• By Brett Pahler
    Feb 22, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Marked by two years of underachieving and almost a decade of porous defense, the very nature of what it means to be a 49er has come into question. Once a proud organization, Donahue has almost single-handedly driven it to its current state; cutting ties to our rich past and bringing in a man who has a history of leaving programs in shambles: Dennis Erickson. The closest thing to swagger the 49ers have had the last two years has been Erickson pacing the sidelines with defeatist facial expressions and posture, as if ready to throw his red flag in protest of his own game-plans. That's all about to change. When opposing coaches look across the field at Mike Nolan, they're not going to see an exasperated individual who looks like he can't find his car keys; they're...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Feb 7, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Now that we've washed our hands of Donahue's cutting people for the sake of cutting people and Erickson's "Apathy Now" propaganda, it's time to direct our attention to the most intriguing aspect of every off-season, the draft. Although I can't necessarily complain about our previous drafts, my intuition tells me that the Mike Nolan-Scot McCloughan duo will have slightly more success. But that's not to say we're in the clear. If the team squanders the first pick on Aaron Rodgers so he can hold a clipboard behind Tim Rattay for two years before proving himself to be no better than the rest of the Tedford-wives, jump ship now. Drafting a quarterback with the first pick in the first round is too risky. When can't miss prospects such as...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jan 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    For reasons I do not entirely understand, my wife took a liking to Steve Mariucci several years ago. From the very outset of my unsuccessful campaign to convert her into a never-miss-a-down 49ers fan, Steve Mariucci pacing the sidelines was always my most convincing reason for her to glance up from her Pottery Barn Home Furnishings Winter edition catalog and watch a play or two. Having never watched football before, she couldn't understand what was going on. The plays unfolded and the cameras switched around too quickly for her. But she liked seeing Steve Mariucci. She thought he looked nice and wished we could be family friends. His appearances on United Way commercials only broadened his appeal. She was still light years away from understanding the nuances of the game,...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jan 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    I realize that this article flies in the face of everything we have read in the last two years about our bean-counting, villain of an owner, but it needs to be written. I am fully prepared for the onslaught on e-mails from those of you who feel that Dr. York was the worst thing to hit San Francisco since the Earthquake of 1906. York has been called everything from cheap to miserly, and deserves a reprieve. People frequently cite three examples of his penny-pinching ways. 1 - He locks up his Gatorade at night. Who cares? 2 - He replaced bottled water with an elaborate array of drinking fountains. Cry me a river. 3 - He doesn't want to pay for the personal postage needs of everyone in the organization and their families. Neither would I. These "roadblocks" have nothing to do...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Dec 17, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    This off-season could represent a turning-point in the organization, or at least, a break from the previous two years of humiliation. Several factors could come together to make next year's team significantly better than this year's. First - One way or another, Erickson will likely depart. The prideful York and Donahue cannot afford to jeopardize the nostalgia of the franchise anymore than they already have by employing a coach who does not want to be there but refuses to leave. If Erickson does not appreciate the opportunity he has been given to coach football's most successful franchise, let's bring in someone who does. Second - John York seems to be getting more personally involved in the organization, which I consider a good thing. Perhaps he is...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Nov 7, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Admittedly, the 49ers season has not gone where I expected it to. With the playoffs now a dream deferred until at least 2005, the question becomes whether the 49ers have the pieces, coaching staff, and front office to one day become a consistent playoff team. The 49ers have made some interesting transitions since the collapse at 1999. At that point, they realized that they were strong in the middle of their defense (tackle, inside linebacker, and safety), but that they needed more speed on the edges (end, outside linebacker, and cornerback). Hence, the smorgasbord of 1st round picks we see today in Andre Carter, Julian Peterson, and Ahmed Plummer. Arguably, it's worked. Even with Julian Peterson, Andre Carter, Ahmed Plummer, Mike Rumph, and Derek Smith all missing...