Friday, January 7, 2011

Harbaugh To The 49ers Seems To Fit

It is final. The week that was "Harbaugh Mania" came to a close on Friday with the 49ers pulling out on top and signing Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to a 5 yr./$25 million deal.

The week that was had the Bay Area at the center of the sports universe with its best college team dueling with the its most notable pro team in a game of "Who wants to pay me more?"

Turns out, it wasn't even about that. It was Harbaugh's decision. He made his decision early this morning and the news broke around mid-afternoon sending 49ers' fans in a frenzy.

The 49ers got their man, but debate today was about whether this "hot comidity" was just that. Is he? Hopes are high. The comparison was that of Bill Walsh coming from the coaching ranks at Stanford and leading the 49ers to a football dynasty. Is Harbaugh the second coming? That remains to be seen, but it looks good on paper...right?

There's something about Harbaugh, though. He led a Stanford team from the slums to, most likely, #3 in the nation when it's all said and done.

Something about him, something about his attitude, the way he coaches on the field says he will not let his team fail. He just doesn't tolerate it.

Another good thing about Harbaugh. He won't pull his pants down in order to make a point. Although, I cannot confirm that as of yet.

It's a great hire by a franchise that needs a pick-me-up after a most disappointing season. Now the work begins. And we will see how hard Harbaugh is willing to work, but I'm willing to say the 49ers got a really hard worker.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Can You Spot The Next 49ers QB?

Did you happen to watch the Insight Bowl on December 28th? How about the Holiday Bowl on December 30th? Maybe the Sugar Bowl on January 4th? Odds are you at least peaked at one of them while flipping through the channels one day. Might have you had a peak at the 49ers 1st round pick of the 2011 NFL Draft? Quite possibly.

In the Insight Bowl, you had a quarterback for Missouri named Blaine Gabbert, who recently passed up his senior year for a promising NFL Draft; in the Holiday Bowl, you had Washington’s Jake Locker, who if he came out last year would have been a sinch for a top 10 pick, now he faces somewhere from top 10 to end of the 1st round; in the Sugar Bowl, you had Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, the prototypical quarterback at 6’6”, which have scouts salivating, yet those who watched the Sugar Bowl saw just some of his weaknesses that NFL teams worry about.

Whether any of these quarterbacks are good enough to be the 7th overall pick of the 49ers is yet to be seen, or decided by folks like Todd McShay or Mel Kiper Jr.. All that is known is the 49ers need a quarterback, and these quarterbacks go 2, 3, and 4 in terms of best quarterbacks available (slide Cam Newton in there somewhere, too). It makes sense, I promise.

Who do the 49ers pick? Maybe not a quarterback at all. Word is they could get a Gabbert, Locker, or Mallett somewhere at the end of the 1st round if need be. What has the highest impact as to who they take is who will be the coach in 2011. That has yet to be decided, and so is who they take in the 2011 Draft.

Allow me to make a suggestion, though? Scouts are drooling over Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. Sure, maybe he isn’t Andrew Luck, but Mallett’s 6’6” frame with one hell of an arm will have him climbing the Draft Board in about a month or so.

It may be a little early at #7, but the 49ers have not had a quarterback with that size and that much upside in a long time. The only thing that may hurt Mallett’s draft stock is his inaccurate arm, which he has improved every year. At 6’6” and 238 lbs., that can be taught.

The 49ers will have decisions to make in the coming months. They found their general manager, now the head coach and a possible future franchise quarterback are yet to be decided.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Separating Dreams From Reality On The 49ers Coaching Situation

Let's make one thing clear, in the past few days that the 49ers' 2010 season has been officially over, the 49ers' organization has not missed a step. They have made all the moves the fans want and all the moves needed to have this team move forward from this most disappointing of seasons.

First things first, fire Mike Singletary. Check. His unemployment was assured quite awhile before putting Alex Smith in with 9 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter of Week 16, I'm sure.

Less than 24 hours after that, many people's dreams became reality when it was revealed that Eddie DeBartolo would be a consultant to the 49ers' ownership. Not a better move could be made, and I have a feeling he may be doing much more than being just a consultant.

