SF 49ers – Week 13 WIN – George Kittle is the new Gronk !!!

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In their best game of the year, the Niners beat the hot Denver Broncos who had won 3 games in a row and was in the hunt for a playoff spot. Before the game started, the Broncos knew that the Baltimore Ravens had lost, thus opening an opportunity for them to sneak into the playoffs. The Broncos had plenty to play for and had to be confident playing the Niners who had only two wins this entire season. As I said in last week’s post, there is plenty to be optimistic about this Niner team going forward. The young studs on both sides of the ball showcased their talents against a playoff caliber team.These guys are playing for their future as Shanahan told them that the remaining games are important to find out who will be part of the Niners success going forward.

Nick Mullens had a solid game throwing for 305 yards on 20-33 and 2 TD’s. 210 of those yards went to George Kittle which included an exciting 85 yard catch-n-run TD, all in the first half. Kittle is now being mentioned as being in the same class as Gronkowski and Kelce. Mullens also threw a game clinching TD to Dante Pettis. Jeff Wilson had a career high 90 yards in his first NFL start.

Thus, an undrafted QB (Nick Mullens) and an undrafted RB (Jeff Wilson) took apart a very good Bronco defense. But, it was the unsung heroes who won the game for the Niners. The Offensive Line controlled the line of scrimmage against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, two of the best sack artists in the league. Also, the Defensive Line held Phillip Lindsey to 30 yards on 14 carries. Last week, Lindsey had 157 yards and 2 TD’s against the Bengals. Witherspoon and Sherman had good games at the Cornerback position but it was D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris, both Rookies, who had absolutely monster games playing the Safety positions.

With Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon and Raheem Mostert returning next year from injuries and the Niners committed to finding a Pass Rusher and an impact Wide Receiver, they are pointing in the right direction.

I don’t expect the Niners to win any of the remaining 3 games, all against playoff teams (the Seahawks, Bears, and Rams). But, I do expect these games to be competitive as the young players are now strutting their stuff.

This-n-That:

  • After the Raiders beat the high flying Steelers, they fired their GM, Reggie McKenzie. No doubt, there was a power struggle between Chuckie Gruden and McKenzie. With Chuckie beating the Steelers, this presented a perfect time to tell owner Mark Davis that he was in control. With Gruden trading the best LB in the league, Khalil Mack, and also trading an impact WR, Amari Cooper, he is being very Baalke-like in his determination to make this his own team. With only 3 wins this year, time will tell if Gruden can make this team a winner.
  • There is some truth to some team match-up dynamics that simply do not change regardless of whether one team is dominant and the other team just average. One of these cases is between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. No matter how good the Patriots are and how bad the Dolphins are, the Dolphins have the Patriots number. Yesterday was no different as the Dolphins pulled off a major upset with an implausible game winning 69 yard TD with a hook-n-ladder miracle on the last play of the game (34-33).
  • The Golden State Warriors were named Sport Illustrated Sportsperson of the year. They become only the 4th team ever to win this award. The 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey team, the 1999 US Women’s Olympic Soccer team, and the 2004 World Series Boston Red Sox team are the only other teams to win this otherwise individual performance award.
    “This is an incredible honor and one that certainly signifies our Strength in Numbers philosophy as a team and organization,” Warriors President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Bob Myers told The Associated Press. “Our success is due to the contributions of every single player, coach and staff member in our organization; for Sports Illustrated to recognize this unique dynamic is truly special.”

SF 49ers – Week 12 Loss – Losing Streak Remains Intact

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The Niners lost to the Seattle Seahawks big (43-16) to extend their losing streak and remain with the worst won/loss record in the NFL. Having said that, their effort against a good Seahawk team was the best since beating the hapless Raiders back on November 1. Saying that this was their “best effort in a while” can be taken in one of two ways… either they are so bad, that a 43-16 whipping is as good as they can be… or, they are on the right path in becoming a respectable team for the remainder of this year and upcoming years. My view is that they will show effort for the remaining games this year but will continue to lose. But they will gain valuable experience in becoming a respectable team next year.

