One of the hallmarks of NFL offseasons is the list. We'll see lists about the best players in the league, best players in the division, and other such lists. The MMQB is joining the mix with their list of the 100 most influential people in the world of the NFL. The list includes NFL and college players, coaches, NFL and team executives, and even some members of the media (Rachel Nichols clocks in at No. 99).
I missed this a week ago, but apparently Colin Kaepernick showed up at No. 72. He is the seventh quarterback to show up on the list. Prior to him included Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Michigan State's Connor Cook, and Matthew Stafford. The list is up through 51, and quarterbacks ahead of Kap include Johnny Manziel, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Cam Newton. It's safe to say Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson will all appear on the list
I'm not entirely sure I agree with the breakdown on Kap. Andy Benoit suggested Geep Chryst will run a more rudimentary offense, providing Kap with more defined reads and allowing him to rely more on his athleticism. Benoit had this to say:
To propagate this approach, GM Trent Baalke signed wide receiver Torrey Smith, who gives the offense a newfound vertical speed element (but only that) to lift safeties deep, helping clarify coverages for the QB. And then there's the multidimensional Reggie Bush, who at 30 isn't quite what he used to be but is still dynamic enough to make defenses scheme around him. Bush's versatility will also help define looks for Kaepernick. The circumstances are in place for Kaepernick to succeed. If he doesn't, that considerably team-friendly contract he signed a year ago could get torn up.
The 49ers players have talked about the installation of an offense that cuts out some of the fat, but that seems to deal more with verbiage and the things that slow them getting out of the huddle. In terms of the options Kap will have on the field, I don't completely buy the idea that the additions of Smith and Bush mean the team is going to go with more defined looks.
I do think we'll see some more defined runs than we did last year (Kap seemed to be scrambling more than running defined quarterback runs), but I also think the additional options will open the door for Kap to have multiple options on a given play. Last year, the 49ers had Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson, and all three did very similar things on offense. Boldin was the best of the three, but the skill-sets were somewhat similar.
This year, the team could have a significant variety of weapons. They have several options out of the backfield, Torrey Smith brings something significantly different than Anquan Boldin, and ideally, Vernon Davis will be healthy again. There are a lot of options there, and hopefully the team does not just tie down Kap to pre-defined reads. I suppose it could mean he can't quite "vamp" in the passing game, but still have three or four reads on a play. I'm trying to get some clarification from Benoit on what he means by defined reads.
Fooch's note: David Neumann provided some thoughts on what it might mean -
@NinersNation Presumably, he’s saying there’s little in the way of coverage reads. So rather than coming up to the ball, surveying the D…— David Neumann (@davidneumann_) June 25, 2015
@NinersNation and then determining the progression based on their look, reads will be defined ahead of time.— David Neumann (@davidneumann_) June 25, 2015
This list will continue to progress, and I would argue two, maybe three members of the 49ers organization deserve to be included. Trent Baalke is the architect of this team, and given the departure of Jim Harbaugh, I have to think it makes sense to include Baalke. There are plenty of powerful general managers, but Baalke seems to be fairly high up. Benoit also mentioned Geep Chryst likely having carte blanche on the offense. Given the importance of continuing to develop Kap, that would seem to make Chryst pretty influential. And of course, Jim Tomsula is someone to consider given his promotion to head coach.