Over the course of this offseason, the running joke has been about things being classy with the San Francisco 49ers. Jed York talked about wanting to win with class, inferring that they were not doing so earlier. It has led to plenty of jokes given the 49ers off-field issues the last couple years.
Since Jed York first uttered the word class, the team has generally seemed to follow through with that philosophy to a certain extent. Following Ray McDonald's latest run-in with the law, Bay Area Sports Guy discussed the 49ers offseason of transactions. As he pointed out, the team's 2015 draft class seemed loaded with high character types. We certainly don't know for certain, but to date, all indications are these are generally good people.
The one potential exception this offseason would be wide receiver Jerome Simpson. The 49ers signed Simpson to a a 2-year deal following a lost season in which he did not play. Simpson has served a pair of three-game suspensions, and called a reporter a douche bag, leading to an apology from Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.
I say "potential exception" however, because his run-ins with the law have been of the non-violent variety. Simpson has been arrested for a DWI and also having 2.5 pounds of marijuana shipped to himself. He served the second 3-game suspension at the start of last season, and the Vikings released him midway through that suspension.
DUIs are no joke, so I do not want to make light of them. And while I disagree with certain marijuana laws, I think in general, we're talking about a guy whose problem seems to do more with immaturity than with anything significantly deeper. I could be proven wrong on that, but everything I've read seems to indicate that is what is the issue.
Eric Branch put together a feature on Simpson to highlight a couple things. The first is that he recognizes this is potentially his last shot at an NFL career. He knows he can't make any more mistakes, and is attempting to act accordingly.
The second thing might prove to be my favorite random fact about a 49ers player in 2015. Simpson is an avid fan of sewing! Simpson started his own clothing business, and in the midst of that, he learned how to sew his own designs. He learned from a 60-year old grandmother, and joined up with two other employees, including a 70-year old and a 54-year old. He referred to them as his sewing "posse", and that cracked me up to no end.
If maturity is the issue, hopefully this is finally the year Simpson gets it all together. He is a very talented football player, and he could provide the 49ers with a significant weapon to complement Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. The 49ers have the potential to have some interesting depth at wide receiver. While Bruce Ellington is dealing with a hamstring strain, Simpson and Quinton Patton are both having fairly notable performances in OTAs.
We can't take OTAs toooooooooo seriously, but it is good to hear positive stuff out of the wide receiver depth chart. Simpson had a particularly nice play during 11-on-11 drills, which Matt Maiocco described as follows:
During the warmup period, wide receiver Jerome Simpson got an earful for a dropped deep ball and then not being more aggressive while going for another pass. But once the 11-on-11 drills started, Simpson had a standout day.
Simpson showed his speed and athleticism when he made a leaping catch at the sideline against Antoine Bethea, then performed a flip while he was off-balance, remained on his feet and continued to run down the field. He later caught a deep pass from Colin Kaepernick against the coverage of cornerback Dontae Johnson down the right sideline.
There is a lot of work left to be done, but Simpson seems to be on the right path. He turned 29 earlier this offseason, so maybe he finally is finding that age where he realizes the importance maturity. He's no spring chicken in the NFL, and sitting out a year is not exactly idea, but he's still potentially young enough to do some things for the 49ers.
I have kind of overlooked Simpson for much of the offseason. He's not going to overtake Boldin or Smith on the depth chart, but he could be a strong complementary deep option for the team. The 49ers have a ton of young options behind him, but given his veteran presence, a strong preseason should "sew" up a roster spot (I hate myself for that).