This Sunday night, the 49ers take their annual trip up the coast to Centurylink Field in the heart of Seattle. This game will be pivotal in deciding who will ultimately win the NFC West. However, there is much more on the line than just bragging rights and a 2-0 record, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have a little public wager on the game, with the losing QB having to shave one of their eyebrows.
Lets take a look at what could be some of the deciding factors in this west coast battle:
Kaepernick vs. the SEA pass rush:
Last week it was clear the Green Bay defense wanted to hit Kaep as much as they could, and it was met with little success. Even when putting a player out there to just focus on the run threat of Kaepernick, he was able to still get the necessary yardage when he had to make plays with his feet. It’s clear now that if you are forcing Kaep to be a pocket passer, he will burn you just as bad as if you let him run the read option all day. Will he throw for another 400+ yards? Unlikely, but he will definitely be the deciding factor for the Niners. If he can handle the pressure, and the O-line can hold off just long enough, the Niners have a great shot at winning this game.
Each team is lacking in receivers, so which fringe guys step up:
The Niners had Anquan Boldin step up in a major way last week, but now that Boldin will be a part of Seattle game plan, Kaep will have to find another under the radar guy to target. Vernon Davis is always a matchup nightmare, but given Pete Carroll, he will somehow figure out a way to at least slow him down at the line. I can see a guy like Kyle Williams being left in single coverage and having the chance to gain some major yards, but the Seahawks face a similar problem, with their true number one guy, Percy Harvin, out for a least a few more weeks. Does Doug Baldwin get close to 100 yards again? Not likely, but last week the SEA passing attack was fairly balanced against Caroina. Expect a similar start, of Wilson trying to spread the ball around, until he finds the soft spots in the defense. Niners need to keep their eye on Zach Miller, especially in the redzone.
A month after free agency opened up, Brandon Jennings finally found a new home: The Detroit Pistons. In a deal that will send point guard Brandon Knight to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons have completed their monster offseason overhaul and look poised to claim a top 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Bringing in Jennings could be beneficial to both parties, Detroit wanted to make the jump to relevance now, and Jennings clearly needed a change of scenery. Though B.J. doesn’t come without baggage.
Jennings has had quite the tumultuous career thus far, not even including his time he spent abroad before declaring for the draft. In 2011-12, he posted a 19-5.5-3.5, the best numbers of his career. He shot .418 from the field, a career best and .332 from beyond the arc that year, not great but acceptable. If he can simply match these numbers, with this new cast around him, the Pistons could be a potential matchup nightmare for the world champion Heat. The Heat have trouble against elite point guards and teams with a good interior presence. The Pistons have a gluttony of good big men now (Drummond, Monroe, and Smith), and now have Jennings to abuse Mario Chalmers and whoever else the Heat try to throw at the quick guard. Continue reading
Josh Smith to the Pistons
It’s Joe Dumars and an overpaid veteran, another Piston nightmare. But this time around, Joe may have gone all in on the right guy. A few years back, when the Pistons had loads of cap space, they spent it all on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, they have been in the lottery the entirety of the length of those contracts. This time however, Dumars is at least betting the house on a blue chipper, and Smith will be a veteran on a team of hungry, mostly unproven players. The strength of this Pistons squad will clearly be the front court (Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe), and PG Brandon Knight still has yet to hit his ceiling. While the 4 year, $54M contract may look like too much per year, it solidifies one of the best big man trio in the league and almost assures the Pistons of at least an 8 seed in 2014.
Iguodala to Warriors
The Golden State Warriors continue to build off their 2013 playoff success by acquiring elite defensive swingman, Andre Iguodala. His presence in the locker room should help develop young talent like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, while his slashing to rim should help bigs David Lee and Andrew Bogut get easy assists. Although the Warriors had to give up quite a bit of dead weight to acquire AND sign him to a large four-year deal, Iguodala did his part and took a slight pay cut to help the Warriors flexibility moving forward. Look for the Warriors to grab a top 4 seed in the West next year. Continue reading
The Giants have hit a slide of epic proportions. They stand to make an even worse title defense than they did in 2011, when they scored the least runs of any defending champion. As they sit now, the Giants are 10 games out of first place, and are currently on a 4 game losing streak, this season looks as bleak as ever and it may be time for GM Brian Sabean to start trading away their veterans. Although the Giants are notorious for never entering a ‘true rebuild’ mode, this could be the year they ship off a ton of assets with the hopes of restocking their minor league system.
