Rams 41, 49ers 39

Wow. That was unexpected. After two straight defense-oriented yawners, the 49ers and Rams held an old fashioned offensive barn burner. Easily the most entertaining Niner game in years.

The game was as evenly matched as you can get. Each team had over 400 yards of offense, 300 by passing and 100 by running. They each scored five TDs and 2 FGs. And two turnovers. The Niners got their muffs out of the way in the first quarter, the Rams in the second and fourth. In the end, it all came down to a missed PAT by the Niners and a failed two point conversion.

The most glaring difference between the teams was the pass rush. The Rams had four sacks, the 49ers had zero. Number one draft pick Solomon Thomas was again barely visible, with one tackle representing his only stat of the game. In fact, none of the first five picks in the 2017 Draft Class are contributing anything so far this year, although Reuben Foster most certainly was, before his injury.

Defensive ineptitude by both teams was also equally on display. For the Rams, a bit surprising. One would think Wade Phillips would have his team a top five group, but they’ve been a sieve all three of their games. Maybe the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is not going very smoothly. If it ever gels this season, the Rams will be a legitimate playoff contender. Their offensive turn around, especially the play of QB Jared Goff, has been amazing.

For the Niners, the continued lack of a pass rush is killing them. Their run defense has been solid, a refreshing turn around from last year. But teams with good passing attacks are going to tattoo this group all year long.

On the plus side, Brian Hoyer finally found his groove and the offense at last performed like we all expected a Kyle Shanahan offense to perform. Bolstering the hope that the remaining games this year will be very competitive and entertaining, whether that is reflected positively in the win/loss record or not. The Niners are 0-3 right now, but are clearly better than the 1-2 teams of the previous two years.

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Seahawks 12, 49ers 9

The earth shook. The mountains trembled. Zeus fondled his lightning bolt. Time stood still. And there it was. With eleven minutes left in the 4th quarter in Seattle, the 49ers took a 9-6 lead. Zounds!

Then Russell Wilson said, “Screw this,” and single-handedly pushed his team down the field for the go ahead touchdown with seven minutes still remaining to play. Their kicker graciously missed the extra point, leaving room for the Niners to tie it with only a FG instead of needing a TD for the win.

Brian Hoyer responded with a brisk three and out, the Niners punted with almost five minutes left on the clock, and never saw the ball again. That’s six straight years of futility in Seattle.

After two games, it’s clear the 49er defense is vastly improved. Just how much will have to wait until they play a team with a modestly proficient NFL offense. Which neither Carolina nor Seattle has demonstrated yet.

However, after two games, the Niner offense has yet to score a TD. Heck, they’ve yet to put up as much as ten points.

There’s a twisted logic at work here, but I’m danged if I can put my finger on it. Former HC Jim Harbaugh roared into town with the reputation of an offensive guru, and he did indeed improve the offense. But the backbone of his team was the defense. Now we have Kyle Shanahan with the big offensive credentials, yet his offense is limping badly while his defense thrives.

At the end of the day, it’s another loss and an 0-2 start to the 2017 season. The post-Harbaugh Niners are 7-27 through 2+ seasons. They’re in last place in the NFC West and will remain there for at least another two weeks — either alone or in a shared occupation. The Rams come to town Thursday, and it will take a win over them to avoid being the only winless team in the division.

The Rams are 1-1 and have shown remarkable offensive life after last season’s epic fail. An example of an offensive guru (Sean McVay) who actually came in and gurued. The Niners beat the Rams twice last year. They will have their work cut out for them to duplicate that this year.

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Panthers 23, 49ers 3

The 49ers finally halted their six year opening game magic by getting they guts stomped by the Carolina Panthers, even though the Panthers played poorly themselves. Double ouch.

And so begins the Kyle Shanahan Era, three years into the Post Harbaugh Error.

The Niner defense had no pass rush and no sacks, but their run defense was vastly improved from the epic disaster of last year. First round draft pick Solomon Thomas was mostly invisible, along with recently elevated to elite status Tank Carradine. Elvis Dumervil actually WAS invisible, failing to show up anywhere on the stat sheet.

The Panther defense was a bit more betterly. They sacked Brian Hoyer four times, forced a fumble, make an interception, and most importantly stuffed the Niners on 4 of the 5 times they went for it on fourth down. These stuffings led directly to at least a thirteen point swing in the game. Two field goals for the Panthers and seven less points for the 49ers.

The Marquis Goodwin who looked like a terror in preseason reverted back to the Goodwin that existed on his previous team. Maybe he’ll catch a long pass, maybe he won’t. Yesterday, he didn’t. Dropping one that landed right in his breadbasket.

On the plus side for the locals, RB Carlos Hyde looked decent and made it through the entire game without getting injured. Perhaps next week. QB Hoyer looked okay, not great, not bad, not enough.

