Why Paul George Would Ruin the Lakers

In the recent past, it’s tough to remember a time when a franchise was so closely linked to a big time player who wasn’t with the organization. The mutual interest is clearly there in the case of Paul George and the LA Lakers, but would a PG homecoming actually benefit Los Angeles’ future?

 

 

George during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

 

After seven years with the Indiana Pacers, Paul George is now in OKC in the final year of his contract and is eyeing no  team more than his hometown Lakers as his preferred free agency destination. While bringing a superstar talent and perennial All-Star to Hollywood would be a great marketing move for the organization, Magic Johnson might wanna think twice about how signing or trading for George would affect Los Angeles on the court. Here’s why avoiding Paul George would ultimately be best for LA.

 


 

Other Options In 2018 Free Agency

Cousins during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Along with George there are several other star players who’s contracts are set to run out this year, such as LeBron James who Los Angeles also has their eye on. James really seems like he could fit in anywhere and signing one of the best to ever play would obviously do wonders for the Lakers financially, but the guy who would fit best on the team is DeMarcus Cousins. After a few failed attempts at acquiring Boogie from the Sacramento Kings in the past, LA now has a chance to pick him up in the 2018 offseason, despite rumors that suggest the big man is leaning towards staying in NOLA for the future. Cousins appears to be hitting his prime just as he’s about to slip into the open market, putting up almost Wilt Chamberlain like modern day numbers at 27. With Brook Lopez and Julius Randle likely out the door by next year, there should be a gaping disparity in the Laker frontcourt which Boogie could fill perfectly. A more developed Lonzo Ball alongside Cousins could be dangerous in a Western Conference with soon-to-be aging superstars. Spending max money on George would be a settle by the franchise.

 

 

Lineup Clogging and Development Stunting

Ingram and Kuzma celebrating.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

While the Lakers could bring in an All-Star in George to upgrade their small forward spot for now, the team already has a couple 6’9″ potential stars in their lineup. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have quite similar frames compared to George and have the potential to be All-Stars in the future. Signing or trading for George would almost ensure they would either have to move or bench Ingram or Kuzma. Both these two young players could be 20pt scorers as soon as next year if things go right. Deciding to spend money on an older star who may be passed by one or both of these two in as little as 3 years or so would be an awful move by Magic, preventing what could be a great team in a few years. Since the end of Kobe’s prime, the Lakers have been stacking up drafted talent on their team but haven’t found any sort of identity or cornerstone player until now. Drafting Lonzo Ball gives them their point guard for the future while they definitely have their forwards for the future with Ingram and Kuzma. Bringing in some older stars in free agency to put around these 3 is the next step for the franchise, but George is not the guy. LA  has had trouble attracting superstars recently, which may be why they’re so eager to sign George without considering what it’d mean for their young players.

 

 

Losing Out on Free Agents in Future Summers

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

By going ahead and spending money on George this summer, the Lakers aren’t just losing the opportunity to sign other players this year but are also chancing missing out on stars who’ll be on the market in 2019 and beyond. LA native Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2019 and while he’ll likely stay with the Warriors to try and keep winning titles in the Bay, Los Angeles should at least try and lure him south. They’d have to obviously rid of some other expendable players on the team to pick up Thompson if they do sign Cousins this summer, but a lineup of Ball, Thompson, Ingram, Kuzma, and Cousins could be a title team in a few years. The inevitable truth of having to start paying some of their young guys in a couple years makes money become an issue for the Lakers, making the use of a max contract on George even more unattractive.

 

 

It’s rare for a franchise to turn down a star player in free agency which may be necessary if Los Angeles were to avoid signing George as he’s made it pretty clear he wants to come home this summer, but it’s the best thing for their future. Sticking to their young players and looking to make a splash in free agency in different areas of the lineup would be most beneficial for them especially with the superstars on the market in the next couple years. It’s hard to see the Lakers and George not joining up next fall but considering going in a different direction would be best for LA.

 

 

 

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Reports: Warriors will pursue Paul George next summer

According to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Golden State Warriors majority owner, Joe Lacob, is planning an attempt to sign OKC forward Paul George next summer.

 

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

 

First of all, this move would stun and devastate other teams around the league and some may even seek interference from commissioner Adam Silver to deny the signing though as of now, that’s not in his power. A Golden State signing of Paul George would make a title run almost uncompetitive as talented as the Warriors already are. George would likely be starting at small forward in an unbeatable lineup of Curry, Thompson, George, Durant, and Green. That’s a terrifying roster that probably no one can beat unless TWO of those stars get hurt.

