49ers Open Practice 2017: The First Look of the 2017

temp1_3TL5696--nfl_mezz_1280_1024By Niners Faithful

Ever since 2003 the Niners have held their training camp at team headquarters in Santa Clara, they tired one year to have multiple open practices and it just didn’t work out. So they hold one a year.

Like in 2014 this year it was held at Levis Stadium with the added bonus of free food at drinks (and they weren’t kidding they had people walking around handing people food). It was a hot day in a Stadium known for being hot so the fact that the Niners didn’t to do what most teams would do and charge an arm and a leg for drinks says a lot. With an announced 25,319 fans on hand there was defiantly energy and excitement in the building. I noticed right away there seemed to be more attention to detail than last year under Chip Kelly the tempo was not as high as Chip Kelly’s training camp, but there was a nice tempo and you got the feeling that everything had a purpose.

Practice stared out with live field goals Robbie Gould didn’t miss one and hit one from as far as 52 yards. The punt returners during that part of practice were mainly Trent Taylor, DeAndre Carter and DeAndre Smelter with Trent Taylor looking the best. Next came 1 on 1 drill. I spent most of my time watching the receiver’s vs the cornerbacks I did see a little bit of the o line vs the d line and running backs vs linebackers. Trent Taylor’s shake and bakes was a site to see and kept getting reactions from the fans. Victor Bolden Jr had the lone deep ball of the period and new comer Tim Patrick showed some nice hands. Rashard Robinson had a few PBU’s and forced a few incompletions.

The running backs vs linebackers had a few plays that are worth mentioning. Rookie running back Joe Williams lined up agents NaVorro Bowmen and you could tell that Bow had trouble keeping up with Williams’s speed and if the ball wasn’t over thrown it would have probably been at TD. Rookie linebacker Ruben Foster had a PBU vs Carlos Hyde but Hyde did have a few catches also. Undrafted rookie running back Matt Breida make a great play and possible the catch of the day when he laid out Superman on a wheel route. 1st round pick Solomon Thomas seemed to have trouble working through double teams but did flash a few times.

I would say the “move the ball” period was the longest period of the day. The offense moved the ball well but was only able to score twice. K’Waun Williams had a sack on a cornerback blitz and Dekoda Watson and Tank Carradine split a sack. Camp star Marquise Goodwin had the top if not second catch of the day when Brain Hoyer under through him going up the right side line Goodwin made the adjustment and caught it falling out of bounds with Donate Johnson in good coverage. Matt Barkley had a nice touchdown to Aldrick Robinson who was falling forward vs rookie Ahkello Witherspoon. Then Brain Hoyer led his own long TD drive when he hit a pretty open Logan Paulsen in the end zone. The big play on the drive came when Hoyer hit Pierre Garçon near the left sideline on play action.

The best part of practice was towards the end when the team did the two minute drill. The physicality of practice picked way up right away when Eric Reid cracked Aldrick Robinson when he caught a pass and cut up towards the middle of the field. Matt Breida had a nice run up the middle where he showed off is speed. Ruben Foster had what would have been a sack but the refs decided to count the catch that happened after.

Quinton Dial had a nice run stop he had an unbelievable get off the ball and knifed though the line. Goodwin had another chunk play on a crossing route from left to right when Brain Hoyer rolled to his right off of a play fake and led Goodwin up field. The first team Defense ended their day when Brain Hoyer’s hail marry has intercepted by Eric Reid, but Hoyer recovered the next play but hitting Marquise Goodwin in the back of the end zone to end the practice. Overall I think the Defense showed that it’s going to be improved and surprise some people with the offense will not be elite I think there is reason for hope that we’ll put up some points and we have the right GM and head Coach in place to bring us back to glory.

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15 Hall Of Famers and Counting: Who are going to be the next Niners in the Hall Of Fame?

d20bdc2c85aa172a164b833c9cf98116By Niner Faithful

Thirteen players(Joe “The Jet” Perry, Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana, Steven Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Dave Wilcox, Charles Halye, Fred Dean, Hugh “The King” McElhenny, Bob St. Clair, Leo Nomellini and, Jimmy Johnson) one coach(Bill Walsh) and one Owner(Eddie D) are inducted as Niners in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Ten more players(Larry Allen, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Bob Hayes, Rickey Jackson, John Henry Johnson, Deion Sanders, O.J. Simpson and, Rod Woodson) in the Hall have played at least a year for us. That’s tied for 6th among all NFL teams. The latest being Owner Eddie DeBartolo who went in August 2016. With the Hall Of Fame ceremony happening this Sunday I have decided to go over some Niners that I feel should be in the Hall Of Fame either already or will soon be eligible that should go in when they are.

