Niners Race For The Number One Pick
By Ryan Anderson
This summer the 2018 San Francisco 49ers looked like a newly restored cherry red ‘64 Ford Mustang Convertible when it rolled out of the shop. Almost as soon as it hit the freeway a tire went flat, it blew a piston through the hood and, for some reason, the trunk caught on fire.
This isn’t the sort of car wreck a rubbernecker can look away from, it is the sort that causes one to shake his head and sigh, “How?” The crash and burn of the 2018 49ers has been well documented and at this point it is best to look to the greener pastures of 2019.
On the brighter side, this all but guarantees the 49ers a top three pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Currently, the strength of schedule tiebreaker puts the 49ers atop Oakland for the number one spot.
Week 14- vs. Broncos
Week 15- vs. Seahawks
Week 16- vs. Bears
Week 17- at Rams
San Francisco’s remaining games are all against teams that are in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs or are jockeying for a better seed; Broncos, Seahawks, Bears, Rams. In all likelihood, the 49ers will finish the season 2-14.
Denver has been on a tear beating their last three opponents, including the playoff-bound Steelers and Chargers. The 49ers are standing in the way of Denver’s playoff hopes and they will likely run right over the ailing 49ers.
Seattle is in a similar situation; winning their last three games, looking more and more dominant, and needing a win to stay in the hunt for a wildcard spot. In Week 13, Seattle walloped the 49ers and look to do the same in Week 15 as well.
The Bears lost in overtime to the New York Giants in Week 13, but Chicago is the 49ers worst nightmare. Look for their dominant defense to rip into whichever backup quarterback is led to the slaughter. The Bears have amassed 37 sacks and a league-leading 21 interceptions.
On paper, the last game looks like another shellacking, but the Rams may be in the position to rest their starters before going into the playoffs. Although, with the Saints breathing down their neck, only one loss behind and holding a tie-breaking victory, the Rams should be looking to solidify their top seed by running the table and beating the 49ers in Week 17.
There are a few set pieces on the 49ers offense that help to narrow the focus. Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon are seemingly locked into their positions and the offensive line is solid. George Kittle has emerged as a playmaker and future mainstay at tight end.
The offensive woes can be traced to the receiving core. The two starting receivers, Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin combined have 268 fewer yards and 21 fewer catches than Kittle alone. Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis have shown promise, but their inexperience has been apparent throughout the season too.
The 49ers defense is bad, there isn’t a better way to frame it. Several draft picks have not developed into the elite talent as the team had hoped coming out of college. Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and Ahkello Witherspoon to name a few.
There are many things to fix on the 49ers defense, chiefly the lack of a dynamic playmaker. San Francisco has only created 5 turnovers and lacks the ability to put pressure on the QB with only 29 sacks so far this season. The secondary is another culprit of the team’s struggles on defense as well.
49ers Top Draft Prospects
Nick Bosa, Edge Rusher (Ohio State)
No surprises here. Nick Bosa is at the top of just about every mock draft. He is projected to be an instant high-level contributor. Not only would the 49ers benefit from having an elite playmaker on defense, but it would allow them the flexibility to trade Thomas or Armstead for a competent cornerback or wide receiver.
Greedy Williams, Cornerback (LSU)
Shoring up the secondary may be a tide that raises all ships for the 49ers. Of course, cornerback is an immediate need for the 49ers, but it will also allow the pass rushers more time to get to the quarterback.
Greedy Williams also has the potential to create turnovers. He hauled in 8 interceptions in 24 games with LSU. Williams is 6-foot-2 and fast with a projected sub 4.5 40-time projected at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He can keep up with quick receivers and close a gap if they shake him. Athletically he makes for a good cornerback, but what sets him apart are the intangibles. He is mature, shows good leadership and has a grasp of the mental aspects of the game. He would be a good fit to pair with the veteran Sherman.
Could The 49ers Trade The First Pick?
John Lynch is no stranger to making big headlines and even bigger moves. Both Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. have expressed displeasure in their current roles with their respective teams and either the Steelers or Giants could benefit from drafting Bosa.
