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  • By Al Sacco
    Jul 19, 2018 at 9:52 AM
    When it comes to who will run the football for the San Francisco 49ers in 2018, most of the talk has centered around the newly acquired Jerick McKinnon, and rightfully so. The team signed McKinnon to a four-year $30 million deal in free agency, giving the indication that the plan is to rely on him heavily in both the rushing and passing game. While there's no doubt that McKinnon is primed to be a huge part of the offense, he doesn't have the track record of being the type of back who can shoulder the load on his own. During his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, McKinnon never had more than 159 carries in a season and hasn't averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry since 2015. Where McKinnon does excel though is at catching the ball out of the backfield, as he's hauled in...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jul 18, 2018 at 7:48 AM
    For the San Francisco 49ers, it's been a while since there's been this much optimism heading into training camp. There are no more questions about who the quarterback should or will be. The head coach isn't on the hot seat, or out to prove that he even belongs in the league. Instead, there's now stability across much of the roster, coaching staff and front office, and as a result you have a franchise that most expect to at least challenge for a playoff spot in 2018. However, even with the arrow pointed up, there are still some concerns about how much the Niners can actually accomplish this season, and whether or not being a true contender is still a year or two away. Let's address some of those, as well as some other topics, in this edition of the mailbag. Q: Do you...
  • By Al Sacco
    May 10, 2018 at 9:32 AM
    It's hard to argue with the approach the San Francisco 49ers have taken during their most recent rebuild. After all, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan took over a roster that was largely devoid of talent in 2017, and turned it into a playoff contender in just a little over a year. In doing so, they've put their stamp on the team, and added exciting playmakers on both sides of the ball via the draft and free agency. So while it's easy to get excited about what's been done and where this team is headed, there's still one glaring need that could derail the Niners' plans to be playing football in late January, and that's the pass rush. Getting to the quarterback isn't a new issue for this franchise, as it's one that's plagued it for the last five years. In...
  • By Al Sacco
    Apr 27, 2018 at 7:41 AM
    The San Francisco 49ers made a somewhat surprising selection in the first-round of 2018 NFL Draft, taking Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey ninth overall. The reason the pick caught some off guard was that the Niners seemed to have more pressing needs elsewhere (specifically on the defensive side of the ball) and there were still impact players on the board that would have alleviated those issues on the roster. If you look a little deeper though, you'd see that San Francisco made a forward-thinking move that filled a hole before it became a major problem. The real buzz surrounding McGlinchey started earlier in the week when Peter King of Sports Illustrated wrote that the 49ers were giving...
  • By Al Sacco
    Feb 1, 2018 at 7:55 AM
    As the San Francisco 49ers approach the upcoming NFL offseason, all eyes are on the contract status of Jimmy Garoppolo, and rightfully so. Garoppolo looked every bit the part of a franchise quarterback during his five-game audition in 2017, and it's imperative that the Niners make him the centerpiece of their team for the foreseeable future. All indications are that a deal will happen eventually, but in the meantime, there are some other matters general manager John Lynch and company must attend to, one of those being the contract extensions of a few integral parts of the roster. Here's a look at three players nearing the end their deals that the 49ers should extend immediately. S Jaquiski Tartt Despite playing only nine games this past season, Jaquiski Tartt...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jan 31, 2018 at 8:54 AM
    The NFL offseason hasn't even officially started yet, and we've already seen a major move take place. The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round draft pick. Smith will also receive a four-year contract extension that's worth $23.5 million annually with $71 million guaranteed. The move sent shockwaves through the NFL as it sets the tone for what most expect to be a crazy offseason that will see quarterbacks sign deals with astronomical dollar amounts attached to them. It also assures that Washington's former signal caller, Kirk Cousins, will be playing elsewhere next year. With as many as five teams believed to have significant interest in Cousins, he could receive a payday worth nearly $30...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jan 24, 2018 at 7:46 AM
    With NFL free agency around the corner, it's easy to get caught up in some of the star players that could be on the market. One of the big names that jumps out immediately is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell. Obviously, Bell is a tremendous talent that can make an immediate impact on any offense in the short-term, but that doesn't mean he's a fit for every roster. In a lot of ways, Bell is a very risky investment that can do more harm than good in the long run. So, while a team like the San Francisco 49ers may have the cap room to make a run at Bell should he become available, that doesn't mean they should. Let me explain. For the most part, it's not wise to commit a significant portion of your cap to a running back, unless that player is essential to what you...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jan 11, 2018 at 10:01 AM
    What if I told you that, in their first season together, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and his lieutenants would hit a home run in the NFL Draft? Would you have been able to imagine Lynch, his staff, and head coach Kyle Shanahan working in lockstep to acquire what appear to be six long-term starters? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Well, that's exactly what the new regime did. The 2017 draft helped lay the foundation for a rebuild that was greatly accelerated by the arrival of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and now it seems like a team that was destined for a long grind back to the top is primed for a playoff run next year. With the season now in the rear-view mirror, here's a look at how the draft class did, and what we might expect from them moving...
