Niners #1 NFC Seed !!! Beat LeastMode, Wilson & Hawks…

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In an Instant Classic NFL game, the Niners held on to pull out the biggest regular season win since the Montana/Clark “Catch” back in 1980/81. Rookie Dre Greenlaw laid the wood on the Hawks’ Tight End, Jacob Hollister, and took him down 1 INCH from the Goal Line on the last play of the game. Yes, 1 inch was the difference between the Niners being the #1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs or being relegated to the #5 seed and having to play next week on the road at Philly in the Wild Card game. Instead, they get to rest two weeks and heal their bodies after a rigorous 16 game schedule. Their “bye week” was in week 4 so they have played in 13 consecutive weeks.

This was the first Niner win in Seattle since 2011 as the Hawks have owned the Niners for the better part of the decade. With the resurgence of the Niners this year, the rivalry is back on and future games between these elite teams should give fans more thrilling games. It’ll be hard to top the two games that they played this year with the Hawks pulling out a win in OT at Levi earlier this year and the Niners winning this thrilla’ last night.

The Niners have been in “playoff mode” since that first meeting vs the Hawks at Levi. Since then, they pulled out a last minute win vs the Cardinals, blew out the #2 seed Packers, lost to the #1 AFC seed Ravens on a field goal on the last play of the game, beat the #3 seed Saints in NOLA 48-46 in another Instant Classic game, lost to the Falcons on a TD that they scored by 1 inch at the end of the game, beat the Rams in another thrilla’ on a field goal on the last play of the game, then this classic game. As Duane Kuiper, broadcaster for the SF Giants, coined… “TORTURE” !!!

Every NFL game has its share of controversial penalties/non-penalties and play calls. Last night’s game was no different but it seemed that those events took place at the end of the game:

  • With about 3 minutes left in the game, the Niners were leading 26-21 and had the chance to run out the clock with a game ending drive. On 2nd down they ran a sweep with Deebo Samuel. Ben Garland, the Niners Center, pulled out and ran downfield to block a defender. Deebo was tackled but there was no way that Garland could have known that so he blocked a Hawk and was called for a 15 yard personal foul penalty. If not for that controversial call, the Niners could have held the ball for another set of downs and potentially run out the clock.
  • With 22 seconds left in the game, the Hawks had a 1st and goal on the Nines’ 1 yard line. Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then for some inexplicable reason, Pete Carroll was late in sending in LeastMode for the game winning Hawks score so they were called for a delay of game penalty. The difference between 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line and 2nd and goal for the 6 yard line was the difference in the outcome of the game.
  • With 15 seconds left in the game, Wilson threw a 3rd down incomplete pass to Hollister in the end zone with Fred Warner wrapping him up. No penalty was called and even a booth review confirmed that no penalty should have been called.
  • Then, with 9 seconds left in the game came that now storied 4th down tackle by Dre Greenlaw on Hollister on the 1 inch line. Game over…

The entire Niner team deserves game balls as they all played one heck of a game. The usual gang had their outstanding games (Garoppolo, Kittle, Juszczck, Samuel, Sanders, Mostert, Bosa, Buckner, Armstead, Warner, Greenlaw). But others, especially in the trenches, came up huge. The D-line have been decimated with injuries so Kevin Givens and Anthony Zettle were called up for this game. While their stat lines weren’t impressive, they played key roles in the D-Line rotation and the end result was that the Defense held the Hawks to 0 points in the first half and 21 for the game. The O-line was outstanding with Ben Garland filling in for the injured Weston Richburg and Daniel Brunskill filling in for the injured Mike Person. My game ball goes to Joe Staley who dominated Jadeveon Clowney holding him to 0 sacks and only 1 tackle. Joe is the only player who was on the squad that last won in Seattle back in 2011. He went through a tortuous 8 years of losing prior to this year and almost retired in 2017. But Shanahan laid out a plan that Joe liked so he stayed. A wave of emotions hit him after the victory and he cried tears of joy.

