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Posts Tagged ‘49ers’

Bruce To Return For 16th Season

Posted by davefowkes on 04/01/2009

As reported by just about everyone now, wide receiver Isaac Bruce has decided to return to the 49ers for his 16th season. Bruce had spent the entire off season debating retirement, apparently a conversation today with head coach Mike Singletary ended with Bruce saying he is dedicated to another season and ready to play!

Not huge news to me either way. Obviously Bruce’s best years are behind him. But he was a pleasant surprise last year and still has some legs left. With the hope that youngsters Josh Morgan and Jason Hill are ready to breakout for the 49ers and an unproven free agent signing in Brandon Jones on board, Bruce could be a great asset in the locker room, and on the field!

This definitely counts as a low risk maneuver to bring him back since he does not cost much against the salary cap. In the end, I don’t think he wins the 49ers anymore games, but he certainly won’t hurt the club! Probably good news for 49er fans that Bruce will give it one last go.

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49ers Should Pass On Smith, Draft A Tackle!

Posted by davefowkes on 03/25/2009

The 49ers should draft a right tackle in the first round of the NFL draft rather then spend a lot of money on Marvel Smith. Nothing against Smith who has been a good tackle for the Steelers, but does this signing not sound like replacing one Jonas Jennings with another?

Matt Maiocco is reporting that talks between Smith and the 49ers are heating up. Smith has put in some good service but he has played just 17

Marvel Smith

Marvel Smith

games the last two seasons because of a back injury. We are not talking about a pulled muscle, or twisted leg, we are talking about a back injury on a lineman! Does that say red flag to someone in Ninerland?

The 49ers first big free agent purchase in the Nolan/York era was a left tackle Jonas Jennings from Buffalo. When healthy he was adequate at best, but he was never healthy which eventually led to his undoing.

If there were no other options I would argue signing Smith is a good idea, but if you look to the NFL draft, the first round is heavy with solid tackle prospects. In fact many have Jason Smith out of Baylor going to Detroit with the number one overall pick. Michael Oher, Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith are all first round prospects the 49ers should be looking at with the #10 overall pick. The likelihood is that two of them could still be on the board. How would the line look with Joe Staley on the left side and one of these rookies on the right side for the next 10-years?

Joe Staley

Joe Staley

Bringing in the 31-year old Smith is just replacing one injury risk with another in my opinion. If healthy, Smith is a very good tackle that will help. But why take the chance when you have such potential for the first round pick?

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Let’s Play 18?

Posted by davefowkes on 03/25/2009

For years we have heard the whispers but now it looks like we may be getting close to an 18-game NFL regular season. So say the rumors from the NFL owners meetings in Southern California this week. Owners are interested in expanding the season and if they can get the players union on board, there could be a vote in May on the topic, with an 18-game season starting in 2011.NFL Logo

The idea of more football is very appealing to me, but in the end I think we need to leave things just as they are! I am a football-aholic, so more football is great! The possibility of getting rid of two preseason games in exchange is even better! I like the idea of the Super Bowl on Presidents Day weekend, it gets me that much closer to March Madness! Two extra weeks of fantasy football, who would not want that!

There are clearly a lot of benefits to the longer season, but in the end I come down against it because I believe it would end up compromising the level of play in the long run!

Look at all the injuries now. Football is a violent game. Even those that don’t count as walking wounded by the end of a season are certainly banged up and not playing their best at the end as it is now. Adding two more games? To counteract that the NFL would have to expand roster sizes, but that just dilutes the talent pool. Two extra games just gives to more possibilities for the great ones to get hurt.

49ers1

Frank Gore

There are lesser reasons for voting against the increase like by adding extra games you slightly devalue the games themselves. Look at the NHL, NBA and of course MLB where regular season games don’t really matter as long as you end up winning more than you lose. With 16 games, every game is somewhat important, with 18, maybe they are not as important. That 0-4 start in September is not nearly as big a deal.

While I have said many times that I would love to watch football 52-weeks a year, I think in the end, the product is much better where it is now and increasing to 18 games -while adding two weeks of fun – would hurt the overall game. I say vote no on the 18-game season!

That said, I look forward to the extra two games when I know the NFL will eventually vote for them! 🙂

 

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Mid March Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 03/19/2009

Here comes the madness!

–In filling out my brackets I keep looking for upsets, but I am just not finding them. I don’t want all the #1 and #2 seeds to advance but right now it is hard not to like most of them. That said, my bracket is way to top heavy with seeds and way to Big East-centric for me to win any pools. Oh well.

