Gabbert, Kaepernick — why one works and one didn’t

This is my Friday column.


Don’t pretend you expected this.

No one expected Blaine Gabbert to outplay Colin Kaepernick this season. Or ever. The Niners would have started Gabbert Week 1 if they expected this. All of us, including the Niners, still are trying to comprehend a world in which Gabbert is better than Kaepernick.

Disclaimer: Gabbert may not be much better than Kaepernick. Gabbert has played only four games this season — Kaepernick played eight. Their stats could even out as Gabbert plays out the rest of San Francisco’s schedule.

As of now, Gabbert’s passer rating is 89.5 while Kaepernick’s is 78.5. A significant difference. How do we account for it? Why is Gabbert playing better than Kaepernick with the same group of players?

In certain ways, Gabbert and Kaepernick are similar. Both struggle on third down and in the red zone, both struggle throwing deep passes, and both depend big-time on fooling the opposing defense with run fakes and play-action passes.

The difference between Gabbert and Kaepernick is subtle, yet significant, and the Niners are trying to make sense of it.

Almost every 49ers player or coach has a theory about Gabbert. Even outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has a theory, which he explained Wednesday in the 49ers’ locker room.

A reporter had asked Brooks about Gabbert’s leadership. “He seems to have won over a lot of guys in this locker room the way he has played the last few weeks,” the reporter said. “What do you see out of him as a leader that you would want at the quarterback position?”

Brooks had one foot on the seat of a chair as he leaned forward against his knee and pondered the question. The Thinker. “Just from what I see as his teammate and me not knowing anything about the quarterback position, I see that he makes good decisions,” Brooks said.

“When you have the ball in your hands every single play, you’ve got to be the best decision maker on the field because everyone else is relying on you. And, I think he puts other people in good positions to make a play.”

Here’s a possible translation: Gabbert is a ball distributor who looks to set up other players, and Kaepernick is a playmaker who looks to set up himself. Gabbert knows when to check the ball down to a running back to avoid a sack, and Kaepernick’s idea of checking down is to keep the ball and run.

Different styles.

In eight starts, Kaepernick completed 23 passes to running backs. Gabbert has completed 23 passes to running backs in just four starts, and 22 of those passes went to starting running back Shaun Draughn.

“During the games, I’m always reminding him and he’s always reminding me where to get to,” Draughn said at his locker Thursday afternoon. “That shows me that he’s actually thinking about the check down.”

Not only is he thinking about the check down, he’s mastering it. This season, Gabbert’s quarterback rating on easy passes, the ones that travel fewer than 10 yards downfield, is 97.7. Kaepernick’s rating on those throws is 81.1.

Gabbert’s willingness and skill to check down has helped him avoid pressure behind San Francisco’s sub-par offensive line. Gabbert has taken only eight sacks — Kaepernick took 28.

“I think (Gabbert’s) done a really nice job when the play has started to break down, using his feet or delivering the ball accurately when he’s under duress,” offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said Thursday in the Niners auditorium. “For example, the long 18-play drive in the Chicago game — that was really the only drive all game that (Chicago Bears defensive coordinator) Vic (Fangio) actually blitzed. Blaine had really good answers for the blitz, and Vic had to back off the blitz … (Gabbert’s) maturity, his weekly preparation — he’s a prepared quarterback when he goes out there and plays on Sunday.”

Translation: Gabbert is good under pressure, and more suited to play behind a patched-together offensive line than Kaepernick.

Further possible translation: Gabbert is better prepared than Kaepernick because he does more of whatever stuff quarterbacks do during the week.

Just look at these numbers: Against the blitz, Kaepernick’s passer rating is 59.1, and Gabbert’s is 94.6. Against pressure in general, Kaeperinck’s completion percentage is a league-low 35.2, while Gabbert’s is a league high 65.8.

Don’t pretend you knew check downs were so important. We’re all learning.

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

This article has 311 Comments

  1. Let’s give credit where credit is due. There was one person who expected Gabbert to outplay Kaepernick;


    Lol, no of course we all know it was Jack Hammer.

    1. I thought anyone who watched the second half of preseason games would have expected the same thing. Kap couldn’t read defenses, couldn’t make decisions, and didn’t show any touch on short passes. Gabbert showed all of those things, albeit with the level of competition caveat.

      But really, the extent of his regression surprised everyone. Kap’s technique in the pocket was supposed to improve this offseason, and the league figured out how to bottle up our simple little offense after one game… penetrate vs the run, and keep Kap in pocket on throws. The poor O-Line exacerbated his weaknesses, which were less apparent when he had time in the pocket in 2013-2014

  2. Two different skill sets. Kaep is hampered by a bad oline. It forces him to do the things he’s not good at. See the field and make quick decisions. Harbaugh brought him in to be a play action QB that attacks the middle and deep part of the field. This Oline doesn’t award him that opportunity. Gabbert on the other hand has a skill set that allows him to thrive on this team. He’s done really well.

    I just hope the Niners trade Kaep and don’t allow him to go wherever he wants. IMO there is a team that is built like the 2012 Niners and all they need is a QB like Kaep. That’s the Rams…. We don’t want him going there.

    1. Its a good point you make Bay. Kaep has proven that in the right offense he can perform well. The 49ers aren’t that offense anymore, and aren’t likely to be that offense again for some time. But in the right situation…

          1. Because of his unique athletic ability Kap will have many suitors in the future.

            Perdiction: Kap will never have the level of success with another team that he had when he quarterback the niners to the Superbowl. Great athlete with a cannon for an arm, but not a very good quarterback.

    2. Whos to say after riding the pine Kap won’t be a better QB here or elsewhere.he took Alex job and Gabbert took his. If the lite switch turns on for him ,watch out.

      1. Not going to happen. We’ll draft a QB. Maybe Gabert is a stop gap, but I think in playing AFC and NFC East, whoever we get in the North in Det or Chi and South in NO or Atlanta (Personally, I hope for Chi and Atl for I don’t feel the 49ers beat either one cleanly) and then our division. If the Rams dont’ fire Fisher, expect the 49ers to lose to the division again next year if we keep Tomsula.

    3. Or maybe Kaep is just not a really good QB. He was a gimmick, he caught teams off guard with the read option and when they took that away, he didn’t evolve or get better.

      The thing I hated most about Kaep wa that he felt he had to make every play, to run and scramble and rarely through the ball unless it was the last option.

      All the other skilled players sort of got tired of this, especially when they were losing.

      Gabbert worked at the craft. Kaep just worked out.

      1. To me on Kap, he was inserted way too soon. He should’ve sat on the bench 3 years. I don’t know why the 49ers inserted Kap in the first place. Kap was just good for bicep kissing and talking about 7 storms in Houston. Hey, California might be getting 7 storms, where’s Kap at?

  3. Amazing if true:
    “Against the blitz, Kaepernick’s passer rating is 59.1 and Gabbert’s is 94.6. Against pressure in general, Kaeperinck’s completion percentage is a league-low 35.2, while Gabbert’s is a league high 65.8.”

    Translation (as Grant likes to write):
    1. Kaep sucked.
    2. Gabbert’s come a long way.

  4. THE two reasons the O is moderatly better with Gabbert over Kap is that the OL pass blocking has been improved with a better RG and the main reason is that Kap was badly injured for his last 4 1/2 games, so he wasn’t himself at all.

    1. So those are the only two reasons? Good to know.

      Queue Seb saying how smart you are in 3… 2… 1…

        1. You don’t think Gabbert’s ability to get the ball out much quicker is a major factor? At the beginning of the season I kept saying that all I wanted to see Kap do was make the easy throws (typically a checkdown). He just wasn’t able to do that, but as Grant’s stats show, Gabbert is very skilled at that.

    2. You don’t think you might be giving Jordan Devey a little too much power? While Tiller has been an improvement, it’s not like that one move has transformed the o-line into something completely different. They still can’t run or pass block that much better (I think they’re ranked near the bottom in football outsiders line stats). Marcus Martin is PFFs last ranked center and Eric Pears isn’t too far behind at RT. Even without Devey it’s still a pretty bad line.

      As far as Kaepernick’s injury, no telling how much it did or didn’t effect him. But unfortunately I think it’s safe to say that was the least of his problems. Even if there was no injury there was plenty there to take issue with.

      1. Kap had one really good game and one poor gsme then was injured. He obviously wad affected greatly by the shoulder injury. With Tiller at RG the pressure doesn’t come up the midfle quite so often and so immediatly. But imho the main reason Kap looked so tentative was the combination of the pain of the shoulder with the fear of getting hit on that shoulder because of the oasd rush always in his face in 1 seconds. But I will say Gabbert is quicker in the pocket, do he evades the pass rush slightly better and that helps the O a bit too. And Kap looks firdt to pasd deeper and doesn’t like to check down, while Gabbert loves to check down first(too often imho). Gabbert will be fibe in a WCO, which Kap never will be, so I hope the Niners will go full WCO from now on. (Bill Walsh smiles ! ).

