Friday, August 24, 2012

My Take on the 49ers 53 Man Roster

By Kalen Patrick

It is the time of year that players on the bubble of making a team fear the most. Competition is fierce in each and every play of practice. Some of these guys know this could be their last Training Camp, some of these guys will be in different parts of the country playing for different teams. Here at the Sports Cave we focus particularly on San Francisco Bay Area Teams. So lets now go ahead and I will give you guys a preview of what MY 49ers 53 man roster would look like.

QB - Alex Smith
        Colin Kaepernick
        Scott Tolzien

RB - Frank Gore
        Kendall Hunter
        LaMichael James
        Brandon Jacobs
FB -  Bruce Miller

WR - Michael Crabtree
         Mario Manningham
         Randy Moss
         Ted Ginn Jr
         Kyle Williams
         AJ Jenkins

TE - Vernon Davis
        Delanie Walker

OL - Joe Staley-Mike Iupati-Jonathan Goodwin-Alex Boone-Anthony Davis
         Jason Slowey-Leonard Davis-Chase Beeler-Daniel Kilgore

The Offense is very difficult when it comes down to the final cuts, some hard decisions for sure. The 49ers have a lot of depth at RB and WR, I managed to get in all of the offensive playmakers including Ted Ginn Jr who will primarily be the Returner for the 49ers. The hardest part is the Offensive Line, there is a lot of depth at the interior of the Line, should anything happen to any of the Guards or Center we are covered well. If Joe Staley or Anthony Davis go down, then Boone can take their spot and either Leonard Davis, Daniel Kilgore or Slowey can take Boone's spot.

DL - Ray McDonald-Isaac Sopoaga-Justin Smith
        Demarcus Dobbs-Ricky Jean Francois-Ian Williams-Will Tukuafu

LB - Ahmad Brooks-Patrick Willis-NaVorro Bowman-Aldon Smith
        Larry Grant-Parys Haralson-Tavares Gooden-Eric Bakhtiari

CB - Carlos Rogers                      S - Dashon Goldson
        Tarell Brown                             Donte Whitner
        Chris Culliver                            Trenton Robinson
        Perrish Cox                              CJ Spillman
        Tramaine Brock                        Colin Jones

The 49ers defense is stacked. All 11 starters return, plus there is great depth essentially all over the defense. Safety depth is a little worrying and most of the backups here are Special Team stars (Spillman and Jones in particular). Hard to beat the depth and talent at DL, LB and CB.

K - David Akers
P - Andy Lee
LS - Brian Jennings

Notes: Rookie LB Darius Fleming will be on IR. Rookies Cam Johnson, Chris Owusu and Joe Looney to the Practice Squad, along with 2nd year TE Konrad Reuland. Demarcus Dobbs versatility allows the 49ers to get away with only 2 TE's on the 53 man roster. Very solid team top to bottom and that about sums it up.

Over and Out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Analysis of the Giants Post-Melky

By Kalen Patrick

I want to piggy back on my last Post which was titled 'We CAN Win Without Melky'. Since the Melky Cabrera suspension the Giants have gone 5-2, including tonight's sweep of the Rival Dodgers. Obviously the biggest concern was going to be if the Giants could keep scoring without Melky's bat, but in the 7 games without him, the Giants have scored 37 runs, an average of 5.3 runs/game.

And where is this offense coming from? Well as I mentioned in my last post you gotta look to the guys who were brought here via trade that didn't come with much notoriety, Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan. Both have been hitting extremely well of late, Scutaro in 25 games with the Giants has 2 HR 18 RBI and a .337 BA. (If you extrapolated those numbers to equal an entire season, you're talking about 17 HR and 110 RBI, not too shabby.) Pagan has been great lately, especially in the first inning getting hits and helping to give the Giants early leads. He has hit .393 since the loss of Melky, if your leadoff guy is hitting like this then you are in great shape.

The rocks of the lineup have been great as usual, Posey and Sandoval have been knocking in runs like nobodies business. They are doing what they are expected to do which is great. The biggest surprise in my opinion has been Joaquin Arias who has done a great job of stepping up in the absence of Melky. I really can't expect him to keep hitting at this pace but it is great that he has helped carry the load and that's what the Giants needed bad.

Still the biggest disappointment has been Hunter Pence, his RBI numbers have been solid but besides that he isn't hitting and more importantly isn't hitting for power like the Giants wanted. His Slugging is a pathetic .313 which is lower than Ryan Theriot's who never hits for any kind of power.

The Giants did just Sweep the Dodgers IN LA facing the top end of their rotation and it certainly did seem like the Giants were in total control in this series. The Giants will need much more from Hunter Pence, because there is no way you can count on guys like Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Joaquin Arias to keep hitting like they have. I really do like the Giants chances especially with an improved Tim  Lincecum hitting the mound (4-3 3.11 ERA since the AS Break.)

