Football is almost upon us once again and the anticipation mounts! Aaron Malone and yours truly have the best tweets from our #Channel49 Q&A, Friday's at 2 p.m. PT.
Do you think we underutilize our slot WR position? Is this a role LMJ could play to get him the ball in open space? #Channel49— Andy LoFaro (@CNasty5682) July 12, 2013
The 49ers don't utilize the slot receiver very often, you're right about that. As more and more teams go to extra wide receiver sets, the 49ers have stuck with two tight end sets. The extra tight end gives them more power in the running game and, with both tight ends being so versatile, gives them some added flexibility. With the departure of Delanie Walker via free agency and the addition of Anquan Boldin to the receiving corps, it was assumed we'd see more three-receiver sets.
However, with the injury to Michael Crabtree, I have a hard time seeing which three receivers will be relied upon to take the field in those situations, especially if Mario Manningham begins the year on the PUP (as many are predicting). With the drafting of Vance McDonald, we can expect the 49ers to continue their trend of heavy reliance on multiple TE sets. One thing that sets McDonald apart from many tight ends is that he actually played in the slot frequently in college. Defenses being in the dark about where he'll line up and what formation we'll be in may be more effective than trotting out three WRs. The defense will have to either put a linebacker across from him when he's in the slot or risk having an extra cornerback in on him, only to watch the 49ers line him up on the line. Mismatches are imminent.
I don't think you can argue too much with Jaworski's ranking of Colin Kaepernick as the 11th quarterback, as unpopular as that may be. We're not going on future potential, we're going on ability right now. I'd put him ninth or tenth on the list, ahead of Matt Schaub and about even with Andrew Luck. Others around the site would have him ranked as high as fifth, but I think that's a bit of a stretch. He's only had 10 starts and definitely lacks in experience. I think he'll be skyrocketing up this list by the end of the season, and I expect big things from him. But he definitely needs more seasoning. Looking at Jaworski's comments, it's hard to take offense. Most of what he's saying rings true, and you get the impression that Kaepernick could be at the top of his list in two more years.
As for my rankings of the final 11, I'd have them:
I believe James will get a decent amount of playing time, seeing more snaps than he did last season when he was only active the second half of the year. How much playing time will he ultimately receive? That depends on a couple factors.
Factor One- Frank Gore
Frank the tank is still chugging away, putting up solid numbers year in and year out, but can he produce yet again? Durability and health are a concern for any running back entering their age 30 season. I do expect Frank to continue moving the chains and being a factor on offense, but the other running backs are going to eat into his carries. Even if Frank has a great year, the coaching staff will want to keep his legs fresh, giving James and Hunter carries.
Factor Two- The Hot Hand
The running back who makes the most of his opportunities may end up seeing the most playing time between Hunter and James. That is a battle I wouldn't want to bet on who'd win, as I think they both are quality backs. I don't expect either to have a lackluster year, so they should both see a fair share of playing time. This is assuming Hunter will be all-systems-go by the time week one rolls around, which is possible.
It would make sense to sign Collie soon so he has more time to get acclimated to the 49ers playbook, but it also makes sense to wait. The 49ers are probably holding off on Collie for now because they are exploring potential trades for a receiver. It isn't really known who is on the trading block at wideout, but there are always deals to be made. The Niners have a ton of picks in their arsenal and can trade one away if they find a player that can bolster the receiving corps. The 49ers must have some interest in Collie; his name keeps popping up, and a potential trade seems to be the most likely reason Collie isn't a 49er yet.
If I can make it out to a game in Frisco what is the 1 must do for a niners fan ? #Channel49— Michael Richards (@therealspike13) July 12, 2013
Being an Indiana native, I'm not a San Francisco aficionado, but I had a great time when I made the trip to the bay area for the 2011 NFC Championship Game. Besides going to the game, I had a great time strolling the city's many different nuances. I'm a classic rock fan so I went to Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park, where a ton of big bands from the late '60s originated (The Doors, Janis Joplin, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, to name a few). I also checked out Fisherman's Wharf, which has a ton of eateries, bars, shopping, and things to do for the whole family. I also made my way past the Golden Gate Bridge up to the top of the Marin Headlands, which is really high up (practically a mountain), and gives you a breathtaking look of San Francisco and the bay. If those things aren't up your alley, here are some other things to do.