Maiocco: Skepticism surrounds 49ers' approach


Maiocco: Skepticism surrounds 49ers' approach

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SANTA CLARA -- In the first five days of NFL free agency, the 49ers did nothing to excite their fan base.Oh, sure, there was the flirtation with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, widely considered the top free-agent on the market. But the 49ers bowed out of that competition, which the aggressive Philadelphia Eagles ultimately won.NEWS: Eagles land Nnamdi
The 49ers have holes on their roster at virtually every position. General manager Trent Baalke knows that as well as anyone. But, he said, it's all part of the plan."We went into this year with some needs, and we still feel confident we can address them -- but maybe not at the rate some people would've hoped we'd done so," Baalke said Saturday after the 49ers' second practice of training camp. The 49ers lost starting center David Baas to the New York Giants. They have yet to secure a replacement -- though the 49ers might be close to landing Chicago Bears free-agent Olin Kreutz.
The 49ers released cornerback Nate Clements, who immediately found a new home with the Cincinnati Bengals. They have yet to secure a replacement.NEWS: 49ers officially cut ties with Clements
The 49ers are expected to be without receiver Michael Crabtree for all of training camp. At least they've lined up a visit with a potential replacement.Plaxico Burress, who has not played since 2008, was scheduled arrive in the Bay Area on Saturday night to meet with coach Jim Harbaugh and team officials.The 49ers are in the market for a safety with Dashon Goldson testing the free-agency.Baalke is not letting anyone see him sweat."Every organization has their own approach to this," Baalke said. "There's going to be years when we are ultra-aggressive. But this isn't one of them. We have a plan, and we're going to execute it."Running back Frank Gore is not a free agent, but he's asking for a new contract, too. Gore skipped the first three days of training camp in hopes his holdout will lead to a deal that extends beyond the upcoming season."I don't think it caught anybody by surprise," Baalke said. "Certainly we'd like to Frank here. He's not here, so the only thing we can do is move forward and get the other guys ready to play."And that's the approach 49ers new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has taken, too.The 49ers have already lost Clements and Takeo Spikes. It appears unlikely the 49ers will re-sign Aubrayo Franklin or outside linebacker Manny Lawson. Franklin's fate appeared sealed after the club paid Ray McDonald a five-year, 20 million contract. McDonald is slated to start at left defensive end, with Isaac Sopoaga moving to take Franklin spot at nose tackle.And Fangio did not seem too confident that Goldson would return, either."We got a lot of jobs open," Fangio said. "As it looks now, five starters from last year's team are not here and don't look promising for them to be here. That's a whole new defense right there."Baalke said he and Harbaugh do not consider this a rebuilding project."We're here to win football games," he said.RELATED: Harbaugh: 49ers 'working hard' at free agency
But Baalke's words certainly are not going to convince a fan base that would like to see the 49ers add some quality players while there are still some quality players to be found.The 49ers have not experienced a winning season since 2002, so there is plenty of reason to be skeptical about the 49ers' approach."I understand it," Baalke said. "It's tough for the fans to hear us saying, 'We're going to take a patient approach' when we've had as many seasons as we've had and not make the playoffs. That's understandable."We are going to be patient. We have been patient. We do have a plan. We're executing the plan. The only thing that's going to tell is the test of time. And how successful this plan is will be measured by how successful we are on the field."

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”