**Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors as this was primarily done with AI
ZH: Welcome everyone to 32 Beat Beyond the Tweets. My name is Zach Hiduk and today I’m very excited to bring you a great conversation with 49ers beat writer Jack Hammer. After the conversation with Jack we’ll briefly break down some of the fantasy fallout so make sure to stick around. We’re also going to be doing a giveaway so make sure to listen for how to participate.
Training camp is going to be coming your way soon so make sure to follow us on Twitter at 32beatwriters so that you can be up to date on every single detail of the off season. Now let’s get on to the conversation. Hey everyone today I have with me the man who has arguably the best name in all of sports writing, Jack Hammer. Jack is beat writer for the 49ers with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and his host of the Inside the 49ers with Jack Hammer YouTube show. You can find his work at PressDemocrat.com and prior to that he was also at Sports Illustrated so you can see some of his work over there as well. And of course you can find him on Twitter at jackhammer underscore NFL. Welcome to the show Jack.
JH: Thanks for having me on Zach.
ZH: Yeah, of course. We’re super excited. As I mentioned pre-show here you have a very interesting team to talk about with a lot going on. So I guess we’ll just start with the thing that probably everybody wants to know but before we get too far into it let’s just talk specifically about the injuries. So we’ve got the Purdy-Lance situation but both of them were injured last year so let’s just lay a bit of a groundwork on where they’re both kind of at this point. The 49ers just seem to be completely bitten with the injury bug and every year it seems to be that they have issues with that for whatever reason. There’s just a curse hanging over them. Last year Purdy had that UCL injury from the Eagles game in the playoffs.
What distances has Purdy thrown so far if we have that type of information? What’s his progression of his throwing volume looked like? My injury guy calculated that he should probably be fully cleared and up for unrestricted throwing by around July 28th. So I just want to know if he’s on track for that. And with training camp coming up on the 26th, that’s a super important timeline so just curious there.
JH: Yeah well if your guy has July 28th he’s way ahead of everybody else that’s out here in the Bay Area because we haven’t gotten very many reports on what his throwing routine has looked like.
We know that he’s been going through it. I definitely also understand that he’s ahead of schedule based on the timing in terms of when he started throwing the full-size football the way that this whole thing works when you come back from a UCL injury. Saying July 28th that’s even ahead of where I was thinking. I was thinking he was going to be more around maybe mid-August and I was kind of being conservative though with that.
But if it’s July 28th that’s far ahead of what everybody was thinking and would be perfect for the 49ers in terms of giving him on the field for pretty much all of training camp. I know a couple maybe a week ago you were tweeting some stuff out about what work he was doing with a specific doctor or a program or a coach or something like that. Yeah so what’s got me there is you know when the surgery initially happened which was March 10th they said at that point it was going to be six months. Well that’s 24 weeks in doctor speak so from that point you go 24 weeks out that’s going to take you to August 25th which was right after the final pre-season game. The also the firms also told us that at the three-month mark is when they expected him to begin throwing which would have been around June 2nd. We know that he started throwing earlier than that he was throwing a full-size football as of May 29th. We know that for sure for reports and so in order to get to throwing a full-size football you’ve got to go through a number of other steps usually it starts with throwing a towel or kind of simulating that throwing motion which we know he was doing around May 11th according to Kyle Shanahan during OTAs he said he was violently you know going through his throwing motion with a towel so we know that and then we know the progression from there. So I think he’s probably like I said early August timeframe and then in terms of going out to Jacksonville and working with his quarterback coach Will Hewlett and their the orthopedic specialist that he’s worked with also and run up to the draft that’s another good sign because he had told us right at the beginning of OTAs when we had the chance to speak with him he said that as long as everything was good on his part if he felt good he’d be doing that work he’d be going out to Jacksonville and working with him to get his throwing motion back and make sure that he was all you know getting squared away there so I think having Brock Purdy out in Jacksonville as a sign that he is ahead of schedule and that he is working to get back as early as possible.
ZH: Okay, gotcha. So it sounds like he’s doing everything that he needs to do, which is good. And things are as positive as they could be. So yeah, we’ll have to monitor that. And if you’ve got him around August, we’ll have to see, you know, you’ll get some access, I suppose, through training camp. And I would assume they’ll probably take it relatively easy with him. Would you say that’s the case?
JH: Well, I think, you know, once he’s cleared, that’s one of the things with this injury is once he’s cleared, he’s cleared, it’s not like an ACL injury where you get cleared, and then you’re doing the work to get ready to go. He’s already doing that work. That’s that was kind of the whole thing with throwing the ball. That’s this is his right, he’s in the middle of that ramp up period now.
