Posted: 5:46 p.m. Friday, June 28, 2013
By Steve Busichio
Here we stand, in the throes of the offseason. OTAs have ended, and now fans and talking heads eagerly await the beginning of training camp. Is the dearth of news hard to stand? Absolutely. However, at this stage in the offseason; it's best to not be making headlines.
One needs to look no further than the ongoing Aaron Hernandez trial. I'm sure the Patriots would love the news wires to be bare right now. If they were, they'd still have a top-flight tight end tandem. Instead, they just released a focal weapon of their offense, have to find a suitable replacement, and have to pray that Gronkowski recovers quickly from back surgery, all while deflecting questions about their much maligned former tight end.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, rookie linebacker Ausar Walcott has been charged with attempted murder after punching a man in the head outside of a gentleman's club in northern New Jersey. Walcott actually benefits from taking a backseat to the Hernandez debacle on a national level, but Walcott is still making headlines in Cleveland, where it matters most. In fact, as I write this story it's been reported that he has been released from the team.
The 49ers, however, have been as quiet as a church mouse (knock on wood) as July approaches. Outside of a couple Seahawks players expressing the desire to knock his head off and wring his neck, things are mute at 4949 Centennial Boulevard; and 49ers brass is likely just fine with that. There have been no off-field issues, no controversial statements made (which, in light of the Seahawks' taunting, is commendable and signifies the team's discipline), no reports of rookies looking vastly overwhelmed, and perhaps most importantly limited injury news since Crabtree's torn Achilles (let's knock on wood again).
The same could not be said a year ago. Aldon Smith caused panic and distress throughout 49ers constituencies after news broke that the premier pass rusher had been stabbed at a party he hosted. Thankfully, the injuries were minor and the incident was of little consequence in the long run, but it was a harrowing story and reflected poorly on the player and organization.
Just a month later, reports out of training camp disclosed that A.J. Jenkins was out of shape, getting man-handled in camp, and appeared wholly unprepared for life as an NFL wide receiver. I don't think there's enough space in this blog entry to detail the embarrassing offseason blunders of the Erickson/Nolan/Singletary eras. It was bad enough living through them; no need to revisit bad memories.
The bottom line is this: things should be quiet during this time in the season. Players like Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham, Tank Carradine, and a few others are on the mend, utilizing the down-time to get back to full strength. The coaching staff is evaluating its depth chart, offensive/defensive schemes, and analyzing other aspects of the team and upcoming season. So sit tight, 49ers Faithful. Witness the beauty of the Seahawks getting full of themselves, running their mouths, and further fueling the 49ers' motivation. Catch up on the progress being made at Levi's Stadium. Re-live some 49er highlights from last season. Soon enough, training camp fodder will commence and there will be plenty to talk about. In the mean time, enjoy this quiet lull in the offseason. It's the way things should be right now.