An Unofficial San Francisco 49ers Blog
SB Nation Scouting Report: Amobi Okoye
Posted on Thu Jan 11, 2007 at 12:11:21 PM EST
While there are still 3 months until the draft, we all want to know about the potential draft options. For most of us, our information consists of what we've read at a major site or what we saw of a given player in their bowl game. Since we have a solid network of college blogs within SB Nation, I decided we should take advantage of that in getting scouting reports on potential 49er draftees.
And so Niners Nation presents SB Nation Scouting Report. Since this will not be an every day feature, I'll create a separate heading on the left side of the screen that links to past Scouting Reports if you want to look them over as we get closer to the draft.
Our first report comes from Mike over at Card Chronicle, SB Nation's very own University of Louisville Cardinals blog. Amobi Okoye is currently 12th on Mel Kiper's Big Board, the 2nd defensive tackle and the 4th defensive lineman overall. I made some formatting adjustments, but the comments are all Mike's insight. Take it away Mike:
Amobi and his family moved from Anambra, Nigeria to Huntsville Alabama when he was just 12-years-old. Amazingly he tested into the ninth grade at that age and played football for the first time the next year as a 13-year-old sophomore. He signed with Louisville at the age of 15 and then became the youngest player ever to play in an NCAA football game the next year when he saw action in all 13 games as a 16-year-old college freshman. The youngest person ever to play college football finished his freshman season with 17 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
Amobi was the best player on the field every time he lined up this season. He finished his senior campaign 55 tackles, 8 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, and forced three fumbles. He was a second team All-American and one of just two unanimous selections to the Big East's All-Conference team. He was a team captain and in my eyes, as well as the eyes of many others, Louisville's most valuable player.
He needs to develop more rush moves since his path to the quarterback in the college game usually came via a rather primitive route (Dude pushing dude), but I suppose these are the types of things they teach you in the league.
His speed and raw athletic talent is off the charts, but he's not going to be able to rely solely on natural ability once he makes it to the next level.
Best of luck with the upcoming draft and the 2007 season.
Thanks for the insight Mike. I definitely encourage everyone to check Card Chronicle. If we do end up taking any Cardinals other than Okoye I definitely plan on going back to them for further scouting reports.
End of Season Position Grades - Running Backs
Posted on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 01:18:04 AM EST
I apologize for the delay on this next post. Gotta love work craziness. For future reference, players pictures are in the order they are discussed below.
We'll start with the running backs and move onto the fullbacks later (I'm afraid that analysis will be somewhat limited considering the lack of stats I'd prefer to have)
Frank Gore - 2006 Stats: 1695 rushing yards (5.4 avg)/8 TDs/5 fumbles, 61 rec. 485 yards/1 TD/1 fumble
The Good: What HASN'T been said about Frank Gore? Outside of the early fumblitis Frank Gore was THE rock of this offense. Frank Gore made it that much easier for Alex Smith to take his time developing. Championship teams have a good running game and good defense and Gore solved that first problem.
The primary issue coming into the season was whether Gore could carry the load and avoid injuries, which had plagued his career dating back to college. Excluding the concussion Week 10 at Detroit, Frank Gore has stood up to an amazing pounding as the man carrying this team. Nolan dealt away Kevan Barlow (Hallelujah!) because he had confidence in Gore. I certainly thought Gore could handle the job, but not even I could have expected the record-breaking numbers.
The Bad: The initial issue was the fumbling. However, like Tiki Barber, Gore seems to have overcome that problem. I like seeing Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks on occasion near the goal line, but Gore deserves his own scoring opportunities.
The other major issue is his contract status, as he is a free agent after 2007. However, it appears the team is determined to get Gore locked up by training camp.
2006 Grade: A -- 2 things keeping him from an A+: 1)We'll see if there are any struggles with fumbles in 2007. 2)Long-term deal or not, let's see back-to-back healthy years
Maurice Hicks - 2006 stats: 82 rushing yards (2.8 average), 13 receptions 137 yards/1 TD, 57 kick returns, 1428 yards (25-yard avg)
The Good: Maurice Hicks provided one heck of a spark on special teams late in the year. Unless the 49ers pick up a speedster in the offseason, I'd love to see Hicks back in that role.
As a change-of-pace back he also provides an alternative to the smash-mouth style of Gore. I'm curious to see how much further he can develop as a backup to Gore. As of now, if Gore went down Hicks would be the guy.
