Most of the early action on the NFL win totals has been on the OVER – except in San Francisco, where everyone and his dog are putting the UNDER in their football picks.
I've been completely spoiled as a sports fan. Half my family comes from the San Francisco area, and I started following the 49ers in 1981 – just in time for their first Super Bowl win. There would be four more of those to follow, before caretaker owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was suspended by the league in 1998. Something about corruption and riverboat casinos and stuff.
Of course, now that I've working been in the media for 15 years, I'm completely objective about these things. Okay, maybe not completely objective. It was a happy day when Jim Harbaugh was hired to coach the 49ers in 2011 – I knew what he'd accomplished at Stanford, and sure enough, Harbaugh got the Niners back into the Super Bowl three years ago. Too bad I had to pick the Baltimore Ravens instead. Head first, heart second.
Anyway, this isn't about me – this is about the 49ers, and how their team is turning to dust right before our eyes. When we last checked in with San Francisco's win totals for 2015, WagerWeb was the only sportsbook that had 8.5 wins on the NFL odds board, at –140 vigorish for the UNDER. That vig is all the way up to –210 as we go to press. Abandon ship~!
This Son of York
We don't condone corruption here at the ranch, but it's safe to say that the Niners haven't been the same since DeBartolo turned over control of the team to his sister Denise, and her husband, Dr. John York. In 2008, Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports ranked San Francisco's owners No. 25 out of the league's 32 teams. “Not since Bonnie and Clyde has a couple caused such devastation,” Silver lamented.
Later that year, the Yorks named their 28-year-old son Jed team president. Early returns were promising; Silver moved the Niners up to No. 23, and was happy that Jed was in regular contact with Uncle Eddie. By 2010, Silver had San Francisco at No. 16. Then Harbaugh was hired. I'm not finding anything more recent from Yahoo, but Rotoworld's Patrick Daugherty had the Niners at No. 12 last year, citing the Harbaugh regime and the opening of the Field of Jeans in Santa Clara.
Especially In Michigan
It was fun while it lasted. You've all heard by now the way Harbaugh was ridden out of town on a rail. He got a soft landing at the University of Michigan, so good for him. And you've all heard about Harbaugh's replacement, former defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. The 49ers were reportedly going to hire hotshot Denver Broncos offensive co-ordinator Adam Gase, but when Gase refused to make Tomsula his defensive co-ordinator, that was the end of that.
Then you have all these players retiring – some expected, most not. Breakout rookie LB Chris Borland hung up his cleats in March because of concerns over head trauma. Veteran LB Patrick Willis and DE Justin Smith also packed it in. Earlier this month, RT Anthony Davis joined them at the tender age of 25. On top of that, the Niners lost RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree and LG Mike Iupati to free agency, among others. They even traded three-time Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee to the Cleveland Browns for a seventh-round pick. In 2017.
What's left in the cupboard? M'eh. The offensive line still has LT Joe Staley and center Daniel Kilgore. But QB Colin Kaepernick (86.4 passer rating) has regressed every year since supplanting Alex Smith and reaching the Super Bowl. And without Borland and Willis, the linebacker corps is depending on Navarro Bowman to get his groove back after missing all of last year with a shredded knee. It's not looking good, folks. But hey, there's always the Golden State Warriors.