With Mike Nolan, it was hard to know what to think. The team would look great one moment, and completely lost the next. We didn’t find out much about the quarterback competition between Shaun Hill and Alex Smith last night, but the team sure looks a lot more capable than they did under Denver’s new defensive coordinator.
Part of that could have been due to the fact that Nolan’s new team looks like they’ll give the Raiders a good run for last place in the AFC West. However, the 49ers look to have a pretty strong running game, receiving corps, secondary and linebackers. Their last draft looks like it was pretty fruitful if you ignore the whole Michael Crabtree mess, particularly Glen Coffee, Scott McKillop and Kory Sheets.
Too bad they don’t know who’s going to pass the ball or rush opposing passers. The 49ers won’t face many starting quarterbacks this season as bad as Kyle Orton, so they can’t plan on picking off three passes per game, and counting on Manny Lawson to do anything beyond making six freakishly athletic plays per season is foolish.
Singletary’s team has some warts, but at least they aren’t an embarrassment. After watching such a long era full of penalties, double-speak and bad suits, just the idea that San Francisco will again have a respectable group run onto the field every Sunday is a vast improvement.
News, notes, links and quotes
— Looks like the Niners will be without Thomas Clayton and Zak Keasey this year. (Matt Maiocco)
— Pretty cool Sandoval was named the 3rd most exciting player in the National League behind Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez by NL Managers in a Baseball America survey. Have to figure by “player” BA meant “position player”, or else Tim Lincecum would have to be considered for the top spot — or at least No. 2. (The Splash)
— The top 10 clutch plays by Magic Johnson, without the baby hook in the 1987 NBA Finals. I know, sacrilege, but this video compilation works anyway. Watch for the woman holding a blue and gold CA vanity plate that reads “EMAGICJ”. You don’t see that much nowadays, the vanity plates at the game. That used to be a huge deal back in the ’80’s. (YouTube)
— “The Worst American Sports Writing,” starring Greg Bishop, Jets beat writer for the New York Times. One Jets fan describes him as “a fancy-pants version of Randy Cross…He might as well be writing about the Seahawks. He certainly gives the impression of someone who’s doing time on the beat because the Giants slot is taken.” C’mon, at least Cross is better than Bill Maas! (Deadspin)