Over and Out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Giants CAN Win Without Melky

By Kalen Patrick

Over the last few days there has been a lot of pessimism and "the season is over!" talk among Giants fans. Heck I was probably one of them when I first heard the news about the Melky Suspension. Now that it has sunk in and we are moving on from it, I still look at this Giants team and I still see a team that can Win and make the playoffs. Before I get in to the lineup, lets talk about the pitching.

The pitching is absolutely playoff caliber, even with the struggles of Tim Lincecum and the usual struggles for Barry Zito.Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong have been so good that it limits the damage the other 2 starters are doing. I know I have been saying this all season but if Timmy can pitch the rest of the season at a 3.5-4 ERA for the rest of his starts I will take that. Zito is Zito and if we get a Win when he takes the mound that is a huge positive. Lets not forget the bullpen cause those guys have been doing their jobs for the most part. Led by Romo, Affeldt, Casilla, Mijares and Lopez, it is very solid. Again definitely playoff caliber. Now lets get done to brass tax and talk about the lineup without the MelkMan.

The main guys replacing Melky are gonna be Gregor Blanco and Justin Christian. I have more faith in Blanco considering his amazing defense, and he isn't terrible at the plate either. Christian is still a big question mark in the majors. One of the most underrated trades of the season so far has been the trade the Giants pulled off to get Marco Scutaro. In the 20 games he has played with the Giants his line reads .330 BA .360 OBP 2 HR's and 18 RBI. Now that is production right there. Another great trade that gets forgotten is the one for Angel Pagan too, he has been very solid leading off for the Giants with a .283 BA .333 OBP and considering he usually leads off he solid production with 46 RBI and comes with some power hitting 7 HR's. The way I see the Giants lineup going forward you will have Pagan leading off with Scutaro batting 2nd.

Then you have the big boys of the lineup. I imagine Bochy will go regularly with Sandoval hitting 3rd, then Posey and then Pence. Both Panda and Posey just gotta keep doing what they are doing and that will be fine with me, I absolutely expect Hunter Pence to get hot soon. He had the big HR to essentially win the game against the Rockies a week ago, but realistically he needs to be better, he needs to be much better with regards to his Power and Average. Hitting only 1 HR in 16 games, batting .211 and his OBP at .250 is unacceptable. I think he can and will improve upon this by leaps and bounds, and the Giants need it in the worst way.

Brandon Belt is a guy who has come on lately, he has an impressive OBP of .361 which isn't bad considering his mid-season struggles. Belt should get better as the season rolls on, Arias, Crawford are OK options at the end of the order. Ultimately the point I'm trying to make is that knowing the Giants pitching being as good as it is and with the lineup having some nice options the Giants CAN win without Melky.

Over and Out.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

49ers - Texans, Who to Watch

By Kalen Patrick

A week ago I talked about which players to keep an eye on for the 1st preseason game. I'm going to essentially be doing the same thing for tomorrow's game against the Texans. Typically with Preseason it is the 2nd and 3rd games where you get to see a little more from the team, not only this, but you get to see the guys who are fighting to make the 53 man roster push it to the limit. So here are the guys to watch.

Eric Bakhtiari OLB/DE - Bakhtiari has been the talk of 49ers Training Camp so far. With the injuries to Aldon Smith and with Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson seeing only limited time so far, Bakhtiari has made the most of his opportunities. With 2 sacks in game 1 against the Vikings, look for him to be going all out in game 2 to continue his impressive offseason. Keep in mind that not only is Bakhtiari fighting for a spot on the very talented 49ers defense, but he is also on display for the entire NFL to watch. There will be another team ready to snatch him up should he not make the 49ers roster.


AJ Jenkins WR - Jenkins has definitely had his ups and downs early in his 49ers career, and the same could be said for his performance against the Vikings. Jenkins had 2 nice catches and 2 bad drops, so I would definitely love to see some more consistency out of AJ. One of his strengths is definitely his speed so I would like to see him use that and maybe make a big play.

Demarcus Dobbs TE/DL - Up to their tricks again the 49ers have tried using Dobbs on the offensive side of the ball at TE. With the injury to Delanie Walker at Training during 49ers FanFest and with Nate Byham out for the season, this is the perfect chance for Dobbs to prove his worth and earn a spot on the roster.

Alex Smith QB - Everything I have heard about Alex's performance in Training Camp has been very positive, I saw for myself at FanFest and I believe Alex was definitely the most impressive QB. I am looking for him to play the entire 1st quarter, I really don't care about stats or whatever, I'm just looking to see him have command of the offense, make smart decisions, and above all I would love to see accuracy and consistency on the deeper passes.

