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.

Niners’ Nick Bosa is Good at Football… Niners Go 7-0

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Niner fans have to be really thankful to the Arizona Cardinals for selecting QB Kyler Murray as the #1 draft pick this year which allowed Nick Bosa to fall to the Niners who held the #2 pick. Funny how a team that had a grand total of 3 wins last year start this season with 7 consecutive wins. True that Bosa alone isn’t the only factor for this turn-around but he is a BIG reason. There are 52 other players on this team that are playing their best football of their careers.  Bosa had a career game against the Panthers and had unreal stats (4 solo tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 unbelievable interception).

Many analysts had picked the Panthers to win as they were on a 5 game winning streak, had a bye week so had 2 weeks to prepare for the Niners and had a hot QB (Kyle Allen) who had thrown zero interceptions in his 5 starts. These same analysts were saying that Allen is their current and future QB and that Cam Newton’s career with Carolina was over.

Result: Niners – 51  Panthers – 13. Kyle Allen had a net passing total of 100 yards, threw 3 interceptions, and had a QBR of 4.7. Just a guess but I’m thinking that Cam will start the next game for the Panthers. Also, Christian McCaffery had a good game but not a game breaking game with 117 yards on 14 carries and scored their only TD.

The entire Niner D played like an undefeated team and totally dominated a play-off caliber team. In their last three games, they have held Jared Goff to a QBR of 1.1, Case Keenum to a QBR of 25.9, and now Kyle Allen to a QBR of 4.7. Every defensive player had great games, but the other key player besides Bosa that I’d like to single out is E-Man Moseley. In my opinion, he had the key play of the day as he jumped a route and intercepted the ball in the early stage of the game that turned the tide in a close game and started the annihilation. It may be difficult to replace Moseley at CB when Ahkello Witherspoon is ready to return after his foot injury heals. Regardless, it will be a good problem for Shanahan to have as he now has 3 outstanding Corners in E-Man, Ahkello and Richard Sherman.

On Offense, Tevin Coleman showed why he was a star for Shanahan at Atlanta and is now strutting his stuff for Shanahan with the Niners. He had 4 TD’s (3 rushing… 105 yards on 11 carries and 1 receiving). E-Man Sanders, who the Niners traded for to shore up their receiving core, had 4 receptions on 5 targets for 25 yards and scored the first TD of the afternoon which was followed by 6 additional TD’s. Trust me, he will see many more receptions during the remainder of the season as he learns Shanahan’s playbook. Speaking of Shanahan, I am convinced that he is the best play caller in the game. The Panthers’ overly aggressive defense fell for Shanahan’s innovative misdirection plays all day long.

Although the tough part of their schedule is ahead of them, if the Niners go 4-5 or 5-4 in their last remaining games, they would have 11 or 12 wins… quite a departure from their 3 win season just a year ago.

Niners Win On Sloppy Field, Go 6-0…

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The Niners played on the Redskins’ Mud Bowl yesterday and came out with a 9-0 win in the shortest NFL game in 10 years, 2 hours and 36 minutes. Combined, the Redskins and Niners ran the ball 65 times out of 103 plays (63.1 % of the time). As the clock keeps on ticking after run plays, the game was short and sweet (or as some analysts wrote, short and ugly). Obviously, Fantasy players who had either team’s players were disappointed.

Under the wet, muddy and sloppy conditions that existed, both teams used the correct strategy… run the ball and stay in the game as any fumble or interception could mean the difference in the game. As for articles written about this being an ugly and boring game, a win in the NFL is pretty no matter how ugly it appeared to be.

What this win proved is that both the Niners Defense and Offense can play under any conditions and do enough to win games… the Defense in dominating style and the Offense in a controlling and “do enough” manner. The Defense is like an “all weather tire” which travels well under any conditions and will take this team very far.  An absolutely telling stat which displays how dominating this Defense has become is that the Redskins ran a grand total of 14 plays in the 2nd half. The Offense sticks to its core running game no matter the circumstances and eventually wears the opponent’s defense out. They had two time consuming drives in the 4th quarter resulting in 2 field goals with the last one icing the game with a few minutes left in the game.

The Defense held the Redskins to 50 yards passing and 104 yards running for a mere 154 yards of offense. Case Keenum had a QBR of 25.9 after the Defense held Jared Goff to a QBR of 1.1 the week before. The Niner Offense generated 146 yards passing while compiling 137 rushing yards for a total of 283 yards. Jimmy G was 12-21 in passing plays for 146 net yards and had a QBR rating of 83.4. He had only 10 yards of passing in the 1st half so what this tells you is that the Niners’ run game wore out the Redskin’s defense in the 2nd half and allowed Garoppolo to be more effective with his play-action passing game. There are a lot of Garoppolo haters out there, but there is one stat that sums up his effectiveness. As a starter, he is 14-2… Hate that, you haters !!!