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Sep 22, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    I call it my, "I would not purchase your product if it was the last option on earth," plan. This week’s winner of the "He’s Absolutely Terrible" Award: Patrick Ramsey. Asking Shawn Alexander to pick up a yard on 3rd-and-1 is like asking a hydrophobiac to dive into an Olympic-size swimming pool. Does anyone really believe that Marty Schottenheimer can do in lethargic, penny-pinching San Diego what he never could in the prime of his coaching years for organizations dedicated to winning, aka Cleveland, Kansas City, and Washington? Fox Halftime Report Proposed Slogan: Nobody has more fun providing less information. In case you missed Monday night’s Vikings-Eagles game, Terrell Owens dropped a touchdown pass that hit him in the hands. The referee...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Sep 15, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Offense: What's to Like? As expected, it took Rattay some time to get settled. Upon returning in the fourth quarter, he made quick reads to avoid the blitz and threw the ball accurately. Had Aaron Walker held on for a would-be touchdown that hit him in the hands, Rattay would have engineered 21 fourth quarter points in a span of ten minutes. Despite the interception that followed, the 49ers still would have tied the game in the final seconds on a two point conversion had an Atlanta lineman not blindly stuck out his hand on a pass intended for a wide open Brandon Lloyd....Cedrick Wilson, 7 catches for 94 yards, held on for some clutch grabs at critical moments, and outshined his former Tennessee teammate Peerless Price. Eric Johnson, 8 catches for 86 yards and a...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Sep 5, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Say what you will about the rest of the season, but the 49ers will defeat the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. For all their new uniforms, coaching changes, and public relations endeavors, these are the same Falcons we've beaten twice a year for the majority of the last 23 years. It doesn't matter what they're peddling, be it Prime Time, Jerry Glanville, the Georgia Dome, the run and shoot, Dan Reeves' return to Georgia, or Michael Vick, if you want to see football in Georgia, go to a Bulldogs game. The latest gimmick is the new coach: Jim Mora, Jr. If the Falcons were looking for someone with experience coaching terrible defenses, they certainly hired the right person. Mora has extensive history coordinating miserable, out-of-sync, underachieving units, and should...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Aug 8, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    It's that time of the year again. After a half-year drought of football, Rashaun Woods could eat a bowl of oatmeal and have my full attention. Tim Rattay could tie his shoes and I would drop everything. Kevan Barlow could fumble a grapefruit in a grocery store and I would be gravely concerned. Preseason is a deeply perplexing catch-22 of a month. If your team loses, it's an indication of how the season will go. If your team wins, it means your team showed too much of the playbook. If your team wins the 1st quarter but loses the rest of the game, it means you have limited depth. If vice versa, well, vice versa. Some coaches like to win while others could not care less. The only tangible meaning comes from the play of the rookies and second year players, which is, of...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jul 12, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Last season, Dennis Erickson inherited the same team that Mariucci had coached to the division championship the previous year. In fact, based upon where the 49ers went in the playoffs in 2002, one could argue that they were the third or fourth best team in the NFC at the point of Mariucci's departure. Yet, as we all know, last year they slipped to 7-9. Question 1: Was Erickson the difference? The 49ers will enter the 2004 season without both their offensive and defensive coordinators from a year ago. Question 2: In addition to losing a number of key veterans, have the 49ers lost some of their brightest minds on the sidelines? The 49ers cap problems in 1999 were understandable, and were supposed to be cleared up by the end of the 2001 season. And now, six years...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jun 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Whether I'm ducking behind a corner in the grocery store to read the sporting magazines while my wife thinks I'm grabbing a half-gallon of milk, or reviewing espn.com's power rankings, the 49ers consistently rank at the bottom of the barrel. The problem lies in that the people who write these articles don't know anything about the 49ers, and don't provide any analysis. When the media moguls outside the Bay Area think about the 49ers, they think Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia. Their obsession with these two players infects their minds the same way Aunt Dorothy's chicken spaghetti infects my stomach. It precludes reasonable discussion. "The 49ers lost their starting receivers." How perceptive. And then the questions come like hoards of Mongols in the night....
