Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

First and Goal: Prediction Time!

Jul 24, 2015 at 8:47 AM

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Welcome to 'First and Goal'. This week we'll take a guess as to what a possible 53-man roster will look like. We'll also throw out some season projections for our players and add them all up to create a possible team projection. With so many unknowns facing us this season it really is hard to say what kind of team we're going to be so I'll try to keep my projections cautiously optimistic.

The first thing that jumps out at you is how hard it is to cut the field down to 53. We are going to be facing some difficult decisions and it wouldn't surprise me to see someone traded in order to make room. We have way too many TE's on the roster right now. We even have too many FB's which is a shame. I love Bruce Miller and I think Millard is a player but the current trend in the NFL is to go without a FB entirely. We could keep a promising WR or CB stashed away but we maintain a desire to run the ball with a FB. I think this is an opportunity lost but I'm not the GM.

As always, be sure to check out our Hero of the Week.

Let's get to it!

53 Mighty Men, including #53!!

Our QB's are set, though I really wish Baalke had drafted a QB instead of relying on Gabbert. Like most other teams, let's hope the backup never plays.

  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Blaine Gabbert

I'm really loving our RB depth. We've got the workhorse, a bulldog backing him up, a scat-back for 3rd downs and an underrated draft pick to round it out. Youth, speed and power. I like.

  • Carlos Hyde
  • Kendall Hunter
  • Reggie Bush
  • Mike Davis

Our offensive line is in flux but I believe there is talent there and with some better coaching and better health we should be pretty good. Richard Sherman went on national tv and laughed at our offense and it's incredible predictability. It's very hard to block anyone when people know exactly what you're going to do. I have the starting 5 first with Boone at RT.

  • Joe Staley
  • Brandon Thomas
  • Daniel Kilgore
  • Marcus Martin
  • Alex Boone
  • Erik Pears
  • Joe Looney
  • Trenton Brown
  • Dillon Farrell

Our TE depth is pretty ridiculous and we'll probably end up cutting someone we shouldn't have. Things get murky with Carrier vs Bell, since Carrier got a new contract and Bell is a 4th round pick. I'm going to take a chance and run with Bell, hoping that they put Carrier on the PUP list until someone else gets injured.

  • Vernon Davis
  • Vance McDonald
  • Blake Bell

Last year people loved our WR corps but this year I think we're much, much better. Shame on our last coaching staff for not involving Patton or Ellington more, we needed more speed on the field. This year it seems we have lots of speed and that's music to my ears. I'm tired of seeing 10 men in the box. Kap has a cannon, unleash the man!!

  • Torrey Smith
  • Anquan Boldin
  • Jerome Simpson
  • Bruce Ellington
  • Quinton Patton
  • DeAndrew White

I can't see this team keeping two FB's on the roster and I really wish the extra space went to the OL or TE group. In a ZBS the FB becomes unnecessary. We should just commit to it and drop the FB altogether but hey, what do I know? In a true camp battle I'm picking the upset because I'm thinking Bruce Miller might actually get something back in a trade since he is one of the best FB's in the league.

  • Trey Millard

That brings the total number of offensive players to 25.

Our DL has a nice mix of youth and veteran leadership. If this group stays healthy (I'm looking at you Ian Williams!) it could turn into a dynamic unit. I'm expecting the starting group of Dial, Dorsey and Williams to be nasty against the run. I'm also hoping to see a lot of Tank when we switch to nickel. I'm really high on our draft pick Arik Armstead because I think Tomsula will maximize his potential, though I have no idea how long that is going to take.

  • Quinton Dial
  • Ian Williams
  • Glenn Dorsey
  • Tank Carradine
  • Darnell Dockett
  • Arik Armstead
  • Tony Jerrod-Eddie

I love-love-love our LB unit. Getting Bowman back as a leader and playmaker will help us get some of that swagger back. So will having a motivated Aldon. And a trim Brooks. And a 2nd-year Lynch. And our rookie phenom Eli Harold. I don't know why so many people are down on Michael Wilhoite, the guy is supposed to take on blocks and pave the way for Bowman. He's more than capable enough.