        1. Just want to preface by saying i’m a big fan of kap…he plays the game in a way that inspires. but he can also be super frustrating. I look forward to Niner football all week (and year), and I’d rather see the team win and be nationally relevant than watch Kap struggle out there.

          Here is why I don’t think Kap’s injury played into his lack of production and subsequent benching this season:

          Green Bay game is where he got hurt. So let’s look at performance before and after that. I like using Adjusted Yards/Attempt because it shows the efficiency of Yards/Attempt but it adjusts for touchdowns and interceptions. Average Yards/Att adjusts for a 1yd td, for example, that would otherwise lower the Yards/Att. I’ll also use QBR as another point of comparison.

          Before Green Bay
          Adjusted Yards/Att: 6.35; 8.15; -5.95 (that’s negative)
          QBR: 75.8; 44.8; 3.2

          Got hurt vs GB, but had 4.6 AYA and 20.1 QBR

          AFTER Injury
          AYA: 8.63; 14.07; 5.17; 3.95
          QBR: 87.5; 83.0; 9.0; 22.2

          I went back and looked at all of his games with these two numbers. His WORST game (vs AZ) of his career was BEFORE the injury and his BEST AYA game of his career (vs BAL) was AFTER the injury.

          The numbers show the injury didn’t matter in terms of production. Granted, there could be a small sample size and other variables that factor in. So that means at worst we can’t conclude that injury didn’t play into it, but we certainly can’t conclude that the injury did have something to do with his drop in production.

          Seems like a move for kap to save face and keep his trade value propped up. Also seems like what the Broncos did with Manning

    3. Tim… No way you can blame ck’s failures on his left shoulder. Unless it’s been injured for the past two years.
      Gabbert makes the line look better. Watch the games over again. He is still getting pressured like ck was.

    4. Tim

      you and Seb should get together and co-write football fiction novels ….of course the star would be Kaep…AND I reiterate FICTION

    5. Get real Tim and quit drinking. The Oline has not gotten better. THe 49ers have had the fortune of playing very crappy defenses that don’t know what to do, like Atlanta, like Baltimore, and like Chicago.

  5. Cams stat aren’t outstanding but he has matured and has the personnel around him. ,similar to what we were in 2011-13. They’re my pick to win SB

  6. May sound funny but I believe the improved defense has a lot to do with it. Early in the season, Kaep had to play from behind (far behind), a lot. Not to take anything away from Blain but our D has been giving him a lot of opportunities and a close score that has allowed us to stay within our game plan. I’m a big fan of Blain but I appreciate what Kaep gave us the past few years, I wish him all the best next year and after- i know he’ll succeed

    1. Or maybe the defense is playing better because they’re not on the field half the game like they were with cpt 3 and out!

    2. There is some truth to that – a weak D puts pressure on the O to deliver. But also recall Kap’s stats in those games BEFORE we had gotten so far behind… he was totally ineffective until the defenses shifted to prevent-mode. He had nice stats in meaningless 4th quarters.

  7. Actually Grant, I did know the importance of using your check downs. I stated a while back that, if Kaepernick ever learned how to use them, he would be a significantly better QB.

    1. Kap actually WAS using his check downs quite a bit better before he was injured and everything fell apart for him.

      1. Like most things in life, everything is relative. I think you are right that Kap improved marginally, but the difference between Kap and Gabbert in night an day. And behind this OL, that is what is needed.

      2. His check downs tended to come too late in the play (yes, the can come to early as well) and when he did throw them they tended to be three yard rockets that were not on line and broke the stride of the back, not to mention his fingers as well. Seldom did I see Kap throw a check down with any air under that allowed the back to catch and continuing moving at the same time. I just don’t think Kap is a very good qb right now. I have doubts that he ever will be.

      3. Tim

        Checkdowns require extreme accuracy in order to be effective and not get your receivers killed….Kaep is not ,in any way accurate.

        1. I’m not sure it was as much accuracy as it was that Kaep throws the ball with the same velocity regardless if the receiver is 5 yards or 50 yards down the field.

          1. Or that he does not throw to a spot/area to give the WR a chance to get open. Joe Montana always said that he wanted to throw WR’s open. That meant throwing with accuracy and precision.
            #7 hasn’t been able to do that yet.

  8. Of course we knew checkdowns work. Hello – WCO anyone? Has it been so long that it’s been gone in San Francisco that we forgot what it looked like? The whole point of the “check-down” was to protect an undersized line that had trouble runblocking, getting a runner out in space. The “long handoff” as Walsh coined it. It’s amazing to me that people have completely forgotten this. No Grant, some of us remember very well. And how about this factoid – dumping off over the middle is a strong suit for Gabbert and that’s where his highest completion percentage is. The goal of the WCO is positive yards on every play regardless of the defense. And why are we having so many problems on 3rd down? Because we’re still married to the notion that you MUST run between the tackles or off a guard in a ZBS to get positive yards with this patchwork OL. This routinely equals 2nd and long or 3rd and longer. If there’s one problem with this offense, Geep has to get his yards on 1st down and STOP being so predictable with running on 1st down.

    1. Shelton is an immovable force, therefore, the Niners should not run into the teeth of the defense, but run around him.

  9. i was telling my fantasy league friends that gabbert looked better than kaep during the preseason. during the preseason games, kaep came on for couple of drives and did nothing and then gabbert came on and the offense actually moved when he was on the field. my friends countered that preseason counts for nothing. but gabbert just looked better.

    the only pretending here is grant who claims to know football. he thought gabbert was the worst “backup” qb in the league, forget abt being the worst qb in the league. but grant was totally wrong, and now he is asking others to stop pretending. we didn’t pretend, we can see what gabbert is and what he can do.

    1. Lets put that ‘He does not know football’ diatribe to bed. Grant does know football. He also knows how to couch things to get the biggest response. He reminds me of another person who seems to generate incredible amounts of pushback.
      Grant does seem to dither between screeds and lavish praise, but this season has had its euphoric highs and beatdown bummers.

      1. knowing a few X and O concepts, shifts and coverages doesn’t make grant an expert on football. can he identify talent? he is miserable at that. look at kaep – he is the pro-typical deer in the headlights guy. his elongated throwing motion takes so long to unwind that any ordinary pass rush will get to him. compare that with gabbert’s throwing motion — not as fast as brady or rodgers — but decent quick. lot of folks like kaep’s athleticism but it takes a while to get his running motion into top gear, unlike say russel wilson who is very light on his feet…like a mouse. in a lot of sports: tennis or skiing or basketball or you name it, you need to be light on your feet and be dancing around in anticipation (look at some of ARod’s games), kaep’s feet look planted to the ground. you need to play sports to realize how these things help.

        now, lot of the passing concepts involve anticipation throws. The ball has to be put out there to a spot for the receiver to go get it. kaep never mastered the art of “throwing the receiver open.” he was much more comfortable merely throwing to the open receiver. that is not guaranteed in this league.

        1. Yet it got him 5 yards from a SB ring and one pass from returning.
          Kaep has regressed, but he would have done a lot better with a better supporting cast.
          I really wonder how the season would have gone if Devey had sat and Tiller had started all year.

          1. Devey and tiller don’t play defense. Those blowouts were going to happen. I think this team was on the brink of mailing it in before Gabbert started. I also think he put a little life back into the team.
            And they are reaching their full potential with what they have. I don’t see this roster and coaching staff being more than a tough home team who makes it close with the elite teams and gets blown out with the slightest adversity on the road.
            At best they are a 500 team.
            Lots of holes to fill this offseason and unless they get some game changers on defense and build a solid o-line. They will be nothing more than a 500 team.

          2. I blame roman playcalls on the SB loss, and the hawks nfc loss on kaep. kaep is a man-child like grant. neither accept that they can be wrong. kaep’s just kept heaving to the end zone hoping crab catches it like he did in the SB. our bête noire sherman said this “you think a person would learn from it”. kaep doesn’t accept his mistakes and learn from it, and that’s why he is sitting on the bench. also remember kaep had a great D and frank gore who made a few of those clutch plays that bought us close.

            1. There is much to blame for the SB loss. Kaeps loyalty to Crab when he kept saying he was open when he was not. JH calling a TO just before Kaep strolls into the end zone. The horrid officiating that ignored 2 players bear hugging Miller on that KO. The helmet to helmet hit that was not called.
              In the NFCCG, Kaep did not take my advice. I said he should face one way while looking in another direction. If he would have done that, he would have seen 2 players wide open.

