Aldon Smith to Outside Linebacker?

May 1, 2011

That’s what being said about the #1 pick of the Niners. The San Jose Mercury reports…..”A defensive end for the Tigers, he will converted to OLB, where the 49ers hope he emerges as the pass-rushing threat they so sorely lack. He set a league (Big12) freshman record with 19 tackles for a loss in 2009.”

I am confused (what’s new?) at why the Niners want to annoint  A. Smith as an OLB considering they have four players at that position that seem to present a nice rotation? Those players of course would be Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson, Travis LaBoy, and Ahmed Brooks. Maybe the free agency status of some of these players is what’s coming into play here?  Manny Lawson is a FA and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go. I believe Travis LaBoy is as well, but I for one sure hope the Niners bring him back. I felt he was a big contributor last year and recorded 5 sacks as a part time player.

Now back to the issue at hand. Aldon Smith was a DE at Missouri and a great physical specimen. 6’5″, 265 lbs, with a wing span bigger than a 747. Why not keep him at DE replacing Issac Sopoaga who delivered an unremarkable 1.5 sacks and 25 tackles in 2010? In contrast, the “other Smith”………..Justin, had 70 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Great teams, even ones who play the 3-4, need to get pressure from their DE’s and Sopoaga just hasn’t been able to deliver in this area.  Thus, teams who found a way to block Justin Smith had a lot of success throwing the ball against the Niners.

Personally, I like Aldon Smith as the third member of the front three of the Niners, with Haralson and Brooks starting as OLB’s , with a lot of Travis LaBoy mixed in. 

MN

More thoughts on the NFC West day one draft picks

April 29, 2011

After all of the phone calls and emails from friends and family wondering about Aldon Smith and why the Niners took him, I have developed a three word response for any subsequent queries: Think Charles Haley!

While I admit to having a squeamish moment when the Niners were on the clock, the sight of Aldon Smith, and NOT Blaine Gabbert, on his phone, eased my anxiety.  I had Smith as the second best pure-pass rusher in the draft behind Von Miller.

While not as fast as Miller, Smith is taller, quicker in change of direction and has extremely long arms, all attributes of great pass rushers.  It was definitely a pick of need and if he pans out  (I think he will) our defensive backs will get a lot better.  I also think my colleague, Mark Naismith, will sleep a little better a night and might not be quite as grumpy.

The Cardinal’s grab of Patrick Peterson (sources have told me he was first on the Niners board) was more of a replacement for Antrel Rolle than as a lifer on the corner.  He will switch to safety by year three.

The Rams had to be disappointed in not getting Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones as a toy/target for Sam Bradford, but North Carolina defensive lineman, Robert Quinn, will be part of a stud Ram line for many years to come.

If you think the reaction to Aldon Smith was loud here in the Bay area, did you hear the clap of thunder in the Pacific North West when the Seahawks grabbed Alabama’s offensive tackle James Carpenter with their first pick?  Carpenter wasn’t in the top 10 offensive tackles on a majority of the draft sites across the board.  He could turn out to be terrific, but the point here is he could have been there much farther down the line.

As for rounds two and three today, here’s hoping the Niners are looking for a quarterback and corner back.  With the first pick in the second round, various sources are reporting that the Patriots are listening to offers for the pick, with the thought being someone wants to move up to get quarterback Andy Dalton of TCU.  Dalton is my top rated quarterback and it is known that Niner coach, Jim Harbaugh, is high on him.  Would the Niners swap #2’s, add one of their #4’s this year and maybe a #2 next year to get that pick and jump ahead of Cincinnati and Arizona?  Would YOU do that?  If not, the thought here is to go for a DB in round two and a running back in round three.  Quarterback T.J. Yates will be there on day two, and don’t forget, Alex Smith is visiting the Niners today, presumably to talk contract?

Enjoy day two!

MJ

NFC West thoughts on day one of the 2011 Draft

April 29, 2011

Once Patrick Peterson didn’t make it to the Niners at pick number seven, which a number of folks thought he wouldn’t (yours truly included) I was hoping, hoping, hoping, that they would pick a pass rusher, and that’s what they did. There might indeed might have been some more well known names on the board than Missouri’s Aldon Smith, but he is  the new type of NFL coveted hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker who can get after the passer. We’ll see in the next couple of years if he was the right guy.