–I like about 5 teams to win it all but I ended up with North Carolina. If Ty Lawson is back by the sweet 16 I think they are the best team. If he is not healthy though, I like Pittsburgh to take it.

–If I had to take a #3 seed to surprise the world, I would go with Syracuse. That 6 overtime affair with UConn reminded me a lot of the regular season finale between the Patriots and the Giants two years back. On paper it was a meaningless game but both teams played hard to the end. Even in a loss it gave the Giants confidence to beat the Patriots in the rematch in the Super Bowl. Well, Syracuse won in 6 overtimes. Their confidence is high and with a great point guard like Johnny Flynn, and good three point shooting, watch out!

–First round upsets: Western Kentucky and Siena! Book it now!

–Other intriguing plays: VCU over UCLA and Northern Iowa over Purdue. Far from sure things but certainly could happen.

–4 televisions, 48 games, it is not Las Vegas but it will be fun! Let the madness begin!

Non basketball thoughts:

–Lots of talk about the 49ers making a run at disgruntled Denver quarterback Jay Cutler. I would love to see Cutler line up at QB next season for San Francisco, but it just won’t happen! If Cutler does move I would expect it to be Detroit or the Jets. San Francisco won’t make a strong enough play.

–The 49ers brought in T Marvel Smith from Pittsburgh for a look. He was a solid tackle, but due to injury I would worry that you are cutting one Jonas Jennings for another. The 49ers need to find another tackle at the #10 spot of the draft.

–Nice signing by the Raiders brining in Khalif Barnes. They got a tackle that produced well but not up to first round expectations in Jacksonville. They got him for just one year, at a good price and he is clearly and upgrade over Kwame Harris!

That is it for me. I am going to enjoy March Madness for the weekend. The blog goes on hiatus until Monday! Have a great weekend and here is to an upset filled weekend of great and exciting college basketball!!!

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49ers Quarterback Situation

Posted by davefowkes on 03/10/2009

The 49ers officially restructured the contract of quarterback Alex Smith. The new deal is reported to be a two year contract at a much smaller number than the $10-million he was supposed to make. The return of the former number one overall pick mean the 49ers have three quarterbacks under contract for the upcoming mini-camp and then the NFL draft. Bringing Smith back was wise, but the 49ers should not be done!

Shaun Hill is finally the man! Okay so maybe not, but heading into camp he certainly has to be favored to be the starting quarterback opening day. The career third stringer has had a pretty good run as a quarterback in November and December. Unfortunately because the 49ers are always out of it, his next meaningful game will be his first. Hill appears solid but certainly not flashy. He just seems to get the job done in an unspectacular manner. Of course that could be perfect for the new 49er offense which will be anything if spectacular.

Alex Smith still brings that big “p” word with him: Potential! I know the Niner nation is down on him for being a bust and a waste. You won’t get too much argument from me on that. But remember, at the end of his second year with Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator Alex Smith actual won some games for the 49ers. Remember the road win in Seattle? The undoing of Smith came first at the hands  head coach Mike Nolan and then with injury. He really hasn’t had an opportunity the last couple of years. It has been all classroom work and maybe, just maybe, that is what Smith needed the entire time.

Smith is saying all the right things today. He is talking about how this is a fresh start, and how he felt he has unfinished business. That is all well and good but the reality is Smith has very little value on the open free agent market and in San Francisco there is far from an established quarterback to compete with. This deal makes perfect sense for both the 49ers and Alex Smith. And if he can stay healthy, I would be willing to bet that he ends up starting some games for San Francisco this year!

That brings us to the number 3 quarterback. As previously stated in my blog, I think having Damon Huard on the roster is a waste of space. I stand by that. Sure Huard bring experience and is a nice guy. But the 49ers need to upgrade their quarterbacks in the short term and long term. And that can happen in the draft. The 49ers are set with Hill and Smith. Sure, they are not barn burners by any means but at least they will get themthrough this season. Now they need to start drafting mid-round quarterbacks in the draft until either Smith proves he is the real deal, or they find the right draft pick that does work out for them.  There are plenty of good quarterbacks in the middle rounds. Just keep drafting one until he works out. They might get lucky this year, it might take them a couple of years. But they have to start trying. Having Huard on the roster makes it much more difficult for a youngster to break in on the squad.

If Smith gets injured before the season starts, there will always be other Damon Huards of the world to sign to back up Hill. So, with that 3rd quarterback position the 49ers must look to the future. Because while the current team will survive with Hill, and may get a boost for Smith, the future of the 49er quarterbacking situation is very unclear! It is never too early to address it, and that should happen at some point in the 3rd, 4th, 5th or even 6th rounds of this year’s draft! Not doing that would be a major mistake.

