Author Archives: Casey Perry

49ers Preseason Week 1 Quarterback Battle

With the regular season approaching, most teams are worrying about backup depth charts and getting rookies up to speed. In San Francisco, the 49ers preseason quarterback battle is wide open. The current plan, according to GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, is to have recently recovered Brock Purdy start the regular season.

After the painful NFC Championship game where the 49ers lost all quarterbacks to injury, a plan was set in place to not let history repeat itself. In the off-season the team signed former first round draft pick Sam Darnold to a 1 year/$4.5-million-dollar contract. Along with Darnold, former Cincinnati Bengals backup Brandon Allen also signed a one-year deal that will more than likely land him on the practice squad, only to be used in case of emergency.

Trey Lance deflected touchdown pass to backup TE Ross Dwelley.

How Did We Get Here?

Oddly enough, the 49ers preseason quarterback battle has not one, but two guys drafted in round 1 at pick #3. Trey Lance, who the Niners drafted in 2021 at that #3 spot, has great athleticism and knowledge of the position. Unfortunately, his ability has not been seen at the NFL level due to injury last season. In his rookie year he did see some playing time, where he started two games after injuries to then starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Last season, the Niners were poised to debut their thought-to-be franchise quarterback, but during Week 2 Lance suffered a season ending ankle injury. After his injury, the Niners went back to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo before eventually losing him in Week 13, setting the table for Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy to lead the Niners to the NFC Championship Game.

We all know how that game went, where both Purdy and emergency backup Josh Johnson went down, leaving the Niners no choice but to run the ball to a 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sam Darnold pass to rookie Ronnie Bell.

What Happened Yesterday?

Enough of the history lesson; what is the current and future state of this QB rodeo? Based on off-season conversations, we will see Brock Purdy start Week 1 and show the team if he is their franchise guy. He might not have a long leash, as Sam Darnold and Trey Lance will be battling hard to prove why they are the #1 guy to hopefully lead the 49ers to Super Bowl 58. After the first preseason game. the future is still a bit cloudy as both Lance and Darnold got their time to shine.

Lance went 10/15 with 112 yards and 1 touchdown. His one touchdown was a miraculous deflection off the defender directly into the unsuspecting hands of backup TE Ross Dwelley. As the saying goes, “it’s better to be lucky than good”.

Sam Darnold had a chance in the third quarter to prove himself where he went 5/8 with 84 yards. His one highlight came on a 38-yard-deep pass to rookie Ronnie Bell.

Now, both guys did have a few good plays, but neither one was able to separate himself from the other. Maybe it would be different if both guys had a chance with the Niners’ starting offense, but they both had to show what they could do with the second and third team.

What’s Next?

Don’t worry right now 49ers fans, everything will be okay. A 27-point loss to the Raiders is deflating, but it is preseason football. None of the All-Star cast stepped on the field yesterday. Not having your everyday starters impacts everyone, including the quarterbacks.

The focus needs to be on what happens in these last two preseason games, as everyone has now had their first taste of the 2023 season. Hopefully what happened in Vegas yesterday stays in Vegas.

NL Central Postseason Race Heating Up

The 2023 MLB season is slowly coming to an end but, the NL Central postseason standings show a race is beginning. Before June, it seemed like the NL Central was dead and the Milwaukee Brewers were going to sail off into the postseason with no struggle. Like everyone says, it’s a long season filled with 162 games — so anything can happen. Once again that sentiment is proving true.

With two months left, the NL Central now has three teams fighting for first place in the division, and one of the three available Wild Card spots. There is an important four-game series between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs starting this week that could make or break either team’s season.

What is the current state of the NL Central division?

Photo Credit: USA Today / Jace Evans

Currently the Reds are in the top spot of the NL Central, followed by the Brewers, who trail by a half game. Not too far from that are the Cubs, who are four games back. The Brewers currently hold one of the three Wild Card spots, and the Cubs are three-and-a-half games back in one of those spots.

The Cubs looked as if they were going to sell at the trade deadline, but they have gone 8-2 in their last ten games and have surged back up the standings. A four-game series with the first place Reds await the Cubs this week. If the Reds can sweep or win the series, it may be the beginning of the end for the Cubs.

