Archive for April, 2011

After making waves in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by trading up to select University of Nevada quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers GM, Trent Baalke, and HC, Jim Harbaugh, looked to add players with “versatility” in the later rounds.

The 49ers bolstered their roster with Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter and University of Southern California WR Ronald Johnson.  Both players look to bring added value to the offense and in the kick return game, fitting directly into the category that Baalke and Harbaugh are looking for.

The first of the two picks came in the 4th round when the 49ers selected Hunter.  A promising replacement pick for free agent Bryan Westbrook, Hunter adds some much needed depth behind the aging but still productive (and recently, oft-injured) Frank Gore.  A Big-12 Conference standout, Hunter finished fifth in conference history with 4,181 rushing yards, earning more yards rushing than former OSU Cowboy and Detroit Lions Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders.

Baalke said the 49ers envision Hunter as a “four-down contributor,” who gives the team another option in the kick return game.

In the 6th round the 49ers picked up a solid WR in Johnson.  The WR and Kick Returner looks to be a great fit for the team and should need little time getting comfortable with the coaching staff.  49ers WR’s coach, John Morton, was Johnson’s collegiate coach at USC.  Johnson is a good football player who’s potential has yet to be reached.  He stays low in his breaks, runs precise routes, plays with enthusiasm and should push Josh Morgan and Tedd Ginn for significant playing time early, both offensively and on special teams.

Johnson’s best day receiving for the 2010 season came against Washington when he hauled in 6 passes for 109 yards.  One of his more spectacular plays though came in a game against Hawaii when he fielded a punt, broke a tackle and raced down the sideline on his way to a 3 TD performance on the day.

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49er’s Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, offered his assessment of 2nd round draft choice Colin Kaepernick’s ability to succeed at the professional level.  In reference to what qualities he looks for in a quarterback, he said that Kaepernick had the ability to “figure things out and think [his] way to success; think [his] way to winning.”  Harbaugh was also emphatic when he proudly highlighted Kaepernick’s equally unique and impressive NCAA record holding statistic of being the only player in NCAA history to ever have over ten thousand (10,000) yards passing and over four thousand (4000) yards rushing in a career.

Harbaugh also delivered a strong message of what he expects from every player on the roster.  In his mind, the bar has been set.  Some of the workmanlike tenets consisted of what Harbaugh considers as the “ability and liscence” to reach the highest capabilities in pursuit of success.  “Guys will run on their own gas… its about earning your contributions,” stated the coach as he further outlined the mind set that he expects everyone in the organization to move forward with.  And, with the players specifically in mind, he insisted, “nothing is anointed… everything is earned.”

Here is a link to the entire press conference introducing Kaepernick, containing extended question and answer with Coach Harbaugh, also including his take on Alex Smith’s role on the team.  At the 11:17 mark Harbaugh explains what he expects from any 49er on the roster:

Colin-Kaepernick-Introduced-to-the-Media

In terms of playing to the capability approach, here is an excerpt from research in education:

Capability Approach (Sen, 1992) – Tripp, Rizzo, & Webbert (2007), “providing a strategy for creating a framework for long-term planning aimed at developing the maximum capability of each individual to pursue and achieve well-being (human right to pursue self-actualization).”

Here is the Wikipedia definition of the capability approach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capability_approach):

“The capability approach (also referred to as the capabilities approach) was initially conceived in the 1980s as an approach to welfare economics.[1] In this approach, Amartya Sen brought together a range of ideas that were hitherto excluded from (or inadequately formulated in) traditional approaches to the economics of welfare.

Initially Sen argued for five components in assessing capability:

  1. The importance of real freedoms in the assessment of a person’s advantage
  2. Individual differences in the ability to transform resources into valuable activities
  3. The multi-variate nature of activities giving rise to happiness
  4. A balance of materialistic and nonmaterialistic factors in evaluating human welfare
  5. Concern for the distribution of opportunities within society”

There is definitely correlation in Harbaugh’s thoughts and words between the capability approach seen in education and economics and the competitive environment in which he chooses to operate in – his realm.  Harbaugh seems to be scratching the surface in terms of capability.  Is this correlation a cause to Harbaugh’s desired affect?

Bill Walsh used to talk about the power of self-actualization, and he mentioned it in his pioneering book, Finding The Winning Edge.  In it, he emphasizes creating/facilitating an environment in which the people under his leadership were able to perform to their highest levels of human capability or reach their god given potential through pursuing a basic human right.  I highly recommend this book to any coach or manager that has entertained questions about leadership and success as well as anyone interested in learning more about running a professional football organization (nudge: current NFL ownership).

Overall, I like the outlook that Coach Harbaugh is bringing to the table.  He has a way of establishing a positive day-to-day mindset in the face of an uncertain economic climate – both macro (global), and micro (legal, business, professional), and getting those under his leadership to look unto themselves to find that which is within us all.  It always helps to stay upbeat, positive, and focused when you are attempting to lead an organization in “thinking its way to success.”

I am starting to like the idea of San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke and first-year HC Jim Harbaugh putting together a package to get a veteran QB who knows the west coast offense.  Kolb plays for Andy Reid who essentially runs Mike Holmgren’s version of the offense that extended the lore of the WCO with the 49ers in the late 1980’s.  Holmgren was Walsh’s quarterbacks coach from 1986-88 and then San Francisco’s offensive coordinator for three seasons after Walsh left following the ’88 Super Bowl season.  There are plenty of resources that will explain that the west coast offense essentially was born in the heart of the mid-west (from google: http://football.calsci.com/WCOHistory2.html), and I plan to post more articles concerning this topic as well.

Some Kolb Highlights:

With 4 teams selecting QB’s on day one of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Niners may see a window of opportunity with Kolb and the Eagles.  At least I can still say that I am excited about the new regime that Harbaugh and Baalke have instituted.  Now, if only those pesky details would work out so we can look forward to another NFL season.

UPDATE: From Pro Football Talk,  the owners have been granted a stay on the ruling to lift the lockout.

I’m guessing this played into the fact that the 49ers chose to jump up to the 35th pick in the draft to select Colin Kaepernick.  Here is a highlight clip of Kaepernick’s record setting NCAA football career – he is the only player in NCAA history to throw for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards.  In the words of his new coach, “it’s all about production.”:

Inspiring stuff.  For the die-hard 49er fans, lets hope he was born ready to play for S.F.

Seeing that the NFL will be holding its annual draft this year shrouded in uncertainty by the labor dispute between  ownership and players, NFL network front-man, Rich Eisen, was supplanted right in front of us on late night TV to try and peak some last minute interest and perhaps to do some collateral damage control.  And, if you haven’t been paying attention, the legal mess resulting from a greedy, “get-it-while-the-gettin-is-good” attitude from both the owners and the players has turned many fans away in utter disgust.  In this economic climate an agreement hinged on who gets more of a near 9 billion dollar pie seems to be a sticking point. I’m definitely no legal analyst but at some point you have to throw your hands up and think, “we are arguing over the difference of a few hundred million dollars here people.  Somehow, someway, we will find a way to be happy and continue our plight toward the American Dream while the rest of America goes down the toilet!”

Here is Rich Eisen trying to give the abridged version of the draft, labor dispute, and future of NFL football to a semi-unfarmiliar/uninformed/more important things to worry about audience: