The 49ers are so desperate for wide receivers, they may even do the unexpected: make a trade with the Raiders.This would have been unthinkable when Al Davis was alive, but this is a new day for the Raiders. New general manager Reggie McKenzie will do whatever it takes to improve the team, and what stands out now is that he has a glut of young, fast receivers, but no draft picks — except for supplemental ones — before the fifth round. Read More
How will new Raiders coach Dennis Allen do? There are no guarantees when an assistant coach moves up, but there are some encouraging signs.One is his relative youth, 39. The Raiders have had success with coaches in their 30s — Jon Gruden, John Madden and even Al Davis, who started as a coach before abandoning that process. Resurrecting the Raiders is a long-term project, not a quick fix, and a younger coach has the energy needed for the job. Read More
It’s difficult to predict how an assistant coach will do when he becomes a head coach, as Dennis Allen is set to do for the Raiders, and even a glimpse of Raiders history doesn’t help much.
John Madden and Tom Flores prospered, but they were given talent-laden teams. Mike Shanahan didn’t last out a season, but that was partly because he was trying to put in an offensive system Al Davis hated. Read More
The NFC Championship Game clearly defined the 49ers’ big need for next season: Wide receivers, wide receivers and, yes, wide receivers. Whether it’s through the draft or free agency, or both, they simply must upgrade at that position.
Theoretically, it’s one of the easiest positions to fill, but not for the 49ers in recent years. In Alex Smith’s seven years with the 49ers, he’s had 25 different wide receivers, and they still don’t have even one reliable one, though Josh Morgan was coming along nicely before he suffered a season-ending injury. Read More
The 49ers’ winning formula finally failed them.
All season, the 49ers had relied on strong defense, efficient offense, great special teams and, most of all, winning the turnover battle.
Not in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. This time, two costly mistakes by kick returner Kyle Williams cost them a game they should have won in regulation. Read More
How has Jim Harbaugh performed a near-miracle with the 49ers? Here are some of the qualities I’ve observed:1. He always stays positive about his team, often praising players and never criticizing. If a writer frames a question around a critical comment, he will respond with, “You’re saying that, I’m not.” Players always do their best for a coach who has their backs. Read More
The first thing the 49ers should do in the offseason is re-sign Alex Smith to a multiyear contract.
I’m sure Alex will be willing. He’s had two chances to leave the Niners, but has returned each time. The first time was after the 2008 season, when then general manager Scot McCloughan said he’d either have to accept a restructured contract, at a lower salary, or leave as a free agent. He stayed.
The second time was last February, when he was a free agent, but Jim Harbaugh asked him to come back. After the lockout ended, Alex signed a one-year contract. Read More
Will 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio go to the blitz more in Saturday’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints?
Fangio has been known in the past for the variety and frequency of his blitz calls. This year, he has usually depended on his linemen, especially veteran defensive end Justin Smith, a Pro Bowl choice, and rookie Aldon Smith to apply pressure. Read More
If you watched the New Orleans Saints take apart the Detroit Lions at the Superdome, you know why it was so important that the 49ers play them at Candlestick Park.
The Saints have been unbeatable at home this season, playing on artificial turf in a domed stadium before adoring fans who fill the stadium with ear-splitting noise. Read More
If they want to be anything more than a joke to the rest of the NFL, the Raiders will have to make some critical structural changes this offseason.
Al Davis ran a one-man show, and when he died, he left a total vacuum. Amy Trask handles financial and legal matters, but she doesn’t make football decisions. Long-time front-office holdover John Herrera has done myriad jobs, but none of them has involved making football decisions.
So, the first task for owner Mark Davis will be to hire a general manager. Read More
The comparisons between the 49ers of 1981 and the 2011 version are compelling. Both were teams with a strong defense and an offense based on mostly short passes. Both were led by young quarterbacks — Joe Montana was 25, Alex Smith is 27 — who were effective within the structure of the offense. Montana threw for 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 88.7. Smith threw for 17 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 90.7. Both teams had outstanding coaches with a Stanford background, Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh. Read More
Good things have been happening to the Cal football team lately, and coach Jeff Tedford would love to put a capper on that with a win over Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
While the total rebuild of Memorial Stadium is on target to be completed for the 2012 season and Tedford has finally gotten the state-of-the-art training facility he has sought since he’s been coach, the Bears played their best football of the season down the stretch. Read More
The 49ers’ success is no fluke, and they once again have the organizational strength to be consistent winners, with Jed York as CEO and Trent Baalke as general manager.
Jed is nothing like his father, John, for which we can all be thankful. Though he’s only 30, he’s grown into the job he inherited, working tirelessly to get the funding for the proposed new stadium in Santa Clara, now scheduled to open in 2014, and he nailed down $850 million in bank loans about two weeks ago. Read More
A championship team has to meet all the challenges, and the 49ers met a big one by getting out of their comfort zone Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 49ers had been playing their usual conservative game — throwing short passes, running Frank Gore, kicking field goals — instead of going boldly for touchdowns and relying on their defense and special teams. Read More
The Tim Tebow drama continues — it’s the cover story on Sports Illustrated this week — but the Denver Broncos still need to look for a real quarterback in the draft next April. Read More