Going into today’s second round I like how the Arizona Cardinals are sitting. They have P.Peterson on his way to Phoenix after eschewing a quarterback pick, which they sorely need, and TCU’s Andy Dalton is still on the board. Carolina and Denver won’t be QB shopping, and Buffalo has more pressing needs given the fact their incumbent, Ryan Fitzpatrick from Harvard, is still a young guy and passed for 3000 yards and 23 TD’s last year despite being sacked 24 times. That puts the Bengals between the Cardinals and Dalton. I guess it all will get down to how the Carson Palmer thing is going, or not. It would seem that Palmer might be very happy with Cincy’s number one pick, A.J. Green of Georgia.  Dalton could turn out to be as good as any QB in this draft, and the ‘Nals could be the benefactor.

The Rams could have walked away with a great player to be in North Carolina’s Robert Quinn who did not participate in the 2010 college season after being dismissed by the Tarheels for accepting “improper benefits.”  Quinn is a complete stud by all accounts and if the Rams really vetted his character, he could be a real defensive force for the Rams joining young players like  Chris Long and James Laurinaitis.

The Seahawks made a pretty pedestrian pick in Alabama Offensive Tackle James Carpenter who many pundits thought was a second rounder. However, Carpenter paired with last year’s number one, Russell Okung, might well give the ‘Hawks a great pair of bookend tackles for the next decade or more.

On the day two.

MN

Cream of the 2010 College Crop

April 27, 2011

Here’s who Hooked on the Niners’ Mitch Juricich thinks is the best of the best at their position in the 2010 college class, as well as some sleepers he likes.

 QB:Blaine Gabbert,Missouri,6’5”,234lbs,4.62 (40 time)

 Running Back:Mikel Leshore,Illinois,6’,230lbs, 4.55

 Fullback:Owen Marecic,Stanford,6’1”,244lbs,4.80

 Wide Receiver:Julio Jones,Alabama, 6’4”,220lbs,4.39

 Tight End:Kyle Rudolph,NotreDame,6’5’,265lbs,4.65

 Center:Steven Wisniewski,Penn State,6’3”,306lbs,5.35

 Guard:Mike Pouncey,Florida,6’4”,311lbs, 5.28

 Tackle:Anthony Costanzo,Boston College,6’7”,300lbs,5.23

 Kicker:Alex Henry,Nebraska,6’2”,175lbs

 Punter:Chas Henry,Florida,6’3”,215lbs

 Defensive End:J.J. Watt,Wisconsin,6’6”,292lbs,4.84

 Defensive Tackle:Marcell Dareus,Alabama,6’4”,306lbs,4.93

 Outside LB:Von Miller,TexasA&M,6’3”,243lbs,4.44

 Inside LB:Martez Wilson,Illinois,6’4”,250lbs,4.49

 Cornerback:Patrick  Peterson,LSU,6’1″,220lbs,4.34

 Safety:Rahim Moore,UCLA,6’1”,196lbs,4.59

 Sleepers:

Jeff Van Camp,QB,Florida Atlantic, 6’6”,225lbs, 4.84

Joe Morgan,WR,Walsh,6’1”,184lbs,4.39

Ricardo Lockett,WR,Fort Valley State,6’3”,210lbs, 4.35

Terrance Oliver,WR,LSU,6’5”,205lbs, 4.45

Jeff Maehl,WR,Oregon,6’1”,190lbs,4.62

Virgil Green,TE, Nevada,6’5”,240lbs, 4.56

Hooked on the Niners 2011 Mock Draft

April 25, 2011

Everyone else has one, so why not us?  This mock draft was researched and put together by our resident draft expert Micth Juricich.  This dude is a student of the draft and has been ranking players and doing a mock draft for years.  Hopefully Mitch’s prognostication of the Niners getting LSU corner Patrick Peterson will come true. Peterson is a great athlete and by all accounts a can’t miss NFL prospect. It appears indeed be time to move Nate Clements to safety and present a much more formidable defensive backfield. If Paterson comes off the board before #7, it will be very interesting to see what the Niners do.  Many “pundits” have them selecting Nebraska corner Prince Amukamura. It certainly appears that a corner may be the number one priority of this team, but then again, who in the heck really knows except those guys in that mystical war room? The draft never goes like all the guessers and prognosticators think it will, so settle in for three fun days of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, at least on paper.

