The "Official 2008 San Francisco 49ers Thread"

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Props Slaps
 06-23-2008, 01:03 PM         #141
Myles Away  OP
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Wideout corps in much better hands this season

Ever since Terrell Owens' awkward departure from the 49ers after the 2003 season, the organization has not found a No. 1 receiver. Heck, some might say they never found a No. 2 receiver, either.

This year could be different. On the surface - and this is still five weeks before the opening of training camp, mind you - the 49ers look to be in much better shape at that position than at any point in the past five seasons.

Brandon Lloyd and Cedrick Wilson were the top wideouts in '04 and '05, and neither went on to starting gigs elsewhere. Antonio Bryant teased the 49ers with a few good games before he imploded. The most consistent 49ers receiver since Owens' departure has been Arnaz Battle.

Battle is a solid receiver. He runs good routes; he's got good speed; he's bright; he has good hands; he blocks well. And, now, it appears he's the team's No. 3 receiver. That might not be great news for Battle, but it's good for the offense if the 49ers have found a couple other receivers who are better.

The most-intriguing newcomer is Bryant Johnson, who played in the shadow of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald with the Cardinals. Johnson is an impressive-looking fellow. He's 6-3, 215 pounds and runs well. In '06, he averaged 18.5 yards a reception.

When Johnson became a free agent, there was not the market for the former first-round pick that some - most notably, Johnson - had expected. So the 49ers were able to sign Johnson to a one-year deal. There is no question Johnson is hungry to prove he's an elite wideout.

Johnson said he wants to put together a good season and sign a long-term extension with the 49ers. Ordinarily, a receiver from the NFC West looking to pad his stats and prove himself would not come to the 49ers. (In case you haven't noticed the 49ers' passing game has ranked 32nd, 29th and 32nd the past three seasons).

But Johnson said he is confident that will turn around this season. Why was he attracted to the 49ers?

"Coach (Jerry) Sullivan. He was my coach my rookie year in Arizona. That was an attraction," Johnson said. "Coach (Mike) Martz coming here. That was an attraction. And knowing they needed some help at the receiver position, that was an attraction. It was easy for me to make that decision. And I was a childhood fan of the 49ers. That also helped."

Johnson should eclipse his previous best of 49 receptions in a season. My guess is that he'll end up being the team's top receiver. But the other guys aren't slouches, either.

--Isaac Bruce. He is not the explosive force he was with the Rams, but he still has a few games left in him. There's no question he can get open, now it's up to the quarterback to get the ball in his hands.

--Battle. He can play. He has a chance to do some good things as the No. 3 man and slot receiver.

--Ashley Lelie and Jason Hill. Both of these guys were lost in the shuffle last season. Both had a difficult time adjusting to Sullivan's strict coaching. They were asked to run routes a certain way, and that made for a difficult transition. Already, both Lelie and Hill are getting more chances on the practice field than they got last year. (Remember, Lelie missed most of the offseason program with a quad strain, and Hill nursed a hamstring pull during the season.) Both Lelie and Hill are far more confident as they enter their second seasons with the 49ers.

--Josh Morgan. The sixth-round draft pick also has shown flashes during the OTAs. But in this crowded group, it's going to be a challenge for him to make an impact.

The bottom line is this: The 49ers are going to be just fine at the wide-receiver positions this season. And that's not even taking into consideration the impact of tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, and running back Frank Gore in the passing game.

* * *

Free-agent offensive tackle Barry Sims is getting close to arriving at a decision on a team. The 49ers are very much in the mix with perhaps a 50-50 shot of landing the nine-year veteran. It might be decided tomorrow. The Ravens, Rams and Patriots were also vying for his services. (I know the math. If four teams are interested, the 49ers would technically have a 25-percent chance. But I'm sticking with the 50-50 odds.)

* * *


These stories are outta order, oh well...
 06-27-2008, 01:40 AM         #142
Myles Away  OP
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Taking an early look at the 49ers' roster

Fewer players will head to training camp with the 49ers - and around the league - this summer because there are no longer any roster exemptions for NFL Europe players. That makes a lot of sense, because there's no longer an NFL Europe.

The 49ers, however, will have one roster exemption. International practice-squad player Ramiro Pruneda will be the 81st player allowed on the 49ers' camp roster.

The 49ers currently have rights to 84 players, but only 78 are under contract. Draft picks Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, Reggie Smith, Cody Wallace and Larry Grant remain unsigned.

The team can have no more than 81 under contract. The 49ers will probably make a few cuts in the next couple weeks to get comfortably under the roster limit. That way, they won't need to cut players as they sign the rookies. Also, if the 49ers need to pick up a player early in camp, they won't have to release someone.

* * *

We're talking roster today. With a month before camp opens, here's how we at Instant 49ers see the roster shaping up:

Locks: 34 -- Something dramatic would have to occur for any of these players to be excluded from the 53-man roster.

Chances are good: 21 - The majority of these players will be on the final roster. Let's say 17 or 18 will make it. But these players can't afford to let down during training camp or they run the risk of not sticking around.

