49ers Making Some Progress
April 6, 2006 at 9:39 PM
By Brett Pahler
It gives me great pleasure to report that I believe the 49ers have had a reasonably successful free agency period. Have we continued to lose ground to the rest of our division rivals, all of whom have less salary cap space than we do? Well, that goes without saying. But still, with the exception of the Bryan Gilmore signing, I think we’ve avoided the crucial mistakes that teams tend to make.
Here’s what I like. Antonio Bryant will go over the middle, block, etc., and provide a more complete target than Lloyd, who was only capable of going deep and running curls. It would have been nice to have both of them, but if we could only have one, I’ll take Bryant and the picks every time. Nicely done.
Larry Allen. Another good signing. My only regret here is that the 49ers plan to play him at left guard and move Smiley to right guard, where Smiley already tried playing under Erickson with limited success. From what my people tell me, the right guard position requires more bulk, whereas the left guard position is used more in pulling. Smiley, a slightly undersized guard, will never be as good a right guard as left guard. So, this had me mildly annoyed when I was walking around the other day until I realized that the left side of our line is going to be Jonas Jennings and Larry Allen. Holy smokes! Cleveland Gary could run behind that. Oh yeah. I vote for David Baas at center and Adam Snyder at right tackle. Strength. By the way. Did you know that Kyle Kosier is projected to start for the Cowboys right now? Start? We’re so deep, the guy wouldn’t even be able to make our active roster. Muahuahua.
Walt Harris. Let’s just call this the annual - “Curtis Conway / Johnnie Morton” type player that is quickly approaching the nadir of his career yet it still good enough to take playing time away from our promising youngsters and stunt their development with the added bonus that and even if he has a career year and helps us win a couple extra games that we would have lost without him, he is still too old and won’t be around by the time we get back to the playoffs, and thus, only serves to hurt our draft positioning- signing. But I’m happy about this one. Really, I am. Maybe next year we can sign Jason Sehorn.
And then, just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, we sign Bryan Gilmore. Bryan Gilmore? Nobody’s ever heard of him. Were we trying to scoop him up before he signed with the Rhein Fire? Aren’t we trying to send a positive message to our players? He had five catches in 15 games last year. J.J. Stokes was infinitely better than this guy.
The coaching staff needs to understand the following. I don’t care about how any of the following players do: Johnnie Morton, Curtis Conway, Bryan Gillmore, Jason McAddley, Otis Amey, P.J. Fleck, Rasheed Marshall, Marcus Maxwell, or Vinny Sutherland. I don’t want progress reports on any of them. I don’t want to hear about how they’re doing during training camp. I will do back-flips any time one of them is cut. The likelihood that any of these people will ever amount to anything more than a number three receiver is about as likely as Jack from LOST going twenty minutes without harassing someone who’s just minding his own business.
I only want to see four receivers take the field this year. Antonio Bryant, Arnaz Battle, Rashaun Woods, and Derrick Hamilton. Those are the guys that were good in college, and those are the guys that are most likely to be good now. If Derrick Hamilton ever loses so much as a lick of preseason playing time to Bryan Gilmore, I’m losing it. It’s like when Musselhead was giving minutes to Earl Boykins instead of Gilbert Arenas. Idiots.
Not of equal importance but of some importance nonetheless, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we’ve partially destroyed the “Kerry Collins Theory” component of our team. For those of you unaware of this burgeoning paradigm, the “Kerry Collins Theory” involves a player that performs not just well enough to secure a starting job, but well enough to sway you to waste your draft picks on other areas of need, when in reality you have no chance whatsoever of winning a Super Bowl with this player in your starting lineup.
Let’s assess the inspiration for the theory. Will the Raiders, ever, ever, ever win a Super Bowl with Kerry Collins as their quarterback? Obviously not. But that didn’t stop them from passing over Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft, not making a run at Drew Brees this year, etc. If Collins were just outright terrible, it would be better for the Raiders because they would dump him and draft the next Roethlisberger. But he was just good enough to lull them into a false sense of security where they devoted their efforts to what they wrongly deemed more critical areas of need.
For the 49ers, it’s been our linebackers. Andre Carter wasn’t a good enough pass rusher for a right end. Julian Peterson was exceptionally soft in run support in addition to not being a good enough pass rusher since his injury. And Derek Smith, this decade’s Gary Plummer, isn’t strong enough or fast enough to have an impact on the game. I liked them all on a personal level, but no opposing coordinator was staying awake at night trying to figure out how to deal with these guys. Yet, how could we really justify taking a linebacker in the first or second round to replace one of these guys when we have people like Jason McAddley and B.J. Tucker running around out there?
Well, the decision is now made for us. Unless we want to have the worst pass rush in the history of the league, we’ll have to infuse some first or second round talent into the unit. And once we get a more physical linebacker in there, or a linebacker with an inside rush move, our entire defense will be better. Just watch.
Combine the positive aspects of free agency with our refusal to overpay for people like Randle-El, and I think we can put an extremely positive spin on our free agency period. Remember, we’ve come out of salary cap hell before. In the words of the legendary Terry Venables, “If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again.”
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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