When one looks at the season that Jimmy Garoppolo had, nobody can question that he is one of the top QB’s in the game today. In last night’s game, he was 18-22 for 285 yards and did not throw an incomplete pass in the 2nd half. His passer rating was 118.8. His stats for the season:

  • 3,798 yards (4th in franchise history)
  • 69.1% completion (3rd in franchise history)
  • QB rating of 102.0 (only behind Montana and Young)
  • 13 wins and joins Montana, Young, and Alex Smith as the only other QB’s having 13 win seasons

Lastly, for fun, let’s do a comparison between this team and Bill Walsh’s team in his first 3 years:

  • In Walsh’s first 3 years with the Niners, they went 2-14, 6-10, and 13-3 and won the first ever Niners Super Bowl.
  • In Shanahan’s first 3 years with the Niners, they went 6-10, 4-12, and 13-3 and have become the #1 seed in this year’s NFC playoffs.
  • When the Niners won their first Super Bowl, they drafted 3 key rookies who became starters immediately (Ronnie Lott, Carlton Williamson and Eric Wright).
  • This year, the Niners drafted Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Mitch Wishnowski, and Dre Greenlaw whom are all key starters on this year’s team.

Let’s see if the Walsh/Shanahan comparison carries on…

Niners Beat Rams in Thrilla – Showdown with Hawks Up Next

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If you want to work-out and race your heart, tune in and watch a Niner game. They are sure to give you a hard pounding 3 hour work-out. In their 12-3 season, their three loses came on the last play of the game:

  • Lost to the Seahawks in OT on a field goal after the Niners had a chance to win with a field goal in OT.
  • Lost to the Ravens on a field goal on the last play of the game after the Niners couldn’t convert on 4th and one late in the 4th quarter. A first down would have given them a great chance to run the clock out and secure a win.
  • Lost to the Falcons on a play at the end zone where Julio Jones crossed the plain of the goal line by inches with 2 seconds left in the game.

Last Sunday, the Rams came into town with their playoff lives on the line. They came out with a great game plan where they rolled Goff out consistently on miss-direction plays. The Niners simply could not stop them as they took a 21-7 lead. Robert Saleh made the in-game adjustments and held the Rams to 10 points the rest of the game while the Niners scored 27 with the winning 3 points on the final play of the game.

The game turning play came just before half-time when all world LB Fred Warner scored on a pick-six as he read a Goff sideline pass, made the interception, almost fell and ran 54 yards for the pick-six.

If that wasn’t enough, the Rams tied the game with about 3 minutes left in the game on a field goal. In their final drive, the Niners faced two 3rd and 16 situations that they had to convert, else they would have had to punt and give the Rams enough time to drive and win the game. They had been zero for 20 on 3rd and 15+ yards this season. They converted both situations into 1st downs and kept their game winning drive alive. Jimmy Garoppolo separated himself from being a good QB into a great QB on those two plays. The first conversion was a Garoppolo bullet to Kendrick Bourne down the middle. The second conversion came with 58 seconds left in the game when Jimmy G. found E-Man Sanders wide open down the field for a 46 yard gain over Jalen Ramsey to the 24 yard line. What made that play extra special was that Garoppolo held the ball until the very last split second and actually had his throwing arm hit while he was releasing the ball. Garoppolo was under siege all night long as the Rams came to play and sacked him 6 times. Two of the sacks came in that last drive creating those 3rd and 16 situations. After the long completion to Sanders, Tevin Coleman ran 9 yards and Jimmy G. took a knee centering the ball for Robbie Gould’s game winning field goal.

It was indeed a “Thrilla in Santa Clara.”

Next up is the game of the year vs the Seahawks up in Seattle for the West title. Btw, how many games of the year have the Niners played this season… The first game vs the Seahawks, the game vs the Packers, the game vs the Ravens, the game vs the Saints, and now the 2nd game vs the Seahawks. The Seahawks lost their two powerful running backs in their loss to the Cardinals but the Niners have had 15 players on IR this year. Injuries are part of the game so it is Next Man Up for both teams in this show-down. It should be another Thrilla…

SF Giants – Part Ways With MadBum – End of Great Era

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In many ways, the parting of the greatest World Series pitcher in history, Madison Bumgarner, with the team of the decade, the SF Giants, had to happen. But it was a very sad day for devoted Giants fans none the less.

