Several Zohn readers have written comments wanting to know why I am more gentle in my comments about the Raiders than the 49ers. This is a correct and astute observation which I am obliged to address. I’ll do my best.

The Raiders are starting over. They are trying to emerge from decades of doing things a certain way, a way that no longer works. The degree of difficulty Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen face is astonishing. I have no idea if they are up to it, but I want to give them a chance. That seems fair. It is what any fair-minded person would do, as opposed to kicking them when they are down.

The 49ers are not starting over. They are a championship contender and I hold them to a higher standard, to the highest standard. That also seems fair and I’m sure the Niners want it that way — to be held to the highest standard by writers, fans, themselves.

This specifically relates to AJ Jenkins. Readers said I was hard on the Niners for drafting him where they did and hard on him. I am hard on the 49ers for drafting him. They were saying they are so good they don’t need draft choices who will contribute this season. We’ll see about that. It’s certainly a roll of the dice, one I’m certainly allowed to point out.

Anyway, I give the Raiders a huge benefit of the doubt. With the 49ers, they must at least win the NFC championship or you must question their direction for this season and beyond.

I’ve laid my cards on the table. The ball’s in your court, as they say.

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  1. Mike

    Want to look at the difference between the Raiders and Niners just look at Kawakami’s post yesterday about the 2007 draft. Raiders wiffed on 11 picks. Niners got 3 Pro Bowlers. Good luck McKenzie and Allen.

    September 20th, 2012 12:36 pm

  2. Dave T

    I agree here on all things save one. I do not think the NIners have to win the NFC to say that their team has made progress. There are too many factors involved there to say that. Ranging from injury, to weather duringthe playoff game(s), I mean it could be played in a deluge for all we know, or maybe they trip up and have to go to play in the snow, to simply a bad bounce or bad luck. Just too many factors. I think if the get to the NFC Championship game and are in it at the end of the game with a chance to win, to me that is still progress and shows a consistency of winning, which is what they are trying to achieve. Maybe I am off base here, but that is how I would define it.

    September 20th, 2012 12:43 pm

  3. Stan

    Nope,cant follow that. If anything,Dennis Allen had a huge advantage..the offense proved it could move and score..and with McD,it could be potent..51 dropped on Denver-remember that?
    No..the Raiders used up all the be patient with post Rich Gannon,with Russell at first and then post Russell…then “stay the course Cable”.
    I and and the real Sons of Al Davis,would never have brought in a Packer man,a defensive head coach at 38 years old. If Reggie wants to turn his back on WCO,while right across the bay that old school WCO is best in the NFL?..he had best win and win NOW.
    So many great ex Raiders of old school and tradition who get it..all of it. And we get a dime a dozen Allen. I wonder how Palmer would have done under coach Gannon?..the same? NO way, Jose!

    September 20th, 2012 1:20 pm

  4. Stan

    CORRECTION: The Raiders dropped 59 awesome points on Denver.
    Now? we go for a FG needing just a yard inside the 5 yard line. Ridiculous.

    September 20th, 2012 1:24 pm

  5. JB

    It’s fair to hold the Niners to a higher standard this season, given what they accomplished last season. However, I don’t recall you “going easy” on them last year when a rookie HC and new coaching staff had to undo the trauma of the Erickson/Nolan/Singletary years with no proper offseason or training camp, doing so in quite stellar fashion.

    As to the draft…let’s evaluate that in 3-4 years, when we have a better handle on those drafted players’ ability to contribute. It’s fair to say that, currently, no rookies who could have been drafted where the Niners picked would be making any contributions whatsoever.

    September 20th, 2012 1:51 pm

  6. Seth

    Are they saying that they are so good that they don’t want their rookies to start immediately after they are drafted or are they saying that they want to develop their rookies and not throw them into the fire when they aren’t ready? Also, to a much smaller degree than the Raiders weren’t the 49ers starting over too when they hired Harbaugh to coach the team?

    September 20th, 2012 2:14 pm

  7. Jim Bancroft

    I agree with Dave T 100%– questioning the 49ers’ direction based on whether or not they win the NFC championship is far too hard. Too many potential injuries and simple bounces of the ball between then and now, which no one has any control over — though I’m sure Jim Harbaugh will try.

    Regarding the 49er’s long term success, I’m not as optimistic as some. Harbaugh is not my favorite choice for a long-lasting coach. Too wrapped up in himself, and he makes enemies when he doesn’t need to. When he stumbles look for the knives to come out.

