Niners And Raiders News Today …

It certainly looks to me as if Jed York – the guy who runs the Niners’ football operation for his family that owns the team – has thrown the management version of a Hail Mary.  The team is a mess and the organization is a mess.  Since the time when Jim Harbaugh was forced out based on a personality incompatibility out there, the roster has suffered; the team has lost; they have hired and fired two coaches and fired the GM who survived the “Harbaugh-pogrom”.  Other than that, it has been smooth sailing for the Niners up and down San Francisco Bay.

Jed York just hired a new GM.  John Lynch went to Stanford; he was an outstanding safety in the NFL for 15 years making the Pro Bowl 9 times and being named first team All-Pro 2 times.  He retired from the NFL in 2008 and joined FOX Broadcasting as part of their NFL coverage.  He and Kevin Burkhardt served as the #2 FOX television announcing team for the past several years.  On the air, John Lynch is very good.

So, why is this a Hail Mary?  As good a player as John Lynch was – oh, by the way, do not be surprised to see him in the Hall of Fame as a defensive back; he was that good – and as good an analyst as he is on TV, John Lynch has never been an assistant coach, a coach or held any position in a football front office.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and he is starting his football management career at the top of an organization that might fairly be described as one that puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.

The Niners gave Lynch a 6-year contract as the GM.  That is also a bit unusual because of its length and it may demonstrate one of two things:

  1. Perhaps Jed York has had an epiphany and realizes the depth of the mess that has accumulated in SF.  Having seen the mess, he has come to understand that it will take a while for anyone to clean it out and put things in order.  [Aside:  One of the labors of Hercules was to clean out the Augean stables in a single day and he accomplished that by diverting a river bed through the stables.  That is mythology; the Niners’ mess may be similarly sized, but it is real and cannot be cleaned up in a day.]
  2. Perhaps Jed York could not get anyone with “significant GM credentials” to take the job and when he reached out to John Lynch, Lynch realized that he held all of the leverage and put the arm on York.  [Aside:  If this is correct, then maybe John Lynch has a real aptitude for the negotiation part of the GM’s job.]

The word is that Lynch will hire Kyle Shanahan to be the Niners’ coach as soon as Shanahan gets through with being the Falcons’ offensive coordinator this Sunday in Houston.  Kyle Shanahan has grown up in and around football and has been an offensive coordinator for three NFL teams.  He has not, however, been a head coach anywhere meaning that he and John Lynch will be learning the full measure of their new responsibilities together.

Hey, this might work out – just like Hail Marys sometimes work out, particularly if Aaron Rodgers is the one launching them.  On the other hand, this might turn out to be the West Coast version of a decision made by William Clay Ford in Detroit when he hired Matt Millen – an outstanding NFL linebacker – out of the broadcast booth to be the Lions’ GM.  I’ll just say that the Matt Millen experience in Detroit was less than positive.  If you want all of those gory details, Google is your friend…

As I said above, the Niners’ roster is substandard on the “talent spectrum” and the Lynch/Shanahan project will be to upgrade the talent level significantly and quickly.  However, over and above that generic situation, they need to figure out quickly if they have an NFL-caliber QB on the roster.  Here is the depth chart:

  1. Colin Kaepernick:  He took the Niners to a Super Bowl in February 2013 and his career arc since then has been steadily downward.
  2. Blaine Gabbert:  He had 3 undistinguished years in Jax and has been in SF for 3 seasons.  He has started 40 games in his career and the team record in those 40 games is 9-31.
  3. Christian Ponder:  He had 4 mediocre-at-best years with the Vikes from 2011-2014 and has not seen the field in an NFL game since then.
  4. Thad Lewis:  He has appeared in 7 games in his career and started 6 of those games.  The last time he was in a real NFL game was in late December 2013.

Meanwhile, the other Bay Area NFL team is also in the news.  As the Raiders have applied to the NFL for permission to relocate to Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports yesterday that the Adelson family has withdrawn as investors in the stadium project.  Originally, Sheldon Adelson had “pledged” to put $650M into the pot to build the stadium; earlier this month, the Raiders said that Goldman Sachs could provide financing for that $650M in the event that things could not be worked out with the Adelson family.

There are lots of moving parts to this story to include the NFL, the Raiders, Sheldon Adelson, the Governor of Nevada, the Clark County Commission Chairman, and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority.  For all I know, Francis the Talking Mule may become an actor in this saga.  Here is the report from the Review-Journal yesterday to give you an idea of the landscape at the moment.

I will try to follow this story in the Review-Journal for a several reasons:

  1. The paper has been steadfastly in favor of building a new stadium and getting the Raiders to move to Las Vegas.
  2. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is owned by Sheldon Adelson.
  3. With the Adelson family now “out of the deal”, I wonder if the paper’s unwavering favorable view of this venture will continue to obtain.

Finally, here is a comment form Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times about another happening in Las Vegas:

“A driverless shuttle is being tested in downtown Las Vegas.

“Apparently, they got the idea from watching the Houston Texans’ offense this season.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………


16 thoughts on “Niners And Raiders News Today …”

  1. That is one less fox in the hen house.

    It is a strange question:

    If the NFL needs the Oakland Raiders, and the City of Oakland needs the Oakland Raiders, what do the Oakland Raiders need?

