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Posts Tagged ‘Football’

49ers get playmaker, then look to next year

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

Day one treated the San Francisco 49ers at the draft. They were first surprised to see a play maker fall to them in the first round, then acquired a first round pick in next year’s draft. 49er brass sounds happy.

The 49ers and their fans were quite surprised to see WR Michael Crabtree fall to them in the #10 spot of the first round. Crabtree is recovering from a broken foot but he is a two time Biletnikoff winner for best college wide receiver at Texas Tech. When the Raiders past on him at #7 he just kept dropping. Despite quality at OT and DE still on the board the 49ers selected Crabtree.

He is a play maker. He has a lot of potential and could be a star wide receiver in the NFL. 49er fans should be happy to finally have a play maker in the fold. That said, all of the emails/texts/social webpage response was nearly identical: Great pick by the 49ers but who is going to throw to him? I was against the 49ers picking a wide receiver other than Crabtree because it seems clear the Mike Singletary approach is to run, run and then run some more. With Shawn Hill at quarterback I don’t expect a very wide open offense. But most receivers dont turn into stars year one. So 49er fans should be patient and hope that in year two or three when Crabtree is ready to be a star, they have a quarterback or offensive game plan that is ready to take advantage of his ability. For now, just be happy they have a play maker at wide receiver.

The 49ers next move was surprising. With pass rusher Everette Brown still on the board, they traded their second round pick to Carolina for a first round pick next year.

My initial response is that anytime you can turn a second round pick into a first round pick it is a great trade. That said, the 49ers need players now, not in the future. Brown is a pass rusher which is always a need position. And Brown was selected by Carolina. If he turns into a star, you can be sure this trade will be second guessed again and again. Next year’s draft should be fun, but will that improve their 7-9 record this year?

In day 2 the 49ers need to find a decent safety, a backup running back for Frank Gore, and add some depth on OL, DL and a late round sleeper quarterback would not hurt. How about Graham Harrel of Texas Tech?

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Raiders send shockwaves through draft

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

Give Al Davis credit, he has everyone talking about the Oakland Raiders. Day one of the NFL Draft is in the books and the Raiders were number one in pulling surprises.

Reaching deep down the draft board, the Oakland Raiders selected WR Darrius Hayward-Bey with the #7 overall pick in the draft. After trading down in the second round, they went deeper down the draftboard to find DB Mike Mitchell out of Ohio University. Both players are super fast, but both players could have huge question marks and could have been had much later in the draft.

Hayward-Bey was the fastest player at the combine. Most people considered him an end of the first round or beginning of the second round talent. He never stood out at Maryland averaging 46 catchers per year and getting just 42 catches his senior year. He had some big games, but also some games where he would get shut out. But what is most frustrating to Raider fans is not so much that they went after Hayward-Bey, but there were two other wide receivers on the board graded much higher. Michael Crabtree is a two-time Biletnikoff award winner for best college receiver. But the Raiders went speed.

The Raiders chased that in the second round by shocking the world by selecting Mitchell. Mike Mayock on the NFL Network said he did not even know who Mitchell was until a couple of weeks ago when he ran a fat 40 at the Ohio University’s pro day. Mayock then raised him to a 7th round talent. Scouts Inc. was so excited by him they did not even include him in their coverage leaving him a zero grade.

With the draft nobody really knows what will happen. Who will be a steal, who will be a bust, who gets injured, but what we do know is about where players are to be selected. If the Raiders really wanted these speed guys, they easily could have traded down for more picks, or in Mitchell’s case waited another 3-4 rounds. There was a lot of other talent the Raiders could have used that was on the board when they selected Mitchell.

It just continues to show the Raiders have their own way of doing things, and that way seems to keep getting them back into the top 10 in the draft every year.

Today it certainly made for some good comedy while watching the draft!

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White beats Cardinal in Stanford Football spring game

Posted by davefowkes on 04/14/2009

It took a little while for the teams to kick it into gear, but when they did it was Andrew Luck leading the White team to a 42-17 win over the Cardinal team in the annual spring football game for Stanford. The red-shirt freshman put on quite a show under the lights at Stanford stadium in front of several hundred Cardinal fans as he tries to earn the starting job this fall. By my very unofficial tally, Luck was 19/26 for 383 yards and five touchdown passes.

