Bret Rumbeck's Latest Articles

  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Aug 10, 2019 at 10:36 PM 3 comments
    Sitting 28 players for the first preseason game is a bit shocking, but finishing the game with 18-penalties for 216 yards and squeaking out a victory is something of a football unicorn. When asked about the penalties after the game, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, "Anytime you have a game where you have 18 penalties, and the other team has five, you should look at it hard, and it's very hard to win that way." He went on to note he and the coaching staff would review the tape to see if any were penalties the team could control. I expect to see flags for illegal shifts or twelve-men in the huddle throughout the preseason. But the 49ers' ugly evening evolved from silly mistakes to pointless flags throughout the game. Left...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Aug 10, 2019 at 9:26 PM 0 comments
    Earlier in the week, San Francisco 49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan noted he'd prefer having just two preseason games to evaluate players. His comments foreshadowed an injury-laden game. The 49er injuries started early in the game when tackle Shon Coleman was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Coleman was seeing his first live-action since the end of the...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Aug 10, 2019 at 8:44 AM 1 comment
    Preseason football is the best and worst of times. It's a flirtatious wink that football is back, or at least, better football is just a few weeks away. Plus, it's interesting to see a journeyman or undrafted free agent come out of nowhere to create a spot on the final 53-man roster. On the flip side, fans are stuck watching mistake-laden football, especially during the second half. Like many other teams, the San Francisco 49ers will not play some of their star veterans tonight. But we will get to see the team stretch its legs against a new opponent, along with testing new schemes or ideas. Here are a few things I'm watching for this evening. Offense Assuming head coach Kyle Shanahan limits most of the projected starters to a...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Aug 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM 4 comments
    Professional football coaches often find themselves at the center of a debate with no beginning or end. Frenzied fans on one side may heap accolades on the coach's philosophy, style, and scheme. At the other end is an equally radical group ready to pounce at any scent of an error - a bad draft pick, wrong trade, or call in the red zone. Skip social media and find a barstool in a football-hungry town; I guarantee you'll overhear people discuss this very topic. The greyed truth is somewhere in the middle of the endless debate, as no coach finishes an NFL career with every play call being perfect, and every roster move...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Jul 26, 2019 at 8:00 AM 3 comments
    The San Francisco 49ers have won a total of ten games and had flashes of success during the Kyle Shanahan era. No player, coach, or executive is hanging his helmet on these small accomplishments. Therefore, everyone in the organization comes to 2019 training camp under some pressure or with something more to prove. I have no doubt quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wants to prove to himself, the 49ers and the fans that he is a franchise quarterback. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman played well last season but did not pick off a pass. He's not under pressure to make the team, but I have no doubt he's putting pressure on himself to improve his overall play from 2018. Here are five 49ers heading to Santa Clara under pressure to perform or with something to...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Jul 17, 2019 at 10:00 AM 0 comments
    The San Francisco 49ers enter the 2019 season with a questionable interior offensive line. The upside: starting guards Laken Tomlison and Mike Person, along with starting center Weston Richburg, will all keep their roles with the first-team offense this season. Consistency and communication are intangible assets that can overcome deficiencies in combined skill. The downside: the projected interior starters are average players, and the 49er brass did little to bring in new talent to deepen the roster. It was an odd strategy considering head coach Kyle Shanahan saw firsthand what happens when terrible reserve linemen fail to play at the same level as the starter. There are thousands of reasons general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Jun 21, 2019 at 9:00 AM 2 comments
    In the depths of the cavernous Twitter-takes dungeon, there is a secret room where some hot takes actually became a reality. Somewhere, someone is mining through cat memes, facepalm gifs and arguments over fast-food restaurants looking for that shining moment where he/she correctly predicted how well linebacker Fred Warner's first NFL season would be. Warner proved to be a diamond in the rough for the 49ers, starting all 16 games his rookie year, playing 1,060 snaps and racking up 124 combined tackles – ranking him 12th in the NFL. One of Warner's best games last season was in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. He led all defenders with 12 combined tackles, had one tackle for a loss, one pass defended and forced a fumble. Warner played every...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    May 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM 2 comments