 

Photo Credit/www.warriorsworld.com

 

In order to sign George, the Warriors would obviously have to give up some high paid players to afford him. Golden State would likely opt to trade Andre Iguodala and possibly Shaun Livingston as well to make room for the All-Star. Though Klay Thompson would be a much more attractive trade piece to teams dealing with Golden State, I doubt the Warriors would want to even go through with the signing if they had to give up their second most important splash bro. The Pacers and Warriors were actually in talks for a George trade this summer before he was dealt to OKC, but Golden State was unwilling to give up Thompson, proof it’s unlikely they trade Klay for any reason.

 

Photo Credit/nydailynews.com

 

If the champs are able to acquire another All-Star to make every player in their starting lineup an All-NBA level player, it’s likely their multiple star’s numbers go down fairly considerably. It would be a major sacrifice by George and risk by the Warriors to go through with a signing. Depth would turn into an issue for the Warriors but with that starting lineup there’s barely a need to even worry about that. Obviously this would easily make Golden State the best team of all time if they aren’t that already. Though this seems like a long shot now, I think some were thinking that when we heard about possible KD to the Warriors rumors a little over a year ago too, and we all know how that turned out. Will Paul George be in the Bay come 2018?

 

Kaep-Crusader: Unemployed

Kaep-Crusader: Unemployed

How the media’s continued attention on Kaepernick is hurting his chances in finding a job in the NFL

Kap

Photo Credit/ Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Whether it’s talking about his infamous kneel, his pig-imprinted socks, or whether or not he needs a haircut – Colin Kaepernick is the most talked about (yet, unemployed) QB in the National Football League since Tim Tebow. Although one can argue how Tebow’s unemployment mainly had to do with what he could – or could not – do on the football field, Kaepernick’s situation doesn’t involve his on the field production.

At least that’s what it seems like.

Is Kaepernick better than the majority of the backups? Without question. He’s led a team to back-to-back NFC Championships and nearly won a Super Bowl. No backup has that on their resume. Colin took a knee last season that would affect his employment going forward in a way I don’t think he anticipated.

His political stance undoubtedly encouraged others – both within and outside the NFL – to be confident and voice their political views. Many players from different teams were observed raising their fists or kneeling to show solidarity with what Kaepernick was trying to do. Utilize his platform to convey his beliefs.

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Photo Credit/Getty Images

Now – nearing the start of training camp – Kaepernick is unemployed. Many teams are hesitant to sign Kaep due to the media attention it would bring. Many analysts on national sports networks have continuously been outspoken in support of Kaepernick – going so far as to say he’s being blackballed by the league.

But are they helping or hurting Kaep’s chances of being on an NFL sideline this fall?

I believe that – although their intentions seem genuine – analysts that are using their platform to demonstrate how he’s being treated unfairly are doing more damage than good. Kaepernick is almost a topic of focus every day on the national sports shows. Some support his cause, some justify his unemployment. Either way, he’s being talked about day after day.

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”- Phineas T. Barnum

Well, in Kaep’s case, there is. In order for him to gain employment, his name has to slowly fade away from the national spotlight. Debating on whether or not he deserves a chance in the league is not a debate at all. His skill set and winning record settle that discussion.

He’s not going to change his political views – that’s a given. No one should. However, as long as the media continues to use Kaepernick’s situation to boost ratings or to fill the void due to being a slow time in sports, Colin will remain in the unemployment line.

Realistically, how does he fit with all 31 teams? (the Niners are out) Let’s take a look at the legit options he has in the league.

AFC EAST

Buffalo – Tyrod Taylor’s got the job. He’s a Pro Bowl player who Buffalo’s front office still believes in. Cardale Jones still has potential due to what he did in the National Championship a few years back. TJ Yates is, well, TJ Yates. The Bills Invested a draft pick in Nathan Peterman, who showed promise in College. Not too likely Kaep lands here.

Miami – Tannehill’s job – but this will be a make or break year for him. Matt Moore has proved to be a back up that can come in and perform while giving the team a good chance to win. He does so with little to no distraction. The Dolphins won’t turn up the heat on Tannehill’s seat, which is already burning up. No Kaepernick – at least in 2017 – in Miami.

Patriots – Brady, Garoppolo, Brissett. They aren’t making any moves to add to the QB depth chart. The system is built to win with the three they currently have. Belichick even humoring Kaepernick would never happen. Ever. The irony of Kaepernick being a Patriot would create waves in the mainstream media. Not happening.

