49ers 36, Giants 9

The stock price of Nick Mullens, Inc surged upward Sunday in New Jersey as he directed a thorough and relentless butt-kicking of the hapless New York Giants. Mullens completed 25 of 36 to ten different receivers while racking up 343  yards.

Rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk had a breakout game, catching 5 passes for 70 yards and running three times for another 31. With Deebo Samuel possibly returning this week from three games on IR, along with Kendrick  BourneMohamed Sanu, and Trent Taylor, the Niners’ receiving unit finally has a chance to be a dangerous group.

The 49ers had nine drives in the game, none of which ended with a punt. One ended with a missed FG, another was a three down game ending kneel job, and the other seven drives all resulted in points. The Giants simply could not stop the Niners’ offense.

The injury-wracked defense was missing its top three CBs but got a huge boost when the never-endingly injured Jason Verrett stepped in and actually played a entire game without getting carted off the field! Shades of Jimmie Ward finally escaping the injury jinx last year. At least for one game. If he manages to stay healthy, a pairing of him and Sherman would help dilute the loss of both of the team’s top pass rushers.

But defenses are not doing well throughout the league this year. Every game seems to be a shoot out, with scores in the thirties common place. Not sure if that is an early season aberration or a 2020 trend. We’ll see.

Next up is a home game against the even more injury riddled Philadelphia Eagles, who are so banged up they could only manage a tie against the woeful Bengals. The Niners won’t get any more help from a soft schedule after that game, though. After the Miami game, the rest of the schedule is a gauntlet against some of the best teams in the league. They could easily lose six or seven in a row if they’re not at their best.

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49ers 31, Jets 13

The 49ers got back on track by drubbing the hapless Jets Sunday, but they likely lost any chance at being a SB contender this year when all-world DE Nick Bosa tore his ACL and will be out for the season.

The new turf in Jersey wreaked havoc with players from both teams. For the Niners, in addition to Bosa, Solomon Thomas left with a knee injury, Raheem Mostert with an MCL sprain after opening the game with an 80 yard TD run, Jimmy Garoppolo missed the second half with a high ankle sprain that will probably take him four to six weeks to recover from, Tevin Coleman with some sort knee injury, and I probably missed some others.

On the plus side, Jerick McKinnon finally got to display his chops after missing the first two years of his Niner career. Especially humorous was his 55 yard run on third and 31! I can only imagine the anguish that poured forth with maximum outrage on some tortured Jets’ blog over this atrocity.

Jordan Reed caught seven passes, two for TDs, as he did his best to replace George KittleKendrick Bourne finally made an impact, catching 4 passes for 67 yards. Newly acquired WR Mohamed Sanu chipped in with nothing and Dante Pettis put up another solid zero stat game.

I would praise the defense for giving up only two FGs before a meaningless garbage time TD, but that would imply that the Jets were a competent offensive challenge, which they weren’t, so we’ll settle for a simple round of polite applause.

The scary thing is the team will be right back on this same field again next week against the Giants. We can only hope that there will still be enough decent players left to carry forward the season by the time they get back to Santa Clara from this East Coast swing.

One last largely sentimental note, it was good to see our old friend Frank Gore still trucking along, putting up 63 yards on 21 carries. A reasonable showing without harming the Niners chances to win. Next time we see him will be when he signs a one day contract and retires as a 49er.

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Cardinals 24, 49ers 20

The 49ers tried to play a 21st century football game with no wide receivers. Fail. Kendrick Bourne: 2 receptions. Dante Pettis: zero. AZ secondary: smoke break.

DC Robert Saleh had an entire offseason to figure out how to defend against squirt-ball QBs. Fail. Kyler Murray: 11 carries, 100 yards and almost always on critical third down plays.

Other than that, they ended the game like they did last year’s SB, with the ball in their hands and the game to be won.  Fail. Unable to gain 5 yards on two attempts from the AZ 16 yard line.

Kyle Shanahan‘s offense is amazing until it tries to function inside the opponent’s 10 yard line. He had all offseason to think of  some creative ways to score down there, but twice Sunday he went four and out and once settled for a FG.