The parting had to happen mostly due to the Giants’ past spending sprees that didn’t pan out and left the Giants with an aging roster who were over paid for their diminishing production. The saddest part was that the Giants locked up Madbum for a guaranteed $35 million contract when he was 22 and never offered him an extension. He pitched so well that the deal quickly became a steal for the Giants. Instead of giving MadBum a contract deserving of his accomplishments, the Giants paid Matt Cain $112.5 million for 5 years, Buster Posey $167 million for 9 years, Brandon Crawford $75 million and Brandon Belt $79 million. What was worse is that they paid $220 million for free agent pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and another $62 million for closer Mark Melacon. While I understand why Posey, Cain, Crawford and Belt got their paydays, it’s hard to comprehend why they wouldn’t reward MadBum but instead spend googles of money on Cueto, Samardzija, and Melacon. After all, Cain, Posey, Crawford, Belt, and MadBum were all instrumental in the Giants winning 3 World Series titles in this decade. MadBum, who was the biggest prize of all during their World Series runs, was the only one who didn’t get his payday.

In 2017, ownership was finally wanting to reward MadBum. But, in April of that year, MadBum seriously hurt his pitching shoulder in a dirt bike accident and everything changed. The relationship between management and MadBum never was the same after the accident. When Farhan Zaidi became the GM, one could see the writing on the wall as he wanted his team to get younger and more productive with lower salaries. Funny how another dirt bike accident back in 2002 ended the Giants’ career of Jeff Kent.

In their half-hearted effort this past month, the Giants offered Madbum $70 million for 4 years but he opted to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks for $85 million over 5 years. With the Giants leaving MadBum out in the cold for all of his glory years, it was time for MadBum to leave the Giants out in the cold.

I don’t believe that there was any vindictiveness on the parts of either MadBum or the Giants as they parted ways. MadBum loved his years with the Giants and would have cherished retiring as a Giants. But unfortunate circumstances and poor spending judgements made by the Giants made this more of a business decision than it really needed to be.

I wish MadBum all the best in his future and thank him for something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime, a World Series title… Not only one but THREE !!!

Niners Lose to Falcons – Still Control Their Destiny

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It wasn’t a trap game nor a lack of effort that caused the Niners to lose to the Falcons, it was an inspired Falcon team playing for their coach’s job who simply outplayed the Niners on Sunday. It was Matt Ryan finding an open Julio Jones all day long including the game winning TD. It was Grady Jarrett who pummeled Mike Person all day long and constantly pressured Garoppolo.

The Niners did play hard and the trio of Arik Armstead, Jimmy G., and George Kittle had comparable games to Jarrett, Ryan, and Jones. The difference is that the Falcons made fewer mistakes and all of the Niners miscues came at critical points in the game. On offense, Matt Breida’s fumble killed a promising drive that could have allowed the Niners to take control of the game. The long pass interference penalty on Julio Jones in the end zone allowed the Falcons to get back in the game and position themselves for the win. The dropped ball by Kittle toward the end of the game after his catch took a potential first down away which would have allowed the Niners to potentially run out the clock.

Kyle Shanahan said before the game, “This is their Super Bowl. If we don’t play like this as a Super Bowl game, we will get our asses kicked.” This turned out to be prophetic.

Zooming out to the bigger picture, nothing really changed as a result of this loss. The Niners still control their own destiny to secure the #1 seed in the NFC. If they beat the Rams at home this weekend and beat the Seahawks in Seattle next week, they will be the #1 seed and host playoff games for the first time since the Harbaugh years. They secured a playoff slot even though they lost to the Falcons but there was no celebration in the Niner locker room as they hold themselves to a championship standard and they did not play championship football on Sunday.