Jets – Weakest QB depth chart – quite possibly in the NFL. However, Jets are in rebuild mode. They can’t afford to rebuild around a guy who’s always going to be a topic of discussion outside of his play on the field. Would he help the team? Certainly. But winning games is something that the Jets apparently don’t want to do in 2017. Colin would win just enough games to put New York in an unfavorable spot to land their 2018 Draft Target – Sam Darnold.

AFC NORTH

Ravens – Flacco’s not going anywhere. Mallett seems to be their clipboard guy. John’s brother Jim could give him the inside scoop on how Kaepernick would be a great team player. John would have a hard time convincing Baltimore’s upper brass on signing Colin since the team is just a few seasons away from the Ray Rice incident that ate up the headlines. Probably won’t see Kaepernick in a Ravens jersey.

Bengals – Andy Dalton and his backup AJ McCarron seem to be set. Marvin Lewis doesn’t want to make his seat hotter by bringing in a QB who will bring controversy – by choice or not. Bengals already have their share of off field media attention from PacMan Jones.

Browns– Another unstable QB depth chart with no clear-cut favorite. They’ll roll with what they have and hope DeShone Kizer can be the player they thought he could be when they selected him in the 2nd round. The RG3 project failed, so the Kaepernick project has no chance.

Steelers – Big Ben flirted with retirement. Landry Jones is not the answer. Why not Pittsburgh? They’ll see during training camp is 4th round selection Joshua Dobbs will be the answer for life after Big Ben. If the backups look sub par and Roethlisberger health and durability a concern, Kaep may find a home in the Steel City, but it would take a lot to make it happen.

AFC SOUTH

Texans – With Tom Savage having a chance to “win the job”, it won’t be his for long. The Texans invested a lot of draft capital to move up and get their guy in Deshaun Watson. Weeden suits the third string role. O’Brien will have a chance to prove he really is the “QB Whisperer” he’s been labeled for so long. It will be proven by how Watson develops. If you know what hits the fan, I think the Texans ride it out with their rookie and allow him to get through the growing pains of a rookie NFL QB. Houston not on the table for Kaep.

Colts – The Colts actually make sense if you’re looking strictly at the QB depth chart. If Luck’s injury results in him missing more time or he goes down, an offense led by Scott Tolzien means a high draft pick in 2018. However, owner Jim Irsay is the head clown of the media circus in Indy. He won’t sign Kaepernick, even if it would make the most sense because he’s already being questioned for his own behavior.

Jaguars – Bortles will try to regain the confidence of the team and prove to Tom Coughlin he’s the right man for the job during a contract year. Henne is a decent backup who can perform if need be. Kaepernick just doesn’t seem like someone Coughlin would like to be a part of his crop of signed players in Jacksonville. Kaepernick in the Jaguars offense with new running back Leonard Fournette – and the Allen brothers, Dede Westbrook, and Marquise Lee at the receiver spots – this offense would really make some noise. Kaepernick would add a lot than Bortles simply cannot. His ability to make plays with his legs and his arm would make him an ideal piece to take Jacksonville to the next level. As a Titans fan, I wouldn’t like the signing. Thankfully, I doubt it happens.

Titans – Mariota is the man. The Titans are banking on him to stay healthy this season and take the offense to another level. Cassel, again, is a decent backup. He can come in – and maybe not win – but can keep the offense moving. But he’s hurt. If the Titans weren’t near completing a cultural rebuild, taking a chance on Kaepernick would be worth it. His play style is similar to Mariota’s, so if the worst happened, Kaep could step in and keep the offensive rhythm in a way Cassel can’t. But, the team is not wanting any media attention for anything other than winning games.

AFC WEST

Broncos – Kaepernick was once a potential trade target of John Elway, but nothing ever developed and Colin stayed in San Fran. The QB depth chart is very suspect as the Broncos have the defensive pieces to make another run in the AFC. Siemien and Lynch are fighting for the top spot, but neither last year showed they are a clear-cut starter. Elway must realize the playoff window is slowly getting smaller. Kaepernick in Denver would be worth the media baggage he would bring if it meant challenging for the AFC Crown.

Chargers – Rivers isn’t going anywhere and isn’t falling off. Kellen Clemens is not better than Kaep but may be way cheaper. The move to LA won’t include adding Kaepernick to the fold as Chargers will look to address other areas of their rosters.

Chiefs – No chance. Alex Smith is still cemented as the starter of this offense – even though the cement may be cracking. Patrick Mahomes II was brought on to be the QB of the future. No room for Kaepernick to join Andy Reid’s team – even though his game is a lot similar to a QB in Philly he took to multiple NFC Championships.

Raiders – The Raiders are on the cusp of being a top team in the AFC and a Super Bowl contender. They just resigned Carr to a huge deal – and Cook and Manuel will compete for the backup role. Kaepernick won’t be wearing the silver and black – unless he’s available and the Raiders are in a desperate situation late in the season. They went through that once, and won’t do it again. Oakland will want to make the last seasons in the Bay memorable. If Carr goes down and the Raiders are in the playoffs, Kaep could be a life raft to keep the machine rolling. Maybe, but Oakland won’t plan for it.

NFC EAST

Cowboys – America’s team isn’t signing the most talked about backup – they’ve already gone through a season of that with Tony Romo. With Romo out of the picture, Prescott can play even more relaxed than the rookie of the year did last season. Kellen Moore is a serviceable backup. Although Jerry may love the headlines, I think he’ll let this one go. If something happens to Dak that forces him to miss games, Romo will get a phone call before Kaepernick.

Giants – Eli Manning with new weapons means more success. Geno Smith and Josh Johnson will duel it out, but not sure both make the roster. Either way, the New York Football Giants won’t pursue Kaepernick.

Eagles – After trading up for their guy Wentz, Philly will not create a QB controversy by bringing in Kaepernick. If they did sign Kaep due to Wentz going down – and Kaep showed out – the relentless Philly fans would make it hard for Wentz to overcome poor performances with Kaepernick on the sidelines. Nick Foles as a backup will be a good option, with McGloin the potential 3rd string.

Redskins – The RG3 era is over. But the Kirk Cousins’ contract debate is a constant subject of discussion. Is he their long-term guy? Is he destined for greener pastures following this season? Who knows. He’s there this year and Colt McCoy will hold down the backup role. If Kaepernick signs with the Redskins, it won’t be this season. Also, with Kaepernick’s political views, not sure he’s a supporter of the team name which will keep him from putting the pen to the paper in nation’s capital.

NFC NORTH

Bears – Signing Mike Glennon to a huge contract and drafting Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall completely eliminated Colin’s chances in Chicago. “Buttfumble” Sanchez will be a fixture on the sidelines and good at holding a clipboard. Chicago’s not an option.

Detroit – They’ll back on Stafford to stay healthy – as they options behind him are not very good. Rookie Brad Kaaya – who’s game in college was slightly similar to Kaepernick’s will have a chance if Stafford goes down. No Kaep in the motor city.

Packers – Rodgers. Enough said. Green Bay is comfortable with Hundley at backup. Kaepernick is not even close to being on Ted Thompson’s radar.

Vikings – Bradford is the guy – but he’s as durable as a porcelain doll. When he is available, he’s one of the most accurate signal callers in the game. The heartbreak of losing Bridgewater really set the team back. Case Keenum has been put in the position to win games, but he’s no Kaepernick. Similar to the Raiders – if they are forced to go with Keenum, they may sniff around to see what Kaep’s asking price is solely out of desperation. I don’t see him as a Mike Zimmer guy, though.

NFC SOUTH

Falcons – one year removed from the biggest Super Bowl letdown, there is no chance in hell they make offseason noise signing Kaep. Matty Ice will look to duplicate his play from last season, and Matt Schaub will be ready and willing to step in and manage the offense.

Panthers – They just fired their GM. The new GM won’t bring in Kaepernick as one of the first major moves. Cam’s the man in Carolina – with Derek Anderson and Joe Webb being affordable and less distractive options. Even though Kaepernick would bridge the gap in a situation that involves Newton going down, Rivera will pass.

Saints – Drew Brees is up in age, but that’s just a number. Brees can still light it up and now has Adrian Peterson – who if he returns to form – can take off some of the pressure in the passing game. Chase Daniels, Garrett Grayson, and Ryan Nassib’s combined stats don’t equal Kaepernick’s. NOLA could be an option if Saints question Brees’ durability.

Bucs – Tampa won’t add Kaepernick in order to avoid any chance of hindering Winston’s development. They just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick – who has the tendency to be an interception machine. He’s an interesting option as the backup because he can be the difference between winning and losing the game. He’s not better than Kaep, but the Bucs won’t plan on seeing Fitz outside of a dire situation or during garbage time at the end of big wins.