A lot of work to do: 28 - In some cases, these are the long shots. In other instances, these are players who face a lot of competition at their respective positions to retain roster spots. Still, perhaps one or two of these players can elevate their games and be part of the final roster.

Quarterbacks (4)

Locks: Alex Smith, Shaun Hill. Chances are good: J.T. O'Sullivan. A lot of work to do: Drew Olson.

Running backs (6)

Locks: Frank Gore, DeShaun Foster, Michael Robinson. Chances are good: Moran Norris, Zak Keasey. A lot of work to do: Thomas Clayton.

Wide receivers (10)

Locks: Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce. Chances are good: Ashley Lelie, Jason Hill, Josh Morgan. A lot of work to do: Robert Jordan, Dominique Zeigler, Jerard Rabb, Cam Colvin.

Tight ends (5)

Locks: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker. Chances are good: Billy Bajema. A lot of work to do: Cooper Wallace, J.J. Finley.

Offensive line (16)

Locks: Joe Staley, Adam Snyder, Eric Heitmann, Chilo Rachal, Jonas Jennings, David Baas, Barry Sims. Chances are good: Cody Wallace, Tony Wragge. A lot of work to do: Damane Duckett, Jeb Terry, Alan Reuber, Joe Toledo, Brian de la Puente, John Booker, Ramiro Pruneda.

Defensive line (12)

Locks: Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Kentwan Balmer, Aubrayo Franklin. Chances are good: Ronald Fields, Ray McDonald. A lot of work to do: LaJuan Ramsey, Walter Curry, Melvin Oliver, Joe Cohen, Atiyyah Ellison, Louis Holmes.

Linebackers (12)

Locks: Patrick Willis, Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Jeff Ulbrich. Chances are good: Larry Grant, Brandon Moore, Dontarrious Thomas, Tully Banta-Cain. A lot of work to do: Jay Moore, Roderick Green, Dennis Haley, Shaun Richardson.

Defensive backs (14)

Locks: Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Reggie Smith, Michael Lewis, Mark Roman, Dashon Goldson. Chances are good: Shawntae Spencer, Donald Strickland, Tarell Brown, Marcus Hudson, Keith Lewis. A lot of work to do: Markus Curry, D.J. Parker, Lewis Baker.

Specialists (5)

Locks: Andy Lee, Joe Nedney, Brian Jennings. Chances are good: Allen Rossum. A lot of work to do: Ricky Schmitt.

* * *

I'll spend a good portion of Thursday answering specific roster-related questions in the Comments section. I'll even explain why I have certain players in the different categories.

* * *

If you think Bee-rows needs a little competition as a blogger, you might be just the person to put him in his place. Fan Media Network, an independent news and entertainment media company featuring fan reporting for sports, is looking for folks to become reporters and cover the teams of the Bay Area. Among the panel of judges for the competition are KTVU's Mark Ibanez and former 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes. Check out the Fan Media Network site for more information. And don't forget who sent you.

* * *

UPDATE (9:09 a.m.): The 49ers have officially announced the signing of free-agent offensive tackle Barry Sims. Terms of the deal were not announced, but it is known that Sims signed a two-year contract.

* * *
 06-27-2008, 01:44 AM         #143
Myles Away  OP
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Martz: Gore quick on the field and in the classroom

June 26, 2008


Here is more of the Mike Martz interview I have been s ... t ... r ... e ... t ... c ... h ... i ... n ... g out over the past week. And yes, I've noticed that when Martz talks about his new offensive players he sounds like a proud papa reaching for his wallet to show you his beautiful babies. And yes, Martz had many gushing things to say two years ago about his offensive weapons on the Detroit Lions. But I think the bottom line is that over spring practices Martz was pleasantly and genuinely surprised by what he has to work with in San Francisco. The talent level here certainly is better than No. 32, which is where the offense ranked last season.

The key in this segment is what Martz says about Frank Gore's ability to learn his system. Remember, Gore had a low-low Wonderlic score entering the draft, and teams worried about his dyslexia almost as much as they did his surgically repaired knees. Learning the playbook, however, never has been an issue for Gore since joining the 49ers.

Q: Did anything surprise you about Frank Gore during minicamp and OTAs?
MM: "He's a one-time guy. You tell him once and he has it. That's really a remarkable quality. He really learns fast. He's a very sharp guy. So that means you can use him in a variety of ways, if you will. So, no, he's been outstanding with that. Usually guys who have been featured runners with a limited exposure, it's hard for them. He's not been that way at all. We've been able to put him out there has a wideout, we've motioned him outside, we've used him in a variety of ways. He's retained it, done an exceptional job with it and just really learns quick. The other thing I didn't realize until I saw him in person is how explosive he is when he runs the football. He has a gear he gets to - you blink and he's in it. He's a special player, there's no question about it. He's an elite player in this league. I'm just so excited to have him."

