NFL preseason feeds the beast


NFL preseason feeds the beast

And so, another largely pointless NFL preseason is about to end, another 65-game hamster wheel race that reveals next to nothing except our capacity for self-delusion when it comes to professional football.In other words, it all means something unless you dont want it to mean anything. Or it means nothing unless you want it to mean something. Neither matters as long as you keep tapping that vein.And yet, whats the alternative? Two more real games that serve mostly to keep people talking and increase the damage done to assets equipment . . . er, players bodies?Amazing, then, when you think of it. A month of valueless non-entertainment ends up being less valuable than two more games of time-bomb carnage, and the NFL wins either way. In fact, amazing doesnt even begin to cover it. Breathtaking comes closer to the truth. Yes, August is an important month for coaches who want answers to small questions and players on the fringe who are hoping to be those answers. But for the rest of America, at least the large segment that believes that any football at all is better than the best of anything else, this really is the shining monument to ones ability to want to be gulled.I once thought that the NFL was responsible for this morass of late summer nonsense, and maybe in a conspiratorial way it still is. In the last 10 years, it has performed a mind-meld with its customer base to convince that everything is hugely important even when the large percentage of it truly is not.Example: The Indianapolis combine. And dont even try to make an argument for it. Youre wrong, youve been wrong, and youll always be wrong. Its large young men in their underwear running, jumping and lifting heavy things, and thats all it is.But the practice game season has always been considered a joke to most folks that is, until we decided as a media-driven collective (providers and consumers alike) that trying to ferret out what is important from what isnt is not nearly as lucrative as throwing everything into the air, calling it all important and letting the blather fall where it may.In other words, feeding the beast. And not because there was a great demand for it from the customer, but because the technology allows us to make a bigger and more ravenous beast.The NFL didnt make this beast, but it saw what it could be when it was a mere beastlet. There was an information explosion coming, and the NFL leaped into the breach to convince people that it needed to be among the first in line to fill the crater.And so it is. And the proof is every August, and every time someone wants to engage in a discussion about which third-string quarterback would be a better fit for backup clipboard for Your Favorite Team. Twenty years ago, this debate either got you clocked in your favorite tavern, or got you your own end of the bar, away from everyone else.Now, you can get a spirited discussion on why the NFL blackout policy sucks in the preseason, even though no games are worth watching. Veterans now sit out entire preseasons without penalty, but everyone agrees that is prudent. Thus, we have games people want to see that are games veterans know are time-wasters. It is jaw-dropping.But after this weekend, mercifully, the worst month of the year will be over, and we can get down to the really important things that make the NFL what it is today.Namely, the five months of high speed collisions that will shape the events that help you prepare more comprehensively for the upcoming draft in April.And you could never truly have that with in 18-game regular season.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.