The Bad: As mentioned above, I worry about Hicks as Gore's primary backup. Hicks had 59 carries last year and 96 the year before. if Gore can stay healthy it won't really matter but we'll see what happens.
2006 grade: C+ -- He showed a spark in the second half but was rather quiet for the most part. When spelling Gore he was never able to make much of an impact and needs to improve if he wants to remain the primary backup.
Michael Robinson - 2006 stats: 116 rushing yards (3.1 per)/2 TDs, 9 receptions 47 yards
The Good: Considering he was a college QB, Robinson was drafted as a project. As such, Robinson flashed athleticism that could be huge in the future. He was used for direct snaps, as well as halfback passes. Throwing Robinson and Arnaz Battle on the field at the same creates the potentially for entertaining craziness!
The Bad: As a project he's still got plenty of potential to exploit. He didn't do a great job at the goal line while Gore had his fumble issues. I'm curious if he's going to be used in power back scenarios.
2006 Grade: C -- I think for being a project he had a solid year with plenty of room for improvement. I'm as excited about his upside as anyone on the roster.
I can honestly say I don't know of a whole lot I can say about the team's fullbacks. Fred Beasley was as good a fullback as any out there when he wasn't getting in fights with Kevan Barlow in the locker room.
One problem with assessing fullbacks is that in many systems, their primary role is blocking for the running back. Stats such as pancakes and holding penalties are not prominently available so it's hard to say whether or not the player did a solid job. One thing I plan on doing next year is keeping track of penalties over the course of the season on my own so I can have that stat on hand. NFL.com's play-by-play will allow that and I think it will give us a better idea in that regard.
Moran Norris seemed to turn it up over the course of the year and provide solid blocking for Frank Gore. He combined with the offensive line to open up some mighty big holes.
Chris Hetherington played in only 3 games this year so it's even more difficult to make any assessment. I wouldn't be surprised if he is not back next year, or if he is it'd be a relatively low salary, close to the minimum.
I think Norris is a guy the team can build with, just based on observations. I'd prefer not to attach grades to the fullbacks as I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do that. Feel free to include grades in the comments section, or any specific insight you might have.
Open Thread - [new] Comments color has been changed
Posted on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 05:11:20 PM EST
I'm planning on doing a post later after work, but in the meantime I wanted to let everyone know that our tech people were able to change the color of the [new] when you go into the comment thread. It'll now appear as red. Enjoy.
Feel free to discuss whatever you want in this thread. Or maybe you're just pumped to see the red [new]. I'll have some more position grades tonight.
The Possession Receiver
Posted on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 12:25:35 AM EST
****Excluding the title game that just finished, this is a perfect example of a diary I will bring to the front. In spite of the injury, I think Ted Ginn could be the perfect type of receiver worth taking 11th overall. Of course, maybe his injury hurts his draft stock and we can trade down and get him. Who knows? Of course I've seen 3 different guys I've been psyched about before moving onto the next guy (Dwayne Jarrett, Gaines Adams, and now Ginn, so maybe it's just a passing fancy. Either way, the next 3 months will be fascinating as we figure who we really want suiting up for the 49ers next fall.****
So since we've been talking about the draft and a number of receivers have come up in conversation, most recently Ted Ginn Jr. of the unfortunate Ohio State Buckeyes, I've come to slowly realize something.
I don't really know what the difference is between the go to number one guy and the solid possession receiver. I mean, I know basic differences like ideal size and difference in talent, but as far as the role of the possession reciever I don't have a very sharp grasp.
And I've been one in the past to throw this term around. I've seen it used a lot in these threads, notably with regard to Antonio Bryant, who has been called "a good possession guy with some speed," but what do you mean by that? Surely Antonio Bryant has the size and the speed to be a number one guy. What's holding him back is general skill deficiency. He doesn't get enough separation from opposing cornerns and he's rendered almost completely moot in the middle of the field. But why is it that if not being able to do these things makes him a bad go to guy, then not being able to do these things allows him to be a good possession guy?
To me, the term Possession Receiver means more than just "second best" or "sub-elite." That's what number two receiver means. Possession Receiver implies a pretty specific role that a player is expected to fill and not a rank based on inferior talent, size, or speed.