  • Aldon Smith
  • Ahmad Brooks
  • NaVorro Bowman
  • Michael Wilhoite
  • Aaron Lynch
  • Eli Harold
  • Philip Wheeler
  • Nick Bellore

Our safeties are the tits. Yea, I said it. We have two pro-bowl starters and our backups are dripping with potential. I'm listing Ward as a backup safety for 2 reasons. That's where I think he belongs and it also saves us a roster spot by cutting Dalh instead. Ward can still play nickel back while being the backup at FS but he's going to have to win that battle in camp and personally, I think we have better CB's on the roster than Ward. He's a playmaker going forward, not backwards.

  • Eric Reid
  • Antoine Bethea
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Jaquiski Tartt

OMG! We didn't draft a CB high! Baalke is terrrrrrible. Yea, yea, we hear the same thing every year and every year Baalke inserts another CB into the mix and we keep rolling right along. I think a lot of that has to do with our pattern-matching secondary play, which makes it awful hard on QB's. I like our CB's. There's a lot of youth, speed and desire. There will be a lot of competition with pretty much every spot up for grabs except for maybe Brock, if he's fully healthy. I think we're going to be just fine here.

  • Tramaine Brock
  • Dontae Johnson
  • Keith Reaser
  • Chris Cook
  • Kenneth Acker
  • Shareece Wright

That brings the total number of defensive players to 25.

That leaves three spots for Special Teams and we already know who they are. One of these days I'm hoping that Baalke drafts a K instead of getting old FA's but if Pinion can handle kickoffs then I'm ok with it.

  • Phil Dawson
  • Bradley Pinion
  • Kyle Nelson

Season Projection Time!!

Last year we had a lot of injuries, a lame-duck coach who lost the locker room, an offensive coordinator who didn't know the meaning of halftime adjustments, a frustrating offensive style that bled every play clock, no idea how to use the challenge flag, a coach with a needless desire to burn timeouts and a stupid, stupid game plan to win every game 17-10. And still, to this day, ESPN doesn't know why we fired such a successful coach.

Everyone knows the NFL stands for Not-For-Long and if you can't play chess then you're not going to last. It's all about the counter-moves, all about the adjustments. This year's coaching staff seems to understand some of the ways we failed last year and are taking steps towards improving our team. When Joe Staley says this camp (OTAs) was the best of his 8-year career, I believe him. I have no idea what the offense is going to look like but I'll bet anyone $1,000 that it's going to be better than last year.


Last year we passed for an average of 191.4 yards a game which was good for 30th in the league. PUKE!!! But we did run the ball very well at 136 yards a game, good enough for 4th in the league. I think we're going to pass the ball much better for many reasons: better plays, better players and better preparation (Kap). I think we're going to run the ball just as well because I believe Hyde is a stud waiting to be unleashed. Let's hope his bruising style doesn't put him on the shelf for any stretch of time. We also scored 19 points a game, good enough for 25th in the league and I expect us to be at least a full TD better than that this year.

I know what you're going to say, that Kap can't throw for 4,400 yards, that's what Aaron Rodgers threw for last year. I think it's a little high too. But when you start adding up all the numbers, with all our weapons, I don't see how he doesn't throw for that many. I'm using conservative estimates and it gets to 275 pretty quickly. For the record, 4,400 yards was good enough for 7th in the league last year while 32 TD's was also good enough for 7th. And he IS #7! Sweet dreaming I know but it's not impossible. Add up the numbers yourself.