  • By Al Sacco
    Nov 12, 2017 at 5:03 PM
    Finally, the San Francisco 49ers (1-9) are in the win column. QB C.J. Beathard paced a balanced offensive attack that racked up 474 total yards and 31 points, which was more than enough to beat the lifeless New York Giants (1-8), 31-21. Beathard looked poised and in control all afternoon, completing 19-of-25 passes for 288 yards and three total touchdowns...
  • By Al Sacco
    Nov 12, 2017 at 12:12 PM
    The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants may have nine Super Bowl titles between the two of them, but 2017 has been a nightmare of epic proportions for the once proud organizations. How bad has it been? Well, coming into Week 10, the two teams have combined for one win, while seeing a whopping 38 of it's players go on Injured Reserve. For the Niners, the rest of the season is merely about seeing who can contribute next year, and getting young players valuable snaps. San Francisco will have an added reinforcement this week however, as T Joe Staley (eye) returns to the lineup to help solidify the offensive line. That's the good news. The bad news is the team will be without DT Solomon Thomas, TE George...
  • By Al Sacco
    Oct 19, 2017 at 8:50 AM
    After losing the last five games by a total of 13 points, the San Francisco 49ers are making a case to be the best 0-6 team in the history of the NFL. But even with all of the close calls and bad luck, a majority of the team's wounds have been self-inflicted. Dropped passes, missed tackles, and penalties have set them back, which make the losses all the more frustrating. With the 2017 season slowly slipping away, the team seems to be looking ahead to 2018, as recent decisions signify an emphasis on the future. The fans are right there with them, and are curious about what happens next, which is evident in our latest mailbag. Q: Can we end the Arik Armstead charade? He is a bust. Won't play through the pain, IR 2 seasons in a row. And not productive when on field....
  • By Al Sacco
    Oct 2, 2017 at 10:54 AM
    As Brian Hoyer's final pass of the day resulted in yet another incompletion, I thought to myself, "What's the point?" Granted, the San Francisco 49ers were about to kick a field goal with 2:28 left in overtime to take a 15-12 lead over the Arizona Cardinals, but nothing about that advantage felt safe. Turns out, it wasn't, as the Cards marched downfield to find the end zone, giving them an 18-15 victory. It didn't have to get to that point though, and the Niners should have never been in a position to give the ball back to Carson Palmer and company in the first place. All they had to do was score a touchdown, just one, at any point in the afternoon. They didn't, and haven't in three-of-four games this season, in large part because of Hoyer's play. Now I'm not blaming the lack...
  • By Al Sacco
    Sep 21, 2017 at 9:41 PM
    Well, where do you even start? The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams played a wild, entertaining game on Thursday Night Football, with the Rams ultimately coming out on top, 41-39. Things couldn't have started out any worse for the 49ers and their maligned quarterback, Brian Hoyer, as the signal caller telegraphed a pass on the first play of the game...
  • By Al Sacco
    Sep 21, 2017 at 4:13 PM
    The San Francisco 49ers (0-2) will take the field in Week 3 looking for their first win of 2017 against an improved Los Angeles Rams squad (1-1) that appears to be much more competitive than in recent years. Victories have been hard to come by of late for the Niners, as the team's lost 16 of its last 19 games dating back to the end of 2015. The silver lining in that though, if there is one, would be that all three of those victories have come at the expense of the very franchise they will be lining up against this evening. The 49ers will also be looking to score their first touchdown of 2017, and are one of only two teams that are yet to do so (Cincinnati Bengals). While San Francisco will again be without star rookie linebacker Reuben Foster (ankle) as well as safety Eric...