Q: A lot of people think he's going to be Marshall Faulk. Is that accurate?
MM: "I don't think that's right to say. I think Marshall's Marshall, Frank is Frank. Frank has his own skill set. Frank is Frank. There are things that we'll play to that are really strengths of his."

Q: Running between the tackles?
MM: "Well, anywhere. He's got that speed and explosiveness. He does it all. He really does. He's a physical guy that you can hammer or you can use him as a perimeter guy. So, I don't think I'd put a limitation on what he can do, really. It will be kind of fun to see."

Q: Did you know much about Michael Robinson coming in?
MM: "No, I really didn't. I really didn't know. All the coaches were so high on him and he had such little experience as a runner. I looked at him on tape and he looked so natural at it. We got out here and he's another of those high-character, learns-quickly guys. You can ask him to do multiple things. Those guys are the heart and soul of your football team."

Q: Will he be in the backfield with Frank at times?
MM: "Sure. Absolutely. There's no question about it. We'll use them together - absolutely."

Q: Because they're both adept at catching passes out of the backfield?
MM: "No question. And defensively ... one can block for the other or use them both as receivers. There's all kinds of things that can happen out of that, you know?"

-- Matt Barrows
 06-28-2008, 12:25 PM         #144
Myles Away  OP
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Joe Staley & Patrick Willis were on the NFL network yesterday. Here the clips...

 07-01-2008, 01:41 PM         #145
Myles Away  OP
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Either way, Allen does not figure to return

There are not a whole lot of issues hanging over the 2008 49ers that figure to be resolved before the start of training camp.

In the coming weeks, we'll learn that Alex Smith will take the bulk of the snaps with the first-team offense at the start of training camp. We'll learn that all the draft picks will be signed before the club is scheduled to report on July 24.

And, perhaps, we'll also learn that Larry Allen has made a decision - if one is not made for him.

Certainly, all indications are that Allen plans to retire. But Allen, a man of few words, has not said anything. His agent, Marvin Demoff, also is silent. Demoff has not returned repeated emails and phone calls over the past several months.

Allen is a free agent. He does not have a team, so he does not need to inform anyone if he plans to hang up his cleats after 14 seasons.

Last year, Allen kept everyone guessing for a while when he was under contract to the 49ers. He did not take part in the team's offseason program. Then, he showed up for training camp a day late. Allen ended up starting 16 games and played every snap. He got off to a slow start, but played better late in the season.

But the 49ers are moving forward in '08 without Allen. Coach Mike Nolan intimated several weeks ago that he did not expect Allen to return. At this point, even if Allen wants to come back it seems that it would not be the wise thing for the 49ers to re-sign him.

Allen is the dominant offensive lineman of his era, and a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. He can still use his brute strength to move around defensive linemen. But at this stage in his career and with more of an emphasis on the 49ers' passing game, Allen does not appear to be a good fit for the team.

Adam Snyder is slated to start at left guard. He's younger and more athletic - a better pass protector. Heck, he started 11 games at left tackle a year ago. It's doubtful Allen would take a significant pay cut from his $4.2 million average of the past two seasons. It's also highly doubtful he would want to compete for a starting job.

Snyder took part in the offseason program. With just one full-time starter on the O-line returning at the same spot from a year ago (center Eric Heitmann), the chemistry-building offseason was more important than ever. There were many times a year ago, when it seemed as if the line was not on the same page.

The 49ers feel good about their depth at this point. Their guards are Snyder, David Baas, Tony Wragge and Chilo Rachal. Two of those players will be backups. Also, they have a fourth-round pick, Cody Wallace, slated for a backup center role to Heitmann.

Their tackle situation is a lot better than it was a couple weeks ago with Joe Staley at left tackle, and Jonas Jennings and Barry Sims competing at right tackle. The person who does not start will give the team an experienced player who is versatile enough to fill the all-important backup role at either tackle spot.

Allen has started the past 206 regular- and post-season games in which he has appeared since his rookie season of 1994. But if he came back to the 49ers, it would seemingly be in a reserve role.

I just don't see the logic in that -- from either side.

* * *

UPDATE: The 49ers waived linebacker Shaun Richardson and offensive lineman John Booker this morning, the club announced. Both players were signed as undrafted free agents. The 49ers made the moves to clear roster spots for when the club signs its remaining draft picks. Click on their names to read my recent Take 5s with the young men.

* * *
 07-07-2008, 02:01 AM         #146
bayhogg  OP
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alright just a heads up for the the niners my boy is getting these shirts printed soon as well as some for other moments in nfl history but ill show this one now since im a niner. let me know what you guys think.. Ill also try and have pics of training camp when it comes near my home.


[pic - click to view]

 07-07-2008, 02:24 AM         #147
Myles Away  OP
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 bayhogg said:
alright just a heads up for the the niners my boy is getting these shirts printed soon as well as some for other moments in nfl history but ill show this one now since im a niner. let me know what you guys think.. Ill also try and have pics of training camp when it comes near my home.


