House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

In defense of chaos as we are, the news that Lady Lisa DeBartolo, cousin of Prince Jed of York and daughter of the abdicated King Edward, decided to retweet and endorse a column by Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat urging (well, stamping his feet and demanding, really) that Prince Jed renounce the throne of Ninervania for having driven it into its current Ottoman Empire-level status.

Under normal circumstances, such an odd demand would fall on deaf ears, as not even the dimmest of dairy farmers would willingly walk on a multi-million-dollar cash cow. In fact, the idea would be derided as ridiculous.

But in this case, Cohn’s piece smoked out Princess Lisa’s dissatisfaction with the prince and even the line of succession, thus revealing a long-rumored rift in the House Of DeBartolo (which is Italian for DeBartolo). Evidently Prince Jed has been a bit imperious with the outer edges of the palace court, and as this is a totally modern-day royal house, conscientious objectors start a revolution with Twitter.

In other words, it’s cheap Shakespeare without a rooting interest, or fun-filled blood splash. And all it really does is tell us that the family is no longer capable of keeping its business from leaking into the street.

None of which puts Prince Jed’s crown, or the head beneath it, in jeopardy, as he won the crown from his father King John, who had won it from Queen Denise, who had won it from King Edward after he lost the famous War Of Louisiana despite an alliance with the former Duke Edward of Edwards.

But it does mean that we now can see that the royal house is showing its tatters, and the queen’s discomfort is as profound as that of Helen Mirren’s in the underrated movie “The Queen.”

And who doesn’t love a bit of messy and even degrading palace intrigue?

See? The beauty of chaos.

The problem, of course, is that the rivals to the throne really aren’t rivals at all. Queen Denise ousted King Edward in a bloodless yet delightfully vindictive coup more than 20 years ago, and maintains a stranglehold on Ninervania and the shiny new palace that is its nerve center. Neither Princess Lisa nor King Edward has the army to muster to take the palace, and in all likelihood has only seen to it that their likenesses will be removed from the great hall and family photos will be dramatically redone by Michael Zagaris, the Hans Holbein The Younger of the Yorks.

But the nation shall not have new leaders (nor is there any guarantee that Princess Lisa is any better positioned to fix the problems than Prince Jed), as old King Edward is still mostly a very interested outsider at best. Queen Denise, whose pathological need for privacy has been blown to Smithereens (one of the smaller duchies of Ninervania), will defend her son’s lands and properties with an increased fierceness, and she is considered a most implacable enemy.

In other words, you throw shade on the boy, and she’ll show you your spleen on Christmas morning and sleep the sleep of the joyful that very night.

But it is fun to speculate on how dirty this fight could get in the interim. The National Football League is an alliance of royal houses, and though there has been no evidence of treaties through marriage, there is a growing trend toward direct inheritance as the way to power.

The last really good in-house coup before Ninervania was in Ramistan, when Prince Steve Rosenbloom lost a power struggle to Queen Georgia of Frontiere, who had risen to the throne by surviving King Carroll of Rosenbloom, her husband in a morganatic marriage. A similar scenario has played in New Orleans, the place where King Edward lost his power base, where King Thomas of Benson undermined his children and left the kingdom in the hands of his third royal consort, Queen Gayle.

In short, Princess Lisa shot her Internetic yap off to no useful end, but Christmas will now include a battery of royal food testers, because you never know when a malicious gnocchi will turn up on someone’s plate.

And we have embellished that last vision for purposes of plot development.

But there is this much good news: Colin Kaepernick is no longer the biggest spike in Prince Jed’s leathern hide. In other words, “Party Down, Yorks. It’s On Now.”

And no cheerier words for a fan of chaos can be uttered.

Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in


Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in

The 49ers concluded the first wave of the free-agent signing period with the signings of players to fill the team’s biggest offseason needs.

--Cornerback. Aqib Talib would have been the answer in a trade with the Denver Broncos, but he wanted to play elsewhere. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Richard Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks cut a day earlier.

--Interior offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was the player the team had rated as their top target in free agency, and they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal.

--Running back. The team decided Jerick McKinnon was a better fit than Carlos Hyde. They wrapped him up with a four-year contract.

--Edge rusher. Lacking many options in free agency, the 49ers signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract in hopes he will earn a spot on the team and make a contribution at the “Leo” position.

The 49ers can still use more help at a number of different positions, including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker and edge rusher. While the 49ers might add some role players in the second wave of free agency, most of the major acquisitions at this point are likely to come in the draft.

On the 49ers Insider Podcast, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters addressed what positions he believes are strong in this year’s draft.

