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D.C. Owens

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  • By D.C. Owens
    May 29, 2018 at 6:45 AM
    What the offense giveth the defense taketh away. That homily may come to define the 49ers' 2018 season. After all, with kickers in place, returners now abundant, and several swift backups added this offseason, the special teams might excel. And I've already hinted, in part one, at how the offense could improve. But, ah, the defense, with its best linebacker in legal spin-cycles, its most proven cornerback compromised by an aching Achilles, and nary a consistent edge rusher in sight. What possible fun might even the most faithful fan derive by rooting for such a ramshackle outfit? Well, to start, Americans traditionally like to root for the underdog, and, going into the season, the Niners' defensive squad lies somewhere beneath the underdog, with consensus expectations way...
  • By D.C. Owens
    May 23, 2018 at 9:58 AM
    The 49ers slid into the 2018 draft poised, according to consensuses, to select with their first pick either an edge rusher, a cornerback, or a possible replacement for linebacker Reuben Foster. All defense. Instead, they settled on an offensive tackle. Then, they traded up in the second round to take a wide receiver. What's going on with these goofballs? And what do their off-season decisions bode for the kind of football we might see on the field this fall? Like it or not, all ye faithful, the 49ers have embarked on yet another five-year plan. Five years, because that's how long the remaining contracts of Shanahan/Lynch last. Five years, because Jimmy G's new contract now correlates with theirs. Five years, because any longer would overly try Mr. York's patience. Lynchahan...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Sep 9, 2017 at 11:38 AM
    For the past several months the entire 49er organization has sought to waken the echoes of the team's illustrious past, by which they mean not the brief interregnum that Jim Harbaugh wedged into Jed York's otherwise dismal tenure, but, rather, the Bill Walsh era. They have sung the hosannas of bygone personnel decisions, made nice with former players from those storied days, and bowed low before gridiron glories of old. Even when Jed appears on a financial network, CNBC, he never fails to harken back to Super Bowls past. In all fairness, what else can you do coming off a fourteen-loss season? You certainly want to elide any focus on the rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' miscues of the last three seasons. And, beyond repressing the Harbaugh-exit fiasco, Jed has other demons to...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Apr 23, 2016 at 10:32 AM
    Trent Baalke rises every morning and goes to work in an air-conditioned office set in a state-of-the-art facility. On some days he flits across the country and rubs elbows with NFL power brokers. He gets to hobnob with Jed York, the 49ers' popular young owner. Above all, unlike fans who must content themselves with mere wishes, Baalke gets to act out his football obsessiveness. He makes trades, decides on roster moves, presides over personnel. Nice work if you can get it. However, over the last few seasons, Baalke has shown a marked diffidence with regard to maintaining his current position. He undermines coaches ("somewhere in there he said we're going to run the football"), displays obsequious behavior toward his boss, and rattles off (sometimes intentionally)...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Jul 26, 2015 at 5:34 PM
    Yesterday a friend and Seahawks fan, recently returned from a trip to Reno, awakened me from my mid-summer slumbers with a printout of the over/under odds for each NFL team's 2015 season win totals. The 49ers projected tally? Six-and-one-half wins. Ah, the harsh realities of old-fashioned black and white. Quickly, after a two-month hiatus, I accessed several of my favorite NFL sites. Some prognosticators suggested the prospectors might win five games, or even four. Intrepid 49er-homers predicted ten wins, a few of the hardheaded hinted at eleven, while a smattering of severe wishful thinkers lobbied for even more. What if they're all correct? What if, over the medium term, the team settles into the fair-to-middlin' ranks so common to most NFL franchises? After all, most teams...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Apr 27, 2015 at 7:11 PM
    For the first time since he officially assumed the GM mantle, Trent Baalke must face the draft with a 49ers team in decline. Whether last year's .500 record represents an aberration, or the beginnings of a more dismal trend, we will not know until the new season plays out. Meanwhile, the manner in which Baalke manages this year's draft may provide us with clues about what the general manager himself thinks about the state of his roster. Predictably, Baalke and the rest of the 49ers brass have remained tight-lipped when responding to questions about organizational intentions regarding possible picks, deflecting direct questions with the usual arsenal of clichés, a "we feel good about" here, an "I'm excited about" there. Presumably, Jed York still carries the torch for a...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Apr 1, 2015 at 6:20 PM
    Let's give Baalke's last two drafts the benefit of our doubts. Let's say all the previous draft picks and free agents come to the fore, and, further, that the medical redshirts stay healthy. Let's say that the sage one has, indeed, already accumulated the necessary ammunition to, as he said last winter, "reload." Let's say, just for kicks, that we will someday remember 2015 as the year when several new starters leapt forward, some of them superb. Even so, Baalke must still replace those replacements. In other words, the 49ers not only have to reload, they also, simultaneously, must rebuild. They must reload and rebuild. Take, for example, Craig Dahl. Miscast early in his career as a starter in St. Louis, he is nonetheless a serviceable player, who can fill in for a...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Dec 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM
    Well, he's gone, gone, gone. Gone, gone, gone. Cryin' won't bring him back. Adieu, Gentleman Jim Harbaugh. We hardly knew ye. And, now, 49ers' head honcho Jed York says he wants someone like Bill Walsh as his next head coach. Who wouldn't, other than, occasionally, Jed's Uncle Eddie? But, before the dust settles completely on Harbaugh's cleat marks, we may do well to remember that, lo, just four years ago, Coach Jim himself arrived as the Walshian savior. Like Walsh, the 49ers hired Harbaugh away from Stanford. Like Bill, Jim arrived with a prickly personality, a cadre of crackerjack position coaches, and a driving will to win. And, unlike Walsh, Harbaugh won immediately. Of course, Harbaugh inherited a stronger roster than did Bill. Nevertheless, other than the...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Dec 4, 2014 at 6:36 PM
    Of all the possible solutions to recent 49er woes, fans clamor for this one the most. Our offense struggles, while the most dynamic player on the squad seems pocket-bound. We remember the bullet speed, the defenders leapt at a single bound, the superstar in the making. We remember big chunks of yardage. We remember defensive coordinators quaking. Where have those plays gone? Some, former 49er quarterback Steve Young among them, think that Kaep should spend more, not less, time in the pocket. They lament the fact that Colin has not yet mastered the art of pocket passing, and insist that he should study the intricacies of the position instead of dashing headlong into defenses. Mr. Young even recalls the bygone days of Bill Walsh and Sid Gilman. This line of thought...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Oct 14, 2014 at 6:33 PM
    Coming into 2014, many thought the 49ers would struggle during the early part of the season while integrating new starters and waiting for the wounded/suspended to return. It's easy to pick against the consensus. Some folks make a living at it. Only, this time, the consensus seems right. The 49ers have struggled, and yet they remain within striking distance of a playoff berth, as fans have hoped. In other words, to quote Dennis Green, the 49ers pretty much are who we thought they were, or would be, come this point in the season. However, for such a predictable season, the current one has certainly not bored. Nor has it lacked hopeful signs for the faithful. While Jim Harbaugh has recently dominated most of the press coverage, I want to give a shout-out here to the position...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Sep 22, 2014 at 8:30 PM
    In his Monday press conference, Coach Harbaugh used the word "fix" nearly every other sentence. What, in fact, might the 49ers fix? First, a few of the usual suspects/scapegoats: Colin Kaepernick Frankly, Kaepernick's bounce-back first half against Arizona heartened me, and I don't just mean his stats. Impressively, he adapted to the 49ers' new game plan, a short-passing attack with multiple receivers. He released the ball quickly, hit various targets, and threw a plethora of accurate-enough short passes. True, he may never have the touch of Joe Montana, but in this game he proved himself more than just a one-trick pony, capable of power throws and little else. And, of course, he limited the turnovers, while still showcasing his foot-speed....
  • By D.C. Owens
    Sep 5, 2014 at 6:57 AM
    In the all-encompassing spirit of Texas Football, where the game itself sometimes plays second fiddle to the surrounding hoopla: AT&T Stadium The letters "AT&T" stand for "Arlington, Texas, Texas." That's right, the Cowboys claim "Texas" as their country, not the USA. Most Texans do not claim allegiance to the United States. They seceded once and still wish they were a Republic. In fact, they often consider putting a wall around the entire state to keep Americans out, except, of course, for those who bring in revenue. As their tourist slogan once said "It's like a whole other country." The sprawling stadium mirrors the Texan belief that size makes right. However, if the Cowboys falter this year, we may have to revise the old Texas adage from...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Sep 2, 2014 at 6:50 PM
    Imagine, as a thought experiment, the following bit of historic revisionism: 2011 – The 49ers hire Jim Harbaugh, and the new coaching staff, by efficiently melding the existing talent with an influx of youngsters, improves the team's record from 6-10 to 8-8. 2012 – The 49ers, despite switching quarterbacks mid-season, finish 9-7. 2013 – The 49ers, with a 10-6 record, lose a wild-card slot on a tie-breaker to Arizona. 2014 – Entering the season, 49er fans hope the mathematical progression of seasonal victories continues, culminating in an 11-5 record and a playoff spot. Still, we worry that the quarterback has not yet quite blossomed, and that the reliance on unproven players bodes for a possible set-back...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Jul 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM
    George Ignatin had a computer, or at least access to one at the university where he worked. Allen Barra had a yen to write. Both followed football, pro and college, closely. Together, a la Bill James, whose 1970s sabermetrics revolution would soon forever change the way we view and play baseball, Ignatin/Barra began to analyze gridiron stats. They fed into their computer, dubbed Mad Max, numbers, and monitored the output assiduously. Soon, they discovered that the methods in Max's madness revealed insights contrary to the then-received wisdoms about how the hallowed game of football should be played. Remember, Ignatin/Barra/Max followed hard upon the cleats of pound-and-grind football. During the previous decade, the Dolphins and Steelers dominated pro ball, while, in the...
