33 articles listed
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM
    George Ignatin had a computer, or at least access to one at the university where he worked. Allen Barra had a yen to write. Both followed football, pro and college, closely. Together, a la Bill James, whose 1970s sabermetrics revolution would soon forever change the way we view and play baseball, Ignatin/Barra began to analyze gridiron stats. They fed into...
  • By D.C. Owens on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
    Prior to the 2014 draft, mockers had settled into a fairly consistent consensus based on Niner team needs. Prognosticators predicted the prospectors would select wide receiver, cornerback, and pass-rusher in the early rounds, while perhaps selecting from among the safety, running back, center, and/or linebacker positions later in the draft. Likely the...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6:14 PM
    49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh, himself from a coaching family, loves opposing coaches so dearly that he almost always gives them a chance to come back and win games against his own team. He seldom runs up lopsided scores against his brethren, and, even in the playoffs, prefers close nail-biters to potential blowout games that might possibly embarrass his...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 6:23 PM
    As the 49ers enter the home stretch, the story of their season sharpens into focus. Years hence, Niner fans may well remember 2013 as a season of maddening consistency. In short, the Prospectors beat inferior teams and lose to elite squads. And they do so despite injuries, a quirky schedule, and Colin Kaepernick's ongoing travails. 49er losses...
  • By D.C. Owens on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 7:40 AM
    For many 49er fans 2013 has so far felt like both the best of times and worst of times, not necessarily in that order, as the team did a dipsy-doodle, first mimicking a possible team-in-decline, then rebounding with a five-game winning streak, albeit against inferior foes. Aside from positioning themselves for a second-season run – the London bridge...
  • By D.C. Owens on Friday, October 4, 2013 at 7:38 AM
    What must the 49ers accomplish during the next quadrant of the season? Probably, the team would please 49er fans if they won some games, preferably all four of them. But, beyond that, the team will look to set up the second half of the season, and, during this mini-bye week, have already begun to tweak their roster with that end in sight. They have not yet,...
  • By D.C. Owens on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 8:16 AM
    49er fans remember the previous two seasons: a power running game characterized by blocks both thunderous and subtle, with backs regularly sprung loose into the secondary. Yes, we thought it might last forever. Actually, the demise of the Niners' consistent running prowess coincided with the arrival of Colin Kaepernick as signal caller. Why?...
  • By D.C. Owens on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM
    Seahawks' D Every NFL team plays down-and-distance defense. However, the Seahawks excel at it, to the point of baiting opposing offenses in specific game situations. For instance, on, say, third-and-thirteen, Seattle will sometimes "invite" a quarterback to throw an eight-yard pass to a check-down receiver, whom the Hawk...
  • By D.C. Owens on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 8:37 AM
    Beyond personnel and schemes, how might the 49ers improve during the 2013 season? Consider two non-plays from last year's Super Bowl. On the 49ers' first series, they hit on a pass downfield for a first down. However, because the play clock had expired, a penalty erased the gain, disrupted the 49er offensive flow, and probably altered...
  • By D.C. Owens on Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 5:39 PM
    Unscientific, unscreened, hopelessly random, a consensus survey from three hearts of 49er fandom: Sports Bars: Demographic: approx. ages 21-40, mixed gender Sample Size: 3 establishments, 35-40 participants Predicted 2013 49er record: 12-4 Main reason(s): state-of-the-art team, stacked roster,...
  • By D.C. Owens on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 7:29 AM
    Just another innocuous training-camp play: Chris Culliver, running downfield under punt coverage, feels his knee give way. He collapses onto the turf, and, in addition to physical pain, dreads the worst. Not only has his leg collapsed, but what about his practice session, his season, his career, his entire life-path? Perhaps initially inconsolable, he soon...
  • By D.C. Owens on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 8:07 AM
    Most general NFL fans already know the "burning questions" the 49ers face as they prepare for their 2013 schedule: How will the 49ers replenish their receiving core? How will the team replace the defensive-back losses? Will the pass rush revive? Special teams? These burning questions do matter, and how the 49ers handle them will go far in determining the...
  • By D.C. Owens on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 7:13 AM
    NFL coaches frequently divvy up their schedules into four-game quadrants, handy during a sixteen-game season. Of course, they want to win four games out of every four, but, barring that, a three-and-one record keeps them on track for home-field advantage come post-season. Two-and-two, especially during the first quadrant, causes coaches some consternation,...
  • By D.C. Owens on Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 7:07 AM
    The 49ers identify their own weaknesses, and attack them. Going into the off-season, many perceptive Niner-watchers focused on three areas of roster need: pass defense, special teams, and free agency losses. The 49ers, after the smoke screens cleared, addressed each of these perceived needs. First, they have replaced the...
  • By D.C. Owens on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 1:53 PM
    Part 1 of "Dynamic Running" looked at 49ers' history of strategic running, while Part 2 focused on the contemporary version of the team's running game. Part 3 will take a gander at a specific formation, the "pistol," and how the Niners may or may not utilize it in the future. I say "may not," because I expect it to remain a feature, and not the whole, of...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 8:09 AM
    49er fans will remember the play: January 12, 2013, 3rd quarter, playoff against Green Bay, game still in the balance. Colin Kaepernick keeps the ball on a read-option, ducks past a discombobulated defender, and sprints fifty-six yards into the end zone. In bars, living rooms, and beauty parlors across America, viewers sit, nonplussed, stunned by the speed...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 7:56 AM
    Long long ago in football leagues of yesteryear, great teams once practiced ball control. Ball control consisted of a stout defense, a mistake-free quarterback, and a pound-the-rock running style. Sounds a lot like the regular-season 2011 49ers, head coach Jim Harbaugh's first year. Ball control sought as its primary goal the physical...
  • By D.C. Owens on Monday, June 3, 2013 at 6:57 AM
    In a move long anticipated by dedicated 49er watchers, the team last week hired Eric Mangini. The blogosphere immediately exploded with speculation as to the exact nature of Mr. Mangini's duties. Some said he posed a threat to the Niners' existing offensive/defensive coordinators. Others suspected he represented a nefarious plot by his ex-boss, Bill...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 6:52 AM
    In the off-season, football fans dream their teams to victory. "Surely, our team will contend for a championship this year." "Of course, our team has a stacked roster." "Certainly, our team had a top-tier draft." "Obviously, our coaching staff and general manager walk on water." I do this myself. It's part of the fun of being a fan. We spin every player's...
  • By D.C. Owens on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:56 AM
    As part of the run-up to this year's draft, and its aftermath, ESPN has aired several broadcasts of "From Elway to Marino" as part of their "30 for 30" series. This docutisement utilizes many of the methods made familiar by modern masters of the documentary form. Like Errol Morris, it employs music to pump up the suspense. Like Ken Burns, it collages all...