Bay Area Oil Spill

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

(Full disclosure, I was born & raised in Northern California and raised a 49ers fan.)

The San Francisco 49ers could be one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2015. They have pretty much blown up a team that was in the Super Bowl three seasons ago and replaced just about everything but the janitorial staff (they even traded the All Pro punter). It could be worse but not by much.

49ER DEPARTURES

Jim Tomsula is the new 49ers Head Coach. While he is a well respected defensive line coach, he has never been a coordinator or a head coach at the NFL level. He replaces Jim Harbaugh who while successful (44-19-1 with three NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance) was also abrasive. So he is out and the player friendly Tomsula is in.

Somewhere after Harbaugh’s departure over 16 players from the 2014 team moved on. This included the retirement of three main pieces to the defense, chief among them was future Hall of Fame linebacker Patrick Willis. His replacement Chris Borland retired shortly there after and then All Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith. This preseason rising star defensive end Aldon Smith was released after yet another DUI arrest, All Pro punter Andy Lee was traded and the teams all time leading rusher Frank Gore was allowed to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.

The most notable addition is someone who has never played a down of collegiate or professional football. Jarryd Hayne was NRL Superstar in Australia (that’s rugby for those of you keeping track at home) who played his first pro football game in the 49ers preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Hayne impressed but it’s still one game and we didn’t even see if he could pick up a blitzing linebacker.

Then there is the quarterback position. If 49ers have pinned there hopes on Colin Kapernick. If he doesn’t turn the corner and become a top line NFL signal caller than it could be a long couple of years for the 49er Faithful.

All these questions can be traced back to GM Trent Baalke. We criticized his strategy during the draft and firmly believe that if the 49ers finish in the NFL West basement then blame falls squarely on his shoulders.

And let’s not even talk about the field they play on. It’s possible the worst in all of sports.

Time will tell if the moves the 49ers made will pan out. Consensus is that they will not and the 49ers will be worse than the Oakland Raiders. If that happens you can probably expect a long road to recovery with a new GM at the helm.

 

 

 

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The Best In The Business (OpEd)

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow (aka Kruk & Kuip) are the best announcers in baseball. Yes, the best announcers in baseball. From their insight, to their laughter, to their well placed silence. They are the best around.

Last September Steve Fainaru did a great piece for ESPN talking about Kruk & Kuip’s friendship and Kruk’s battle with inclusion-body myositis. Even with a debilitating disease Kruk, with the help of Kuip, keep on truckin day in and day out during the marathon baseball season.

What makes these two really stand out is their ability to not speak. Throughout the game you will have some short periods of silence where they just let the images speak for themselves. They both have come to realize that you do not need to fill every bit of air time with useless jibber jabber. When they do speak it is insightful or just down right hilarious.

If you live outside of the SF Giants television market then do yourself a favor and catch a game via MLB Network or on MLB.tv. You’ll be glad you did.

25 years of Friday Night Lights

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It’s been 25 years since H.G. Bissinger’s high school football classic Friday Night Lights‘ was published. It has since been turned into a movie, a TV series and has been named one of Sports Illustrated’s top sports books of all time. If you haven’t read it you should, it’s that good regardless of what you think of the author.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Bissinger was recently on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ to promote the 25 anniversary of the book.  While it is interesting to hear about how the book was written and what happened to some of the players like Boobie Miles all these years later, the interview came off more about Bissinger’s issues than anything else. He sounded like someone who never recovered from his hit book which was his first.

Taking Bissinger’s issues out of the equation, the book itself is truly great. It gave credence to the notion that ‘football is a religion in Texas’, especially when it comes to west Texas. You can drive for miles in the western part of the state and not come across a single sign of life. Then out of nowhere will appear a football stadium that can hold five thousand people and then some.

While the book did spawn a movie and a TV series, neither can compare to the book. The movie changed parts of the story and didn’t touch on the racist undertones. The TV series eventually figured it out and ended up being a pretty good show.

There are still a few weeks left before regular season starts for high school, college and the NFL. Plenty of time to read this book and have a better appreciation for the game of football.