  • By D.C. Owens
    May 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
    Prior to the 2014 draft, mockers had settled into a fairly consistent consensus based on Niner team needs. Prognosticators predicted the prospectors would select wide receiver, cornerback, and pass-rusher in the early rounds, while perhaps selecting from among the safety, running back, center, and/or linebacker positions later in the draft. Likely the 49ers, with such a loaded roster, would trade up to take their targeted players. Indeed, at the start of the day, the 49ers did pick, in order, a wide receiver, a cornerback, and a pass rusher. Some experts thought the Niners "reached" in selecting Ellington so early, but … wait just one blasted minute. The 49ers selected receiver, cornerback, and pass-rusher at the start of the draft's third day, not its first....
  • By D.C. Owens
    Jan 7, 2014 at 6:14 PM
    49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh, himself from a coaching family, loves opposing coaches so dearly that he almost always gives them a chance to come back and win games against his own team. He seldom runs up lopsided scores against his brethren, and, even in the playoffs, prefers close nail-biters to potential blowout games that might possibly embarrass his cohorts. Even, as in the recent Green Bay playoff contest, when his squad had dominated the first few series one-hundred-forty-one yards to one, the gentlemanly Jim obligingly allowed the Packers to regroup, and make a competitive game of it. No wonder Pete Carroll, and now Mike McCarthy, adore him unreservedly. But one should not let Sir James's sartorial dandyism, his soft-spoken tone with reporters, nor his outright...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Dec 3, 2013 at 6:23 PM
    As the 49ers enter the home stretch, the story of their season sharpens into focus. Years hence, Niner fans may well remember 2013 as a season of maddening consistency. In short, the Prospectors beat inferior teams and lose to elite squads. And they do so despite injuries, a quirky schedule, and Colin Kaepernick's ongoing travails. 49er losses so far this season: Seattle, Indianapolis, Carolina, New Orleans. Two losses at home, and two on the road, but all to better teams at the time they played. Because of regression, injuries, and other attrition, Indy has since stalled into a slight decline, but they can still boast hallmark victories over the Broncos and Seahawks. Actually, I'm not convinced that the Colts were ever an appreciably better team than San Francisco...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Nov 8, 2013 at 7:40 AM
    For many 49er fans 2013 has so far felt like both the best of times and worst of times, not necessarily in that order, as the team did a dipsy-doodle, first mimicking a possible team-in-decline, then rebounding with a five-game winning streak, albeit against inferior foes. Aside from positioning themselves for a second-season run – the London bridge and subsequent bye handily bifurcate the 2013 schedule – what have the 49ers accomplished that portends not only for the next three months, but beyond? 1. They have completely abandoned any pretense that any non-Boldin wide receivers might meaningfully contribute. How fast will Manningham and Crabtree get up to game speed? 2. As a corollary to the above, Colin Kaepernick has mostly gone into game-manager...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Oct 4, 2013 at 7:38 AM
    What must the 49ers accomplish during the next quadrant of the season? Probably, the team would please 49er fans if they won some games, preferably all four of them. But, beyond that, the team will look to set up the second half of the season, and, during this mini-bye week, have already begun to tweak their roster with that end in sight. They have not yet, nor should they, give up on winning the NFC West. After all, a loss or two by the Seahawks, vulnerable, if barely, on the road, would put the Niners within striking distance. Yes, the Seahawks currently look like a juggernaut, a team of destiny, fortune's feathered favorites. But that status can change fast. Regardless of what those birds do, though, the 49ers must handle their own business. Former NFL head coach Marty...
  • By D.C. Owens
    Sep 20, 2013 at 8:16 AM
    49er fans remember the previous two seasons: a power running game characterized by blocks both thunderous and subtle, with backs regularly sprung loose into the secondary. Yes, we thought it might last forever. Actually, the demise of the Niners' consistent running prowess coincided with the arrival of Colin Kaepernick as signal caller. Why? Well, for one thing, Kaepernick himself became a larger part of the ground game. For another, Kaepernick emerged as potentially more than a "game-manager QB," with the arm to hurl the ball, accurately, far down the field. The 49ers, in the midst of a playoff run, took advantage. But another reason for the ground-to-a-halt has little to do with the quarterback. Remember, Alex Smith himself could run some, albeit not with...
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