Broncos 42, 49ers 17

I haven’t turned off a 49er game in the third quarter since probably as far back as the Mike Nolan era, but this puppy was going nowhere fast and when Colin Kaepernick tossed an interception and the Broncos immediately cashed in for a 28-10 lead, the remote went click. I’d already gagged enough over the endless Peyton Manning adulation by that time, anyway.

Not much to say here. The Broncos were healthy and pumped. The 49ers were wounded and flat. When Vernon Davis drops an easy first down pass that hits him right in the breadbasket, it’s not exactly a stunning surprise. But when the glue-handed Anquan Boldin drops an easy TD, you know it’s not going to be your night.

What’s truly amazing about Manning eclipsing Brett Favre’s career TD record is that in the 37 combined years these two greats have played the game, they have accounted for only two Super Bowls victories — one per each.

49er center Daniel Kilgore apparently fractured his ankle in the game and his season is over. Probably his time as a starter, too. Third round rookie center Marcus Martin has recovered from a Training Camp injury and is probably ready to step in as the 49er center for now and likely the future.

As banged up as the team is, the Bye week comes at a great time. When the next game arrives, we might have a relatively healthy team. Players on the PUP/NFI lists are eligible to begin practicing, and Aldon Smith has only two games left on his suspension (or one or none, if Pro Football Talk shit disturber and gossip columnist Mike Florio can be believed).

Getting beat by Denver in this particular game was mostly anticipated by the members of this site, but the stunning defeat of the Seahawks by the Rams yesterday goes a long way towards making this a reasonably pleasant Monday. And it’s nice to see Percy Harvin subtracted from that squad, too. The 49ers never had to face Harvin, and I can’t say I was looking forward to it, either. It’s debatable whether Seattle will be a better team without Harvin, but they certainly won’t be as dangerous.

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Bronc Skinner Blues

The 49ers have given the Eagles their only defeat this year, as well as the Cowboys their sole blemish. If this Sunday night’s opponent, the Broncos, hadn’t already lost a game, I’d feel confident the Niners would whip them. But they have, and I don’t.

The team will be starting three backup linebackers in this game, which might not be relevant to Austin Davis of the recently deposed Rams, but it will surely not go unnoticed by Peyton Manning. In an additional tilt to the game, the evil Eastern schedule makers have our lads playing back to back road games on a short week.

Also, it’s mid-October and Manning’s arm has not yet shrunk down to a wounded noodle like it will be in December and January. Which means he would still be competitive in the punt-pass-and-kick contest if it were held during half time this week. It also means the Broncos are going to put up some serious yardage and point totals.

Denver also has the number one ranked NFL team by yardage allowed, which would be scary if not for the fact that two of the teams in the top ten of this particular stat are the Rams and the Raiders, who’ve won ONE game between them. OTOH, Denver also has a bit better offense than the aforementioned losers.

Further complicating things, the Broncos have only played five games and others (like the 49ers) have played six, which makes the whole paragraph above pretty much meaningless without employing some division, multiplication, and perhaps even fractions — all of which are above my pay grade. Sorry for the wasted eyeball strain, folks.

Regardless, we’re looking at a very balanced Broncos team. Good defense, good offense. The same could be said of the 49ers. The difference between the two can be explained by the weather. The Broncos’ offense is like a hurricane — steady, straight, relentless, awesome. The Niners’ offense is like a tornado — terrifying yet whimsical. They can turn you into sawdust, or whiff entirely.

There’s another difference, also. When the Broncos enter the Red Zone, they rarely end up kicking field goals.

So, once again, it’s most likely going to be up to the 49ers’ defense to play a superb, almost flawless game if we want to come away victorious in Denver. Which brings us back to the original point. We’ve got Dan Skuta, Chris Borland, and Michael Wilhoite playing linebacker and not Aldon Smith, Navorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis. This is one game where that is going to matter quite a bit.

And if the Niner defense somehow pulls this one out of their hat, I’m giving a game ball to DC Vic Fangio and casting my vote for him as Coach of the Year.

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49ers 31, Rams 17

For the third straight game, the 49ers dug themselves into a 14 point hole, then methodically clawed their way out and won.