Following are my reasons for optimism for the Niners:

  • The offense is above average. The Offensive line is solid and consistent. Mike McGlinchy, the Niners 1st round draft pick has turned out to be a great pick. Although very injury ridden at running back (Jerick McKinnon out with an ACL, Raheem Mostert out with a broken arm, and Matt Breida playing through ankle issues all year), the Niners have the 4th best running game in the NFL. Undrafted rookie, Jeff Wilson had his best NFL game on Sunday (61 yards on 15 carries) and will be a valuable rotational back next year. Kyle Juszczyk is the best Fullback in the league. They are set at QB with Jimmy Garoppolo coming back next year and both Nick Mullins and C.J. Beathard getting valuable playing experience this year. Mullins threw for 414 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30/48 passes against a good Seahawk defense. The Wide Receiver position is lacking an impact pass catcher. Dante Pettis had his best game in his young career this week (5 catches for 129 yards with 2 touchdowns with one being a beautiful 75 yard catch-n-run). Kendrick Bourne, Marquis Goodwin, Richie James and Trent Taylor are good but not impact receivers. George Kittle has quickly developed into a Gronk-like Tight End and continues to shine every week.
  • The defense needs an overhaul. Their Front Four is solid with good rotational players (Earl Mitchell, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner, Cassius Marsh, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day, DJ Jones, and Julian Taylor.) The big missing piece is an impact pass rusher. This is key to their success as the back seven simply isn’t good enough to cover receivers for more than 3 seconds. At corner back, Ahkello Witherspoon is developing but very inconsistent. Richard Sherman is still good but at his age, he may have at most 1-2 more years left in his legs. Jaquiski Tartt is a good but not a great Safety. The younger “back seven” players are worth developing as we don’t yet have a gauge on how good they are or can be because of the lack of a pass rush. DJ Reed, Adrian Colbert, Marcell Harris, and Tarvarious Moore are young and worth keeping. Guys like Jimmie Ward, K’Waun Williams, and Antone Exum have had their chances so their tenure with the Niners should end. As for Linebackers, Fred Warner is the only keeper going forward. The linebacking group needs revamping. They need an impact Safety like Derwin James of the LA Chargers and an impact linebacker like Leighton Vander Esch of the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch and Shanahan almost drafted James but decided to go with McGlinchey which was the right choice. Now that the Niners do have a solid Offense, their focus on improvement will be on Defense.

This-n-That:

  • Another revealing piece of news related to Kareem Hunt, the running back for the KC Chiefs released due to a domestic violence incident. Both the Chiefs and the NFL knew about the incident back in February. They were “unable” to get ahold of the video and they did NOT interview either Kareem or the abused woman. Yes, indeed, the NFL did everything possible to do a thorough investigation… NOT !!!
  • Urban Meyer, the Ohio State coach, who hid the fact that his assistant coach was abusing his wife for years, announced his retirement. Most likely because his Buckeyes weren’t selected to the Final 4 NCAA Football Championships.
  • On Friday, Nov 23, Tiger Woods and Phil Nicholson participated in a $9 million winner take all match in Las Vegas. It probably made sense 10 years ago, but not now… Heard it was a boring match which I call the Battle of the Cheaters. One cheats on the course while the other cheats off the course. Of course, the “on course cheater” won…

SF 49ers – Week 10 Loss – Niners Host Paradise Football Team

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The Niners lost to an equally bad NY Giants team but the big story was the Niners generosity in inviting and hosting the Paradise Football team at Levi Stadium in support of all the families who lost their lives and homes in the horrific fires which destroyed the entire community.

“What that town, what that community has gone through, it’s just heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching for all of us,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So, you just look for anything you can do. I think when you can take people’s minds off something for a short time, of course we’d do anything possible. I think it’s just a show of solidarity of our community, we’ve got to all stand together and reach out and help each other during a time like this.”

The Niners also will donate all proceeds from Monday night’s 50/50 drawing to the North Valley Community Foundation to help those affected by the fires in Butte County.

In addition, San Francisco tight end George Kittle, quarterback Nick Mullens, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, left tackle Joe Staley and running back Matt Breida are signing and donating their game-worn jerseys from Monday night to be auctioned off, with all money going to relief efforts.

 

Shane Wallen, the 49ers’ assistant strength and conditioning coach, grew up in Paradise and is a native of Chico. He has started a GoFundMe page in efforts to offer support for his hometown. The fire destroyed Wallen’s father’s home in Magalia, California.