So when he comes back, he should be able to be a full go. You know, they might take it a little slow with them in terms of what they’re asking them to do. But I would expect it not to look very outside the norm from those of us watching from the outside in. Okay, so then we should definitely be able to tell when he’s cleared.
ZH: So he had, I believe it was a fractured and dislocated ankle week two last year. I think he had an initial surgery and then he had an additional surgery in December. Have we seen anything about like, is he running?
JH: I don’t know if we’ve had a lot to look at as far as maybe what his agility would look like, or his throw powers. I believe he was also at that tight end university camp that Kelce and I think it’ll help run.
So that was I saw some short videos from there. I guess he should be pretty full go at this point. But I’m just curious to know if you think he’s back at 100 % or where we might be at with him then. Trey Lance thing is interesting because the injury that you’re talking about that he sustained in week two, the ankle injury, he’s cleared from that he’s definitely out there running, doesn’t look like it’s hindering him at all with his motion, you know, mobility and those types of things.
He looks good there. But the injury that we keep hearing about isn’t that injury. It’s the injury that he suffered his rookie season in the final preseason game against the Raiders that injured finger where he hit his, you know, hit his hand on a Raider defensive length helmet and it forced him to kind of have to grip the ball a different way because, you know, all of a sudden that index finger was, he couldn’t straighten it out.
It was bent all the time. So he’s been working on that. It’s been a big, big talking point from the 49ers this off season. And it’s interesting because that’s he went through full off season of working with a quarterback coach and getting ready for last year. And we’re still talking about the finger now two years, two years later, as to part of the reason that he might have had some issues with his throwing, you know, over the last year and a half. So it seems like, you know, everything is healthy with him, his ankle is good, the finger supposedly is now completely healed. So, you know, what we should see from him is a guy who is fully healthy or as healthy as you can be in the NFL when he starts training camp.
And I’m excited to see what he can do.
ZH: Okay, interesting. Yeah, I’ll definitely want to monitor that one because I wasn’t even really aware that that was a big concern still at the moment.
But obviously, and that was on his throwing hand. So that would be obviously a concern there. So okay, but that’s, that’s good to know that it seems like both of them by by the beginning of the year should be good to go at the very least. Now, so on to the obvious question as a follow up then how do you personally think that this QB depth chart is going to shake out? It seems like from if we’re listening to Kyle Shanahan; it’s kind of already decided. Do you have any, you know, good stats on the two that maybe would indicate why they would go with one over the other? Is it a performance thing? Is it just a trust thing? Or is it just the fact that Purdy maybe has earned that by having the most starts and showing that he could at least get to a good distance through the playoffs?
JH: It’s an interesting one. I think, you know, if you’re asking me what that depth chart is going to look like, I’m going to say Brock, parties are starting quarterback of the 49ers as long as he’s healthy. And, you know, the reason that he had, if he’s fully recovered from that physically and mentally, able to step back out there and be the guy that he was last season, at minimum, he’s going to win a starting job. His performance was too good to pull him off the field. And I really don’t think Frey Lance is at a point where he can step over that in terms of anything that he’s going to be able to do in training camp or in the preseason. I just don’t see that, especially if Brock Purdy’s playing at that same level. You ask about the stats and I mean, the stats jump off the page when you look at what Brock Purdy did last year in terms of, you know, his completion percentage is on target throws. I was looking at the other day, it’s over 75%. You know, if you’re using the data from football focus and, you know, when they do a great job because they take out the balls that were throwaways, the ones that were batted down to the line of scrimmage or, you know, while they’re hit while throwing, they also give you the data in terms of drops. So if you take all that together and you put it together, here’s like 75, 77 % and Trey Lance is down in the, I think he’s right around 70, 68, 69, somewhere in that range.
But just on all the data that you can pull up, Brock Purdy’s at an extremely high level. I would say the one thing that he does that that the other quarterback, the other quarterbacks on the team haven’t shown the ability to do yet is just completely run Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He makes all the throws that you need to make in this offense.
You know, there’s been a lot of talk around San Francisco this year about his arm strength not being what’s necessary to win a Super Bowl or something like that, which I completely disagree with. He showed the ability to go down the field with the ball. And he really excelled in that intermediate range, that 10 to 19 yards down the field. Last year, if you look at Brock Purdy, in that range, he had over 80 % of his passes. He was 80.4%, I think, was the number, which is the highest since PFF started to get that number. The next closest was like 72 for his cousins back in 2019.