  • By Brett Pahler
    May 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The draft is a strange process indeed as every team leaves the draft feeling as though they've gained a distinct advantage over their opponents. In reality, only half the teams can help themselves relative to the rest of the league. The other half should leave the draft hanging their heads, with GMs issuing Rumsfeld-esque apologies to their fans, and coaches fielding questions from reporters about the problems within their scouting department. But instead, it's cocktails and backslaps all around for the executives of all 32 teams. What reason have we to believe that the 49ers have done some good on draft day relative to their NFC West counterparts? Let's take a look. In the first round, with the top five receivers off the board, Terry Donahue decides to...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Apr 8, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    This draft consists of four great receivers and two impact defensive tackles.  If the first tier of receivers and defensive tackles are off the board by the time they pick, the 49ers should trade down with their sights set on Michael Clayton, Rashaun Woods, or Lee Evans.  Of the three, Clayton (LSU) is the best and the toughest, yet also the slowest.  Woods (Oklahoma State) is a physical, polished playmaker who wins the jump balls yet also has average speed.  Evans (Wisconsin) is the fastest of the group, yet durability is a concern.  The point being, none of these three receivers stands out as being significantly better than the other two.  The 49ers would do well to have any one of the three if it meant acquiring an additional 2nd round...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 21, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    In the last three months anyone who's anyone has written an article lambasting the 49ers for their apparently poor salary cap decisions, without feeling the least bit obligated to explain what they would have done differently. Every morning, I read about the misery that has descended upon Santa Clara, the doom and gloom, the chaos that's spread from management to the ranks and vice versa, the soap operas, the cheap Dr. York, the cap-clueless Donahue, the departing Walsh, the hapless Erickson—and I've had just about enough! The 49ers will be a good football team in 2004. Hear that? Good! Will we make the playoffs? I don't know. But we will be a competitive team, hovering around 8-8. For all our apparent misery, who in the NFC scares you? Philadelphia, Carolina,...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 8, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    In the last two months an endless stream of criticism has descended upon our beloved San Francisco 49ers like a thick London fog.  Columnists across the board are writing off the 49ers, claiming that they've lost their luster, that their colors should be red and fool's gold, and that they're just another franchise now. Not so fast.  Donahue has done a masterful job of working the salary cap this off-season.  He's faced difficult decisions and he's made the right decisions.  Garcia had to go.  He had made more money than any other quarterback the last two seasons without coming close to meriting it.  He's not a good fit for Erickson's offense.  He's not accurate.  He can't stretch the field....
  • By Brett Pahler
    Feb 15, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Despite having drafted for defense with nine out of their last ten 1st and 2nd round selctions, the 49ers will need to draft for defense once again this year. Free agency, the loss of Jamie Winborn, a lack of consistency on the defensive line, and the poor play of Zach Bronson threaten to discount the strides we've made in recent years. Although the linebackers, the strength of our defense, will likely return intact, they may do so relectuant, battered, and bruised. The Julian Peterson contract situation looms over Santa Clara like a thundercloud. Terry Donahue will likely franchise Peterson should the two sides fail to reach an agreement, which solves the problem until we have to franchise him again next year. The potential loss of Jamie Winborn, due to an atypical nerve...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jan 25, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Every time I kick off my shoes and flip through the sports page, I find a new article delving further into the evil that is Terrell Owens. It's become the latest fad in the Bay area.  When these columnists determine their topics, they must sit down and think, "Hmm…  I could write about who we're likely to draft in April. But no, I think I'll write another article about what a terrible human being Terrell Owens is." TO has become the fat kid on the playground, someone everyone can pick on. Nothing comes easier. Owens is guilty of little more than speaking his mind and being right. When he suggested a quarterback change after Garcia went 11-23 for 108 yards, with no touchdowns, three interceptions, a fumble, and several drive-stopping sacks against...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jan 17, 2004 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    In all likelihood, the 49ers will not traverse deep into the playoffs next season.  They could. They are not significantly worse than the Rams or Seahawks. They've proven that they can beat the Eagles and Bucs. They've blown away some terrible squads. It is not uncommon in these rags-to-riches NFL days for teams to rise to glory in a single season. It's possible. But it's also not likely. Our defensive line doesn't generate enough pressure on its own. Our offense, despite having been “tweaked” every hour on the hour since Erickson's arrival, doesn't sustain drives or score in the red zone. We won't have the cap room to sign any free agents, and will probably lose several of our own. Any improvement won't manifest itself in terms of...
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