    September 20th, 2012 2:16 pm

  8. lameduck

    OK, so it just seems wrong to be gentle on the Raiders because that is not what the Raiders are about. If the Raiders have now become the beneficiaries of sensitivity training, I’m not sure I like the new culture. I hope the Raiders return to having a Commitment to Excellence. Those words should define the organization in the past and in the future. There is no gentleness in excellence. As Aristotle said, Excellence is a habit not an act. It sure as heck isn’t 0-2 with repeated penalties…

    September 20th, 2012 2:47 pm

  9. Jonathan

    What are the criteria by which you will judge whether the current Raider regime is making progress? I think that you should lay them out now, otherwise your future judgments will simply be ad hoc.

    September 20th, 2012 3:29 pm

  10. Dennis

    First, I don’t agree that the Niners need to do anything this year to be in the right direction, but I will get to that later.

    The real question I have is this; the point you are making applies to 49ers this year. But what about last year when the 49ers had a new GM and a new coach and a lock out? They were in essence starting over just like the Raiders this year. I may have missed it but I never once saw a “let’s be patient” column from you regarding the 49ers when they were in the exact same, if not worse, position as the Raiders are now. Am I wrong? Keep in mind I am not complaining because I have already done enough of that on this blog. I am just saying. Something else must be in play here.
    As for what the 49ers must achieve – they just need to be competitive in every game, not give up and not be embarrassing. The ball is not round and accordingly bounces in unpredictable ways. Then there are injuries, also unpredictable. The 49ers are heading in the right direction, championship or not. The Raiders are getting worse by everyone’s account, but that is the wrong direction for them because they don’t have the draft picks that come along with ineptitude

    September 20th, 2012 4:06 pm

  11. glenellen

    Sounds good on my end. I don’t expect anything from the Raiders this season. I do feel for their season ticket holders. The team will not even do as well as last year. Lousy stadium, unless you like being a mile high on Mt Davis. You people paid out alot of money in tickets for the future.

    Candlestick is the lousiest stadium of all. A top team playing in a pit, good grief. (They are building the new one at a record pace)

    It used to be that Raider fans had to go to the game if they wanted to see it since home games did not sell out. Now the NFL changed its mind and is showing the games on TV anyway.

    September 20th, 2012 4:47 pm

  12. KauaiRobert

    Remember how many commentators, journalists and fans ripped the Aldon Smith pick?

    September 20th, 2012 4:57 pm

  13. chris

    I agree that giving Reggie McKenzie a break is in order if he hasn’t made any mistakes. But he most certainly has. He took over a team that was one game from the playoffs last year with no running game and a QB that joined in mid season. He got rid of what got the Raiders that close to the playoffs which was coach Hue Jackson who had the offense clicking. All Reggie needed to do was make improvements to the defense to get the Raiders to the playoffs. He was selfish to trash the team for the future which is probably 5 years away now from a winning season with his approach.

    September 20th, 2012 5:46 pm

  14. Loneraider78

    Mike, I wouldn’t say the Raiders “wiffed” the entire draft. Zach Miller and Michael Bush were both productive players.

    But as a whole, you are correct. It will forever be known as the “Jamarcus draft”.

    And when you look at who was on the board (Calvin Johnson, Patrick Willis, Adrian Peterson, Darrelle Revis just to name a few) it is downright embarrassing.

    Obviously, the Raiders had no chance at getting top tier players in the most recent draft but I’m hopeful that two years from now this roster will be overhauled and we can move forward with some real hope of contending.

    September 20th, 2012 6:00 pm

  15. Brady

    Lowell, I have a question for you. What players drafted after AJ Jenkins do you think would be getting significant playing time for the 49ers right now?

    September 20th, 2012 6:36 pm

  16. Phil Brown

    Sound good to me. You can’t turn the Titanic around in one, or even two, seasons

    September 20th, 2012 9:11 pm

  17. Stan

    No Phil you can’t..but you can sink it so fast it will make your head spin.

    September 21st, 2012 7:30 am

  18. Bray

    Commitment to Exc…rement has been the motto for quite a while now. They need an a** kicker to take over that team, the inmates have been running that asylum for WAY too long.

    Sorry for the slightly profane language, but it is needed when you speak of the Raiders.

    September 21st, 2012 8:32 am

  19. Joe H.

    I understand your deference to the Raiders after their long dark period. I too recognize that rebuilding an NFL team takes several years of good draft picks, loyal fans, and a few key trades for Pros at key positions. But with all good organizations (NFL included), the changes start at the top and work their way down.

    The change at the top has occurred, but the time it takes to make the necessary acquisitions and, as you plainly put it in your article; getting some round pegs for those round holes, is a multi-year effort.

    That said, every man on the Oakland roster is a professional NFL football player and they aren’t making excuses for their lack of dedication, effort, or ability.

