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THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Zags depth; be careful what you wish for; and motivation

| December 6, 2020 1:25 AM

If the Zags win the national title this year — if the season even lasts long enough for them to even play in one — all you have to do is look at what happened in Wednesday night's comeback win over West Virginia as an example of the embarrassment of riches, talent-wise, in Zagville.

The starting point guard, a true freshman who considered turning pro right out of high school, goes down early in the game with a lower leg injury.

He is replaced by the backup point guard, a transfer who started 67 games in his first two college seasons, at an SEC school.

And if something happened to him, the next option at point guard is a grad transfer who started two full seasons at his previous stop at a Division I school before suffering a broken hand early in his senior season, then securing a medical redshirt.

How many college teams can boast that kind of depth?

SEAHAWK FANS, no doubt through the years you have wished your offensive and defensive coordinators would be courted by other teams.

Please, take another job. Please!

Maybe not so much this season, with your Seahawks being Super Bowl contenders — if the head coach doesn't get in the way.

In San Francisco — actually, in Santa Clara, but these days temporarily located in Glendale, Ariz. — our defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, has been mentioned in recent years any time a head coaching job comes open.

The most recent head coaching job opening is with the Detroit Lions.

My first thought — why would anybody wish that headache on him? What has he done to deserve that disaster?

That would be like being assigned as captain of the Titanic. Or given the keys to a car which has had its brake lines cut. Or handed a ticking time bomb.

Or ...

The Lions are where promising young coaches go to be fired. Sure, some of these coaches are then forgiven for what happened in Detroit — after all, it is the Lions — and they re-surface as coordinators again, with other NFL teams.

But usually not with the team they left so they could suffer for a few years in the Motor City.

The higher-profile job and the much-higher pay would be nice for Saleh, but that would likely be the end of him with the 49ers, coaching up an undermanned defense to the point where it can keep us in games, providing opportunities for our undermanned offense and the equally skillful scheming of our head coach.

Unless there's a DC opening back in the Bay, in a few seasons.

MICHAEL JORDAN, he of the 10-part documentary that helped get us through the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, used to take any kind of slight — perceived or otherwise — as motivation.

Sounds like DK Metcalf, the beastly receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, might be doing the same thing.

After going off on the Philadelphia Eagles to the tune of 10 catches for 177 yards in a 23-17 Seattle victory, the second-year Seahawk, who has already emerged as one of the top wideouts in the league, said he was motivated by a pregame conversation with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

“I’m getting a little respect, but you know I still got work to do. One of the defensive coaches came up to me and it kind of made me mad that he was like, ‘You know, I was in Detroit with Megatron but you’re not there yet,’” Metcalf said, in the game story from The Associated Press. “In my mind, I’m not trying to be Megatron. I’m trying to be me. So I had a little chip on my shoulder the whole game.”

Schwartz, speaking with reporters in Philadelphia on Wednesday, remembered the conversation differently.

“In my mind, it’s a little bit funny," Schwartz, a former coach of the Detroit Lions, was quoted as saying. "Any time you even speak somebody’s name in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson, I don’t know how you could take offense to that. I tried to pay the guy a compliment, told him I saw his story and knew he had overcome an injury and said he’s a hard worker. I said he reminds me a little bit of Calvin and congratulated him after the game. At the time he told me, ‘Hey thanks coach, that means a lot to me.'”

Somewhere in the middle is probably the truth, but it's hard to imagine a veteran coach such as Schwartz — unless he was irreparably harmed by his five-year stint as Lions head coach — approaching an opposing player before a game to provide him motivation.

Like the Seahawks needed extra incentive to beat the lowly Eagles anyway.

But hey, whatever gets you fired up.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.