A day later, Bill Parcells was asked to help with the search for a new general manager. More good news. Finally some people with heads on their shoulders making decisions.

Which brings us to #1 on the list of "Things The 49ers Need Accomplished If They Ever Want To Make The Playoffs Again." The general manager.

Now I'm not too up-to-date on who is who in the world of general manager candidates, but it seems to me the 49ers may have their two main candidates already selected for a fight to the death. That would be Tony Softli, the former VP of Player Personnel for the Rams, and Trent Baalke, the stand-in GM after Scot McCloughan's fall from grace.

From what it sounds like, we may be seeing Trent Baalke making the decisions in the near future, but we will find out more by next week.

#2 on the list, head coach.

Now I will keep this short and sweet, and I hope I'm not the first one to be the bearer of bad news. But we can have wild fantasies about Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher, even Brian Billick. What is so attractive about the 49ers that a premiere coach like those will want to come to San Francisco? Gruden is so sought after right now that he pretty much will be able to pick the perfect position with the perfect franchise exactly how he wants it. And Cowher and Billick are much in the same boat.

What is so attractive to Gruden about a team with a 29 year old owner, no significant offensive coordinator, no GM in place, and a mess at QB?

I don't want to say stop dreaming, but think realistically here. Odds are a re-tread coach such as Mangini, McDaniels, Marvin Lewis, etc. will be more realistic for the 49ers' head coaching position. What will draw them here is the cast of offensive weapons. Davis, Gore, Crabtree, Morgan were all not used to their full potential in Singletary's system. An offensive mind could change some things.

Now, if those cast of characters draws someone like Gruden, then now we're talking, but realistically, you can bring in as many consultants as you want or look like you are making all the right moves, but until I see Gruden in red and gold, it's all just talk.

But the 49ers' ownership is on the right track to start.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Things That Need To Happen For The 49ers To Make the Playoffs

As if it isn't ridiculous enough that we are talking about a 5-8 team having a chance at making the playoffs, the 49ers actually have a more than legitimate shot.

But let's roll through some scenarios that need to happen in order for the 49ers to get that shot. Remember, the 49ers will own the tiebreaker among the NFC West teams if tied at the end of the season.

1. Win. The 49ers don't have to win their next 3 games, although that would help, but they need to win 2 of the next 3, and that needs to include beating the Rams in Week 16. As of now, the Rams are tied with the Seahawks at 6-7 for the division lead, although the Rams hold the tiebreaker. Let's be real, though. The 49ers do not need to win in San Diego this week. If they do, that's great, it only helps their chances and those chances get extremely high with a win this week. Again, it is not a must. What is a must is a win at St. Louis the following week. The division pretty much comes down to that game for the 49ers, and they need to win or their season is over. Tack on a win at home against Arizona the following week and the 49ers are headed to the playoffs.

2. The Rams need to lose against either the Chiefs or Seattle. Or both. Pretty much, the Rams need to lose 2 of their next 3 games, and one of them needs to be against the 49ers. Now if the Chiefs beat the Rams this week, then things get a lot more clearer for the 49ers, but a Rams win and a 49er loss would call for a Seattle victory against the Rams in Week 17, but let's not go there.

3. Seattle loses to Atlanta and Tampa Bay, then beats St. Louis. Don't forget the Seattle Seahawks are still in this playoff picture, I know, we forgot after that butt-whooping they were handed by the 49ers last week. They do have 3 tough opponents coming up, and the way they are playing, I doubt if they win any of them, but nonetheless, do not count them out. The 49ers need their help. They need the Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games, but have that one win be against the Rams in Week 17. A tall order, I know, but very possible if you think about it.

4. 49ers beat NFC West. The one thing the 49ers have been good at all year is beating the NFC West. They are 1-0 against the Rams and Cardinals, and 1-1 against the Seahawks. The 49ers have games against the Cardinals and Rams left in their division. If they win those, they will get the divisional tiebreaker, which only leaves the Rams and Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games for the 49ers to win the NFC West. Again, very possible. From the outside, the 49ers have already beaten the Rams once before, and the Cardinals just aren't very good. Let's not assume anything, though.

