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Aaron Erickson

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  • By Aaron Erickson
    April 26, 2018 at 7:16 PM
    With the ninth pick in the NFL draft, the 49ers selected Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. With Josh Rosen, my favorite quarterback in the 2018 draft class, slipping to them, the 49ers elected not to trade back, selecting McGlinchey where they knew they could get him. McGlinchey was widely regarded as the best offensive tackle in the draft, and the 49ers certainly did their homework on tackles, spending time with all of the top zone-blocking tackle prospects. It is now clear that the 49ers were looking to make a move at tackle with their eyes to the future, seeking a replacement for one of their talented veteran tackles. Unfortunately, the 49ers secured the best tackle in a poor draft for tackles. While I agree that McGlinchey is the best tackle in this draft...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    April 25, 2018 at 9:33 AM
    While the 49ers certainly improved against the run in 2017, their pass defense was a problem. The team addressed the most glaring weak spot in the secondary by signing Richard Sherman in free agency. While Sherman has not yet been cleared to practice, he has already begun to mentor the young defensive backs on the roster, and he promises to be healthy in time to man the boundary cornerback spot opposite of Akhello Witherspoon. In order to continue improving against the pass, the 49ers must upgrade their pass rush and their intermediate zone coverage. The 49ers already have an impressive array of interior rushers, and the most dramatic improvement to the pass rush would come from securing the services of an edge rusher who can win quickly and provide immediate outside...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    April 23, 2018 at 10:10 AM
    The 49ers defense was historically bad in 2016, setting franchise marks for futility in Jim O'Neil's complicated scheme. The unit was particularly bad against the run, finishing last in the league in rushing yards per game and rushing yards per carry. In one year, the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, turned the unit around. Installing a comparatively simple 4-3 under scheme (created by George Seifert and Pete Carroll and successfully implemented in Seattle, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and San Diego) allowed the defense to play faster, with clearer reads. Saleh advertised before the 2017 season that the 49ers would improve against the run, and they certainly did. Unfortunately, the 49ers continued to struggle in coverage, particularly outside of the numbers. While...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    April 19, 2018 at 6:41 AM
    With the 2018 draft just around the corner, it is a good time to look at some prospects that have been discussed as options for the 49ers with the ninth-overall pick. In the first of three installments, we will look at the offensive players who the 49ers have been linked to in the first round. I don't expect any of these players to be the pick at nine, as Kyle Shanahan teams have rarely picked offensive players in the first round. These prospects bear discussion, however, as John Lynch and Shanahan have only been together through one draft, which does not establish a reliable trend for this combination of decision makers. Quinton Nelson As I said in the...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    March 30, 2018 at 6:38 AM
    The 49ers ended the 2017 season as the hottest team in football, winning five straight games with their new franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. After signing Garoppolo to an NFL-record contract extension, the 49ers went into free agency looking to improve their starting units and plug roster holes in advance of the draft. Today we will finish up our two-day look at the state of the 49ers roster after the bulk of free agency. Yesterday, we looked at the 49ers offense. Today, we will look at how well the 49ers addressed their most glaring needs on defense, as well as some options that will be available to further improve those positions in the draft. EDGE...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    March 29, 2018 at 6:10 AM
    The 49ers ended the 2017 season as the hottest team in football, winning five straight games with their new franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. After signing Garoppolo to an NFL-record contract extension, the 49ers went into free agency looking to improve their starting units and plug roster holes in advance of the draft. Over the next two days, we will look at the state of the 49ers roster after the bulk of free agency. Today, we will look at how well the 49ers addressed their most glaring needs on offense, as well as some options that will be available to further improve those positions in the draft. CENTER Need: Center is a marquee position in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Upon assuming the offensive coordinator mantle in Atlanta, he quickly brought...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    July 27, 2017 at 7:23 AM