While the Niners are now 6-0, the difficult part of their schedule is coming up as they’ll have to face Cam Newton, Kyler Murray twice, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson twice, and Lamar Jackson. These QB’s will really test the Niners’ all weather Defense. As Kyle Shanahan says, 6-0 is nice but the Niners have a lot of work to do to get better. They can’t get complacent with the tough part of the schedule ahead of them.

Game ball goes to Julian Taylor who had a monster 4th down stop on Adrian Peterson and also recovered a Peterson fumble. Taylor had been inactive all year but had to step in when D.J. Jones injured his hamstring last week. This simply shows how deep the Niners are on their Defensive front. Kyle Shanahan gave his game ball to his Dad (Mike) who had to endure very hard times under the Redskins’ inept owner and management.

Niners De-Horn Rams, go 5-0… R U Believers Now?

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It’s now time to give this Niners team some love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T !!!

Defense carries teams to championships and this is a defense that can now be compared to the Steel Curtain or the Monsters of the Midway or the Gold Rush. They have dominated every game this year and simply thrashed the high powered Rams Offense which made it to the Super Bowl last year.

Points allowed: 7

Total yards: 157

Passing yards: 48 (78 minus 30 yards on 4 sacks)

Goff’s QBR rating: 1.1 (lowest of his career)

Rushing yards: 109

Third down plays: 0-9

Fourth down plays: 0-4 (one of them on the Niners 1 yard line that would have given the Rams the lead before half time)

Total plays: 50  (vs 76 by the Niners)

Time of possession: 21:08 (vs 38:52 by the Niners)

After the Rams first drive netted them 65 yards and their only score of the day, the Niner D held them to 92 total yards for the remainder of the game. The Rams #1 and #2 receivers (Brandon Cooks and Cooper Kupp) had their longest play be 8 yards between them. Toward the end of the game, Goff went to Kupp on both 3rd and 4th downs with a mere 2 yards needed for a first down. Jimmie Ward shut Kupp down on both plays…. Game over. That, my friends, is called domination!

After all of the so-called professional analysts simply stated that the Niners have not played a good team through their first 4 wins, are they now believers after they dominated a Super Bowl team, or are they still Niner haters? Haters will always be haters but at least give this team some credit and respect. This team is for real !!!

No Joe Staley… No Mike McGlinchey… No Kyle Juszczyk… No Ahkello Witherspoon… No problem… Next man up and very little fall-off as this team is extremely deep at all positions. Justin Skule (rookie 6th round pick) replaced Staley, Daniel Brunskill (undrafted 3rd year player) replaced McGlinchey, nobody replaced Juszczyk because nobody can (so Shanahan had to call creative plays), and E-Man Moseley replaced Witherspoon. The two “unknown” tackles gave up 2 sacks to all-world Aaron Donald, otherwise, they played a heck of a game. E-Man has simply been outstanding and the Niners have seen zero drop off from Witherspoon’s CB position.

I’ve been saying all along that the front 7 of the Niner D is outstanding. There is no questioning the front 4 especially with the addition of two of the best pass rushers in the business (Dee Ford and Nick Bosa). DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead have been monsters and the 5 other rotational players are all outstanding. I can now safely say that Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander can be compared to Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. They are fast, athletic, and heat seeking missles. Now, I can also say that the 4 coverage guys (Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon/E-Man Moseley, Jaquiski Tartt, and Jimmie Ward) are as good as any coverage guys in the league. This D had arrived and are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Game ball goes to Defensive Coordinator, Robert Saleh for being persistent in believing in this defense after 2 very bad years.

When Staley, McGlinchey, and Juszczyk (Juice) return, the Niner Offense will get back to the run dominating team that they are which sets up Shanahan’s effective and innovative run-pass option plays that Garoppolo is so good at executing.

This N That:

  • DeForest Buckner likes the media disrespecting this team and likes playing as underdogs. Despite being one of the best interior lineman, he was left off of the Top 100 players of 2018. Through five games this season, Buckner has 21 tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass defensed and six quarterback hits.
  • Richard Sherman thinks that the Niners can keep on winning if they do the following: “We got to play to our standard,” Sherman told Deion Sanders after the win over the Rams. “You can’t worry about anything else. You can’t play down to your opponent, play up to your opponent, you just got to play to the best of your ability every week. You don’t got to do anything crazy or outstanding, just do your job. Be one of 11. If we’re a car and you are a tire, just be a tire. Don’t try to be an engine, don’t try to be a carburetor, don’t try to be a radiator. Just be a wheel. If we get four wheels, an engine, a steering wheel and everybody going at the same pace then I think we can get rolling. Our guys trust and believe that and I love playing with them.”
  • LA had a very bad week. Their Dodgers lost again sealing the team of the decade for the SF Giants… Bumgarner: 3 rings, Kershaw: 0 rings… That explains everything… In yesterday’s Ram loss, the Coliseum was a wave of Red making it seem like that Niners were the home team. In the Chargers loss to the Steelers, their entire stadium was full of yellow “terrible towel” waving fans.
  • The media’s Power Rankings are a joke. I would respect any analyst who predicts their power ranking of all teams at the beginning of the year and sticking with their initial rankings for the entire year. Instead, the media change the rankings every week depending on who won/lost. Enough said…
  • Baker Mayfield, QB for the Browns, has an NFL record of 9 wins and 12 losses, yet, he is on many media commercials. What a joke…

Niners Win Ugly Over Steelers With 5 Turnovers

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First, let’s put things in perspective… an ugly Win feels much better than a pretty Loss any day of the week.

Despite 5 turnovers (3 fumbles and 2 INT’s), the Niners somehow pulled out an improbable win against a proud and gritty Steelers team who came to play on Sunday. The 2 INT’s came early in the game on the Niner’s side of the field. Both passes should have been caught by Breida and Pettis but the ball bounced off their hands into the Steelers hands. And, both times, the stout Niner Defense held and limited the Steelers to 2 Field Goals. The 3 Fumbles were lost in the Steeler’s Red Zone, so a potential 9 to 21 points were flushed down the drain. Following are the winning percentages of teams having turnovers based on the 2017 NFL season:

0 turnovers – 73.4 % chance of winning

1 turnover – 56.7 %

2 turnovers – 40.7 %

3 turnovers – 18 %

4+ turnovers – 0 %

The Niner Defense forced 2 Steeler turnovers so statistically speaking, they had an 18 % chance of winning.

But win they did thanks largely to the Niner Defense who have clearly arrived and are playing like a playoff team. The Front 4 is nine players deep, the LB duel of Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner are playing like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the CB’s (Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman) rivals any team’s best CB’s, and the Safeties are young but quickly learning. DeForest Buckner had 8 tackles (7 solo), Kwon Alexander had 7 tackles (6 solo), and Fred Warner had 3 tackles (3 solo). But, I give this week’s game ball to Arik Armstead. He was the disrupter who allowed DeFo, Kwon, and Warner to finish the tackles. I was not a fan of Arik but he is now playing on the Edge and it has become clear that this is his best position. Arik is now playing both the run and pass defense equally well. To give you an example of how well the Niner Defense is playing, they held the Steelers to a mere 76 total yards in the first half. The Steelers did finish with 239 total yards for the game but if you take away the only 2 big mistakes that the Defense made (76 yard TD pass to Smith-Shuster and a 39 yard TD pass to Diante Johnson), they limited the Steelers to a total of 124 yards. They held James Conner to 43 yards on 13 carries and Armstead forced the key Connor fumble late in the game. It’s time to find a good nickname for the Niner Defense… How about “Gold Busters” !!!

On Offense, although they turned the ball over an unacceptable 5 times, they moved the ball up and down the field despite the fact that Garoppolo was pressured all day long. He was pressured 8 times but sacked only once. He finished with 277 passing yards on a very good 23-32 (71.9 %) and throwing the winning TD to Pettis with 1:20 left in the game. I believe that this was Jimmy G’s best effort as a Niner given that he was facing a very tough Steeler defense. He stayed strong in the pocket and threw some very accurate passes under pressure including the game winner. With Joe Staley out, Justin Skule had a solid game at Left Tackle as the Offense stats indicate. Hopefully, he will improve by experience and hold down the fort until Staley returns. After being in Shanahan’s Dog House all season long, Dante Pettis is now on the right track as his practice ethics have improved dramatically and it is now showing on game day. He showed his emotions after catching the game winner. The running game held their own producing 159 yards with Raheem Mostert being the leading ball carrier with 79 yards on 12 carries. Additionally, the Niners have found their badly needed Red Zone power runner in Jeff Wilson. He now has scored 4 TD’s, 2 each in the last two games. Not bad for a guy who was promoted from the Practice Squad two weeks ago when Tevin Coleman went down with a high ankle sprain. The Offensive player of the Game was Kyle “Juice” Juszczyk. He had 3 catches of which 2 were highlight reel plays. The first on a long pass where is stretched and went parallel Superman to make the catch. The second one where he caught the ball, broke a tackle and stiff armed Minkah Fitzpatrick to the ground.  The Niner sideline went wild. But, the real reason that Juice deserves the Offensive game ball is that he was a monster blocker for Garoppolo and for the RB’s. He made key blocks all day long. Not too many teams run the 22 Offense (2 RB’s and 2 TE’s) but the Niners do this on a consistent basis. There are only a limited amount of things a team can do with a 22 Offense with the run being the primary focus. So even though the opposing defense knows that a run is coming at them, the Niners consistently gain yards. As George Kittles said, “That’s our run game. We’re going to try to run through your throats and run through face, and, hey, if you can stop it, try — try your best shot.”