Luck and returning starter Tavita Pritchard are competing for the starting job this fall. Pritchard played okay going 14/28 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. His night would have looked better had he not had Luck on the other side of the ball.

Coach Jim Harbaugh certainly noticed the effort by his young quarterback and while he would not commit to a quarterback for the season, Harbaugh did say, “If we started a game tomorrow, Andrew Luck would be our starter.”

Luck really only threw one or two bad passes. At least three of his incomplete passes were dropped passes or his numbers would have been even better.

Down 3-0 after the first quarter, Luck led the White team to its first touchdown. On a third and 16 play, Luck found Richard Sherman down the middle for a completion, and after Sherman put a nice move on the safety it ended with a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Luck’s next touchdown pass also went to Sherman. A nice 17-yard pass over the middle to Sherman who was interfered with trying to get free in the end zone. That score would make it 14-10 at the half in favor of the white squad.

The play of the game came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Luck again scrambling threw across his body downfield to Corey Gatewood for a gain of 55 yards. That set up a three yard touchdown run for Jonathan Stewart.

Luck had another great downfield throw to Doug Baldwin for 42 yards right down the sideline. It eventually led to a 20-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to Baldwin. That made the score 28-10 White.

In the fourth quarter, Luck again used his feet to step up in the pocket and fire the ball threw traffic to Ryan Whalen in the back of the end zone for a four yard touchdown pass.

The white would end the scoring in the game on a 4th and 10 play. It was deemed too long for a field goal attempt so they sent Luck and the offense back on the field. Luck fired a bullet 32 yards to the end zone to Coby Fleener who made a nice move on the defender to catch the ball and score the touchdown!

It was an impressive evening for Luck and both players and fans were impressed by what they saw. “That play was all Andrew,” Fleener said of his touchdown catch.

While Luck certainly stood out in the game, there were a number of other stars who made great plays. Pritchard had two short touchdown passes to the flat off of play action fakes. One went to fullback Owen Marecic and the other to running back Blaise Johnson who ran hard all night.

The surprise of the night was linebacker Alex Debniak, who made a few impressive defensive plays for the white, but wowed the crowed with his running ability at the fullback position. He surprised people with back to back runs of 11 and 14 yards in the second quarter. But the big run came in the 4th quarter when he rambled for 59 yards to set up a score. He capped his night on the red’s final drive by stopping a screen pass for a loss of three to set up a third and long.

The Cardinal were without many name players be it Toby Gerhart who was at Sunken Diamond playing baseball, or Delano Howell and Allen Smith who were out with injury. A lot of players played both ways because of that.

In the end it was great to see the Cardinal and White out there on the field. It was football under the lights! Now it is back to the weight room and film rooms for the next few months as they get ready for fall. And for the next four months the topic will continue to be who will start at quarterback for Stanford. Given tonight’s performance, that question may get answered sooner than later.

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Garcia A Nice Pickup By Raiders

Posted by davefowkes on 04/07/2009

Jeff Garcia is on his way back to the Bay Area, but the surprise is he will be suiting up in Silver and Black this time around. The Oakland Raiders have signed the 10-year veteran to be the backup quarterback for Jamarcus Russell. I am not sure what has gotten into Al Davis, but this seems like a pretty smart move to me!

I’ll start with the negative because that is just the type of guy that I am. I have no idea how Garcia fits into the Raider offense. He is much more of a Rich Gannon type quarterback then they style of play Al Davis likes to play. Will Garcia be successful in the Raider offensive philosophy or will it be more like his Cleveland days?

That being said though the idea of bringing in a veteran to back up Russell is common sense at this point. this is truly a make or break season for Russell. It is not to say that he has to put up pro bowl numbers but it is time to show that he is a legitimate NFL quarterback. The first year was a bust because of a holdout. He showed some signs in a down year last season. Now it is time for Russel to shine.

But if he doesn’t, or more likely if he gets hurt, the Raiders now have  a legitimate quarterback that can come in and keep the boat from sinking. Garcia’s best days are obviously behind him but as he proved in Tampa the last two years, he can still play this game. And if they need him for just a two or three game stint rather than a full season, all the better.

Garcia will bring leadership, heart and desire to a Raider team that has lacked those qualities for years. The price was right, the risk is low, and the reward could be very high. This signing just makes a lot of sense.

Have the Raiders turned over a new leaf?