    The Raiders can win some games, and I expect them to be a late blooming surprise. Unfortunately, their primary effect will probably be spoiler for some teams trying to make the playoffs.

    September 21st, 2012 10:05 am

  20. Dave T

    Brady, I am not sure on the AJ Jenkins pick even long term, let alone the short term. The rule in the draft tends to be you take the best player on the board at the time of your pick, if the player you targeted is not available. The most valuable asset in the NFL beyond true franchise players (Manning(s), Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, R. Lewis, Stafford, to name a few) is depth. And making sure you get first round talent because you are paying a first round price, is of utmost importance. That’s all. Jenkins was simply a reach for the first round, when the Niners could have added some much needed depth, which you can never have enough of on the Offensive or Defensive line for example.

    September 21st, 2012 10:47 am

  21. Brady

    Dave T, that’s debatable. Offensive line is a position notorious for producing starters in late rounds. And we have two undrafted defensive linemen on our squad. That should tell you something.

    I don’t see how we can reasonably say anything about Jenkins at this point. He was drafted to contribute down the road. There’s no one in the draft taken after him that would’ve contributed immediately. So until we see him down the road, we can’t really make any judgement.

    I think it’s silly to call any pick a “reach.” we don’t know what the other 31 GMs were thinking. If Jenkins was sure to be on the board at 40, the Niners would have traded down for him. They obviously felt that wasn’t a sure thing.

    September 21st, 2012 3:05 pm

  22. Neal

    The Raider are a mess blame is on Hugh Jackarse, trading all of those pics for a middle of a road QB.They are just crap, how do you lose against the fish like that. Come on Lowell, you have a man crush on Mckenzie, just admit it. ok feel better now. :)

    September 21st, 2012 3:33 pm

  23. Allan


    Isn’t the main reason for being”gentler” on the Raiders is that you dislike “Jimmy” Harbaugh and Trent Baalke personally because they aren’t particularly friendly to you, while the new Raiders regime are willing to grant you one on one interviews (e.g., McKenzie)? That 13-3 2011 season and 2-0 2012 start must really be painful, so you need to harp on AJ Jenkins being a possible bust. Based on your Harbaugh led Niners track record, I’m guessing NFC Rookie of the Year.

    September 21st, 2012 4:52 pm

  24. CohnZohn

    Allan, I overwhelmingly praise the football work Harbaugh and Baalke have done.

    September 21st, 2012 4:54 pm

  25. Brady

    Lowell, you should check out Maicco’s post regarding 49ers rookie playing time:

    September 21st, 2012 6:59 pm

  26. Dan

    The problem Lowell, is that you were hard on the 49ers last year, at the beginning of the Harbaugh age when they too were starting over. Your contempt for the way that Harbaugh deals with the media clouds your judgement.

    September 21st, 2012 10:01 pm

  27. CohnZohn

    Dan, There is no comparison between what Harbaugh confronted and what Dennis Allen is facing. Harbaugh took over a loaded roster that had been improperly coached. No way Harbaugh was starting over. Your comparison is flawed. And I praised Harbaugh plenty last season as a coach and still do now. Read my column from Green Bay.

    September 21st, 2012 10:42 pm

  28. Dennis

    Lowell, I have to disagree with you regarding your comments back to Dan. You did think the 49ers had less talent than the Raiders at the start of last season and you were all over Harbaugh and Baalke for bringing back Smith.

    “Trent Baalke on hot seat”
    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:56 by CohnZohn
    The Santa Rosa Press Democrat just posted my Tuesday column in which I discuss the matter of 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. What is there to discuss? You may wonder about that. Well, there’s this to discuss. He is largely responsible for the state of the current roster. Is it a good roster? Is it a winning roster? I’m not sure I can answer in the affirmative on either question. To read my column on the matter of Trent Baalke… Read More »

    Yes, you have praised Harbaugh’s coaching ability, rightfully so, but that is not the point.

    September 22nd, 2012 10:22 am

  29. Brady

    I’m with Dennis here. Lowell, even going into this season you thought Carson Palmer was better than Alex Smith. Most people would rather build around McFadden than Gore. The Niners O-Line was a catastrophe headed into the season and their WR corps was – gasp – even worse than the Raiders is this season.

    Sure they had a pretty good defense, but their secondary was meh, and they had no pass rushers. That was not a 13-3 team waiting in the wings.

    Dennis really threw the trump card here – your own column stating that Harbaugh was most certainly NOT taking over a “loaded roster.”

    September 22nd, 2012 12:57 pm

  30. Dallas

    Remember when all you niner fans practically booed Alex smith into retirement? Funny how you all claim his resurgence. He probably is doing in spite of that moment.

    October 4th, 2012 9:26 am

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