“I think running backs, absolutely. It’s a deep position,” Peters said. “Quarterbacks at the top is deeper than it was last year. Secondary, corners, it’s not deeper than it was last year, but it’s a strong class of corners. Those are the main ones. The offensive line class is a little better than last year, too.”

The 49ers got major contributions from their rookie class last season. Tight end George Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Solomom Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Adrian Colbert each played more than 300 snaps.

The 49ers feel good about Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, as a starter with Sherman on the other side. Peters said a lot of the team’s rookies played larger roles than expected in 2017, but Witherspoon might have been at the top of the list.

“I don’t think he was active for the first four games,” Peters said of Witherspoon. “And he ended up playing at a high level at the end. Really driven, conscientious player who wants to be great. 

"We were lucky we got a chance to play a lot of rookies because that’ll help us moving forward.”

Shanahan sees versatile McKinnon as piece that was missing from 49ers' offense


Shanahan sees versatile McKinnon as piece that was missing from 49ers' offense

The player Kyle Shanahan studied on video was a lot better than the player he saw on the stat sheet.

The 49ers coach said he places a lot more emphasis on how he projects a player in his offense than what the player did with his former team.

And that is why the 49ers placed a large priority on signing former Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnonon the first day of the free-agent signing period. McKinnon comes to the 49ers on a four-year, $30 million contract with $11.7 million guaranteed.

McKinnon's stats might not suggest he is anywhere near a top running back in the NFL, but Shanahan sees it differently. And that is why the 49ers opted to pursue McKinnon instead of Carlos Hyde.

“I don’t know the numbers until I like the guy,” Shanahan said. “I always watch the guy first, and turn on the tape and get lost in it for a while. There were so many things I liked about him, visualizing how we would use him and stuff he would do. And even though there wasn’t a ton of it, you still got to see him do some stuff that we do a lot. Where he did it, he excelled a ton and was very good at it.

“Eventually, I look at the numbers and it did surprise me. Then you go back and you try to see why. I’m not going to get into all the whys, but I know all the stuff we liked about him, we cut up those numbers. I think they would’ve been good numbers.”

In four NFL seasons as a part-time player, McKinnon (5-9, 205), averaged 4.0 yards per rushing attempt. The past two years, he gained 539 and 570 yards with rushing averages of just 3.4 and 3.8 yards.

Hyde (6-foot, 230) is a bigger back with more production in his career. He rushed for 988 and 938 yards in 2016 and ’17 with averages of 4.6 and 3.9 yards.

Shanahan said he looked at every player who was available, and McKinnon was the player he evaluated to be the best of all the free agents. Shanahan has long valued running backs who are versatile in the run and pass games with an ability to make defenders miss.

“A good run is when you get more yards than what it was blocked for,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes, runs are blocked for negative 1 (yard) and the best run in the game was a 1-yard carry.

“Sometimes the one that most people could do is a 60-yarder because it was a busted coverage or a busted front and nobody was there. Numbers do tell stuff, but it’s never an absolute."

The 49ers signed McKinnon to be the starting running back with Matt Breida likely mixing into the action. The 49ers could also be in the market to add to the competition and depth through the draft.

Shanahan is likely to deploy multiple players, just as he did successfully with Atlanta Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. McKinnon is expected to take Freeman’s role. In each of Shanahan’s two seasons as Falcons offensive coordinator, Freeman accounted for more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage. He rushed for 1,056 and 1,079 yards while catching 578 and 462 yards in passes.

“I’m just excited to be in the offense that I feel is a perfect fit for me,” McKinnon said on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

“Things that coach Shanahan has done with the backs like he did in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, I see myself doing those kinds of things. For me, I feel like the scheme is right. The fit was just perfect for me. I feel like I can’t be in a better situation as a player.”

Shanahan said he liked McKinnon as a draft prospect in 2014 out of Georgia Southern but it was more difficult to evaluate him because he mostly played quarterback in college.

But in studying McKinnon while with the Vikings, he saw a runner who has speed and elusiveness while also exhibiting the strength to break arm tackles. He set the record at the NFL Scouting Combine for running backs with 32 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press in 2014. But McKinnon's best asset might be his ability to be a factor in the passing game in blitz pickup, while also being a dependable receiver out of the backfield or in the slot.

“When it comes to separating and beating linebackers and safeties in man-to-man coverage, I definitely think he’s an issue for teams,” Shanahan said. “I think this league, when it comes to third downs and things like that, you move the chains based off of matchups, which allows you to get points in the long run. I think Jerick is very versatile and we can do a lot of things with him.

“He’s good enough to make it as a runner alone in this league. He’s good enough to make it in the pass game as just a third down threat alone, but when you can do both of those, it gives you a lot of freedom as a coach.”