Welcome to the Podcast AF offseason review series, astutely titled “The Probe” – the unofficial official NFL offseason review series of the Vegas Golden Knights. Here, like most NFL “writers”, I will regurgitate takes I read or heard somewhere else and pass them off as original thoughts. Will Ryan Tannehill breakout in 2018? Was Mike McCarthy abandoned by the run game as a child? Does Saturn have a playoff atmosphere? Your questions, answered! Sponsored by “Ready Player One”, in theaters now!
#21 – The San Francisco 49ers (6-10, Last NFC West)
I had to take a few hours to wind down after spending time thinking about the Lions. Any amount of time spent conjuring up cognitions about the Lions could drive a man insane. They’re the NFL’s Yellow King, for my True Detective fans (season one only).
Out to the bay area we go, where a man by the name of James Richard Garoppolo is wanted for stealing millions of hearts. It’s true, once Optimus Dime went under center the 49ers went from 1-10 to 6-10. He didn’t lose a game.
SEND THAT JERSEY STRAIGHT TO CANTON! NEXT MONTANA!
Don’t worry, I’m not about drop some scathing take trying to say Jimmy Garoppolo actually isn’t that good because has two dynamite tackles, a mastermind calling the plays, and has gotten extremely lucky with interceptions. Well, he has had all of those…but none of them necessarily mean he isn’t a good player. Jimmy did have some insane interception luck in those five games, but as some folks neglect to acknowledge, football is in fact a team sport. It’s a radical idea that once left Rob Parker speechless.
Carlos Hyde exits via free agency and in comes Jerick McKinnon. Combined with Matt Breida, Kyle Shanahan finds himself with a very ’16 Falcons-esque RB duo. At WR, Jimmy has Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin on the outside with Trent Taylor in the slot. He even has a great TE duo at his disposal with George Kittle and Garrett Celek. Kyle Shanahan is going to have himself a ball scheming with all these weapons.
I mentioned that Jimmy has two great tackles on either side of him earlier – Joe Staley and Trent Brown (plus they re-signed Gary Gilliam for insurance).
On the inside the 49ers gave former Giants C Weston Richburg a mega deal. Richburg is the Ferdinand Magellan of the recent unsportsmanlike conduct rule change – he was the first player to be ejected from a game for committing to of ’em.
To Richburg’s right is Joshua Garnett, who missed all of 2017 due to injury. Some major components of the Shanahan offense are outside runs and play actions boots, which implies pulling guards. Thus, Garnett has dropped has lost over 25 LBs, presumably to play faster.
Rounding out the group at LG is Laken Tomlinson, another very good guard.
Movie Comparison: American Beauty. I like it but there’s a little something-something about it now that we have a little more context…
I’m of course referring to Reuben Foster, who was quite dominant in his rookie season but enjoys guns and violence more than football. The 49ers have yet to cut him and the whole dilemma is getting pretty out of hand. From a football standpoint, if Foster’s on the field then he’ll be great, the problem is the other two LB spots. Eli Harold and Brock Coyle performed very poorly last season, but Super Bowl 48 MVP Malcolm Smith is coming off a torn pectoral he suffered last training camp.
The 49ers have two young DEs: Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas. Armstead was forced to switch positions to make room for Thomas prior to breaking his hand in week 6. Thomas was great against the run but left much to be desired in pass-rushing situations. Luckily Elvis Dumervil was around to help out, but he’s 34-years old and wasn’t re-signed.
Between Armstead and Thomas the 49ers have DeForest Buckner, who’s an absolutely elite DT. Next to Buckner is a black hole.
The 49ers quietly had a very good 2017 draft. One guy they hit on in the 3rd-round was CB Ahkello Witherspoon. He’ll line up opposite Richard Sherman, who joins Pete Carroll disciple Robert Saleh’s defense after being cut by the Seahawks.
On the back end the Niners have their 2014 1st-round pick Jimmie Ward playing the cover 3 FS spot, much like Earl Thomas does in Seattle. Ward is playing on the 5th-year option of his rookie deal and will make $8.5M. He saw limited action in 2017 due to two separate injuries, but looked good in this spot despite it being his third position in four years under his fourth DC.
Ward’s partner on the back end is Jaquiski Tartt, who started a few games in Ward’s spot while Ward was injured but cemented himself as one of the league’s best SS’s before breaking his forearm in week 9.
The 49ers have very little immediate needs and with a QB like Jimmy Garoppolo they should be taken seriously. They get a last-place schedule in 2017 but still have to play the Rams twice, Russell Wilson twice, my guy Sam Bradford twice, as well the AFC West and NFC North. They’re going to need a -ass rush against some of those QBs.
Major Draft Needs: OLB, DT2, interior OL depth,
In honor of Pete Prisco telling me I’m dumb and that I’ll fail, here’s this entry’s edition of “Prisco’s Pickanosis,” where I highlight something the Tom Brady of acting like an infant on Twitter was completely wrong about.
Any of the million times he tweeted that the Patriots were going to trade Jimmy G before last year’s draft.