Just when you thought the 49ers’ draft days couldn’t get any any more bizarre, it took all of one round for the tag team of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Ballke to prove us wrong.
That’s Kelly and Baalke, also known as Weird and Wacky.
In round one, Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner was the pick at seventh overall. No surprise there. He’s a keeper, we’re told. But did the Niners draft the player or the college? The addition of Buckner meant that, of the 22 picks that Kelly’s teams had made in three-plus drafts, 10 or nearly half were U of O players. That’s by far the most that any team has taken from any school in that span.
Kelly spent four seasons as Oregon coach. And the front office had drafted Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead in the first round one year earlier.
Besides, Dennis Dixon, Joey Harrington and Norm Van Brocklin weren’t available.
Anyway, don’t be surprised if one of these is a Niner by the time you read this: quarterback Vernon Adams, wide receiver Bralon Addison, offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone and linebacker Joe Walker. All played for the Ducks last season, naturally.
As for Baalke, it didn’t take long for him to make one of his trademark screwball moves. He dealt second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks to move up nine spots to the 28th pick, where he selected not a quarterback or wide receiver but guard Joshua Garnett.
Didn’t have Josh Garnett in your first-round draft pool? Relax, you weren’t alone.
Like a lot of Stanford lineman, Garnett is an earth-mover, except that Kelly likes more mobile types up front. Only weeks earlier, the organization signed guard Zane Beadles, its only free agent addition this spring. What’s more, guards rarely are chosen in the first around let alone acquired for three draft picks. Is it possible that Garnett still would have been on the board early in the second round?
Consider that Baalke may not be long for Santa Clara, and the decision makes less sense yet. Then again, this is the same guy who drafted a punter in the fifth round a year ago. Maybe he wanted to leave Niners fans with something to remember him by.
MARK OF DESPERATION: The Niners haven’t cornered the local market on strangeness, though, not as long as Mark Davis and the Raiders are still around.
While general manager Reggie McKenzie raved about first-round pick Karl Joseph at team headquarters, Davis was in Las Vegas, where he begged city officials to take his team. Please.
Balls puts the odds at 2-1 that the Silver State will become the silver-and-black state before long, as Davis put it. There was a time when the NFL took a a staunch anti-gambling stance, but there’s a new breed of owners that favors the bottom line over ethics now. What’s more, the plan will have the support of big shooters Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson, whose Cowboys and Texans want no part of the San Antonio Raiders in their backyards.
All the while, the Raiders have lease agreements to play at the Oakland Mausoleum through the 2018 season.
Pride and Poise? Woe and Tactlessness are more like it.
BLAME GAME: Stephen Curry returned prematurely on a bum right ankle in the first round of the playoffs, but don’t take Balls’ word for it. According to renowned trainer Tim Grover, who has worked with Michael Jordan as well as Warriors players Andrew Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in his career, it’s quite possible the injury led to a sprained right knee that has him laid up right now.
“Without a doubt, that weakened ankle contributed to the knee sprain,” Grover wrote for Yahoo Sports. “When he slipped on the court, the ankle instability couldn’t help protect the knee. The entire body is a chain: one rusty link puts extra stress on the other links and weakens the entire chain.
“Curry was wearing an ankle brace when the knee injury occurred, and it’s a reasonable bet that the brace jeopardized the knee. Why? Because while the ankle is immobilized, what’s the next point of vulnerability? The knee. The stress moves right up the chain.”
Curry will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but his return to the court won’t come until days later. That puts his status for the start of the Western Conference final in jeopardy, and the Warriors will be hard-pressed to beat either the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs without him.
TIME TO GET A MOVE ON: Warriors assistant Luke Walton has been granted permission to speak with the Houston Rockets, but he shouldn’t waste his time. The SoCal native is destined to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, and unless Steve Kerr plans to leave the bench soon, it’s time for him to move on. There’s nothing left to accomplish here.
If the Lakers are really smart (insert punchline here), they’ll also bring in Warriors consultant Jerry West, whose son Ryan is their personnel chief. Mr. Logo can help groom his son to become general manager, then maybe the Lakers can start to become a real NBA franchise again.
JUST SAYIN’: The Laremy Tunsil drama confirmed what we knew all along — no league does a draft better than the NFL does it. Where else can you watch a hacked Twitter account blow up more than 10 million bucks while a kid throws his alma matter under the bus?
The Giants are off to a so-so start, but until Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence or Buster Posey shows up on the disabled list, just relax and smell the garlic fries.
Reigning batting champion Dee Gordon is the latest major leaguer to get busted for PEDS, but keep Miami Marlins batting coach Barry Bonds out of it. The man is just doing his job.
So which is higher right now — the Athletics’ payroll or president Billy Beane’s water bill?
Glad to hear that Ivan Rabb will return to Cal for a second year. Better yet if the Oakland kid has permission to touch the ball.
The Nashville Predators and Sharks open their best-of-seven taffy pull this weekend, and according to a little-known NHL rule, one of them has to win.
YOUR TURN: “Jared Goff is a second-round talent at best. He is not mobile at all, never won consistently at Cal, made too many costly mistakes and turnovers in big games against top talent and only put up stats against subpar talent. Nobody in his right mind is going to select a QB from North Dakota, Michigan or Memphis to lead the franchise in its inaugural year in the City of Angels. L.A. will test your morals and character and sexuality at every intersection, and he was the safest choice of all the QBs.” — Trey Triplette, San Francisco
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