• By Brett Pahler
    Dec 16, 2007 at 6:01 PM 15 comments
    The case against Mike Nolan has been well-documented by virtually every 49ers writer. "He's coy with reporters. He may have lost the team. He forces people back from injury too soon. He undermined his 23-year-old quarterback in the locker room and to the media." All of these criticisms are perfectly valid, and may or may not individually or collectively represent reasons to replace him. From my perspective, there are two main reasons he should go. 1st, it's not clear whether Nolan simply cannot objectively assess the value of his players, or whether he plays favorites. For instance, after a mere three games as coach, Nolan traded Jamie Winborn, considered by Erickson to be our best defensive player in 2004, for a 7th round pick. Without question, the...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Sep 15, 2007 at 9:01 AM 0 comments
    Look. I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning east coast time to watch Monday's game. It was exciting. I love the fact that Smith defeated Leinert, the guy most 49ers fans wished we had drafted. I loved watching Patrick Willis get a hand in on virtually every tackle. I loved that, for the first time since the Seifert era, when the opposing quarterback tossed a pass there was some genuine doubt about which team would come down with it. But I'm not going to get emotionally invested in this team. Not yet. The win came against the 5-11 Cardinals, and it was a last second win that we would have lost if the Cardinals player had knocked the ball out of the end zone. The win is important because there's always that chance that we make significant strides during the...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 30, 2007 at 1:20 PM 0 comments
    You know how at the beginning of every season you convince yourself that the 49ers are playoff contenders regardless of their record going in? If Tim Rattay plays as well as he did in the Pittsburgh and St. Louis games... If Rashaun Woods can stay healthy... If Andre Carter just returns to his 2002 form. We all know how this ends. For each time the potential is fulfilled, there are five other times when it isn’t, and we end up losing faith in our team and in ourselves. This year, things are going to be different. No more “ifs.” No implicit assumption that we’ll win a game or two more than last year. An acknowledgement that every team, not just the 49ers, has second year players that they expect to have breakout seasons. No rose-tinted glasses. Just a harrowing look in the...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jan 22, 2007 at 1:30 PM 0 comments
    Step 1: Bring home Lance Briggs. He’s a Sacramento native who forced four fumbles last year (Derek Smith has forced five in his career). He’s only 26, and will be our most physical linebacker since Ken Norton. Plus, he can do that leaping chest-bump thing. When’s the last time we saw Smith and Ulbrich pull that off? Let’s get to work people. If someone can create a “bringhomebriggs.com” website and one of our Sacramento readers can petition his parents, we can do this. Step 2: Bring home Jared Allen. He’s from Los Gatos, only 24, and had seven sacks last year along with 11.5 tackles for a loss. With Allen and BY as our ends, we’ll be in excellent shape. We’re never going to find another end this good who grew up a 49ers fan. On a side note, I don’t care if we spend $20...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Aug 17, 2006 at 4:24 PM 0 comments
    My dad tells a story from time to time, in which two campers travel up to Canada to spend a summer of hiking and whatnot in the bear-abundant woods. One of the campers, in addition to his normal camping activities, would wake up every morning and run sprints outside the camping area. Curious, his friend asked him why he was doing all this training. He responded, “There are a lot of bears out there, and I may need to run for my life on one of these hikes.” Dismayed, his friend told him, “I don’t want to burst your bubble, but all the training in the world isn’t going to help you outrun a bear.” He responded, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.” In the same sense, the 49ers don’t necessarily have to be a good team this year to inject some energy into...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Aug 5, 2006 at 9:06 AM 0 comments
    I was walking around the other day, when it dawned on me that the 49ers may be on the verge of creating something that I’ve witnessed only twice in my lifetime. When I discovered this, I was happy for an unprecedented three straight hours. Like a flush in poker, it’s unfolding right before our eyes. The 49ers are on the verge of establishing triplets. Meaning, triplets in the mold of Aikman-Emmitt-Irvin and Manning-James-Harrison triplets. I admit, this might seem like lofty company for a quarterback whose QB rating last year was 40.8, a running back that carried for 608 yards, and a tight end that has never caught an NFL pass. But when it gets down to it, there really aren’t that many tandems that I would trade Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Vernon Davis for. ...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jun 29, 2006 at 10:56 AM 0 comments
    When Mike Nolan came in, he inherited a bunch of hapless Erickson plebiscites, and quickly realized the need for more discipline and structure within the organization. To this extent, he’s succeeded. Players hustle during drills now. They’re held accountable for their mistakes during film sessions. He’s instituted a chain of command, has only one voice coming out of the organization, and has eliminated the backstabbing that had plagued the front office for years. All of this is obviously a good thing. Only a dunce would argue otherwise. But has he taken his regimented approach too far in its application towards the players? Jamie Winborn, Tim Rattay, and John Engelberger may not have been ideal starters, but they made for incredible backups, and helped us win 12 games in 2001 and...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Apr 28, 2006 at 9:42 AM 0 comments