I'm just not sure what that role is. I know the possession guy is not expected to make the big plays, which is why slower guys often are forced into the role. So they get the shorter, more conservative routes designed to pick up moderate yardage, convert downs, and keep the drive going. That makes sense... but these are things a number one guy should be able to do to as well.
A number one guy needs to be able to run underneath or to catch a 10 yard out or get enough separation for the hook route to be effective... the same things that I associate with possession receiving.
So is big play ability the only thing that separates the top guy from the "possession" guy as far as the on-field role goes? That's a little dissatisfying to me as a distinction. There must be more to it.
Is there more to it? If there isn't, then I just don't know how we can possibly distinguish top talent in the draft from career two guys except by saying "well, he doesn't have the speed" or "he doesn't have the strength" and moving on, which seems a bit haphazard (and the draft process is haphazard enough to begin with).
So now I leave it to you. Enlighten me.
Oh yeah, and what do ya'll think of Ginn Jr.? I think it was a good topic brought up by Fooch. Ginn is very exciting because even if we can't expect him to make a big impact on the offense right away, he'll make an immediate impact on special teams where we haven't had a true return guy in years. And I would be very welcome to that. I don't know a lot else about Ginn, though, and wonder if I should be getting excited or not.
Open BCS Championship Diary
Posted on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:32:02 PM EST
Ohio State vs. Florida
This is the big one for college football, so follow the game and talk about it here, ignore the game entirely, fill in the blank ("That Florida is in the BCS Championship Game for the 2006 season is ____."), or any combination of the three.
If I heard this right from the other room, Florida won the toss and has elected to kick. Go Buckeyes.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Certainly a worthy game to bring up to the main page. So far it's been back and forth and highly entertaining.
Pre-Free Agency Showdown in Mobile
Posted on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 11:24:20 PM EST
I'm not sure how many of you have a password for ESPN.com's Insider. One of the perks of Insider is the ability to look up stories about your favorite teams, in all the major sports. Another option for finding these article's is through Sport Spyder. Sport Spyder lists links to major press articles and also independent sources including this very website.
Anyways, in my search of ESPN Insider today, I came across this interesting article from the Tampa Tribune. The article is part of their "Bucs Bonus" and discusses how Jon Gruden and his coaching staff will square off with Mike Nolan and his staff in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama January 27.
More importantly is that both teams have a ton of cap room going into free agency and have similar needs on the defensive side of the ball: the defensive line and the secondary. As I've read more and more about the free agent market, I have definitely taken a liking to Justin Smith for the defensive line.
Freeney Rumors - Let's see how high we can raise expectations!
Posted on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 12:18:07 AM EST
This came from the Sacramento Bee through Rotoworld. This article in general is interesting, but why not throw out something about potentially getting a stud like Dwight Freeney. Of course, gatling put it best when he said the Colts would tag Freeney before losing him to free agency.
Nolan said he isn't solely interested in bringing in household names.
"I would rather have a big, tough mean, ornery, smart son of a gun that gets eight sacks and stuffs the run than a guy that gets 14 and gets his bonus," he said.
Asked if that means the 49ers aren't interested in Indianapolis sack master Dwight Freeney, a possible free agent in March, Nolan said: "He's on the list. Put him in this environment and maybe he becomes the (team player). Maybe not, but he's a good player."
I could definitely see Freeney or Nate Clements causing the biggest stir as free agent options. Either would make a HUGE impact on this team and definitely alter first round draft strategy. It's gonna be a fun few months coming up.
***EDITOR'S NOTE*** - CONSIDER THIS AN OPEN THREAD FOR THE PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY.
End of Season Position Grades - Quarterback
Posted on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 03:33:31 PM EST
As we begin the offseason, it's a perfect time to look back at the players impact, development and future prospects. QB is as good a place to start as any, considering the QB is drafted or signed to be the field general who leads the team.
Alex Smith - 2006 stats: 74.8 QB Rating, 257-442(58.1%) 2,890 yards 16 TDs, 16 INT, 2 rushing TDs, 36 sacks
The Good: Smith improved by leaps and bounds this year as he improved himself in all areas of the game. He made more big plays, made fewer brutal mistakes and in general looked a little more like a #1 pick. He led the team to a huge win at Seattle as he showed the true potential he has, whether it be a flat-footed 50-yard bomb or his ability to scramble in the pocket.