5. Help. The 49ers need help from teams like the Falcons, Bucs, and Chiefs, maybe even the Seahawks. A win by the Chiefs over the Rams this week, makes the 49ers/Rams game the following week what it all comes down to. On the other side, the 49ers need the Falcons to beat the Seahawks, and yet have the Seahawks turn around and beat the Rams. Yes, I know, we are asking for a lot, but these scenarios are more than likely, which is why the 49ers can even dream of the playoffs right now.

Or the 49ers could just win their next 3 games. Wouldn't that be simple.

One last thing I want to add on. For the 49ers to make the playoffs, they need to have Alex Smith at QB. He gives them the best playbook and the best chance at winning games.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Top 5 Prospects In the Giants Organization

A couple years ago, there were inklings that the Giants would have a slew of strong players coming from their farm system. They went by the names Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval, etc. Now, those players played a significant role in helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series.

So with that kind of success coming from the minors so recently, that means the Giants farm system is depleted, right? Well, a little, but there are still a few names lingering down there that most certainly will get call-ups real soon. Here are a few:

5. SS- Brandon Crawford
I'm sure you have heard rumblings of this kid becoming the next Giants shortstop. Maybe even thought he would be the Opening Day starter at SS in the 2011 season now with Juan Uribe taking a hike. That was before the Tejada signing. Not sure if he is MLB ready just yet. Don't get me wrong, his defensive skills are MLB ready, but his bat sure needs some work if he is to progress to the next level. He played in A-San Jose then worked his way up to AA-Richmond last season and seems to be a promising infielder for the Giants in the near future. That is really the reason why he is on this list. I'm really not impressed with him as a Major League player just yet, but he seems to be the closest to gettting the call to the pros because of his defense and the void the Giants have at shortstop.

4. OF- Francisco Peguero
One growing similarity you will notice between the top prospects for the Giants is speed. Peguero may be at the top of that list. But although he can steal bases like nobody's business, his plate discipline may need some work. If you can't envision this guy or haven't seen him play, just think of a skinnier Pablo Sandoval who still swings at everything, yet Peguero can put the bat on the ball. He is a tough strike out, which is why the Giants like him. Problem is he swings at everything. He is in a real battle with Darrren Ford for the starting CF of the future.

3. SP- Zack Wheeler
Many remember when he was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The 20 year old potential starting pitcher for the Giants, and top pitching prospect, has huge upside in the future. But that is all he has right now. He had a rough season last year and that has sparked some concerns about how fast he will rise to the Majors. Don't expect him in San Francisco anytime soon. This is not a Madison Bumgarner who blew through the minors. Wheeler will have a slow rise to the Majors. He will need to fix his wildness problem if anything is to change. Hopes are he starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

2. CF- Gary Brown
Speedy and athletic will describe Brown. He was the 24th overall pick by the Giants in this last 2010 draft. He has modest power, but doubts about him hitting consistently may have him down this list a little farther for some, but I like him. He is a top of the order type of hitter and is another talented CF prospect for the Giants. He hit .438 with 41 RBI's and 31 SB in college at Cal State Fullerton, and was called one of the fastest players in the country. We'll know more about him when he presumably starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

1. 1B- Brandon Belt
This is an easy pick right here. Belt is the best player in the Giants farm system, no doubt. I don't want to talk him up too much, but .383 with 10 HR's and 62 RBI's in 77 games in A-San Jose last season may do the job for me. Again, I don't want to get everyone's hopes up, but he is being very much compared to Buster Posey in terms of upside. If you haven't seen him play, picture the future John Olerud. A skinny, hit for average player. At 6'5" 195 lbs., he may need to put on some weight, but there has not been a hitting prospect in the Giants' farm system with this much anticipation, well, since Posey. Odds are, he does the same thing as Posey did last season. Belt will start in AAA-Fresno, but given an injury or lack of hitting from someone in San Francisco, Belt is on the first plane to the Major Leagues.