Wednesday, September 21, 2016
San Francisco 49ers' GM Trent Baalke has made some really stupid moves. So far, teaming with owner Jed York to run brilliant but difficult head coach Jim Harbaugh out of town has been his most infamous blunder. But Baalke is about to top himself. Looks like he's going to get rid of QB Colin Kaepernick.
This time Baalke has some powerful opposition--new coach Chip Kelly. A renowned QB guru, Kelly is no dummy. He doesn't want to lose Kaepernick Give Kelly some raw material and, with his high-speed, unorthodox system, he'll come up with a polished QB. Big, fast and blessed with one of the strongest arms in the league, the 28-year-old QB has all the tools. Just give Kelly time to work his magic..
Kaepernick isn't what he used to be. After a few good years, he's fallen on hard times, regressing drastically. Last season he was truly horrible. He's been slowed by injuries and his confidence, normally one of his strengths, has taken a major hit. Because he's still not 100%, he's been forced to take a backseat to a lame QB, Blaine Gabbert, who's been getting all the playing time. A healthy, fit Kaepernick leaves Gabbert in the dust.
One reason Kaepernick has been slow getting back to normal is his recent preoccupation with political activism. To protest racism and police brutality against minorities in America, Kaepernick, who is biracial, refuses to stand up when the national anthem is being played pregame, first sitting but now kneeling. All of a sudden, he's the center of a media firestorm. Some support him but many have been raging against him. Lately, he's even been receiving death threats.
No question, Kaepernick has been a distraction. Not only that, he's being paid around $12 million a year Baalke, no doubt, is thinking Kaepernick, now just a over-paid bench-warmer, is more trouble than he's worth.
What Baalke has to do is look past the current mess and focus on Kaepernick, the potentially great QB. Kaepernick led the Niners to the Super Bowl once, he can do it again. If you dump him, then what? Without him the 49ers are left with Gabbert and another stiff, minimally talented Christian Ponder. These are bottom feeders who aren't going to get any better. One huge problem with the Niner offense is that Gabbert is a lousy long passer, which keeps defenses clustered around the line of scrimmage, which is lethal to their running game. Face it. With Gabbert or Ponder running the offense, the Niners will never make the playoffs.
The 49ers have just one hope--a healthy Kaepernick schooled by Kelly. Possibly the coach can figure out how to get him back on the right track.Unquestionably, Kaepernick's activism will get in the way. Restoring the QB to peak form won't be easy but it can be done. Otherwise the team is headed for another crappy season, with three-to-five wins.
Fortunately the locker room, in turmoil when Kaepernick launched his career as an activist a few weeks ago, has settled down. Realizing he's their best shot at a good season, most of the players would like the keep the QB.
Hopefully GM Baalke comes to his senses and bails out of this dumb dump-Kaepernick mode. But, given his penchant for boneheaded moves, don't count on it.
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 10:56 PM
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Last Nov. 30, USC hired interim coach Clay Helton as head football coach after he had posted a 5-2
record. I thought that was a big mistake. Not only wasn't he dynamic or creative or an exceptional leader or a big-time motivator or a superior bench coach but, most important, he had no head coaching experience. The prestigious SC job seemed too big for this career assistant.
Since he was hired he's coached three huge games--two last season, against Stanford and Wisconsin, and the season opener Saturday against No.1 Alabama, He blew all three, including Saturday's 52-6 mauling by Bama in Arlington, Texas. That one really turned off many SC fans, The "fire Helton" rants have already started.
Hate to say I told you so, but.......
Examine that Bama fiasco and you can only conclude that Helton doesn't know what the hell he's doing. It was one of the low points in the long, glorious history of USC football, the worst loss since Notre Dame crushed the Trojans 51-0 in 1966. Who deserves the blame for this mess? It's all on Helton.
SC wasn't ready to play, though the team had several weeks to prepare.The SC players looked lost and tentative and, too often, were totally out of position. Helton and his staff were overwhelmed, misusing timeouts, making the wrong adjustments, etc. Sure Bama has superior players but the Trojans have some quality talent too. You wouldn't know it, though, from the way they staggered through the game..
SC hung in there through most of the first half but you knew it was just the calm before the storm. In the second half, after the Bama staff sized up the Trojans, the Tide really rolled. SC just rolled over and played dead. They actually quit. At times you could see they were just going through the motions. Helton and his staff didn't have a clue how to jar them out of that funk.
Bama piled up 465 yards of offense, while SC's offense couldn't even crack the 200-yard mark. The Trojans needed a strong run game but they couldn't put a dent in that brick wall set up by Bama's front seven, racking up a pitiful 64 rushing yards. Even in the second half, when Bama was playing its scrubs, SC was stymied. Part of the problem was the inexperienced Trojan QBs, who couldn't get the offense in gear. But Bama is just as inexperienced at QB, yet they managed to get the job done. You think Bama's smart, skilled coaching staff might be a primary reason?
This game should have been competitive, with a score like 30-17. A loss like that would have hurt but not as much as a blow-out. The SC players needed a boost, some savvy guidance and a kick in the butt from Helton and his staff, but didn't get any of that.
Go back to the last decade, during the Pete Carroll heyday. Can you imagine a Carroll-coached team getting pummeled like this? No way. SC might have lost but would have at least been competitive.
That's because Carroll was a good coach. But SC doesn't have a decent coach now. Since Carroll, there has been a parade of second-tier guys in charge. Helton may be the worst yet. So, SC fans, expect more stumbles during this season, particularly since the Trojans have one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
One thing you can be sure of, that the "Fire Helton!" cries will get get louder and louder.
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 1:52 PM