And then last year, the closest was 68 something by Deshaun Watson. So it was just a big difference. And he just really executed the offense at an extremely high level. And yeah, he had a lot of talent around him to help him out. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey makes a big difference. George Kittle makes a big difference. He didn’t have Debo Samuel for a few weeks, but when he did have Deebo Samuel out there as well, they two connected on a number of big plays.
So you got Brandonn Ayuk as well. I mean, it’s just a ton of offensive firepower. But I think the biggest thing is that he does, for the most part, he does exactly what Kyle Shanahan is asking him to do. Kyle Shanahan does a pretty good job of scheming guys open. So it makes it easy for the quarterback if they just make those throws that are open for him.
ZH: Yeah, it’s funny that you mentioned that, you know, he does what Kyle Shanahan asked him to do. And I don’t remember where I heard this, but it got me thinking. You know, and it really hit me when I started to see that if the season started the day, I think, or whatever it was that Lance may be behind Sam Darnold, who’s now on the roster. And just with everything that we’ve seen from him, that really made me question like, wow, what is it with Tre Lance that is so like, is he just bad or what? Like, tell me if I’m wrong here, but it kind of feels like maybe Lance somehow, I don’t know how, got on Shanahan’s bad side and is now just like in the doghouse. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but you know, it’s not even just because he’s behind Purdy, like I mentioned, because we talked about that he seemed to maybe have earned that. But when I saw that he was behind Darnold, it just made me think that is it possible that he’s just being doghouse like we saw with Brandonn Ayuk?
Maybe two years ago was it? Or like, Trey Sermon? Or is he just bad at football and they’re just making a football decision?
JH: You know, it’s interesting. I don’t know if Sam Darnold’s actually ahead of him. I watched the two out there during OTAs and minicamp and it didn’t really seem like going into it, I felt like they were very similar players. Guys that have very high traits, that’s why they got taken where they did, but haven’t been able to put it together at the NFL level with consistency. That showed up during OTAs and minicamp with their performance and I didn’t really feel like Sam Darnold, at least in the, we didn’t get to see everything, right? We only get to see one practice week during OTAs and then the full minicamp. So we saw about four practices out of it.
So in those four, I don’t think there’s any separation. So unless the 49ers are telling people something else, I don’t know where the idea that Sam Darnold is way ahead of Trey Lance is coming from. I will say this, the only reason I could see, if you want to say Trey Lance has fallen out of favor with the 49ers, because this has been a question around here over the last couple of weeks is, if he’s fallen out of favor, it’s because he just hasn’t lived up to expectations.
He hasn’t performed at a very high level. You go back to last season and I wrote quite often during training camp that it was very rocky in training camp last year. It was very up and down and understand he was going up against the 49ers defense, which is one of the best in the league, which compared that to what we saw in training camp the year before when Jimmy Garoppolo was the starting quarterback. And it wasn’t as good as what Jimmy Garoppolo did the year before. And so Garoppolo, he definitely has his up and down moments in camp as well.
But overall, he had a better completion percentage, moved the offense with better efficiency with Trey Lance. Last year, it was just, and even at the rookie, it was very disjointed. And when I say disjointed, it’s, we’re going to have a couple of bad plays and then we have an explosive play.
If the boys don’t come, you don’t move the ball, you’re punting it and you’re not getting points on the board. And that’s what we’ve seen with him on the field for the 49ers. And I think that’s a big, that could be a portion of why they’re souring on him a little bit. If that’s the case, they say they really like him. They say they like him just as much as they did the day they drafted him.
It’s interesting that when they say that they never talk about anything that has to do with his football ability. It’s all about the person.
ZH: Okay, that’s interesting. So like considering all of that, then, are we anticipating that he’s even on the roster at the start of the season or eight weeks into the season at the trade deadline? How would you, obviously, you know, you can’t tell the future, but if you were going to try to, what would you say
JH: I think he’s going to be on the roster. I don’t, they can’t get rid of them. They can’t just release them because he’s on the, he’s everything that all of his salary is guaranteed.
So they can’t just release them. The only way they can get out of it is through a trade in terms of his, his contract. So if he doesn’t win that starting quarterback job and what I could see happen is, yeah, I could see them hoping that somebody comes and gives them something in a value in a trade. Somebody’s going to have to be heard around the NFL, I think, for that to happen. So it’ll be, and beyond that, the foreigners have had so, such bad luck with keeping their quarterback healthy.
You mentioned that at the beginning of the show. Maybe it’s the best thing isn’t to trade them anyway. Keep all three of these guys on there so that when you get in the championship games, you’re down to your third or fourth quarterback. You have somebody that has NFL experience.
