Ratto: Culpepper interest says a lot to 49ers fans


Ratto: Culpepper interest says a lot to 49ers fans

Aug. 15, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
CSNBayArea.com Raise your hand, paw, claw or taloned wing if your idea of the next quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers was ever Daunte Culpepper.Go on. We can wait. You have until eternity.Yet there he is, an invitee of Jim Harbaugh at Mondays practice. Evidently the head coachchief mastermindsaver of quarterbacks souls suddenly decided that he didnt have enough alternatives to Alex Smith, and that he didnt need a whole lot of evidence to make that call.Sounds, frankly, like someone who learns by running into walls at top speed and then picks himself up so that he can hurry and look for the next wall. Comrade Maiocco, who knows more of the ways of 49erWorld than most, said it was obvious the 49ers would bring in some sort of veteran presence. Then again, one would ask, if it wasnt obvious well before this, and that maybe General Jimmy was a bit too reactive for a first-year man.Culpepper, you see, has been the free couch on the front of the lawn for a long time now. He hasnt played a down since 2009 since his contribution to the 2009 Lions, who went 2-14 and called it glory after going 0-16 the year before. His career, once loaded with promise, has collapsed, in part because of him, in part because of circumstances as is the case with most NFL career arcs. You almost never go when youre ready.Smith and Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, had just had their hats blocked good and proper by the New Orleans Saints Friday night, combining to go 11 of 26 for 117 yards and six sacks. The Saints are a good team that create lots of offensive blocking mismatches, and figured to do just that to the doe-eyed Smith and unfamiliar Kaepernick, and so they did.RELATED: 49ers bullied by Saints 24-3 in exhibition debut
But the more burdensome question for Harbaugh is why the veteran presence thing was such an insoluble problem for so long. He hasnt named an opening-game starter, which is prudent, and he may still believe to the depths of his soul in Smith (though we have always felt that was a position of convenience rather than conviction).But at a position that is so clearly unsettled, why was the veteran presence not more of a priority a lot sooner in the process? And never mind that, is the offensive line so unsettled that it becomes a saloon door the first time it is tested? Looks like Candlestick-sur-la-Mer is going to become the place where blitz packages go for a holiday.Few people expected a fix of this franchise quickly, and anyone who did is plainly nuts. Eight years of ossification, reluctance to outsource, bad ideas and worse ideas on top of those are hard to scrape away with a pretty new figurehead at the front of the ship. The safe, sane and sensible assumption is that the 49ers are not yet ready to be a player in the National Football Conference yet, and you can believe all you want, but you who do believe have also believed every one of the last eight years. You believed in Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, in the power of history and the power of new faces (say, like Jed Yorks). You believed through thin and thinner, and you believe because you are hard-wired to do so.And youre entitled to do that. You pay your fees, in ticket prices or by allegiance despite distance. You dont have to be there to be a fan, and the notion that you do is one of the great whopping lies of modern marketing.But none of that gets us any closer to Daunte Culpeppers Monday workout. If he doesnt do much, well, not much ventured and nothing gained. Hes not exactly an even-money bet here.But if he does, if hes suddenly part of the evolving quarterback plan, then Jim Harbaugh has some more explaining to do. And the more a coach has to explain, the less effective his explanations become. That was part of Singletarys downfall, and while he was entertaining, he flamed out pretty quickly by coaching standards (he ended up tied with Frank Kush and Bull Behman for games coached at 40, and we neednt push that analogy any further).So if Harbaugh is planning to serve his full 80, not including January work, hell have to get up to full speed even faster than he already was traveling. And Daunte Culpepper may be a small thing, but it says so much more in this town.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."