NFC WEST

Cardinals – I thought Kaepernick had a good chance to land in Arizona – this was prior to the signing of Kaepernick’s backup Blaine Gabbert. I felt Arizona had a good grasp of what Colin could do in the case that Carson Palmer goes down. They thought otherwise. Would have been interesting to see Kaepernick in the desert, but it won’t happen. Not unless the Cardinals’ are competing to win the division and lose Palmer late in the year. If the division is on the line – and Gabbert can’t keep it together – Arizona won’t waste Larry Fitzgerald’s potentially final season without giving Fitz and the Bird Gang the best chance to make it out of the West.

Rams – Rolling into the season with Jared Goff and Sean Mannion – should they just be awarded a top three pick now? This is a very weak QB depth. Goff still hasn’t shown why he was worth trading a King’s ransom for to take 1st overall. Mannion – well, not much to add about him. LA needs a spark and they know what Kaepernick can do, but they would do damage to Goff’s confidence by bringing him onto the team. He would help their situation at QB though. A lot.

Seahawks – Colin seemed destined to become the emergency option if Russell Wilson went down. The Seahawks – having dealt with Kaepernick – knew his effectiveness more than a lot of other teams. Seattle’s roster has been backing Colin’s campaign, so a locker room distraction stemming from Kaepernick’s political stance didn’t seem to be a problem. Pete and the brass passed on Colin, but praised him as a starter in this league? Someone felt it wasn’t worth the headache. They’ll look to Boykin and Austin Davis to be the solution if things go wrong in Seattle.

49ers – we all know that’s off the table.

Will Colin Throw a Football in 2017

With all that being said, Kaepernick’s best fit would be Jacksonville – if they weren’t committed to Bortles. There are a few other scenarios in which he would be sought after – but most include teams losing their main guy to injury. It’s happened before.

Above Photo credit for Mariota Photo/Rob Foldy/Getty Images Photo credit for Carr Photo/ Getty

Teams like the Raiders, Steelers, Titans, Cardinals, and Colts would look to Kaepernick if their team lost their starting QB in the last leg of the season. A paycheck could be in the cards for Colin if playoff teams are in despair.

Other teams – like the Jets who could use Kaepernick’s services now – won’t want to because they are looking to their position in next year’s draft to answer QB questions.

Will Kaepernick be signed by training camp? Probably not. Will he be on a team at the tail end of the Preseason? Depends on if there are any unexpected injuries at the QB spot to address. Will Kaep be signed during the NFL Season? Again, it depends on which teams are in desperation mode with playoff implications at stake.

Either way, the chances of Kaepernick playing football this fall are pretty high. I mean, worst case scenario for Colin, if he can’t find a job in the NFL, would be to pursue the Canadian League. At least there, his political stance on America won’t hold any weight and his performance on the field will be all that matters.

It should be the same in the NFL. But, it is what it is.


Follow me on Twitter @bmo54bmo54

Through the Ashes, A Phoenix Will Rise

Through the Ashes, A Phoenix Will Rise

Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas will breathe new life into the Bay Area Defense

1 foster thomas

Ranked dead last in total defense last season, it’s safe to say San Francisco has nowhere to go but up. The defense gave up the most yards and most points out of any unit in the league. Hard to imagine considering the amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball.

The talent of the defenders on this team just got better over the offseason. A combination of high draft picks and veteran production will help the 49ers rise from the rock bottom ashes of the NFL.

The 49ers have been mining the NFL Draft for defensive talent for years. They’ve spent multiple high draft picks of defensive talent with hopes of returning to prominence. After last season, prominence may be too far out of reach. This team is trying to reestablish relevance.

It’s hard to believe that just 5 years ago, San Francisco was representing the NFC in Super Bowl. 4 years ago, they were positioned for back-to-back appearances in the NFL’s biggest game – but lost to division nemesis in the Seattle Seahawks.

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Head Coach Jim Harbaugh – the captain of the ship – set sail for Michigan after the 2014 season following issues with the 49ers brass. It’s been a dark time for Niner-nation since the khaki wearing heartbeat of the team left the sidelines.

The Fall From Grace Continues

After losing defensive cornerstone Patrick Willis, a premature retirement of 2014 3rd round LB Chris Borland, and several other departures like veteran Justin Smith, the defense that once evoked fear seemed to crumble before our very eyes.