              1. Kap is the reason they got back into that Super Bowl. I blame the defense for that loss.

                And the loss to the Hawks. I will go to my grave blaming the refs for that game.

  10. What Gabbert I know does better than #7, he knows everyone else’s job on the offense. Kaepernick most times didn’t know his own responsibility on certain plays. Gabbert seems like he knows this offense a lot better only after 4 games. Smarter!

    1. I totally agree. Kaep isn’t as smart as Blaine and Blaine has more years of experience under duress than Kaep too. I hope they keep Kaep because he would be an awesome second stringer and can learn under Gabbert. If he knew what Gabbert knows and how to get himself out of pickles and what the player were doing he would be better than Blaine simply because of his size and Cannon Arm. Restructure and keep him, but Kaep and his agent will think he is worth far more then they will offer and he’ll jettison.If that happens draft a Good QB first or second round.

  11. While I could wax poetic on all the reasons why Kaep regressed, I will say that Gabbert has better game ball management, and can get the ball away quickly to avoid the sack.
    Gabbert seems to be more accurate and I am pleasantly surprised to see him use his speed to elude pass rushers and get first downs.
    If the coaches lets him roll out more, Gabbert can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers and overcome the deficiencies of the running game.

    1. Rolling out more only cuts half the field off. These defenses stopped ck with it, and Alex smith. They will do the same with Gabbert. He needs to stay in there like he’s doing and make the throws. This read option and rolling out qb’s crap isn’t going to work in the long haul.

      1. Au contraire, the rollout with the TE puts the defender in a quandary. Does he cover the TE and let the QB beat him with his legs or does he move towards the QB and leave the TE wide open.
        That cover half the field crap is getting old, too. Forcing the QB to stay in the pocket just means the pass rushers can tee off and rush to a spot. If the pocket is mobile, the pass rusher does not know where the QB will throw from, thus making his rush more tentative. The offense can also flood a zone towards the side the QB rolls out to so the defender can only cover one player, thus leaving the other player open.
        Pontificating that rolling out is a gimmick just belies the fact that QBs like Russell Wilson use it to devastating effect. Just remember how the Niner Seahawk game started. RW used the RO to abuse Aaron Lynch, and made him look silly. They built up an insurmountable lead and then just ran Rawls the rest of the game.
        If the QB can read properly, he will always have the advantage because the defender has to cover two options at once, which is extremely hard to do.

    1. Yup. Bill says- Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw it 80 yards, but they are not a good passers.
      That fits Kaep more than Gabbert.

    2. BW: “You can see which quarterbacks handle these situations with grace.” Unfortunately the one with initials CK is one who we see can’t!

    3. Disagree. Bill Walsh treasured mobility and accuracy over everything else. He was sold on Montana mainly because he saw that Joe was able to throw accurately while on the run.

      Neither Kap nor Gabbert are accurate throwers. I agree that Gabbert is closer to the Walsh template than Kap (by a mile!), but Walsh would not have drafted either.

      Just look at the tape of last week’s game. Everybody is going gaga over the last two touchdowns, but Gabbert made some horrible throws for the first 50 minutes of the game.

      Let’s see what Gabbert does against a really good team (the Bengals on Sunday night a couple of weeks from now would be a real test). So far his two wins have come against a couple of teams who will probably not be in the playoffs. Let’s not start the Joe Montana comparisons just yet.

      1. FYI: the 49ers vs Bengals has been flexed out of Sunday Night Football and will be an afternoon game.

    1. They will have tons of money this offseason. The most they’ve had in along time I believe. I see where you’re coming from, but with the FA this year if they don’t TRY I’ll buy what you’re saying.

      1. What is the minimum that teams are required to spend on the cap?

        “To make it simple: NFL teams don’t have to spend 89% of their salary cap. The salary cap floor does not apply to any single season, only to the entire 2013-2016 period. That means that not being in compliance in any single year is not going to be a problem for any team. Only if a team has so chronically under spent that they managed to still be below 89% over the entire four-year period, will they be held accountable.

        Even so, there’s no additional punishment beyond “spend the extra money.” If the team hasn’t spent 89% of the salary cap over that period, they’ll have to fork over the difference to the NFLPA after 2016.”

        If the cap averaged $150M over the four years of the CBA then the Yorks could pocket $66M over that period. Since they haven’t been under more than enough to have flexibility, there is little reason to think they would start now. Of course they could pocket 11% of the cap in 2016. They could take the $66M all in 2016 too.

        It’s a rule without much in the way of enforcement.

  12. I would LOVE to see a true WCO coach with Gabbert. He looks like he prototypical WCO QB.
    And I would love to see him play behind an O-line that’s trust worthy and can protect him. To me he’s taking what the o-line is giving him. Something ck couldn’t do.
    Grant says he can’t throw the deep ball. Slightly accurate at this point. But how much has he worked with these guys in game time situations? It’s been 4 games. And that walk off pass to smith could just be the confidence boost he’s needed since his death bed in Jax.
    IMO he’s a perfect mix of our last two qb’s (or could be) he runs like ck. And actually makes better moves, he’s a solid scrambler like Alex smith but will not throw the ball away after one read. He’s making defenses think about his running ability like ck, and killing the quick throws like Alex smith. IMO I don’t think this kid is done yet! His ceiling from just these 4 games with watered down playcalling, no running game, no offensive line, and now no tight ends, has grown a lot under these circumstances with what he’s doing now. It’s not great, but it’s a lot better than what most qb’s would be doing with what he’s working with.

    1. I would like to see him throw some of those with tight coverage at the point where he has to commit to the throw.

      1. I’ve seen a few. That were dropped of course. I’m hoping as the confidence and continuity grows those throws will also.

      1. I was hoping holmgren. Not a fan of shanahan. Seems to rub players the wrong way. Young ones at least.

  13. And for all of your reading pleasures!
    I have cursed every team in the playoff hunt with losing out and the Niners winning out and making the playoffs at 8-8.
    You’re welcome! :-)

        1. Yeah, I just saw in an article that they weren’t, but it isn’t realistic to believe that they’ll make it to the postseason.

  14. I don’t mind admitting I had Gabbert all wrong, I will also admit I saw next to nothing of him at the Jags because…well… seriously who’d want to watch the Jags, but the stats told a story even on a bad team. Nice to see someone getting a second chance….. and taking it……

  15. Note to Kaepernick:

    Maybe return to that hotel room
    in Miami and party a little, huh???
    Buy drinks for a starting QB….
    (that would be Johnny Manziel)

  16. QB 7 not only has am impressive shoe and cap collection, but also a very rather large tortoise he grew up with.

  17. I will admit I didn’t expect it only because I never expected them to make the move to Gabbert. As a Kaep realist, someone who never bought the hype, who never swallowed the bait hook line and sinker, someone who didn’t drink the koolaide (is that enough?) on him, I knew that Kaep was no where near as good as people, the media, the anti-Alex fans had so hoped and claimed. I saw the guys ceiling, and it wasn’t much. The most gifted physically qbs never turn out to be that great, because they always got by on their huge arms and blazing speed (re: Jeff George and Mike Vick) that they never had to work on the mental side of the game, and once they got to the NFL, they had minimal success, if at all. Look at the 2 greatest Qbs of the modern era, Montana and Brady, and both were not 1st round picks, both were part time players in college, and both were ANYTHING but athletically dominant. Yet there they stand with 8 rings between them and Kaep, RGIII, Mike Vick, Jeff George, and even Dan Marino have none (Marino is the rare exception and it helped that there were the coke rumors that dropped him to a good Miami team).

    I think you also have to give Gabbert more credit since he hasn’t played with Hyde, who is light years better than Draughn, and Gabbert is playing on a team that had given up, not a team coming fresh into the year, a team that went out on Monday night and beat the Vikings to start the season feeling good. Credit to Gabbert for lifting the team up and playing well without the best offensive player.