ZH: Yeah, I’m not sure if you guys have a game this year. I’d have to look at MetLife there in New York, but that’s the one that caused it last year. So maybe keep them around until then if that’s the case.
JH: Yeah, no games in New York this year.
ZH: Okay, well that’s good for you guys then. You know, earlier you had mentioned CMC, Christian McCaffrey, for those of, I mean I’m sure everybody knows that, but you mentioned CMC. So how do you see the 49ers utilizing him this year? Are they going to hold back as touches a little bit like it seemed they sometimes did last year just to keep him fresh and rotating him with Elijah Mitchell or Jordan Mason? There’s a couple of running backs behind him too, so curious on your thoughts there because there’s, you know, Davis Price, who do you think kind of leads the backfield behind him as the guy they rotate in behind CMC and how much do you see them doing that?
JH: Well, first off in terms of the split at that spot, when you go back and you look at the games where Elijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey were both healthy for the 49ers, their split, they almost had the same number of carries. I think, I think McCaffrey only had like five more carries in Elijah Mitchell in those games.
So it’s going to be split up between those two. McCaffrey’s always going to have more touches because he’s going to get the ball in the passing game more than Elijah Mitchell will. But you mentioned that running back room.
McCaffrey’s a big piece of it. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen with Jordan Mason because he’s looked really good this offseason. He had a tremendous rookie season. I thought he jumped right off. As soon as I saw him during OTAs and minicamp last year, I was like, this guy has somebody to watch that progress throughout training camp throughout preseason, made the roster as a season when along Mason began to get more touches and kind of became a guy that they believed in as a closer type of thing, right? In the games, just trying to grind the clock out. We can give it this guy the ball. He’s going to pick up first down.
He’s not going to put it on the ground, that type of thing. So I think he’s really going to be able to put Elijah Mitchell. Elijah Mitchell is a really nice back for the 49ers. The head problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He keeps getting injured.
When he’s on the field, he’s terrific, but staying on the field is the problem for him. So I think all this depends on how Mason form and training camp, how Mitchell performs. And we’ll go from there because Mitchell missed some time already during this offseason program. He wasn’t able to participate during the minicamp portion. So it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out when we get to training camp.
I think that’s one of those battles that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch play out.
ZH: Okay. We’ll definitely bookmark that for, what do they start July 26th? Is that when everybody reports or just the rookies?
JH: The rookies are there, I believe, the 15th or 18th, and then the bets show up on the 25th. But I’m not sure what they haven’t announced the first day of actual practice yet.
ZH: So we’ll keep a look out for that. Along with the running backs now, I didn’t put this on the show notes. So no pressure here, but the offensive line is obviously a key there for the success in general of the offense. You lost McGlinchey, but you still have Trent Williams. How just real quick, do you think that’s going to be an offensive line that’s a help or a hindrance or kind of a neutral thing for them this year?
JH: I think in terms of the offensive line from last year to this year, I think it’s probably going to be neutral.
It might be a little bit better because you have Jake Randall, who last year made it to the Pro Bowl in his first full season as a starter. So he now has a season’s worth of games winners about. He’d only, I think, had like five starts in his career up to that point.
So now he has a lot of experience to draw from. So he might even have an increase in his performance in year two as a starter for the 49ers. You have Spencer Burford at right guard, who was a rookie last year, splitting time, and he’s looked really good coming back here into year two. And the rest of that offensive line, you have four guys who were there last year as starters returning. The only change was at right tackle. Mike Guiglinci was a pretty good tackle, but he definitely had some things that were weaknesses.
I think they might take a little bit of a step down there with Colton McKivots, but I think the rest of that offensive line could be better, which would kind of balance out any issues they have early on at right tackle. Okay. So we should at least hope to see a continuation from last year, then, which is concerned about anything fantasy wise there.
ZH: So that’s good to hear. So we saw last year, well, actually over the past couple of seasons, rather, Brandon Aiyuk, the wide receiver, is seemingly kind of a rising star for the team there and maybe even in the league. He had a thousand-fifteen yards last year and eight touchdowns. So a pretty significant contribution. And his receiving yards have increased every year of his career. So do you see that trend continuing? And do you think he has a larger role than Deebo Samuel this year when it’s all said and done?