MN

1-Carolina: Cam Newton,QB,Auburn

2-Denver: Marcell Dareus,DL, Alabama

3-Buffalo: Von Miller,LB,Texas A&M

4-Cincinnati: A.J. Green,WR,Georgia

5-Arizona: Blaine Gabbert,QB,Missouri

6-Cleveland: J.J. Watt,DE,Wisconsin

7-S.F.: Patrick Peterson,CB,LSU

8-Tennessee: Nick Fairley,DL,Auburn

9-Dallas: Anthony Castonzo,OT,Boston College

10-Wash.: Julio Jones,WR,Alabama

11-Houston: Aldon Smith,OLB,Missouri

12-Minnesota: Christian Ballard,DE,Iowa

13-Detroit: Gabe Carimi,OT,Wisconsin

14-St. Louis: Prince Amukamura,CB,Nebraska

15-Miami: Phil Taylor,DT,Baylor

16-J’Ville: Da Quan Bowers,DE,Clemson

17-N.E.: Cameron Jordan,DE,California

18-San Diego: Ryan Kerrigan,DE,Purdue

19-N.Y. G’s: Justin Houston,OLB,Georgia

20-T.B.: Robert Quinn,DL,North Carolina

21-K.C.: Muhammad Wilkerson,DL,Temple

22-Indy: Derek Sherrod,OT,Miss. St

23-Phily: Tyron Smith,OT,USC

24-N.O.:  Akeem Ayers,LB,UCLA

25-Seattle : Jake Locker,QB,Washington

26-Balt.: Jimmy Smith,CB,Colorado

27-Atl.: Kyle Rudolph,TE,Notre Dame

28-N.E.: Mike Pouncey,OG,Florida

29-Chicago: Nate Solder,OT,Colorado

30-N.Y. J’s: Stephen Paea,DT,Oregon St.

31-Pittsburgh: Danny Watkins,OG,Baylor

32-Green Bay: Marcus Cannon,OG,TCU

I hate Aaron Rodgers!

February 8, 2011

No…………not really, but that guy has just become so damn good! Move over Mr. Manning and Mr. Brady, there’s a young gun in town who is gonna be stealing some headlines from you boys. Obviously, as Niner fans it’s quite painful to watch Mr. Rodgers play the game at such a high level at such a young age, as compared to what the Niners have lined up behind center since Jeff Garcia rode off into the sunset.

One needs to remember though that despite Rodgers’ considerable physical talents and mental acumen for the game, he was really in a great situation going to Green Bay. He got drafted by a very accomplished football team. He has had solid coaching continuity. He wasn’t rushed into the heat of battle. He had the unique opportunity to carefully watch and learn from a Hall of Fame quarterback. Don’t get me wrong, we all wish the Niners had the crystal ball on draft day in 2005 and called the name Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith, but honestly no one saw this Rodgers “thing” coming. Sure, he was seen as a first rounder by most pundits, but never a top 5 pick, let alone a number one overall.

Just for yuks it’s always fun to speculate what Alex Smith would have become had he been drafted by the Packers, and what Aaron Rodgers would have become adorned in Niner red and gold. I’m guessing that the intrinsic talents in both these players would have landed them not far from where they are now. I don’t think Vince Lombardi could have cured Smith’s tentative nature as a QB, and even Mike Singletary couldn’t have screwed up Rodgers.

Coach Harbaugh is currently suggesting that he wants to try and convert the person who was drafted number one overall in 2005 to a real NFL quarterback. Line up a couple of congressional medals of honor if that were to happen. In the meantime, it was nice to see the emergence of a local kid, Mr. Aaron Rodgers, ascend to the top of the mountain both as an individual player, and a world champion.

MN

  

Are we there yet?

January 20, 2011

Just a couple of thoughts to ponder as we all settle in to watch the conference championship games this weekend.

It’s kind of interesting that all four teams have quarterbacks that were drafted in the first round. Jay Cutler was a first round pick that eventually wore out his welcome and got traded. Ben Roethlesberger was drafted out of a small school (Miami of Ohio) and brought to a team that just needed a guy to “not screw it up”. He has since become the king of the “not-screw-it uppers.”