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Cutler to the Bears

Posted by davefowkes on 04/02/2009

Sorry Niner fan, the dream is officially over! It is being widely reported that the Denver Broncos have traded Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for two first round picks, a third round pick and Kyle Orton! The Bears will also get a 5th round pick from the Broncos! A pretty impressive trade across the board!

I was a proponent of the 49ers picking up Cutler, but when you look at the cost, it was probably better they did not pull the trigger on the trade.

From the Bears perspective: They gave up a lot but how long have they been looking for a franchise quarterback? Orton was acceptable at best but certainly nothing special. The Bears could have drafted quarterbacks in the first round the next three years and may not have found one as good as Cutler. Looking around the NFC North, having Cutler at QB should put them in the mix for the top spot. They have a good defense, Matt Forte is a solid running back, all they could use is a bit of an upgrade at wide receiver and why can’t the Bears contend for a Super Bowl? It comes at a price, but a Super Bowl trip would certainly justify the cost!

From the Broncos perspective: Normally when a team is forced into trading a player, the value on return is not very good. But when you have a 25-year old pro bowl quarterback on the market, it sounds like the bidding was competitive. The Broncos would look better to me lining Cutler up at quarterback, but since they made the decision they could not work together, getting two first round picks a third round pick and an “starting” quarterback in return is a pretty good deal. Now the pressure is on the new management team to make those draft picks good ones!

The unraveling of the Broncos the last few months has been amazing to witness. For now the drama comes to an end with one of the big NFL trades in recent years. The Broncos can now concentrate on the draft and rebuilding a fallen team and franchise. The Bears can narrow their focus on competing for a Super Bowl!

A good trade for both teams in a really bizarre NFL world!

UPDATE:  The Bears announced the are signing tackle Orlando Pace. Pace was a salary cap casualty in St. Louis. The future hall of famer has injury issues but if healthy he will be a great protector of Cutler!

UPDATE AGAIN:  Watching some reaction on ESPN. Former players are focused on Cutler’s head and his new crybaby status. But local Bear reaction is concentrating on how long it has been since Chicago has had a real quarterback! It is an interesting comparison!

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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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Cutler To Be Traded!

Posted by davefowkes on 04/01/2009

This is just stunning to me to see how this situation has crumbled in Denver. First team owner Patrick Bowlen shocked many by firing Mike Shanahan. Then they hire Josh McDaniels from New England who promptly starts a war with quarterback Jay Cutler. And while most of us waited for things to finally smooth over, last night Broncos officials said things finally have reached an impasse and Cutler will be traded!

Here is the Peter King story.

Nobody looks good in this story. Jay Cutler is clearly acting like a child by not returning calls and pretty much being non-communicative. But the Bronco’s organization led by McDaniels really looks bad. McDaniels came in to Denver bringing the Bill Bellichek mantra of “my stuff don’t stink.” He messed with Cutler’s head, and while Cutler could certainly man up and handle things better, McDaniels should have never rocked the boat with the “franchise” quarterback.

So now what will happen? Cutler will get traded and get a second chance. The Broncos will be left with Chris Simms and whoever they can pick up in free agency or the draft. So how did McDaniels benefit from this power play he forced as he walked into town? A very bumpy start for the administration!

So where will Cutler go? I would certainly love to see him in San Francisco, but I know that is a pipe dream. Cutler is for real in my book. He’ll put up great numbers, has a great arm, and I believe has what it takes to be a winner. But that is not what the 49ers are looking for. They want someone that will quietly hand the ball off to Frank Gore every play.

The Lions, Jets and Buccaneers all make obvious sense. Profootballtalk.com  is reporting that Washington has jumped into the fray with a possible Cutler for Jason Campbell trade.

I will be very interested to see what Cutler brings in a trade. Everyone knows the Broncos are behind the 8-ball, so who will pony up the big offer knowing that the Broncos will trade him?

What I do know is that one NFL team is about to get a lot better at the quarterback position while the Denver Broncos will be without a quarterback, have a mediocre running game and not much of a defense. My how things have collapsed in Denver. The collapse started on the field when the Broncos could not lock away a playoff visit despite a three game lead in the division in December, and now the slide continues through the offseason!

As it stands now I would say Denver is the clear cut favorite for last place in the AFC West and unless that defense improves, they could really challenge Detroit and some other teams for the top spot in the draft next year!

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Gorilla Rilla Lives!