Niners Win in NOLA – They Aints Done

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In the game of the year and an instant classic, the Niners win a shootout against the Saints at their place in front of a frenzied and raucous crowd, 48-46. The Saints scored on their first four drives while the Niners scored on three of their first four. After it was over, the Niners had scored on all but three drives and the Saints on all but four drives. It was a game where the saying “whoever has the ball last, wins” was reality. The Saints scored with 53 seconds left in the game to move ahead 46-45 and failed on a two point conversion. In the days of Montana and Young, Niner fans had the “no problem” confidence that they would drive in the last minute and pull out a victory. This was a signature moment for both Garoppolo and Shanahan as they did mount the last minute victorious drive and give Niner fans confidence that the glory days may be here once again.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s stat lines were great (26/35 passing, 349 yards, 4 TD’s and 1 INT) for passing rating of 131.7. Drew Brees’ stats were equally impressive but he was playing at home and played his usual HOF game. This was the fourth consecutive game were Garoppolo has completed at least 70% of his passes with a passer rating of over 110. If he hits those marks this week against the Falcons, he will tie both Russell Wilson (2015) and Patrick Mahomes (2018) as the only QB’s in NFL history who have achieved those statistics in a single season. What was so remarkable was that Jimmy G. kept his composure under a very loud and hostile crowd and played with utmost confidence.

Kyle Shanahaan’s play calling was at its best. He called so many plays where the formation was the same but the plays were different depending on how the Saints defense lined up. He also employed the same plays but reversed left/right. A good example was the key play of the game, fourth and two with 39 seconds left in the game, where Superman George Kittle caught the ball going toward the left sideline, then pushed the defender down and sprinted down field with three other defenders trying to drag him down (one by his face mask) for another 10 yards. That same exact play was run on the right side earlier in the game resulting in another key first down keeping that drive alive. Additionally, on that last Kittle play, the crowd was so loud that Garoppolo couldn’t distinguish if Shanahan had called play 14 or 15 on his wristband. As they broke the huddle and lined up, Shanahan called timeout as he called play 15 and they lined up in play 14 formation. Shanahan later said that there is a big difference between the two plays.

I give the game ball to both Garoppolo and Shanahan this week for their play and play calling. Having said that, there were so many other players who played so well, they were equally deserving. George Kittle had the catch and run of the year. He won the “Angry Run of the Week” on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football show. The trio of WR’s (E-Man Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne) had great games with E-Man catching a TD while also throwing a TD pass and Bourne catching 2 TD’s and Deebo catching some clutch third down plays. They have separated themselves and will play most of the snaps down the stretch. Raheem Mostert had another great game as well as Kyle Juszczyk. The “next man up” award this week goes to Ben Garland who came in at the Center position when Weston Richburg went down with a season ending knee injury.

What makes this Niner team so strong is that they keep finding different ways to win. This week, the Defense was offensive but luckily, so was the Offense.

While the Niners are on top with an 11-2 record, their injuries keep piling up and while the “next man up” philosophy has been working so far, they simply can’t afford any more injuries down the stretch.

  • CB Richard Sherman went out with a hamstring and be out a few weeks.
  • SS Jaquiski Tartt broke his ribs vs the Ravens and is week-to-week.
  • DE Dee Ford has had a hamstring condition for over a month that he re-aggravated vs the Ravens. He will be out until the play-offs.
  • DT Julian Taylor suffered ligament damage to his elbow and may be ready to play vs the Rams.
  • NT D.J. Jones suffered a significant season ending ankle injury. This is a huge blow as he was simply outstanding against both the run and pass.
  • LB Kwon Alexander tore his pectoral and was placed on season ending IR on Nov 5. His loss was really felt in the Ravens loss and in the poor defensive performance vs the Saints.
  • C Weston Richburg was playing at a very high level this year calling the line plays until he suffered a season ending knee injury vs the Saints.
  • DL Ronald Blair was having his best season as a rotational edge rusher until he suffered a season ending injury vs the Seahawks.
  • TE Garrett Celek was placed on IR with a back injury.
  • WR Marquise Goodwin was placed on IR with knee and ankle issues.
  • DE Damontre Moore was placed on IR with a broken arm.
  • WR Trent Taylor was placed on IR with a foot surgery.
  • WR Jalen Hurd was placed on IR with a back injury.
  • RB Jerrick McKinnon missed his second consecutive year with a torn ACL.
  • CB Jason Verrett was placed on IR with knee issues.
  • OT Shon Coleman was placed on IR with a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle.
  • CB Tim Harris was placed on IR with a groin injury.

