49ers

Bizarre first night of NFL Draft fit perfectly with the country’s general mood

Bizarre first night of NFL Draft fit perfectly with the country’s general mood

This was the NFL Draft that went off the road before the first pick and kept burrowing into the woods deeper and deeper until that special moment right after the Dallas pick when Rich Eisen yanked off his own head and shrieked, “I hadn’t prepared for this!”

Okay, that didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean Eisen wouldn’t have tried to do so if he thought it would help people stop booing Roger Goodell, but instead the entertainment was basically as a nation of draft junkies simultaneously wept and cursed for four hours.

Which is just as it should be – a festival of rage based on so many people realizing simultaneously that months of pretending to know things about football has turned out to be a colossal waste of time.

From the moment Cleveland decided to fight orthodoxy and take Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first selection, the day just got progressively weirder. USC quarterback Sam Darnold fell to the New York Jets. Cleveland jumped about 12 more coveted players to take Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Buffalo traded up to take double polarizing quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming.

And just when it looked like both the 49ers and Raiders would luck into the guys they wanted, Chicago stole Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith from San Francisco, and San Francisco stole Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey from Oakland, and Oakland frantically traded down so Arizona could have UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, who looked like he’d just been handed a sizzling hot pan with no handle. New Orleans traded two first round picks for Texas-San Antonio defensive tackle Marcus Davenport, and the Raiders ended up taking UCLA tackle Kolton Miller, who most folks thinks is a far cry from McGlinchey.

And then, because that wasn’t sufficiently bizarre, they traded their third pick to Pittsburgh for wide receiver Martavis Bryant

(For the record, nobody knows if McGlinchey or Miller will be 10-year starters or washouts, and projections on where they might fall on the scale will not happen here. Both John Lynch and Jon Gruden got players they hope will keep their high-priced quarterbacks safe and unjostled, so they did “address a need,” as the pundits say. Maybe that will help your moods).

And so it went. The first day of the annual Pavlovian recitation of names most people barely know that began with Goodell learning what commissioners should have known well before this – that even human shields cannot save you from yourself – ended with every draft pundit in America asking his or her editor if it would be permissible to give 26 teams “F” grades in their first nonsensical report card stories.

That is, except Baltimore, which traded up to 32 to get Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who should have been a first-rounder, and formerly paralyzed Steeler linebacker Ryan Shazier, who walked onto the stage to introduce the Pittsburgh pick at 28. Those were the feel-good moments, unless you feel good about Goodell being booed like Public Enemy No. 1.0.

Oh, a few teams won nods of tolerance for their safe and solid choices, like Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (New York Giants), or Darnold, or NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb (Denver), or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis).

And that, children and adults, is what the NFL Draft should be in these angry times – another vehicle to vent angrily about something they once loved. With every surprised guffaw, the TV boys exposed how off the rails this evening went, and the reactions everywhere else ran the gamut from “Well, maybe the general manager knows something we don’t” to “No, no they don’t.”

I will put it to you, then, that this was the right draft night for the country’s general mood. America has never been less satisfied with its place, and all human interactions seem to begin with a shaken fist and a guttural “Why I oughta . . .” Thus a draft where only a few fan bases got what they wanted and everyone else wanted a do-over seemed perfect.

Whether this can be blamed on Roger Goodell’s schadenfreude-soaked appearances or the Browns re-establishing their Brownsian bonafides is for others to decide, but it seems fair to say that this was not the thigh-slapping commode-hugging good time most folks thought Draft Night would deliver.

Except for Lamar Jackson and Ryan Shazier. If that’s your idea of good entertainment, and it should be.

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

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AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

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AP

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.