Archive for the ‘General Commentary’ Category

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

  

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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

So……who wins the NFC West?

November 30, 2010

Lets take a look at the three “wanna be’s” final 5 games.

The Niners are 4-7 with these games remaining:

@Green Bay

Seattle

@San Diego

@ St. Louis

Arizona

The Rams are 5-6 with these games remaining:

@Arizona

@New Orleans

Kansas City

San Francisco

@Seattle

The Seahawks are 5-6 with these games remaining:

Carolina

@San Francisco

Atlanta

Tampa Bay

St. Louis

The Niners have, in this observer’s opinion, have far and away the toughest road to hoe. First they are a game back of the Rams and Seahawks. Second, they have two terribly tough road games, at Green Bay, and at San Diego to play. The away game in St. Louis is also very tough. The Rams are 4-2 at home this year and will be quite ready to return the loss to the Niners that was pinned on them at Candlestick. I predict the Niners lose three of their last five, and finish 6-10.

“On paper”, the Seahawks have the easiest road to the NFC West title, but their play of late isn’t exactly making  ESPN ‘s highlight show. Four of their last five games are at home and their road game is against the Niners.  Atlanta is a very tough draw and I’d expect a loss to there, but all the other games are imminently winnable. The question is, can Pete Carroll and Co. get their act together?

The Rams have road games in Seattle and Arizona which both are clearly winnable. The reigning Super Bowl champs on the road will be too much of an obstacle I would think. Kansas City and the Niners at home are both within their reach, especially the Niners.

So who wins the NFC West? My couple of nickels is on the St. Louis Rams. Who would have ever thunk it!

MN

“It’s on me”

November 23, 2010

This is apparently Coach Singletary’s new strategy to the demise of his team.  He implored reporters at his Monday post Tampa Bay game loss that any question about the team not performing well would be answered with…..  “it’s my fault.”  Turn overs, my fault. Lack of execution, my fault. Poor offensive line play, my fault. Lack of offensive creativity, my fault. Troy Smith being completely controlled, my fault.  This is kinda silly, really silly. It’s almost as bad as a coach or a person saying “nothing is my fault.”  I don’t know if any reporter asked the coach if with all these “my faults”, should be excused from his position? One could certainly make that argument as the owners of the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings certainly did.  Coach Singletary has also asked that we all the “wait until Monday night.” We assume this means his Niners are going to take it to the hapless Arizona Cardinals?  Wow, I can hardly wait for this clash of the titans. I think it’s pretty crystal clear to all of us that the Singletary led Niners is not the long term solution. The coach is an honorable man, a spiritual man, a committed man. He just isn’t well equipped enough to manage the on field performance of an NFL football team.  But this issue runs deeper that the head football coach as we have talked about on a number of occasions. The Niners really have to get some strong football minds both on the field and behind the desks in Santa Clara. If this can happen, things can start to change pretty rapidly. Just look at the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs for tangible examples.

MN

Not to diminish Troy Smith’s performance

November 16, 2010

But, please raise your hand if you were not impressed with rookie QB Sam Bradford of the Rams in the game last Sunday. This dude is the “real deal.” Very quick release, sees the field incredibly well for a first year player at the most demanding position in sports, and in possession of a big league arm. Rams management and fans have to be jumping for joy knowing Bradford will be manning the helm of the Ram offense for the next ten or more years.  And to think that Bradford is doing it this year with his probable starting wide outs, Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery, on the Rams injured resereve list.  I thought Bradford showed incredible poise against the Niners, especially behind an offensive line that isn’t exactly the Indianapolis Colts.  Another Big 12 rookie, Colt McCoy, is also showing up big time after being given the reigns at Cleveland.  While not having the physical tools that Bradford has, McCoy is a very smart guy and extremely accurate thrower. Like the Rams, the Browns are on the rise with their rookie QB. Is is nice to not have to completely lament that the Niners wish they had gotten a Bradford or a McCoy in the draft instead of an Alex Smith, now that Troy Smith has emerged as a player and a leader that gives them a chance to win games, not contribute to losing them. Sorry Alex, the party is over.

MN

A Mirror Image?

November 9, 2010

My good friend on our show, Jerry Walker, has a saying that I will paraphrase: “I root for two teams each week, the Niners and whoever is playing the Cowboys.”   I couldn’t agree more accept I would include ‘whoever is playing the Rams’, but I digress.

With that in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed the shellacking the Cowboys suffered at the hands of the Packers on Sunday Night Football.  With the subsequent firing of Wade Phillips today, the joy of knowing the Cowboys are in complete disarray overcame me, if only for a while.

In thinking about the demise of ‘America’s Last Place Team’, it occurred to me their downfall was the result of three primary things:  So-so drafting, poor coaching and a non-football-man, Jerry Jones, as the General Manager. This formula hasn’t, doesn’t and won’t work in the NFL.  Does this sound a bit scary to you?

MJ

Thank goodness for the SF Giants!

November 6, 2010

The Giants recent exploits have taken virtually all the Bay Area athletic spotlights off everyone else, including of course, the Niners.  Mike Singletary should send them flowers. Despite the win in London over a foundering Denver team, the Niners still are not inspiring any confidence in this observers opinion that they have turned any corners or have become a team that can consistently execute ……………and win.  Hopefully the Troy Smith experiment will prove to be more that a one game wonder.  Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson has ostensibly opened up more of the playbook to T. Smith, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of that. It would sure be nice to see the Niners stretch the field more and keep opposing defenses more honest.  With Vernon Davis and Ted Ginn, the Niners should indeed to able to come up with some balls that travel more than 20 yards.  One very positive thing that I think we all saw with Troy Smith in the Denver game is that he kept his head and eyes downfield when he was being chased or pressured.  This resulted in him being able to see if there were indeed reasonable opportunities to throw the ball, or run it himself.  When the the “other” Smith got pressured, all too often his first instinct was to just get rid of the ball. On way too many occasions that strategy resulted in a very poor throw or an interception.  The second half of the season has so many implications for the Niners.  Troy Smith could become a starting NFL quarterback going into next year. Mike Singletary and Mike Johnson could retain their employment.  Hell……….the Niners could even win the NFC West.  Or……all of those things could go in the complete other direction. If nothing else, the next eight weeks should be pretty interesting to observe on any number of fronts.

MN