This time, they were down 14-0 after the first quarter and looked to be heading into the half trailing 14-3, when out of the blue, with 30 seconds left in the half, Brandon Lloyd juked out Rams CB Janoris Jenkins and raced down the sideline for an 80 yard TD that sucked all the wind out of the Rams.

From that point on, it was all 49ers. And all Colin Kaepernick (3 TD passes and 343 yards). And DC Vic Fangio, who once again figured out what the opponent was doing, then shut them down completely for the final three quarters. All the while mixing in replacements for injured 49er starters.

The team is now without Patrick Willis, Tramaine Brock, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Glenn Dorsey — five starters! — yet the 49er defense continues to shine. Rams QB Austin Davis was 11-14 in the first half, but only 10-28 in the second. The Rams had 75 yards rushing in the first half, but only 18 in the second.

For the most part, the 49ers avoided their Red Zone feebleality by scoring from long range! The 80 yard TD, a 32 yarder to Michael Crabtree, and an 11 yarder to Anquan Boldin. Technically, the 11 yarder was in the Red Zone, but it’s the First and Goal situations that seem to baffle 49ers’ OC Greg Roman.

And sure enough, late in the 4th quarter, with a chance to close out the game with a first down at the Rams’ two, the team went phhhttt. After TEs Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald both got wide open in the back of the end zone, only to run into each other and muff the pass, Roman dialed up three straight runs into the middle of the line. Result: 1 yard, no points, and ball to the Rams.

Just to emphasize the futility, the 49ers tried Frank Gore up the middle on 4th and 1 from the Rams 34 a few minutes later and once again got stuffed.

We’re getting close to the definition of insanity here. The last time the 49ers had any luck on first and goal situations or picking up 1 measly yard, Jimmy Raye was the OC (2009). If Raye weren’t employed elsewhere (Miami is his latest stop, I think), we could hire him to run the offense from inside the ten.

But what fun would that be? No nail-biting end games. No Rolaids inducing anxiety. No cursing and heaving shit at the TV and foaming at the mouth while your wife and children look on in horror at the beast that lies within. Ladies and gentlemen, your San Francisco 49ers. Somehow they usually emerge on top, even though you hardly had a relaxing moment watching in the entire game.

Just a note, though. Falling 14 points behind Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Sunday might not be so easy to overcome.

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Meet Me In St. Louis

Posted on October 10, 2014Skeebers 219 Comments ↓

Last year, the St. Louis Rams recorded 53 sacks. This year, after four games, they have ONE! Uno potahto, baby!

DE Robert Quinn had 19 sacks last year. This year, ZERO! It must be that multi-million dollar contract upgrade he received in the offseason that took the edge off his play.

What the heck is happening with these guys? I checked their roster and no DEs or DTs are on the PUP or IR lists, so it’s the same bunch of guys who terrorized QBs last year. They even spent another first round pick this year on a D-line guy, DT Aaron Donald, and he has the one and only sack of the year. Wow. Kind of an unprecedented face plant.

Jeff Fisher is in his third year as HC, and despite the haul of draft picks from the Robert Griffin trade, the Rams are still wandering around in the awful as hell zone. Hopefully, their wandering will continue for at least one more week. If it continues to the end of the season, we may see Fisher take the long walk down the road.

Next week, guys on the PUP/NFI lists will be able to rejoin their teams. There’s a five week window to allow these guys to begin practicing with the team, and another three week window for the practicing player to be activated on the 53 man roster. Failure to meet either of these two deadlines means the player can’t play this year. The 49er candidates include Marcus Lattimore, Navorro Bowman, Garrett Celek, and four rookies.

Time to eyeball the roster for upcoming pink slips, when Lattimore, Bowman, and later on Aldon Smith and Glenn Dorsey get activated. Recently demoted Corey Lemonier? Nick Moody? Josh Johnson again? Rookie center Marcus Martin wil soon be ready to play, but he’s already on the roster. Dillon Farrell will likely go to the P-squad when Martin is ready. Some tough choices coming along.

The Rams will get one small break for this game. It won’t occur at the same time as the St. Louis Cardinals are playing the SF Giants. The baseball team will have left town and headed out to the Bay Area by game time. So there might be two or three St. Louis folks who will bother showing up to see the Rams get run over on Monday Night. It’s a guarantee that this baseball town will be talking baseball, not NFL football. Many probably think, by now, that the Rams aren’t even a real NFL team, but more of a non-baseball season comic interlude. Assuming they like black humor.

