Here are the tackles taken in the first round over the past ten drafts.
#2 Greg Robinson , Auburn (Saint Louis Rams)
#6 Jake Matthews , Texas A&M (Atlanta Falcons)
#11 Taylor Lewan , Michigan (Tennessee Titans)
#19 Ja'Wuan James , Tennessee (Miami Dolphins)
#1 Eric Fisher , Central Michigan (Kansas City Chiefs)
#2 Luke Joeckel , Texas A&M (Jacksonville Jaguars)
#4 Lane Johnson , Oklahoma (Philadelphia Eagles)
#11 D. J. Fluker , Alabama (San Diego Chargers)
#19 Justin Pugh , Syracuse (New York Giants )
So how have teams like the Steelers and the Patriots maintained success over long periods of time while other - even well run - teams seem to be up and down?
How do guys like Justin Forsett, who prior to this season looked maybe slightly above average, suddenly start looking like stars?
Why do guys like Kevin Kolb look good in one place and then suddenly regress when they go to a new team?
The answer? It's the system.
Many teams (and probably most fans) follow the thinking that the secret to building a great team is as simple as going out and signing the best players. The problem with that, and even with drafting great players, is that at some point those guys can get expensive. And as we saw with last year's tackle market, the price all too often exceeds the quality.
Now, certainly nobody's interested in signing bad players, but the most successful teams are the ones that build effective systems that allow them to 'plug and play'. They sign guys who fit what they do more so than guys who just had great stats in a contract year.
The surest signs of a team like that? The before and after.
By 'before' I mean you see players that didn't seem like world beaters in their prior jobs suddenly come in and look great. Everyone starts saying "Wow, where did this guy come from?"
The 'after'? That's when you watch a guy who looked like a king clean up with a big contract elsewhere, then promptly go to his new team and suck. Then everyone starts saying "Man, what happened? He used to be good."
Andy Reid's a prime example of this. His offensive system can take a guy like Alex Smith and make him go from bust to boom. On defense, you have guys like Dick LeBeau who are still able to run effective defenses even as their teams let players walk for big contracts elsewhere.
I'm hoping that the next time we're looking for a head coach (which I'd like sooner rather than later) we pick someone who has an idea how to build a system that gives us the flexibility to let players just looking for huge paydays walk along with the ability to go 'next man up' and make it look seamless.
The question of course then becomes who might be able to do that.
As 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wraps up the fourth season of a five-year deal, it’s becoming more and more clear that he won’t be back in 2015. The goal for the current campaign was to set aside the looming divorce and to focus on getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it.
Now that the season has begun the process of slipping away with a home loss to a Seahawks team the 49ers will visit in 16 days, the 49ers soon will have to implement their plan for resolving their relationship with Harbaugh.
If the many (and largely unrefuted) reports of persistent dysfunction between Harbaugh and the front office are true, and if it’s now clear that the season has begun the process of disintegrating, the 49ers must decide whether to keep Harbaugh through the next four weeks and try to trade the final year of his contract — or to part ways now, elevate Jim Tomsula to head coach, and hope that the switch will spur the 49ers to run the table and earn a berth in the postseason. The notion of firing Harbaugh with games left seems beyond ludicrous on the surface, but only those inside the organization know the full extent of the four-year tug-of-war that has created a strong sense in league circles that the front office looks forward to the day he exits the building for good.
The frustrations that have lingered while the team has thrived could quickly rush to the surface, now that the season is starting to go off the rails. Even though the 49ers remain two games above .500, 7-5 isn’t good enough with the Eagles at 9-3, the Packers at 8-3, the Cowboys at 8-4, the Lions at 8-4, the Cardinals at 9-2, and the Seahawks at 8-4.
While it would be shocking for the 49ers to make a change, it’s impossible to rule out anything in the aftermath of the kind of outcome that proves to the 49ers and everyone else that this isn’t the team it had been in 2011, 2012, and 2013. If Tomsula is going to be considered for the head-coaching job in 2015 (and multiple league insiders believe he’ll have the inside track to succeed Harbaugh), why not give him a chance to get his feet wet now?
The only reason to stay the course would be to obtain draft picks from the Raiders or whoever else would be interested in making a run at Harbaugh. Only those inside the organization know whether it’s gotten so bad that they’d prefer to let Harbaugh walk away now than to tread through troubled waters for the next month.
There's enough speculation in this article to fill a room, and the notion of the Niners parting with Harbaugh mid-season sounds like something out of a fever dream.
That said, I think it'll be pretty interesting once we hit the offseason.
(good chance that starts a lot earlier than expected in San Francisco this year)
When you make a roster move like this on Thanksgiving, cutting a player who was playing well, at a position where the Colts could use help (and Pagano expected Purifoy back on Sunday), it absolutely seems like there's more to this than we currently know. Perhaps we'll find out later, but either way the Colts have waived Loucheiz Purifoy and signed Jalil Brown.
Given that this has all the signs of being a "non-football" cut, odds are he probably won't end up being a viable option.
Interesting story, though. At one time he was considered a prospect for a high pick. A linked story in the article discusses how he wound up falling.