On the other hand, if the surging Cubs can take the series, they are all the way back in on winning the division, and could take a bit of wind out of the Reds sails. The Brewers are the most consistent of the three, so it would not be a shock to see them staying the course and winning the division.

What is the most likely scenario?

Photo Credit: AP Photo / Morry Gash

Thanks to the 2022 changes, we saw the postseason expand from ten teams to twelve. With three Wild Card spots, it is possible to see three NL Central teams in the postseason — which did not seem like a possible scenario just two weeks ago. We will most likely only see two of the three.

My pick to win the NL Central postseason race is the Cincinnati Reds, with the Milwaukee Brewers taking the first Wild Card spot. The Chicago Cubs are playing great and are in the hunt, but with the rest of the National League there are stronger teams who will edge them out in the final weeks.

Cincinnati Reds: Trade Deadline Needs

The Cincinnati Reds trade deadline is going to look different from the past couple seasons. It is no secret the Reds have been one of, if not the, hottest teams in baseball since the start of June. It is all due to the never-ending youth movement going on in Cincinnati. The Reds are currently the youngest team in the National League, with top rookies Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Spencer Steer leading the charge.

While winning 20 of their last 24 games, they have rocketed to the #1 spot in the NL Central. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a buyer’s position at the quickly approaching trade deadline on August 1st, so who should they be targeting?

Injuries Plague the Starting Rotation

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

With the one-two punch of Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene on the IL until August, the Reds first hole to fill is starting pitching. The first guy to try and go after is Shane Bieber. He is not the same pitcher as the past few seasons, but is still able to pitch efficiently and not give up many runs. The Guardians are playing below expectations this year and have the starting pitching depth to make up for Bieber’s disappearance.

A few guys the Reds could trade to get this done are Nick Senzel or Jose Barrero. Both guys have flashed their talent, but haven’t been able to do so consistently. Sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs to showcase their true game. Also, the Reds have traded with the Guardians in the past when Trevor Bauer came over for Yasiel Puig and prospect Scott Moss. There’s a history there that could help facilitate a deal.

Everyday Outfielders Needed

Photo Credit: Jason Burke/

Another guy that the Cincinnati Reds could get for cheap at the trade deadline as a rental is outfielder Brent Rooker from the Oakland Athletics. Rooker is having his best year on offense and can drive in runs. The Reds are loaded with infielders, but struggle to have an everyday guy in the outfield.

With the NL Central being uncompetitive this season, I couldn’t see Rooker being a long-term piece for the Reds, but he could help push them to the finish line for the 2023 season.

Elly De La Cruz: MLB’s New #1 Prospect

Future Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz
Photo Credit: / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Reds fans rejoice! The Reds are #1 in something positive for a change. Elly De La Cruz was named the number one prospect in baseball according to ESPN MLB Insider Kiley McDaniel. The current Louisville Bat is terrorizing AAA with a slash line of .282/.375/.590 and an OPS of .965. Not only is he mashing at the plate he has a rocket arm at shortstop, throwing the fastest infield throw (99.2 MPH) in all levels of baseball in the 2023 season.

Did I mention he can hit for power and run like the wind? De La Cruz can stretch an average single into a double and hit homeruns 512ft. I feel like I am in the scene of Friday Night Lights where Boobie Miles’s uncle is hyping him up to scouts during practice.

When Does Elly De La Cruz Make His Debut?

De La Cruz, barring no setbacks, should make his MLB debut in 2023. The question on everybody’s mind is “When?” Well let me add my speculation to the pot and say I could see him coming up mid-to-late August. I only say this because I would like to see De La Cruz maintain his rookie status for 2024, as should the Reds.

This would be a win-win situation because the Reds would have an extra year of control, and De La Cruz would get to see MLB action in 2023, while still being able to compete for rookie awards in 2024.

Elly De La Cruz will be one of those guys that the MLB draws from for growing the game. He could be the next Fernando Tatis Jr. where every little kid wants to be him, and older fans hate him. Let’s just hope Tatis’ off the field actions don’t find their way into De La Cruz career.

49ers Post Draft Reaction: An In-depth Review

Photo Credit: Briana McDonald 49ers Digital Media Coordinator

As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL draft, I am left scratching my head. The 49ers started their draft late in the third round at pick #87 with a glaring need for the team was offensive line and secondary help after losing Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Moseley. Instead, the 49ers traded up in the third round with the Vikings to draft safety Ji’ayir Brown from Penn State.