[pic - click to view]

That sh*t is tight man... Let us know whats good.
 07-07-2008, 02:59 AM         #148
Myles Away  OP
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BTW, on Monday NFL Network is gonna be airing the Jets vs. 49ers 1998 when Garrison Hearst Overtime 96 yard Run...
 9 years ago '05        #149
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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It's mid August. Do you know who your quarterback is?
When I asked Mike Nolan today whether he and his offensive a.ssistants had settled on a quarterback rotation for training camp, I expected him to say that they had yet to have that meeting. (After all, the guy was zipping around Afghanistan in a Blackhawk helicopter for a week). When he started to answer in the affirmative, I expected him to say that Alex Smith would get the lion's share of the training camp repetitions. Instead, he said the status quo - Smith and Shaun Hill sharing snaps - would continue until the third preseason game on Aug. 21. And that's surprising for several reasons.

You might remember the interview I had with Mike Martz in which he said that he had never before split offseason snaps among his quarterbacks. Martz did say that he was impressed with how much of the playbook Smith and Hill had already absorbed but he also intimated that a true pecking order at quarterback would be coming soon. He also said he had enough information from minicamp and OTAs to decide which of his passers would be atop that pecking order.

Which leads any rational observer to conclude that it's Nolan, not Martz, calling the shots at quarterback. Now Mike Nolan has many positive attributes. Making calls on defense is one. a.ssembling a locker room full of upstanding players is another. Choosing a coat-and-tie ensemble is yet another. Offense? He hasn't exactly displayed a deft touch with that side of the ball. (See: 4th down decision making; clock management; choosing an offensive coordinator; Smith, Alex). But that's ok. In the offseason, Nolan hired a man who not only oozes offense but who has a reputation as a quarterback kingmaker. Why not allow Martz to make the decision? And why not begin training camp with a No. 1 quarterback?

After all, there's lots to learn. And perhaps more important, the current situation lends itself to second guessing. Let's be clear. Whoever finally wins the starting job will struggle because every NFL quarterback struggles at some point during the season. In Week 12 last season, Eli Manning threw four interceptions in a 41-17 loss to the Vikings and finished with a 33.8 passer rating. But he didn't have to worry about losing his job. If the eventual 49ers starter falters - and he will -- the fans, the media and the players will automatically glance to the sideline to see if the other guy is warming up. And that's not a good situation.

So why will the competition drag on well into August? Maybe Nolan senses that none of his quarterbacks has the full confidence of the team. Maybe he believes that the eventual starter will earn the respect of his teammates by winning the job outright. But isn't Martz's decision enough to command that respect? This is a guy who turned Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger into stars and Jon Kitna -- Jon Kitna!! -- into one of the league's most prolific passers. When Martz picks a starter, every player on that team should fall in line. The question is whether Martz will get to make that decision.
 07-18-2008, 07:05 PM         #150
Myles Away  OP
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Easy answer to the 'bust' question

It was a question that was quick and to the point. In other words, it was the perfect question to read and ponder.

When is a bust officially a bust?

And it's an easy question to answer. A bust is a bust when the bust has left the team and everyone can agree he did not produce up to expectations.

Until that point, he might be performing below expectations, his play might be disappointing - heck, he might be toiling on the bench -- but he is certainly not a bust.

As long as the book has not been closed on a player's tenure with a team, it is premature to label anyone "a bust."

* * *

And, remember, one team's bust might be another team's treasure - or Hall of Famer.

You all know the story of Jon Steven Young - one of the great busts in Buccaneers history.

He was chosen with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 supplemental draft. He played in the USFL in springs of '84 and '85, so when he arrived on the scene with the Buccaneers later in '85, he had already gotten a taste of pro ball.

His first season was bad. His second season, at age 25, was worse. He started 14 games for a team that went 2-14. He completed 53.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His passer rating was 65.5. The Bucs rated 27th in the league in passing out of 28 teams.

In 1987, the Bucs gave up on Young. They selected Vinny Testeverde with the No. 1 overall draft pick and shipped Young to the 49ers.

With the 49ers, Young became a Hall-of-Famer. But he was forever considered a bust in Tampa Bay.

* * *

Although no name was mentioned in the original question, it is reasonable to a.ssume that Alex Smith was the inspiration for the question.

I still contend that your opinion of Smith should not have changed last year. He played three games last season. Anything else you saw from him after his shoulder injury is irrelevant. The man simply could not throw after he tried to return to the field.

Everyone - myself included - likes to cite the famous comments of Urban Meyer after the 49ers selected Smith with the No. 1 pick in 2005. Here is exactly what Meyer, Smith's college coach at Utah, said when he addressed Smith's ability to adapt:

"It's going to be interesting in San Francisco," Meyer said. "Alex is an extremely quick learner. However, he's a guy that, until he understands it, he is nonfunctional. He is a guy that -- I keep hearing how Brett Favre kind of makes something out of nothing and is a person that runs around to make a play -- Alex Smith is not that kind of player. Alex Smith is a person that, once he is taught, has to learn it all. He might struggle early, but once he gets it, he gets it."

