The Downward Spiral That is the San Francisco 49ers

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just a few years ago, the San Francisco 49ers were atop the National Football Conference (NFC), and one of the premier teams in the National Football League (NFL). But one off-season later, they are not the power house they used to be, but a mess. After making the NFC Championship Game for three straight years and having an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII (in which they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31), the 49ers went 8-8. The downhill spiral began at that point.

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers addresses the team in the locker room, for the last time, following the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 20-17. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Jim Harbaugh
SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 20: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers addresses the team in the locker room, for the last time, following the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 20-17. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jim Harbaugh

The organization had already had a falling out with head coach Jim Harbaugh, and had fired him, hiring Jim Tomsula to take his place. Not only that, but former offensive coordinator Greg Roman jumped ship to become the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, and then the team fired defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. However, that was not all. Several key players on the 49ers roster chose to retire, or find greener pastures in free agency.

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13: Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers fires up the team on the field prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 13, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 49ers defeated the Rams 31-17. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Patrick Willis
ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 13: Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers fires up the team on the field prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 13, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 49ers defeated the Rams 31-17. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Patrick Willis

Veteran defensive cogs Patrick Willis (Linebacker), Justin Smith (Defensive End), and key offensive lineman Anthony Davis chose to retire. Even the young, (coming off his rookie year) linebacker Chris Borland decided to retire for health reasons. Then came free agency, where even more talented players like Chris Culliver, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, and Stevie Johnson left the team. To make matters worse, Aldon Smith, who was to be the defensive anchor after all the changes, got arrested again, and was released from the team.

Now what is left is a team in disarray, and in a new era of coaching. All hope is lost, the 49ers are sure to be a bottom feeder team in the NFL, nothing can save them now, right? Not so fast, this team can still play.

Even with the amount of blows this team took, they can still be a competitive team. They still have Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who though had his worst season statistically, has shown growth through a week of training camp. Not only that, but he still has weapons in the form of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and tight end Vernon Davis. The offense also has stalwart defenders in the offensive line in the form of Joe Staley and Alex Boone. The 49ers defense is not in shambles, as they still have linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who is coming off injury, and hopefully can stay healthy in the coming season, and he will also have veterans Darnell Dockett and Glenn Dorsey to assist. The defense also has great potential in rookie Arik Armstead from Oregon.

Even with the young potential and returning veterans, the San Francisco 49ers are far from being able to compete for the Super Bowl. The 49ers play in the toughest division in all of the NFL, the NFC West, consisting of the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, and Arizona Cardinals, who each have been busy in the off-season, improving their teams for a playoff push.

The Seahawks are a juggernaut of a team looking to make it back to a third straight Super Bowl,  the Cardinals have stability at quarterback with Carson Palmer and can return to the playoffs again, and the Rams have upgraded and are on the rise to the point where they can compete for a playoff spot. That leaves with the 49ers having to fight through a gauntlet just to make the playoffs. Yes, the 49ers will win some key games, but they won’t top 10 wins, they wont have the chance to win that 6th playoff spot. Year one of the Tomsula era will be tough for the 49ers and 49er faithful to swallow because of this downward spiral nightmare.

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Cleveland Browns: The Peculiar Case of Cleveland Quarterbacks

The Cleveland Browns have a troubling situation at quarterback.

The Cleveland Browns are basically cursed when it comes to having a quarterback. They have not had a solid franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar in the 80s and early 90s. Year after year, the main headlines for the Browns is that they failed to have a winning season, and that they need a quarterback, again. Just  last year, the franchise drafted a young, talented, quarterback out of Texas A&M in the hopes that he would be the face of the franchise. That player, was Johnny Manziel.
Even with the skillset of Manziel’s, the franchise still faces a cloud of uncertainty, as his rookie year was terrible. With the addition of journeyman quarterback Josh McCown, and Manziel both on roster, the Browns have a very intriguing, and uncertain future at the most important position of football.

Taking first team reps as the starter is 36-year-old journeyman backup Josh McCown. That in itself is troubling. McCown was brought in to help fill the void Brian Hoyer left after he bolted to the Houston Texans.  Even after a terrible season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Head Coach of the Browns, Mike Pettine, still believes that the Browns can win with McCown.  So it is safe to say, that McCown is starting week one of the regular season, unless miraculous preseason play from Manziel arises.

Speaking of Manziel, what an up-and-down year it has been. From being picked 22nd in the 2014 NFL Draft.  With his arrival to Cleveland, Manziel brought so much hype, only to be disappointing in his rookie year.  Manziel threw for 18/35 (51.4%), 175 yards, 0 touchdowns, and two interceptions. His lone career touchdown came in the form of a rushing touchdown against the Buffalo Bills. At season’s end, after missing mandatory treatment, he checked into rehab.

Now, with Manziel out of rehab, he has begun to garner praise for an improved work ethic and dedication to football. Now, he even has a chance to retake the starting job this preseason. That is, if he plays exceptionally.

Will Josh McCown start all 16 games, or can Manziel truly be the franchise quarterback he was so hyped up and is deemed to be after going through rehab? Or will he fail again and be dissapointing? Either way, its a troubling future of uncertainty, as one option is 36 and in the twilight of his journeyman backup career, and the other is unproven and already has messed up once.

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Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson Restructures Final Years of Contract

After a tumultuous 2014 and off-season filled with controversy and trade demands, running back Adrian Peterson finally came to terms with the Minnesota Vikings on a restructured contract.

The restructured deal is worth three years, $44 million. Peterson will earn $12.75 million in 2015, with a $2 million roster bonus. In 2016, Peterson earns $7.75 million, $7 million is guaranteed, and he will also receive a $5 million roster bonus. In 2017, Peterson earns $11.75 million and a $6 million roster bonus. You can read more about the contract details on Pro Football Talk.

Keep in mind, Peterson was suspended the 2014 season after he pleaded guilty to child abuse chargers towards his four-year-old child. Peterson was reinstated on Apr. 16, 2015.

With the amount of money Peterson is getting paid, there’s lots of questions that remain. Will Peterson still produce the elite production numbers of years past? Or has the one year suspension forced him into a decline?

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