After that, the draft was a bit… odd, for lack of a better word. With pick #99 the 49ers selected kicker Jake Moody from Michigan. Taking a kicker was not the craziest thing for the 49ers due to Robbie Gould testing free agency for the upcoming season. At the end of the draft, the 49ers did not select an offensive lineman, which has been a need since the 2022 season ended.

Below is a list of the new 49ers and how they can contribute in 2023.

Pick 87: Ji’ayir Brown S | Penn State

Ji’ayir Brown is an explosive safety ready to make a play. He is great at run defense, racking up 153 total tackles in his college career with nine of them being for loss. His pass defense is also impressive where he totaled 10 interceptions and nine pass deflections. His discipline might get him in trouble due to over pursuit or misreading a play. Luckily, he will be playing in one of the best defenses in the NFL, which will be able to cover up his mistakes.

I look forward to him contributing a lot in his first year and possibly starting early in the season due to Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore signing with new teams.

Pick 99: Jake Moody K | Michigan

Jake Moody was the best place kicker in the 2023 NFL draft. He made 148 of his 148 extra point attempts at Michigan and made 52 of his 60 field goals in his last two seasons. Most of those field goals came within 40 yards, where he was very consistent. His downside is his leg strength, where he is a bit questionable once he crosses the 40-yard threshold.

It will be an interesting spring and summer where he and veteran Zane Gonzalez battle to fill the huge void Robbie Gould left.

Pick 101: Cameron Latu TE | Alabama

Cameron Latu will not hop off the page with his athleticism or power, but has a way of shaking the secondary and pinpointing the ball. He is not great at run blocking off the line, but does excel at next-level blocking.

I can see the 49ers using him when needing a short pass or help with blocking downfield on wide receiver screens. He will more than likely start the season as a 3rd string tight end and not see a large capacity of snaps.

Pick 155: Darrell Luter Jr. CB | South Alabama

Darrell Luter Jr. is a physical corner with long arms. His stats are not as impressive as a first-round talent, but he makes it up with his physicality and long arms. He is great at press coverage, but may have an issue with zone coverage. He will need to improve his coverage on the long ball, but his long arms and ability to read a wide receiver’s eyes should help him quickly adapt in the NFL.

I do not expect him to start Week 1, but with the luck the 49ers have with the health of their corners he could be thrown in at any time.

Pick 173: Robert Beal Jr. DE | Georgia

Robert Beal Jr. is a lengthy athletic edge rusher who found himself being overshadowed by his star-studded teammates at Georgia. He is a raw talent that needs to be coached to his true ability. He is inconsistent with his pass rush moves, but when they work he looks like an All-Star.

I think after a season or two with one of the league’s top defensive line coaches, Kris Kocurek, we could see Robert Beal Jr. have a nice career in the NFL.

Pick 216: Dee Winters ILB | TCU

Dee Winters is a bit undersized in comparison to the average NFL linebacker, but he is not afraid to stick his nose in a play. He is great at shooting the gaps and laying a big hit on a ball carrier. He will need to work on his pass defense and ability to read an offense. I expect him to see some snaps during the season, especially on obvious run downs.

Pick 247: Brayden Willis TE | Oklahoma

Brayden Willis has strong hands and a great ability to pick up yards after catch. He likes to get to the middle of the field, and is not afraid to make a contested catch. He will be able to provide some help in the 49ers pass offense, but needs to improve his run blocking. Maybe a year under George Kittle’s wing could help Willis’ run blocking ability.

Pick 253: Ronnie Bell WR | Michigan

Ronnie Bell is a strong-handed receiver who’s not afraid to block in the run game. Bell had ACL surgery in 2021, but bounced back with an impressive season. Speed and quickness are a bit lacking, but he makes it up with strong hands and well-timed leaps. I would imagine he would start the season on special teams and occasionally get a few snaps on offense.

Pick 255: Jalen Graham OLB | Purdue

Jalen Graham is an energetic line backer who plays with no fear. He plays very physically, but can also drop back in coverage. He is a bit undersized and lacks the ability to read blocking assignments at times. Jalen will be in a backup role and play on special teams.

If I had to give this 49ers draft a grade, I would give it a “C”. Some holes will be filled, and some are still a question mark.