Terrell Owens: In his prime there was no better receiver in the game than T.O. He used his rare combination of size and speed to torch defenses. He had the power to change the way a defense would play whatever team he was on. You better have your popcorn ready, because at any moment from any spot on the field he could make a play. His Touchdown celebrations either pissed you off or made you love him even more (I was the latter) but no matter what it got you to watch you just had to see what he was going to do. He’s 2nd all-time in career yards with 15,934 8th all-time in receptions with 1078 and 3rd all-time in receiving touchdowns 153. It’s not The Hall Of People Who Were Choirboys it’s The Hall Of Fame  numbers are what get you in and when your number 2 in most Niner record books as far as receiving  you needs to be in The Hall Of Fame.

Patrick Wills: When you think of Niner Linebackers you think of P Wills. He was the most feared hitter in the game in his era. He even hit someone (Brad Smith) so hard they threw up on the field. He was the player that gave the pregame speeches and would get the crowed fired up when he would walk out the tunnel. I could still close my eyes and see the play ageist the yams when he not only ran down a player that looked like he was gone but also punched out the football. In his 7 full seasons he was selected to the Pro Bowl every year and was a First Team All Pro 5 out of 7 years. He led the Niners in tackles the first 4 years of his career and was second every other year and was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007. He also stated every game he played in since his rookie year in 2007. He finished his career with 950 tackles 20.5 sacks 16 Forced Fumbles 8 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. All numbers that few players in his era put up. He’ll probably not get in in his first year of eligibility (2020) but should get in one day because he truly was the best linebacker in football in his prime. 

Frank Gore: Frank The Tank whatever you say about #21 will still be an understatement for what he meant to this franchise. He is the Niners all-time leader in rushing yards (1173) 100 yard games (39) most rushing yards in a season (1695) rushing yards in a game (212) 1,000 yard seasons (8) and Second in rushing touchdowns (64) For most of his career HE WAS the Niners offense. Teams would put eight in the box to stop him all the time close all the running lanes and Frank would squeeze through and still make a play (I still think if we would have given the ball to Frank we would have won the super bowl). He is the NFL leading active rusher and with 108 rushing yards he will pass Tony Dorsett for the eighth most rushing yards in NFL history. And with 1,037 yards will pass Curtis Martin for 4th all-time. Whenever Frank deices to hang up his cleats he should be a first ballet fall of famer 5 years later.

Roger Craig: Roger Craig famous for his unique high knee running style changed the position of running back forever. He was the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing (1,050) and receiving (1,016) in the same season in 1985. He finished his 11 year career with 8189 yards and 56 touchdowns rushing and 566 catches and 17 touchdowns receiving. He is a 3x Super Bowl Champion (84, 88, 89) 5 x Pro Bowler (85, 87, 88, 89) and was a First Team All Pro in 1988. He was the first player to score 3 touchdowns in a Super Bowl (Super Bowl 19). He was been snubbed the past few years and need to go in.

Bryant Young: In my mind when I think of Niners D linemen I think of “B.Y.” He played 14 years all for the Niners was a 4x Pro Bowler, All Pro (1996), Rookie of the Year in 1994, and a Super Bowl Champion. He was leading the entire NFL at the DT position in sacks with 9.5 prior to his season-ending injury suffered in week 13 of the 1998 season having a metal rod put in his leg. Then year after in 1999 he had 11 sacks winning Comeback Player Of the year. He finished he career with 89.5 sacks 11 forced fumbles 6 fumble recoveries 29 passed defensed and 3 safeties. He ranks 4th all-time in sacks by a DT trailing Trevor Pryce(91), and Hall of Famers John Randle(137.5) and Warren Sapp(96). I think he was snuffed a lot of years for the Pro Bowl. If you look and he overall career and what he meant to the Niners  and his comparable numbers to  Hall Of Famer Warren Sapp he needs to be in the hall.

I know there are many more players that I could have named, but to me these are the ones that should be slam dunks.

