The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.
- Isaiah 9:10
The last three years of San Francisco 49ers football have been like living a desolate, dystopian future. Fans from far and wide made a pilgrimage to Levi’s Stadium, making sacrifices to the spirits of 49ers of long ago in hopes to see a first down, a game-changing interception or a special teams touchdown.
Those offerings of green paper and PSLs only resulted in a promise to win with class, from an executive office that continues to act like a gossipy group of 8th graders at the lunch table.
Today, the 49ers have a so-called trinity in place, after three weeks of teasing Kyle Shanahan as the new heir apparent.
The 49ers must be resurrected in this New Season. Here’s how they push the stone from the cave opening and once again, become the Glory of the NFL.
End the Leaks to the Media
Journalists make their cash and a name for themselves with inside sources and scoops. I have zero issue with a source letting a beat reporter know that a player may miss a game due to a nagging hamstring injury. That’s fine.
But the 49ers executive office needs to grow up and handle internal squabbles and disagreements inside the building. What good has it done to have Trent Dilfer be the mouthpiece for the organization’s dirty laundry? This is a failed idea that’s tarnished the silver Lombardi trophies in the lobby.
Stop Hoodwinking Fans
While attending this past weekend’s NFL Honors ceremony, Jed York said: “I hate the term rebuilding because it gives people a built-in excuse.” (Source)
Well, Jed, you are rebuilding, and nobody’s looking for an excuse. You don’t ‘reload’ from 5-11 or 2-14; those teams are splintered and broken. Your roster has 17 free agents, your injured reserve list was one of the longest in the league, you’ve fired three coaches and your general manager.
It would go very far for Jed to start being honest with himself and the fans about the true state of the organization.
Flush the Roster and Rebuild in Free Agency
There isn’t anyone on the 49ers free agent list that’s worth resigning, so give these men a laurel and hearty handshake and bid them farewell. Next, cast off the dead weight, starting at the linebacker position.
The trophy for winning the off-season is not seen in May. No sir. It is earned in December and January, when your team has been put through the regular season meat grinder and needs leadership.
Jed’s spoken ad nauseam about Bill Walsh. Oddly enough, Walsh is not Lazarus and will not return from the dead to coach the 49ers.
However, we can pay homage to the Ghost of Walsh by developing players. In 1979, when Walsh would have given his pinky finger for a solid secondary, he found Dwight Hicks. Hicks had only played three games with the Toronto Argonauts in 1978 but signed with the 49ers in 1979. Hicks ended up being a two-time All-Pro and mentored rookies Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson.
This will be a critical move if the 49ers injured reserve list again resembles a Civil War hospital. Talent simply does not come knocking on your door in the form of a singing candy gram. Find guys who are hungry, and you can foster to play in your system.
Do Not Draft Injured Players
One day, someone will write a book about the Era of Bad Feelings the 49ers just experienced, and hopefully, we’ll see a chapter on Trent Baalke’s draft strategy. While there’s no way to tell if a pick is going to be an all-pro or a washout, we do know that drafting players with missing knee ligaments has not proved to be a worthy strategy. Each pick matters and the 49ers are not in a position to take risks on injured rookies who may or may not make the 53-man roster.
First Play of the 2017 NFL Season
The last explosive play I remember the 49ers running was Colin Kaepernick’s 53-yard run against the Packers in the 2012 NFC Divisional game. The sun-cooked crowd at Levi’s Stadium, as well as fans at the R-Bar in Boise, ID, are famished for a huge play.
Open the 2017 season with something incredible. Run a flea-flicker that sends Torrey Smith on a vertical route. That first play is going to set the pace and the excitement level for the season, so don’t waste your time with some I-Right 96 Stretch nonsense.
Don’t Skimp on Coordinators
Jim O’Neil and Curtis Modkins were two below average coordinators and produced very little success for the 2016 49ers. Teams cannot expect to get championship results from coaches who do not climb out of the cellar. York, Lynch and Shanahan must come together and be willing to invest piles of cash into quality coordinators and assistants. It’s not to find a bargain on a coach from Cleveland and trot him out to the fans as some kind of defensive guru.
It is not the time for the 49ers to dwell in the paneled house at 4949 Centennial Boulevard while the franchise lies in ruin; come now, and let us build the franchise so we may no longer suffer derision.