Posted by davefowkes on 04/01/2009

I thought this was an interesting little feature on a star from the Black Hole!

Gorilla Rilla from Insidethebayarea.com

The Raider Nation is certainly filled with some colorful characters. Maybe more so then any other team. And they keep coming out to the park year in and year out despite the “great” results.

Then again if they stayed home, they might miss the games on TV.

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Signing Smith Changes Everything

Posted by davefowkes on 03/27/2009

Matt Maiocco is reporting that the San Francisco 49ers have officially signed Tackle Marvel Smith. The former ASU standout and long time Pittsburgh Steeler gets a two year deal. In a related move, the 49ers released tackle Jonas Jennings.

I look at this signing like they replaced one Jonas Jennings with another. I’ll keep the brief since I discussed it earlier in the week, but the 49ers big issue with their big free agent splash with Jennings was he could not stay on the field because of injury. So now they bring in Smith who has missed good portions of the last two seasons with a back injury! Now it sounds like the contract is a smart one, it reportedly pays Smith upt $10-million if he plays and reaches his potential but if his back flares up, it costs the 49ers little.

With the quality of tackle in the NFL draft I really thought the 49ers should use the 10th pick on a tackle and pair him with Joe Staley for the next 10 years. I guess that dream is over! So now as we turn our gaze toward next month’s draft, it seems pretty clear the 49ers will go in a different direction.

I am very hopeful they will NOT pull the trigger on a quarterback. They have already done that and with a stagnant offense ready to take the field, why waste the money at the position? So where do the 49ers go? They could hope one of the two wide receivers drop to them. Anyone looking for excitement would love to see Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin drop to the 49ers at #10. My hunch is they are both gone by the 49ers pick, but I’d like to see either with the 49ers next year.

More likely the 49ers will turn their attention to defense. They need help at safety but I don’t see a safety ready to go at #10.  So I am thinking that barring a trade, the 49ers end up going with a defensive lineman. Not a bad play. The 49ers certainly could use help there. It won’t be a flashy name but maybe it can be somebody to play opposite Justin Smith.

One wildcard for a former linebacker like Mike Singletary: How about drafting Ray Maualuga out of USC?  He could replace Takeo Spikes in a year or two and match with Patrick Willis for the next 10 years? It certainly sounds good. But as of today my money still goes to one of the many defensive linemen ranked high in the draft.

Marvel Smith is a nice player and if healthy it will turn into a good signing, but the health is a big question mark. I would have gone a different way, but now that Smith is a 49er, it is the 49ers who will be going a different direction. I hope it works out for them!

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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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NFL Gives Thanks: To The Raiders?

Posted by davefowkes on 03/24/2009

Just what the world needs on Thanksgiving Day: Oakland Raider football! The NFL announced a few of their games yesterday from the owner’s meetings in Southern California. The greatness of the Raiders is back in the limelight with a Monday Night football game against San Diego, and then the big shocker, a Thanksgiving Day match up in Dallas! Yum! Turkey, potatoes and all the stuffing to go with Oakland Raider football! Yeah, I can not wait for Thanksgiving!

The other Thanksgiving Day excitement will feature Green Bay visiting Detroit and in the NFL Network affair, the Giants will travel to Denver. Despite plenty of talk about getting rid of a horrible team on national TV, the NFL owners did not have the heart to take the Thanksgiving Day game away from Detroit! I suggest the Lions win one sooner than later though.

The opening weekend nationally televised games were also announced. Pittsburgh and Tennessee will square off in a very enticing match up that first Thursday night. The Bears and Packers will do nothing for me as the first Sunday night game. And then we have the now traditional Monday Night double header that this year will open with Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills playing host to the Patriots, followed by the west coast night cap of the Chargers in Oakland!

It is the third time in four years the Raiders have played that second game on Monday night. Their first two games were not fun getting shut out by the Chargers in 2006 and shellacked by Denver last year. Yet the NFL felt it wise to put them back in the time slot again this year? Well, at least it is one guaranteed sell out for Oakland!

To cap it off with the Raiders visit to Thanksgiving really is over the top. Is the NFL expecting the Raiders to be good this year? Did Jerry Jones suggest his old friend Al Davis just so he could guaranty the Cowboys a win? I agree the Raiders are set to improve, but Raiders Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day does nothing for me here in March!

But maybe in November we will all give thanks for the game! If not, pass the turkey please!

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