OTHER NOTES:

Here is a great little post by Kevin Curtis of the Chronicle remembering the days of Eddie Debartolo and Bill Walsh. It will bring a tear to the eye of us old timers who remember the greatness of years gone past!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/ninerinsider/detail?blogid=45&entry_id=36668

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More Quick Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 03/10/2009

I am back from a long weekend in the wine country! Hmm, they have very good wine in Sonoma County! Now that I am catching up on all the sports I missed:

— My first article when I got back was going to be on how a team needed to sign Terrell Owens to a one year contract. Apparently I was not the only genius to realize that. I think the Bills got a steal. It is a great pick up for them. The Bills have been looking for a second WR going all the way back to the Andre Reed days. Now they plug in TO and how good does Lee Evans become? Owens clearly has the talent and with a lot to prove he is worth the risk. He is just not worth the risk on a multi-year contract. Good play for the Bills, and a great pickup for Trent Edwards!

–Third week of spring training and Eric Chavez has been shut down due to pain in his surgically repaired shoulder. Gee, who would have seen that coming? As a player I always liked Chavez coming up through the ranks. But unfortunately for Chavez fans, his body just can not sustain under the rigors of baseball. I just get the sense that the end is near for his career. Sure, maybe we will see him for some games this year, and next, but it is hard to have much faith in his ability to hold up for more than a third of a season or so.

–I wrote previously that this will be a big year for Bobby Crosby. Well, with Chavez out, Mark Ellis still recovering, I am thinking Crosby is still due for the big year. Contract is up, he is playing for a team that clearly is not excited about him, so he has much to prove! I will look for Crosby’s name on the opening day lineup at 3B.

–Let the Madness begin! Conference tournaments are underway and selection Sunday is just five days away. I am a big believer in the mid-majors, but even to an underdog hopeful like me, they are making a very hard case to get many at-large berths. Creighton getting crushed in the semifinal of the MVC. St. Mary’s needed a better showing then what they gave against Gonzaga. The mediocrity that exists in big name schools like Kentucky, Florida and Arizona, must be loving what they are seeing so far! Now the question is can any of those schools  go out and actually win a game!

–More on this later I am sure, but I like the idea that the 49ers have re-signed Alex Smith. Initial reports indicated it is a similar deal to what Shaun Hill has at about $2-million per deal. That is a great deal for a kid that still has great potential if he can stay in good health! I certainly like the Smith signing better than the Damon Huard deal!

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Huard Is Wasted Roster Space

Posted by davefowkes on 03/05/2009

The more I think about the 49ers signing of Damon Huard, the more aggravated I get. In true 49er fashion what may be worse than the signing itself is the timing of it all.

Lets start with the timing first. The 49ers bring in Kurt Warner and do the full on dog and pony show with the veteran QB. Whether a contract was offered – potentially much larger than what Warner settled for in Arizona – or not we will probably never know. But for a few days it got discussion going and gave fans time to dream. Then the day Warner re-signs with Arizona, the 49ers announce a 1-year deal with Huard. Talk about pulling the rug out from the fan base.

As for Huard himself, he is a career backup QB that landed in the starting role for a couple of years in Kansas City with a mixed amount of success. So what are the 49ers expectations for him as he comes west?

Do they want Huard to be a starter? They pretty much have a QB with the same skill set on the roster that is five years younger in Shaun Hill.

Do they want him to be a backup? Why not go with Alex Smith as the backup, at least he still has that big “P” word called potential if he ever gets healthy enough to play.

Do they want him to be a camp arm and third stringer? Why not draft someone in the mid rounds that can at least hold a clipboard and maybe even develop into a good QB someday?

I would hope the cost of having Huard is minimal and I am probably making too big a deal of this signing, but right now it just offers no excitement at all, the timing was really bad, and it may just be a waste of roster space down the road.

UPDATE: Here is a great piece from SI.com on how the 49ers really blew the Warner negotiations and how the struggles of the “organization” continue!  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jim_trotter/03/04/49ers/index.html

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Where Do The 49ers Turn Next?

Posted by davefowkes on 03/04/2009

Kurt Warner has signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The 49er nation can now either take a deep sigh of relief or bust out your tissues. The Warner dream is over. But what next?

The 49ers have Shaun Hill and Alex Smith on the roster and that is it. It is presumed that Alex Smith will renegotiate his contract and stick with the club, but that is far from a guaranty. Today there are reports that Damon Huard, formerly of Kansas City, was entertained in Santa Clara. Do the 49ers keep shopping for veterans?

