Cooper comes into camp healthy I would be surprised if Garnett can unseed either one of them. And if the Niners can get their running game going, Kyle’s going to be a happy camper.

          4) Jerick McKinnon – The 49ERS paid a premium for the Jet, and Kyle has made it clear that Jerick is going to be the lead back this season, and I expect him to get a lot of touches game in and game out this year. I’m putting the Jet on this list, not because I don’t expect a lot going in, but simply because he has yet to prove he’s capable of being a featured RB at the NFL level. I do believe he’s more than capable, and I expect him to have a monster season if he stays healthy, but it’s certainly not a given based on his limited roles up to this point of his NFL career (although he was practically the entire offense while playing at Georgia Southern, and man was he amazing playing QB/RB in that triple option offense).

          5) George Kittle – Again, this is a bit of a stretch because a lot of people have lofty expectations when it comes to Kittle. I think it’s fair to include him on this list based on his lack of experience seeing that he missed a lot of time during his rookie season. When he was healthy, he was fantastic, and he was improving every week. I think putting Kittle on this list ahead of any of the WR’s is certainly a no brainer, based on the fact that, while the 49ERS might not have a true #1 WR (and I don’t think Kyle needs a Julio Jones type WR), there is a lot more depth at WR than there is at TE, and Kyle’s WCO 2.0 needs at least one dynamic, pass catching TE who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work either.

          That’s 5.

    1. lol. Good one Cassie.

      Oh yah, and don’t forget the long-snapper, Kyle Nelson … he absolutely must “exceed expectations” this season.

      Come on Grant, step up your game. Help us out and exceed my expectations, which are getting lower by the day.

      1. I mean, seriously Grant. After that article last week in which you explained to us why the Warriors were in for a really tough series against the Cavs’ …. you need to step things up, don’t you think?

        You know, the article you wrote in which you explained how losing game one “meant nothing” to the Cavaliers, because they opened the series on the road, and how game two was still a “must win” game for the Warriors, seemingly completely overlooking how they’ve dominated 3rd QTRS, and simply run teams off of their court, both at home, AND ON THE ROAD this regular and postseason.

        Yah, that one.

        1. Game meant nothing = meaningless game. Not this again.

          But seriously, I think Lebron decided to leave Cleveland (Leaveland) after JR Smith’s gaffe.

              1. I’m thinking either Houston or GS.

                Houston because of CP3.
                GS because if you can’t beat em…
                Wild card: LBJ and CP3 to the Lakers.

              2. The Wild Card makes the most sense. That team is a blank slate. LeBron and Paul can trade the youngsters for a third All Star, such as Kawhi Leonard.

              3. Really wish he’d go to Philly or Boston. If he goes to a Western Conference team the league would be unbalanced.

            1. Why in the world would LeBron punch a white board in frustration after game one if, as you said Grant, “The Cavaliers are in great shape. Game 1 was meaningless for them”? – your words exactly

              You implied that the pressure was still on the Warriors because “Game 1 was a must-win for the Warriors, just as Game 2 will be (a must-win) for them” again, your words, almost exactly

              Well Grant, the entire world witnessed just how much game 1 meant to LeBron and the Cavs, didn’t we? Yes, the Cavaliers were entirely overmatched and almost certain to lose a 7 game series, a fact that you were just about the only person on the planet to overlook. However, the Cavaliers imploded, in large part, because losing game 1, in the fashion that they did, meant so much to them.

              That’s the opposite of meaningless, don’t you think?

            2. It’s a good thing J. R. ducked (lol).
              Imagine if Bonehead J. R. had actually called a time out with about 4 seconds left. That would have given the Cavs enough time to draw up a possible winning play and changed the entire series.

              I thought that one of Steve Kerr’ best moves was playing Javell McGee. McGee’ length and athleticism seemed to disrupt the Cavs offense. T. Lue had no answer for McGee – or should I say the the real coach LeBron James.

        2. If you are going to buck conventional wisdom in order to quench your thirst to be “edgy”, at least give us something to sink our teeth into. Not something that absolutely defies logic and completely falls apart upon close examination.

          Declaring that Pierre Garcon needs to exceed expectations this season not only defies logic upon scrutiny, it misses the point of the 49ers 2018 offseason entirely!

          Like LeBron told the press corp after game one ….. “do better tomorrow” Grant.

  14. Solomon is a player who already has some pretty high expectations of him. At this point I’d be plenty satisfied with him just meeting them, he can work on exceeding them once he’s actually reached them.

    Players that I see that truly need to exceed the current expectations of them:

    1. Joe Williams. Elite talent, sub par drive. Right now he’s almost barely given any consideration when the teams roster is discussed. This is a player that needs to get his head right and blow people away in 2018. He can do it too but will he?

    2. Reuben Foster. After everything that has taken place and given that he’ll almost certainly miss games due to a suspension this is a player that needs to come out stay healthy and really exceed the expectations placed on him. His biggest challenge at this point on the field is staying healthy, the next challenge is keeping himself out of trouble. If he can manage both he has the potential to really take his game to another level.

    3. Jimmie Ward. Ward needs a breakout season. Wherever they end up playing him he needs to step up and really define himself in that role. He’s been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and if he’s ever going to be considered a true NFL starter this is the year he needs to prove it.

    4. Joshua Garnett. Expectations at this point couldn’t possibly be lower for this once great considered prospect. If Garnett can come out and earn back his starting role it would blow most peoples expectations of him out of the water. I don’t think he can do it but he’s a player that desperately needs to make it happen.

    5. Marquise Goodwin. The 49ers signed Goodwin to an extension after having a break out 2017 season. Although expectations are reasonably high I feel Goodwin needs to exceed them. Goodwin was(still is?) an inconsistent receiver up until JG’s arrival. The two seemed to instantly have a good rapport with each other on the field. Were those performances at the end of the season really enough to justify the extension and belief that Goodwin has suddenly transformed into a consistent NFL receiver? That remains to be seen but at the very least Goodwin should be expected to match if not exceed his 2017 performance, even with the return of Garcon. Anything less would be disappointing given the increase in compensation.