I asked Meyer what he meant by the word "nonfunctional."

Meyer answered: "I'm going to be anxious to watch his development with the 49ers. Alex is so careful with the ball. His touchdown-to-interception ratio the last 2 years was phenomenal (47 touchdowns and seven interceptions). That's because, unless he knows exactly what's going on, he won't throw it. He won't just try to guess and take a shot. He has to know.

"That's why, early in his career, and early in our career with him at Utah, he was not an effective passer, because he really didn't understand. Once he understood, there was no one better. He learns quickly, though. But he's not a guy that you throw the ball out there and tell him, 'Go play.' He wants to know what is exactly expected of him and then he becomes a dynamite player.''

* * *

While the Smith skeptics certainly have fuel for their arguments, there is no way I'm closing the book on Smith.

When you think about it, you'd be hard-pressed to think of bad interceptions Smith has made in his career. There have been times when he simply made a bad throw. But there have also been interceptions where the receiver ran the wrong routes or the ball tipped off the hand of the intended target. There have been times when he's tried to force the ball into a receiver in a desperation situation. But there haven't been the instances in which he made a horrible read and took an unnecessary, careless risk.

One point Smith made this offseason when talking about the new system is that Mike Martz leaves nothing to chance. Smith said that Martz gives the quarterbacks all the answers. If this and this and this happens, then the quarterback has been taught exactly what to do.

That seems to be exactly the kind of system in which Smith can thrive.

* * *

The Raiders have agreed to a joint practice with the 49ers, Raiders senior executive John Herrera told the Contra Costa Times. The 49ers could not immediately confirm, as Mike Nolan is out of the office until Monday.

The joint practice is expected to take place in Napa, leading up to the teams' exhibition game on Aug. 8. The talks of a joint practice first surfaced last week.

The 49ers last had a joint practice in 1998 with the Chargers in Stockton. While the Raiders last practiced with the Cowboys in El Paso, Texas, also in 1998.

Quick story about the 49ers practice: I remember it was 1998 because that was R.W. McQuarters' rookie season. It was a night practice at the University of the Pacific stadium. In order to get to the stadium, I had to walk past Dwight Clark's office. It was dusk, and Clark's lights were on in his office. The blinds were open. As I past Clark's office, I noticed out of the corner of eye that something was written on his white board. I walked back and peered through the window. McQuarters and the 49ers had not yet agreed on a contract. But on the board were the terms of McQuarters' contract, written neatly with a blue marker. I copied down the information in my notepad. When I saw Clark out on the field, I asked if the sides had agreed to terms. He confirmed the agreement and, bingo, I had a story with all the financial details.
 07-20-2008, 01:22 PM         #151
Myles Away  OP
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Kawakami: Camping with 49ers and Raiders

By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Sports Columnist
Article Launched: 07/20/2008 01:39:35 AM PDT

NFL training camps open this week, so hold me back. The anticipation for fifth-string cornerbacks covering sixth-string receivers . . . it's just too much!

Frankly, there's no better time to set the stage for the best story lines and open up multiple cans of worms as the 49ers start up in Santa Clara and the Raiders head to Napa.

Story line No. 1: 49ers Coach Mike Nolan is on the hot seat after three wobbly seasons.

Nolan knows he's on the hot seat. What does this mean? I bet Nolan did his research and found an example of a tightly wound coach who was under fire after three seasons and then fixed the problems resoundingly in Year 4.

The perfect precedent for Nolan: Tom Coughlin, who was almost fired by the New York Giants after the 2006 season; diligently tried to re-embrace the media; accepted the rise of General Manager Jerry Reese; hired a new offensive coordinator (Kevin Gilbride, promoted from quarterbacks coach); got Eli Manning going at quarterback; and then won the Super Bowl.

Obviously, these teams are not equivalent in talent or range of expectations - Coughlin was almost fired after getting to the playoffs in consecutive seasons; Nolan was kept on after three consecutive losing seasons. But it seems clear that Nolan has picked Coughlin as his 2008 spiritual model.

This spring and summer, Nolan has gone to the KNBR studios to meet several of the hosts; he has remained calm while G.M. Scot McCloughan took over the
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personnel reins; he hired a new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz; and he hopes to have a reliable quarterback after the battle between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill.

Sound familiar? If Nolan continues down the Coughlin road, he'll loosen up a little with his players and roll with the punches instead of flinching and overreacting. Will he do it? We'll see.

Coughlin won a Super Bowl and made a legend for himself. Nolan just needs to go 8-8 to make sure he is still employed in 2009. If not as 49ers coach, maybe as a midday traffic reporter?

Story line No. 2: JaMarcus Russell is under the microscope.

Year 1 with the Raiders was a wash, but Year 2 is when the great ones show signs and the shaky ones start getting exposed. Russell looked steadier and drew raves from Coach Lane Kiffin in the camps this spring and summer. But is Russell, the No. 1 overall pick two drafts ago, ready for defenses that are fine-tuned to stop everything he likes to do?

The perfect precedent for Russell: Carson Palmer, who went No. 1 overall to Cincinnati in 2003 and didn't throw a pass that season but didn't leave much doubt once he took over in 2004.

In his first starting season, Palmer threw 18 touchdown passes, completed 60.9 percent of his attempts, helped the team to an 8-8 season and gave off the general vibe of a franchise quarterback in the making.

Russell is two years younger than Palmer was in 2004, but he has the same rocket arm and carries the same responsibilities. If the Raiders hope to pull out of their recent run of squalor, Russell must be at least as good as Palmer and probably better, starting right now.

Story line No. 3: Alex Smith, in his fourth season, either ends the 49ers' quarterback confusion by September, or he's done as their quarterback of the future, present or any other time frame.

If he can't beat out Hill in camp and the exhibitions, Smith will stick around and might win back the job at some point - but he'll never be thought of the same.

The perfect precedent for Smith: Eli Manning, who was selected No. 1 overall a year before Smith and bounced back from early criticism to play spectacularly down the stretch for the Giants last season, his fourth as a pro.

The bad precedent: David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 who got whacked around right away in Houston and never came close to stardom. (Current role: a backup to Manning.)

Story line No. 4: Al Davis' big-money splurge means that splurge recipients Javon Walker (if he's healthy), Tommy Kelly, Gibril Wilson, DeAngelo Hall and Kwame Harris will be watched very carefully this summer.

But also, the premium players who haven't gotten big long-term money, such as Nnamdi Asomugha (yet to sign his one-year franchise tender, and might skip some time) and Derrick Burgess, might not have their hearts in training camp unless they get paid. Which might lead to disruptions in September and October.

The perfect precedent for Davis: the Bronx Zoo-era New York Yankees, who fought each other, fought for attention, fought for contracts, and still won games.

The bad precedent: every other team in sports history that was torn apart by financial disparities and a lack of leadership.
 07-20-2008, 01:29 PM         #152
Myles Away  OP
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49ers Training Camp Preview: Offense gets extreme makeover
By Matthew Barrows -

Last Updated 12:47 am PDT Sunday, July 20, 2008
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C1


The 49ers head to training camp this week chastened by a 2007 campaign that fell well short of expectations but optimistic after a busy offseason. The team brought in big names on offense and defense, starting with former Bengal Justin Smith. The 280-pound Smith will a.ssume a playmaking role at defensive end as well as fill the leadership void left by Bryant Young, who announced his retirement last season. The 49ers also augmented their defensive line with first-round draft pick Kentwan Balmer, the first lineman drafted by the Mike Nolan regime who truly fits the 3-4 defense the coach has wanted to run since he arrived.

On offense, the 49ers found two starting-caliber wide receivers in free agency, and better yet, plucked them from division rivals. Longtime Rams star Isaac Bruce was brought in for his leadership while Bryant Johnson is finally out of the shadows of former Cardinals teammates Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

The 49ers' biggest addition, however, was to the coaching staff.

The team's 2007 offense was so bad and so boring that at times it was hard to watch. In offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the team added a man whose name is synonymous with creative and high-scoring attacks. The 49ers hope that if they fix their problems on the offense, perhaps the lofty expectations they had in 2007 won't seem so unrealistic.

If the problems aren't fixed? Nolan's fourth season in San Francisco might be his last.

WHY THE 49ERS WILL IMPROVE

The Martz effect

In the two years Mike Martz was in Detroit, the Lions' offense jumped from 27th in the league to 19th. If the 49ers experience a similar lift, the team's overall fortunes should improve dramatically. Perhaps the best sign is that Martz isn't forcing the 49ers, long a power-rushing team, to adhere to a new formula. Martz recognizes the team's talent at tailback and tight end, and he is tailoring the system to those strengths. In San Francisco, Martz has the rushing attack, offensive-line talent and defensive support he lacked with the Lions.

Willis, part two

Last season, rookie linebacker Patrick Willis was the scourge of offenses, chasing down ballcarriers in every corner of the field. He finished the season with a league-leading 174 tackles, 33 more than the second-place finisher. His run-down of Cardinals wide receiver Sean Morey, a tackle that kept the 49ers alive in an overtime contest they ultimately won, was the play of the year for San Francisco. And yet Willis says his performance was not good enough. If he adds turnovers to his repertoire, the 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year could be looking at Defensive Player of the Year.

On the hot seat

After the 2007 season, the Yorks decided to retain coach Mike Nolan for a fourth season. A fifth, however, is a long shot unless the team improves dramatically. That pressure should prompt Nolan, who has a conservative tendency, to give Martz free rein with the offense.

