Welcome to 'First and Goal', your guide to everything Niners. I know what you're thinking. Is this Bill's 4th cousin? Maybe. Maybe. Every week, we'll get into all the pertinent information regarding your favorite football team and the NFL at large. Be sure to also check out our 'Hero of the Week'. If there's time for world peace, we'll explore that too.
Let's get to it!
The Mother of all Combines
Peter King recently spoke about the obscene amount of news coverage the 2015 NFL Combine has received during his tenure, indicating an increase of 5300% in the amount of reporters on hand. If so, can anyone help Baalke find a WR? I kid, I kid, but the reality is, the 2015 NFL draft will be an important one for our Niners. Months of games have been pored over, and now our scouts have the ability to match 40-yard dashes to what they see on tape.
Some reporters have noted that our team has sent fewer coaches to the Combine than other teams. Maybe they haven't heard, but we recently let go of this Jim guy and we need to design whatever playbook the coaches are going to run. I felt it was another cheap shot by the media, who have been quite critical of our coaching changes. Regardless of your own sentiments, I still believe the team is working extremely hard together to make this season the best it can be.
So who is going to provide the next wave of Niners Greats? If I knew, I'd be a GM and not talking to the likes of you. A few things are shaping up to be quite Niners-friendly. First of all, we're drafting much higher than normal. At pick #15, there might be a blue-chip WR or DL that falls to us. Second, it seems that this draft is deep in positions of need, like DL and RB. If Baalke has taught us anything, it's that he'll go BPA. If he's taught us a second thing, it's that he'll also probably trade up and down. Being up against the cap means that we're due for another youth movement, just like last year. No one thought Baalke would draft as many players as he did last year, and I think this year will be more of the same. We need to get younger and cheaper, and the draft is where you do it. Find out how your favorite players did here.
Some Combine performances of note:
Kevin White WR, WVU: Ran right out of the top 15 and into the top 8 with a blistering performance on many levels.
Chris Conley WR, Georgia: 6'2", 213 lbs and the kid runs a 4.35; tie that together with the 3rd best broad jump and 3rd best vertical in the Combine's history, and this UDFA just slipped into the middle rounds.
DBG WR, Oklahoma: Fits the yearly profile of a talented kid with a checkered past. He's certainly got the measurables to go round 1. Best case scenario, someone else takes him and that drops another good player to us.
David Johnson RB, Northern Iowa: Size, speed and hands galore. Might be the best pass catcher out of all the RBs this year. Long strides make that 4.50 forty look even better. With the RB class being so deep, someone like DJ may be available in the 3rd round.
Byron Jones DB, UConn: We know Baalke likes athletic DBs, and Jones just set a combine and new world record broad jump of 12'3". Standing 6'1" at 200 lbs, the senior Husky confirmed his top 50 status, possibly sneaking into the 1st round. While Baalke has hit on CBs later in the draft, maybe Jones will be reachable in a trade up from our #46 pick.
Free Agency ain't Free
Free agency kicks off two weeks from now, so teams are starting to shed some dead weight. Reggie Bush and AJ Hawk have already been let go, exemplifying the meat grinder that is the NFL. There are some notable free agents this year, but here at 'First and Goal', we only really care how it affects our rivals. We're glad to see the Broncos possibly having to make a choice between Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. We're glad that the cash-strapped Cowboys are looking at a mega-contract for Dez Bryant.
And most of all, we're really, really happy to know that Russell Wilson will most likely get a nice fat contract. This will help squeeze the bottom of Seattle's roster, preventing them from signing those extra few guys that helped make them the deepest team in the NFL the last two years.
Many Niners fans have looked at our cap situation and deemed it less than ideal. We remind you that Baalke has yet to make any moves of his own. There are candidates to cut, and candidates to extend on our team. Look for Baalke to dip his pinky toe into the Free Agency waters, locking up some veteran on a low-budget, one year rental. That's the life of a GM who continues to hit more than he misses. If we were the Raiders, we'd have plenty of cap room!
See all the NFL free agents for 2015 here.
Hero of the Week!
We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We believe in the power of persistence. So for our first HOTW, we pick someone who best exemplifies these sentiments and we didn't have to look far, either. He's labored tirelessly for everything he's ever received. He keeps advancing, despite his unorthodox path to the NFL. When people who know him talk about him, all you ever hear is what a tremendous human being he is.
We'll see if he's made to handle the rigors of being an NFL head coach. Until he proves otherwise, this man is getting all my support. Your HOTW is Jim Tomsula. To the Niner faithful, see you next week.