With the help of multiple Niners players making donations and posting on their social media platforms, Wallen had already raised more than $19,000 of the $50,000 goal as of early Monday evening. Wallen stopped and greeted each Paradise player on Monday night.

During the national anthem, the Paradise team stood in front of the 49ers on the sideline and received loud cheers from the fans at Levi’s Stadium. As the anthem began, Niners players put their arms around the Paradise players in solidarity.

Aaron Rodgers who grew up in Chico donate $1 million to the Paradise fund. One of the great players and great guys in the league !!!

Additionally, the GS Warriors also hosted the boys and girls Paradise basketball teams to their Tuesday night game. Of the 31 players invited, 29 lost their homes. They are also running fund raisers to help the community.

Sports is a wonderful way to provide relief to those impacted by disasters and also a great forum to raise funds to help rebuild the community…

 

News around Bay Area Sports:

  • Congratulations to the Oakland A’s for an outstanding year. Richly deserved awards went to Bob Melvin for being named the AL Manager of the Year. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson both won Gold Gloves and Khris Davis won the best Designated Hitter award.
  • Congratulations to the SF Giants for hiring Farhan Zaidi as the head of baseball operations. Although only 41, he has already helped build both the Oakland A’s and LA Dodgers in becoming solid winners.
  • The GS Warriors are on a 4 game skid. While the media is blaming the heated argument between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant for the losses, the real reason are injuries to Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Alfonso McKinnie. Once they recover from their injuries and get DeMarcus Cousins in playing shape, they’ll get back to their winning ways. Ask Kyle Shanahan for injury woes…

SF 49ers – Week 9 WIN – Niners Crush Turdy Raiders

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The Niners totally dominated the Raiders on prime time Thursday Night Football to the tune of 34-3. The real question is if the Niners actually found their stride or are the Raiders indeed the worst team in the NFL thus masking the Niner effort? They play an equally bad team next Monday night when they host Eli Manning and the NY Giants. If the Niners win that game, then a bit more will be learned but not much more. After all, the only two wins that a bad Arizona Cardinal team has this year are against the Niners.

This is a lost year much like last year was so it was refreshing to see Shanahan turn to an untested Nick Mullens at QB. He had a brilliant first game with 3 TD’s, zero turnovers, 16-22 passes completed for 262 yards earning him a whopping 151.9 QB rating. This ranks as one of the top four performances in NFL history for a QB in his first starting role. Nick received a call from Brett Favre during the post-game interview as Mullens and Favre both went to Southern Miss. Turns out that Mullens shattered all of Favre’s passing records there.

The big question that will dominate this week’s Niner media coverage is whether Shanahan will stick with Mullens for the NY Giants game even if Beathard’s wrist is healed and he is cleared to play. It is a mini QB controversy as we all know that Jimmy Garopollo will be back to start next year. Having said that, it will be telling to Niner fans on what direction Shanahan will take for the remainder of this year. The overwhelming fan sentiment will be that Mullens should continue to start due to his stellar performance. Beathard has a history of turnovers and being sacked as he hangs onto the ball way too long waiting for receivers to get open. Mullens showed last night that he can make quick decisions and get the ball out accurately before the receivers make their final break. So, will Shanahan stick with the hot hand or be loyal to Beathard? My recommendation is for Shanahan to have this discussion with Steve Kerr and get his thoughts on this topic.

Last night was really fun for a change. Let’s find out if Nick Mullens can finish out the remainder of this season much like Garopollo finished last year with five consecutive wins.

Game This-n-Thats:

  • Before the start of last night’s game there was Breaking News… The Niners traded their Len Eshmont candidate to the Raiders as a salary dump (pun intended). Yes, Toi Lett Bowle the Turd (III), is now a Raider so he can be united with his twin brother, Turd. The Raiders now have exclusive rights to all Turds.
  • The leading candidate to win the Len Eshmont award now belongs to George “Gronk” Kittle. He had 4 receptions last night on 4 targets for 108 yards with a 71 yard 1-handed catch and run that must be seen to be believed… WOW !!!
  • The Niner defense came alive last night and sacked Derek Carr 8 times. They did this with the following starters out with injuries: Reuben Foster, Adrian Colbert, Jaquiski Tartt, and Antone Exum.
  • The Kittle catch was the play of the night but the next best play was Raheem Mostert’s 52 yard TD run. Raheem’s speed to the sideline was impressive but the guy who made the play special was rookie 1st round Tackle, Mike McGlinchy, who was a 1-man convoy leading Mostert all the way into the End Zone. Yes, a 6’8” 315 lb mountain of a man was the lead blocker 50 yards from the line of scrimmage… AMAZING !!!
  • On a down note, Mostert broke his arm late in the game and will be lost for the remainder of the year.