These are the guys I will be watching in particular, Overall I really don't put too much stock in to preseason games with regards to players who basically have their starting positions locked down. It's in the backup position battles where you see the real good stuff.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Melk has Gone Sour

By Kalen Patrick

Wednesday, August 15th, I wake up and start thinking of the afternoon game for my Giants vs the powerhouse Washington Nationals (that's still weird to say). I was feeling confident after yesterday's win, we finally had THE lineup we have been waiting for. Then, in a flash, a tweet by Ken Rosenthal changed everything " Just announced by MLB: SFGiants' Melky Cabrera suspended 50 games without pay after testing positive for testosterone." 

As a die-hard fan, I went through the usual list of emotions, First: Denial "Hey maybe the report is wrong! It has to be wrong!" Second: Sadness "We are screwed!! No playoffs!!" Third: Anger "F**k Melky! He is a cheating piece of S**t!" Finally: Accepting Reality, we no longer have Melky for the rest of the regular season, we can start looking at names as to who can replace him. I like Gregor Blanco but he shouldn't be an every day player. Other names float around, and an interesting one is Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs, but the Giants wouldn't go near him unless the Cubs eat a significant portion of his contract. 


Ultimately the whole situation just sucks. Plain and simple. After yesterday's game confidence was sky high, we beat the Nationals, we have our lineup and things were looking great. Now we have no Melky, Timmy got beat up by the Nationals today, and confidence is near an all time low. 

Going forward this season either one of two things will happen, the Giants will let this drag them down and they will get to the finish line gingerly, maybe ending up 3rd in the NL West with a record slightly over .500. Or else the team can rally around this, play the whole "Nobody Believes in Us" card and make a great run to the playoffs and beyond. Obviously I am hoping for the latter but right now the former is firmly stuck on my mind. I just hope Bruce Bochy and the Giants can think as positive as possible about the whole situation.

Until Next Time....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

49ers Notes from Preseason Week 1

By Kalen Patrick

The 49ers opened the Preseason with a 17-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Ultimately it was a very solid performance all around for the team. You know the defense did a great job when you only give up 6 points, Preseason or not. Let's now take a look at some of the positives and negatives from Fridays game.


  1. In the 1st quarter the defense did struggle in wrapping up Toby Gerhart on multiple occasions, the Vikings were able to move the ball down the field and into FG position somewhat easy. Of course we do have to factor in some on the starters not being on the field at all including the 49ers best defensive player Justin Smith. Yes, I just said that, Justin Smith. Ultimately you know there are not too many negatives for the starters when you are nitpicking like I am. We did only give up a FG after all.
  2. Colin Kaepernick's passing ability is definitely one of the bigger question marks surrounding the backup QB. He has the arm strength no doubt, but he still looks uncomfortable when in the pocket and going through his reads and progression. Again he did only have 9 pass attempts so we don't have much of a barometer of how far he really has come along. I look to see Kaepernick get a much bigger role in the next 3 games.
  4. Holdout Rust? It looked like on the big pass play from Ponder, that Carlos Rogers was expecting coverage over the top from Dashon Goldson as he very clearly went to Dashon afterwards and gave him a "Where were you?" look. It's possible that Dashon is still fighting off some rust from not being around the team until recently. You know for a fact that Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell are working on this in practice this week. 

  1. The Running Game looks to be very strong for the 49ers, as they piled up 260 yards on the ground, take away Kaepernick's long run and you still have 182 yards rushing. You have a list of quality RB's with Frank Gore leading the way followed by Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon. Not only did the 49ers pile up the yards, but some positive signs for the short yardage situations with Brandon Jacobs converting on 2nd and 1 and 4th and 1. An area where the 49ers certainly struggled last year. Prolonging drives and keeping the ball is key in the NFL, and to allow the 49ers vaunted defense to rest.
  2. WR depth, it looks to me as if this years 49ers WR corp is gonna be the best and deepest that we have seen in a very long time. Lead by Michael Crabtree who will finally be partaking in preseason games and getting a mostly full offseason of practice in, add in Randy Moss who is a great deep threat and redzone threat (another area where the 49ers struggled last year) and veteran Mario Manningham. Behind them you got a mix batch of WR's like Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams and rookie AJ Jenkins. I can imagine Chris Owusu making the Practice Squad. Let's keep in mind that players like Brett Swain, Ted Ginn were seeing significant playing time last year and in the NFC Championship Game the 49ers trotted out Joe Hastings. This years group is so much more talented and deep.
  3. The defense only allowed 6 points and the Vikings barely surpassed 200 total yards, I think this years defense is very talented and very deep. You know the defense is good when players are going to be fighting fiercely just to make the team, never mind seeing notable playing time.