The final three games of the regular season are against teams that are playing their best football. The Falcons at home, the Rams at home and the Seahawks in Seattle which will most likely determine the Western Divisional winner. Shanahan continues to rightfully say weekly, they haven’t won anything yet as their divisional rivals continue to play well and win. They just completed the toughest three game schedule in NFL history as they beat the Packers (10-2), lost to the Ravens (10-2) and beat the Saints (10-2). Bring on the Falcons, Rams and Seahawks !!!

Niners Lose to Lamar – Their Season is Done…

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The game between the Niners and Ravens was advertised as the game of the year. It more than lived up to the hype and was indeed the best game of the NFL season. Both teams showcased why they have 10-2 records. It would be a treat to see them battle one more time in February.

As good as the Niners played, there are many negative articles about the Niners including Shanahan’s play calling and the team’s inability to win big games due to mistakes and turn-overs. Seems like they think that the Niners’ season is done.

Allow me to remind you that this is not the Trent Baalke years where he replaced Jim Harbaugh with Jim Tomsula (5-12) and Chip Kelly (2-14). Since then, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have re-built the team which has depth at every position.  With so many injuries this year, the “next man up” has stepped up every time leading them to a 10-2 record. Yesterday’s “next man up” was Marcell Harris who came in after Jaquiski Tartt was injured. All he did was have 5 tackles (2 solo) and stripped the ball away from Lamar Jackson for a key turn-over.

Also, allow me to remind you that the two Niner losses have been by a field goal on the last play of the game. A play or two in each loss could have easily gone in the Niners way.

This was an old fashioned smash ball game and the team that had the ball last won. The stats were even across the board. Rushing yards were even (178 yards for the Ravens and 174 for the Niners). Raheem Mostert, another “next man up” guy, had a career game rushing for 146 yards on 14 carries with a 40 yard TD run. Raheem deserves my game ball. The passing yardage edge went to the Niners (165 yards to the Raven’s 105 yards). Each team lost a fumble and the difference in the game was that the Ravens converted the Niners’ turn-over into a TD while the Niners didn’t take advantage of the turn-over that Harris forced.

To truly see how well that the Niners played in a hostile environment under wet and muddy conditions, they held the Ravens to 283 total yards while their average for the year has been 459 yards. Additionally, the Niners held the Ravens to 20 points while their average for the year has been 35 points (average of 45 points in their previous 3 games).

Nothing has changed, folks. The Niner Defense is as good as ever and the Offense is improving every week. Lastly, Kyle Shanahan is still the best play caller in the game !!!

Niners Dominate, Destroy, and Destruct Aaron Rodgers

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The game was over for the Packers when they lost the coin flip and the Niners put them on offense to start the game.

The game was over for the Packers when, in the first series, Fred Warner sacked/stripped Aaron Rodgers and Nick Bosa scooped up the ball on the two yard line.

The game was over for the Packers when Tevin Coleman scored from the 2 on the Niners’ first offensive play.

In a game that was being featured as one of the games of the year, it turned out to be the game of the year for only one team, the Niners.

Pundits can continue to find ways to say that the Niners aren’t good because they haven’t played any good teams. Aaron Rodgers, future Hall of Famer,  was held to his worst statistical game of his career, a measly 104 passing yards. The Niner Defense pressured him all night long and sacked him 5 times for 38 yards in losses. They held him 0-14 in the critical 3rd down plays. The Packers finally converted a 3rd down play in garbage time.

