“I’m Roger Goodell and you’re not.” (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

“I’m Roger Goodell and you’re not.” (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

First and Goal: Roger the Hutt

Apr 10, 2015 at 9:09 AM

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Welcome to 'First and Goal', your guide to everything Niners. This week we eat some humble pie, laugh at baseball a little bit and then look ahead to next year with a little player preview. As always, be sure to check out our Hero of the Week.

Before we get to it I just have to say, I've been having a really hard time getting an interview with some of the 49ers assistant coaches. Not even the ball boy returned my calls. Such is the life of the unknown writer. But I didn't want to give up, so I read up on how the big boys do it. Apparently, not even stalwarts like Matt Barrows get to interview the assistant coaches.

Only Taylor Price does.

This isn't over yet. I'll get Steve Logan on the phone before the season starts and that's a promise.

* Editors Note: He really doesn't like Taylor Price. Pure jealousy.

Opening Week Already??

That means the draft is near! Before I dig in to baseball a little bit, a full disclaimer. I love baseball; it's just that my team stinks. I don't care about other teams so this baseball season is a wash for me, as long as the Cardinals or Giants don't win the whole thing. I'm a Phillies fan after all, and I despise inferior teams winning the championship. And they were inferior teams, this is my article, deal with it. We got beat by Cody Ross and the 7th hole hitter, whatever his name was. Only in fantasies, video games and baseball can someone that pathetic beat you in a series. But I digress…

I can't remember a quieter opening day for baseball. Fact is, I barely heard anything about baseball in the last 6 weeks. There's been March madness, a little NBA, the Masters is around the corner, forget about hockey and oh yea, football 24/7. In the past, March was for spring training. I'd get the mitt out and go throw in the backyard. Now March belongs to football, just like every other month. They made sure of it when they leaked the idea of changing the PAT.

I feel like strangling someone. They say it's automatic? It's supposed to be!!! No one in the history of watching the NFL thinks that a TD is worth 6 points. We all know a TD is worth 7 points. If you get two TD's, you get 14 points. Three TD's and you're up to 21. You get the idea. Changing the PAT is going to change the symmetry of the game, and that's just really stupid. But here we are, talking about it.

And that's exactly the plan. The NFL really has taken over the calendar. Every week there's something going on, something to talk about, some stupid idea to address. It's a non-stop novella of football porn that wants to corner everything and everybody. If they understood their own core demographic a little more, i.e. men, they'd know that we don't sweat people that sweat us. It's not very attractive. Not that Roger the Hutt can hear me, he's too busy lounging in his office, sitting on a pile of money he receives from a fully guaranteed contract of 300 million over 7 years. Wow! I imagine that Goodell has Adrian Peterson chained to the corner of his desk in a Princess Leia slave costume. That might be a little over the top, but so is the drive by the NFL to rule the tube. And whoever rules the tube, rules us.

So let's lay out a funeral wreath for baseball this year. Runs are down, pitchers are breaking down and there are still 158 games to go. I'm sure someone will win something this year, right around week five or week six of the NFL regular season. #FireRubenAmaroJr

Break-out Candidate of the Year

The talk around the Niners this off-season feels like the team went 4-12 last year. If 8-8 in the toughest division is bottoming out, then I'll take it. There's been a recent discussion about break-out candidates for 2015. Not rookies mind you, but guys we feel might put on a show this year compared to last year. The best part of this conversation is how many players fit that profile. Half the team, maybe more, fits that description. That should be worth at least 3 more wins, putting us firmly into the playoffs.

I know it all starts with Kap, and we covered him last week. Suffice it to say, he made some glaring mistakes last year, mistakes you don't want to see your QB make. (stare down open receivers) He's working on things, so the hope is Colin takes a big step this year.

One could say the running game will get a boost with Hyde, who should fit well with the ZBS we're going to deploy. He hits the hole with speed, something we've sorely lacked. I've got high hopes for Reggie Bush as well, especially in the screen game. Running offense trending up.

One could say the OL will get a boost by just staying healthy. I expect bounce-back seasons from Anthony Davis and Alex Boone. I expect Martin and Kilgore to play well at center. And I expect Brandon Thomas to blow away his performance from last year by holding down the LG spot. Our backups are better now too.