Then there was the offensive line, specifically the two guards. They completely lived up to the suspicions that they were completely inept. It looks like another year of 49er QBs fearing for their lives.

Some would say Shanahan was foolhardy in attempting the two fourth down conversions near midfield which led directly to Carolina scores. Some would applaud the bravado. And some would notice this gung-ho approach was the same one that cost his previous team a Super Bowl trophy. And that about sums up the somes.

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Potential vs Reality

Okay. Enough of the foreplay. Next Sunday the Kyle Shanahan Era officially begins. Good luck, KS. You’ve got big shoes to fill (the Jim Harbaugh Era), and tiny shoes to flick aside (the Jim Tomsula/Chip Kelly Eras).

And, of course, a dickhead owner hanging around ready to corrupt anything you accomplish at a moment’s tantrum.

The 49ers aren’t favored to win more than a handful of games this year, if that, and they won’t be favored this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The only factors working in their favor are the perceived potential of the defense, coupled with the perceived wizardry of Shanahan’s offense, and their recent invincibility on opening day.

The team has won six straight openers — four during Harbaugh’s years, and a couple of complete anomalies the past two years. They trashed the Vikings in 2015 and the Rams last year, before entering season long tailspins of ineptitude.

The Panthers are looking to re-discover their 15-1 mojo from the 2015 season and no doubt figure drubbing the Niners would be a great way to start. They’ve added RB Christian McCaffrey to their arsenal, a guy who’s very dangerous in the open field. Our LBs and secondary will have their hands full trying to contain him.

The Panthers should have as much a clue about what to expect from a Shanahan offense as anybody, since they’ve faced him four times over the past two years as Atlanta’s OC. Whether that matters or not will be disclosed by the experts after the game has concluded.

Speaking of experts, it’s our turn to show what we’ve got. Season predictions can be submitted any time this week, up until midnight Saturday.

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49er Scrubs 23, Charger Scrubs 13

The 49ers wrapped up their exhibition season with a win over the L.A. Chargers, running their record to 2-2. WR/Kick returner Victor Bolden locked up a roster spot by blowing down the field for his second kick return TD, this one a 92 yard punt return. This guy is fast.

CJ Beathard had his own heroics, zigzagging down the field on a 62 yard TD run.

The rest of the 49er scoring was mostly courtesy of the Chargers generosity — two fumbles and three interceptions.

The most important stat of the game was who played and who didn’t. The team sat 33 players, either to protect them from injury for the regular season or to protect them from injury so they can be cut today or tomorrow.

Between now and some time Saturday afternoon, the Niners must trim the roster from 90 players down to 53. A lot of blood on the tracks. They’ll need more than one Turk to handle this year’s pink slips.

Should be a fun weekend around the NFL, as 1,184 players get pushed out on the street, followed by 320 getting a reprieve by signing up for Practice Squad duty. Lots of bodies coming and going. By next Monday, we should finally get a clear picture of just who the 2017 49ers are.

Of the players cut, veterans can sign with anybody. But everyone else has to pass through waivers first. Only Cleveland has a higher dibs right to claim someone than the Niners. It won’t be a surprise to see GM John Lynch pluck a few guys from other teams and bring them to Santa Clara.

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2017 Schedule
Sept. 10: vs Carolina: L 3-23
Sept. 17: at Seattle: 9-12
Sept. 21: vs. L.A. Rams: L 39-41
Oct. 1: at Arizona, 1:05 p.m.
Oct. 8: at Indianapolis, 10 a.m.
Oct. 15: at Washington, 10 a.m.
Oct. 22: vs. Dallas, 1:05 p.m.
Oct. 29: at Philadelphia, 10 a.m.
Nov. 5: vs. Arizona, 1:05 p.m.
Nov. 12: vs. N.Y. Giants, 1:25 p.m.
Week 11 — Bye
Nov. 26: vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 3: at Chicago, 10 a.m.
Dec. 10: at Houston, 10 a.m.
Dec. 17: vs. Tennessee, 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 24: vs. Jacksonville, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 31: at L.A. Rams, 1:25 p.m.
2017 Draft Class
1. DE Solomon Thomas
1. ILB Reuben Foster
3. CB Ahkello Witherspoon
3. QB C.J. Beathard
4. RB Joe Williams
5. TE George Kittle
5. WR Trent Taylor
6. DT D.J. Jones
6. LB Pita Taumoepenu
7. CB Adrian Colbert
2017 Prognostications
Bullit: 5-11
Chuck: 9-7
Grumpy: 4-12
Mr Fletch: 5-11
NJ49er: 6-10
Rob: 9-7
RTFirefly: 5-11
Skeebers: 6-10
Winder: 4-12