JH: Yeah. And you putting those two together in the question is really good because I think I think that’s an important piece to look at when you look at Brandon Aiyuk’s numbers. He has, those numbers have gone up every year. However, here’s the one thing about his numbers last week going up. He didn’t have Deebo Samuel that he’ll have to share reps with or targets with for a few games because Samuel, you know, he started off slowly and then he was injured for a little bit there. And I think that helped get more targets to Brandonn Aiyuk, which helped his numbers get to where they are. If Deebo Samuel is fully healthy, if Deebo Samuel is the guy that we saw in 2019 or the guy we saw in 2021 this season, he’s going to get the bulk of those touches in the passing game. He’s going to be the guy who’s going to have the bigger numbers. They just do so much through him. I think you look at that. They have a really good group there. I think you have Samuel as your one and one A and then you have a one B in Brandon Aiyuk. So they really play well off of each other. Another thing to think if you’re looking at this from a fantasy perspective, a guy like Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel, depending on how your fantasy points are earned, they’re not going to get as many targets as other guys across the league. 49ers typically are near the bottom of the NFL when it comes to passing attempts. So that hurts you from a fantasy perspective because they’re just not going to get the same number of opportunities as other guys around the league do. So that’s one of the things when you look at their numbers and you’re comparing, say, Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel to Justin Jefferson or Cooper Cop or what have you, you need to really break it down by almost like a per target basis because a lot of times you’ll see that those guys are outperforming. They just don’t get as many.
ZH: We know that the 49ers obviously have a very run centric or at least everything tends to play off of the run scheme. Right. So they can be maybe more efficient off of those play actions and motions and everything. So what you’re saying totally makes sense.
And yeah, Deebo did. I had him down at least for missing about four games with injury at a hamstring week eight, high ankle in 15, 16, 17. And you know, he had mentioned, I think he used the word awful for himself last season. Do you think that was just injury or do you think that had anything to do maybe even with the addition of CMC as well now that they, you know, somebody had said that the Deebo Samuel role still exists in San Francisco. It just belongs to Christian McCaffrey. Now, would you say that’s fair or do you think that they’ll just, I mean, you’ve got so many weapons there.
JH: Christian McCaffrey, he’s going to take more of the touches away from Samuel, I guess in some aspects, but Christian McCaffrey is a running back and he’s going to be so much better for the 49ers in terms of what they ask him to do in that running game. I would like to see them maybe get away from using Deebo Samuel quite as much in the back field, get him back to more of what they were utilizing him as in the beginning of the 2021 season, because he was doing really well as a wide receiver before all the injuries to the running back room and a force them to use him as a, as a running back.
Um, I’d like to see them get back to that. I think if you, if you have McCaffrey plus Deebo Samuel plus Brandon Aiyuk plus George Kittle, you got better offense. And when you look at Deebo Samuel in particular, like his numbers in 2021 compared to last season, he was getting the ball down the field much more often than I see down the field. I’m not talking 10, 15 yards on the field. When you look at the average depth of target for, for Deebo Samuel in 2021, and it was about eight, nine yards last year, it’s about two or three. So he’s getting a lot more screens and those types of things.
And I don’t see that as the best use. I mean, yeah, it’s nice that you can throw the ball to Deebo and let him, you know, be the guy at the line of scrimmage and take off for 40 yards. But he does a much better job when you get the ball to him on a slant or a crosser, where he’s working against those guys in the secondary of beating those guys at that point and making a big place.
I’d really like to see them get back to more of that moving forward.
ZH: Okay. And you had mentioned Kittle. We know that he’s great at blocker, great pass catcher. Sometimes his, you know, I think he’s always a big part of the 49ers game plan. It seems it just depends on the week, what that role maybe looks like. But is there anybody else at the tight end position that is relevant? We know Kittle’s going to be relevant, but is there anybody else?
JH: You know, if it depends on what you mean by relevant, but I’d say really probably not, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got George Kittle, you’ve got behind him, you have Ross Diwali, who’s a really nice player, but not somebody that people are going to really look at. You have Charlie Werner, who is a decent blocker, but struggles with catching the football. And then they have a couple of rookies and Cam Lahtu and Raiden Willis. And both of those two rookies look to have some, some really nice features about them. And so we’ll see how that room plays out.
That’s one of those spots when we start to look at like competitions in camp, what’s happening behind George Kittle, I think is going to be an interesting competition for sure.
ZH: Alright. Yeah. So in so far as camp battles and everything else is concerned, and you can take this offensive or defensive, is there any player that you think could surprise anyone this year and make a bigger impact than expected? Maybe it’s somebody who’s had impact in the past, or maybe it’s not, but anybody that you’re keeping your eye on that you’re thinking might, might do something for you.
JH: Yeah, there’s a there’s a couple of them on the defensive side. Starts off with Drake Jackson.
