Cal quarterback Jared Goff throws a pass over Oregon State defensive end Titus Failauga, left, looks on during the Golden Bears’ 54-24 win over the Beavers last weekend. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Goff’s performances tied to 49ers’ future

If the next NFL draft were to be held today, the 49ers would have the seventh overall pick. That could put them in position either to select Cal’s Jared Goff or trade up to get him. Because, you know, quarterback is one of their problems right now. Despite some uneven performances in recent weeks, Goff ranks no worse than second behind Memphis junior Paxton Lynch on most draft boards.

Stanford coach David Shaw, who must deal with the Bear Raid offense Saturday night in the Big Game, considered Goff to the prototypical drop-back passer at the next level. As a former Raiders and Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach, he should know.

“He’s just awesome,” Shaw said. “He’s tall. He’s long. He has got a quick release. He can paint the sidelines from the far [hashmark]. That’s big time. Down the field, the balls are beautiful. Being a receiver, I mean, those things are coming down, tight spirals right where you want them, The kid is really good. He’s really, really good.

“We got to know him a bit through the recruiting process. He’s the kind of guy that you root for. He’s a good kid. He’s a humble kid, but he’s a heckuva football player. It’s nice to see good things happen to good people. So I’m not surprised by the numbers he puts up and has been putting up. Hopefully, we’ll keep those numbers down a little bit in this game. But we’re going into this game with a lot of respect for this guy because he is that good.”

CARDINAL FEAST: For Stanford, the Big Game against Cal won’t come at a better time. After a difficult loss against Oregon at home last weekend, the Cardinal have an axe to grind. And what better one than the Stanford Axe, which goes to the winner of the Big Game?

Stanford can clinch the Pac-12 North title with a victory. And if that’s not enough motivation, no player on the Cardinal roster has lost to the Bears in his career.

“Coach Shaw always talks about that [last game is] in the rear-view mirror,” stud linebacker Blake Martinez said. “We’re looking through the windshield. We’re ready for Cal, and it’s a big game, and it’s actually the Big Game. And [his teammates] want to keep that Axe because they know everyone on this team hasn’t lost to Cal since they’ve been here.”

Martinez referred to the annual showdown as “the biggest rivalry in college football,” and while he would get an argument around the country, he’ll get none in these parts.

“I know people talk about Oregon and USC for us being big games, but when it comes to Cal, you know that no matter what the records are, who’s out there, what’s going on, it’s gonna be a dogfight from the beginning to the end,” Martinez said. “It’s not one of those games that is going to be 60-0 or whatever the score. You have to kind to step in there and know that, if you get the opportunity to step on that field, it’s all of our faces on that game and there’s all of the alumni that in the past that have played in those games and done the special things to keep that Axe.”

As Cal doesn’t need to be reminded, it hasn’t won the Big Game since 2009, when Michael Mohamed picked off a Andrew Luck pass at the 3-yard line to preserve a 34-28 victory.

SHERMAN SPEAKS: Famous Stanford product Richard Sherman has a prediction for the Big Game, and you’ll never guess what it is.

“Go Cardinal,” said Sherman, whose Seattle Seahawks will host the 49ers on Sunday. “We’re gonna get this one. We’re at The House. We’ve got the better team. We should win.”

NINERS GET IT RIGHT: Turns out 49ers general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York did something right this season. Their decision to release the troubled Aldon Smith proved to be a correct one after the troubled defensive end was suspended for one year earlier this week.

“On a personal note, I wish all the best for Aldon,” coach Jim Tomsula said. “We don’t wish anything but the best or Aldon. We want good for him. We want him to have a good life.”

Hopefully, Smith will get his house in order in the next 12 months, although his track record suggests otherwise.

ROCKETS FIZZLE OUT: Remember the talk about the Houston Rockets as a serious NBA playoff contender before the season? Well, after coach Kevin McHale was shown the door Wednesday, they seem to be closer to an overhaul than a parade. It was obvious even last postseason that McHale had no idea what to do with this bunch of overpaid underachievers.

The front office can start the purge with Dwight Howard, who averages 15.0 points per game and gets paid $23.3 million to do it.

HUFF AND PUFF: Former Giants fan fave Aubrey Huff is ready for a comeback. The 38-year-old hasn’t played since 2012, when he hit .192 in 52 games, but he has trained hard the last two months and likes the results.

“The swing is there,” Huff told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a matter of having someone giving me a shot.”

Hear that, Athletics operations chief Billy Beane? Huff Daddy could compete with Sam Fuld for a bench role, and Thong Night would be sooooo much fun at O.co Coliseum.

Huff said he was so depressed in his Giants farewell that he didn’t enjoy their World Series championship that season

“[While] everyone else was celebrating, I had a belly full of Xanax,” Huff disclosed. “I was miserable. I couldn’t care less. I was the first one out of the clubhouse. I hated myself. I hated baseball.”

Four years later, he said, “I couldn’t be happier.”

JUST SAYIN’: Sharks coach Peter DeBoer will assist his predecessor Todd McLellan with Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey next year, and wouldn’t you just love to hear them exchange secrets
about Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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