  15. “needs to give the 49ers no fewer than eight sacks next season”

    That would be quite a feat considering no 49er has recorded more than 6.5 sacks since 2013. Not arguing that Thomas doesn’t need to step up, but that expectation likely won’t be met. Having the edge rushers actually be threats would also go a long way toward freeing up Buckner.

      1. Agree on Marsh and Attaochu. What percentage would you put on them bringing Dumervil back towards the end of the preseason?

  16. This article is lazy af lol right off the bat, Solomon Thomas played out of position the whole year. I only had to read the headline and was like how much you wanna bet this is Grant Cohn? With as much access as you have, you’d think the articles would be more enlightening. You can do ittt

    1. Joe Montana – All of you whiners sound like a bunch of cranky old women. Need to get out of the bitter barn. Who peed in your Wheaties???????? Who is to blame if, as you say, “Thomas played out of position the whole year? Is that Grant’s fault?????? Who is to blame when Thomas’ pass rush technique did not improve all season?????? Maybe he is attempting “to enlighten” you, but you just don’t have an open mind!!!! Regardless of all opinions, the only reality will be how it is played out once the season kicks off.

    1. Dwight mentions that the whole ’81 season was the beginning of the dynasty, but I think it started sooner.
      I think it started on Dec. 7th, 1980. The Niner-Saints game. Archie Manning jumped out to a 35-7 lead in the first half. Dwight helped lead the comeback by catching a jump pass from Joe, a great block from Freddy Solomon, and Dwight evading 2 tacklers to strike quickly. They had good defense, which gave the ball back, and Joe performed miracles, throwing darts. Eventually they tied it, and Ray Wershing won it with a FG. The Niners scored 31 unanswered points for a stirring comeback. That game showed to me that the Niners were legit. Never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted a SB victory the next season, but it did give me hope.

  17. Yeah, Grant ..
    since this is the off season .. do ya think you
    could do a piece about guessing the
    weight of Joan in Accounting ?

    (Enquiring minds want to know) …. ;-}

  18. A 4 point stance is also best used for gaining leverage when engaging your blocker in the run game. The 4 point stance is usually good tactically when playing on the interior and if you believe you need a leverage advantage. A player like Thomas isn’t going to be a speed rusher who will run around and/or bend the corner. He’s going to engage his blocker and get by him using hand techniques (traditionally swim/arm over, rip or spin move).

  19. That was a Hella horse race with the Crown on the line. Wire to wire win.
    And the horse Gronkowski did his Silky Sullivan routine to finish 2nd.

    1. Yeah, Gronk was like 20 lengths back seconds out of the gate? That was the second most impressive run of the Belmont.

  20. Adam Kurkjian

    From multiple sources, here’s what I have re: the Gronk rumors. Told Belichick wanted to trade him. Offers on the table w both the Titans and 49ers. He and Robert Kraft had a closed-door meeting to discuss. Tom Brady threatened to retire if the deal went through. Kraft nixed it.

    1. Gronk is elite, good blocker too. Familiarity with Garoppolo. JG has been targeting his TEs in the RZ at OTA’s. Gronk would have been a huge get for us.

      1. #80

        Disagree…he’s had too many concussions and is targeted for ‘head-shots’…He’s damaged goods…..he also isn’t focused on playing football…bring up one of our ‘newbies’….

  21. This is the first time I’ve posted, although I read the blog consistently. Grant, the team had a “pretty good” winning streak at the end of the season with all the weaknesses but you identified. With the off-season upgrades and draft, I think their chances are good! Yes, the Rams will likely win the division, but I don’t think we need to fret too much!

    1. Welcome, we could benefit from new blood on this site.
      However, I must warn you, when I mentioned the Rams winning the division, posters were ripping me for being defeatist. ;p

  22. Who doesn’t think the Niners will be in a bunch of close games this season? After a career year, Gould needs to continue with the expectations placed on him.

  23. Talking about 5 Niner players, I wonder which 5 will be the the most on the bubble. The 5 with tenuous holds on a roster spot.
    Top 5 that may be out-competed.
    1. Aldrick Robinson. With Bourne playing well, and the drafting of Richie James, the 6th spot may be up for grabs. Dunbar also figures to be in the mix.
    2. Brock Coyle. With the drafting of Warner, Coyle may be expendable.
    3. Dekoda Watson. Pita may emerge, and they signed Toomer.
    4. Erik Magnuson. They put in Person at guard in the OTAs. Darrell Williams and Gary Gilliam may take the last spots.
    5, Greg Mabin. They concentrated on drafting and signing DBs. Sherman may not be ready, but it still is a crowded field. Tarvarus McFadden, DJ Reed, Tarvarius Moore, Emmanuel Moseley and the recently signed Antone Exum.

  24. To be obvious and generic…
    the Niners need to exceed in only two areas. 1. OL 2. DL

    The skill positions will be fine assuming JG stays healthy and can continue to develop… also hit a few (3-4) deep balls a game. 20+ yarders / explosive plays will keep things nice and sound for the offense.

  25. One piece of furniture that must exceed expectations in 2018: The Training Table

    49ers have had much higher than average injury rates 2014 to 2017. They simply can’t afford lots of injuries, especially the offensive line and cornerback.

    I like our draft picks, but I was hoping for young blood at Guard. The 49ers absolutely cannot lose a Guard to injury.

    1. “The 49ers absolutely cannot lose a Guard to injury.”

      I disagree. After signing Person they now have four interior OL that aren’t that far apart in effectiveness. What they really need is two of those four to play well.

