NFL

Shanahan and Lynch = no more Baalke stench

What a great week for Jed York. The Raiders convinced a huge bank to help finance their stadium project in Las Vegas, and for the first time of years there’s a groundswell of optimism around his 49ers.

Uh oh … I’ve gone soft!

Or, perhaps in my undying quest to write and utter hot takes honestly, I’ve been forced to change course. The worst appears to be over.

After the 2014 season, a segment of 49ers fans (i.e. the Super-Faithful) tried to come up with reasons to rationalize the front office’s blatant attempts to not just oust Jim Harbaugh, but frame him as a below-average coach. How else could one perceive their decisions to keep Trent Baalke, who put together a roster that became progressively worse from the moment they lost the Super Bowl, and promote Jim Tomsula, of all coaches who look like they could be your neighborhood butcher?

Baalke can evaluate talent. Some talent, but not all. And his obsessions hurt the team. Those obsessions included:

  • Ending up with the most draft picks of any GM, every year
  • Drafting injured players and counting on the medical/strength personnel to get them right again
  • Arm and hand size
  • Showing everyone how smart he was by sitting still during the early stages of free agency
  • Pretending his failed signings and draft picks didn’t stink
  • Sowing discord among the ranks to assure himself of absolute roster power via leaks and other political maneuvers

Notice that things like “pure pocket passer,” or “highly sought after wide receiver” aren’t on that list. Neither was “putting together a team where the pieces fit” or “remembering that part of his job was to convey why he did things to the viewing public.”

***

Enough about the past? OK, because Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are busy erasing it.

Torrey Smith (a weird signing at the time it occurred that only looked worse with more time) and Antoine Bethea (good player who was past his prime and made too much) were released yesterday. Today they waived Marcus Martin, who was a fantastic selection if you don’t care for offensive linemen with above-average strength.

It’s nice that the new regime has no interest in protecting Baalke’s reputation. It’s also refreshing to see some aggressiveness in the early part of March. So far they’ve added a defensive tackle (Earl Mitchell), two wide receivers (Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin), a FB who might play a little tight end (Kyle Juszczyk), and a QB (Brian Hoyer). They also threw Baalke a bone when they decided to re-sign Jeremy Kerley.

The money isn’t much of an issue, partly because they started the day with about $100 million in cap space. Thankfully, the deals don’t seem likely to screw up their cap situation well into the future. Garcon — more solid than spectacular, yet durable and clearly trusted by Shanahan — could make as much as $16 million in 2017, but that would seem to indicate that the deal would be front-loaded (the 49ers would be turning a new leaf if that is indeed the case). Hoyer’s deal is for only two years, so they either see him as a “bridge” to someone younger who’ll become better, or as a worthy backup in case they acquire Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo.

At Least They Didn’t Sign Matt Schaub, My Column:

***

Here’s why my level of Niners optimism (which vanished completely over the last two seasons) hasn’t been this high since the third quarter of the NFC Championship they played in Seattle (sorry):

  • They needed to fire Chip Kelly and Baalke, but ousting Baalke was the highest priority.
  • They needed to hire Kyle Shanahan as their next head coach.
  • They needed to get rid of Baalke’s mistakes.
  • They needed to be patient until they can land Shanahan’s absolute, no-doubt top choice as a future franchise quarterback. If Shanahan doesn’t believe Cousins or Garoppolo is that guy, there’s plenty of time and a lot of high draft picks ahead.
  • They needed to build a team that’s better than the one we suffered through in 2015-16 (in terms of entertainment value, if nothing else), yet just bad enough to subtly tank their way into a high pick in the 2018 draft, which should be absolutely loaded with quarterbacks.

That seems to be the plan, anyway. Maybe they’ll change things up and send a huge draft haul to Washington for Cousins, or pick DeShaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.

And even then, I’d still be optimistic.

We knew the road Baalke was taking, we saw the cliff the team bus drove over, and we were waiting a long, long time to see the team finally land. The Yorks waited far too long to end Baalke’s journey to the bottom, but now we get to see a different plan take shape.

***

It doesn’t mean all of these signings will be memorable contributors to playoff teams, or they’ll hit on every draft pick. Oh, and we’re still left to wait for a truly great passer to wipe away the memories of every quarterback who has flung a pass for this team since Jeff Garcia left San Francisco 13 years ago.

