We begin with the bad news. The two witty and knowledgeable writers who have been writing these posts — Grant Cohn and Phil Barber — are not available. So I am going to step in on the 49ers opinion beat.
Granted, Cohn and Barber had an advantage. They knew what they were talking about. I have experience — 36 years at the Chronicle, 20 in sports — but that may only mean that I am more committed to my bad ideas and impressions than ever.
Clearly I will need help. That can come in the form of emails or in the comments section. I would like to hear what you want to discuss.
Now, in any 49ers discussion there are a certain number of topics that are bound to come up. So I thought we could lay out, right off the bat, where we stand on some of those issues. For instance:
- Jimmy Garoppolo is, and should be, the 49ers quarterback. Nits can be picked — lack of mobility, touch on the deep ball — but he’s won and he’s played well. It keeps coming back to the stat from last year that he was the only NFL quarterback in the top five in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passing touchdowns. Also, he has shown an affinity for hanging in the pocket and making the throw just seconds before he is flattened. With few exceptions, the local fans always have their doubts about the local QB. But if you look around the league, most teams would take Jimmy G happily.
- Kyle Shanahan, is proving to be — finally — the coach the 49ers needed. Shanahan is young, brilliant and just quirky enough to make you think he’s kind of a savant. We kind of forgot, but when he came to the 49ers Shanahan had a reputation as a smart ass whose ego grated on players and media. He’s been nothing like that and is one of the best interviews in the Bay Area. If you have to quibble, I wasn’t thrilled with the way he melted down on the sideline at the end of the Super Bowl. Bad calls are going to happen and in a close game you want your leader to be calm and cool. But again, that was at the SUPER BOWL.
- I am still coming around to GM John Lynch. Everybody seems to rave about him, so I assume I’ll be singing his praises. But that 2017 draft, when Lynch drafted Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas in the first round — Thomas with the third pick — was shaky. Thomas didn’t have a lot of sacks at Stanford — 11.5 in two years — so expecting him to do in the NFL doesn’t seem realistic. Foster was red-flagged for personal issues by nearly everyone, but Lynch looked into his eyes and thought he was a first round steal. Not good.
- Colin Kaepernick’s career is over. That might sound obvious since he hasn’t played since 2016, but you still hear his name come up as a possibility. Was he blackballed? I’d say partially. After all, there were dozens of players who knelt for the national anthem, and many of them didn’t miss a game.
- The problem for Kaepernick, it says here, was that the NFL did not see him as a starter. Let’s not kid ourselves, if they thought Kaep was a franchise QB, he not only would have signed, there would have been a bidding war. The politics came in when teams were looking at him as a backup. Backups hold clipboards and don’t attract attention. Having someone on the roster that President Trump is calling out on Twitter is suboptimal.
- By the way, the running quarterback is a myth. Someone like Robert Griffin III pops up every few years, sprints through defenses and the pundits fall over backwards with predictions that he will “reinvent the position.” Then the slender but speedy QB gets absolutely clobbered by fast, violent and enormous defenders and suddenly you see why Tom Brady survived by staying in the pocket and using a quick release. The best 49er running quarterback — by far — was Steve Young. And he is quick to say that he became a Hall of Fame quarterback when he learned to stay home and throw accurately.
That ought to get us started.