  26. Top 5 concerns
    1. Niners have improved, but the Rams have improved greatly. I am not too concerned about the Seahawks, since they drafted a punter before they drafted an O lineman, but they could still be a force, even with all the defensive losses. Cards may finally have a decent QB, but I am hoping Fitzgerald is over the hill. Even with all the Niner improvements, winning the division will be tough.
    2. Pass rush was not addressed during the draft, but maybe having the secondary shut down the receivers will allow the pass rush to get to the QB. Marsh and Attaochu will have to be productive.
    3. Niners do not have a RB that weighs over 205 lbs. Carlos Hyde was 225, and could take the punishment. Hope the RBs can stay healthy.
    4. Foster may be suspended, so the LB situation may be in flux. Hope Smith is fully recovered and Warner can step up. Dekoda Watson, Pita, Lee and Toomer are all big question marks. Can they stop the run?
    5. The offensive line has had major turnover. Wonder if the coaches can put players in their best positions to succeed, and I wonder if they can gel and be a cohesive unit. Improving the run blocking will be critical in aiding the play action passes.
    Sure 10 wins may be nice, but I expect a dogfight within the division. If they go 3-3, I will be happy. I will also be happy with 8 wins, because that will be an improvement from last season. It will also stop the losing record the Niners have had the past 3 seasons.

  27. The idea was discussed earlier in the thread that Niners lack a Go To receiver. If you have a star that no one can stop anyway like Julio or Gronk, you ride him until it doesn’t work. But that makes a DC’s job simpler than if there are 2-4 legitimate targets.
    Case in point from Niner history:
    Jerry Rice was one TD away from setting a record when they faced DaBears. They decided the record would not be set against their D, so they sold out and succeeded in stopping JR and keeping him out of the endzone. Meanwhile Young and TO absolutely went off and TO set a single game record for production and SF won. JR got his record the following week I believe.
    This requires a competent QB who can work through progressions, which SF has now. Grappa showed good chemistry with Tyler and Goodwin, and converted on 3rd downs with them and the TEs and FB. Harder to defend when you can’t anticipate.
    Garçon will only help Jimmy.

  28. What frustrates me is that the issues which plagued the team last year and were easily identifiable were not resolved in free agency and the draft. In one of his last pressers Saleh said something like – niners are good at shutting down the run and getting to third down, but we can get off the field. We cant stop their receivers and our pass rush is ineffective. On the offensive side our interior O Line was a disaster. Our cap situation and draft position was such that we could have made a real impact. Instead we still have a bunch of question marks

    1. You keep saying the same thing, and on the surface I get it. But have you taken a look at the FA’s that were available at interior O-line and edge rushers?

      Who would you have liked for them to sign/draft?

      They paid big $ for one of the top C/G available and the edge position was pretty thin in both FA and the draft.

      1. just speaking for myself, I’d have been happier having Richburg, Pugh, and Cooper as the “penciled in” interior O line starters, with Tomlinson, Garnett, and Magnuson, etc. jockeying for backup spots…

      2. FA Push or Norwell.
        FA – WR Allen Robinson
        FA – CB Amerson

        Don’t pick up 5th year option on Ward

        Draft 1st round – Minah Fitzpatrick
        Draft 2nd – Trade uip for Harold Landry ( Drafted 3 places ahead of Pettis)

        I think these moves would have made us very competitive .

        1. Thanks Rollo. So with Amerson on the list should I assume that you aren’t a fan of the Sherman signing?

          Were you expecting them to spend big money on multiple interior line guys?

          Just trying to clarify your point of view.

          1. I like Sherman but I am concerned about the Achilles like most. Will he have quick burst speed?

            I was expecting them to spend big money or significant draft capital on Guards. It has been a weakness for 2-3 years.

            Also I dont get why they sent Elvis packing without giving him a chance in the preseason. Are they that confident in Attaochu?

            1. Dumervil is a vet who has one job. He can sit out for training camp and still play week 1. I think there is a strong possibility that he’s back this season.

              1. But there’s also a risk that he might be signed by another team. When you consider that he only made around $3.5 million last year, which is a relatively small amount, it indicates to me that they are not particularly concerned about not signing him. This suggests to me that he is not much of a priority at all.

              2. He’s not a priority. It’s obvious they’d rather have one of these young guys step up.

            2. I think they are very confident in the players they brought in and in their scheme and in their player personnel decisions. You can always find a veteran free agent after training camp. There is zero urgency to fill out the roster in June. If there is one thing this new regime has demonstrated is they have a plan and they are sticking to it.

      1. The Warriors season is over. Niners is just beginning.
        I was counting on you being my eyes and ears at the Niner MC.
        You are such a party boy. ;p

  29. MWNiner
    * 49ers open up mandatory minicamp Tuesday. There will be coach and player media availability, as well as two open practices.
    * The full mandatory minicamp schedule:
    Tuesday June 12th
    11:55 a.m.: Head coach Kyle Shanahan press conference
    Following Shanahan: Select player availability
    1:15 p.m.: Practice open to the media (closed to cameras once team drills begin)
    Thursday June 14th
    Team meets — no media availability

    1. thanx .. Geep…
      I was kinda hopin’ Grant would be there and
      pen a spectacular article about what he witnessed ..
      (without all the snark) … but alas …
      it’s probably too much to ask … right ?

  30. MWNiner
    Grant’s 9er input is appreciated, but you’re right…..Grant without snark doesn’t fit his opinionated persona.

    1. “…opinionated persona….”
      Bingo ! …
      He claims to be an .. u-mm …“journalist”
      but he seems to only put out opinion pieces ..
      You learn the difference.. in a “Bonehead” Journalism 101
      class .. I often wonder if he knows the golden rule of
      journalism … which separates the two ?

      At any rate … I also wonder if he could expound on
      this piece =>

      using ..” ..real..”.. journalism .. and without
      all the ..“opinion”.. ?

      A challenge ? ….. perhaps

  31. The 49ers don’t have a #1 WR. Garcon has that title only by default but he not a true 1 WR.

    The offense will morph into a WR by committee this season. The leaders in receptions will be in this order: Kittle, McKinnon, Garcon, Taylor and Goodwin. With some cameo appearances from Celek, Bourne and Pettis the team will develop into a viable group. Also as Grant mentioned, Beathard is not an NFL Backup. This area must be addressed going into the new season.

    Shanahan is almost done completing his Receiving corps and the next step will be to establish his RB group – which should be 3-4 strong.