  • Tim Rattay
  • Ken Dorsey
  • Cody Pickett
  • Alex Smith
  • Trent Dilfer
  • Shaun Hill
  • Chris Weinke
  • J.T. O’Sullivan
  • Troy Smith
  • David Carr
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Colt McCoy
  • Blaine Gabbert

However, for the first time in a few years I have confidence that the 49ers will find a quarterback, one who’s better than the unlucky 13 on that list, within two seasons. I have confidence that the team around said quarterback will grow better together while running a modern offense for the first time in over a decade. I even have confidence that the defense will intimidate opposing offenses, for the first time since Vic Fangio was its coordinator, in the next year or three.

I’m nowhere near certain that all of this will occur, but I KNEW Baalke wasn’t the answer from the moment he and York worked together to turn their most gullible fans against Harbaugh (who isn’t a perfect coach — take it from someone who watched the Super Bowl in person — but deserved more credit from the organization for heading such a rapid turnaround than he ever got). The 49ers of 2014 were a broken bunch, fractured by infighting and playoff heartbreak. The 2015 and 2016 49ers featured no All-Pros, no prospects for the future, no fun, and at times it appeared that they had no heart as well. It’s going to take a while to fumigate this locker room and create a playoff core, let alone a championship roster, but watching the process unfold will undoubtedly be more enjoyable than sitting through conservative play-calling, Bradley Pinion punting exhibitions, and long runs for opposing running backs week after week after week.

18 Comments

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18 Comments on "Shanahan and Lynch = no more Baalke stench"

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Barber2910
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Barber2910

BASportsGuy cuz they were active doesn’t mean it was good. Too much money given to a fb and older WR. Plus an average qb signed.

topraman
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topraman

BASportsGuy seems to be some truth to the fact that Jed lost some power. No leaks, no drama so far

ninerwill
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ninerwill

BASportsGuy I’m happy with the picks…We gotta start somewhere..

dbheise
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dbheise

BASportsGuy nice article. Never understood the move away from Offense. Yearly schedule (favorable weather in travel) dictates O focus

TP13
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TP13

I would’ve liked to have seen them make a run at Kenny Stills. Only 2 yrs old. They should be targeting younger guys who will still be around next time we are contending. Realistically a few years away still. Can’t sign too many average vets who are just good enough to get us out of the top 4 picks next two seasons

TP13
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TP13

24. 2 yrs old would be really impressive

mpottsnyc
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mpottsnyc

BASportsGuy still have JedYork stink though ..

TheNinerMiner
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TheNinerMiner

BASportsGuy Lynch and Shan opened up a can of extra strength “Baalke Stench Remover” and went to town!!! U0001f602

EricMolln
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EricMolln

Barber2910 BASportsGuy a fullback who plays pretty much every position excluding qb…and Garcon is 30. Try again

beandoggerel
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beandoggerel

TP13 Just imagine a 2-yr old that could run a 4.4 40 tho! It would be amazing!

Barber2910
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Barber2910

EricMolln BASportsGuy garçon is worth $16 million???? You’re nuts. No fullback is worth $5 million a year.

EricMolln
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EricMolln

Barber2910 BASportsGuy garcon getting 22 million in first two years… So no, I’m not nuts.

EricMolln
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EricMolln

Barber2910 BASportsGuy front loaded contract…he is worth it

Barber2910
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Barber2910

EricMolln BASportsGuy if that’s the contract then it seems more reasonable but Marshall is much better and cheaper.

EricMolln
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EricMolln

Barber2910 BASportsGuy lol OK. Marshall is OLD. Garcon has 5 good years left. I don’t follow your logic… This is who Shanahan wants

acheney747
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acheney747

BASportsGuy great take on what’s happening now. Terrific start for Lynch/Shanahan.

st_deve
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st_deve

BASportsGuy just remove the stench of JED and you might have something! Still won’t go anywhere until that POS is gone!

rhardin1949ers
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rhardin1949ers

YES — feel the same way, the last two-three years have been miserable.  While not perfect Lycnanahan — are putting out real energy with some pieces that I feel confident will be MOAR fun to watch and root for by far.
How about some help/starting to upgrade the OLINE now?

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