WHY THE 49ERS WILL STRUGGLE

Two's a crowd

The 49ers have a quarterback conundrum, and they haven't even reported for training camp yet. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill will continue to share snaps in practice, and Nolan said a starter won't be picked until the third exhibition game against the Bears on Aug. 21. Even then, the winner of the competition could lose the job before opening day, Nolan said. While that pressure is designed to squeeze the most out of the team's passers, it also could hurt if the starter is constantly looking over his shoulder and trying to avoid mistakes. Should the starter struggle, everyone – from the media to the players to the starter himself – naturally will look to see if the backup is warming up.

Where's the rush?

The 49ers have three primary edge pass rushers – defensive end Justin Smith, linebacker Manny Lawson and linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. All are decent, but not one has registered double-digit sacks in his career. Without a true sack artist, the 49ers again will have to engineer their pass rush, a situation that puts pressure on even the best secondaries. As games last season against the Saints' Drew Brees and the Cardinals' Kurt Warner proved, the 49ers' defense can't afford to give opposing quarterbacks time to throw.

When egos collide

The 49ers have a conservative, defensive-minded head coach and a risk-taking, iconoclastic offensive coordinator who used to be a head coach. Both men have strong personalities. Both crave control. So far, the relationship between Nolan and Martz has been cozy and cordial, and both coaches realize their own success hinges on the other man. But with a head-coaching job on the line – for both men – who knows what will happen should the team struggle.

CAMP FACTS

Report date: Thursday. Camp ends: Aug. 22.

Camp site: Team headquarters, Santa Clara.

Practices: Closed to public, except for selected dates/times – Saturday, 9 a.m.; July 27, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; July 28, 4 p.m.; July 30, 4 p.m.; Aug. 1, 4 p.m.; Aug. 2, 9 a.m.; Aug. 3, 4 p.m.

Coach: Mike Nolan, fourth season.

Record: 16-32.

Last season: 5-11, third place NFC West.

Key additions: Justin Smith, DE, free agent; Isaac Bruce, WR, FA; Bryant Johnson, WR, FA; Kentwan Balmer, DE, draft; Chilo Rachal, G, draft.

Key losses: Bryant Young, DE, retired.; Larry Allen, G, contract expired; Justin Smiley, G, FA; Kwame Harris, T, FA.

Key preseason dates: Aug. 26, roster cutdown to maximum of 75 players; Aug. 30, roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players; Aug. 31, clubs may establish practice squad of eight players.

Team Web site:
 9 years ago '05        #153
lakersboy03 6 heat pts
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good reads...excited but not too excited this year...
 9 years ago '05        #154
lakersboy03 6 heat pts
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Training Camp July 30th...I'll be there
 07-23-2008, 01:05 AM         #155
Myles Away  OP
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49ers Sign CB Smith

July 22, 2008
The San Francisco 49ers announced Tuesday that they have signed third-round draft choice CB Reggie Smith. Terms of the contract were not announced by the team.

Smith (6-1, 200) was the 75th overall pick out of Oklahoma. He saw action in 39 games with 36 starts for the Sooners, with 20 of those starts coming at strong safety and 16 at cornerback. Smith earned All-Big Twelve Conference first-team honors as a junior.

Smith’s signing leaves the 49ers with just two of the team’s six 2008 draft picks unsigned. First-round pick DT Kentwan Balmer and fourth-round pick C Cody Wallace are the remaining draft selections to be inked.
sf49ers.com
 07-23-2008, 02:48 PM         #156
AlCapone  OP
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so whats ur guys expectations this season?
 07-24-2008, 10:48 PM         #157
Myles Away  OP
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 AlCapone said:
so whats ur guys expectations this season?
Don't know man... In 06' my expectations were low, but they were actually pretty watchable. Last year they were damn near high and that got me nowhere. This year I'm being optimistic, knowing that if Smith doesn't get it done, they actually will be consequences for both him and Nolan. I think thats the pressure the both of them need to prove that they belong in the NFL.

:applause: to the start of training camp.
 07-25-2008, 12:20 AM         #158
Myles Away  OP
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B.Y. among familiar faces on reporting day

The 49ers have announced the signing of first-round pick Kentwan Balmer. And Balmer just met with the media a.ssembled here at the Marie P. DeBartolo Centre in Santa Clara.

Bryant Young also reported to camp today, but not as a player. (He is retired -- and he's apparently not planning a Favreian flip-flop.)

Young met Balmer and told him that he plans to be around a lot. I don't know at this point if B.Y. is on the 49ers' payroll, but he could definitely be an a.sset to players as someone to they could look up to for guidance.

Balmer, a life-long 49ers fan, said he immediately recognized Young. And Balmer was shocked that B.Y. knew him, too.

"He said he'll be around consistently, and everytime I see him I'm going to try to milk him for knowledge," Balmer said.

"He is a polite guy -- great guy. I didn't know he knew who I was. I wanted to hug him and jump on him, 'That's Bryant Young!' He was a real cool guy. We got a chance to talk and I'm going to talk to him every chance I get."

--Balmer has been issued a new number. He has gotten rid of No. 67 and he has No. 96 hanging in his locker. It's a number change that he fully endorsed.

