Offensive line might be best place for 49ers to start regrouping 

Football writers have decided that a fast receiver who can catch deep passes should be the 49ers’ priority in the April draft. Apparently, they have forgotten last year already.

It does no good to have a receiver who can go deep if your quarterback has no time to throw that pass. That’s exactly what happened last year when injuries caused a breakdown in the offensive line, which totally disrupted the 49ers’ offense.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was often under pressure shortly after he took the snap. He could either dump the ball off quickly or get knocked down. Or both.

It won’t get any better this year. Guard Mike Iupati will be a free agent and is almost certainly gone. Because of injuries, tight end Vernon Davis was used primarily as a blocker last season, which did not make him a happy camper, I’d be surprised if he returns.

Even when he’s had the time — and a receiver deep downfield — Kaepernick has not been a very accurate deep passer, according to those who measure such things statistically.

Kaepernick has been working in the offseason with Kurt Warner, a classic pocket quarterback because he was immobile. Will those lessons take? I’m skeptical because that would also require a change in mindset. Kaepernick has always had the personality of a gunslinger, doing what he wants, not what normal quarterbacks do. Interestingly, 49ers CEO Jed York has said the Niners should use Kaepernick’s running ability more. Of course, that runs counter to what Kaepernick is supposedly learning from Warner. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and in York’s case, little definitely applies to his football knowledge. Kaepernick is not an effective runner against a good defense because he’s fast but not elusive. His 90-yard run against the San Diego Chargers went straight down the field and defenders stayed out of his way. They did not want to get hurt, knowing their team still had a shot at the playoffs before the game started.

The Niners have so many holes it’s hard to know where to start. The draft can only fill some of them and Trent Baalke’s drafts have been more noteworthy for good players picked up in later rounds than the higher picks.

Of course, new coach Jim Tomsula will definitely inspire these players. Oh, yeah. Baalke is still clinging to that story that Jim Harbaugh wanted to return to his alma mater, even though Harbaugh has said he was told two games before the end of the season that he wasn’t coming back. So, forgive my skepticism when Baalke says Tomsula was always the 49ers’ choice as Harbaugh’s successor. So, why wasn’t he hired immediately? Why did the Niners interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase for eight hours? To learn the Broncos’ offensive schemes? They have tons of footage on them, from the 2014 Super Bowl and other playoff games.

Words can’t help Baalke now. The pressure is all on him to change the downward course of the team. It would really help if he had a good coach but he torpedoed the best one the Niners have had since Bill Walsh.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at glenndickey36@gmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

Glenn Dickey

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