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49ers Training Camp 2017: Players to watch

NFL: San Franciso 49ers-Rookie Minicamp

By Niner Faithful

Training camp is almost here the team reports Thursday with the first practice taking place Friday. There has been so much roster turnover this year (52 new players) everyone will be exciting to watch. Here are just a few that I wanted to highlight in this week’s blog.

George Kittle: The rookie tight end (5th round 146 overall) impressed both head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch during this year’s offseason program. He has great hands only dropping one ball on his 48 receptions during his 4 years at Iowa. He has the size (6’4 247 lbs.) to be a red zone threat one on one something the team has been lacking. Where he’s value is going to be though is he blocking. Iowa is a running team and George Kittle was their best blocker and loves doing that being quoted saying “he takes pride in it” and “moving a man point a to point b ageist his will is the greatest feeling you’ll ever feel”. During the teams off season he got the loins share of reps with the ones showing that the coaching staff thinks highly of him. Now it’s time for him to do it with the pads on and I can’t wait to see it.

Trent Taylor: Trent Taylor was Kyle Shanahan’s draft crush. The 5’8 wide receiver may not be the biggest player, but has the separation skills and play making ability in space to play in the slot he can catch the football and was moved all over the field during OTA’s. He’s a smart receiver and has the ability to read defenses fast. He has shown that he can produce at least in college (136 receptions 1,803 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in 2016) and did a little bit of return duty as well (482 yards on 58 returns). He probably won’t start over Jeremy Kerley this year but has too much upside to risk losing him to try and put him on the practice squad and his punt returner potential make him someone I’m dying to see during camp and the preseason.

Arik Armstead: In camp last year he was pointed out by Joe Staley as someone who could have a brake out year. His shoulder injury ultimately put him on the IR and we never really got to see if that was true. This year he’s slimed down to better fit the “Leo” position he’ll be playing in our new defensive scheme. He will no longer have being a first round pick status to keep him on the roster with their being a new GM and Coaching staff he will have to go out and earn it. He isn’t the Idea size for a “Leo” but his athleticism and unique size make his an intriguing player to watch in training camp this year I can’t wait.

NaVorro Bowman: The Mon5t3r is the heat and soul the defense. We all know the story of his injures in 14’ and then last year and what his absence did to the defense. There are questions about whether or not he can comeback from another devastating injury and return to his former Pro Bowl self or even a NFL starter. The Niners themselves have to have some concern about his ability to come back going out and signing Malcolm Smith and drafting Reuben Foster. From all accounts he’s healing just fine and will be full go for training camp and the Pre-Season but that was before pads went on so well see how it holds up. I have faith that the Mon5t3r will be back to his old self sooner than latter especially with Foster and Smith pushing him for his spot. They say pressure makes diamonds and I can’t wait to see him shine in training camp this year.

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Niners training camp competitions: Iron sharpens iron

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By Niner Faithful

 

Competition it’s a word being thrown around Niners headquarters these days. Both Head coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch have said there is competition at every spot on the roster no one is going to be handed anything. So, as we get ready for training camp later this month I thought I would break down some of the key position battles that I think are worth keeping an eye on in training camp.

Tight End: Probably one of the spots that has the most Competition is tight end. The Niners went out and sign veteran Logan Paulsen drafted Gorge Kettle signed undrafted free agent Cole Hikutini and still have Blake Bell, Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald from last year’s team. Gorge Kittle has been a name that has been getting a lot of attention in the Niners OTAs and different minicamps. He was singled out both by GM John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and some point this offseason. John Lynch saying on an interview on KNBR last week that the rookie “really flashed” and that he “catches the ball extremely well.” (I believe that was a shot at Vance McDonald) and said he could possibility be a “play maker near the red zone” something that the team didn’t have till he was drafted. It’s hard for this position to get worse so I expect improvement from last year in my opinion.

Defensive Line: Pass rush was a big problem for the Niners last year they tied for 19th in the league with 33 sacks. The Niners have spent the last three drafts on the D-Line they drafted Solomon Thomas with the 3rdoverall pick this year to go along with Deforest Buckner (7th overall last year), and Arik Armstead (17th overall in 2015). Returning from last year’s team are Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Chris Jones.  We signed Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, and Noble Nwachukwu in free agency while drafting D.J. Jones, and Pita Taumoepenu to go along with Thomas. They say that the biggest jump a player makes is from year one to year two so, with Buckner entering his second year and Armstead basically playing his second year I expect the picks we have spent on the D-Line to start paying off. Add that to the fact that it’s a contract year for Lynch and Carradine. We have a staff that understands 1008 snaps for Buckner is too much and Dumervil has a lot to prove after a subpar year last year I expect the pass rush to make great strides over last year.