While it may seem blasphemous to trade away the Golden Boy of the Giants, his value is the highest it’s been in years after his no-hitter earlier this month. Yes, his ERA is still high (4.61). Yes, his record is bad, 5-11, but he is still racking up strikeouts, and if whoever acquires Tim uses him correctly out of the bullpen, they could have an elite reliever on their hands. We saw how valuable Lincecum was in long and late relief in the playoffs last year, could he be doing that again this postseason for the Yankees, Tigers, or Pirates? The Giants wouldn’t demand a ton in return for him, Lincecum will have $7M left on his contract for whoever picks him up. How happy must Sabean and Baer be that they didn’t sign Lincecum to that $100M deal 2 off seasons ago, the Giants wouldn’t be able to offload that contract for at least another 2 years! Can you imagine another two years of Lincecum at close to $20M/year, getting a 4.5 ERA out of the deal? Bullet officially dodged. Continue reading
With NBA free agency beginning, lets take a look at some of the juiciest rumors:
Rajon Rondo to Detroit Pistons
This move could be greatly beneficial to both sides. The Celtics would likely take back Brandon Knight and some draft picks, which would definitely help with their goal of landing the number one pick in next years draft and the Pistons would finally have a nice trio to build around with Rondo-Drummond-Monroe.
Boston Celtics: Brandon Knight, Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph
Detroit Pistons: Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Kyle Singler, Peyton Siva, Rodney Stuckey
Spurs, Heat, and Cavs interested in Greg Oden
Even after not playing in an NBA game for over two and a half years, Greg Oden is still drawing interest from several quality NBA teams. He’s a skilled seven footer, but the only entire season he’s ever been healthy for was his freshman season in college. In 2007. Oden’s only played a grand total of 82 games over his short career and the whole scouting report on him these days are the health of his knees. He has value, no doubt, but this may be one of the rare situations where there is a non-guaranteed contract, or one filled with incentives based upon games played. If he were to be healthy, and ended up with the Heat, a three-peat wouldn’t be out of the question. Continue reading
With the recent rumors of Dwight Howard being interested in signing with the Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers, or Warriors, the radio and blogosphere have blown up trying to predict the ways the Warriors could potentially land the most coveted free agent of the summer. The Warriors have by far the most hoops to jump through the acquire Howard, some of which would weaken the roster and their overall elite three-point shooting, which would be the main reason Howard would want to play in the Bay Area.
The first obstacle standing in the Warriors way of acquiring the best big man in the game is having Howard’s assured desire to play in Oakland, and eventually San Francisco. Upon this confirmation, the Lakers would also have to be willing to do a sign and trade and give the best center in the world to one of its rival teams within the Pacific division.
Marcus Thompson II outlines a few more of the obstacles the Warriors currently face in getting Howard.
With the recent announcement that the legendary Jason Kidd was retiring from playing, it was assumed he will either take a job in the media (ESPN, or TNT) or an assistant coaching job with the prospects of becoming a head coach a few years down the road. Although he has expressed interest in becoming the Brooklyn Nets head coach, it is rare for players to step right into head coaching jobs. It’s the type of big splash move that Mikhail Prokhorov would love to make to keep his team in the headlines, but would be a huge risk, as Kidd is a virtual unknown in the coaching ranks.
The latest news coming out of the Nets camp is that Kidd impressed the front office with the way he spoke about what he could do with the team, but Brian Shaw is still considered a favorite to win the job.
While he may be offered an assistant coaching job with the New York Knicks (his final team), his friendship with Mark Jackson and his ties to Oakland may give the Warriors a chance to have the 2nd and 3rd all time assist leaders on the bench coaching Steph Curry.