SF 49ers – Week 8 Loss – Niners Lose But Find Their Player of the Year

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The Niner player of the year and a lock to win the Len Eshmont award is Toi Lett Bowle the Turd (III). Unquestionably, he is a fan favorite of:

  • Those who are so pi$$ed at the Niners play that they want to pee in their pants. But Toi is there to provide relief.
  • Those who are so appalled at the Niners $hitty play that they want to drop their load on the spot. But Toi gives them the best seats in the house (Levi stadium lavatories).
  • Those who are so drunk, they want to puke at every bad Niner play which means they are barfing on almost every play. But, Toi is always there to help prevent a messy situation.

Next Thursday night, both Niner and Raider fans get a chance of a lifetime to watch the Super Toilet Bowl of 2018. Toi’s twin brother, Turd Bowle the Turd.5 (III.5), plays for the Raiders is clearly their best player. This Thursday night match-up is shaping up to be the $hittie$t game of the year with no clear favorite and an over/under of 1. Vegas is taking bets on a 0-0 tie at the end of Overtime. Also, the over/under on turnovers is 31. Vegas isn’t clear which team will have 16 turnovers vs 15. The turf between the 40’s will be all worn out while both End Zones and Red Zones will be danced on only by the Gold Rush and Raiderettes. Lastly, Jed York has hired 1,000 Roto-rooter trucks for Thursday at Levi as the lavatories will sure to be backed-up. Toi is good but he ain’t Superman.

Around the League in all Sports:

  • In MLB, the World Series is over. The LA Fodgers are Ducked !!! They have to deal with these clowns:
    • Clayton Kershaw’s legacy will be as the worst highly paid MLB pitcher in World Series history.
    • Manny Machado hasn’t washed his uniform ever since he joined the Fodgers, thus becoming the dirtiest player in MLB history.
    • Yasiel Puig has a lock on the MLB all-time Punk Award.
  • In the NBA, the Houston Rockets are 1-4 after not re-signing their two best defensive players from last year and adding Carmelo Anthony who hasn’t found the word “defense” in the dictionary because he doesn’t know how to spell it. They also added a player named Uri Knoll. He doesn’t care if guys pi$$ on him but watch out if someone spits on him. He’ll lose total control.

SF 49ers – Week 7 Loss – Niners Lose – Same Tune, Same Song

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The Niners came out to play against the Rams… for half of the first quarter. Then they played their same familiar song over and over again to the tune of 4 turnovers on 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles and 7 QB sacks in a 39-10 loss.

Not much to talk to about as the best team in the NFL clearly dominated the Niners in every category. It will take a minimum of 2 years after Garoppolo comes back that the Niners can think about competing with the Rams.

Following are some of my rambling thoughts:

I can say this about a lot of QB’s in this league, but Niner QB’s MUST learn to throw the ball away when their receivers are covered instead of taking a drive killing sack. This applies equally to both Garoppolo and Beathard.

Since this season is lost, why not try switching Soloman Thomas to the inside and move DeForest Buckner to the outside? At Stanford, Thomas was very effective as a defensive Tackle because of his quickness. Buckner just may be the pass rusher that the Niners are missing.

The Rams defensive game plan was fairly easy. Since the Niners have only one deep threat, Marquis Goodwin, they double covered him every play. He had only 2 receptions for 24 yards. Trent Taylor and Pierre Garcon were the only other wide receivers to have a reception, 1 each for a total of 11 yards.

The Niners defensive front four actually had a good game as they held the league’s best rusher, Todd Gurley, to 63 yards on 15 carries.

Arik Armstead finally showed up and had a good game with 5 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, and 3 QB hits.

Sad to say, but other than Richard Sherman, the rest of the Niners CB’s and Safeties are poor to average players at best.

Niners need to rest Matt Breida for a full month until he heals his high ankle sprain. Last year, Bryce Love courageously played every week for Stanford with a similar ankle injury. This year, Love is not the same player. The Niners need a healthy Breida for the future.