I think in summary we can see that so far the 49ers have done a solid job in the offseason closing up and eliminating as many weaknesses as possible. The biggest goal for the 49ers offense is gonna be converting more 3rd/4th downs and improving the red zone offense. When you play teams like the Packers, Lions, Saints, Patriots and Giants you can't afford to keep settling for 3 points instead of 7. Can't wait for the next game against the Texans in Houston on Saturday.

I will be going to the 49ers FanFest tomorrow so keep an eye out for lots of cool pictures and stories.

Over and Out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

49ers - Vikings, What to Watch for

By Kalen Patrick

FOOTBALL IS BACK! The 49ers open up the preseason against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday at 5PM  Pacific Time. I am never one to care about the scores in preseason games, I much prefer to focus on how certain individual players perform. I am going to compile a list of players that I will be focusing on and I will explain why.

1. Alex Boone RG - Boone is currently leading the competition for the starting RG spot, this will be his first chance to prove this when he takes on an opponents D-Line. The Vikings have a pair of very good linemen in Kevin Williams and Jared Allen. If Boone can do a good job on Friday it will help his chances of earning that starting spot. Guards Leonard Davis and rookie Joe Looney will be eager to prove themselves, Boone cannot take this competition lightly.

2. Colin Kaepernick QB - It has already been laid out that Alex Smith is the unquestioned starter, however, Smith does have a history of shoulder injuries and at any time Kaepernick could be asked to come in and play. In the NFL you need to have a good backup QB so that you're season isn't completely over if your starter goes down (Colts 2011 are an example of what not to do). I am very interested to see the progression of Kaepernick having a year in the offense, last preseason he was a disaster, but with a strike shortened offseason and Kaepernick being a very raw player that was to be expected.

3. Aldon Smith OLB/DE - We all know what Aldon Smith is capable of doing when rushing the passer, he is a beast and is already at the cusp of being an elite pass rusher. What makes me want to focus on Aldon is that I expect Vic Fangio to try and get Aldon to focus on his coverage skills and run stopping skills to make him a better all-round player. This way Aldon with his immense talent can see the field a lot more on 1st and 2nd down.

4. A.J. Jenkins WR - The rookie WR was receiving not only footballs but a fair amount of criticism when he first started taking the field at mini-camps and OTA's. Said to have been out of shape, not catching on as quickly as anticipated, Jenkins is out to prove all his doubters wrong. Unlike last year, the 49ers have quality depth at WR with Crabtree, Manningham and Moss. Jenkins is in a fierce battle with Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn Jr at WR. Lets not forget that Jenkins is a 1st round WR, he has a lot to prove to show he was worthy of the 30th overall pick. Harbaugh has already put it out there that Jenkins is a quality player who can contribute now, lets see if AJ can back that up on the field.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The NL MVP No One is Talking About

By Kalen Patrick

Outside of San Francisco, Buster Posey has got to be one of the most underrated players not only in the National League but in the Majors. It seems like ESPN thinks it's a three-horse race between the Brewers Ryan Braun, Pirates Andrew McCutchen and the Reds Joey Votto. What the point of my post is to make a definite case for Mr. Posey to belong in that discussion. Remember what MVP stands for: Most Valuable Player. This is not necessarily an award for best player but for the most VALUABLE.

I think immediately where Posey has an advantage of the other candidates is the fact that he plays Catcher. It is incredibly difficult to find a Catcher who can put up the overall great numbers of Buster Posey. In the entire league you only have about 5 catchers who could be considered very good hitters, but when it comes to Outfielders and 1B, those positions are absolutely and always stocked with hitting talent. So now I will delve into the individual arguments between MVP candidates.

Posey vs Votto

  1. Posey plays a much more valuable position
  2. Posey has more RBI
  3. Posey has more HR
  4. Posey WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is 4.3 to Votto's 3.8
  5. Reds are still winning consistently without Votto, the Giants would be dead without Posey

Posey vs Braun

  1. Posey plays a more valuable position
  2. Posey WAR is 1.3 above Brauns
  3. Braun plays on a team 10 games below .500, without Braun they are maybe 13-14 games below .500? The Brewers are not in contention with or without Braun. The Giants are leading the division with Posey and would not be in contention without Posey, therefore, in my eyes, Posey is a more valuable player.
  4. Posey has a higher Batting Average


When it comes to Posey vs McCutchen, the argument is a lot harder to make, to me Andrew McCutchen is the NL MVP so far in the 2012 season. There are still about 55 games left for most teams, so there is still a lot of time for things to change and the point of my argument is that nationwide Buster Posey's name should be coming up a lot more in the NL MVP discussions. There are arguments to be made for Votto over Posey, or Braun over Posey, but hey, call me biased but I think Posey is number 2 right after McCutchen.

Over and Out.