  • 275 yards and 2.0 TD's a game (4,400 yards and 32 TD's season)
  • 40 yards rushing and .33 TD's a game (640 rushing and 5 TD's season)
  • 10 INTs

  • 80 yards and .75 TD's a game (1,280 yards and 12 TD's season)
  • 20 yards receiving and .125 TD's a game (320 receiving and 2 TD's season)

  • 40 yards and .25 TD's a game (640 yards and 4 TD's season)
  • 15 yards receiving and .125 TD's a game (240 receiving and 2 TD's season)

  • 20 yards and .25 TD's a game (320 yards and 4 TD's season)
  • 30 yards receiving and .25 TD's a game (480 receiving and 4 TD's season)

  • 40 yards receiving and .25 TD's a game (640 yards and 4 TD's season)

  • 20 yards receiving and .125 TD's a game (320 yards and 2 TD's season)

T. Smith
  • 60 yards receiving and .50 TD's a game (960 yards and 8 TD's season)

  • 50 yards receiving and .33 TD's a game (800 yards and 5 TD's season)

  • 40 yards receiving and .33 TD's a game (640 yards and 5 TD's season)


I didn't want to get rid of our defensive coaches but let's not act like Fangio was the second coming of Buddy Ryan. He is a very good coach who had very good coaches around him and very good talent to work with. Hmmmm.

Mangini is a good coach, he's surrounded by good coaches (few former DC's) and he has pretty good talent to work with. So what should we expect?

Last year we were the 5th ranked defense, giving up an average of 321 yards per game while surrendering 21 points a game. Considering we only scored 19 points a game then you can see how our record was 8-8. And who was responsible for our offense again? I digress…

Last year we led the league in INTs with 23. An average NFL team intercepts at least 14 passes a year so I say we're probably good for roughly 18 or so. Where we really got unlucky last year was in fumbles recovered. As you know, fumbles are fluky. We only recovered 6 fumbles, tied for 4th worst. An average NFL team recovers closer to 10 fumbles and I see us getting at least that many. That would put us right around the same number of takeaways as 2014.

Last year saw us grab 36 sacks, tied for 21st in the league. Not having Aldon hurt that number a lot. Top 10 teams in sack numbers get 40+, which I can see by switching from Fangio to Mangini and having Aldon around all year. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets close to 20 this year, the man is extremely talented and motivated.

I think we're talented enough to field a top 10 defense this year and if we get lucky, top 5 just like 2014.


Hey, with a top 10 offense and defense, we should be 11-5! Let the flaming begin!

Hero, I mean GOAT of the Week

GOD I'm tired of Tom Brady… I don't care what he says all you have to do is consider the following.

It's not like someone randomly tested the footballs and they happened to be light. The Colts CLAIMED there were shenanigans going on. They told the refs to watch out. So what happens on game day? The footballs mysteriously can't be accounted for after the refs check the PSI. AND THEN they measure light. AND THEN the phones are confiscated and we find out one of the employees is known as 'the deflator'…

That's why the investigative report, while inconclusive as to a smoking gun, thought there was a preponderance of evidence that shenanigans were going on. And the footballs were indeed light afterwards.

Brady, you POS. You're threatening to sue the league if they suspend you at all. That's what pampered, rich white men do when they are faced with the law. I'll tell you who had a right to sue. Ray Rice. He got burned when Goodell didn't come down hard enough (not his fault) and then got suspended for the year and possibly life. But Rice is African-american and hit a woman so the world is mad at him.

Brady got accused for cheating, got found to be cheating in the game he was accused in and then throws a hissy fit for the thought of missing even one game. Whatever respect I had for him as a competitor is thrown out the window with all this BS. I hope they keep the suspension to 4 games but they won't because well, he's Tom f*****g Brady.

EDITORS NOTE*** The writer does not imply that all white people or all black people act any which way and hopes the readers understand this point. He also does not use Ray Rice as an example in an attempt to trivialize abuse against women.

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.