George Kittle is becoming a premier Tight End. Every week, he puts up good numbers with some exciting runs after catches. Yesterday, Kittle had 5 catches on 8 targets for 98 yards and the Niners only TD. He should make Good Morning Football’s Angry Run list this week on his 23 yard reception that was a 3 yard pass and a very impressive 20 yard run that including a stiff arm on one defender, Marcus Peters, while dragging Troy Hill for another 5 yards.

The highlight of the day was the unveiling of the new Dwight Clark and Joe Montana statues at Levi Stadium. It brought back fond memories of “The Catch” that launched the Niners Glory Days. More importantly, it honored Dwight both as a football player and as a beloved and courageous human being. Sadly, he lost his battle to ALS on June 4, 2018.

Around the League:

  • The Cowboys vs Redskins game came down to the final play, a 47 yards field goal attempt by the Cowboys to tie the game. Illegal motion by the Cowboys moved the ball back 5 yards and their field goal attempt hit the cross bar, game over.
  • The Saints vs Ravens game came down to the final play. The Ravens scored with 24 seconds left and needed only an extra point kick to tie the game by the league’s best kicker, Justin Tucker. He had made 221 consecutive extra points, never missing. So, what happened? He missed and the Ravens lost.
  • The Patriots vs Bears game was a barn burner and that game also came down to the final play. The Bears needed 55 yards on the final play of the game to tie. So, Mitchell Trubisky threw a “Hail Mary” which was caught by Kevin White. Unfortunately for the Bears, they got 54 yards. Bears lose. Trubisky needs some lessons from Aaron Rodgers to put at least 1 more yard of umpf into his throw.
  • The Browns vs Bucs game went into OT. The Browns lost 26-23 on a 59 yard field goal. The Browns are no longer bad, but they still have bad luck.
  • The Oakland Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys who gave up their 2019 #1 draft pick for Cooper. This trade says a lot for both teams. The Cowboys are still disillusioned to think that they are still in the playoff hunt. Giving up a #1 draft pick for an average receiver is an act of desperation by the Cowboys. It will turn out to be a bad trade for them. It is now clear that Chucky Gruden signed up to coach the Vegas Raiders, not the Oakland Raiders. He has traded the best pass rusher in the game (Khalil Mack) for the Bears #1 pick and now Cooper to the Cowboys for their #1 pick. Thus, with their own #1 pick which just may be the first overall pick in the draft, the Raiders now have 3 1st round picks next year… or more #1 picks next year than wins this year. It’s a gamble but, this is why they are moving to Vegas. Sadly, the losers in all of this are the Oakland Raider fans.

SF 49ers – Week 6 Loss – Niners Loss That Felt Like A Win

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After last week’s embarrassing loss to the Cardinals where the Niners dominated in every offensive and defensive category except for the gut wrenching 5 turnovers, they again dominated the Packers for 58 minutes. Unfortunately, there are 60 minutes in an NFL game. Aaron Rodgers took over and scored 10 points in the final 2 minutes to squeak out a victory, 33-30.

Once again the same theme cropped up as it does every game. No pass rush and poor defensive backfield play when it mattered. The corner back position opposite Richard Sherman gets toasted every week and last night was no different. Jimmy Ward played really well but hurt his hamstring late in the game. Greg Mabin replaced him and Rodgers immediately targeted him and roasted him for a TD, then completed 4 passes in succession against Mabin for the game winning drive. During the last drive, DeForest Buckner sacked Rodgers with 43 seconds remaining in the game on a 3rd down play and it appeared that the Niners finally got the big sacked with a chance to win in the final seconds. But, Richard Sherman was called for illegal contact which gave the Packers a 1st down and Rodgers picked Mabin apart… game over. What remains a mystery is why Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t play last night.

As in every loss including this one, there was a lot to like about the effort that the Niners gave. Marquis Goodwin had a monster game with 2 TD’s on 4 catches for 126 yards. The O-line had an outstanding game opening holes for both Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. Breida, playing with a severe ankle sprain, still carried 14 times for 61 yards and Mostert had a career game with 87 yards on 12 carries. CJ Beathard had a great game except for the 2 drives at the end of the game where the Niners had a chance to ice the game with a 7 point lead. This team simply doesn’t have the experience or wherewithal to finish a game yet. The defense also played better but 33 points is 16 more than the 17 point goal that they have established.

