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You've Got Mail: Training Camp Inches Closer

Topics include the Murray-Isabella race and projecting the 2019 season


It's the slow time in the NFL, but now that the calendar has turned to July, padded football will officially start up again this month. I've got one more guest mailbag for you before it goes on a two-week hiatus. Darren will be back with his regularly scheduled programming in time for the start of training camp. Leave questions for him here.

From John Pashkow via

"You said that along with Fitz & Kirk you expect all 3 WR draft picks to make the 53-man roster, which likely leaves only 1 spot open. What about Kevin White? I've heard he's looking better than any of our 3 draft picks."

This was in reference to Darren’s analysis, and I agree that all three of the drafted wideouts will be on the roster. Those two, combined with Kirk and Fitzgerald, make five, but I believe seven will be kept in this type of system. It's hard to know how it will shake out, but yes, Kevin White should have a good chance if he can stay healthy and pick up the offense.

From Garth Short via

"In the video of the race showing a very close finish between Murray and Isabella, could you identify the guys who finished close behind (3-5)? Thanks."

I tried to dissect it but really have no idea who finished next. Either way, I wouldn't put too much stock into it. I'm not sure the other guys were even racing, as it looked like a Murray-Isabella competition. It does confirm one thing: Murray's burst is just as impressive as his top-end speed, although anyone who watched Oklahoma last year already knew that.

From Andrew Miller via

"Not asking you to be a psychologist, but is it reasonable to attribute part of K1's laid back leadership style to not draw too much attention to himself as fostered by the unspoken mindset of baseball players not to show up those around them or the other team? The first pitch at (the Diamondbacks) game is an example. I find K1's quiet confidence refreshing."

I don't think that's the reason. It just seems to be Murray's personality. In baseball, there are guys who like to be the center of attention and guys who don't. Same in football. I like that Murray doesn't try to be something he's not.

From Hartford Englewood via

"Realistically, how many games do you think we could win this season? I think we can beat the Bengals, Lions, Giants, 49ers, Bucs, and maybe the Hawks once. I predict us going 6-10 or 7-9. Also, how many games do you think we should win in order to call this a successful year (Excluding the development of Murray, receivers, etc.). Thanks!"

It's really hard to forecast, because we have yet to see how Kliff Kingsbury and Murray will adapt to the NFL. Not to mention, injuries always play a role. I know wins and losses mean the most to fans, but I'm more interested in the trajectory of the team. If Murray has a Baker Mayfield-esque rookie season and the Cardinals are competitive in most of their games, a 5-11 campaign wouldn't bother me in the slightest. In fact, it would be preferable to, say, a 7-9 season in which there was a lot of close-game luck and many blowout losses. In a 16-game season there can be a lot of statistical noise due to the small sample size, which is why my focus will be on the talent level and development of the team moreso than the record.

From Robert Malicki via

"It's difficult not to drink the Kool-Aid this time of year but I take issue with this. How good are the 49ers really? I consider them our biggest division rival. While we still have a ways to go to reach .500 with them all-time we have defeated them, what, ten straight times? We have genuine playmakers, who dey got? Are pundits hyping them because they're the all great 49ers and we're so easy to dismiss? I'll concede we two team will fight it out for third place in the division, but still see us capable of beating them twice."

The Cardinals have certainly had the 49ers' number in recent seasons. Much of this will come down to the play of the quarterbacks. Murray has all the tools but is still a rookie. Jimmy Garoppolo had a great five-game stretch for San Francisco in 2017 but tore his ACL last season. If Garoppolo lives up to the billing, then the 49ers could take a big step forward, but he has much to prove in 2019.

I think there may be one or two. I'm not a believer in outside practices helping toughen up teams, but it can help break up the monotony of training camp and allow the players to recalibrate their focus. As someone who stands out there with them, I'm all for as many inside practices as possible.

From Garth Short via

"Steve Keim has a rep for adding a few guys during the summer. And this year we have the #1 shot at guys who are cut by other teams. So, how many do you see the team signing, and at what position?"

Keim probably doesn't even know how many players he will add, but certainly it will be a continued emphasis. As evidenced by the Murray pick and the subsequent Josh Rosen trade, Kingsbury has a clear vision of what he wants to do offensively, and Keim will continually try to stock the cupboard. On defense, I could see cornerback, outside linebacker and defensive line as points of emphasis when it comes to the waiver wire and free agent signings.

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