    1. Tenacious P:

      The Raiders need a stadium that they need not share with a baseball team and one that does not back up sewage into the club houses/dugouts every once in a while. The “sticking point” here is that the NFL and the Raiders want someone other than the NFL and the Raiders to pay the lion’s share of the cost to build that new stadium – wherever that may be.

  2. Recalling that G-S was a key player in the 2008 financial meltdown, I would think that the Raiders would be well advised to tread carefully down this path. Indications are that the G-S management has only made li–service changes to their business model. Nonetheless, the withdrawal of Adelson does beg questions about the viability of the project (a domed stadium is absolutely needed there for the NFL start time constraints, unless they become a traveling team like the Duluth Eskimos) since I do not see a businessman of his caliber pursuing this for decades as he has just to drop it now when he has a team committing to come to town. I’d say it is 30-70 for a move, especially if a viable proposal comes out of Oakland.

    As far as the Niners go, questions are raised and other ones answered. One of the items making the rounds here is that Shanahan was the source of the lead to Lynch, which would tell me that that part of the team dynamic is going to function well. Shanahan has the 53-man roster, Lynch has the draft and the 90-man roster. However, what will Paraag and Jed be left to do? In the interview I heard Lynch sounded as if he would accept guidance from these two, which is the fundamental reason the No-ners are where they are now. Rumor has it that Lynch is more of a student of the game than Millen was, so perhaps the better archetype is John Elway. One good thing about former players is the assessment of the “compete / grit / gutcheck” intangible that separates combine / social media hotshots from the better NFL performers. This is an element that Jed and Paraag can never assess reliably because they have never “been there”.

    1. rugger9:

      The future home of the Raiders’ franchise is still very much an open question.

      I think a main difference between Lynch’s situation and Elway’s situation when he took over the Broncos is that Elway had a sound core of a team – but without a quarterback. Lynch also has a serious quarterback deficiency – but the rest of his roster is nothing like what Elway had when he arrived.

    1. David:

      I completely agree that Lynch is intelligent and insightful. I also think that he had better be a VERY quick study because the task at hand for him is a very big one.

  3. On a more general note about stadiums, it is a cinch that G-S will ensure they profit from the deal. However, I am once again reminded about the problems that arise when the revenue falls short of projections in such cases. The Raiders had it happen to them not long ago. Cal and Washington both have, and doubtless many other examples can be cited. The risk is pricing the fans out of the market and having to recover that revenue by other means.

    I think the NFL may be approaching a tipping point where fans aren’t willing to pay hundreds of dollars for nosebleed seats, plus parking (50 at Levi’s) and beer (10 at Levi’s) and assorted stadium fare especially if the current political climate creates an economic shock. That could mean contraction, followed by a tough time for all teams.

    1. rugger9:

      I am even less optimistic than you seem to be here. I do not think it is going to take an economic shock – politically created or not – to have fans look to spend their entertainment/discretionary dollars in different ways than paying outrageous prices for NFL stadium experiences. I think that is going to happen no matter what…

  4. I have to remember the “fun” in “dysfunctional” line. It seems to be especially appropriate right now.

    I suspect Kyle Shanahan may want to find some other source of fun in SF if he is indeed the new Niners coach. I checked their roster and, in addition to the absence of a QB, Julio Jones is not listed. Jones and Matt Ryan make Kyle’s offense in Atlanta look pretty special. It will interesting to see if he is still considered a genius in a couple of years.

    1. Well, in theory Lynch will have control of the draft (subject to Paraag and Jed’s meddling) based on input from Mr. Shanahan. The good news here for the Niners is that coach and GM should be on the same page for now (since KS did the outreach for Lynch).

      However, until the play of the O-line is fixed (Gabbert and Kap had to run for their lives too often) it will not matter what QB is there.

      1. rugger9:

        Agree about the O-Line needing a lot of “repair”. However, there are also plenty of holes on the defensive side of the ball and I doubt seriously that many folks would say the pass catchers for the Niners are of comparable ability to what Shanahan had at his command in Atlanta…

    2. Doug:

      Shanahan has had success before this year so I am willing to believe his system works – – with competent players. I feel the same way about Sean McVay in LA; his system worked well in DC but the Rams’ roster does not have the same player competence that the Skins’ roster has.

  5. Reported today in the San Jose Mercury News: Goldman Sachs pulled out of the LV stadium financing, so this is a dead duck unless someone else steps up that can drop a billion dollars to build the dome. Either that or the NFL will have to budge on game times, since I doubt late afternoon heat in Las Vegas meets safety standards that will be agreed to by the NFLPA.

    1. rugger9:

      I said somewhere else that this deal was not yet done and there were plenty of moving parts. This one surely provides a different vector-heading for the Raiders’ home field for the future…

  6. Adelson objected to the Raiders wanting full control of the stadium for their one dollar per year lease agreement. He bailed in a hurry.

    1. Rich:

      Jeez … I wonder why he took exception to that. You have to figure that someone who has amassed a net worth north of $20B would see that was a bad deal.

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