These gut wrenching loses are in a way a positive as the Niners are playing without their franchise QB, Jimmy Garopollo and their #1 running back Jerick McKinnon this year. They play good enough to win but key mistakes cause them to lose. Last night’s game was no different. Playing at the legendary Lambeau Field and facing a future Hall of Fame Aaron Rodgers was a tall order but the Niners met that challenge with a great effort.

The Niners have enough good pieces to be competitive in most games. It is my hope that this group can grow together, work on reducing their mistakes, and become better football players in their remaining games. Before the start of the 2019 season, it is absolutely critical that they acquire a legitimate pass rusher and cover cornerbacks and continue to add depth in all positions.

Around the League:

  • Both the Sunday night game (Chiefs vs Patriots) and the Monday night game (Niners vs Packers) were great entertaining games. Both games were won by the team having control of the ball at the end of the game, the Patriots and the Packers. Both games were high scoring, Patriots 43-40 and the Packers 33-30. The only difference is that the Chiefs/Patriots matchup was highly anticipated while the Niners/Packers matchup was expected to be a blow-out.
  • The Buffalo Bills vs the Houston Texans game was a tight defensive game. With a minute left in the game and the score tied at 13-13, the Bills brought in Nathan Peterman at QB after Josh Allen injured his elbow. Peterman is best known for throwing an NFL high 5 interceptions in the first half of the Bills games vs the Chargers last year. So with a minute left in a 13-13 game, what did Peterman do? He threw a pick-6… game over. To add insult to injury, after the Texans kicked off and the Bills took position, Peterman’s next pass was also picked off. Yikes !!!
  • This past Sunday, the Seahawks and Raiders played in London. Seattle traveled on Wednesday, got acclimated to the time change and prepared for the game in London. The Raiders, on the other hand, didn’t travel to London until Saturday. The result was a 27-3 pounding that the Seahawks gave the Raiders. There is now a website that is counting down Jon Gruden’s $100 million, 10 year contract. After trading their All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack and starting 1-6, Gruden’s tenure now is at 9 years, 13 weeks and 1 day. Incidentally, their one win was against the Cleveland Browns in a game that the Browns should have won but was given to the Raiders via poor officiating.
  • The Titan’s QB, Marcus Mariota, had a rough day. He was sacked 11 times by the vaunted Raven’s defense. Mariota completed 10 passes, so he was sacked more than passes that he completed.
  • The NY Giants played like Midgets. Three Dog Night made their song, “Eli’s Comin'”, famous. They are now writing a new song called Eli’s Goin’. This will become Odell Beckham’s favorite song.
  • The Cleveland Browns played like the Browns as we know them… What their Dog Pound produces… Stinky Brown stuff…

SF 49ers – Week 5 Loss – Niners Are Now Officially Worse Than the Cleveland Browns

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Throughout the many lean years under the ownership of Jed York, there was one constant: The Niners were always better than the Cleveland Browns. Now, the “Jed York lean years” have taken on a whole new meaning as his team is much worse than the Browns. Even when York and Baalke hired a puppet as coach in Jim Tomsula in 2015, they still had a better record than the Browns (5-11 vs 3-13). This year, the Niners and the Raiders are the two worst teams in the NFL… period !!! The Niners will square off with the Raiders on Thursday night, November 1, in a game which may very well determine who gets the #1 draft pick in 2019. It was NOT a good weekend for Bay Area football fans as the Cal Bears and Stanford Cardinal also lost… sigh…

This past Sunday, the Niners found an incomprehensible way to lose. They completely dominated the game in all statistical categories except for one glaring stat that lost the game for them.

  • The Niners had 33 first downs to the Cardinals 10.
  • The Niners had 447 yards to the Cardinals 220. This includes the Cardinals first play of the game where they threw for a 75 yard TD on a blown coverage.
  • The 49ers controlled time of possession 40:12 to 19:48.
  • They had 92 total plays to Arizona’s 49.
  • They converted 10 of 17 third-down plays, while the Cardinals went 2 for 12.

Throughout NFL history, when a team gains 30 or more first downs and allows 10 or fewer first downs in a game, they almost always win. In fact, since 1954, teams had been 46-3 in that situation. Now, that record stands at 46-4.