    Next year will be about drafting a top tier Edge, especially if Thomas and Armstead fall short.
    Thomas is being treated as the golden child because he is Lynch’ first ever draft pick. Lynch feels compelled to make Sol look worthy of his first pick, but I also believe that he will cut bait if Thomas falters this year.

  32. Sol look worthy of his first pick, but I also believe that he will cut bait if Thomas falters this year.

    That’s some pretty funny stuff right thar!

    1. Razor,
      A little cherry-picking right?
      You actually took this comment out of context.
      “Sol look worthy of his first pick, but I also believe that he will cut bait if Thomas falters this year.”

      Here’s the actual comment:
      “Thomas is being treated as the golden child because he is Lynch’ first ever draft pick. Lynch feels compelled to make Sol look worthy of his first pick, but I also believe that he will cut bait if Thomas falters this year.”

      Lynch does not want to whiff on his very pick as a GM. This is obvious in the fact that (Org’s order) he is morphing his body and moving to a new position in hopes he finds his way.
      Let’s face it Razor, Thomas is Lynch’ guy.

  33. Stewart YPC season: 3.4
    Against SF 3.6

    Carson YPC 4.2
    Against SF 4.7

    Gurley YPC 4.7
    Against SF 4.0

    Ellington YPC 2.8
    Against SF 3.6

    Gore YPC 3.7
    Against SF 3.4

    Perine YPC 3.4
    Against SF 2.6

    Elliot YPC 4.1
    Against SF 5.7

    Clement YPC 4.3
    Against SF 5.4

    Peterson YPC 3.4
    Against SF 4.3

    Darkwa YPC 4.4
    Against SF 5.0

    Lacy YPC 2.6
    Against SF 2.7

    So we held a HB to a lower YPC that their season average 3 out of 11 games before JG.

    Howard YPC 4.1
    Against SF 2.9

    Miller YPC 3.7
    Against SF 3.1

    Murray YPC 3.6
    Against SF 3.3

    Fournette YPC 3.9
    Against SF 2.7

    Brown YPC 3.9
    Against SF 3.9

    After JG we held a HB to a lower YPC than their season average 4 out of 5 games, with the only exception being a tie.

    1. There’s a ton of moving parts to this. One being that other than Indy, Dallas, and NY they held all opponents to 3.9 ypc or below. That is 8 out of 11 and 13 out of 16 overall. They also held 4 of those first 11 to 3.1 or less.

      This whole before JG and after JG thing is really whacky. As I keep saying, it reeks of confirmation bias.

      1. I posted the season averages Vs the average against us because it shows the quality of the HBs throughout the year, not just in a one game vacuum.

        “other than Indy, Dallas, and NY they held all opponents to 3.9 ypc or below.”

        Only 6 HBs we faced averaged over 4 YPC.

        1. I saw your numbers. You just seem to REALLY want to find ways to make it look like there was this big improvement once Garoppolo took over when the improvement was there for all but 3 games this season.

          That’s textbook confirmation bias.

          1. The run D was below average in 8 of the first 11 games based on the YPC of the HBs we faced. After JG the run D was above above average in 4 out of 5 games based on the YPC of the HBs we faced.

            It’s not confirmation bias, it’s confirmation.

            “You just seem to REALLY want to find ways to make it look like there was this big improvement.

            Never said it was a big improvement, but it was better.

            1. “The run D was below average in 8 of the first 11 games based on the YPC of the HBs we faced.”

              That is manipulating the data to get the outcome you desire.

              “but it was better.”

              Ok, whatever you want to believe.

              1. The numbers are facts.

                If a HB averages 4 YPC and we hold him to less than his average, that’s good. If the same HB averages more than his average, that’s not so good.

                So you can downplay our D based on the quality of the QBs we faced (which I agree with) but I can’t downplay our D based on the quality of the HBs we faced? Hmm.

              2. Except you aren’t accounting for all of the run game, and in doing so are manipulating the numbers to get your desired outcome.

                I’m not downplaying the play of the defense at all. I’ve said that it was consistent with the rest of the year, and I’ve said that with 3 exceptions (outliers if you will) they were good against the run.

              3. So you want me to include the QB rushing stats? That’s different IMO. How many QB runs started out as a passing play, and how many were designed runs? We need to get better at stopping the QB runs.

                QB rushing skews the stats. I believe we were 2nd in rushing in 2016 with Kap/Gab. Kap had 468 YDs (6.8 avg), Gab had 173 (4.3)

              4. “So you want me to include the QB rushing stats? That’s different IMO. ”

                That’s all part of the run D. If it wasn’t then Dom Capers might still be in Green Bay. LOL

              5. “That’s all part of the run D.”

                Sure. But if it starts out as a pass play ala Wilson, it’s different.

          2. ya know, it made me laugh…
            looking at 2016 vs. 2017 run D stats…so I’m looking at ’16 and I’m goin, hey these aren’t too bad…
            then I refocus on the webpage filter…ooops… I’m lookin at ’17, huh, interesting comparison:

            YEAR att / yds/ avg/ /long /20+ /TD / /1st dns
            2016: 548 /2654 /4.8 /75 /22 /25 /165.9 /140

            2017 491 /1861 /3.8 /45 /10 /13 /116.3 /108

            overall, a pretty good turnaround, not just in the last 5 gms….
            anybody that really needs to definitively make the case that JG helped the run D will need to roll out the spreadsheet for all run snaps against us…
            alternatively…I could see Jimmy and his effect on the O helping the run D — T.O.P., position/situational downs, etc., but it wasn’t chopped liver before the bears game either….

            1. “I could see Jimmy and his effect on the O helping the run D — T.O.P., position/situational downs, etc., but it wasn’t chopped liver before the bears game either”

              That’s what I’ve been saying, that and getting healthier.

              1. c’mon, get with the narrative…
                this is the “Jimmy G effect on the run defense” argument…with drastic implications for the ’18 season!

              2. as Ronnie R. would say, as he shakes the head side to side a bit…..”there you go again!”

              3. “this is the “Jimmy G effect on the run defense” argument…with drastic implications for the ’18 season!”