Areas to Improve: While he has improved, Alex Smith still has much to learn before he can become the true leader of this team. I'm of the opinion that he still rolls out too much. In college he could do that in the spread offense because the defense was slower. However, the entire defense is fast and can track him down much easier. He has admitted he had never played in a pro-style pocket offense before being drafted so that is an area he will likely work on in the offseason.
Smith's grade is based as much on the imrpovement he showed as it is on the actual numbers put up on the field. Of course he was dreadful on 2005 and a 1/1 TD/INT ratio obviously will not cut it in the future. However, the way he has embraced the Norv Turner offense leaves me excited for the future. I'd love for Smith to turn into Joe Montana tomorrow, but that clearly won't happen because a) he's still one of the youngest guys on the roster and in the league and b) the 49ers just don't have enough offensive firepower. As this team adds more playmakers and Alex Smith gains a greater knowledge of the the game and his role, I think you'll see his game improve every week.
2006 Grade: B- (He showed dramatic improvement, but their is still plenty of room to improve)
Trent Dilfer - 2006 stats: A couple hand offs!
Trent Dilfer's season with the 49ers can be summed up by this article in the San Francisco Examiner. Trent Dilfer was brought in to be a mentor to Alex Smith and he did just that. Any article about Trent Dilfer discussed his role as a mentor and how he dove into that role with gusto. While he wasn't the on-field MVP of the team, I think he was as important off the field as anybody on the roster or on the coaching staff. It sounded almost cliched, but I think that makes it all the more amazing how seriously he took this role.
The future has some questions in regards to retaining Dilfer. He's done a great job as a mentor, but if Alex Smith were to get injured, is the Dilfer the guy we want coming in to play, considering how little he has played over the past year? I'm not sure about bringing a Jake Plummer type as I still think Dilfer's mentor role is important to Smith's continued development. I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on the backup/3rd string QB situation/
Grade: A+ (He was brought in to fill a role and he filled it better than ANYONE could have expected. Kudos to Trent for taking the job and running with it.)
Shaun Hill: Umm...yea...sooooo...Fear the Turtle, Shaun? Personally I would have loved to keep Cody Pickett just for the entertainment factor. A QB on special teams is the name of the game. There's really not a whole lot to be said about the 3rd string QB, but I figured I saw enough of him and his clipboard that I'd throw him in here. Gotta throw him a bone as it's entirely possible he's not back next year.
Posted on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 05:32:47 PM EST
As this will ne Niners Nation's first offseason of posting, I wanted to lay out some ideas I have for offseason posts. Additionally, I want you guys to use this thread to throw out any ideas you have for posts you might want to see whether it be updates of some sort, news, etc. When things get slow we can definitely consider things outside the scope of the 49ers to discuss. In the meantime, here are some topics that will definitely be brought up:
Beyond that, when things are really slow I'll come up with any other analysis I can think of, but if you want to hear about anything in particular, either post it here, post it in a diary or feel free to email me (my email is listed in my profile).
***Breaking News*** - Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis, DL coach Gary Emanuel Fired
Posted on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 02:40:49 PM EST
Well the 49ers offseason has certainly started off with a bang, although it's not entirely unexpected considering the performance. We've got the stadium issues mentioned below and now we've got a shakeup on the defensive side of the coaching staff. Billy Davis and Gary Emanuel have both been fired after, "an evaluation period."
The defense struggled quite a bit at times, although they had great stretches that were key to the team's successes. However, I'm one to believe that Mike Nolan was more responsible for that when he started taking over the defensive play-calling.
Mike Singletary is mentioned as a possible defensive coordinator, or possibly going outside the organization as Nolan wants to go to the 3-4 full time. Thoughts on going to a full time 3-4 and also thoughts on a new defensive coordinator? I'll put up a list of candidates after work.
Like Sand Through an Hourglass, So are the Days of Our Lives
Posted on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 02:29:19 PM EST
And so this epic drama continues and we have a brief opportunity to talk politics here at Niner Nation. The SF Chronicle is reporting today that the city is offering an option at the old Hunter's Point shipyard. The Gav sent John York a letter regarding the proposal and the options it provides, particular the fact that they will not need to build the world's largest parking garage.
"This new plan addresses each of the 49ers' key issues, including delivering a new stadium by the 2012 football season, in a way that is also faithful to the city's core principles of fiscal prudence and putting the Bayview first," Newsom wrote.