    1. Good post. Nice insight about Montana and Brady. I confess that I was one of the guys who fell into the Kaep “trap.”

    2. As an ardent Kaep fan, I will have to say that he has regressed, but for all the posters who want to throw him away, I will speak words of caution. If he is driven away, he will feel hurt and betrayed, and will most likely want to play against the Niners to show how wrong they were. The Rams are an obvious landing spot for him since they have a stout front line and pathetic QBs. He could play the Niners twice a year and haunt them. Like Plunkett, he could go to a system that accentuates his skills and could return to lead them to the SB.
      The Niner coaching has been horrendous. They did not use Kaep properly, and never coached him to correct his mistakes because I saw Kaep keep repeating them over and over. They tried to force him to be only a pocket passer, and used the excuse that they wanted to protect him, but when he is sacked 52 times, they have failed miserably. This year, he was sacked 28 times, which was worse than last year, and only succeeded to get him injured. Kaep was so beat up, he required surgery, but many genius posters totally discount that as a factor in his inaccuracy.
      So I will say loud and clear, I like Kaep and hope he heals fully then leads the Niners to several Super Bowls. I also like Gabbert, but hope he will be a good team mate and allow for a fair competition to see who starts. In fact, they could play both at once, and truly create a multi headed attack system where the flea flicker is always an option, and they can attack the weaknesses of the defense by lateraling between each other and both can use their legs to run the ball or go out on pass routes. Essentially, they will create so many different threats, the defense will not be able to stop all of them, so the defense will just have to pick their poison.
      Of course, the coaches may not be smart enough to devise plays to accomplish that goal since they cannot even understand how to utilize a man in motion and has allowed the team to be easily shaped. They seem to think the RO is a gimmick, but have a bludgeoned look on their face when Seattle schools them with it. Kaep, if utilized properly, will become a scoring machine, and many coaches would salivate at the opportunity to be able to coach him. With a decent O line that gives him more than a nanosecond to throw, Kaep will prove his haters wrong.
      Kaep is like a precious jewel, and people will not realize his worth until the moment he leaves their hand after being thrown away.

      1. Or he will go away and be nothing more than a backup who is out of the league in 4 years time (he is 28 lets not forget).

        Its hard to say but I don’t think that he’s somehow going to go to the rams (and be in LA) and be in a situation to succeed, the Rams have been pegged to be the next big team for the last 4 years and each and every year they do nothing. That could change but if they get a new coaching staff (happening) they will be in rebuild mode for 2 years.

        I saw Kaep play a few times in college and as much as he was dominant as a runner and a passer, he was prone to make the boneheaded mistake and that has carried over, even in 2012 what happened with his first pass in the divisional game…pick 6. The guy had poor vision then and has poor vision now, he has yet to show he can read a defense presnap and I don’t see any of this improving past Harbaugh coached level he had, if anything it will go down. The best he will ever be will be his 2012 run, when he ran, but much like the wild cat, the NFL knows how to defend read option qbs and you must pass…and that he can not do.

        I forsee Tim Teabow like reports on him yearly if he gets another starting gig (In April “Colin has been working all spring with X QB guru and his throwing motion/mechanics/timing/touch is so improved”…In Late August “Colin seems to have reverted back to his old throwing motion/mechanics/timing/touch and will struggle to make the starting roster” ((In the distance you can hear Skip Brainless pounding on his desk and yelling something)).

        A wise man once said “NFL…stands for Not For Long”.

        1. I saw Kaep play against Boise St, and he almost single handedly won that game. He willed his team to victory even though the Boise ST team seemed to be much more talented and until that point, was in contention for a national title. Granted, it took a couple missed field goals, too.

  18. I’m REALLY trying to be kind and generous and exude the Christmas spirit but you make it so hard. I totally reject this brand of writing. Your translations of Chryst and Brooks comments, which were specific to Gabbert, were so totally off base it makes you lose credibility. You could have gone 100 different ways in drawing these comparisons but you had to take quotes and twist them to make a point about Kaepernick when the quotes clearly had nothing to do with Kaepernick. This is the type of BS people hate about certain media people. Is your next step to go to Kaepernick and ask, “Ahmad Brooks says you’re a selfish player who only looks to set up plays for yourself. What’s your reaction to that?” You just engaged in the worst possible tactic of a sports reporter. You could have easily made a case for Gabbert as a better QB without twisting quotes of players and coaches. If I’m an athlete, how can I possibly trust you to ask a question when I know no matter what I say you’re going to twist my words beyond recognition to make a point about me or my teammates that fits your agenda?

    1. %100. I think that is why Cohn is not really respected as a writer amongst Niners fans. He is the TMZ of Niners writers

      1. Writing “possible” does not absolve you from responsibility. You have a preconceived notion and scrounge for quotes you can interpret to support it. So to prove your point you molest their intent. Which is why players hate the media.

    2. Houston,
      What else is new? Grant loves low hanging fruit. Remember when Maiocco broke the Crabtree signing? He tracked those dudes down, it was old school. That’s not Grant. He aspires to be a Skip Bayless type character, not a true sports journalist. Grant is good when he supplements his writing with humorous anecdotes and bad when he tries to manipulate people.

  19. Honestly, whenever I see your posts I roll my eyes. You don’t really seem to have any real knowledge of the game and your posts and headlines wreak like you are trolling for hits and trying to get a rise out of people. Pretty much what I deem what has gone wrong with journalism in general. As far a Gabbert, he is doing what a backup is supposed to do. Come in, make a couple passes and not lose the game. Everyone talking about how great he is playing has a very low bar. If Chi makes one of those field goals his stat line is 120 yards a 1 TD and all the talk is about how endemic the offense looked and how poor they are on third downs

    1. Anemic damn auto correct. Anyway if Kap had a stat line like Gabberts last week and that 3rd down conversion rate you would criticized the hell out of him. You don’t like the guy, just come out and say it

  20. I wrote a year ago that Gabbert would lead the team to the playoffs, so obviously I thought he could get the job done.

    The guy is nearly a perfect QB for the type of offense Baalke wants. I really don’t understand those who keep saying the offense needs to become more “WCO”.

    Contrary to popular belief, those elements are and have been a part of the 49ers offense since Harbaugh took over.

    Am I the only one who remembers how much some fans despised “Captain Checkdown”?

    Gabbert’s game is exactly the same. Sure he dinks and dunks, but he’s also averaging more yards per attempt than the guy with the cannon arm.

    If Baalke can fix the woes of the offensive line so they can get the run game going again this offense will really be something good.

    1. All players utter the mantra that “we must get better”. Gabbert seems to be a player who actually knows how to do so. He will have to continue to get better as defenses have more tape of him in his Niner incarnation.

      Baalke should now give up on any pretense of competence in draft evaluation of players on offense, and beef up the O line with FAs. I think Patton has 4 games to prove himself or they should look for a FA receiver, too, who can run good routes.

        1. The funny part about people saying the Torrey Smith signing was a bust is that he’s been exactly what they brought him in to be.

          1. He still needs more targets. If Torrey is a bust it’s the coaches’ and QBs’ fault, not Torrey’s.

              1. The personnel on the offensive side of the ball also was an indication that the signing was a bad move.

              2. How so, Mid? How is the offensive personnel that different to what the Ravens had?

                He’s done what he was brought in to do. Stretch the field vertically, open up things underneath. The offense needed a player like him.

                But they need to feed him the ball more often.

              3. How is the offensive personnel that different to what the Ravens had?

                Let’s start with Kaepernick. Flacco had madtered the ability to pump fake before throwing it to Smith, which is something Kaep wasn’t honestly capable of doing.
                Next, let’s look at the OL. Can you honestly tell me if the Ravens would be dumb enought to have Pears, Martin, or Devey starting?
                Finally, look at the supporting cast in the receiving corps. What receiving option is there that can help take some heat off him besides Boldin, who is on the decline?

    2. With the present coaches, Gabbert looked pedestrian for 57 minutes and had worse stats than Kaep. Finally, they woke up, made adjustments and followed my advice even though they will swear they never saw them. They spread them wide with 4 receiver sets and gashed them up the middle. Gabbert ran for a TD with that strategy. I said they should throw out the playbook and do something totally different and unexpected. That game winning play action bomb caught Fangio with his pants down.
      Good thing about blogs is that they archive everything, so my advice is still there for all to see. In fact, I have been saying the same things for 2 years, and they still ring true. Some may complain I post the same things over and over ad nauseum, but when what I post is proven right, their answer is just to denigrate, ignore and downplay what I said.
      And Jack, you are so wrong if you claim that Gabbert will lead the Niners to the playoffs this year. Your wishful thinking is not astute, it is destitute and bereft of good football acumen. I am glad you will ignore this post because I like having the last word.
      Have a nice day.

        1. JPN,

          Posting a link to that clip was not astute and is destitute and bereft of good football acumen.

    3. I feel like I see this same post from Jack every day. If Gabbert pans out, great. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Just let it play itself out and stop preaching about the guy already. We get it; you’re so clairvoyant about football matters that you should be the next 49ers G.M. I hope Gabbert continues to improve and does well, but there is plenty of room for doubt in the minds of fans.

    4. “If Baalke can fix the woes of the offensive line so they can get the run game going again this offense will really be something good.”

      Getting this team back on track might not be the monumental task many think…. if Gabbert works out. (If Gabbert stinks out the next 4 games, all bets are off)

      Draft and free agency wish list:
      1) Offensive Tackle, even if Davis returns.
      2) Offensive Guard. Two if Boone leaves.
      3) Running Back Depth
      4) Edge Rusher Depth (if there’s one available)
      5) Fast ILB

      What I want most from the next 4 games is clarity.
      – Get Harold and Lemonier snaps so we can determine OLB needs.
      – Get Patton, Ellington, White snaps so we can know how our receivers are working out.