                Don’t be fooled by Jack’s misrepresentation of my take. I never said it had a drastic or big effect.

    2. GOAT,

      From the time you introduced YPC into the discussion I’ve said that the last 5 games were pretty much a continuation of what the D had been doing all season long. I also said that with the exception of 3 games, Indy, Dallas, and NYG the run D was very strong. The numbers bear this out as in the other 8 games over the first 11 the D held opponents to 3.33 ypc (266-887). That holds up pretty good to the last 5 which was 3.52 ypc.

      The Cowboy game is the one that blows up the season average. Take that one game out and they allowed 3.58 ypc allowed over the other 15 games.

      But please keep saying how they improved those last 5 weeks.

      The difference was they started winning games, the offense made more plays, and everything seeemed different even though it really wasn’t.

      1. “Take that one game out”

        Yeah, take out the Cowboy game because it doesn’t fit your narrative. Here’s the actual stats.

        Pre JG.
        YPR allowed 3.8
        After JG
        YPR 3.5

        Not a big improvement, but I never said it was.

        1. Why do you have such a desire to prove that there was improvement? Especially when it’s on par with the rest of the season.

          The numbers clearly back it up unless you want to eliminate aspects of the running game in an effort to satisfy your confirmation bias.

          1. Oh well, we hit a wall again. The teams stats and the individual HB stats back me up. You don’t want to admit that you were wrong. Just like when you said JG would have got his current contract regardless of how he played. I proved you were wrong then by using quotes from Shanahan and Lynch.

            I have no desire to debate someone that is intellectually dishonest. Talk amongst yourself.

            1. “The teams stats”

              For 15 of the games were the same as the last 5. The Cowboys game was the lone exception.

              “and the individual HB stats”

              Choosing to go with a single position is misrepresenting the stats, when there could be FB’s, WR’s and QB’s running the ball in any given game. I’m sorry.

              And you’re right, debating someone who is intellectually dishonest is no fun so I will stop as well. The goalposts have been moved so far on these topics that they’re up in the CFL now.

              1. Yes, the team stats. I’ll speak slowly since there’s a chance you actually don’t understand.

                Pre JG.
                YPR allowed 3.8
                After JG
                YPR 3.5

                That is the team stats against every rushing attempt period, all positions included. The improvement is a fact unless you think 3,8 = 3.5.

                Now that I’m sure that you know that the team run D stats (with all positions included) were better with JG, I will quit responding. So go on and keep stammering about how if you take out this game it makes your opinion (non-fact) look better. It actually just makes you look like a poor sport that can’t admit when he is wrong.

              2. GOAT,

                I knew what the numbers were before even engaging in the discussion. And I knew that for 10 of the 11 weeks before Garoppolo took over that the numbers were almost identical to the number after.

                For some reason you have this need to make it like everything improved once Garoppolo took over. That really isn’t the case, and it does a disservice to the team. Not that they care about a blog board lol.

        2. “Yeah, take out the Cowboy game because it doesn’t fit your narrative.”

          GOAT, you took out 3 positions for your narrative.

          Go back to one of my original responses to you about ypc allowed.

          “Not really because defending the run was not the issue for the 49ers last year.”

          And it wasn’t. They had 1 terrible game, Dallas, and 2 mediocre games, Indy and NY. In the other 13 they were excellent. Not sure why the last 5 is so important to you. Especially when those results ypc wise are worse than 8 of the previous 11.

          1. “GOAT, you took out 3 positions for your narrative.”

            Haha. I gave the full team stats (all positions) before I gave the HB stats. Those FULL stats proved my point. You took out three whole games for your narrative. Seriously, not including the worst three performances against the run is totally cherry picking.

            1. Don’t have to take out all 3. For 10 of the first 11 games the defense allowed a ypc of 3.58, which is pretty darn close to the 3.52 allowed over the last 5.

              Even the ypp numbers from weeks 1-11 almost match up to what they allowed in the last 5. Facing a backups in week 17 definitely helps make the numbers look better.

              The takeaway from this should be that the defense was playing at about the same level over the last 5 as they had prior. They benefited from facing fewer plays.

              They looked better because the offense was holding onto the ball, scoring points and pulling games out in the end during the first 3 weeks of that stretch.

              1. “Facing a backups in week 17 definitely helps make the numbers look better”

                Sure does. Just like facing Ellington instead of Johnson or Peterson. Or facing poor HBs like Stewart, Perine, and Lacy. Or facing poor teams like Sea X2, Ari X2, Indy, and NY.

              2. Mentioning the quality of opponents after JG, but ignoring the quality of opponents before JG. Right on.

              3. Brotha, ha!

                #80, you forgot Jimmy has to have a handicap because he’s so f-ing good!

                Hammer, I agree that this defense is under construction and that the offense’s long term success is predicated on how quickly the offensive line gels. If Shanny gets that outside zone ungrounded, the offense is gonna take flight with Captain G-Whiz as their pilot….

              4. The Rams were literally a team full of backups in week 17. Yeah, the Bears QB stunk and so did the Texans QB’s, but those guys were surrounded by the starters on their team. It’s kinda apples and oranges.

                This horse is dead as BT said.

                The need to make it like there was improvement over the last five weeks on the D especially really is something I don’t get. But so be it.

              5. Razor,

                The issue with the D last year was pass rush and coverage. If they can get those areas to match what they did as a run D last year they will be very good.

                On the offensive side they will be alright because they have a competent QB for the first time since 2013.

              6. Hammer, I agree. The blood spilled on the ground against the 49ers in 2016 was what confirmed in my mind that Solomon Thomas would be their guy. Cauterization was the priority!

              7. So let’s leave out all the games against bad teams. I’ll define bad as having a losing record.

                Car. YPRun 3.1
                Sea. YPR 3.5
                LA YPR 3.9
                Dal. YPR 6.2
                Phi. YPR 3.6
                Sea. YPR 3.0

                YPR 3.88. If you want to take out the Dallas game even though it happened the YPR is 3.42.