Richard Sherman said that this team needed this kind of ugly game as it demonstrates that the Niners have a lot of improvements to work on to get them to that next level. But, by winning when they should have lost also shows the commitment and character that this team has.

The one area of concern is that Ahkello Witherspoon went down with a foot injury in the second half. Jason Verrett came in and got burned badly on his first two plays. He was called for pass interference, then on the very next play got burned for a 39 yard TD. Depending on how much time Ahkello is expected to be out, the Niners may be back in discussions with Jacksonville for a possible trade for Jalen Ramsey. Stay tuned….

Niners Blow Out Bengals to go Two and Ohhh…

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Make no mistake… Kyle Shanahan was the MVP of yesterday’s huge Niner win over the Bengals. He called a brilliant game mixing runs, play-action passes, and innovative screen passes to completely dominate the game, 41 – 17. The Bengals, who played very well at the Seahawks last week, had no clue of what was coming at them every time Garoppolo came to the line of scrimmage. A sign of a well played game is a balanced run/pass attack. The Niners threw for 313 yards on 26 passes while piling on 259 rushing yards on 42 run plays for a total of 572 yards. This is why they are Two and Ohhh to start the season with both W’s on the road. The last time the Niners started 2-0 was in 2012 when they last reached the Super Bowl. Another great decision made by Lynch and Shanahan was to stay in the East time zone after their opening win at Tampa Bay. They stayed and practiced in Youngstown, Ohio all week so the players were well acclimated to that time zone prior to playing the Bengals. The payoff was immediate as they dominated from the very first snap of the game with a sack of Andy Dalton by Arik Armstead.

Following are noteworthy stats and information:

  • The Niners had 4 sacks and none of them were recorded by Nick Bosa or Dee Ford, although they both pressured Dalton. The sacks came from Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Ronald Blair and Solomon Thomas. This is really promising news as Andy Dalton was under constant pressure all day long. With the strong depth of the D-Line, QB’s will be under pressure all season long. Additionally, the Defense held Joe Mixon to a mere 17 yards rushing on 11 carries.
  • Kwon Alexander is exactly what the Niners were looking for. He is a high energy, high motor heat seeker who is around the ball always. He is smart and fast and can also cover on passing downs. He had a brilliant INT for the only Niner take-away of the day.
  • Akhello Witherspoon looks like the real deal after suffering through inconsistency last year.
  • Jimmy G turned in a very solid performance throwing for 313 yards on 17-25 passes and 3 TD’s for an excellent passer rating of 131.2. He did throw 1 INT into triple coverage, something that he really needs to correct. The season is still young and if he has more success, he’ll learn to eliminate these mistakes.
  • While RB’s Jerrick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman are out with injuries, the Niner running game didn’t miss a beat as Matt Breida ran for 121 yards on 12 carries while Raheem Mostert ran for 83 yards on 13 carries and Jeff Wilson was brought off the practice team to run for 34 yards on 10 carries and scoring 2 TD’s. All of these guys run fast, hard, and shifty. They fit the Shanahan offense perfectly.
  • The O-Line had a super game as they did not allow Garoppolo to be sacked while opening holes for the RB’s to the tune of 259 rushing yards.
  • Joe Staley suffered a broken fibula in his left leg. He’ll be out of action for 6-8 weeks. Justin Skule, a 6th round draft pick this year will assume Staley’s critical role at Left Tackle. Only time will tell how well Staley can teach Skule all the tricks of the trade and how well Skule can perform.
  • Deebo Samuel as a rookie is taking over the starting job from Dante Pettis. He is strong and has no fear running routes over the middle. Pettis played 35 snaps but didn’t have a catch while Samuel had 5 receptions for 87 yards and a TD.

While this team is off to a great start, the Niners have a very tough schedule ahead of them. If they have a successful winning season, it’ll be due to their stout Defense which I believe has arrived as a Top 10 defense. The Offense is also much improved but they will run into some very good defenses which they will struggle with, especially with Staley out for a large portion of the season. What does this team remind me of? The 1981 team when the Niners started 3 Defensive rookies (Ronnie Lott, Carlton Williamson, and Eric Wright) to go along with Dwight Hicks in his 2nd year. Dwight Hicks and his Hot Licks along with a new guy named Joe Montana took the Niners to the Super Bowl that year which started the Dynasty. Well, one can only dream….