My take is this, Sean Hill is an acceptable QB at best. Alex Smith still has the potential but until healthy and proves it on the field again, he will be a 2nd or 3rd string QB. The 49ers need to decide on a QB for now and the future. That was the beauty of bringing Warner in. They could start him this year and maybe next, draft a mid-round QB and start developing him for the future. So if the 49ers can get someone better than Hill for the right price, I say bring him in.

I don’t believe Damon Huard is that guy. He had a nice two year run in Kansas City but he needs to go be a backup somewhere else. I am intrigued by Jeff Garcia. There wont be a lot of passing in the new 49er offense so that could keep him healthier. I still like his mobility even at his age. And right now he still may qualify as the best QB the 49ers have had since he left.

I am not sure there are too many other older veterans that could fill the role for a year or two that would make San Francisco immediately better enough to put them into the playoff hunt. Byron Leftwich? Interesting idea I suppose but he does not excite me. Rex Grossman? NO WAY!

When the idea was first broached with me a few weeks back I laughed it off, but now with Warner off the table I am actually in favor of signing Jeff Garcia. But if the 49ers do not, I am not sure I would bring anyone else in. Especially if they are confident in the health of Alex Smith. I would go with Hill, back him up with Smith, and then I would start drafting QBs in the 3rd and 4th rounds for the next few years until I found one that I like. Even if they do sign a veteran I am a proponent of drafting a mid-round QB.

They already tried the first round QB approach with Smith, so I would pass on Mark Sanchez if he is still on the table at the #10 spot. I am not sold on Sanchez to begin with but even if I did like him, I just find so much more value on QBs in later rounds.

Hopefully the 49ers will pass on the all-exciting Damon Huard and either move on to Jeff Garcia or start looking at other free agents outside the QB position.

49er Notes: Backup RB Deshaun Foster was in Buffalo visiting with the Bills today. It seems unlikely that he will be back with the club next year and I would be shocked if the 49ers did not spend a 1st day draft pick on a RB to help shoulder the load with Frank Gore next year.

UPDATED POST: So of course 15 minutes after I post this blog, Matt Maiocco announces that Huard has signed a one-year contract with the Niners. Well, I will leave my thoughts on the subject above and respond to the signing tomorrow when we may have more details.

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Cassel To The Chiefs

Posted by davefowkes on 02/28/2009

The biggest move in free agency to date is a trade. All reports indicate the New England Patriots have traded QB Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs. No word yet on compensation. Cassel received the franchise tag from New England so one would think there is a first round pick plus others involved in the trade. (Monday’s thought: Cassel and Vrabel for a 2nd rd pick? Great trade by KC! I am stunned NE could not get more out of this deal. Granted it is a high 2nd rd pick,  I would have guessed multiple picks over the next two drafts. I love the additions for the cost for KC)

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3942130

An interesting trade. It was hard to imagine Cassel would earn all that money to stay and back up Tom Brady. This trade says two things to me: The Patriots believe Tom Brady will be 100% by the start of the season, and new Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is a big believer in what he saw out of Cassel this year.

I was not a huge Cassel fan last year but the reality is he did play pretty well down the stretch. He is clearly an upgrade at QB for Kansas City who has the new Pioli and Todd Haley regime coming in. The big question is can they surround him with another talent to get him to the be the QB he was last year? I will be very interested to learn how much KC had to give up.

In the end though, this is an upgrade for KC, a way to get younger (draft picks) for New England and probably a good “need” move for both teams. And after 20 years of Carl Peterson, Chiefs fans must be ecstatic about the moves newcomer Pioli is making!

—The 49ers made it official today, signing WR Brandon Jones from the Titans to a 5-year, $16-million deal.

http://blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers/2009/02/49ers-sign-receiver-jones-to-five-year-deal.html

As I said yesterday, definately not the splash and flash, but that type of move was really not ever expected. It does not sound like the over paid him although the length of contract is interesting. I suppose it falls into the low risk/high return type of signing that I expect to see a lot of from this free agent period in Santa Clara.

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More Free Agency Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 02/27/2009

–The Browns have reportedly sent TE Kellen Winslow to Tampa for undisclosed draft picks. A fresh start for Winslow is needed. The value of the trade will of course depend on what the picks are. Winslow has an injury plagued past so I would be surprised if Tampa paid to much for him. But what does this say about the era of Mouthy TEs? Last year Jeremy Shockey was traded. This year Kellen Winslow. Vernon Davis anybody?

–Matt Maiocco of the Press-Democrat is reporting that return man Allen Rossum will return to the 49ers. That is a good move by the 49ers. Rossum was a definate upgrade on the past and while expectations for him at his age can’t be great, he will at least solidify the position for 10-14 games.

–Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee is reporting the 49ers have come to terms with FB Moran Norris. This is a good signing. Norris was a great blocker for Frank Gore two years ago. He was ousted because of the Mike Martz experiment, but now that the 49ers are bringing back the 1950’s offense, a fullback was much needed and Norris is a good one.

–Barrows is reporting that the 49ers have agreed on a two-year deal with LB Takeo Spikes. Another solid move here. Spikes showed he still has game in the tank. Combine the talent of Willis and the experience of Spikes and I like that combo in the middle of the defense!

–Denver has been active. Nice upgrade on defense getting Safety Brian Dawkins. I think he still has some years left on his legs. They also add a couple of WRs. Jabar Gaffney is mediocre and David Anderson is a career #4 receiver. But with all the changes going on in Denver you really get the feel that the new regime is trying to turn over the roster without touching the tow kingpins: Cutler and Marshall.

More to come as the day progresses!

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A Few Thoughts: Free Agency, Hockey and Hoops

Posted by davefowkes on 02/27/2009

First up free agency. The first day is always fun:

–No surprise, the 49ers seem pretty quiet on day one. No big splashes yet! Matt Maiocco of the Press-Democrat is reporting that WR Brandon Jones of the Titans is due in town for a visit today and when players visit Santa Clara the first day they do not usually leave without a contract. Brandon Jones is just the unexciting player I thought the 49ers would dabble in. His stats: http://www.nfl.com/players/brandonjones/profile?id=JON102982.  I would hope the 49ers do not overpay him. Maybe there is potential which is fine, but he does not seem worthy of breaking the bank!

–Dan Snyder is at it again in Washington. He makes DT Albert Haynesworth the highest paid defensive player, then signs over-hyped CB Deangelo Hall to play CB. Remember the guy for the Raiders that could not cover anyone? One good signing and one bad one for the Skins on day one. But it goes to show that Snyder still has money and is willing to spend! Maybe some day it will actually work out for him!

–No shock to see Rex Ryan raid his former defense. A great addition for the Jets picking up Bart Scott from the Ravens!

–The National Post is reporting that the Raiders are interested in Center Jason Brown from the Baltimore Ravens.

On to other sports!

–Big win for the Sharks last night! Nice to seem them put together a solid effort and avoid the two game losing streak. Boucher continues to rock as a backup goalie!

–One of the most frustrating seasons I have endured as a Stanford fan. Being bad would be one thing but every game out it seems Stanford teases me with success before not being able to finish the deal in the end! They could have beaten UCLA last night, yet still fell short again! The season can not end soon enough!

–Punch the ticket, Cal is on their way to March Madness! After the OT thriller last night against USC, the Bears are now playing for seeding!

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49ers Look at Free Agency

Posted by davefowkes on 02/26/2009

Free agency begins tonight in the NFL at 9pm pacific time. That is when teams are free to start signing available players. Every year some big names sign for big cash to move to another team. Some lesser names sign for way too much money to move teams.

I am not expecting the 49ers to be too splashy this year. The 49ers are in an interesting mix. Unlike years past, they don’t have huge needs at every position, yet an upgrade could be had just about anywhere. This free agent period has the potential to be a very expensive one. The salary cap has gone up another $4-million or so, and every team is under the cap with money to spend. That means teams will be overpaying for what they get. It is not worth spending the money just to spend it. The 49ers need value for their buys and sometimes you don’t get value in a market like this.

If I were the 49ers I would play it pretty conservatively. If I were to break the bank it would be for Titan DT Albert Haynesworth. His character might be a bit questionable but his talent is not. You put him in the middle of that defense next to Justin Smith, it changes the way teams will look at the Niner defense. If there is one guy out there worth the price of admission, I would put it on Haynesworth.

However, I don’t see the 49ers in the hunt for Haynesworth. So the 49ers could look WR but given the new offense the 49ers will run, I am not sure it is worth big money to get one of the top WRs. They might as well go with what they have and look to upgrade through the draft. The other position the 49ers desperately need to upgrade is at safety. Not sure there is a big ticket player out there for the 49ers but I would be surprised if they did not bring in a second level player to compete at safety.

Other than that I would not expect to see a lot of activity from the 49ers in free agency. I would guess we’ll just see 4-5 support level guys to come in and compete for roster spots. I think the 49ers seem dedicated to building through the draft which is probably the right thing to do.

The 49ers have spent a lot of money lately on the likes of Justin Smith and Nate Clements in free agency. My hunch would be they will be much quieter this year.

But boy would Albert Haynesworth be a wonderful surprise!

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