    I am sitting at my desk trembling at the prospect of Vernon Davis being snatched up before us. If Vernon's gone, I would assume that we would select A.J. Hawk. Hawk is a pretty good pick, but where does that leave us with our 22nd pick? After Mario Williams, there are no other first round caliber traditional defensive ends. I could see the argument for Santonio Holmes, but I can't help but wonder if he's the beneficiary of a terrible crop of receivers. Besides, at some point, we need to give Hamilton and Maxwell some time to develop. We're reasonably stable along the offensive line. When our line is good, our running backs are good. We have three hefty defensive tackles. We have four cornerbacks that are no worse than number three corners, and two prospects that...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Apr 6, 2006 at 9:39 PM 0 comments
    It gives me great pleasure to report that I believe the 49ers have had a reasonably successful free agency period. Have we continued to lose ground to the rest of our division rivals, all of whom have less salary cap space than we do? Well, that goes without saying. But still, with the exception of the Bryan Gilmore signing, I think we’ve avoided the crucial mistakes that teams tend to make. Here’s what I like. Antonio Bryant will go over the middle, block, etc., and provide a more complete target than Lloyd, who was only capable of going deep and running curls. It would have been nice to have both of them, but if we could only have one, I’ll take Bryant and the picks every time. Nicely done. Larry Allen. Another good signing. My only regret here is that the...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 3, 2006 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Here's how things will pan out. For the next two months, 49ers fans will prep themselves for the moment the 49ers select Vernon Davis. We'll goggle over his workout numbers. We'll find obscure college videos on him and watch them repeatedly. We'll spend so much time researching the pick that our wives and girlfriends will think the draft is happening this Saturday, not two months from now. We'll spend hours of our workday daydreaming about Vernon Davis running down the middle of the Candlestick Park grass catching bullets from Alex Smith. And then, at around 10:00 am on Saturday, April 29th, Paul Tagliabue will walk to the podium and rip our hearts out. "With the 6th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the 49ers select Michael Huff, DB, University of...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Dec 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The quality of NFL broadcasting has swiftly deteriorated in the last decade. We've bottomed out in a nadir where most announcers over-emphasize and dwell on even the most mundane aspects of the game - in a fevered pitch, no less, with no intention of allowing even a nanosecond of silence at any point during the broadcast. This leads to highly unenjoyable segments of the broadcast where announcers say things like, "Look here. I want you to look at something. I want you to see the hole created by the offensive line. Now look at the running back running into the hole. You know what I call that? Great vision. But look at the linebacker. Look at the linebacker running into the hole and making the tackle. Bam! You know what that shows? Film study. The linebackers must have...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Nov 14, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    A reporter once asked Terrell Owens what the biggest misperception was about him. His response: "That I'm a bad guy." In his defense, you can call him every name in the book: selfish, egocentric, rude, childish, but it's not fair to label him a bad guy. It's easy to dislike him. You probably find his celebrations obnoxious. You probably find the insults he hurls at his quarterbacks inappropriate. You get tired of these celebrities who live like kings, playing a game for a living, but still complain about their paychecks and general lot in life. But I can't help but see a thread of truth in what he's saying. Going back to the press conference he held a year and a half ago after the 49ers traded him to Baltimore, Owens came on the air and told...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Oct 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    In the wake of Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, most media columns have been surprisingly critical of Mike Nolan's harsh words, insinuating that his recent actions will polarize the locker room and make rebuilding more difficult. Nonsense. Nolan has every right to be upset, and his words are a breath of fresh air compared to the listless verbiage we've heard from our coaches over the past decade. Put yourself in Nolan's shoes. You work long hours with your coordinators drafting the game plan. You spend all week practicing, teaching, and coaching, to make sure your players understand their assignments and are in the right positions. Fast forward to the second quarter of Sunday's game. You're up 21-6. You watch on the sidelines as the Cowboys march...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Sep 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    My wife has a coworker who broke up with her fiancée because he couldn't change a tire. Well, it wasn't exactly because he couldn't change a tire, but because when the tire deflated on this particular occasion, he pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, opened his arms to the sky, and yelled, "Why me???" To some people, life's inconveniences are dramatic experiences, consuming of all time and patience, and the groundwork for exhausting days of non-stop complaining and ornery dispositions. Others are more understanding of the limitations of society and ourselves, and accept the fact that from time to time these things happen. And while the relevance may be a minor stretch, much of the same holds true in football. Every NFL team has its...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Jun 11, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The start of the season is three months away. The excitement of the draft has more or less worn off. Nolan has squashed any glimmer of hope for an enjoyable June by canceling our next mini-camp. The only reason I can tolerate any of the NBA playoffs is because TIVO enables me to fast forward through the first twenty seconds of the Spurs' possessions. Pennant races won't start getting interesting until August. Faced with the bleak prospect of literally having no sports to follow for the next two months, I've succumbed to the pressure of joining an office fantasy baseball league. Let me start off by stating that I have not played fantasy sports in four years. The last time I played was in college, when I won the league without setting my lineup, making a single...
