Let’s see now. It’s five days into free agency, and the Niners still have holes all over the place, a pricey, broken-down, malcontent quarterback on their hands, no proven starter at the most important position on the field and not a single soul with the vision and know-how to turn them around.
Yep, everything is perfectly normal at Levi’s Stadium these days.
Of all the many problems, the quarterback position still ranks number uno, of course. Colin Kaepernick remains in place, but he wants to be in Cleveland of all places, we’re told. The Browns are desperate for a quarterback as usual, and new coach Hue Jackson has been a Kap fan for years.
Fine. The Browns own the No. 2 selection in the draft. The 49ers own the No. 7 pick. So why not ship Kaepernick to Cleveland and flip first-rounders? The Browns can sweeten the deal with another pick. That would put the Niners in position to take potential franchise quarterback Jared Goff in round one unless some team wanted him badly enough to acquire the No. 1 pick.
You can have Kaepernick and Gabbert. Free agent Robert Griffin III, too. By no means is Goff a sure bet, but after his performance at the recent combine, not one talent evaluator has been heard to predict that he’s gonna be a bust.
Except it’s not that simple and logical, because when Jed York is the CEO, nothing ever is.
See, new coach Chip Kelly is really second in charge here. Word has it that he’s not completely sold on Goff in his zone read offense. If the draft were held today, the Niners probably would take DeForest Buckner, the Oregon defensive end. Kelly spent four seasons as Oregon head coach. Connect the dots.
General manager Trent Baalke can live with Gabbert at quarterback, so he’s content to hold out for a second-round pick in return for Kaepernick. But while Clueless Trent sits on about $60 million worth of salary-cap money, the options dwindle by the hour. The time to strike is in the first four days, when most of the big deals are completed. More than half of the group is signed and accounted for, which means the Niners will get stuck with leftovers mostly.
Then again, who in the heck would want to play for this organization in the dead of Santa Clara, anyway?
SCORE IT A HARBOO-BOO: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has gone off the deep end. Either that or his khakis are too tight.
Here’s what Harbaugh told the Rich Eisen Show about his old Niners quarterback the other day:
“If you look at the three most important things for any player at any position, number one would be competitiveness. And there is a will to succeed and a will to win, nobody’s got it like Colin Kaepernick does. I mean, to an ultimate level.
“And then athletic ability. Again, it doesn’t get any better. And then awareness would be tied for second. He’s so intelligent, he’s so smart, he’s so aware of everybody around him.
“There’s no ‘lost.’ He did go through some injury last year, but he’s got the grit, the mental toughness, the confidence, etc. to flourish, which I know he will.”
OK, coach, if you say so.
RAIDERS REDUX: Wanna know another reason why the NFL is so popular and successful? It’s because the system allows its less wealthy members to throw around free-agent money like it’s Trump change.
While Niners wait to dip their toes in the free-agent waters, the Raiders have wasted no time to close the gap between them and the Kansas City Chiefs, the new team to beat in the AFC West. True, general manager Reggie McKenzie probably overpaid to steal ex-Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith away from the Niners, but in this case, it may be money well spent. Not only did the move address an urgent need, but it weakened a division rival in the process.
Oh, and no more D.J. Hayden, too!
It’s a bit premature to call the Raiders a legit playoff contender at this early stage. Also, let’s not forget that they had money to burn before the last two seasons, and that didn’t work out so well. There’s still work to be done, but it’s not a stretch to say that this is a better team than it was only days ago.
CAN CAL GET IT DONE?: As a probable fifth seed, Cal should win a couple games in the NCAA Tournament on talent alone. Hey, that’s what three future NBA players can get you these days. But that’s where it gets dicey for coach Cuonzo Martin and his team.
Cal lacks savvy and willing ball distributors. The better the competition and the closer the game, the more difficult it is to like its chances. Take their last two losses, both against ranked teams. The Bears blew a late eight-point lead versus Arizona in one, allowed Utah to drive the length of the court in four seconds to tie the game then lost in overtime in the other.
And where, oh, where is Ivan Rabb at the offensive end?
Balls feels bad for the Oakland kid. Against Utah, he nailed his first three shot attempts then didn’t get another one for 29 minutes while Jaylen Brown and Tyrone Wallace played keep-away. Seems the only time Ivan the Invisible touches the ball is when he rebounds it. Been that way for much of the season.
If Martin and the backcourt can get Rabb more involved, Cal has the potential to be a tough out.
WAKE UP THE SHARKS: The Sharks have been better than most expected this season — and that doesn’t say a whole lot — but where’s the buzz? They rank 21st in attendance leaguewide, which is more than a team with a godawful 13-18 home record deserves, really.
Why, the SAP Center was so quiet when the Sharks were blanked by a lame-butt New Jersey Devils team the other night, one could hear disposed critic Drew Remenda vent from the broadcast booth in Canada.
Seems like the San Jose Hockey Country Club will have to do something out of the ordinary to earn the public trust. You know, like advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, something it has yet to do in its sleepy 25-year history.
JUST SAYIN’: At last check, Giants co-aces Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto have a combined 12.79 earned run average this spring, and Balls has three words of advice for them: Don’t. Get. Hurt.
THE LIST: The first seven picks of the NFL draft, according to the most recent Monday Morning Quarterback projection —
1. Tennessee Titans: tackle Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi
2. Browns: quarterback Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
3. San Diego Chargers: cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
4. Dallas Cowboys: linebacker Myles Jack, UCLA
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: defensive end Joey Bosa, Ohio State
6. Baltimore Ravens: tackle Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
7. 49ers: Buckner.
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