One could say the passing game will break out and we're not even talking about Torrey Smith. I'm talking about waking Vernon Davis up from the dead, getting Ellington/Patton off the bench, using McDonald and Carrier more and hoping that people like Brandon Lloyd are left off the team. I want Millard in an h-back role, he could be special. Passing offense trending up.

On defense we're looking at a lot of changes but also a lot of potential. It all begins and ends with Aldon Smith. How quickly we forget that our best defensive games had two things in common: buzzing around by our ILB's and constant pressure from Aldon Smith. He faded pretty badly last year. Was he injured? Did he check out? Who knows. It's a contract year and if he plays 16 games, he might break 20 sacks. That's if he comes to play, since we know he can. With Lynch in year 2, I fully expect our pass rush to be better.

One could say the pass defense will be better. We lose people every year and we always seem to find good DB's. I expect Ward to be better. I expect DJ to be better. I expect Brock to play. I expect Cook to be better. And Reaser. And Acker. I'm really starting to like our DB's.

One might even say that our DL will be better, if they stay healthy. I'm excited for Tank, he came on strong late last year. I think Dial will be better, especially at DE. I'm hoping that our two stud NT's stay healthy. I'm liking the depth signing of Dockett. And I expect Justin Smith to come back somewhere around week 10 after we start 8-1.

Our safeties are great and we're getting Bowman back too. There are lots of things to be excited about on defense. Offense too. Lots of break-out candidates. We have a deep team folks, with a few warts, and the draft is still on the horizon.

Team trending up.

Hero of the Week

We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We believe in equal rights. So we actually applaud the NFL for something this week in their hire of new referee Sarah Thomas! This is a first for the NFL but it's not a first for Thomas, who also broke the barrier in college football, becoming the first female to ref a game and the first female to ref a bowl game.

This was a long time coming. I'm not talking about women here, I'm talking about hiring a ref that wasn't an 80-year old. How do they expect these old guys to keep up with the game? Thomas is 42 and looks to be in running shape. We wish her good luck and ask that she not be afraid to pull that yellow flag… especially if the Seahawks are on the other end. Your HOTW, and NFL trailblazer, Sarah Thomas!

Photo credit Stephen Brashear, AP
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Dietrich from maui
    Great article except the Giants not winning but it is our year off so you get a pass. Cody Ross baby!! I too am excited for our offense and defense. Should be a fun year. Under dogs, I like it
    Apr 15, 2015 at 12:50 AM
  • AJ Dembroski
    You wont see improvement in the screen game for a pretty good reason; the 49ers don't have a screen game. When was the last time you saw the 49ers run a screen pass? It's not going to start now.
    Apr 13, 2015 at 8:12 PM
  • GEEP
    Will someone PLEASE call R. Frazier's mommy and tell he's in the basement, playing with her computer again?
    Apr 12, 2015 at 1:44 PM
  • Bob
    I think all the wide receivers will do better now that Morton is gone. He seemed to hold the younger guys back instead of helping them progress.
    Apr 12, 2015 at 10:16 AM
  • Don
    Hope you are right about B. Thomas. I'm always wary of guys coming back from major injury. I fully expect Q. Patton and D. Carrier to be significant offensive contributors at their respective positions. Vernon Davis is a big question mark, IMO. Fell off a cliff after concussing last season..
    Apr 11, 2015 at 4:16 PM
  • Jarrod
    Hey R. Frazier maybe you should learn how to write in a legible and coherent manner before you say that someone else looks dumb.
    Apr 11, 2015 at 6:36 AM
  • Bob Lewis
    I think the team will be much better. Tomsula will be a great coach and get us back to the playoffs. Tomsula will have them well prepared to be Seattle in Seattle. I would not be surprised if we take the division. I am tired of the naysayers who copy the so call experts on web and tv.
    Apr 10, 2015 at 2:31 PM
  • steve
    The team is definitely trending up. Can't wait for the draft!
    Apr 10, 2015 at 2:27 PM
  • R. Frazier
    She should really get another job sorry but she looks dumb in the suit women should be allowed to do whatever they want but she looks dumb and when she get ran over what we should feel sorry too ohh know well change the rules for them too watch keep on ruining the game I'm almost quitting football anyway cause its getting soft rugby and soccer I'm going to start spending my money on it made money because the sport was raw and real now it's protected and ur adding sex just like the sexy butts their showing on tv like nfl am and sports I like watching it for the data I don't want to see ass and boobs that's real talk
    Apr 10, 2015 at 9:55 AM

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