The Niners lost because of one statistic… 5 TURNOVERS !!! When a team is minus 1 in turnovers for a game, they lose 80% of the time. The funny thing is that half way through the 4th quarter, when they had only 3 turnovers (ha ha), they scored and had a chance to actually tie the game with a 2-point conversion (which they failed on). Their dominance over the Cardinals almost worked but their incompetence in taking care of the ball insured a loss.

Acknowledgement goes to the Defense (except for the 1st play of the Cardinals possession where they allowed a 75 yard touchdown pass). Their solid play showed up in the stats (above). The front four held the highly touted David Johnson to 55 yards on 18 carries.

Although the Niners have had a disastrous years in terms of injuries, all teams have had their share and it is part of the game. What is troubling is that this team cannot perform basic things like tackling and covering on defense and blocking, catching, and holding onto the ball on offense. Additionally, they are not disciplined and commit needless penalties at key moments of the game. This is very unlike a Shanahan-lead team.

The foundation of this Niner team is much better than before the Lynch and Shanahan era began 2 years ago. They are going through growing pains now and it is unclear when they can grow out of it. Faithful fans have gone through a lot of draught years and have to hope that the oasis in the horizon isn’t just a mirage.

 

Around the League:

  • Looking like this year’s Super Bowl is set… Chiefs vs the Rams !!!
  • This is the difference between the Rams and Cowboys… The Rams had a 4th and 1 at their own 42 yard line with 1:39 left in the game holding a 33-31 lead. The Cowboys had a 4th and 1 at the Texans 42 yard line in OT in a 16-16 tie. The Rams went for it, got it and won. The Cowboys punted and lost. This is why the Rams are 5-0 and the Cowboys 2-3.
  • This past Sunday, there were 14 games played with 7 losing teams. There is one more game scheduled for Monday night, the Redskins vs the Saints. Of the 8 losing teams (including the MNF game), the Niner game was/will be the most disappointing while the Raiders showed that they are just plain bad.

SF 49ers – Week 4 Loss – Niners Are Good Enough To Lose

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The Niners lost to the Chargers in week 4 (29-27) showing that they are just good enough to lose. Of course, one can easily say the same thing about the Atlanta Falcons whose power ranking was #8 after week 3 and now have the same record as the Niners (1-3). Additionally, the Chargers had a power ranking of #13. The most important factor for me is that this year’s Niner team is fun and entertaining even though they are going through a lot of growing pains, especially on defense.

C.J. Beathard showed that the drop-off from Garopollo isn’t as wide as most people think. He had a great game throwing for 298 yards on 23 completions on 37 attempts and 2 TDs. Phillip Rivers, one of the league’s top QB’s threw for 250 yards on 25 completions on 39 attempts and 3 TDs. Beathard displayed plenty of grit and toughness as he took hard hits in the pocket. He was rocked on a third down play where he ran and gave it his all to try to get a first down in the red zone. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured and only had the wind knocked out of him. With a fourth down and one inside the Charger’s 20 yard line with a chance for the Niners to take the lead, Shanahan made the right decision to have Robbie Gould make the sure field goal to close the score to 29-27 as Beathard needed a breather (no pun intended).

I don’t like to criticize one individual in a team sport, but in this game, Tight End Garrett Celek lost the game for the Niners. They were driving nicely when Beathard threw a dart to Celek on the Charger’s two yard line. The ball hit him in the chest and both hands, then bounced to a Charger defender who ran it back 90 yards to the Niner’s six yard line. The Chargers later scored so that one play created a 14 point swing for the Chargers. Celek was also called for holding three times killing Niner drives.

As I said in last week’s post, Beathard fits Shanahan’s system really well but his ceiling is limited whereas Garopollo’s ceiling appears unlimited. This was the year for Garopollo to have a full year of experience under Shanahan’s tutelage and learn from his mistakes. Unfortunately, he won’t get that opportunity until next year so my belief is that he won’t be a top notched QB until 2020. Under Beathard, the Niners will be in most games with a chance to win, but they will be just good enough to lose.