Linebackers: Last year the season turned when NaVorro Bowman went down in week 4 he is our best defensive player and looked to fully recovered from his devastating knee injury in 2014. Besides losing Bow we lost Ray Ray Armstrong (IR week 3) and Shane Skov (IR week 12) which forced players who shouldn’t have been starters to start. This was one of the positions in need of an upgrade the most.  Besides NaVorro Bowman the Niners have brought back Ray Ray Armstrong, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, and Aaron Lynch (although he’s moving to the D line). We signed Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle, And Dekoda Watson in free agency. We Drafted Reuben Foster (I believe the steal of the draft) with the 31st pick overall along with Pita Taumoepenu (although he is also going to move to the D line). We also signed undrafted rookies Donavin Newsom, and Jimmie Gilbert. It’s clear that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan saw this as a position of need and addressed it. As with most of the team I fill this is a position that can only improve over 2016. And Thank God that got rid of Nick when my friend Mary can see you suck it’s time for you to go. You can’t keep 10 linebackers so the competition for spots on the 53 is going to be intense with a big factor with must players being can they play special team. These are just a few of the battles that will be going on in training camp this year and it’s going to be fun to watch.

 

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The Empire Strikes back: The belief in something special coming

san-francisco-49ers-logo-hd-wallpaper

BY Niner Faithful

The last game of the 2016 season ended like so many others for the Niners with a loss. A 25-23 loss to rival Seattle to be exact. Trent Blake had already been fired (which was known because of another leak coming out of the building) and soon after Chip Kelly would be out the door as well. The search had already begun to rebuild not only the team but the image of this storied franchise. Jed saw the planes flying over the stadium that he had worked so hard to build and he didn’t like it. It was clear from pretty much the beginning that Trent and Chip wouldn’t work well together. Chip wanted to go full speed all the time and didn’t care about time of possession were Trent wanted to run the ball grind out the clock and keep his defense off the field. The two couldn’t have had more opposite football philosophies. So, it was clear that he needed two men who shared the same views or at least work well together. Would he go with youth or experience? Who would want to work with him? After his firing of Jim Harbaugh and hiring of yes man Jim Tomsula he’s credibility was shot with fans before this year now he had none. On January 2nd, the day after the season ended he gave his yearly press conference and it seemed like the last few season took their toll. He seemed humbled. He gave a short opening statement in which he apologized to fans and gave the normal we are going to bring back a championship culture speech. Little did we know that this time he might get it right. Right away Jed went to work interviewing Anthony Lynn, Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan, and Sean McVay, Tom Cable and Sean McDermott for the head coaching position and interviewing Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutekunst, George Paton, Jimmy Raye III, Brandon Beane, Louis Riddick, Terry McDonough, Trent Kirchner, Scott Fitterer and John Lynch for General Manager ultimately deciding on John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to be our new GM and Head Coach. Step one complete.