I think that’s a name to keep an eye out for. There’s been a lot of talk around the 49ers about who’s going to rush the pass or opposite of Nick Bosa. And I really think the team believes in Drake Jackson coming into year two. They’re hoping that he makes the same type of a year two leap as his former college teammate Talonahou Fonga. I think and when you look at that defensive line with Bosa and the attention he’s going to get Javon Hargrave and what he’s going to can do from inside and especially if Eric Armstead is healthy. Those three should give him a lot of one on one matchups and a lot of ability to showcase his abilities. Another thing with Drake Jackson. He had three sacks last year, which wasn’t bad for you know a rookie, especially on a team where he I think he finished with the fourth most sacks on the 49ers last season.
And that’s you didn’t play at all. So I think Drake Jackson is a guy who could benefit from everything that’s around him and then also the extra work he’s put in. Another one that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but I think people should pay attention to is the addition of Isaiah Oliver to the secondary.
I think that’s a big add. Isaiah Oliver is a better cover slot than what they had in Jimmy Ward. So there’s actually I think the 49ers made themselves better in past coverage at that spot and you know because Jimmy Ward had such a presence around the team, he was a leader, but his play at times he wasn’t a guy who usually came up with with the big play, right? He he make the big play in terms of a big tackle or something like that, but in terms of the turnovers, he struggled for most of his career with actually being able to do that. And I think with Isaiah Oliver you’re going to see more big plays out of him and he just does a really nice job of covering inside like that.
ZH: Okay, so make sure to keep an eye on those two guys this year then for our listeners and just in general regards to the defense, they were at least by PFF standards ranked second. They just are a super talented team or where they don’t have talent, they seem to make up for it through scheme, although there’s very few spots where there isn’t some sort of pretty pretty awesome talent. What like what do you think it’s going to take for them to make it to the Super Bowl? The NFC is a little bit easier to get through so they should easily make it to the playoffs this year bar in anything completely catastrophic, but we also know that DeMeco Ryans is now in Houston, the former OC or sorry DC and now we have Steve Wilkes right running the defense for you guys. Do you see any big changes there and how do you think that the season’s going to shake out for them heading into the close season?
JH: Well let’s start off on that one with the defense and the changes there and then we’ll get into the Super Bowl after that, but in terms of the defense I think Steve Wilkes is going to be bringing in more of an attacking style. He’s known as a guy who likes to blitz from his time as defense coordinators in the past and different stops, so I would expect to see the blitz percentage for the 49ers defense pickup. They’re not going to be the old Blitzberg Steelers of the 90s and so on like that, but they’re going to send guys more often and that’s where a guy like Jair Brown or even Isaiah Oliver who we just mentioned, both of them are very good on blitzes. Same thing with Talon and Hufanga, he’s a good blitzer as well and then Fred Warner has always been good at it. Sure, yeah, seems to be good at everything.
I mean the 49ers just have so many weapons to play with over there just like they do on the offensive side of the ball, but from a coaching perspective just about maybe not getting overly aggressive and putting guys in a bad position where they fail, that type of thing. So I think you’re going to see that from the defensive side. In terms of moving forward and with 49ers, where they’ve been in terms of the last couple of years, for them to get to the Super Bowl, for them to win the Super Bowl, they just need to stay healthy at quarterback. I think that’s really been their biggest issue. Number one and number two is they need to start better and I think that’s something that most people, we’ve all focused on the quarterback, but here in San Francisco, you’ve got to have a quick start. You look at where the 49ers have been, 2019 they started off 8-0, they had home field advantage, they get to the Super Bowl that year. These last two seasons they’ve started off with losing records through the first seven weeks and then they turn it on and end up having a good run to get to the championship game, but you’re going down to Los Angeles, you’re going out to Philadelphia instead of being able to stay in the Bay Area and play in Santa Clara.
So I think if the 49ers want to get back to the Super Bowl, they need to stay healthy at the quarterback position, but almost as important as importantly is they need to get off to a hot start because their schedule is tough. It’s got to be able to get those games in early so that you can have that battle at the end to stay in the race.
ZH: In division last year, it finished Niners, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals with everything going on with all the other teams. It seems like that may be the likely outcome this year. Is that how you’d rank it if you were going to do that today?
JH: Yeah, I’d go in that direction. I think the Cardinals are almost irrelevant in terms of competing for this division. Coaching change, you know, Kyla Murray is a guy who hasn’t proven that he can do it yet at the NFL level on a consistent basis. Down in Los Angeles, just a lot of changes there. They might be a little bit better this year if Matthew Stafford is fully healthy.