  • Dallas Niner Fan
    I think what Lucky Phil was getting at is that racism can work both ways. Now I am not saying that you are a racist, I am just saying that when you start generalizing about how "all" members of a group behave you are treading on dangerous ground. I am also disappointed and shocked by your lack of concern for a known wife beaters behavior. No matter what the NFL rules say about the penalty common decency requires a stiff penalty, yet you choose to play the race card. If you are so concerned about uneven application of the law then why are you totally ignoring the thousands of woman who are assaulted in this country and get no justice? The fact that Brady is white, Ray Rice is black and that you are white has nothing to do with this dialog.
    Jul 28, 2015 at 7:59 AM
    Response: I have amended the piece in order for other readers to know that i do not wish to generalize on anyone's behalf. As for your other concern, it is obvious that the crime was severe. It is also obvious that the punishment is beyond the severity of the crime and borders on cruel and unusual. They took away his ability to provide for himself and his family in the field that he worked in. Considering that his now wife is standing by his side, and also Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is standing by his side asking the NFL to give Ray Rice a second chance, then I believe that he has served enough of a sentence and should be allowed back into the league. The fact that he has been blackballed is reason enough to sue the NFL, because if Goodell had gotten the suspension right in the first place, (6-8 games maybe?)then Ray Rice would still be a player in the NFL. The overreaction has been severe in my opinion and different than someone like Brady, who is refusing to be suspended at all.
  • Lucky Phil
    Gaylord Perry had a remarkable career, pitched over 300 complete games, won 314 and 3,534 k's over a 20 year career. And oddly enough in 1991 ended up in the Baseball HOF. Why is that odd? Because for over twenty years he threw the notorious and illegal spitball. One of the biggest cheats in all of sports... and everyone knew it . But they didn't now how. They checked his hat, his glove his neck and arms. Hitters would stand in the batter box and wipe the "spit" off their face it was so blatant. His catcher G. Tenace while with the Padres said, "There were times the ball was so greasy I had to walk out to the plate and flip the ball to him". He wrote a book in the 1970's called "Me and the Spitter" while he was still pitching! Great sense of humor and an outstanding pair of balls. However, on Aug 23, 1982, in Fenway Park (21 yrs in ML) an umpire walked out to the mound and found ole Gaylord holding a ball covered in slop. He was immediately ejected from the game. But we still didn't know how he did it ... until years later. With all Gaylord's antics on the mound, no one grabbed him by the crotch and checked his zipper. TB is no cheater, he did not deflate one ball. Simple as that
    Jul 27, 2015 at 6:43 PM
    Response: Well... according to the report he did. It states: The smoking gun are a series of text messages Jastremski and McNally, who discuss Brady's preference for the balls and their roles in deflating them to his liking. The investigators believe it is unlikely that they would deflate game balls without Brady's knowledge and approval. The other bit that was damning according to investigator Wells was the fact that Brady had an assistant destroy his cell phone prior to meeting with Wells, knowing that Wells was asking for his cell phone. This is destruction of evidence and if this was a real court that would be breaking the law. Considering that many close to the investigation seem to think there was shenanigans going on, the appeal of his suspension was denied. Investigators also found many texts between McNally and Jastremski which revealed that Brady complained to them about game balls long before the showdown with the Colts. You claim Brady did not deflate one ball. I agree with you. I think it is much worse that Brady coerced others into helping him cheat, in the form of cash and skeakers.
  • Lucky Phil
    Phil, I want you to re-read your Hero of the Week comment and instead of reading Tom Brady and white men, replace those words with Cam Newton and black men. And then replace Ray Rice with Rex Burkhead and pretend a rich white guy wrote it. Tell me how that sounds? If you didn't want to sound like an ignorant bigot you should have never mentioned Ray Rice or white men in this article. Everyone makes mistakes, in my opinion this was a poorly worded comment, that does not represent who you are. Am I wrong?
    Jul 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM
    Response: so im a bigot and possibly a racist because im taking a hard stance against white men who think they are above the law and want to sue? Thats funny because I am white. The point im actually trying to make is that this whole scenario reeks of the uneven applications of law around the country. Brady is acting like the privileged do, of all colors. But the simple fact that he is white will mean that all black players under Goodell are closely following this after AP and Ray Rice where banned for a year when the punishments should have been much less. To act like race is not a part of this discussion is naive. Generalizing usually leads to trouble and for that I guess I should have kept to praising heroes and not altered my format, as you had suggested. I promise you I'm neither a racist nor a bigot. I'm just calling it like i see it. As always, I appreciate everyone's comments. If we cant have a discussion, even a lively one, what kind of world do we live in?
  • Tom
    You draft Millard for the same reason you draft anybody, to see if you can develop them enough to contribute. He was a low draft choice and still has practice squad eligibility in a league that puts a low premium on FB's they will probably be able to stash him away fro another year if they want to.
    Jul 27, 2015 at 3:47 PM
    Response: if we can sneak millard onto the practice squad that would be great.
  • Lucky Phil
    Whose a bigger a-hole Tom Brady, Ray Rice or Bill Cosby? Oh yeah, Tom Brady because he is white guy. Leave it up to a racist to compare a white guy who throws deflated footballs to a black man who beats women.
    Jul 27, 2015 at 3:31 PM
    Response: the conversation has nothing to do with the crimes. We are discussing the applications of law and the reactions of these applications of law. Since you have yet to offer intelligent contributions to any of my posts it does not surprise me that you're confused now. Brady is a jerk because he's trying to sue his way out of a suspension that he deserves, according to the NFLs own investigation.
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    I am shocked. So you put hitting a woman on the same level as cheating in football??? and what's with your comment "that's what a rich white man would do?" So all black men behave in one way and all white men behave in another in your world? I find your article sexist and very offensive. That is the last article of yours that I read. You should be ashamed and apologize.
    Jul 27, 2015 at 1:17 PM
    Response: allow me to clarify so as not to offend. Both infractions were deemed minor offenses by the NFL with set instructions on what punishments should be. The applications of these rules have been markedly different. Nowhere did I say what my personal beliefs of these infractions are. As for the other comment, that has been my experience. Black men dont sue for being stopped illegally because it happens all the time and they are used to societal irregularities concerning the application of law. So when they face another irregular application of law, like Ray Rice, they are used to such behavior. Rich white men rarely get stopped illegally. So when they face an irregular application of law, IN MY EXPERIENCE, their course of action is to sue. I think many people in this country have seen similar behavior though I apologize if you think I was trying to be offensive, which I am not. I just don't like Tom Brady.
  • riqroq
    I really like your article. I get excited when this site has homers who are actually smart and realistic. I think your spot on. Harbaugh leaving was a bitter pill to swallow but while he was coaching I yelled all of your same arguments. Ownership handed him a team that should have won by more than 4 points a game and should have never lost to the Ravens on either of those games. The Niners look really good to me on paper. I like that 65/1 action too. As much as I dislike the Patriots and the media billing him with Joe. I dont believe he should be sold as guilty with no evidence. I hate how the media tells us who to hate. Tom never touched one football and until someone proves otherwise we should all want our fellow man to be more constitutional in thought. Take care. Go Niners!. Any fan who wants to hook up, I'll be at the practices on the 1st and 9th. The Dallas game and at least the Minn. game.
    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:33 PM
    Response: I agree the burden of proof should be high, though the investigative report implies that many factors swirled together to make it seem like something shady was going on, including Brady's own desire not to cooperate with said investigation. Go Niners indeed!
  • Daniners
    Last year we had arguably the the most difficult schedule in NFL and went 8-8 with decimated roster. This year our schedule is slightly less difficult and nobody expects much from us. My prediction, 49ers win the West @ 10-6. I look at this years team as a combination of Cowboys of last year and Ravens right after SB. Last year everyone thought the Cowboys would be cellar dwellers, instead they won division. While the Ravens, during an obvious transition year, surprised folks and went 8-8. That team was older with less talent and depth heading into the season. The other reason has less to do with the 49ers and more to do with history and law of averages. Generally, teams do not go three straight seasons without either significant let downs or injuries. To think that a team as physical as the Seahawks will not lose a key player (like Lynch) is unrealistic. We understand that first hand. Unlike the 49ers the Seahawks are not built with great depth (one of the issues with giving up draft picks every year). They are lean at O and D line, RB and WR. We know how average they become without Lynch. No, this is going to be glorious season for the LOYAL Niner fans.