                Ten. YPR 3.2
                Jax YPR 3.3

                YPR 3.25

                Pre-JG YPR 3.88, sans Dallas 3.42
                With JG YPR 3.25

              8. I’m not even sure what you are debating at this point.

                The YPC allowed which for 10 of the first 11 games was 3.58, so pretty darn close to the 3.52 allowed over the last 5, or the YPP allowed which also wasn’t that far off.

                Enquirent minds want to know. Right BT?

      2. ‘Everything seemed different even though it really wasn’t.’
        Wrong. It was like night and day. Before JG, the Niners were stumbling, lost in the dark. With JG, it was illuminating to see how a competent QB can make an entire team better.
        There was no bias, there was just confirmation.
        You have a bias, declaring the last 5 games were meaningless. Therefor, any statistics that show improvement are trivial, and unimportant, according to you.
        I postulate that those last 5 games were hugely impactful. JG, with a rudimentary grasp of a complex playbook that he had never seen until a few weeks previous, actually demonstrated how important accuracy and a quick release, will determine if a team wins, or loses.
        Instead of throwing 2 yards short of a first down and taking sacks, JG threw past the sticks and avoided sacks by getting rid of the ball quickly. That was not confirmation bias, that was revelatory.
        You may denigrate the wins against weak opponents, lacking motivation and resting players, but the Niners still beat 3 playoff teams.
        Will those 5 wins give the Niners momentum going into the next season? All I can say is that it sure is a lot better than going into next season with a 5 game losing streak.

        1. “Wrong. It was like night and day. Before JG, the Niners were stumbling, lost in the dark.”

          Not on defense, and especially not against the run.

          “With JG, it was illuminating to see how a competent QB can make an entire team better.”

          Yes he made plays instead of mistakes. He was good.

          “You have a bias, declaring the last 5 games were meaningless. Therefor, any statistics that show improvement are trivial, and unimportant, according to you.”

          Not true. In the case of this discussion it should be pretty clear that the run defense and defense in general performed at about the same rate as they had all season over the last 5 games. The “improvement” on that side of the ball was really only facing fewer plays and 3 teams with terrible QB’s that could not take advantage of the 49ers pass defense.

          “I postulate that those last 5 games were hugely impactful. JG, with a rudimentary grasp of a complex playbook that he had never seen until a few weeks previous, actually demonstrated how important accuracy and a quick release, will determine if a team wins, or loses.”

          Again, he played good. Nobody in this conversation has said otherwise.

          “Instead of throwing 2 yards short of a first down and taking sacks, JG threw past the sticks and avoided sacks by getting rid of the ball quickly. That was not confirmation bias, that was revelatory.”

          Yes he did. And in some cases he threw up 50/50 balls and came out on the positive side of it. No problem that’s something that can be fixed with reps but also can be cause for concern moving forward if that luck runs out.

          “You may denigrate the wins against weak opponents, lacking motivation and resting players, but the Niners still beat 3 playoff teams.”

          Yes the 49ers beat a team in LA that went to the playoffs, but faced almost none of the starters that got them there.

          “Will those 5 wins give the Niners momentum going into the next season? All I can say is that it sure is a lot better than going into next season with a 5 game losing streak.”

          No kidding. But it doesn’t give momentum. Especially when nearly 1/2 of the starting offense will be new.

          1. “But it doesn’t give momentum. Especially when nearly 1/2 of the starting offense will be new.”

            That is a true statement. I don’t understand why that is so hard to understand. Last year was last year. Personally I would use the five games they lost by 3 points or less as more of a bench mark then the last five games of the season. As an example losing to the Rams in the first game has more ‘meaning’ (to me) then the victory in the last Rams game.

            1. Okay, maybe not momentum. But it does give this young team confidence to know that they can win because they did win five in a row. IMO, it also sets the bar for expectations entering the next season. These guys really (in a subconscious sense) expect to have a winning season (not just simply lip service to the press that they will).

              1. Cubus very true about confidence. Me myself and I would change expectations to anticipation.


    “The first piece of information I got was that Brady was willing to retire over something like this. And it turned out to be a trade with Rob Gronkowski. So, you know, I asked around, I didn’t believe any of this, and I was not looking to break any of this, because I didn’t believe any of it until I started asking around,” Kurkjian said. “When you get a tip like this, you have to be very careful, because the information is very sensitive. I asked around, I narrowed down the scope of the information that I was given into the tweet, and I worded the tweet very carefully. Because that’s what I was able to get. And so when I took the information to Stacey, only the information that I took to [Patriots VP of communications Stacey James] was in the tweet word-for-word. He denied it, and I think what people don’t understand here is that they think that’s where it stops.”

    1. “I went to Stacey, he denied it, I still thought there were legs to it because I did believe in my sources. And I went an extra mile and talked to somebody else with access to as much information as Stacey. And that person confirmed everything,” Kurkjian said. “And it was then and only then that I tweeted this out. Had that person also denied what was in the tweet, I would not have done anything. None of this would have come out.”

      “I was not given a specific timeline. … I was able to confirm everything in the tweet, both before and after I talked to Stacey,” Kurkjian said. “I know that everything began in the offseason. But as far as the specific offers and stuff like and the specific timelines of the trades, I wasn’t given that.”

  35. 5 posters who must exceed expectations:

    1. SEB–In last years finale, he accused others of scaring him from the ball game. Intimidation is part and parcel of being a pro. Seb needs to step up his mental part of the game and get back to the basics–spell checking

    2. RAZOR (AKA, Seb’s go to alterego): Known to wax poetical/musical, he’s off his game when he strays to far afield….Stick to the basics, we enjoy the music. When trying to act the marine, you slip up and loose your cool under fire, demonstrating you were never in any armed forces, unless you shot your infantry unit and were dishonorably discharged.

    3. Mwest Dynasty: Look up the definition of racism, & check with Seb regarding your spell checking ‘behaviour’=behavior…..MidWestDynasty says:
    June 7, 2018 at 1:18 pm
    “It is further evidence that Owens is full of his self. Being a great player does not change the fact that Owens is a disgrace as a person. I know he has mental problems, but that does not excuse his overall behaviour.

