SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 11: A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass during Rookie Minincamp at the San Francisco 49ers practice facility on May 11, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
With all of the micro-reporting coming from NFL training camps, it's easy to think we know which players and teams are going to be good or bad. The fact is, we know nothing about nothing. For more on the 49ers, be sure to check out Niners Nation.
At this point in the off-season all sorts of assumptions are being made about individual players and teams alike. Camps are in full-swing and there are reports about every detail that can be gleaned from the practices. In reality the news is so slow that one or two post-practice quotes turn into the same 500 word article (essentially) being posted by each beat-writer.
The national media types are doing their camp tours as well and noting their observations from the (usually) one day they spend at each camp. The norm is usually something like this:
I can tell you that Player X is showing no signs of the previous injury and looks to be back to his old ways.
Rookie Player Y is having a rough camp thus-far. Threw two interceptions today and looked lost.
The information is hardly "informative".
The bottom line remains that while the beat writers are at practice more than anyone, even they can't tell you how well a player is going to be this year. All they can report on is what good or bad things the guy did in practice, often in a drill or a controlled set of downs that doesn't really represent an actual game.
No, the preseason is about as close to the real thing as we can get...and it's why they play the games.
Guys often struggle in practice but turn in great performances in games...or vice versa. It's when the clock doesn't stop, the opposition is fighting for a job just as hard as you, and the cameras are on...that things take shape.
It goes even further when trying to make predictions about entire teams, especially those with a lot of new personnel either on the coaching or player side. Who's to say three offensive linemen won't get hurt before week one? The team might be forced to make a tough roster decision and end up cutting a backup they'll sorely need down the road.
We all know that the NFL is rarely predictable. I mean, who saw the 49ers, previously 6-10 (and 8-8 before that, and without a winning season for a decade before that), not only winning their division, but ending up one overtime fumble away from the SuperBowl?
The fact is, we think we know some things...we want to know some things...but we really know nothing about nothing.