The 49ers could trade the top pick to get a big-time receiver and solidify them as an offensive powerhouse. A down the field threat would open up the field for the young receiving core as well as add an easy target for Garoppolo.
Raiders Race For The Number One Pick
By Chris Spinks
The return of the Prodigal Son – Jon Gruden has been the catalyst for a horrible season in Oakland. The Raiders, currently 2-10, have had so much go wrong this season. The Gruden way is taking some getting used to.
Raiders fans have sat through a tumultuous season in which their best defensive and offensive players have been traded away. Their team has looked disheveled and confused by the Gruden process. They lack effort and drive and are frankly lucky to have two wins on the board.
There has been infighting, backstabbing, and players turning on their embattled quarterback for allegedly crying after a hit during a loss to the Seahawks. There have also been plenty of injuries that have contributed to this drop in the team’s performance.
There have been signs of great things from the team during this time too. Take last week against the high-flying Chiefs. If Carr is let loose, he is capable of piling on the points. This is the leader they want to see.
Week 14- vs. Steelers
Week 15- at Bengals
Week 16- vs. Broncos
Week 17- at Chiefs
What is remarkable about this game against Pittsburgh is Ben Roethlisberger has beaten every AFC team on the road except for the Raiders during his career. Will this finally be the game? The Steelers are looking to secure a playoff berth and should account for the Raiders in this one.
The Bengals are on a four-game losing streak heading into Week 14 and have seen their season turn for the worst. They’ve lost starting quarterback Andy Dalton and star receiver A.J. Green for the season. Yet the Raiders will have to deal with the travel and the elements of Cincinnati in December to come out with a win.
The Broncos are still in the hunt for a wildcard berth and could be the third team to come out of the AFC West if they continue to string wins together. They have a solid defense and a QB who is willing to chance his arm. Broncos will get the win in this one.
Despite the surprise performance in Week 13 against the Raiders, the Chiefs won’t be shocked again. Expect them to do their homework and get a win heading into the playoffs.
The trade of Amari Cooper to Dallas and Khalil Mack to Chicago means the Raiders will have three picks in the opening round of the 2019 draft. Their first pick will be very early on, but the remaining two will be in the mid-to-latter part of the first round depending on where the Cowboys and Bears finish the season.
The Raiders need players across a bevy of positions. They have enough offensive weapons on the roster to consider not taking one in the draft at all. The main needs are on the offensive line, linebacker, cornerback, and safety.
Carr has been sacked 38 times through 12 games thus far. This is not good enough. He needs protection in front of him. They are also lacking an edge rusher on defense. A player who can put pressure on the opposition QB.
They are struggling to find consistency in the cornerback role making the defense a huge problem. If the defense cannot cover receivers downfield for long enough, it will leak touchdowns all day. A safety will help with this role as well.
Raiders Top Draft Prospects
Nick Bosa, Edge Rusher (Ohio State)
Nick Bosa is likely the best player in the 2019 Draft. He has torched offenses when he has been on the field in college and will be a weapon for anyone to have on their team. He is in the same mold as Mack and will command respect. He will be a younger version of Mack. He would suit this Raiders team perfectly.
Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle (Alabama)
Jonah Williams has had an incredible season and will probably go in the top three picks of the Draft. Like Bosa, he would fit perfectly into the Raiders team. His power and strength to hold a man back will help to protect Derek Carr, giving him more time with the football.
Could The Raiders Draft A QB?
The relationship between Carr and Gruden is a strange one. One week they are best buddies, the next Carr is rumored to be on chopping block.
Any trade away from Oakland needs to result in at least one first round pick and potentially more. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals need a quarterback and could be good fits for Carr.
Justin Hebert, Quarterback (Oregon)
Justin Herbert could be the best quarterback available if he decides to enter the draft. At 6-foot-6 and 233 pounds, he is a huge presence on the football field and has led Oregon towards a great season. He has thrown for almost 3,000 yards through 12 games, with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He would make a great addition to the Raiders if the stars align just right.
This would give Gruden a player to mold over his 10 years in charge of the franchise. Despite the relationship between Gruden and Carr, this would be a very astute move from the coaching staff.