    Players report to the 49ers facility in Santa Clara today, and practices will commence tomorrow. Yes folks, training camp is nearly here, and with it comes the opportunity for coaches, media, and fans alike to assess the team's roster. Today, I'll finish up with the last of the three players I believe are the most important to the growth of the team moving forward. I've made my case for each of the first two selections, and today I'll explain the vital role one last player could have in returning the 49ers to contention. Over the last two days, I identified the player I see as the third most important 49er to watch in 2017, as well as the player I see as...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    July 26, 2017 at 7:00 AM
    49ers training camp is nearly here, and with it comes the opportunity for coaches, media, and fans alike to assess the team's roster. Through yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I'll name the three players I believe are the most important to the growth of the team moving forward. I'll make my case for each selection and what their performances could mean to the 49ers in the future. Yesterday, I identified the player I see as the third most important 49er to watch in 2017. Trent Brown, the second most important 49er to watch this year, may make his biggest statement tomorrow when players report in for physicals. Brown has always been enormously talented (and simply enormous),...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    July 25, 2017 at 6:51 AM
    49ers training camp is nearly here, and with it comes the opportunity for coaches, media, and fans alike to assess the team's roster. Over the next three days, I'll name the three players I believe are the most important to the growth of the team moving forward. I'll make my case for each selection and what their performances could mean to the 49ers in the future. We'll start with my choice for the third most important player for the 49ers' rise back to relevance: Joe Williams. To be clear, running back is not the most important position in the offense. The most important positions in any offense tend to be quarterback and left tackle. Here's the thing: neither of those positions are being developed for the future right now, for completely opposite reasons. The...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    June 14, 2017 at 12:19 PM
    In head coach Kyle Shanahan's presser today, he stated that he expected first-round linebacker Reuben Foster to be recovered from his shoulder surgery by the time the team reconvenes and that Foster would be "more than ready" to compete in full pads at the start of training camp. Foster fell to the 49ers at the end of the first round, partially because of concerns about his recovery from shoulder surgery. He has been held out of all contact drills in OTAs and mandatory camp while he...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    April 25, 2017 at 10:35 AM
    The NFL Draft starts two days from tonight, and the 49ers are positioned to inject some desperately needed talent into a roster that limped to a 2-14 record in 2016. New General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan already kicked off the remodel with far more activity in free agency than the 49er Faithful have seen in years. After the March additions, the 49ers still have some gaping holes on the roster. There is not a future star to develop at quarterback. No wide receiver on the roster will pass as Julio Jones or Andre Johnson, top WRs that were central to Shanahan's offenses in Atlanta and Houston, respectively. Aaron Lynch has talent, but he hasn't displayed nearly enough consistency to be counted on as the LEO, the weak side defensive end who Robert Saleh's defense asks to...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    February 20, 2017 at 6:25 AM
    Now that Robert Saleh's hiring has (finally!) become official, it seems appropriate to look at his 4-3 under defensive scheme and the personnel the 49ers have on hand to fill the specific roles. A couple of 49ers writers have already offered their take on how well the 49ers' personnel fit their new scheme, but I'd like to spend a little more time discussing the scheme and the responsibilities of each position within the scheme. I also have some differing views on the players and their positions. THE BASICS To talk defenses, we need to talk gaps. A "gap" is the space between (or directly to the outside of) offensive linemen. "A" gaps exist on either side of the center. "B" gaps are between the guards and tackles. "C" gaps are directly outside of the tackles (or...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    February 6, 2017 at 12:45 PM
    Kyle Shanahan is taking the blame for the Falcons' collapse last night in the Super Bowl, reportedly telling people at the team hotel that he, "blew it." While his offense didn't produce its customary 30+ points, it's hard to imagine that they are responsible for surrendering a 25 point lead. Having re-watched the Super Bowl, I think Shanahan called an impressive game, through all four quarters. First: I must admit that as I am writing this, NFL Game Pass has not yet posted the All-22 coaches' film, so I can't see all of the receivers, their route packages, or the defensive coverage unless FOX's broadcast team saw fit to show them. What I saw was a young offense, particularly the QB, that was depending upon momentum to allow them to play fast and instinctively. Although the...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    January 21, 2017 at 2:30 PM
    Humans are fickle, nervous beings. We don't do well with patience, and we rarely assess value objectively. It makes sense, then that what may very well wind up as a widely successful hiring process by the 49ers has frequently been characterized as a directionless, bumbling effort. As soon as candidates withdraw from consideration, fans instinctively feel a sense of loss and diminished possibilities. While the truth has always been that only one person would fill each available position, it's certainly more reassuring when the team has all of its options available, without having to endure the stigma of watching some those options electing to remove themselves from the process. Everyone wants to be wanted, and public rejection seems humiliating. Let's be clear, the candidates'...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    January 5, 2017 at 3:46 PM
    When Jed York held his year-end press conference to announce and explain the firings of both General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Chip Kelly, he repeatedly alluded to the breakdown in the working relationship between the two men as the cause for dismissing them. It's clear that the search for replacements will focus deliberately on maintaining a better relationship, either by hiring two candidates who have already worked together productively or by hiring candidates who agree on major football-related philosophies and respect one another's ideas and qualifications enough to build an enduring and productive relationship. While many assumed from York's comments, as well as the 49ers' efforts to schedule several interviews with HC and GM candidates from the same teams, that the...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    December 30, 2016 at 9:19 AM
    It's coming. Black Monday, the first day after the NFL regular season ends, is so named because of how many coaching and front office jobs are terminated directly after the season. The 49ers have played poorly for two years, they have missed the playoffs for three years, and changes must be made within the organization to affect change in the on-field product the York family is trying to sell. The roster will be updated dramatically, the coaching staff will evolve, and there will likely be some degree of shakeup within the front office. Whether that change involves firing Trent Baalke, retaining Baalke but stripping him of some power, hiring an experienced football mind as an executive who would advise football decisions and serve as a buffer between the owners and the team, or some...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    December 29, 2016 at 9:05 AM
    Do not worry, 49ers Faithful. The 2016 season is coming to a close, and retribution will be exacted for the painful and humiliating season you've had to endure. On every level of the organization, a unified voice declares that changes will be coming. The roster will undoubtedly experience significant turnover and the coaching staff will change. It's likely that one or more coordinators (if not the head coach himself) will get swept up in that change. While many fans have called for the owners of the team, Denise DeBartlo-York and Dr. John York, to remove control of football operation from their son, Jed, that continues to look like the unlikeliest of outcomes. It would appear that the highest-reaching adjustment to the power structure that the Yorks will tolerate is the possible firing of...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    December 27, 2016 at 8:54 AM
    You've heard all of the clichés about line play and football. All the talk of "the trenches" and how "winning football starts up front" can sound like white noise after a while, but that doesn't make any of the statements false. If you pay much attention to offensive line play, or you regularly listen to or talk football with someone who is passionate about offensive line play, you have undoubtedly heard the argument that you don't need the best offensive linemen to field the best offensive line. While it certainly helps to assemble the unit out of large, strong, athletic, aggressive, technically-sound monsters, an offensive line that communicates well, blocks in combination well, and seamlessly transitions to provide help where needed, tends to perform very well. All of those...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    December 23, 2016 at 8:20 AM
    Changes are coming, 49er Faithful. It's unavoidable. The extent of those changes remains to be seen, as rumors out of 4949 Centennial suggest that the York family is looking for reasons to believe in Chip Kelly – reasons enough to bring him back in 2017. Without a doubt, the roster must change for the 49ers to return to competency. With that in mind, we'll take a look at the existing 49ers roster and identify players that a competitive team can be built around. The team will undoubtedly keep more players than I have listed here, but these are players that could serve important roles in allowing the 49ers to return to prominence. CORNERSTONES Marcio Jose...
  • By Aaron Erickson
    October 18, 2016 at 7:26 AM
    Colin Kaepernick played well against the Buffalo Bills. There. I said it. He read the field, made quick decisions, took care of the football, and generally took what the defense gave him. He also blew apart the Bills' players brash statements that they made no adjustments to him and simply dared him to throw the ball. They certainly made it obvious that they were more scared of his legs in the first half, when they played primarily man coverage with one high safety and an inside linebacker constantly spying Kaepernick for scrambles, but they got out of that frequently in the second half, using four different coverages (that's called a halftime adjustment, Coach Ryan) after Kaepernick put up a QB rating of 144.1 in the first half. After the Bills decided to dare...
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