 

Around the League:

  • Earl Thomas, the Pro-Bowl Safety of the Seahawks, broke his leg against the Cardinals. He had been holding out for a new contract and also very vocal about wanting to be traded. Unfortunately for Thomas, with this injury, he will lose out on millions of dollars as he is at an age where he is still playing brilliantly but most teams including the Seahawks will be unwilling to give him a large long term contract. As he was being carted off the field, he flipped a bird to the Seahawks sidelines… Did you see that, Pete Carroll? When asked about it, this was Carroll’s response… “Somebody said something about that,” Carroll said of Thomas’ gesture. “It’s a big stadium. I don’t know where it was aimed at.”
  • The Chicago Bears may have re-awoken the Monsters of the Midway. They absolutely destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-10 with Trubisky throwing for 6 TD’s. Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Jameis Winston but he threw 2 INTs, good enough to be named the starter in the Buc’s next game.
  • The Cleveland Browns got jobbed by the referees twice in yesterday’s loss to the Raiders. The first bad call came with about 6 minutes remaining in the game when Derek Carr clearing fumbled (he was still standing up). The Browns picked up the fumble and started running toward an apparent TD but the referees ruled the ball dead so the Raiders maintained possession. The second bad call came with 1:28 left in the game with the Browns leading by 8 points. Carlos Hyde was ruled to get a first down so the Browns would have run out the clock. But, the NFL decided to review the play. Although Hyde’s elbow hit the ground, there was no conclusive camera angle that proved that the ball didn’t reach the first down marker. Thus, there was no reason the change the call on the field. But, they overturned the call, the Browns had to give up the ball, the Raiders scored and converted on a two point conversion and won in OT. The Browns deserved better but the Browns are the Browns.

SF 49ers – Week 3 Loss to KC Was Disastrous

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The Niners lost to the Chiefs in week 3 (38-27), but, they lost their leader on offense for the remainder of the year and may have lost their leader on Defense for a prolonged period of time. Jimmy Garoppolo went down in the 4th quarter trying to gain a meaningless extra yard and tore his ACL in his left knee and will be sidelined for the year. Richard Sherman strained his left calf in the first half and did not return to the game. The extent of his injury will be known after an MRI.

In a year where expectations were so high, Arrowhead punctured a huge hole into the Niner Nation balloon. With Jimmy G., the Niners are a top tier offense… Without him, they are in the middle-of-the-pack. With Richard Sherman, the Niners opponents needed to focus on only one side of their defense… Without him, their defensive backfield is as porous as a broken dam.

The Chiefs are the real deal. Their offense with Patrick Mahomes is Super Bowl caliber. They will be limited by their defense which is in the lower tier. The Chiefs had the ball five time in the first half and scored five touchdowns… game over.

In years past, the Niners would have folded. Shanahan’s team will not quit under any circumstances. They actually out-played the Chiefs in the second half to the tune of 17-3. This team is much better than last year and will continue to surprise even without Garoppolo and Sherman. C.J. Beathard is a good QB for Shanahan’s system but his ceiling is limited while Garoppolo’s ceiling is the Super Bowl. Lynch and Shanahan have a solid core from which to build and they will get better year by year. Their offense is solid now with a good O-line and a good core of running backs. They need a game breaking receiver to become real contenders. On defense, they have a solid D-line and Linebackers who can develop into one of the league’s best with Reuben Foster and Fred Warner. They sorely need an edge rusher who will make the D-line even better. Regarding their D-backs, the Niners have gone through so many without success, one has to wonder if they actually have the athletes but need a new Defensive Coordinator. Robert Salah came from Seattle and came highly regarded. But, his defensive schemes have not yet worked. Saleh was not Shanahan’s first choice so look for a change next year.

At the beginning of the year, I thought that if the Niners went 2-2 in the first four tough games, that they would make the play-offs. Sadly, the Faithful will have to wait yet another year before those dreams become reality.

Around the League:

  • The NFL has to do something about the roughing-the-passer rules. There were multiple cases again where a defensive lineman hit the QB with his shoulder and not his helmet and landed on the QB with his weight. Once again, Clay Matthews was involved and once again, he and the Packers got screwed. When the lineman is on top of the QB as they both fall to the ground, the law of gravity takes over. Can the NFL and Roger Goodell change Newton’s Law?
  • The Buffalo Bills shocked the Vikings in Minnesota. In the NFL, anything can happen.
  • The Cleveland Brown’s let the Dogs out, won a game, and found their QB of the future in Baker Mayfield.