1 pat willis hit

Returning players struggled to replicate the success of the previous years, such as Navarro Bowman who has struggled with injuries. The leader of the linebacker core missed all the 2014 season after having not missed a game since entering the league. Bowman also went down last season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Chip Kelly experiment was finished before it ever started. The coach lasted just one season before being canned – along with GM Trent Baalke – as the front office figured they would include him in the overhaul of the team.

The talent on the team would not be ruined due to not have solid leaders in place.

Rebuild In Progress

Despite the cluster that has been the 49ers front office, they did manage to replenish the defensive side of the ball with high draft picks.

San Francisco 49ers 2013 Football

In 2013, San Francisco used their top two selections on defensive players. Safety Eric Reid out of LSU was selected with the 18th overall pick. The 2nd round pick was used to take Cornelius Carradine, DE Florida State. Both continue to remain productive members of the defensive roster.

The 49ers invested 4 of their 2014 draft picks on defensive backs. They selected safety Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois with the 30th overall pick.

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Of the three other cornerbacks selected – Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker – only Johnson and Reaser remain on the team as it stands right now.

They would also add veteran Safety Antoine Bethea during the offseason.

Draft Life After Harbaugh

The 2015 draft would mark the third consecutive draft San Francisco would use a high pick on a safety. Following the 1st round selection of Oregon DE Arik Armstead, the Niners chose Samford Safety Jaquiski Tartt with the 46th overall pick.

1 tartt

You can never have enough safeties, right? They also added DE Eli Harold with the 79th overall pick. The three defenders chosen in the top 100 remain on the team and are productive.

 

San Francisco would spend their 1st round selection of 2016 on another Oregon Duck. DE DeForest Buckner was brought on to intensify the pass rush with former teammate Armstead.

armstead buckner

The two DE would hopefully erase the bittersweet memory that was Aldon Smith. The 49ers would choose a pair of cornerbacks with their 3rd and 4th round selections in Will Redmond (Mississippi State) and Rashard Robinson (LSU).

The Lynch-Shanahan Era

In the 2016 NFL Draft – the 49ers may have hit the jackpot. Somehow – someway – San Francisco hoodwinked the Chicago Bears into trading up one spot. They used the draft haul to select two potential Pro Bowl defensive studs to their roster. DT Solomon Thomas – whose game resembles that of Aaron Donald, in my opinion – was taken 3rd overall.

CFP National Championship

Thumping LB Reuben Foster – whose draft stock fluctuated throughout the draft process – was snagged at the end of the 1st round. Projected as a top 5 player, the Roll Tide stud found a home in San Francisco. He’s looking to make 29 other NFL teams pay for passing on him. With the level of violence Foster plays with, he did not need a chip on his shoulder or extra motivation. All that did was turn a dangerous player into a deadly force.

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Add Ahkello Witherspoon – cornerback out of Colorado – to a list of defensive players selected by the Niners near the top half of the NFL Draft. Witherspoon has the size and speed to help the secondary improve. Having been a multisport athlete contributes to his quick feet that enable him to recover quickly. Unlike teammate Chidobe Awuzi, Witherspoon wasn’t known for his unhinged and decisive in making tackles. Hesitancy is something I believe guys like Foster can help Witherspoon overcome.

Rise of the Phoenix

This offseason, the 49ers parted ways with last year’s defensive leader in veteran Antoine Bethea. He led the team in total tackles last season. Bethea signed with division rival Cardinals and looks to mentor their young defensive unit. LB Gerald Hodges also left the team to circle the wagons in Buffalo. Hodges led the team in interceptions last season.

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was added to the team following his two most statistically productive years during his tenure as an Oakland Raider. Smith brings championship experience, veteran leadership, and blue-collar work ethic after busting his tail to prove being drafted in the 7th round was far too low.

 

The Niners offseason additions were mostly on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive unit is an area I believe John Lynch will focus on improving over the next few drafts.

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Head Coach Kyle Shanahan looks to familiarity to help with offensive production. Offensive veterans additions QB Brian Hoyer and WR Pierre Garcon are educated on the style of offense Shanahan runs having prior experience with the coach.

The linebackers will be solid. The defensive line will get to the quarterback. The secondary needs to improve, but will benefit from linebacker/defensive line play. The biggest question mark will be the offensive production. Poor offensive production means more time the defensive unit is on the field. Conditioning has to be a key focus heading into training camp as the defense should expect to be on the field more often than not.

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Although the offense is far from fixed, the defense – on paper – has the potential to restore prestige to a once highly respectable unit. Reuben Foster will lead the Ministry of Violence – that’s what I’m calling this defense – and in near future, the Phoenix will rise in the Bay Area.