--By the way, as previously reported, Balmer's deal is five years, $8 million with approximately $6 million in guaranteed money. Incentives can bump up the total package to a maximum of $11 million. Balmer credited his agent, Gary Wichard, 49ers chief negotiator Paraag Marathe and the entire 49ers organization for making sure the deal got completed on time.

--Balmer worked at left defensive end in the 49ers' 3-4 defense during the offseason program. If the 49ers were to switch to a 4-3 base (as defensive coordinator Greg Manusky recently suggested in an interview on the team website), Balmer said he has no idea where he'd play.

--Alex Smith was carrying a thick binder with him outside the 49ers' practice facility. He had a meeting this morning. He said his surgically repaired shoulder is feeling good, though he added that he will continue to do "maintenance work" on it through the year. He said the shoulder has a tendency to get fatigued if he's been throwing for long periods of time. Smith said the last thing to return is the deep ball, but he added that he's getting better and better with it.

--Smith said camp is so long that he believes he will have plenty of reps to get ready for the start of the regular season (if he wins the QB competition against Shaun Hill).

--Everyone is expected to be here, to my knowledge. Arnaz Battle, who was a surprise no-show for the first week of OTAs, is in the building.

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 07-26-2008, 01:06 PM         #159
Myles Away  OP
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Afternoon Session Day Two

Quarterback Monitor - Afternoon Practice

One correction from the morning session, Alex Smith threw two interceptions, one in seven-on-seven drills when Arnaz Battle slipped, got up, but couldn't make the catch. Linebacker Parys Haralson picked off the deflected pass, and as he ran towards the end zone, you could hear Haralson yelling, "Yoo-hooo, Yoo-hooo."

In the afternoon, Smith ruled the day. Shaun Hill was intercepted three times, one by rookie linebacker Larry Grant, who made an athletic play, another by rookie cornerback Reggie Smith when Smith cut off receiver Bryant Johnson's route, and the last one by Shawntae Spencer in seven-on-seven drills when Hill was trying to throw the ball away. Spencer made a leaping catch.

Hill did throw a touchdown pass to receiver Dominique Zeigler when somebody dropped a coverage and left him wide open. In all, Hill, very unofficially, went 13 for 20 with the three interceptions, including one drop by Ashley Lelie on a deep pass. The ball was right over Lelie's shoulder but he dropped it while in traffic.

Smith, very unofficially, went 13 for 17, but finished strong, completing his last eight straight passes in seven-on-seven drills. Many of them were difficult over the middle throws.

EYES AND EARS

Here are some random observations from the day:

-The second practice was far more spirited, probably because the team played in front of a crowd, than in the morning session. The quarterbacks and receivers were different players in one-on-one drills in the afternoon than they were in the morning when there were several errant throws and dropped passes. In the second practice, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan threw to receivers with cornerbacks covering them, and on the other side of the field, rookie Kyle Wright and Alex Smith threw to backs and tight ends with linebacker and safeties in coverage. I watched Hill and O'Sullivan mainly, and O'Sullivan impressed. His arm looked strong and he completed several long passes including one in particular to rookie speedster Robert Jordan.

-Arnaz Battle came out for the second practice without a helmet and observed. The 49ers said it was a planned rest for Battle, who's still recovering from an ankle sprain from OTA's. Curious. It will be interesting to see if he practices tomorrow.

-Between practice, I heard a voice sing, "I'm a drug dealer." It was Nate Clements who was lying in a ice tub and singing along with his ipod.

-Josh Morgan again showed well in the second practice. He was very personable when I talked to him afterwards. I'll will write something on him tomorrow.

-Cornerback Marcus Hudson got something going with a fan in the crowd during the afternoon practice. After making a few plays, Hudson pointed to the fan and jabbered.

-Secondary coach Johnnie Lynn kept a running dialogue going with the crowd in the afternoon practice. After running back Frank Gore made a devastating cut, Lynn said, "I like that one myself." When his secondary left Dominique Zeigler open for a long reception, he told his secondary, "I want that one back!" Four plays later Shawntae Spencer picked off Shaun Hill. When Hudson knocked away a long pass, Lynn looked at the crowd and yelled, "That's a great play!" and crowd responded with cheers.

-When cornerback Allen Rossum stoned Cam Colvin at the line of scrimmage, Hudson yelled out "Game Over!"

-Tight end Vernon Davis turned Manny Lawson around twice on a one-on-one drill.

-Overall with the quarterbacks, Hill seemed more instinctive, but he made a lot of mistakes. Smith kept with it and broke through at the end in the seven-on-seven drills.

-At the end of the afternoon session, an appreciative crowd cheered the 49ers off the field.

Posted By: Kevin Lynch (Email) | July 25 2008 at 06:53 PM

Listed Under: Team | Comments (19) : Post Comment
 9 years ago '05        #160
ChickzNKickz 100 heat pts100
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Glad to see Manny back... I heard he made an athletic leap to snatch away an interception on a ball meant for Davis.....
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