While the Offense had a great game against a very good Packer defense, the game ball goes to the entire Niners’ Defensive Front Four. They were the main reason for Rodgers’ anemic production. Rodgers was never comfortable in the pocket and had to hurry his passes. I have to believe that with their rotational depth, they have the strongest front four in the league (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, D. J. Jones, Damontre’ Moore, Julian Taylor, Sheldon Day, Soloman Thomas, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford). Fred Warner had an absolutely monster game with 11 solo tackles and the one sack/strip that lead to the Niners’ first score. He was all over the field all night long. I can name almost every defensive player who had a great game last night:

  • Dre Greenlaw (Kwon Alexander’s replacement) had 8 tackles (6 solo)
  • Jimmie Ward had 6 tackles (5 solo) and 2 passes defensed
  • E-Man Moseley 5 tackles (5 solo)
  • Ahkello Witherspoon had 2 passes defensed coming back from a foot injury
  • Jaquiski Tartt had 4 tackles (3 solo) and 0.5 sacks and 1 QB hit
  • K’Wuan Williams had 2 tackles (1 solo)

These guys not only held Rodgers to 104 yards passing, their All-Pro receiver, Davante Adams, had only 43 yards on 7 catches. So dominating was the Niner Defense that the Packers’ only scoring drive was manufactured mostly by Niner defensive penalties (two which were very questionable).

The Offense went back to their identity which is to run the ball to set up the pass. They produced 112 yards running and 253 yards passing. The most telling Offensive statistic from last night was that Garoppolo threw only 5 passes in the 2nd half and all 5 passes were big plays. They totally controlled the game and clock with their run game. Jimmy G was 14/20 for those 253 yards with a passer rating of 145.8. Garoppolo looked comfortable in the pocket and his footwork was flawless. My favorite play of the night was the 61 yard TD pass to Kittle. He stared down Richie James who was running a shallow route on the left side. Also, Kendrick Bourne was running a deep route down the left sideline. This made the entire Packer defense flow to the left while Kittle ran a route that started left, then turned right and away from the Packer defense. He was open by 20 yards and only then did Jimmy G turn and threw a bullet to the wide open Kittle. Speaking of Kittle, we found out last night that a piece of bone broke off in his ankle 3 weeks ago vs the Cardinals on the same play that he injured his knee. Shanahan described his injury like a piece of bark falling off a tree. He also said that a normal human being would be out 6-8 weeks but said that Kittle is a different kind of animal. Btw, Jimmy G targeted Kittle 6 times last night and he caught all 6 passes for 121 yards including the 61 yard TD.

In regards to Garoppolo, he displayed his leadership last night. When their first three series didn’t produce (except for the first offensive play of the game), he gathered his troops and this is how Kittle described it:

“I think my favorite thing in the game was — I think it was after our third drive, we scored right away then had two three-and-outs that weren’t very good,” tight end George Kittle said after the game. “Jimmy got the whole offense together and was like, ‘Hey! You got to play with intensity. Our defense is playing their a–es off. We just got to take advantage of those opportunities they are giving us. Because Aaron Rodgers is one heck of Hall-of-Fame quarterback and we can’t give him the opportunity to come back and beat us. So that was really awesome then everything after that just kind of took off.”

Also, Richard Sherman addressed the Jimmy G critics:

“You hear some of the noise and things said about him, and it’s frustrating, because we see him every day,” Sherman said. “We see what kind of work ethic he puts in, the hours he puts in preparing — the first one in, the last one out. The guy looks for no credit. All he does is encourage his teammates and put more work in.

“And then you have people nit-picking. We run for 300 yards, and they’re like, ‘Well, he didn’t throw a lot.’ We ran for 300 yards! You know, then he throws for 400, and they’re like, ‘Well, I think he got out-played by Kyler Murray.’ And Kyler Murray barely had 100 yards passing [150 yards on 24-of-33 passing last week]. And you start to laugh at these things, but you’re like, the goalposts keep moving with him.