  • By Brett Pahler
    May 22, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    One good thing about the off-season is the virtually unlimited amount of time I have to contemplate the finer points of the game. As such, I've spent the last two weeks mulling over the three most burning questions that will affect the 49ers in the coming year. Of course, there are other questions, like "Will Julian Peterson return at full strength?" that are arguably more important, but I've tried to steer clear of questions that could be dryly answered with a yes or no. Here goes. Can You Rush the Passer Without a Pass Rusher? Conventional wisdom says no, but there's some disagreement among the experts. It may be a foregone conclusion that you need an elite end to consistently beat a left tackle, but that doesn't mean pressure can't be...
  • By Brett Pahler
    May 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    After watching the cameras interview either Eli Manning or a Manning family member every five picks a year ago, I thought for sure that the 49ers would receive some media adoration this year. But there were no Alex Smith childhood photos. There were no Andrea Kramer interviews with parents or relatives telling us that they always knew Alex would be a superstar NFL quarterback. In fact, aside from Sal Paolantonio standing in a locker room decorated with 49ers equipment, the 49ers got scant attention. There must be a reason for this! Much like a Congressional inquiry, the purpose of the article is to answer the question, "What went wrong?" Did ESPN think that Aaron Rodgers dropping to twenty-fourth was more important? Did they think that we were outdone by the Dolphins, Browns,...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Apr 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Diane Wong. The name rings true to my ears like nails on a chalkboard. Nice girl. Just a tad misguided to think that I would want to listen to a three hour demonstration on cutlery, from her of all people, on a trip home from college. But alas, a classic marketing example of not knowing one's audience. Had Diane known anything about me, she would have realized that I don't cook, rarely eat tough meat, and would rather saw through a steak with a butter knife than invite her into my home for any reason, let alone to drone on about cutlery for hours. How does this relate to the 49ers, you ask? Is Scot McLoughan going to show up at your doorstep pushing Vector knives? I sure hope not. But the fact remains that the 49ers, like any business, should have some grasp...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 29, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The Tedford Curse is coiled, hissing, and ready to strike its next victim. And for anyone who has made his permanent residence under a rock, I am speaking of the long line of college quarterbacks that Cal coach Jeff Tedford has guided to excellence at the college level, only to see fizzle in the blazing saddles of the NFL. Although we could probably unearth more, the current list of Tedford failures includes Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, David Carr, and Kyle Boller. Four of those five were top six picks. After Aaron Rodgers goes this year, almost twenty percent of NFL franchises will have vested their futures in a Jeff Tedford quarterback. But before we rant about the misery these prospects have wreaked upon their respective franchises, let's take a...
  • By Brett Pahler
    Mar 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    I'm not sure the NFL Network and ESPN have been sufficiently thorough in covering the Randy Moss trade. We've heard Kerry Collins' thoughts about it. We've heard from Lamont Jordon. We've heard from the Raiders' long snapper and third string tight end. Would it be too much to ask for them to dig a little deeper and find out how some of the practice squad players feel about it? Obviously, I'm being facetious. There are only so many times we can listen to the phrase "open up the offense," even if it is stated by a different Raider each telecast. But if nothing else, the testimonials have restored my faith in Norv Turner's ability to say the word "flexibility," when describing his offense. Interviews aside, here's the problem....
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