Now I’m not going to set here and pretend that I was sold on the John Lynch hiring right away. After all the people who we had years of experience we went with a man who spent the years after his retirement from football in a broadcast booth. It’s one thing to know football it’s another to be able to spot talent, hire the best coach, pick a roster, and run a draft. Then I heard him talk and more than that I saw who he hired and the fact that he wasn’t scared to put people who had more experience around him to help guide him in teach him in what he doesn’t know. Now this was done before Kyle Shanahan was hired as the head coach, all though once Josh McDaniels withdrew his name it was clear who they were going to hire. So, we get to the day where the Niners have John Lynch’s and Kyle Shanahan’s interdictory press conference. And you could just feel the energy in the room changing. These men had a plan, a vision for how they wanted to build our roster, what kind of players they wanted and, the best part about it was they both had the same plan. They laid it out all right there on the table for everyone to know something that I felt lacked in the past. So, began the journey to get us back to respectability. In previous years, free agency has been generally a bore only 23 players though 2013-2016. There was a lot of worries if anyone would want to come play for us coming off a 2-14 season with a GM who just a few months ago was working with fox? Those people witch I was not one of were quickly quitted when in just the first few days of free agency 7 different players of note signed with the Niners.  Stating either that our GM was a player or that being a part of Kyle Shanahan’s system being a factor in signing here. Then there was the Draft. To say that the feeling was anticipation is an understatement. The number two pick was the highest we have drafted since 2006 when we took Vernon Davis with the 6th overall pick. John Lynch had been pumping up the pick pretty much since her was hired. Any chance he got he would say how it was a blessing and how the Niners were “open for business” when it came to trading the pick. Draft day the deal is done John Lynch in his first draft commitments highway robbery getting the 3rd overall a 3rd rounder number 67 overall a 4th rounder number 111 overall and a 3rd rounder in next year’s draft. All that just to move up one spot and to get the player we had number two on our board (Myles Garrett was number one) this trade set the tone for the rest of the draft. Because of this trade alone we could get Solomon Thomas, Ruben Foster and Adrian Colbert along with a 2nd round and 3rd round pick next year. In all there was ten players were picked two picks were added to next year’s draft and six trades were made. (one away from a Niners record) not bad for a self-proclaimed “pretty conservative guy” with no experience. With the draft, over with hit the undrafted free agent market and picked up 18 players bring the total of new players added to the roster to 49. Step two complete.

The vibe all throughout the offseason program has been one of high excitement and energy. Many reporters have said that hasn’t been felt around team headquarters since the first year of Harbaugh. Joe Staley said in an interview during mandatory minicamp that he “hasn’t felt like this in a long time” and that “the energy is back in the building”. To a man pretty much every player echoed the same thing. You can bring in Bill Walsh from the grave to coach the team if the players don’t buy in it means nothing and so far, it seems like they have. From the reports coming out of minicamp the defense has made great strides” winning” most reps at practice but that is to be expected this early especially without pads. Training camp is a little over 3 weeks away with the first preseason game set for two weeks after that, so we have awhile until we can see if any of the changes will get results this year. But one thing is sure there is reason for hope not just I have faith in my team hope no real hope that can be backed up with facts and logic and that is more than we can say at any point in the last 2 years.

 

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Where Does Frank Gore Belong in the All Time Running Back Picture?

By Leo Silbert

For years Frank Gore has been one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL.  He has never been the best running back in the league during his career, but part of that has to do with how his career has overlapped with LaDainian Thomlinson and Adrian Peterson.  His breakout season of 2006 was the year that Thomlinson set the record for most touchdowns in a season and then the next year Peterson was a rookie who ended up rushing for an NFL record amount of yards in a game with 296 yards.  Gore though, has been steadily acquiring 1000+ yard seasons and right now he sits eighth all time in rushing yards with a good shot at passing Thomlinson this upcoming season for 5th all time.

frank-gore-the-u

Frank Gore has been an underrated player for a long time.  He was the running back at the University of Miami, following in the footsteps of guy such as Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis who all had played for the Hurricanes within a 3 year span, with McGahee and Portis being on the team at the same time as Gore.  Gore initially beat out McGahee as the starting running back for the 2002 season, until a torn acl kept him out for the season.  He played in 2003 and 2004, playing well each year, but he ended up not being considered as one of the top 5 running backs in his draft year, being taken behind Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton.  A few reasons hindering Gore’s draft stock was his slow 40 yard dash time and the fact that he’d be the 4th Hurricanes running back taken in the draft in a 4 year span.  His injury history also hurt his stock as the NFL still had Terrell Davis’ knee injury fresh in their minds.