    Jul 26, 2015 at 7:40 AM
    Response: it's good to be the underdog, especially when we're talented.
  • Tom
    MacDonald probably gets cut if he doesn't show up in training camp and preseason. Bell looks like he could be a player and Anderson might surprise. Miller isn't going anywhere unless the domestic violence thing comes back to bite him in the ass. Lots of competition in almost every position group so it should make for an interesting preseason.
    Jul 25, 2015 at 10:26 AM
    Response: I like Miller a lot, though the drafting of Millard then becomes a waste if we're just going to cut him. I know he was only a 7th, but what's the point?
  • Jessejames
    Millard is a player? Wat is he the wsterboy? Or is it Miller?....
    Jul 24, 2015 at 6:16 PM
    Response: Millard is more versatile than Miller in that he plays more of an H-back instead of a true fullback. Miller also offers more in a trade so I'm going with Millard who was very good at Oklahoma.
  • Dietrich from maui
    I think moody beats out wheeler
    Jul 24, 2015 at 6:05 PM
    Response: I really like Moody but I think Bellore beats out Moody and not so much Wheeler.
  • pat mccormack
    Agreed w you until Brady comment! HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE! IT IS A HUMAN CONDITION!
    Jul 24, 2015 at 4:12 PM
    Response: Human condition to do what? fight the suspension? No player in the NFL has threatened to sue like Brady has. He wont even take a lesser suspension under a deal through the NFLPA. Many players rose to the NFL from underprivileged homes. Many of these same players have dealt with hypocrisy and unfair applications of laws. Ray Rice had every right to sue, and he had the money to do it. Just like every black man illegally stopped in their cars has a right to sue. Except it never happens. Suing someone is much more prevalent in white households with money. As someone who has been through the criminal justice system and dealt with authority figures this attitude that Brady displays is exactly the attitude of a rich white man. Even ESPN commentators are taking his side. Where was this compassion when Ray Rice was effectively banned from the NFL when the suspension should have been 2 games under the policy at the time? You may think race has nothing to do with it but I believe that viewpoint is unrealistic and naive. Breaking the rules is breaking the rules, whether you hit a woman or got caught cheating. The rules are in place but the application of these rules always gets twisted and leaves much room open for debate.
  • Harry Elias
    What happened to Jerrod Hayne, is he not figured into the picture. I have heard nothing but great things about him. Is he going to get cut!
    Jul 24, 2015 at 3:32 PM
    Response: practice squad. He's already got a guaranteed contract so he's not going anywhere.
  • Mr. P
    Great detailed write up! I like where you are going, I too think the team is more talented - position & coaching - than what has been said. I'm not as optimistic for overall record - I think there are going to be growing pains and learning curves, but that is what makes this season so interesting; So many changes, challenges and adjustments. Who will step up? And will adjustments be made? Will the adjustments be the right ones? September is going to be a crazy ride!
    Jul 24, 2015 at 12:30 PM
    Response: Certainly the most interesting season I can remember in awhile.
  • Jesse Serrano
    I like the projected roster!!! I'm curious. Do you think Dres Anderson is put on the practice squad. And do you think he lasts there?
    Jul 24, 2015 at 10:35 AM
    Response: definitely a candidate. Maybe he will develop a mysterious injury along the way.
  • MartyOne
    wow. a very optimistic prediction. i hope you're right, and the numbers do seem reasonable.
    Jul 24, 2015 at 10:21 AM
  • mbniner
    I'm with you on this assessment. They may go with 8 OL instead of 9 and I think that 2 or 3 players will develop mysterious injuries and be put on IR (like Busta). I also think that Bell is our #2 TE. He is our Delanie Walker Swiss Army Knife. Vance may be trade bait. I agree, several good players will be released. Desmond Bishop is recovered from his injury and can be very good. It'll be interesting to see if he can beat out Bellore, who is a ST ace. Can't wait for the camp to start and we football starved fans end our sometimes ridiculous speculations!
    Jul 24, 2015 at 9:35 AM
    Response: Lots of competition for sure, just like Baalke wants.

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