Off the Record (OTR)

Niners hire Norton

The San Francisco 49ers that finished the last month or so of the 2017 NFL season are not the same team that started it. Not even close. Yes, you can attribute 98% of that to the acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s just a fact that their quarterback play went from lousy to highly above average when they got him.

There are still holes on the roster, but the team is definitely trending in the right direction. The team just announced that they are bringing in former Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. as assistant head coach. Norton will be in charge of coaching the inside linebackers.

I like this move. Norton, Jr. has plenty of experience coaching linebackers. He was with Pete Carroll at USC and in Seattle with the Seahawks.

He’ll be in charge of getting the most out of former first-round pick Reuben Foster. Although, if he can’t get him to stay healthy, it probably won’t matter.

They’re slowly rebuilding that front seven. It used to be Aldon Smith, Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith. Those guys are gone. But, now it’s Foster, Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner.

Yes, they need help in the secondary and could use some playmakers at wide receiver, but Rome wasn’t build in a day.

The Niners’ trajectory is looking great right now in a division that just saw the Cardinals fall off a cliff after losing their head coach and quarterback (top wide receiver can’t be far behind). The Seahawks aren’t what they were, although some re-tooling and they can be back close to what they used to be. The Rams look young and tough, which they are, but the Niners are close to creating big problems for the NFC West.

It’s easy to say they aren’t there yet, but no one said the 13-3 Philadelphia Eagles would be the top seed in the NFC bracket at this time last year. No one sane anyway.

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