Weekend Reading: Nick Foles, Superstar?

Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Some links to pass along as we inch closer to Eagles-Niners.

There seems to be some turmoil within the 49ers organization right now. Matt Borcas of Grantland on the possibility of a Jim Harbaugh/San Francisco split.

As Mike Florio first reported, a trade sending Harbaugh to Cleveland for several draft picks “was in place,” likely due to the mounting tension between the coach and 49ers GM Trent Baalke. Even stranger, it was Harbaugh who reportedly initiated the talks. He was seemingly willing to leave an outwardly attractive situation for an ostensible Dumpster fire. The deal never came to fruition, but the mere fact that it reached a “serious stage”suggests the clock is ticking on Harbaugh’s time in San Francisco, especially considering his contract expires after next season.

In addition to the apparent Harbaugh-Baalke power struggle, the 49ers may be in the midst of an honest-to-goodness slump. Colin Kaepernick looks average, the defense has taken a major step back, the team is riddled with injuries, and it’s going to be damn near impossible to make the playoffs in the same division as Arizona and Seattle. As such, the prospect of Harbaugh bolting for another job seems infinitely more plausible than it would have a year ago, when the 49ers were coming off a Super Bowl appearance and approaching juggernaut status. Now they’re 1-2 and literally can’t score in the second half.

Harbaugh, it should be noted, is no Steve Spurrier or Bobby Petrino — which is to say, he’s not the typical NFL coach who longs to return to college. Those guys missed the fun of campus life and longed for a reduced workload. Harbaugh could not give less of a s— about having fun, and he seems biologically incapable of rest. For him, the allure of college football is total control, just as it was with Nick Saban. He’s the kind of guy who gets super jealous every time Charlie Strong kicks a player off his team.

Philly Mag’s own Richard Rys on what life is like for Terrell Owens 10 years after the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. Good read.

I’m on the sidelines of an empty football stadium at Pierce College in suburban Los Angeles, on a cloudless Tuesday morning in August. All across the country, NFL teams are midway through their training camps, and the start of the season is just weeks away. Here, the handful of athletes who work out twice a week are mostly in their 20s, with pedigrees from big-time schools like USC and stints in the pros. They’re staying in shape, hoping for the football equivalent of a winning Powerball ticket — a call inviting them back to the big show. Then there’s that receiver who looks so familiar. The long, chiseled frame, factory-built for highlight reels. The trash talk. It’s Terrell Owens.

He’s not waiting for his phone to ring, right? Owens is 40, four years removed from his last NFL game and a decade from his lone appearance in the Super Bowl with the 2004 Eagles. He was last seen in a Carl’s Jr. commercial, mocking his relationship with Birds fans, which began as lust and ended in the type of hate usually reserved for despots and Kardashians. While his old teams take the field this fall, Owens will begin a season of a different sort — as a cast member on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. He’ll never say the “r” word, but this sure looks like retirement.

Except for these crisp routes he’s running. Owens lines up again with another d-back, and fights through some physical hand-checking off the line. The aggressive coverage kicks him into another gear, and he pulls away from his defender. “Bye-bye! Bye-bye!” Owens yells, sprinting to the goal line. He backs up the smack with a 45-yard touchdown catch.

Running his mouth, making big plays, commanding attention — it all sounds familiar. But in some ways, Owens is a very different guy from the T.O. we remember. He’s here with two of his kids, 15-year-old Terique and Kylee, nine. Between drills, he encourages his teammates, bestowing advice on a young wideout from Pierce: “Don’t think,” Owens says. “If you’re thinking, you’re not running full speed. Be confident. Know what your plan is before you step up to the line. When I was a rookie, I was scared. I was nervous. No one knew who I was. John Madden gave me the name ‘T.O.’ when I started making plays.” When Owens speaks, nearly everyone stops to listen.

Will Laws of SI.com says Nick Foles is on the doorstep of superstardom.

In 16 total games under Kelly, Foles has compiled 3,869 yards with 33 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He’d have even more passing yards if a few of those games weren’t in relief of Vick.

Foles has managed to help Jeremy Maclin fulfill his potential as a deep threat after doing the same with Riley Cooper last year while simultaneously not forcing risky throws. His career yards per attempt (7.9) and interception percentage (1.4 percent) match up stunningly well with the league’s active legends…

[Kelly and Foles] could be attached together for quite a while. Their story last season sounds eerily similar to the famed joining of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, with Vick assuming the role of Drew Bledsoe. Of course, that comes with the caveat that Philadelphia didn’t win the Super Bowl last year.

But if Foles keeps on the upward trajectory he and Kelly have paved, it’s not hard to imagine the Lombardi Trophy heading to Philadelphia in the near future.