So where does the madness end for the Phony-Niners, anyway?
Certainly not Wednesday, when linebacker Ahmad Brooks became the latest member of Santa Clara’s professional football team to be charged in sexual assault crimes. Brooks was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery in connection with an alleged assault that took place at teammate Ray McDonald’s home last December.
McDonald was indicted on one count of rape of an intoxicated person at the same time.
At least the front office had the decency to send Brooks home from Colorado, where joint practices were held with the Denver Broncos in advance of Saturday’s game.
If and when the 31-year-old Brooks is indicted on the charge, general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York need to take the next step and cut him. He has a history of this sort of thing.
Meanwhile, the linebacker position is a mess. Aaron Lynch will take over for Brooks at the right outside spot. He sat out the offseason workout program because of a hamstring problem. The other three regulars combined to make a dozen starts last season. Heaven help them if NaVorro Bowman goes down any time soon.
Yet the on-field stuff pales in comparison to the 49ers’ criminal record, which ranks among the worst in professional sports in recent years. Until team management raises the bar for professional conduct and demands that it be followed to the letter or else, we haven’t seen the last of these embarrassments, Balls fears.
Call that an overdue process.
PEDERSON’S WOES: Is Joc Pederson the latest victim of Home Run Derby Syndrome? Or have pitchers begun to take advantage of his complex, roundhouse swing?
And aren’t his woes fueling hopes that Giants third baseman Matt Duffy, so lean that skinny jeans are too big for him, will be the National League’s Rookie of the Year?
Whatever the case, like his Los Angeles Dodgers team, Pederson hasn’t been the same since he finished second in the annual All-Star slugfest. The rookie outfielder from Palo Alto High School has a .163 batting average and three homers since mid-July.
One wouldn’t know it to hear manager Don Mattingly tell it, though.
“He has been pretty good, actually,” Mattingly told Balls the other day. “He has been on base a ton. His at-bats have been good since the [last road] trip. Obviously, there wasn’t a ton of hits … There were a couple of three-walk games in there, which tells you he’s starting to see the ball better again. Yeah, I think he’s fine.”
Pederson was benched only days later.
“I think that I really struggled right before the All-Star break and right after,” Pederson said. “There were some things that were just baseball. You hit it hard, it goes at them. You strike out a lot. Some things don’t go your way, but it’s the past. It’s not a big deal. I need to continue to grow as a player.”
COMEBACK KINGS: The 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman has a big fan in Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos quarterback whose own career was in serious jeopardy four years ago.
“I have a lot of respect for him being out there,” Manning said Wednesday after the Broncos and 49ers scrimmaged in Colorado. “There are a lot of physical challenges overcoming that kind of injury. I can just only imagine how much work he’s put in to get back out there. I always pull for guys when they get injured, guys that come back, guys that put that time in, work hard, rehab and get back out there. I wish him the best.”
Earlier this week, Manning disclosed that his right fingertips remained numb after multiple procedures on his neck.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Somebody named Hassan Whiteside became the latest expert to take a dig at the Warriors and their smallball ways.
Tweeted Whiteside, who reportedly plays for the Miami Heat, “Small ball only works on centers that can’t score #factsonly I wish you would put Someone that 6’6 on me #careerhigh #highschooldays.”
To which the Warriors’ Draymond Green replied, “Can you score doe? Bigs becoming dinosaurs.”
Whiteside fired back: “2 dribbles in the post they going to cry for a double team FOH just watch go small ball #lightdoubledouble #getyourweightup #dontflop.’’
Green retorted with the inevitable money card: his new five-year, $82 million deal. “82 million reasons to flop and the d league ain’t never been 1!!!” he wrote. “But keep wearing shirts chasing the 2k rating #the finerthings.” All the tweets were deleted by Wednesday afternoon, where Draymond was seen in New York at a Yankees game.
No word on what Green’s famous tweeting mother, Mary Babers-Green, thinks of Whiteside. Balls only can imagine.
THANKS FOR PLAYING: Real estate developer Floyd Kephart presented renderings of a $4 billion project that would include new homes for the Athletics, Raiders and Warriors.
Save for the fact Kephart didn’t offer specifics about how the project would be funded … and that Oakland and Alameda County officials weren’t on board … and that the Raiders don’t want to share land … and the Warriors have their hearts in San Francisco, it sounded like an absolutely brilliant idea.
3-4 ALL: Already it’s obvious that the absence of a consistent pass rush from the front four will expose the Raiders’ secondary to the max. (That means you, D.J. Hayden!) In two preseason games, the defense has four sacks in 78 pass attempts. That’s not nearly enough.
So is it too late to switch to a 3-4 defense and give offenses a different look?
Sio Moore and Kahlil Mack are the difference-makers on a unit that has too few of them. They have to be put in position to make plays, and at least in theory, a 3-4 alignment gives them more freedom to do so. Head man Jack Del Rio has coached the scheme before, and he may want to try a new look more often in the final two preseason games.
WORTH THE WEIGHT: Balls has been all over Pablo Sandoval this season — hey, he’s a big target — so in the name of fairness, the Boston Red Sox third baseman did make one of the better plays of the season in Chicago the other night.
Sandoval caught a foul ball while he belly-flopped onto a tarpaulin, rolled over the top of it with both legs in the air then landed on his feet.
Sad to report, the tarp suffered a crushed vertebra and was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
THE LIST: The Chicago Cubs are in town this week. The most common excuses among Cubs fans why their team hasn’t won a World Series since forever:
The Curse of the Billy Goat. (See billygoattavern.com.)
Traded future Hall of Famer Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio, baseball gods haven’t forgotten it.
Moot point if Steve Bartman hadn’t touched that foul ball.
Can’t win at Wrigley Field — too antiquated.
The Wrigleyville nightlife creates too many distractions, can’t focus properly.
The Cubs play more day games than any other team, disrupts sleep patterns.
The manual scoreboard at Wrigley Field is too difficult to read, especially at night.
Don’t want to win it all — would ruin Lovable Lovers image.