      I don’t want a repeat of the Looney situation, taking 3 years and 4 training camps to find out he’s not better than scrap heap guards.

      Pass rushers are not late bloomers. Find out if Lemonier and Harold can pressure from the edge. If not, bye bye.

        1. Martin is 21 years old. O lineman rarely come in and become good. It takes time. Look at staly’first 2-3 years. He was garbage. Look at Kilgore who took 3 years to see the field. Martin has the potential to be very good. Be patient.

          1. Looney is starting for another team, and in his 4th year.
            Martin started as a rookie and this is his second year, so you just admitted you would want him to sit for another year before starting.
            When pundits talk about Martin playing like he is on roller skates, I tend to get impatient.

            1. Ya and looney sucks after 4 years. He is on the worst team in football.. Martin has had his struggles but he is very young. Playing along side two bad linemen in tiller and pears. You don’t won’t to be patient is your decision. You will just feel stupid in a year.

              1. If you want to defend a player who has rated out as the worst in the league, I cant stop you. Just expect more of the same.

          1. Good call. I spaced QB. In fact, a late round developmental QB should be drafted every other year no matter who the starter is.

      1. I think a very underrated need for this team is a DL that can rush the passer consistently (and preferably also be able to play the run consistently).

          1. After taking Armstead in the 1st round I’d probably look to go a different direction this year. But if they do want to take a DL in the draft very early, I’d be taking a long look at Kenny Clark. Might be able to trade down to get him, or better yet, take someone else in the first round then trade up from the second round back into the first to get him.

            However, I honestly think if Mo Wilkerson hits FA they should go very hard to get him. Haloti Ngata could be another option, though he’s getting on in years.

              1. Like you said. Think he has age against him and he seems to have lost a step. Could be playing in a poor defense rubs off too.

              2. I think he’s playing in the wrong scheme this year. A move back to a 3-4 base D would be good for him.

    5. Does he dink and dunk because that’s what the o-lines play dictates? That’s my guess. The dinking and dunking didn’t work with “cpt checkdown” without a loaded offensive unit and defensive unit. I’d hope Gabbert can be more than cpt checkdown 2.0.

      And this “offense” is a poor mans WCO. The o-line is a mauling O-line. Not smaller quicker blockers, this was and is a mix of 80’s Chicago and NY Giants offense and 49ers WCO. Pick one and stick with it. The O-line would have to be revamped with smaller and more agile players

    6. Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by “good”, but with a solid OL and good running game I think this offense could control possession a lot better, score closer to 20 (or more) points a game on average, and with a good D make the team hard to beat.

  21. The good and bad of Dial’s day vs the Bears.

    “San Francisco’s defensive line is comprised almost exclusively of players who would be better suited to rotational roles rather than pillars of a strong unit.”

    I somewhat agree with this statement, though I think the issue is more that the DL is comprised of a mix of decent starters/ rotational players. No dominant players. It all starts in the trenches, and that is why I think DL is very underrated need for this team.

    1. I agree, Scooter. I think this team could use another “Justin Smith” type acquisition this upcoming off-season.

    2. Scooter, did you think this before Dorsey’s injury, or are you saying this underscores the value of a player like that?

      1. I’ve thought we needed a dominant player on the DL all season, even before Dorsey’s injury. Dorsey for mine is one of the “decent starters”.

  22. I will be surprised if the Niners don’t make a serious run at Mo Wilkerson. Money won’t be a problem. Would fit great…

    1. I hope this means Chryst rediscovers the forgotten man Bruce Miller in the passing game. I think Gabbert would do well in 2-back sets, with Miller and Draughn jetting out in patterns.

    1. Yea, I’m not sure If I’m disappointed or not. I’ve been considering him as our choice if we went DT early and this could ultimately allow us to get him even later. It’ll be tough to flesh out how much this really effects his draft position.

  23. Well, I could say that Baalke is too cheap and will try to lowball him, but he does recognize his worth and knows other teams will be bidding high for MW. Therefor, he will make a competitive offer, but Mo may want to go to a title contender, so the Niner offer will have to be really serious about him to lure him to the team.
    Still, even though I would love to have MW on the team, Baalke will try to look for a misfit that is struggling on another team. Like another Glen Dorsey, or even Cowboy. There must be some 3-4 guy mired in a 4-3 system, that has long arms and good potential, but just has not demonstrated his abilities to the fullest. Nick Perry?

    1. Perry has played a lot in a 3-4 during his time at the Packers, though the defense has changed a bit this season.

      One under the radar guy he could look at is Derek Wolfe.

        1. I don’t believe Wolfe is injured. He missed 4 games at the start of the season due to suspension though.

          Kendall Reyes had a pretty promising rookie year, but he’s been a liability against the run for the Chargers every season. To wit, PFF had him ranked in the bottom 10 for run stop percentage among DL in both 2013 and 2014, and he consistently has produced highly negative PFF grades the last few seasons. He’s a guy the 49ers should avoid.

          1. Hmm, another Shareece Wright. Still, he looked good in the draft, and the whole SD defense is bad. Baalke likes those inexpensive players, maybe he is a defensive misfit for SD and will fit in at the Niners. Watching him in a few games, he looked like he can rush the passer.

  24. Saw a report earlier where Tomsula has ordered there to be no chocolates on the charter to Cleveland because the team will have plenty on Sunday afternoon.

  25. All season long many of us have been wondering why Boone wasn’t moved to RT. Here’s a theory which others may have offered up as well.

    The niners want to re-sign Boone. If they let him play tackle and he plays well, then his FMV (fair market value) will go up. If he stays at guard and can’t display his ability to play the tackle position (and I’m not sure he actually has ability), then they can offer him FMV for the guard position with less concern that other teams would offer him a tackle contract.


          1. That divergence reminds me of what Ricky Waters was thinking when he went out into the world looking for a bell to hang on his neck.

    1. I think Boone and 49er brass’s relationship soured during the holdout. That could be it.

      When it was announced Boone wold be LG, I thought they might be planning a zone right, man/zone left blocking scheme. Having all the experience on the left made (some) sense. They could run the same plays as before to the left, with Miller picking off linebackers.

      Funny how perception changes in a short time. This summer I was wondering about the glut of backup guards… Martin, Thomas and Looney. I’d much prefer Boone at RT, but who do we plug in at LG?

    2. If the 49ers want to re-sign Boone for FMV at guard, makes you wonder why they didn’t offer him such a contract this off-season.

      1. Maybe they weren’t planning too because they expected Martin and esp. Brandon Thomas to be ready to start at some point during the season. Both have been huge disappointments, hence the possible interest in keeping Boone.

        1. Anybody here a usc fan?
          I was wondering why they would move Martin to center his last year there. I’m also wondering if he’s just better at LG naturally. Watching him he seems to be slow on the start after the snap. He’s being bull rushed easily at times. I’m sure he’s starting at center because of injury and he played one season as center, but id like to see how he plays his natural position before dumping him off into the pile of draftees who didn’t work out.

    3. Well, since they are not utilizing players to their utmost abilities, and have proven to struggle in key areas, with Boone being wasted as a guard when he could better serve as a tackle, I am not too keen on the whole concept.

      1. Funny how a lot of people think Boone would be better at guard but even the almighty Jim Harbaugh did not think of him highly enough to start him over the awful J. Martin.

        So, it is not only Tomsula who think he is better at guard.

    1. Her hugging the coach is all publicity.
      With the banner flying over and the rough season and rumors. They made an appearance to LOOK like they actually give a damn.

    2. Looks like this year it’s OK to win between 4 and eight games. What will the range be next year?

    1. Matt also thinks leaking wouldn’t get anyone in trouble as long as it wasn’t counter productive in regard to the York perception of the 49er’s best interest. There is no mention of a Tomsula ultimatum.

    2. I’m not a TK fan but do like MM. I found this interview quite interesting. MM seems a little more animated in his opinions than I’m used to seeing/hearing (he says that the locker room at one point was “very bad”).

      1. I don’t remember Matt reporting that in those strong terms at the time. That could just be my memory, but it’s a lot easier to bring something like that after there has been improvement.

        Matt has always been very certain that Tomsula was who the Yorks wanted to be head coach. He also made it clear why a new head coach wouldn’t want Tomsula as a defensive coordinator. Evidently Tomsula has never been interested in the defensive backfield which could leave a little tiny hole in his defensive game planning as a defensive coordinator.

        1. Yeah. He mentioned that Gase most likely didn’t want Tomsula as a DC for the very reasons you stated. Also, I don’t remember MM saying that locker room was “very bad” either during that time period.