Mark Sanchez was asked to do the same thing for the Jets last year and in year two of his career, this is his second conference championship game. Aaron Rogers had the luxury of sitting and learning behind a legend. I think you can say that didn’t hurt.

All four teams have solid coaches with different styles and very, very good defenses that can sack the opposing quarterback. So let’s see, the common denominators among the four teams are a quarterback, a coach and a pass rush. With the hiring of Jim Harbaugh I guess Niner fans can take solace in the fact that our glass is one third filled.

MJ

How did the Falcons get so good, so quickly?

December 21, 2010

Please look at Atlanta’s leadership line-up below, and compare and contrast it with the Niners “brain trust.”

Team President: Rich McKay (13 year GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

General Manager: Thomas Dimitroff (Former Director of Scouting, New England Patriots)
 
Head Coach: Mike Smith (Former Defensive Coordinator, Jacksonville Jaguars, Assistant Defensive Coach, Baltimore Ravens)
 
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Mularkey (Former Offensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers, Head Coach, Buffalo Bills, Offensive Coordinator, Miami Dolphins)
 
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Van Gorder (Former LB Coach, Jacksonville Jaguars, Defensive Coordinator, University of Georgia)
 
Dimitroff and Smith started the  incredible rise from the ashes with their 2008 draft class which produced 5 starters, all at very key positions.  How about Quarterback Matt Ryan, Offensive Left Tackle Sam Baker, Middle Line Backer Curtis Lofton, Free Safety Thomas DeCoud, and Defensive End Kroy Biermann.
 
The 2009 and 2010 drafts are not filled with a lot of household names, but consider this. Seven 2009 draft selections and seven 2010 draft selections are currently on the Falcons roster.  Many play now, others are just waiting for their opportunity.
 
Note to Jed York…………….this is how it’s done.
 
MN

Niner-Charger post game thoughts…..

December 18, 2010

For whatever reason, I had a good thought about the San Diego game, I really did.  No, eggnog was not involved in my pregame thought process, although it was heavily involved in my post game recovery.

My biggest disappointment?  I don’t know about anyone else, but at my house, on my HD television, there were seemingly endless times when Charger receivers caught a pass AND THERE WERE NO NINER DEFENDERS ON MY SCREEN!  What defense was that?

Next on my heartbreak list?  I’m afraid we may have whiffed with our 1st pick in the draft (Anthony Davis) and our 3rd pick (Taylor Mays).  One leads the league in sacks given up and the other…well, he may have expired for all I know.  Good teams don’t miss on picks that high.

Lastly, I was asked at lunch the other day if now that Donovan McNabb is unofficially out in Washington, would I consider giving up a draft pick for him to come to San Francisco.  My initial response (yes!) was challenged, and after further review I think that if two of the top coaches in the league, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan pass on him, maybe I should consider there may be hint there!

Here’s wishing you Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh in your Christmas stocking and a 2011 season with a plan.

MJ

Audible Anyone?

December 18, 2010

The radio airwaves in the Bay Area were spewing venom on Friday after the Chargers dismantled the Niners on Thursday night at the Murph. Calls for the head and most other body parts of Coach Sing and Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson were being heard more than any Christmas music. ‘ Tis the season to be thoroughly fed up with the Niners it seems. The one  little different take away that I had from the game, that wasn’t maybe talked about ten million times after the contest, was something before the fourth and inches call after Alex Smith’s TD lunge at the pylon was not to be.  Sure, we all saw Anthony Dixon get almost immediately tackled by Charger  linebacker Brandon Siler behind the line of scrimmage which launched  the assembled masses off their sofas and bar stools in anger and dismay……but my question is….did Alex Smith have permission from the Niner brain trust to call an audible on that play when he arrived at the line of scrimmage? My guess was no. He dutifully executed the call radioed into him and did the slow developing reverse pivot hand off to Mr. Dixon which fooled no one in the stadium, much less the Charger defense. I guess Mike Johnson felt the 6 inch QB sneak was just way too predictable? Maybe I’m wrong, but it just appears that the Niners refuse to let their quarterback, especially their very bright and master of the playbook one make any calls on their own?  Do you think Tom Brady or Payton Manning would have sauntered up to the line on 4th and inches, looked at the opposing defense and thought…..hmmm, the play I’ve been given probably won’t work given the defensive alignment I’m seeing, but damn the torpedoes, that what was called and that’s what I’ll do. 

MN


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