The San Francisco 49ers have had a relatively worrisome off-season thus far. Coming off a 12-4 season and a trip to the Conference Championship has this franchise in a good position after some struggles not too long ago. The 49ers possess a stifling defense and an offense led by up-and-coming quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league today. With veterans like Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, and Patrick Willis, many would have little trouble penciling them in as a primary threat to lift the Lombardi trophy. However, things are not always that simple when it comes to sports. Having talent is one thing, but managing it is a completely different task. Since their defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, it has been a busy couple of months for the 49ers. Here are some of the primary storylines and how they have went down:
Coach Jim Harbaugh Nearly Dealt to the Cleveland Browns
This was one that I, along with many other sports fans, had trouble coming to terms with. Harbaugh and the 49ers seemed to dance around the questions that arose when this story first broke from Pro Football Talk. The complete revival of the 49ers franchise is largely thanks to their coach, Jim Harbaugh. Since being hired after coaching Stanford, he has been critical to their success in leading them to three straight NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. The Browns would have obviously been another challenge for Harbaugh to fix, but there is no doubt they were interested in pursuing him. Cleveland released a statement shortly after they hired Mike Pettine: “The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options. That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine, and we’re excited about his future with the club.” Had this not happened and the Browns traded a slew of draft picks for Jim Harbaugh, then I think it would have been a huge mess for San Francisco. Even with this report coming out shortly after their season ended, it had to have shook up the locker room a bit.
Colin Kaepernick Investigation
First it’s a headline dealing with the head coach, and now just a couple of days ago, the star quarterback who is on the verge of signing a multi-year deal is a part of a sexual assault investigation. Could it get any worse for 49ers’ fans? This case is still in the early stages with facts being gathered, but is definitely troubling. 49ers receiver Quinton Patton was also said to be at the scene of the investigation. After the news went public, Kaepernick tweeted out that he had done nothing wrong in the situation at hand. Answers should start arising in the coming days, so it is premature to start making assumptions right now.
Aldon Smith Makes False Bomb Threat at LAX
In short, Smith was chosen for a secondary screening at Los Angeles International Airport due to possibly being intoxicated. It was at this time that the 49ers’ linebacker made a comment to a TSA agent claiming he had a bomb. “We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. The incident represents another off-the-field problem by the All-Pro linebacker. Smith has already been arrested twice for driving under the influence charges and currently faces three felony weapons charges. As with the Kaepernick case, there are still facts to come out of this case, but it isn’t a good sign for the NFC powerhouse.
All three of these cases have been big-time news for the 49ers, as they look to continue their dominance into this next season. However, the number of 49ers getting into trouble is definitely worrisome. Aldon Smith, Kaepernick, and Quinton Patton are just the ones getting the majority of attention. Demarcus Dobbs and Al Netter have both gotten DUI’s, with Dobbs’ one coming in late 2012 and Netter’s in early 2013. Cornerback Chris Culliver recently pleaded not guilty for misdemeanor charges stemming from a hit-and-run incident. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks also generated headlines when he hit former-teammate Lamar Divens with a beer bottle. This is just too long of a list of recent headlines for the wrong reasons that have troubled the 49ers. A veteran needs to step up and keep these guys in check, especially Aldon Smith.