          1. While I don’t think anyone other than Seb will be surprised, I did find it interesting how MM and TK intimated the “bad” locker room was in no small way due to issues and frustration of teammates with Kaep. Makes you think the leak about Kaep being on an island also had some truth to it.

            No mention was made though regarding the whole Aldon Smith’s ex-girlfriend thing.

            1. Yup. TK goes from Chaos in the front office to no big deal.
              Interesting. Going from Kaep is benched for 3 weeks and after having surgery a week ago, chaos reigned, yet now they are blaming it on discontent even earlier.

              1. That’s the spirit Seb. Just keep on defending Kaep aka ‘He Who Can Do No Wrong’. Its a conspiracy against him ever since he signed his big deal!

              2. So Tomsula left and missed his PC because he was mad that Kaep had lost the locker room in a report 6 weeks ago? OK.
                Then the president of the Niners is reassigned and Tomsula comes back late for practice, yet that had nothing at all to do with the leaks that Steph, Mclorg and TK reported on?
                Now TK is saying nothing happened because he knows his sources will dry up if he continues the story and does not toe the company line.
                Then Jed says that Marathe will continue as lead negotiator even though he is no longer president? So you believe Jed and are defending him? OK.

        1. Yeah, I think MM is absolutely right about Logan being a possibility. I reckon Chryst is very likely to be let go, and if they can’t attract a decent outside option then Logan will be the one promoted.

          1. After the regression of Kaep under Logan, I am not his biggest fan.
            I would much rather have them promote Rathman. His Super Bowl moxie should translate well with this team.

              1. Rathman has been content to be a NFL running backs coach since 1997. I think he is doing just exactly what he wants to do.

              2. As a coach, Singletary never was a DC, and proved to be an egomaniac who froze when the going got tough.
                Rathman has earned his promotion to the next level if it is ever offered, and I think the players really like and respect him.
                Niners learned from the Singletary experience and said they are looking for humble coaches who have people skills.
                Tom Rathman also was a 49er, and maybe can resurrect that Niner Football mentality.
                Rathman also won 2 Super Bowl rings, so if that is a big criteria, he is twice as good as Singletary who won only one ring.

              3. Where do you see that Rathman has people skills or OC skills. He’s a skill position coach and should stay there and winning superbowls doesn’t mean people are good coaches. Why isn’t Montana the best coach ever or even coaching? When has Rathman displayed that he’s OC material? He’s a good guy and we like him, but I believe he’s right where he should be.

              4. Joe Montana does not want to put in the long hours that a coach needs to do, so he does not have that drive and hunger to coach. Joe admits that, so he is smart to not try and get into that grind, and just enjoys life talking about foreign derivatives for big cash.
                Rathman has honed his coaching skills for 18 years.
                Rathman also has taken a player off the streets and coached him up to be a serviceable RB, which is an admirable thing to do.

              5. Seb I like and respect Rathman as a player and a coach. Other than Frank Gore what are his great successes? I would say Miller at blocking and receiving as FB, he’s not a great runner by any measure. Glen Coffee quit, Dixon never really materialized into anything other than a ST’s player, Hunter had one good season, Bush, Hayne and Davis stunk this year even when healthy. JH and GR’s offensive scheme worked well and Rathman benefited from their coaching. Without them he’s not done much. As you pointed out Draughn is pedestrian except catching the ball. He’s a good position coach, not sure he has demonstrated the needed talent to coach everyone on the offense?

              6. Just to poke the bear a little, I thought you said JT was calling the shots now and Baalke was shaking in his boots for fear of crossing JT? So are you telling me Baalke is still calling the shots on what kind of offense this team will have?

                Baalke In My Opinion did not put enough talent behind Hyde to make this a running team. Nearly everyone here questioned Hyde’s durability from his limited carries last year. Bush was a lame choice and carrying Hayne and Davis wasn’t wise as back ups.

          2. This just in from a reliable source. JimmyT’s wife called him “that morning” to get his ass to the bank and bring cash home to pay Comcast before they pulled his Internet, TV, and NFL Replay service.

            Matt thinks the Yorks expect Paraag to make them a fortune in non-49er activities while continuing to be in charge of contract negotiations, the cap, and player evaluation in terms of $ worth for free agents as well as in the draft.

            Those areas all have a significant impact on who has a chance to be on the 53 list at all times.

            He is the “brain” at the top of the football structure for the rest of my life. There will be no long term experience in the football world above GM. We don’t need no stinking NFL contacts. It’s “Power Ball With a Funny Bounce” all the way.

            I’m convinced that the 49ers will dominate the sub .500 teams going forward.

  26. I wonder what guys like Ronnie Lott think about players like A Davis and McDonald sitting out due to a concussion.
    Now I picked these two because I’ve been hit harder without a helmet than a Brut like McDonald who was grazed by a knee.
    And Davis who sat out 2 months and then decides to “take a break”
    Honesty it wouldn’t bother me to see these two gone. I’m calling bull**** on their length of time missed due to concussion issues!
    Fire away concussion nazi’s

    1. Straw man argument. Concern for CTE does equate to racial hatred.
      Actually the evidence is overwhelming that the NFL is not only ignoring the problem, they have their toadies suppressing the truth. Telling fans not to watch the movie because the documentary covered it, is downplaying the powerful emotional effect the movie can engender.
      It really is a problem when former players are killing themselves, but do not shoot themselves in the head because they want the doctors to study their brain.
      The NFL is not taking the problem seriously. Every single player should have base line brain scans at the beginning of training camp. The difference between the base line, and the most recent scan, will give a more meaningful evaluation of deleterious effects. But no, the coverup continues.
      The NFL is showing their concern for CTE by scheduling Thursday Night Games with only 3 days rest.

      1. The league began to institute concussion protocols not because they were worried about the health of the players, but because a large group of ex players sued the league and the league was worried about future law suits. Like most other things: Follow the Money.

  27. Finally, the 49ers are going to lose this game. They got no TE. The defense is shaky. As bad as the Browns are, I’m picking them by 10 points. Johnny Manziel is going to be our new QB next year when we trade Kaepernick.

  28. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports: 49ers 21, Browns 20
    Pete Prisco of CBS Sports: 49ers 21, Browns 17:…..

    “This will be Johnny Manziel’s game as the the starter. That’s the smart thing. The 49ers won on the road at Chicago last week, but consecutive road games can be tough.

    TomD’s prediction: I did predict a Bears win last week and if not for a couple of routine FG misses by a Pro Bowl caliber place kicker, I win this bet.
    Look for TomD to get back on track this week–figuring the unpredictable last week, I will stick to this trend, picking the unpredictable again–Cleveland.
    The 49ers will be sky-high after their 1st road win this year and play down to the level of a team they feel is inferior. The 49ers will be matching up against a skilled Cleveland run defense which has allowed 115.8 rushing yards over its last five matchups. For the season, it allows 136.3 rush YPG. San Francisco’s defense could allow points against the Browns heading into halftime. The 49ers surrender an average of 13.3 points per road game in the second quarter, more than any other team in the league. The Browns hold the upper hand in time of possession battle this week, because San Francisco averages a time of 27:36 per game, ranking 31st in the NFL.

    1. Also, lay odds on the Niners not scoring while in the redzone much; last in 3rd down conversion rate; and last in first quarter touchdown scoring figures into the above prediction.

  29. How to win the Browns game on Sunday.
    Do not take them lightly. Granted, they have the worst run defense in the league and cannot run the ball, but Manziel will have sobered up by now and will be fired up to prove his detractors wrong. Perusing the Browns site, many are claiming that this game is the only one where they actually have a chance to win. With hope, any team is dangerous.
    Niners need to start out strong and score on their first few drives. They should not settle for field goals, and the Niner coaches should study how the Bengals went for it on 4th down and succeeded to crush their morale. Their goal should be the benching of Johnny Goofball by blitzing him on every down. They should collapse the pocket and not even give him time to throw, and expect the dump off pass to the RB, so maybe Ward or Tart can jump the route.
    Gabbert should not worry about winning or losing, he should just set the goal of scoring 7 TDs in the game. If he executes that strategy, the Browns will get executed.
    Niners should target Paul Kruger, and run right at him. They should target Gilbert, but he might not even get on the field.
    Niners should use their team speed, and attack the edges.
    Above all, the Niners need to play smart, and stop shooting themselves in the foot.

      1. Well, the very first thing I wrote was not to take them lightly. Guess they keep ignoring my posts.

    1. Seb I know you are new on here but please spare us your elementary football homily’s. A lot of us already understand the game and we have a pretty good idea of how the game is played. Your weekly game plan is rudimentary and somewhat embarrassing. Please.

      1. The Seb can not be embarrassed. There are national reports confirming that fact. It’s also reported that the Seb is far from being the most embarrassment free contributer to this widely regarded blog.