    4. Jack’s Hammered: Lay off the alcohol.

    5. Old Coach: Alzheimers can be painful for us all in its insidious involvement of family members; in this case, the blogging community. Get help, or realize that “a writer writes”—via the movie: “Throw Mama from the Train.”
    OldCoach says:

    June 7, 2018 at 2:02 pm
    Dear Press Democrat sports editor,
    “I have noticed over the last month or so that you have been using Grant Cohn to cover both the Warriors and the Giants on a regular basis. Since Grants workload has increased his posts here have dropped in equal measure to his increased assignments on other sports/teams. The writer who has coordinated this blog has always been a writer whose main assignment has been this blog …”

      1. ok, assuming you’re right about seb/razor being the same poster…whomever it is, that poster does a good job of presenting diametrically opposed politics…hat’s off if true!

        1. Back in the day I was accused of being both TomD and seb. I guess I’ve distinguished myself since then. But I don’t doubt for a second that people are using burner accounts. Are Razor and seb the same person? I don’t know. At least we know seb isn’t Grant or a chat bot.

          1. No.
            Your welcome. 🙏
            Golly, Seb and Razor have diametrically opposed political views, and substantiate their takes in completely different ways.
            So, no.
            Careful buying in to Tom’s takes…….
            ….half a bubble off…..
            Maybe three quarters..

            1. My original comment to Tom is being moderated. Been a long while since that happened to me. I will try again and be a little more subtle.

              Tom, you not getting enough attention or is it that time of the month?

              Bro – no doubt in my mind its 3/4.

          2. Please, I am unique, one of a kind. Originality is my forte. Who else would advocate multi player deals?
            Razor and I are totally different. He likes GG, I like MH. ;p

    1. TrollD, your accusation deserves a response. No, I did not imply I was scared from attending a game. I have stated many times that I will not attend Levi’s because I did not like the way they fled Candlestick, and their insistence to have it demolished. Candlestick Park had Bill Walsh field. I thought that was sacred. They should have kept it, renovated it, and used it for multi sports and events. The Beatles had their last American outdoor concert at the Stick. It could have been used as a venue for a possible Olympics. Now, it is just an empty space, with many fond memories. I saw The Catch at the Stick.
      Levis is sterile. They rip up the sod like it is a carpet, then wonder why the footing is bad. It has dead zones. Since it opened, the Niners have not had home field advantage. During the ceremony to honor Eddie, it was filled with Patriots fans. At least they were polite, since they heard BB’s effusive praise for the Debartolo family, and the aid they gave his parents.
      TrollD, I see you are using another troll tactic. Implying I am afraid when in actuality, I am just being smart. Nice try, but it seems you went off your meds.

      1. Seb, just admit the commute to Santa Clara is too much of a schlep. When I lived in the South Bay, no way would I have driven to Sonoma county for a game.

        1. Not even for the Petaluma Leghorns?
          They once played the Niners and came very close to beating them according to Bob St Clair. Bob said the Niners wouldn’t agree to a re-match. 👎

            1. B4 my time here. They probably played at the fairgrounds. They must have had a field cuz they were in a semi-pro league but nobody in that league could compete with this bunch of ranchers, farmers and truck drivers.The old dirt track there still runs flat track races Saturday nights April-Oct.

  36. Bet Razor😨 ….Felt The Thrill Going Thru His Leg As the Dotard shook the hands of the Rocket man….💣💥

          1. Long process and the agreement is the first step. Negotiating with Rocket Man is like hand feeding a shark. You can do it, but it has to be done very carefully….

    1. Razor,

      I don’t usually get into the polical stuff on here so bear with me, are you a supporter of Salmon Stalin?

    2. Razor even if you don’t believe the economy is going to nose dive eventually (which it will like it has every other time deregulation and tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy have been implemented) aren’t you even a little embarrassed with how Trump conducts himself? He’s isolating this country and provoking unnecessary disagreements with allies while kissing Putin’s ass at the same time. He’s viewed as a petulant child who lies with reckless abandon with no understanding of the issues he’s in charge of outside of his base. I can’t remember a time the US has been so at odds with traditional partners and it’s all because of Trump.

      1. Nah, the way I see it thus far, if Trump continues on this trajectory, he has a chance to be the GOAT as POTUS.

          1. We probably have more in common than you realize, but yes, we will always be Blood Brothers in Maiden and brothers in arms for the 49ers!


    “Joe has come a long way,” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “I think his body looks a lot better than it did last year. He’s put on a lot of muscle mass just with how he’s worked and has taken advantage of the year of not playing. I think he has just a different mindset, understands a little bit more of the standard of the NFL, and the difference.”

    Yipee! Would be big if Joe contributes. Outside zone with Williams and McG!

    1. According to Barrows, Tomlinson has the LG position locked up. Garnett is in a battle royale for RG. He smells like trade bait to me….

          1. Seems likely. If Joe has more good showings in Pre he may be hard to get through to PS. Maybe they keep 4 RBs. Mostert has speed in the 4.3s and is proven on ST.
            With rule changes on KOR, coverage teams need more guys like Mostert; fast and agile.

            1. Right, I think Williams makes the 53 but unless and until there’s an injury, he’ll be inactive on gameday.

              Barrows dark horse, Burbridge is an interesting entry. I thought his special teams prowess was on par with Mostert’s prior to his injury….

      1. just you wait for the glowing TC reports from 4949 about Garnett….
        a full-court press on Joshua and the body transformation….
        will we see “unconfirmed” reports from the OL room about visions of Bobb McK’s ghost predicting Garnett’s awesomeness????


    “When you say back surgery, it seems like a huge deal,” Shanahan continued. “It was more of a minor thing that I think (Garrett) Celek had a few years ago on something similar. Something we feel very good about. It’s just going to take a little time to heal, but he should be good if not right away in camp, at least a week or two (in).”

    Get well soon. More reps for Pettis and James this week, and possibly early on during training camp.

