49ers' fanbase proclaims Kaepernick the Baby Jesus


49ers' fanbase proclaims Kaepernick the Baby Jesus

Well, you have to hand it to 49er fans, you really do. In these perilous economic and geopolitical times, with global disaster through magnetic shifts just around the corner and the nine counties doused in rain, they still have to ability to leap with both feet down the rabbit hole that is Colin Kaepernick.As in, and you know youve thought this, Ive seen enough. Hes the Baby Jesus, and its Christmas morning. I dont need to know any more.RELATED: Ratto -- For SF, this is a full-blown QB controversy
Of course, youre wrong. You do need to know more. Thats the whole point of not leaping to any extraordinary conclusions based on limited sample size. Thats how teams get stuck with Matt Cassel, and Kevin Kolb, and Matt Flynn by jumping to conclusions.But off one game, one impressive, even lopsided game against a quarterback-less Chicago team whose own resume is fattened by wins over bad teams and losses to good ones, you want the quarterback position decided for good, and in Kaepernicks favor. You dont want, or need, to know any more.Well, pride goeth before Shaun Hill, I suppose.This defense of the short-attention span is remarkable, even for 49er fans who understand how the traditional quarterback controversy really works. And in truth, it isnt even that as much as it the desperate need to see something new even if the something old (Alex Smith) has been perfectly fine.But for a fan base that has been eating its young at quarterback for decades, its to be expected. One game is plenty, and in fact is more than enough evidence to make sweeping pronouncements about the long-term future of the position.Do you not see the madness of that position? How much more Blaine Gabbert, Mark Sanchez and, yes, Tim Tebow, do you need to see before you realize that jumping to conclusions usually results in a high ankle sprain?This is not to defend Smith as the once and forever quarterback. This is also not to denigrate Kaepernick. The facts are the facts. The problem, though, is that there arent enough of them, no matter how sure you say you are.Kaepernick has now played essentially two full games in the NFL when you total all the plays in which he has participated yes, even the modified wildcat plays in which he was used as another running back. Two. How is that enough information to make such a sweeping judgment?Heres how. If Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree come out and say, We want Kaepernick because we can do more. If Jim Harbaugh says, Ive been lying about Alex Smith all along. If Smith says, I am not worthy. I hereby resign.Or if Jed York decides hes rather spend the rest of his life as Jerry Jones.Since none of these conditions exist today, does it not make more sense to (a) let events dictate the course of action and (b) keep ones powder dry until more information has been generated?The answer for the 49ers is yes. Is Kaepernick the obvious choice to deal with a resurgent New Orleans team in the Superdome? No, because very few quarterbacks make that work. He may play Sunday because Smith still hasnt navigated the concussion protocols, and he may even play because Harbaugh is playing the hot hand, but neither of these are guarantees that he will play well.And for those of you who just plain hate Smith as a quarterback, you still dont have enough data today to know for sure that Kaepernick is definitively better. You dont. And if you think you do, then you dont know as much about football as you think you do.The solution to your conundrum then? Do the one thing none of us are comfortable doing wait. We like the snap judgment, knowing that the snap judgment is often wrong, because we want to say we called our shot. We want to pretend our understanding of a sport is so keen and so precise that it exceeds those of the wisest professionals, which is of course madness. We dont have that gift. Hell, most coaches and general managers dont have that gift, which is why so few teams win year after year.So yes, Colin Kaepernick had a hell of a game, and yes, the groundswell rises for his ascension into the fulltime job.But groundswells are just polls, not facts. If you think you have enough data, you dont have enough data. I mean, you want a rookie quarterback in experiential terms to win you a Super Bowl, which is daft enough.But if that cant cool your jets, consider this. A TV host with a bad case of the Tebows on a noted sports channels morning screaming sportswriter show says he has enough information to proclaim Kaepernick a superior quarterback. That ought to cool your engine for awhile.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’


How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.