    Philosophically, has your defense changed at all with the change at defensive line and the talk of more wide-nine? Has anything changed from your standpoint about what you want to get accomplished? "No. We might look different, but philosophically, the overall foundation of the defense hasn't changed." Robert Saleh. May 29, 2019 Since the San Francisco 49ers hired defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, the rumblings of a "new" wide-9 defense have been floating through the sports page and Twitter timeline. The wide-9 technique is not a new addition to defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's defensive...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    May 24, 2019 at 8:00 AM 4 comments
    Organized Team Activities (OTAs) mark a significant shift on the professional football calendar. The draft feels like it was months ago, and teams have moved beyond over-hyping the 2019 schedule. The San Francisco 49ers enter the 2019 season with five offensive linemen who played the bulk of the 2018 season together, building a bond and learning how to communicate in loud, raucous stadiums. There's no point in the coaching staff creating artificial position battles; last year's first-team earned the right to come back and start this fall. Here are my projections, including the back-up linemen. First-Team Left Tackle: Joe Staley At some point in the distant future, someone will write a comprehensive history of the 49ers...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    May 4, 2019 at 7:45 AM 24 comments
    Four years ago, former San Francisco 49ers' general manager Trent Baalke selected punter Bradley Pinion in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The 49ers already had a capable punter in Andy Lee on the roster, but Baalke decided Lee's services and his 46.4 average yards per punt were no longer needed in the Bay. Just when the groans about the Pinion pick had been lost to the memory hole, general manager John Lynch selected punter Mitch Wishnowsky from Utah in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Most fan and expert reactions were a justified balance between angry and confused. It was as if Lynch forgot the 49ers' defense struggled to remain consistent and healthy in 2018,...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Apr 15, 2019 at 7:00 AM 1 comment
    If we distill down the complicated nuances of building a professional football roster, it may look something like this: Identify where the roster lacks talent or depth. Meet with a potential player to fill the void. Offer a hefty paycheck. Sign said player; pose for a photo giving the new player a laurel and hearty handshake. See the improvements in September. When stripped down to its bare essentials, it appears as if anyone with a Twitter handle, and an opinion could find success as a professional football general manager. It does feel a bit like the new regime at 4949 Centennial Boulevard has made building a championship roster a lot more difficult than necessary. Rather than find...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Mar 24, 2019 at 1:21 PM 5 comments
    Sometimes it's hard to tell when fan anger reaches its zenith, but it's a dead heat between two situations. The first is after a bad San Francisco 49ers' loss. The second begins as a slow, building wave in late December and crashes down with rage and violence immediately after free agency opens. In the age of the internet, anyone with a dial-up modem is now qualified to be a pro football general manager or a coordinator. I'm just as guilty as the next fan for being overly critical of specific plays, players and team transactions. Since Christmas, 49er fans have been sharing loud opinions on who the team should sign once free agency officially opened. We all found ourselves in different camps supporting different star players, (read: Odell...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Mar 7, 2019 at 5:15 PM 3 comments
    We are just mere days away from the start of NFL free agency. If you're not excited about it, be happy some of the endless guessing and wild fantasies that each free agent is the supposed savior of the San Francisco 49ers will soon cease. As stated in two previous commentaries, the 49ers need high-end free agent talent to fill gaps in nearly every position group. Again, an edge rusher is the first priority, though it seems more likely general manager John Lynch will fill that need through the draft rather than skim the free agent pool. Two years ago, the 49ers began to rebuild the linebacker...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Feb 21, 2019 at 9:28 PM 2 comments