It will be interesting to see how this situation turns out. A particularly interesting note is the fact that the site is one of the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund sites and there are some radiological deposits that have been found recently, which apparently will take years to clean up.
I'll have a more in depth analysis of the stadium situation in the coming week or so, but would simply be interested in hearing your varying opinions on the issue. For those that don't get too very many if any games at the Stick, do you care whether the team is in San Francisco or Santa Clara? For those that do go to games, would riding CalTrain down to Santa Clara make any difference to you than hauling yourself over to Monster Park?
2006 SB Nation Awards
Posted on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 01:38:21 AM EST
Well, the 2006 regular season has come to a close, and now it's time to time the best and worst of 2006. SB nation did something similar at the mid-way point of the season. My how things change from Week 8 to Week 17. SB Nation pooled its NFL writers for their opinions. Here are the results of the polling, with some opinions attached. Enjoy.
NFL MVP: LaDanian Tomlison, RB Chargers
Any guy that breaks the touchdown record, with three games remaining, on the league's best team is a no-brainer.
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: LaDanian Tomlison, RB Chargers
Without at doubt the best offensive performance of the era and completely carried the Chargers on his back while still remaining modest and quiet. What more could you ask from such a stand up guy?
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Brian Dawkins, S Eagles
You can't necessarily quantify what he does purely in stats, but he is maybe the most complete safety I've ever seen. There's no flaws in his game.
NFL Coach of the Year: Sean Payton, Saints
From Gonzo at Daily Norseman:
Payton had a massive undertaking in becoming the coach of the Saints. Not only to try and win football games, but also to uplift an entire region of the country after Hurricane Katrina.
NFL Rookie of the Year: Vince Young, QB Titans
I was not a fan of this guy in college and looking at his stat sheet I don't know how he's been successful... but he has and that's all that matters.
Worst Player: Ben Roethlisberger, QB Steelers
Even though a lot is due to injuries, no player regressed as much as Big Ben this year. I'm worried he'll never recover. Would be one of the most amazing collapses in NFL history if he doesn't.
Worst Coach: Art Shell, Raiders
[Art Shell] didn't have the talent on offense to compete, but his should have been able to get more than 2 wins - they played the NFC West for chrissakes!
Worst Rookie: Bobby Carpenter, LB Cowboys
It's rare that a Parcells draft pick would look this bad, but Carpenter has not distinguished himself during a season where many rookies stood out. Even the loss of Greg Ellis couldn't get Carpenter on the field. He was picked ahead of players like C Nick Mangold (who had a great year for the Jets) and Marcus McNeill (outstanding rookie LT for the Chargers). Ouch!
So, there you have it: the studs and duds for 2006. Thanks to all the writers from SB Nation's NFL crew. This was a wonderful season with several great moments. And now, for the funny quotes:
BigBlueShoe on Defensive Player of the Year:
Shawn Merriman. He was sure "defensive" when they busted him for using `roids during the season. I don't care what this bozo does during the season. Everything he did prior to getting tested is tainted. Everything! And they gave this punk a Pro Bowl nod, and virtually no one in the media bashed him or the NFL for it. Amazing.
Kirkendall on Worst Player (he picked the his Benglas' Chris Henry):
Yes, I went home for this one. Not only does Henry have his own Cops Telethon, but his work on the field is just as repulsing. The guy is afraid to get hit, lacks any sense of urgency and is despicable for his on-the-field effort. This guy is the worst of the worst.
Dave the Falconer on Worst Rookie:
Reggie Bush will be a very good player, and he showed signs of it at the end of the year. But considering how incredibly over-hyped he was, he was by far the worst rookie in terms of expectations. Of course, short of magically teleporting to the endzone five times a game and performing a TD spike that detonated with the force of a thousand suns, he couldn't really hit those expectations.
And finally, as always, we end with Gonzo because... well, the dude is very funny when he is mad:
My homer pick [for Worst player of the Year]... I'm taking Brad Johnson, the alleged quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. The Hype I heard all off-season was how Brad Johnson was going to be a "game manager" and "not make crucial mistakes to lose ball games." These assessments turned out to be what we in the upper Midwest like to refer to as "a big, steaming load of crap." Johnson managed games all right... managed them into the ground.
Thanks to all for a great regular season, and we look forward to the playoffs!