“And the one thing you can appreciate — and I’ve said this before — you can appreciate being good enough that people got to make excuses for why you’re good. He’s a good enough quarterback that people have to make excuses, they have to move the bar. …

“What else can the guy do? He’s helping his football team win football games, and he deserves a ton more credit for that.”

In his first 21 games, he is 18-3. The Niners lost all of their games last year after he tore his ACL. He is 232 for 337 passing during this period (68% completion) with a 101.64 QB rating. Much better than Rodgers’ first 21 games. Statistics don’t lie.

Bring on Lamar and the Ravens !!!

Niners Gut Out a Win vs Cardinals

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In a game that could have gone either way, the Niners pulled out a last minute win against the Arizona Cardinals, a team definitely on the rise. In the last three games (Cardinals at AZ, Seahawks at home, and the Cardinals again at home), a defensive blueprint against the Niner Offense has been established. They played 8 in the box to take away the Niner run game and dared Garoppolo to beat them with his arm. The Niners went 2-1 as Jimmy G had 2 career efforts against the Cardinals by throwing 8 TD’s while amassing 741 passing yards. These past three games were also very challenging on the Niner Defense as Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson, with their mobility and accuracy in their passing and running games were on full display.

With the limited Niner receivers who were able to play, Deebo Samuels had a break-out game while E-Man Sanders played a limited role due to rib injuries. Deebo had 8 clutch catches for 143 yards and made a highlight “Toe Drag Swag” catch as he reached over the Cardinal defender’s back (All-Pro Patrick Peterson), tipped it up as it bounced off of Peterson’s helmet, and stayed focused on the ball to clutch it while he was able to drag both feet on the field of play before being dumped on his shoulder which he injured on that play. He gutted it out and played the remainder of the game with that injury and made crucial catches down the stretch. Deebo deserves the game ball for his tremendous effort.

The next three games for the Niners are historically difficult. They play the Packers (8-2 and division leaders), at the Ravens (8-2 and division leaders), and at the Saints (8-2 and divison leaders). No team has ever had to face 3 consecutive teams with .800 winning percentages in the history of the NFL. The Niners are 100% focused on the Packers this week. They won’t think about the Ravens until Monday and the Saints until the following Monday.

It appears that George Kittle will be returning from knee and ankle injuries in time for the Packers game. This is huge as he is a premier run blocker and a super-human pass catcher/runner. No doubt, his presence will help both the running and passing game. With Kyle Juszczyk (Juice), who came back from a knee injury for the Cardinals game and played outstandingly, and with Kittle coming back, the Niner Offense should return to normalcy and put up some impressive numbers as long as they remain healthy.

While Kittle was out, Ross Dwelley also had a break-out game hauling in 2 TD’s. He was also the guy who caught the key 3rd down play in the first Cardinals game to ice the win for the Niners. Lastly, Jeff Wilson, played 1 snap last Sunday and it happened to be the biggest play of the game as he scored the game winning TD on his one and only play. Both Dwelley and Wilson were undrafted signings last year and I had hoped that the Niners could find a way to keep both of them. While they didn’t make the roster last year as rookies, they worked hard and are making huge contributions to the team this year. I love to see underdogs achieving their dreams and feel really happy for both Ross and Jeff.

Niners Lose Due to Turnovers, Dropped Passes, and MVP Russell Wilson

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The Full Moon was out over Levi Stadium allowing the Hawks to prey at night and they took full advantage as they feasted on Niner mistakes all night long.

3 turnovers (2 fumbles and 1 INT), 7 dropped passes, and the performance of MVP Russell Wilson was too much to overcome as the Niners lost their first game of the 2019 season. Although the Niner Defense forced 4 turnovers (3 fumbles and 1 INT), the Offense simply could not take advantage of those turnovers as they scored only 6 points on the Hawks turnovers while the Hawks scored 21 points on the 3 Niner turnovers.

