The NFL changed the definition of the 'catch rule' again and it won't be the last time


The NFL changed the definition of the 'catch rule' again and it won't be the last time

I’m going to miss “surviving the ground.” I’m going to miss “completing the process,” too. But I won’t miss the way the NFL rules committee likes to use words to refine officials’ training. That, fortunately, will never end.

After all, I believe the NFL has been marching boldly toward creating a sport that the people who are paid to play it and pay to watch it do not understand, and that’s a level of chaos I can enjoy because if we know anything at all about the NFL, it is that it has three levels of problem-solving.

#1 -- Denying that a problem exists, and calling people who say it does know-nothings, morons and potentially liable in a lawsuit.

#2 -- Admitting a problem exists only after years of careful study in which it starts with the desired result and then tailors any fact-finding to reach that result.

#3 -- Implementing a solution that solves nothing, and in doing so either makes the original problem worse or replaces it with a more vexing problem.

In fact, vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said that very thing in explaining the plan to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske. “We worked backward,” he said. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule. Slight movement of the ball, it looks like we’ll reverse that. Going to the ground, it looks like that’s going to be eliminated. And we’ll go back to the old replay standard of reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable.”

Of course, Vincent was also required to explain why “surviving the ground” and “completing the process” made sense when those were introduced, so let’s move past all that to the real issue here.

Football is essentially ungovernable, and becoming more so with each additional year. Part of it is the dichotomy between making a violent game less violent without making it sufficiently less violent. Part of it is large, fast people being asked to play at full speed to strike smaller targets. Part of it is taking simple common sense as a judgment tool away from officials because at its heart, the decision-makers hate its officials and give them increasingly absurd things to adjudicate on the fly and then punish them when it can’t be done.

And part of it is old football coaches being asked to tailor their sport to meet the entertainment demands of a younger demographic that isn’t sitting still for a convoluted game that lasts three hours. This is another way of saying that football is slowly but surely being viewed by the younger generation as “your dad’s game,” and are going to basketball or e-sports or even no sports at all for their fun.

In other words, the league is trying to change a rule to address a rule that was introduced to change a rule to take judgment from people who are supposed to apply structure to a game that already had plenty of it.

So the catch rule will be changed yet again, and in two years the complaints about that rule will overwhelm the league again. We will go from "surviving the ground" to "mastering the air space" or someone equally nonsensical verbiage, and the idea of simplifying a rule book that is beating the game it explains across our skulls is simply beyond these guys.

Vallejo-native CC Sabathia explains why he won't draft 49ers players in fantasy football


Vallejo-native CC Sabathia explains why he won't draft 49ers players in fantasy football

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin could all be interesting fantasy football players during the 2018 season.

But Yankees pitcher and Vallejo-native CC Sabathia won't touch any of them in his fantasy football drafts, no matter how good they might be.

Why? He explained in an interview with Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

"When it comes to the money, I'll draft whoever. I don't care. Like, I'll draft Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs players, like, it don't matter...I won't draft 49ers though. There is a line and I won't draft any 49ers players," Sabathia said.

It all stems from Sabathia's love of the Raiders.

"I think I got into fantasy because the Raiders were really bad, because the first couple of years, I was like 'Nah, I'm not doing it, I can't root for other teams. I can only root for the Raiders, I can only draft Raiders.' And then when the Raiders got really bad, I'm like 'I need to watch football, so I just got into fantasy and now I'm locked into it," Sabathia said.

As for those 49ers offensive players with fantasy value, McKinnon has an Average Draft Position of 28.8 in standard Yahoo leagues. He's essentially a third-round pick. Garoppolo has an ADP of 65.8. Garcon's ADP is 97.6 while Goodwin's is 109.5.

Reunited with Kyle Shanahan, Alfred Morris sees an opportunity with 49ers

Reunited with Kyle Shanahan, Alfred Morris sees an opportunity with 49ers

HOUSTON – Veteran running back Alfred Morris sees an opening with the 49ers and he is ready to hit the hole.

He has a history with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Washington for Morris’ first two NFL seasons. Those also happened to be his best two NFL seasons, rushing for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Morris remained on the free-agent market for five months before agreeing this week to a veteran-minimum salary with the 49ers to be reunited with Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner.

“I was just waiting for an opportunity,” Morris said after joining his new team in Houston for the first of two joint practices with the Texans.

“Kyle called and said there’s an opportunity. ‘We’ll give you an opportunity to play and showcase what you can do.’ And I was like, ‘OK, that’s all I can ask for.’ ”

The 49ers signed Morris after injuries to Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida. McKinnon (calf strain) and Breida (separated shoulder) will not take part in any contact practices or play in any of the 49ers’ remaining three exhibition games. Both players are expected to be ready for opening of the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings.

On the surface, it appears Morris, 29, still faces an uphill climb to win a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster to open the season. Raheem Mostert, one of the 49ers’ top special-teams players, Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols and Jeff Wilson are also competing for jobs.

In addition to vast NFL experience and knowledge of Shanahan’s scheme, Morris (5-foot-11, 222 pounds) offers a more physical style of running than the other backs in camp. In six NFL seasons with Washington and Dallas, Morris has averaged 4.4 yards while rushing for 5,503 yards and 32 touchdowns.

“I am a different type of runner, a different type of build than the rest of the guys (with the 49ers),” he said. “I think I will be a complement to whatever they want to do. I just have to make the most of my opportunity and I’m sure I can find a spot on the team and be able to be used however they want to use me.”

“It’s going to be a process, but after the first day, I think it went very well,” Morris said. “They gave me some opportunities to get in there and get my feet wet. That’s good, because I need to get my legs back under me. Only football gets you ready for football.”