frank-gore-49ers

The 49ers decided to make Gore the first pick of the 3rd round in the 2005 NFL draft.  The team had picked up Alex Smith in the first round so the 49ers looked to have their offensive core players set for the next decade to go with rookie center David Bass.  Gore was the backup running back behind Kevan Barlow.  Gore was 2nd on the team in carries with 127, but led the team in yards with 608 yards and he helped in the passing game with 15 catches.  This lead to Gore becoming the featured running back in 2006 and he took off with one of the best rushing seasons in the league, but he was overshadowed by LaDainian Thomlinson and Larry Johnson rushing for more yards and 20 and 9 more touchdowns respectively.  That was also Tiki Barber’s final season where he had his 2nd straight season of more than 1600 yards after the age of 30 and rookie Steven Jackson in Gore’s division had less than 200 fewer yards than Gore, while also catching the ball 90 times.  Gore definitely had a great season, but he didn’t have as good of a story going for him than any of the other top 5 running backs that year.  The next year he put up another 1000+ yard season but attracted little attention on another bad 49ers team where he was once again the main contributor of the offense.  That story repeats itself for 2008 and 2009 where Gore continued being one of the best running backs in the league on a team that didn’t have the talent to keep up with him.  He was on pace for another season like that in 2010, but he ended up missing 5 games and only totaling 853 yards (which for him is still the 2nd worst yardage total of his career).  Then in 2011, the 49ers finally had a good enough head coach to bring the entire team into the spotlight and Gore finally got some of the recognition he deserved on one of the top 3 teams in the league that year.  In his first postseason, the team made it to the NFC Championship game at home against the eventual champion New York Giants.  Then in 2012, Gore was the calming presence in the backfield that helped the team through a quarterback change that helped the team reach the Superbowl, eventually falling to the Ravens after the team attempted multiple goal line fade throws instead of handing the ball off to their bell cow.  In 2013 at the age of 30 he had yet another 1000 yard season on a run first team that made it to their third straight NFC Championship game, which was ended when their quarterback threw a game sealing interception into double coverage.  In 2014, the 49ers drafted Gore’s eventual replacement running back in Carlos Hyde and Gore responded with yet another 1000 yard season on a team where the rest of the offense fell apart around the desire to make Colin Kaepernick into a pocket passer.  After the 2014 season, the 49ers let go of Jim Harbaugh and they didn’t resign Gore which left the soon to be 32 year old as a free agent with a decision to make.  Did he want to continue playing for another team, or did he want to hang it up.  He decided to keep playing and joined a team that desperately needed a running game.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

Gore showed up in Indianapolis as a 32 year old running back who was looked at as the bell cow running back for a team that just lost the AFC Championship game.  Then, the Colts lost Andrew Luck to injury so Gore, behind a terrible Colts offensive line, was 33 yards away from his 9th 1000 yard rushing season.  He returned for the 2016 season where the Colts were still lacking in talent up front, but they had Andrew Luck back in the fold so their offense was quite successful.  Gore put up his 9th 1000 yard rushing season at the age of 33 and his pass catching and blocking skills helped the Colts’ offense rebound, but the defense failed the team, leading to another 8-8 record and he is set to return for his 13th season in the league on a team that now has a new general manager and will be looking to get back into their 2014 form.

Now, that I have summarized Gore’s career, where does that fit into the top running backs of all time picture?  Well, he has never been considered he best running back in the league during his career, so he isn’t in conversation for the top 5.  Him being in the top 10 would also be a stretch, but I think he could definitely fit into the top 15.  He isn’t a Barry Sanders or a Terrell Davis where he was considered the best over a period of years, but he had a stretch where he was consistently a top 5 running back in one of the more competitive periods of running back play in the history of the league.  His 13,065 yards all but guarantees him a spot in Canton already, but if he puts up a year where he rivals the amount of yards he had in 2010 when he missed 5 games, then he will be 250 yards clear of Thomlinson for 5th all time.  He is 6 rushing touchdowns away from 80, which would place him in the top 20 all time in that category.  He wasn’t an elite pass catcher at the position, but he has over 400 receptions for over 3000 yards, but it is good enough to put him in the top 20 in all purpose yards of all time.  Frank Gore is one of the greatest running backs of all time, and it is time we start appreciating him as such.

 

 

Each NFC West Team’s Biggest Draft Need

By Leo Silbert

It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help. Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks. Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player. I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.

Next up, the NFC West:

  1. richard-shermanSeattle Seahawks- The Seahawks have been a powerhouse in the league pretty much since Russell Wilson became the quarterback in 2012, but this year they seemed to be missing a key piece and that is before Earl Thomas went down with an injury.  It just seemed like their offense could never get it going and that their defense wasn’t as much of a juggernaut it had been in years past.  The offense had lost Marshawn Lynch to retirement over the offseason and the defense lost Bruce Irvin to free agency and the Raiders so these can explain why they didn’t see the same.  Their defense was still top 5 so their defense’s demise may have been more due to them slightly underperforming from their 4 previous seasons of leading the NFL in points allowed per game.  Their offensive problems can partially be explained by Russell Wilson being hurt for the early part of the year, but even when he was back to full health the offense didn’t seem right.  Their offense was able to have a dominant ground game when Marshawn Lynch was on the team despite the team lacking a real offensive line.  They could try to get another Marshawn Lynch, but Lynch was more of a unicorn running back that only comes along once every few generations and Thomas Rawls isn’t a terrible running back, but he needs some help.  The Seahawks tried to start improving their offensive line last year when they selected Germain Ifedi in the first round, but Ifedi was incredibly raw and he graded out as one of the worst offensive linemen in the league.  The worst part about the Seahawks’ line this year was that Ifedi wasn’t even the worst lineman to play over 600 snaps.  The only consistently above average offensive lineman they had is their center Justin Britt.  The Seahawks need to build their offensive line up if they want to look like they did in 2013, because Marshawn Lynch isn’t going to be walking through that door anytime soon.
  2.  larry-fitzgeraldArizona Cardinals- If you look at the numbers, it is hard to see what happened to the Cardinals that led to their decline from 2015.  They had the 6th best scoring offense, the 2nd best yardage defense, and they were the league leaders in both sacks and forced fumbles.  They have one of the most electrifying talents in the league on offense with David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald led the league in receptions, and their offensive line held up adequately.  So what went wrong?  Mostly it seems like they let up too many big plays that led to scores.  They have one of the best corner backs in the league in Patrick Peterson, but across from him they didn’t really have much.  Teams were able to attack the #2 corner back with little resistance which was the Achilles heel of the defense.  If the Cardinals can get a little bit more luck next season as far as losing close games and if they get a proper #2 cornerback to compliment Peterson, they can be back to knocking on the door of the Superbowl by next season.
  3.  aaron-donaldLos Angeles Rams- In their first season back in Los Angeles since the early 1990s, some people expected the Rams to finally take a step forward into contending for a playoff spot since now they had a first overall pick quarterback on their team to go with a ferocious defensive line and one of the best young running backs in the league in Todd Gurley.  Then they started the season with their first overall pick as the third string qb and lost to the 49ers 27-0, starting of the trend for how bad the season was going to be.  The Rams were a mess all over the place, with no real offensive threat and their defense was not nearly good enough to carry them.  Now this season, they have a new young and innovative head coach in Sean McVay who brought in the legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to turn the defense into one of the top defenses in the league.  So, with Sean McVay’s recent history as an offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, you can assume that he’d want to model his offense after the one that he had there.  To do that they will need to build up their receiving corps.  They will need to retain the services of Kenny Britt to do this correctly, but when the Rams make their first pick in the 2nd round they should take a wide receiver who can be a deep threat a la Desean Jackson.  If the resign Britt then they’ll have their Garcon in him and their Jamison Crowder in Tavon Austin, but the ability to stretch the field is the real catalyst of the offense.  Then they would just be a Jordan Reed type and a complete offense away from having the same kind of offense that McVay had in Washington that got him the job.
  4.  carlos-hydeSan Francisco 49ers- Oh boy, where to begin here?  The 49ers went into this season with incredibly low expectations with needs all over the roster and a coach and gm that were paired up in a sort of shotgun wedding.  Their roster was depleted of talent from top to bottom, spare a few good pieces such as Carlos Hyde, Deforest Buckner and Navarro Bowman.  And possibly the worst thing that could have happened to the 49ers this season was how they started it off by blowing out the Rams in a week 1 shutout victory which made some people think that they really could be something.  That was the only win they would have until they played the Rams again in week 16.  The 49ers don’t even officially have a coach yet (though many speculate that the job will go to Kyle Shanahan once his current team has played in the Superbowl), so it is hard to even know which need they’ll need to deal with first in order to start succeeding.  I honestly feel like the 49ers are currently the least talented team in the NFL so I feel like if they added a young qb now that they would end up messing up his development so I believe they should go for defense above all else and grab an edge rusher who will be able to sack the opposing qb so the team will have a better shot at staying in games defensively while they build up the rest of their roster with enough talent to eventually compete.  They are in line for a long rebuild though.

And this is the end of my team draft needs series.  You can check out all of the other articles in the series by clicking on the corresponding links below.

AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/

NFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/each-nfc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

NFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/each-nfc-norths-biggest-draft-need/

NFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/each-nfc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/