    Maybe I buried the lead in my previous commentary about why the San Francisco 49ers need to begin rebuilding the secondary. Much like a fifth-grade essay, I will put my main thought up front. I am in full support of the 49ers drafting or signing a highly talented edge rusher. There are 152 articles each day stating the 49ers' need for an edge rusher. I have no interest in finding new nouns and adjectives to describe why Nick Bosa should become a 49er. Fortunately, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are not myopic and realize they have other position groups to build, including the interior offensive line. Tackles Joe Staley and...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Feb 5, 2019 at 8:02 PM 22 comments
    "February is always a bad month for TV sports. Football is gone, basketball is plodding along in the annual mid-season doldrums, and baseball is not even mentioned." – Hunter S. Thompson Welcome to the slow season. The confetti that fell from the robotic roof of Mercedes-Ben Stadium may mean joy to our new NFL champion, but to me, it's the dawn of people pointlessly predicting win-loss records and ESPN defrosting Mel Kiper from his cryogenic freeze to build 438 mock draft boards. Last season, the San Francisco 49ers were riding high on the hype train as they entered the 2018 season. A plague of injuries and a lack of overall ability with the second- and third-team resulted in a rough four-win season. General manager John...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Jan 15, 2019 at 11:34 AM 2 comments
    Last week during our virtual writer's meeting, fellow Webzone creator Chris Wilson mentioned the San Francisco 49ers' overreliance on second-year tight end George Kittle. That caught my attention and I thought Chris' position needed an opposite reaction. He kindly agreed to let me counter his argument and to show the internet that two people who've only met in a Slack forum could hold a civil debate on sports. First, Chris did a tremendous breakdown of the 49ers' reliance on Kittle, crunching numbers and using the Fibonacci sequence to compare Kittle's statistics to other receivers. Please take a moment to read his column. Before the 2017 season,...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Jan 8, 2019 at 6:36 PM 5 comments
    Another San Francisco 49ers football season is complete, and the offseason is still in its infancy. Though, it feels as if we haven't seen the 49ers play in a thousand years. The playoffs may be going strong, but for 49er junkies, we may as well be standing on the edge of an event horizon watching the seconds tick by like centuries. I'm never happy to see football season leave, especially when the 49ers picked up more of a competitive edge during the second half of the season. The four-win 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks at home, held the Chicago Bears to 14 points and had a second-year tight end set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards. However, a sliver of me is happy to have my Sunday afternoons back. After completing two seasons in the Kyle...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Dec 13, 2018 at 11:08 AM 3 comments
    Among topics I never thought I'd wake up to read this year was a hollow argument about the play of San Francisco 49ers' defensive lineman Arik Armstead. When it comes to politics and sports, flash opinion, belief without evidence and 'my feelings' rule the day. Facts are scoffed at and ignored like Grannie Annie's mincemeat Christmas tarts. In May, I asked how Armstead fits on this year's defensive line. Armstead wasn't a big success as an edge defender last season, and I wanted defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to move Armstead inside. However, the 49ers lacked any real talent at the edge coming into the 2018 season. It was clear Armstead would remain as an...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Dec 1, 2018 at 6:15 AM 1 comment
    During previous San Francisco 49ers football seasons, the thought of hope would shrivel up and die before the brain's neurons could even conjure the electricity necessary to think. The 2018 season had experts and fans sure the 49ers would be at least a .500 team, but those utopian fantasies were built upon an unstable foundation of overhype. In spite of injuries and thin roster depth, the 49ers have had moments that reignited hope in the fan base even with continued struggles to put points on the board, hold the lead or cover even a simple dig route. Film examination shows there's more to the 49ers than the sum of its failures. Last Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was ugly, but once the dumpster fire cooled, there were handfuls of diamonds...
  • By Bret Rumbeck
    Nov 11, 2018 at 8:08 PM 2 comments
    Eighteenth and nineteenth-century sailors setting forth on a global voyage faced plenty of peril: scurvy, pirates and mythical sea monsters. But getting stuck in the doldrums, where the trade winds die, left boats floating aimlessly under a scorching sun and cloudless sky. After days or weeks of a slow meander, the breeze would finally return and filled the sail with enough air to push the men back on course. Last week, the Bay Area wind blew into Santa Clara, and riding its back was an undrafted quarterback from Southern Mississippi. Some may discount quarterback Nick Mullens' huge victory because the Oakland Raiders currently reign atop a mountain of industrial waste, but that's a hollow argument. Mullens' leadership reenergized a...
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