Identity Crisis

Sunday’s game against Arizona is a key division game, but it’s also a key game for another reason. Colin Kaepernick has had two melt down games in his past three starts. Another one this Sunday would rattle the foundations of 49erville.

The first three weeks of a season tend to produce some head scratcher games, and this year has been no different. Dolphins over the Patriots in Week 1, Bears over the Niners last week, along with Browns over Saints and Chargers over Seahawks. This Sunday will probably feature a few more, but after that, the good teams start to emerge, the bad teams begin to sink, and the Cowboys go 1-1 all the way to 8-8.

At this point, we don’t know if the Bills, Texans, and Cardinals are for real. The Eagles look solid, with strong second half performances in both their games. The Niners have had two straight poor second halves, which is a bit bothersome. This is a team that should be wearing out opponents and dominating them in the last quarter. But the opposite has been true.

The 49ers claim their only focus is on football, but Sunday’s cluttered performance sure bore the signs of an unfocused team. The FO has no doubt interviewed Ray McDonald extensively and the fellow teammates who attended his party, and are convinced of his innocence, which is why he’s still playing, despite the outside elements wailing for his suspension. Add to that distraction the pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening of the new stadium, and it would be no surprise if the team was not completely dialed in.

Yesterday, the SJPD reported on the May 25 incident involving McDonald and his fiance, when he called 911 because she had wielded a gun during an argument. I think somebody should remind Ray what happened to Steve McNair when he was dating a dangerous woman.

One of the offseason moves has turned out quite well so far, the substitution of SS Antoine Bethea for the departed money grubbing, personal foul magnet Donte Whitner. Stevie Johnson has not had a huge impact yet, but he’s grabbed the third WR spot and his modest contributions have invariably resulted in turning third downs into first downs. I’d expect his impact to grow as the season progresses. And if Derek Carrier continues to make tough receptions like he did against the Bears, he might just surpass Vance McDonald as the 2nd string TE.

Sunday’s temperatures are expected to be in the high ’90s in Phoenix, which is not a favorable forecast for a team that’s faded down the stretch in its first two games. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have come from behind to win each of their first two. It’s going to take a big effort from our lads to win this game.

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Posted in Game Previews

Bears 28, 49ers 20

The 49ers embarrassed themselves Sunday night, turning an easy win into an ugly loss, and christening their brand new stadium with a layer of stink normally associated with descriptions of toilet overflow at the Oakland Raiders’ facilities. The 49ers new stadium is super high tech, though, so this stink must be termed a “virtual” smell.

The first half had some fine moments, with receivers running free with regularity. But an endless stream of penalties, a Colin Kapernick fumble, and a Kapernick interception, produced only a 17-0 lead, that should have been 24 or more.

That’s when Bears QB Jay Cutler realized it was time to ditch the game plan and just trot back to play catch with his receivers, unhindered by any 49er pass rush. In less than two minutes, it was a 17-7 game and an ominous feeling settled in for the half time show.

The 49ers opened the second half with a nine minute drive to the Bears five, then called three straight boring and ineffective runs, settled for a FG and a 20-7 lead, and apparently felt the game was over. Cutler had other ideas, effortlessly leading the Bears on three straight TD drives, picking on rookie CB Jimmie Ward relentlessly. Ward gave up three TDs to Brandon Marshall. Welcome to the bigs, kid.

While the Bears were scoring on each possession, Kapernick imitated his 2013 season ending fourth quarter melt down performance by tossing two fourth quarter interceptions on two straight drives and all of a sudden it was Bears 28, 49ers 20. One last 49er drive pooped out with yet another failed 4th down end zone pass to Michael Crabtree. Something of a new tradition in 49er lore, I guess. These two keep trying and they keep failing.

The team was called for sixteen penalties on the night, the Bears collected ten, and we hope this referee crew does not come around again for the rest of the year. Ye gods, striped dudes, get a grip. We’re trying to play a game here!