This game was eerily similar to the Steeler game when the Niners turned the ball over 5 times but they somehow won that game. Even though Russell Wilson won the game for the Hawks, it was really the 7 dropped passes that doomed the Niners comeback attempt. The WR group has been the biggest weakness of this team and their deficiencies highlighted how weak this group is. After E-Man Sanders left the game in the 2nd quarter with a rib injury and George Kittle was out the entire game with a knee and ankle injury, Deebo Samuel was the main guy catching 8 passes for 112 yards. But he had a key dropped pass along with 2 drops by Kendrick Bourne (1 turning into an INT), 2 drops by Dante Pettis, 1 drop by Kyle Juszczyk and 1 drop by Marquise Goodwin. What hurt the most is that all of these drops ended offensive drives so could also be considered as turnovers.

As poorly as the Niners played, they still had a chance to win as a game winning 47 yard field goal attempt in OT was badly shanked by rookie Chase McLaughlin. He did, however, have 3 successful kicks allowing the Niners to stay in the game. The Niners had a tremendous Defensive performance by Dre Greenlaw who filled in admirably for the injured Kwon Alexander. He had a key INT in OT when the Hawks were driving for a winning score. He also had 8 tackles (3 solo) and defended the run and the pass exceptionally well. Fred Warner had a monster game with 10 tackles (9 solo, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks). E-Man Moseley continued to impress at CB as well as K-Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt.

The two starting Tackles (Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchy) came back to play from injuries but they looked very rusty as Jadeveon Clowney was in the backfield all night long and scored a defensive touchdown on a forced fumble on Garoppolo.

This loss will give the Niners an added incentive to improve in all areas. They still have the best record in the NFC and are still the team to beat.

Niners’ Jimmy G is the E-Man… Can U Say 8-0?

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The Niners have won all of their games this year in many different ways with the Defense being the biggest factor. While Jimmy G had a rough start to the season with a mediocre game in week 1 vs the Buccaneers and in week 3 vs the Steelers, he has been consistently good since. Against the Cardinals this week, Jimmy G had a lights out/stellar game. Garoppolo won the game as the Defense had an “off game” and allowed Kenyan Drake to run for 110 yards and sloppily allowed Kyler Murray to throw an 88 yard TD pass to little known Andy Isabella to get the Cardinals back in the game.

How good was Jimmy G? He was 28/37 for 317 yards with 4 TD passes with a QBR of 95.3 (Passer rating of 136.9). Equally as important as his 4 TD passes, Garoppolo was an astounding 14/16 (87.5%) on critical 3rd down plays with 3 of his TD’s coming on 3rd down. His Passer rating was a perfect 153.6 on 3rd down plays!!!

Following are interesting stats on Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and Jimmy Garoppolo in their first 14 games.

Brady: 11-3 (won/loss), 18-12 (TD/INT), 199.8 (Pass Yds/game), 87.0 (Passer rating)

Jackson: 11-3 (won/loss), 16-8 (TD/INT), 197.4 (Pass Yds/game), 89.3 (Passer rating)

Garoppolo: 12-2 (won/loss), 23-15 (TD/INT), 240.4 (Pass Yds/game), 98.6 (Passer rating)

I am so thankful that the sports media pays all of their attention to Brady and Jackson (and Brees, Mahomes, Rodgers, Watson and Mayfield) while dismissing Garoppolo as just another QB. Stephen A. Smith called Jimmy G “pedestrian” after his brilliant game against the Cardinals. I’ll take a pedestrian QB with an 8-0 record any day of the week.

The Cardinals’ defensive game plan was to take away the Niners run game so they stacked 8 players in the box all night long daring Jimmy G to beat them. Garoppolo obliged… He threw his 4 TD’s to four different receivers (E-Man Sanders, George Kittle, Dante Pettis, and Kendrick Bourne) and completed passes to 9 different receivers. The acquisition of Sanders is playing out as being brilliant and the Jimmy G connection to E-Man will only get better as the season progresses.

The one big negative coming out of the win over the Cardinals is that Kwon Alexander, the heart and soul of the Niner D, was lost for the season with a torn pectoral. He will be a huge loss but the Niners “next man up” mentality will carry them through the season.