That’s a big difference. When you get into the NFL, you start to look at the quarterback. The teams who can keep their quarterback healthy, a lot of times they’re going to be able to stay in the fight, especially a guy like Matthew Stafford. So I can see that Rams, if he’s fully healthy, being more competitive than they were a year ago, because they were actually, you look at the games they played against the 49ers, they played really tough with the 49ers, especially in the game down in Los Angeles, then Stafford got injured and things, the wheels started to fall off.
So if he’s healthy, they’re going to be a more impractical team. Seattle has just done a really nice job through the draft the last couple of years. I think they’re a team that’s on the rise. They’re probably a year or two away from really being the contender that they’re going to become.
And then you have the 49ers who I think have, if not the best, one of the top three to five rosters in the league. And it’s a matter of them managing through that. And like I said, getting off to a not losing games that they should win. Like they can’t lose, they can’t lose to a team like Chicago, week one and expect to be the super, you know, that’s just, that’s the kind of, that’s a game right there where if they’d won that game, they were hosting Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. So you can’t lose games like that or the game they lost out in Denver to the Broncos. They just can’t lose those types of games.
ZH: Yeah. And this year, it looks like they start off with the Steelers, then go right down to Los Angeles, like you mentioned, and then the Giants, and then the Cardinals. So maybe if you can find a way to get over Kenny Pickett, and then, then I think the hardest one there would obviously be the Rams. So maybe if you get lucky, you’re coming out of that like three and one at the start of the season, hopefully it would be the, maybe the upside there.
JH: Obviously, I’m sure they would love to win all fours. So I’ve been giving everybody who comes on a chance to stand on a soap box here and just give us something that, you know, you don’t think is discussed enough with the team or something that you believe maybe people are even just getting wrong. Is there anything that’s been rattling around in your brain that you just really want to get out or anything like that? Well, there’s a bunch of those. I can tell you all the stuff that I keep seeing people talk about that are, that’s, I don’t agree with when it comes to the team.
One of those, but I’m also taking this as more of a little bit of, I think a local perspective from a national perspective. I think a lot of people look at the, or there’s been one of the top teams in the NFC and then NFL. You know, we talked about earlier, I think these, this offensive line is much better than, than the 49ers fan base believes.
This is a group that last season was one of the best in terms of the sack rate allowed. They were really good at protecting the quarterback. You know, people look point to the injuries at the quarterback position and they’re blaming that on the offensive line. In reality, you go back and you look at the injuries and they weren’t because of bad pass protection by the offensive linemen. It was other, some other things, you know, the injury to trey lance, that was a running play. There were some, some things that happened with the offensive line there, but that’s not pass protection related. The injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, that’s a scheme related thing because you got more guys coming than the offensive line can block. Garoppolo’s got to get the ball out of his hand.
Instead of holding onto it right there, even if it means just throwing the ball into the ground by Debo Samuel, who was a hot read on that play. The injury to Brock Purdy in the FC championship game, that’s not on the offensive line. That’s on Kyle Shanahan for asking his backup tight end, who wasn’t even active the week before against Dallas, to block the, one of the three mere pass rushers in the NFL last year, one on one. You can say that Brock Purdy, you know, held the ball too long, what have you, but that’s a, that’s not something that should be happening in that situation. You go watch the Super Bowl and there was not a dropback pass that was supposed to be a long developing play that you saw from the Kansas City Chiefs just two weeks later, where they left a tight end one on one with Hasan Redick. They, he chipped them, they did all kinds of things to help that tackle get out there.
They just run their scheme differently and it helped the quarterback be protected and Patrick Mahomes made some big plays as well. But you just, the offensive line, I think in San Francisco is better than a lot of people talk about. I think that’s one of the biggest ones. And the other, and the other one too is there’s so much negativity around Kyle Shanahan. And I think this guy is one of the best offensive minds in the game. It showed up repeatedly and there’s been a lot of discussion out here as far as Kyle Shanahan and his inability to develop quarterbacks. And I think, I think that’s an interesting one that just comes from a segment of the fan base that really wanted one quarterback to be their guy and he hasn’t, it hasn’t played out that way. Because you look at what happened with Brock Purdy, he was the guy taken in the seventh round and he stepped onto the field and he did everything for the 49ers that they were hoping they were going to get when they, when they picked up Trey Lance. They, they were hoping they were going to get a guy that could run the offense at the level of Jimmy Garoppolo, maybe a little bit better.
And Brock Purdy did exactly that. He stepped on the field and there’s been a lot of people, a lot of talk. where I’ve seen, you know, he was pretty much just Jimmy Garoppolo.