      2. I have mostly given up on talking to the regulars, and have invited them to ignore my posts. However, many regular posters like to prattle on about divergent topics without ever talking seriously about football strategy.
        I am not impressed.
        What other poster on this site recommended last game that the Niners should spread them wide and gash them up the middle?
        Since you claim to be a football expert, how would you attack the Brown’s defense?

        1. I must give kudos to Wilson. Even though he constantly challenges me and generally derides my comments, at least he had the guts to make a prediction. It was way off from my prediction, so 2 days from now, I will have to concede he was more astute or crow that I was right.
          This is a football blog. I talk football. No poster on this site has any more right than another to comment, and I have been proven wrong many times and have conceded points. My opinions may be controversial, but at least I SAY something.
          Again, ignore my posts. Do not read them.You will be happier, and so will I.
          Personally, I thought the Manziel sobering up comment was funny.

          1. Cant you just write fewer words?
            Jesus. The time it takes to scroll down on the phone to skip your posts is annoying.

          2. Seb…. Although I think you’re the biggest homer on here and out of your mind at times with some of your outlooks, I encourage you to continue to do what you like. Nobody on here should be saying anything about ones posting tendencies.
            Give him a break fellas. We all can’t be the same. Carry on sebutaunt.

            1. I’ll give him that MD but claiming the front office and coaching staff read his posts and take his advice is a little off the deep end. The scary thing is, he ain’t joking!

              1. I say that tongue in cheek, but when I said before the Washington game 2 years ago that Kaep, should roll out, buy time with his legs, freak out the DBs so they worry about Kaep running and forget all about the receivers, then see Kaep do exactly that with VD who walks into the end zone, I feel prescient.
                There are times when I call it, and I like to point them out, but there are many times when they ignore my comments. Like the Hayne advice. They may ignore my posts, but with a 4-8 record, they should not be doing what they did.

          3. Seb you do realize guessing game scores is like guessing the weather not football acumen. Look how many professional journalists get it wrong every week and know more than anyone on this forum.

            I don’t deride, I disagree with you especially when you draw absolute conclusions based on nothing more than a hunch and some anecdotal evidence.

        2. You see there’s a problem with your spread’em wide strategy because of the play calling and QB play. If you only throw the ball on short routes to backs and short crossing patterns or TE’s. It doesn’t open up the middle of the field Seb. You may say it but Gabbert throws the ball well short and it keeps everyone around the line of scrimmage. Now if they can get more throws over 15yds attempted and completed then the run game and play action both work. But as you have seen they don’t do that often.

          I am not sure you can count Gabbert’s 44yd TD as something you called. It was a broken play where Staley got beat badly and Gabbet made something out of nothing. Their Dline got push but lost containment because they didn’t fear Gabbert running. The ILB’s and safeties both missed tackles in the open field. It wasn’t a designed spread and gash play, it was a broken one. Kudos to Gabbert.

          On the same subject I am disappointed that you never replied to my post where I pointed out that the 49ers have been throwing long on first down since week one vs. the Vikings. They do it around 4 times a game.

          1. Wilson, you may say that my spread them wide strategy was not the exact play, but the reason I want them to line up 4 wide is to shape them. The defense cannot stack 8 in the box because it would leave a receiver uncovered.
            You may say that it was a broken play, But that 44 yard TD run gashed them up the middle.

    2. Seb “Their goal should be the benching of Johnny Goofball by blitzing him on every down.”

      I think they should blitz strategically but every down makes them predictable and any OC in the NFL should be able to adjust to that. Manziel is bad against pressure so you are correct that a blitz will impact his play, just not every down.

      “They should collapse the pocket and not even give him time to throw, and expect the dump off pass to the RB, so maybe Ward or Tart can jump the route.”

      This will be really hard, have you checked how good this O line is? Grades below from PFF. I don’t think our D line is going to be able to collapse the pocket and without Lynch getting the to the QB could be hard.

      2. Cleveland Browns (3rd)
      Pass blocking rank: 1st

      Run blocking rank: 5th

      Penalties rank: 25th

      Stud: Joe Thomas (93.8), despite trade rumors, remains the best player the Browns have on the roster.

      Dud: We’re drawing a blank here. Every starter on the line has a positive grade. That’s impressive.

      “Gabbert should not worry about winning or losing, he should just set the goal of scoring 7 TDs in the game. If he executes that strategy, the Browns will get executed.”

      Seb goals are different that a strategy and a goal is not a strategy. 17-21 points should win this game. I think Gabbert will look pretty good against this awful defense. CFC has outlined clearly that to win in his previous posts Gabbert needs to wait a tick longer for his longer routes to improve the offense’s production. Smith should be open enough to keep the safeties deep if Gabbert can connect with him. Expect more of the same though since Chryst stays to his plan. Lots of short throws and ball control.

      1. Seb you did a lot of talking how people wouldn’t debate you or talk real football. Seems like your avoiding talking real football.

        1. Wilson, I was taking a break to go Christmas shopping, but am back to debate all you want.
          I am glad you have taken time to study what I wrote and point by point refute it.
          I hope they blitz a lot. It does not have to be every play, but the Bow delayed blitz up the middle will hopefully be very effective and prevent Manziel from escaping the pocket.
          It will be interesting to see who they have covering the TE, since he looks like their most effective weapon with 68 catches.
          I wrote that Gabbert should not worry about winning or losing, because with Kaep, being behind seemed to affect him negatively. Kipling said it best- ‘If you can meet triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same’.
          The strategy is to make the goal of scoring TDs your prime objective, and do not let the little things affect that goal. In other words, focus on the task at hand, and do not be distracted.
          I predicted Niners 28-17, because I hope Tomsula goes bold and does not settle for field goals. I hope they score once each quarter, hence 4 TDs for 28 points. I think Cleveland will be biting and scratching for their last winnable game, and I do concede they have a decent passing attack.So 3 scores for 17 points seems reasonable. Maybe those 3 scores could be only 13 points with a TD and 2 FGs, but 17 seems right for a team who just got 3 points last game, and want score because they were humiliated last game.
          With Hyde on IR, I wanted Hayne elevated, but with the TE injuries, I can see their reasoning for Leonhardt.
          With such a bad defense, I truly believe that if the Niners attack the edges, thy will have success. I predict Miller will sneak out and receive a sideline pass for a good gain. With Killgore at center, Gabbert may get that extra second you want so Gabbert can let the play develop downfield for that big strike you and I want.

            1. Seb I am actually surprised you’re not predicting a 49ers win based on the fact that Draughn “spilled his guts” passing the Browns playbook to the 49ers defense. If your theory is true you should predict at least 2 INT’s for 49er DB’s.

              1. Actually, Draughn is old news. The Niners are following my advice by poaching Leonhardt, so he will spill his guts and give the Niners good intel on their strengths and weaknesses.

          1. Study your post? LOL Grant is even calling for the blitz because Manziel is so bad against pressure. What about Cleveland’s oline? We’ll need to keep our d line in their lanes and not over pursue Manziel. Contain him in the pocket so he has to throw against pressure. I am not sure we’ll get to him much even with the blitz. 2nd best line in the NFL.

            the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

            a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result:

            A goal is the end result of a strategy not a strategy. What specifically is he going to to on the field, play by play that will net 28 points? Not worrying about winning or losing again is not a strategy rather an attitude.

            You’re predicting plays they run all the time. Miller gets a good pass in the flat nearly every time he plays. That’s like saying Draughn will run the ball and catch a screen pass. Happens every game.

              1. Whoops I misread this “If he can’t play, the Niners could be in trouble — Manziel’s passer rating is 93.8 when he’s not under pressure. He might avoid knockdown No. 3.”

              1. Seb, a game plan is a strategy, to win is a goal, to score is a goal. Goals don’t happen without a strategy. Go argue with Webster’s and every business and military school on the planet who teaches what goals and strategies are. You just can’t admit when you are wrong. How’d Blaine do at visualizing 7TD’s? What you are saying is like wishing for touch downs and then showing up at the stadium without a game plan and hoping you win.

              2. There you go again. Do not imply that I would set a goal without a strategy to accomplish that goal. Goals and strategies are interconnected. You can also have multiple goals, and multiple strategies to accomplish those goals. I would not go into a game without a game plan, but it looked like the Niner coaches did in Cleveland.

    1. Ahhh, I see now, Marathe isn’t making a lateral move, he’s paving the way for the 49ers to become a MLS team!

  30. I wonder if there is language in Hydes contract that would have made the team want to delay in putting him on IR. I can’t really believe that they were honestly thinking they would keep him active so he might have a chance to play if the team made the playoffs.

    Outside of a financial motivation there isn’t much sense in waiting this long to put Hyde on IR.