The $17 million guy the Niners kept while trading away Deforest Buckner had 1 tackle Sunday to mar an otherwise invisible day. Arik Armstead.

Neither Trent Taylor nor Jordan Reed made much of an impact, either.

The next two games are against conventional pocket passer QBs, so maybe the defense will look much better. We hope so, since they won’t have Deebo Samuel back for another two games. Maybe rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk will show up next week and do a reasonable impersonation of an NFL WR.

Jimmy Garoppolo‘s stats look reasonably okay, but he only converted 2 of 11 third down opportunities. That’s 9 stalled drives. You won’t win many games with that kind of performance.

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And Away We Go

The defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers kick off their 2020 season next Sunday afternoon at home against the division rival Arizona Cardinals. These pesky assholes gave the Niners a scare in both games last season, but clutch fourth quarter play from Jimmy Garoppolo beat them both times.

The 49er offense had no trouble scoring in these games, ringing up 28 points in the first game and 36 in the second. Unfortunately, the vaunted Niner defense was riddled pretty good by the Cardinals in both games, too.

The Cardinals’ offense could be even more dangerous this year with the addition of big time WR DeAndre Hopkins to pair with the venerable  all-timer Larry Fitzgerald. I was not able to discern, after a rigorous fifteen second investigation, whether their defense had made any significant improvements, so I’ll put them down in the nothing-to-brag-about category again this year.

For the 49ers, the defense seems reasonably healthy and should be able to put enough heat on Kyler Murray to make his day miserable, unless he gets loose on a rollout where he is as dangerous as Russell Wilson in Seattle and that fellow in the SB. These jitterbug QBs gave the Niners lots of trouble last year. Hopefully, they’ve figured out how to do a better job this year.

Fred Warner might be missing this week, which would hurt both against the pass and the run. Arizona was very successful running the ball last year, but I think it will be harder for them this year with Javon Kinlaw and DJ Jones plugging up the middle of the LOS.

On offense, we don’t know who the starting WRs are going to be, but Trent Taylor and Jerick McKinnon are back from IR and both will be tough to contain. As will Jordan Reed at TE, opposite the irrepressible George Kittle. This should be a win for the Niners and if it isn’t, the sky will surely fall. But at least we’ll be agonizing about a football game and, for a short time at least, not the grim affairs of planet America.

As usual, the final week before the season starts means it’s time for everyone to make their prognostications for the 49ers’ record this year. Entries are open until midnight Saturday.

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The Turk Man Cometh

The NFL cutdown day is next Saturday afternoon. Final roster size remains the usual 53 players, but the practice squad has been expanded from ten players to 16, with six of those players able to be veterans who would not normally be eligible. Additionally, four of those players can be protected each week from other teams claiming them and there is no limit to the number of players who can return from an IR list after three weeks on it.

There will be a lot of players placed on IR for ankle sprains and such this year, rather than either carrying them on the roster or putting them out for the year.

With all the players that the 49ers have been auditioning lately, you can assume John Lynch is compiling a list of go-to guys that will be available as the year wears on.

The year will also feature fake crowd noise and lots of people cutouts filling the stands in a hilarious display of virtual nonsense.

I  was going to complain about having to wait out another two weeks before we finally see some football games, but then Dre Greenlaw entered concussion protocol and Fred Warner went on the COVID list. They should both be ready in two weeks, so hey, no rush to opening day.

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2020 Schedule
9-13: L Cardinals 24, 49ers 20
9-20: W 49ers 31, Jets 13
9-27: W 49ers 36, Giants 9

10-4: PHI (SNF)
10-11: MIA
10-18: LA RAMS (SNF)
10-25: @ NE

11-1: @ SEA
11-5: GB (TNF)
11-15: @ NO


11-29: @LAR

12-7: BUF (MNF)
12-13: WAS
12-20: @ DAL (SNF)
12-26: or 27 @ AZ

1-3: SEA

2020 Draft Class
1. DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
1. WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
5. OL Colton McKivitz, West Virginia
6. TE Charlie Woerner, Georgia
7. WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
2020 Prognostications
Bullit: 12-4
Grumpy: 12-4
NJ49er: 11-5
Skeebers: 11-5
Winder: 11-5