Well, yeah, there was. There was a lot of his stuff was what you would expect to see from Jimmy Garoppolo, but the difference is he elevated him above that. The offense averaging over 30 points per game, defense helps out with that a little bit too, but still that’s a big number. And just the way that that offense moved their ability to throw the ball down field all of a sudden. Brock Purdy, if you look at his numbers last season in the playoffs, he threw twice as many passes as 20 yards pluses as Patrick Mahomes, whatever.
That’s just part of that’s because of the scheme that’s being put out there, right? But here’s the thing, he and Patrick Mahomes ended up with the same completion percentage on throws beyond 20 yards. That’s the bigger takeaway for me is that they both completed, I think it was 42.6 % of their throws more than 20 yards down the field.
And so Brock Purdy just changes the dynamic and then you’ve got because you’ve got that ability. Again, that goes back to where we talked earlier where that 80 % completion rate in that intermediate area of the field, 10 to 19 yards. But when you’ve got a quarterback that’s stretching you vertically, like he showed that he could do right almost from the minute that he stepped onto the field against Miami in the week after against Tampa Bay. And you have Bren Ayuk, who can stretch that defense like that. And now you have Christian McCaffery, who you’re worried about beating you in that short range underneath, you’re stretched vertically and you’re dropping deep or you’re dropping shallow and it opens up that area and all of a sudden it just becomes wide open. And Kyle Shanahan gets a ton of credit for it as he should.
But Brock Purdy and his ability to take the ball down the field was another one. So those are a couple like three things I think I just drew at you real quick.
ZH: Yeah, no, that’s all really good. And it sounds like even if there’s some things that we don’t know how they’re going to shake out this year, at the very worst, it’s going to be an awesome thing to watch. And super interesting. So I’m anticipating a lot of success.
And based on everything you’re telling me, it just sounds like maybe it is, you know, maybe it’s a Cinderella story, but hey, those happen every once in a while. And that’s, that’s, it’s going to be cool to see if Brock Purdy can pull off some consistent, consistent, sustained success as we go through into this next year. So, Jack, thanks again for joining us, man. Maybe we’ll get to talk to you again in the future.
JH: Yeah, I hope so. It’d be fun. Thank you for having me on, Zach.
ZH: All right, let’s talk a little bit of the fantasy fallout here from our conversation with Jack. From what I can gather from him, it is the Brock Purdy show.
Bar in an injury or a catastrophic implosion. Brock is the guy and Tray Lance’s time as a starter in San Francisco seems to be over. Maybe you already felt that way, but as a former Lance truther myself, the gig seems to be up. I think you get a great floor from Purdy, but without the rushing upside, he’s a possible top 10 QB who just doesn’t lose you a week. He’s drafted significantly behind Derek Carr, Jordan Love, and Kenny Pickett right now. And frankly, I don’t see a reason to take any of those guys over him. So if you want to pass and grab him later, that’s what I would do for the running backs.
Obviously, you’re all drafting CMC really high. But for the backup role, I think that Jordan Mason would be the guy to keep an eye on Elijah Mitchell tends to get injured as Jack mentioned. And he also started the offseason injured. According to Jack, Jordan Mason could push him for that backup role behind CMC. And Mason’s free in drafts right now outside of the standard underdog ADP entirely. And I’d rather have him than someone like Pierre Strong, Kareem Hunt, or Teris Marshall, who are all kind of going in the back of those drafts right now in best ball. In regular redraft leagues, maybe pick him up off the waivers a few weeks in once you see kind of what is going on, especially if Mitchell gets injured. Mitchell is still defined by himself at 124 overall ADP, but I would say that that’s still pretty risky considering his injury history and current status. At tight end, I expect George Kittle to be good, but inconsistent, like most tight ends. However, I do think he’s a fine value where he’s being drafted and I’d rather draft him over TJ Hockenson, who’s being drafted ahead of him.
I just wouldn’t reach too much. Deebo is being drafted at wide receiver 18, and Brandon AiyIuk is being drafted at wide receiver 28. I think both will be good, but inconsistent. I don’t see as big of a gap as the ADP is suggesting right now, and per what Jack had to say, it’s a 1A, 1B type of deal, so I expect the stats to be relatively close in points per game, particularly with Deebo not getting as many rushing attempts with CMC in town.
I’m not really interested in anyone else in that wide receiver group, in dynasty, or redraft. Now, something special for you guys. To say thanks for helping us get the word out about the show, we are giving away some grizzly grip slim cans. If you live outside of the US, we’ll be giving you a free month subscription to our Patreon. Here’s what you need to do. When the podcast drops, we are going to tweet out a link to it.
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