Lewis Looks Like Odd Man Out


Lewis Looks Like Odd Man Out

Jan. 13, 2010Mychael Urban

Just got off a conference call featuring Aubrey Huff, Brian Sabean and Billy Bob Thornton's character from Slingblade I mean, Bruce Bochy.Interesting stuff on that call, and I'll get to some of what was said in a moment.It's something that wasn't said that grabbed my attention. A great many players were mentioned during the course of the 30-minute call, but not Fred Lewis.Lewis, whose star has fallen more quickly and dramatically than any player in recent Giants history, seems to be the odd man out after the offseason shuffle. A corresponding 40-man roster move to the Huff addition hasn't yet been announced, but Sabean said that a player will soon be designated for assignment (DFA). And while he didn't come close to hinting that it would be F-Lew, and a Giants source told me this morning that Lewis is not a DFA candidate, it was made clear on the call that Lewis isn't a candidate for much of anything in orange and black in 2010.

He's also out on minor-league options, so if Lewis doesn't make the team this spring -- if he's not traded or otherwise 86'd in the meantime -- he'll have to be placed on waivers.Amazing what a calendar year can do to a career. Lewis, you might remember, had a pretty nice season in 2008. He batted .282 with a .351 on-base percentage, 45 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bags. But he also made six errors in 112 games in left field for a fielding percentage under .970, and as one scouting report on him read heading into 2009, "there's not really any room for growth left in the 28-year-old."Nonetheless, the fan base seemed mildly enthused about Lewis going into last season. He'd seemed to establish himself as a player on the come, a guy on the verge of figuring it all out, a present and future lineup staple.Alas, after a decent April (.299 BA.420 OBP), he simply fell off the map, lost in a haze of bad at-bats, bad routes and more of the mental mistakes on the bases to which he was prone the year before. He put together a nice August (.412.524), but it was too little, too late -- as evidenced by the fact that he only got 34 at-bats for the month.So what happened? A Lewis apologist would say that Bochy gives up on his younger players too quickly, and Lewis is an example of such. Lewis detractors would point out that 28 isn't exactly young in baseball terms. Lewis turned 29 in December.What happened is that Lewis, somewhere along the line, lost his swagga. You could see it in his body language and on his face. You could even see it in his eyes, wraparound shades or not. And when you lose your confidence in professional sports, you're done. Is Fred Lewis done? Probably with the Giants. He certainly looks the part of a dynamic player -- chiseled frame and face, oozing athleticism. He just doesn't play the part very well anymore, and that's a little bit sad. Likable fella, F-Lew.But with Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Mark DeRosa, Andres Torres, Eugenio Velez, John Bowker and now Huff as outfield options, not to mention some near-ready prospects, the best F-Lew can hope for is a change of scenery.And that's all I have to say about that. Here's what else went down on the call Bochy said his 1-5 hitters will mirror what I suggested in yesterday's lineup blog: Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, Panda, Huff, DeRosa. He didn't go any deeper than that, but we know it'll be some permutation of Edgar Renteria, the right fielder and the catcher in front of the pitcher. Huff will play some left field and right field during camp, just in case, but he's essentially been penciled in as the starter at first base. There will be no platoon at first. Not sure what that means for Travis Ishikawa, but you can bet he'll be used a lot as a defensive replacement. Huff says he's better on D than his rep suggests. Said it's hard to shake that bad-D label, and he's right. The label isn't inaccurate, though. Sabean confirmed what I said on Chronicle Live on Monday: Sandoval has gained weight since being left to his own devices after CampOperation Panda and returning to Venezuela. Sabean said he isn't worried, though. Said Pablo is "serving many masters" as a baseball god in his home country but will be coming back soon to get back to work. Schierholtz is the front-runner in right field but not a lock. Bochy mentioned Bowker and said "it will be competitive." Uncle. Free Nate! Sabean reiterated that he's prepared to go into the season with Madison Bumgarner as the No. 5 starter and suggested that his priority now is getting another reliever. That sound you hear is me banging the Kiko Calero drum. Again. Still. And finally, Sabean backed off on hisLarry Baer's recent Posey's-our-guy stance, intimating that a glorified backup catcher remains a possible get. All together now: Zzzzzzzz.That's all for now, folks. Peace, collard greens and "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam to all --Mychael Urban

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."