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49ers 22, Chiefs 17

Posted on October 6, 2014Skeebers

The San Francisco 49ers squeeeeeeeeeeeaked by the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara, on a sweltering hot day featuring two bread and butter, meat and potatoes, lunch bucket blue collar football teams.

The Chiefs started fast with two long drives for 10 points, but the 49ers wore them out late with three straight FG drives of 9, 13, and 14 plays. Even so, the Chiefs had the ball and two minutes left to march down field for the win. But Chiefs QB Alex Smith let the air out of their balloon quickly by overthrowing TE Anthony Fasano on his second pass, and for the second straight week, Perrish Cox ended the drama with an interception.

It was an odd game in one way. There were clear and precise turning points in an otherwise seesaw slug fest, with only six total penalties, a mere two by the yellow flag challenged Niners. First, there was the phantom first down awarded to QB Colin Kaepernick that kept alive a 93 yard drive for the Niners’ lone TD on the day, instead of having to punt from deep in their own territory, trailing 10-6.

Then there was the gutsy 4th down fake punt from their own 29 yard line in the 4th quarter, executed perfectly by everybody’s favorite whipping boy Craig Dahl. Which led to the incredible, gravity-defying, body torque twistofantastico 29 yard catch by Brandon Lloyd on a Kaepernick Hail Mary heave that bailed the team out of a 3rd and ten from their own 32. That catch led to the go ahead FG.

And no Andy Reid game seems complete without some stupefying brain-fart, which came late in the 4th quarter with Phil Dawson set to attempt another reeeeeally long FG. But the Chiefs sent out 12 guys on defense and the 49ers got a first down, which allowed them to grind the clock down to the two minute warning, strip the Chiefs of all their time outs, and give Dawson a nice little chip shot FG — his 5th on the day.

Meanwhile, back in ordinary mode, the two-headed monster at tailback — Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, plowed through the Chiefs for 150 yards on 28 carries. This is how you get a 12 minute time of possession edge and keep your defense rested on a heat sapping day.

Conversely, the team continued its almost pathological inability to score TDs from the Red Zone. They converted 1 out 4 times in this game. This is how you dominate a game and TOP, yet find yourself needing a defensive stand in the fourth quarter to preserve a narrow victory. Change two of Dawson’s 5 FGs into TDs, and you’ve got a 30-17 lead at the two minute warning in the fourth quarter — a far more accurate depiction of the difference between these two teams.

One final comic interlude note. Former 49er first round pick AJ Jenkins, starting his first game in his third season, produced one run for -2 yards, and caught one pass for 3 yards, bringing his net contribution for the day to ONE yard. Time to look ahead to a life after football, AJ.

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2014 Schedule
1. 9/7 @ DAL: W 28-17
2. 9-14 vs CHI: L 20-28
3. 9/21 @ ARI: L 14-23
4. 9-28 vs PHI: W 26-21
5. 10/5 vs KC: W 22-17
6. 10/13 @ STL: W 31-17
7. 10/19 @ DEN: L 17-42
8. BYE
9. 11/2 vs STL
10. 11/9 @ NO
11. 11/16 @ NYG
12. 11/23 vs WAS
13. 11/27 vs SEA (Thanksgiving)
14. 12/7 @ OAK
15. 12/14 @ SEA
16. 12/20 vs SD
17. 12/28 vs ARI
2014 Prognostications
NJ49er: 11-5
Berger: 11-5
Grumpy: 10-5-1
Rob: 13-3
Skeebers: 12-4
Winder: 10-6
Earl: 12-4
Mr Fletch: 12-4
Phil Fan: 11-5
Chuck: 11-3-2
Bullit: 11-5
Bigjon: 13-3
Tony: 14-2
RTFirefly: 11-4-1
Dennis: 9-7

2014 Draft Class
1 Jimmie Ward, S/CB
2 Carlos Hyde, RB
3 Marcus Martin, C
3 Chris Borland, ILB
3 Brandon Thomas, OG
4 Bruce Ellington, WR
4 Dontae Johnson, CB
5 Aaron Lynch, LB
5 Keith Reaser, CB
6 Kenneth Acker, CB
7 Kaleb Ramsey, DE
7 Trey Millard, FB