  • By Al Sacco
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:51 PM
    San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media via conference call Saturday, and gave some thoughts on the team's 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as updates on injured players. Here are some notes from the call: - DL DeForest Buckner aggravated a low-ankle sprain, and while it's not believed to be serious, the defensive lineman is doubtful for the next preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Buckner had originally suffered the injury earlier in training camp, and missed three practices because of it. He's likely to be held out of practice this week. - FS Jimmie Ward is going to test out his injured hamstring on Sunday, and the team is hopeful he'll be ready to go. However, Shanahan made it a point to say that if Ward isn't...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jul 25, 2017 at 7:49 AM
    As the dust settled on the dumpster fire that was the San Francisco 49ers' 2016 season, very few positives stood out amongst the rubble. As a team, it's hard to find silver linings in a 2-14 debacle, as it tends to be a collective effort when your franchise reaches those depths of ineptitude. Still, there were some solid individual efforts that shouldn't have gone unnoticed, one of which was Carlos Hyde coming into his own towards the end of the year. In Week's 11-15, Hyde finally became the running back most hoped he would be, carrying the ball 82 times for 507 yards, and adding in three receiving touchdowns. He averaged 4.5 yards or more in each game, which marked the first time in his career he'd shown that kind of consistency. Hyde had previously failed to break 3.8 yards...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jun 14, 2017 at 8:33 AM
    In many ways, the current state of the San Francisco 49ers roster is the perfect storm for overlooked college prospects who may have been snubbed on draft day. Every year teams whiff on securing the services of some very talented prospects because an injury, poor workout, or some other short-sighted reason clouds their judgment. While it's frustrating not to hear your name get called, sometimes it acts as more of a blessing in the sense that now, the player can dictate where he is headed, and choose a team that gives him the best chance of sticking around. In the case of the rebuilding Niners, there were so many position groups in need of help, that it's not out of the question that multiple undrafted free agents could end up making the squad. Here's a look at four players who will do...
  • By Al Sacco
    Jun 5, 2017 at 8:02 AM
    I find it interesting, or maybe the better word would be perplexing, that so much emphasis is put on the NFL Scouting Combine. The former collegiate players who are invited to participate in the event already have years and years of game tape available and, to me, what's on the film is a better indication of that which someone is actually capable. I'm not saying it's all bad, but I don't believe it gives a fair representation of a player's true football ability. For example, game speed is different than the straight-line speed that's timed during a 40-yard dash, and making a judgment (or misjudgment) based on a drill such as that can be costly. After all,...
  • By Al Sacco
    May 15, 2017 at 10:11 AM
    Anyone who watched the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 knows just how badly the franchise needed an upgrade at wide receiver. Because the position group was largely ignored by the previous regime, the depth chart was littered with players who would have a hard time cracking the roster on most other teams. With a lack of talent came a lack of production, and the numbers were excruciatingly bad across the board. When you add it all together, all of the 49ers' wideouts combined for 160 receptions, 1777 yards, and eight touchdowns. That was every receiver. In 2015 alone, Julio Jones basically equaled the output of San Francisco's entire unit, going 136/1871/8. Looking deeper, the team's leading pass catcher (Jeremy Kerley) gained a mere 667 yards. To put that in perspective, there were 63 players...
  • By Al Sacco
    May 4, 2017 at 8:01 AM
    Brick by brick. That's the slogan invoked by new San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch as the rebuild of the talent-starved roster he inherited begins. With so many holes throughout the position groups, improving the personnel isn't something that can be done in one offseason, which is why the methodical one brick at a time mantra seems so on point. The process will take a while, and some parts of the team will look better than others until a balance is (hopefully) achieved on both sides of the ball. Even with the significant turnover we've seen over the past few months, there are still some spots in the lineup that stick out like a sore thumb. One example of that is the depth chart at tight end. It wasn't long ago that the 49ers had arguably the best stable of tight...
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