    1. Waiting so long to put Hyde on IR is a puzzle. All I can do is speculate as to why… and I’m probably wrong.

      – There were differences in the way Tomsula and Hyde described the injury. Hyde said it was a stress fracture. Tomsula indicated something more minor. There seemed to be friction.

      A team might get in trouble downplaying an injury and putting the player on the field. Waiting might give them an excuse to say the injury worsened over time. There could be some contractual/legal reasons for the delay.

      – Forces teams to prepare for Hyde.

      – Other contractual or cap reasons.

      – Both the team and Hyde expected it to get better on its own, but it didn’t.

      – Until this week there wasn’t anyone they were dying to promote to the 53, so leaving Hyde on the roster wasn’t hurting anything.

      If Hyde gets surgery, all bets are off. It would certainly be a poorly managed situation.

      1. – Until this week there wasn’t anyone they were dying to promote to the 53, so leaving Hyde on the roster wasn’t hurting anything
        I was going to suggest something similar but more in the tone of how sad is it if they didn’t move him to IR because they just didn’t have anyone worth promoting.

      2. Honestly, I think it is as simple as both parties hoped it would heal by now with rest.

        And while I understand the rationale behind posters saying with the season lost there was no point trying to get him back this season anyway, that is based largely on the idea of wanting to get the highest draft position possible. The coaching staff and players will not be thinking that way – they will be wanting to win as many games as possible. And Hyde is only a second year player in his first year starting. He is still learning, and the best way to learn is to play.

        1. Hyde is a p*ssy that didn’t want to play with a bum foot. I wish he never sets foot on the field as a 49er.

  31. And while I understand the rationale behind posters saying with the season lost there was no point trying to get him back this season anyway, that is based largely on the idea of wanting to get the highest draft position possible.
    Maybe to some of the younger myopic posters on here but for the rest of us it’s about if the team see’s Hyde as it’s long term answer at running back then what is the true benefit of having him play again this year if you have to wait 6 weeks just to see if he may or may not be healthy enough to play. If it’s that close and he’s your #1 guy just with a season like this just shut him down and bring him back when there is no question that he is 100%.

    It has nothing to do with draft position.

    1. What is the benefit? Simple – he’s young and still needs to learn. Any opportunity to do so should be taken. And he’s the 49ers best RB, so offers them the best chance to win at the position.

      1. Any opportunity to do so should be taken.
        They waited this long, let’s say that they determined he was ok to play. They’re going to put him back in on a foot that may or may not be healed so he can get 4 more weeks behind this offensive line? I’m not sure that experience offsets the risk of his reinjuring himself and missing significant time next year because of it.

        1. Missing significant time next year if he re-injures himself? How long does it take to recover from a stress fracture, even if you have surgery? I thought it was a few months…?

          1. It’s a stress fracture now, if it isn’t healed and he fully breaks his foot I think that extends it beyond a few months.

            Yes, it’s an IF and without the benefit of a flux capacitor or an oracle on high we’ll always be stuck arguing if the risk is/was worth the reward.

            1. With foot injuries and running backs I would always err on the side of getting the player to 100% before putting them back on the field. Once you have that type of injury I can only imagine the likelihood of having recurring problems only increases.

              How long did we have to wait for Crabtree’s foot to get better? Didn’t that start out as a stress fracture?

              1. With Crabtree, not long, from memory. The only major time I recall Crabtree missing was during his rookie holdout (not injury related) and when he tore his achilles.

              2. In ’09 Crabs had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Throughout his rookie season he dealt with problems with it and in 2011 he started the year on PUP because he re-injured the same foot. He missed all 4 p/s games and was essentially a non-participant in game #1 and sat out #2. After that it was ankle and calf injuries but you could say that he didn’t fully heal from his foot injury for at least 2 years.

                I would imagine a RB takes even more stress to his feet then a WR.

              3. I agree with CfC. Imagine if Hyde comes back too early, and injures his foot worse. The Niners are not going to the playoffs. Save him for next year with a fully healed foot.

              4. CfC, those are some impressive facts, however:

                – In ’09 Crabtree had surgery in late Feb and would have been fit to train in TC. He missed no time due to injury, only due to hold out. When he signed he played immediately. And he led all rookies in yards per game. So not bad for someone you believe was hampered by his foot.
                – In ’11, he broke his foot in early June. He had surgery prior to the start of TC, and missed pre-season as you pointed out and was not 100% to start the season in September. Understandable for someone that just had surgery on the foot prior to TC, but still, only took a few months to get back to the playing field and by October he was fine.

                His feet were fine in 2010, so I don’t really see how you can say it took two years for his foot to fully heal. He missed time in 2010 due to a neck injury, nothing related to his feet. Re-injuring the foot can happen to anyone once they’ve injured it before. Same thing for Hyde moving forward.

                Even if Hyde had played again this year and re-injured the foot, he would have been healed by TC.

              5. You’re going way out of your way to prove that the 49ers should have risked re-injuring Hyde so he could have 4 to 5 weeks of experience behind a bad line for a team with not a lot to play for other then personal pride.

              6. I wasn’t trying to illuminate the effort so as usual I spoke poorly and didn’t make my point well. Let me try it differently;

                You are trying hard to prove that the team should risk re-injuring our starting rb so he can have some experience. What’s more valuable at this point, Hyde getting some experience to finish out this season or him being 100% healthy for next?

              7. I see.

                My point is that I don’t see the risk as being as great as you appear to. Even if he were to reinjure himself, based on foot injuries of other 49ers players recently it would seem he would have plenty enough time to be fully healed by the time next season starts anyway. I would feel differently if it was a knee or achilles injury.

              8. If it hasn’t healed on its own which is now 6 weeks, have the surgery. That way he can begin running on the first OTA’s and well before the draft. That way the team will know what to do in free agency or the draft at the RB position.

              9. Will be interesting to see if he does have surgery, since they’ve already let it heal on its own for so long. Just a guess, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they just continue to let it heal naturally, and if it still isn’t completely right in about 1-2 months then make a decision on whether to put screws in there.

                Regardless, I imagine the team will be looking to add a RB they feel can split carries with Hyde next season anyway.

              10. I agree Scooter, surgery should be a last resort.
                I’ll be curious to see what happens at the RB position. Draughn to me is a great addition. If Hyde can get healthy that’s a great 1-2 punch. But then what do you do with Mike Davis, is he expendable?
                I’d still draft a RB, more so one that can return kicks and punts, and cover on special teams.

              11. Yeah, Draughn and Davis will be in the mix next year, fighting for a spot on the team, as will Hayne. I wouldn’t rule out the 49ers looking to add another vet through FA. Plus the obligatory draft pick on a RB…

            2. As with most broken bones, I imagine you’d be talking about 8-12 weeks to heal post surgery. So a little longer than a stress fracture.

          2. Look how long it took Crabtree or Ward to get back into playing shape when they both came into the league. They could play but they didn’t seem full speed to me and like it took a full season to get back to full speed. I don’t understand what their doing with him. Is there some cost benefit to keeping him on the roster or are they just pulling a Bellichick so that teams have to prepare some for him? Seems like everyone sees through that one.

            1. Didn’t Crabtree typically injure his feet during TC? He was able to heal up in time to be able to play during the season. Didn’t Ward have his surgery done after the stress fracture was found at the Combine? He was ready in time for the season.

              1. Yes they both played during the season and both looked hurt to me. Ward is playing a lot faster as did Crabtree one he was fully recovered. It seems to me like there’s a difference between healed and able to play and 100%. Its all subjective to me.

              2. I don’t have any proof its just my impressions of foot injuries. A lot of the WR/RB color commentators talk about how foot injuries really slow down skill players.

              3. Crabtree showed last season what he looks like when he’s really slowed down by an injury. He looked considerably better following his feet injuries than his achilles injury.

                With Ward, its very hard to know for sure, but I think being a rookie last year has as much to do with ‘looking slow’ as anything. Keep in mind he was coming back from foot surgery again this offseason, had a set back and was slowed through TC as a result, but looks fine now.

              4. They finally put Hyde on IR. Too bad they did not elevate Hayne like I wanted them to do, but I can understand the reasoning to bolster the TE position because of the spate of injuries.
                Draughn and Leonhardt better have a productive game or I will second guess them up and down.

      2. Does he really need the extra experience? He was the best RB in the NFC after week 1. How much better could he get?

        1. You can, not me, always improve your pass protection. To do that you need to play. I thought they were wrong to have played him as long as they did.

  32. Um, Cohn, I knew that checkdowns were that important. I’ve known for years that Kap’s single greatest weakness is his refusal or inability to take the check down. That is absolutely THE key difference between him and Russell Wilson. Wilson will make you pay with the check down. Kap will just throw an incompletion.

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