    1. Blessing in disguise? Yea, I seriously doubt Taylor hits the ground running at the start of training camp.


    “Understanding what I did in San Francisco, it has nothing to do with the fans, so I want to clear that up by any stretch of the imagination,” Owens said. “The fans, I love the fans. But I think sometimes the fans, they don’t understand, or they don’t see the business side of what goes on into the relationship with the management and player. Trust me, I love and adore the fans there. It has nothing to do with them.”

    1. Make him carry that football everywhere he goes and whatever he does. Then assign a “Cato” to attempt a surprise strip at 3 different times of the day, everyday!

  40. Biderman…
    -Richard Sherman participated in individual drills
    -Malcolm Smith/Fred Warner rotated at “Mike”
    -Tyvis Powell saw most of the starters’ reps, intercepted Garoppolo, who made a bad throw in traffic
    -Dante Pettis: good day
    -Can’t wait for the pads to come on

    Dante Pettis had a strong day today with four receptions during 11-on-11 session, including a 30-yard over-the-shoulder grab of a C.J. Beathard pass against tight coverage from DB Terrell Williams.

  41. I heard they both have a very good work ethic. CK would show up at headquarters in the wee hours. His workouts were brutal.

    What’s unclear is the quality of CK’s preparation. Especially when it comes to working on weaknesses. His pocket skills and vision seemed to regress.

    1. Maybe BN(before Nessa) his physical workouts were very good, but he didn’t believe in technique. He believed in his physical skills, and not the nuances of the position. Jimmy’s humility Trumps Kaepernick’s as well, given the bicep kissing. Lastly, Kaepernick’s wonderlic was high, but common sense low, given the pig socks and choosing the Anthem as his avenue of approach to the American people….


    “Playing mostly on the outside in place of Marquise Goodwin, who was sidelined, Pettis caught four passes during 11-on-11 drills, including a deep one down the sideline on a perfectly thrown pass from C.J. Beathard.”

    But, but, Grant said Pettis couldn’t play flanker.

    About Garcon.

    “The two hooked up on a similar play later in the practice, but the connection between them has been difficult at times this spring and it’s clear that they never played with one another a year ago.”

    Give it time, they’ll get it right.

    “Garoppolo also had a bad-throw interception on a series in which the offense began backed up deep in its own territory.”

      1. No. If we was split end he wouldn’t be able to go in motion for the jet/fly sweep because he’d be on the line of scrimmage.

        1. Several easy ways to free him up for those plays with formation shifts. Goodwin is the X, but Shanny believes in multiplicity of roles with backs and receivers. Pettis’ versatility is part of what they’ve been talking up.

      2. Garcon was split end in Washington under Mike and Kyle. I imagine it’s the same here.

        “Garcon’s departure in Washington was expected. The coaches there wanted him to be more versatile. He preferred to remain at the X, or split-end, spot in the offense, and according to reports out of Washington, he requested a trade early last year.”

        He requested a trade because he wanted to still play split end. I doubt he would have signed with us if KS was going to make him play. flanker.

        Disclaimer: I’m not saying Garcon played split end 100% of the time. KS likes to move his guys around, but he’s primarily the split end.

      1. My last post didn’t go through, so I’ll leave out the link Search “Pierre Garcon To Play ‘X’ Receiver” to find the article.

        He said Pierre was going to be the X and I was going to play the Z.

        The Z (or Flanker/FL) receiver is quite often the featured receiver of the offense. Years ago some west coast offenses would channel the majority of the passing plays to the Z receiver. But essentially, the Z receiver lines up a yard or so of the line of scrimmage and more often than not on the same side as the tight end (also known as the Y). The Z receiver would use this extra yard to help them avoid being jammed at the line of scrimmage by a corner; so generally the Z receiver would be a smaller guy with speed.

        X (or Split End/SE) receivers are usually more physical guys. They line up directly on the line of scrimmage, so have to be able to battle against a corner attempting to jam him at the line. This leads to the guys who are taller, stronger guys playing the X.

        1. That was back in Washington under Mike and Kyle. Same thing applies here. Physical WR plays split end and the smaller, faster WR plays flanker.

        2. Regardless of position name, Grant meant he wasn’t a good fit as Garcon’s backup because he isn’t tough over the middle. Today he did well in Goodwin’s role, which is the deep threat.

          1. “Regardless of position name, Grant meant he wasn’t a good fit as Garcon’s backup because he isn’t tough over the middle.”

            True. But people assume Grant is right because he’s a pro. He should know who plays where and report that correctly.

          2. The split end and the tight end usually line up on the opposite side of the formation. Goodwin and the tight end usually lined up on the opposite sides of the formation.

              1. You’re seriously going to use a highlight cut up, and one in which all but 1 play is from the Rams game? This is AWESOME!

            1. You have access to the film so I won’t debate this either way but I do have a question. About what percent of the time you say Goodwin is lining up off the line of scrimmage?

        3. Receivers move around in Shanny’s offense. There isn’t a set position or role which is why his offense is so hard to read.

          1. Receivers move around in just about every offense. This whole debate is about trying to make Grant look wrong.

              1. #80,

                I get what you are trying to say, but I don’t think Grant meant what you are implying in that reference to playing Flanker. Receivers move around in this system, but there are different body types and skill sets usually associated with each designated position. Pettis could line up at Flanker in some formations, but he’s not the type of player usually associated with that role and isn’t an ideal backup for Garcon.

              2. “isn’t an ideal backup for Garcon.”

                The plan is for Pettis to be able to play all three positions. Garcon will be gone before Goodwin. Pettis would likely replace Garcon when he retires unless Bourne wins the job. I think it’s too soon to write off Pettis at Z in the future. I don’t think a guy that returned punts is scared to go over the middle in traffic. Pettis just needs to bulk up and gain experience.

              3. I wasn’t trying to point out that anyone was wrong. And yes, i responded to Scoot that I thought Goodwin played flanker and said why. Oh well.

              4. Jack,

                Last year Grant admitted to misrepresenting my take on going deep just to ‘give me a hard time’. We both give each a hard time occasionally. We’re still friendly at times. Most of the time we’re either civil or don’t even talk to each other.

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