Flubbing the second game of the year is also becoming somewhat of a new 49er tradition. In three of Jim Harbaugh’s four years, the team has lost the second game, and the other year they waited till the third game to gag.

Of course, those other three years the team went 13-3, 11-5-1, and 12-4. So I supposed there’s reason to suspect this team might still have a very good year. They’d better find a pass rush, though. In a hurry. Aldon Smith still has seven games to go on his suspension, in case you are noticing the basic void over there on the right side of the 49er D-line. Please, kid, stay out of trouble and come back to us!

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Posted in Post Game Spread

Go Forth and Be Righteous

Football violence has taken a back seat to Domestic Violence this past week, proving once again that the public has an enormous appetite for violence. They not only eat up the violence itself, but take especial delight in finding culprits to blame for the violence. Normally, this is simply the perpetrator, and maybe his parents or teachers or the system. But in the Ray Rice video situation, there’s a whole smorgasbord of potential villains to track down and bring to public justice, whether by simple humiliation or by people getting fired from their jobs.

We now have the Baltimore Ravens front office, the New Jersey police, the New Jersey laws that handcuffed the police, and the NFL itself in the form of its commissioner, Roger Goodell, all in the hunt for blame. It’s such a viral case that not only is the media reaping a bonanza, but soon the politicians will be gorging at the banquet table, too.

The public, meanwhile, does what it does best: gets hysterically and endlessly righteous. A closer look at hysterical righteousness might reveal that it is, in itself, a form of — you guessed it — violence. When this sort of violence takes hold, we begin to witness what is affectionately called a witch hunt, where even the appearance of wrong doing is sufficient for the imposition of immediate punishment.

There is one other item that the public has a great appetite for, that is missing from the Ray Rice scenario. If Ray had delivered his knock out left hook while having sex with his fiancé on video, then the internet would have melted down within one day.

Meanwhile, the 49ers are busy preparing to slaughter the Bears on Sunday night, the team that launched Colin Kaepernick’s career three years ago. It will also bring to town a guy who probably would love to stick it to the 49ers, HC Marc Trestman. It’s been 17 years since he was waived out of town with a rude flick of Eddie Debartolo’s hand, but people tend to remember these slights for a long, long time.

The 49er defense had some holes against Dallas, too. The run defense got steamrolled and the pass rush was weak. Hopefully, Vic Fangio will get things fixed this week and enable us to cruise to a comfortable, fan-friendly victory.

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49ers 28, Cowboys 17

Posted on September 8, 2014Skeebers 223 Comments ↓

The San Francisco 49ers bullied their way to a 28-3 halftime lead over the inept Dallas Cowboys, then spent the second half running out the clock, instead of running up the score. How polite.

Along the way, Frank Gore went over the 10,000 yard mark for his career and got a bird’s-eye view of the guy who’s going to replace him — Carlos Hyde. Hyde had 50 yards on 7 carries, with a mean ass 4 yard TD run and some get-outta-my-way nastiness. The two RBs combined for 116 yards on 23 carries.

The new look offense lived up to expectations, which was almost a necessity against the decimated Dallas defense. But it was the 49ers’ defense that surprisingly keyed the victory. Chris Culliver grabbed a fumble on the second play of the game and pranced in for a quick TD. Later, the defense intercepted Tony Romo on three straight drives, once in the end zone to thwart a Dallas drive and twice more to set up easy 49er touchdowns.

Things looked a little scary when both starting corners went out in the first quarter — Culliver with a concussion and Tramaine Brock with a bad toe. All of a sudden, the team was down to two corners — Perrish Cox and rookie Dontae Johnson. Cox had an interception and Dontae had two very impressive pass break ups.

The run defense was not impressive at all and Ahmad Brooks contributed three penalties on the Dallas drive that ended in a first quarter FG. Antoine Bethea, stepping in at SS for the departed Donte Whitner, limited Romo’s sweetheart pass receptor Jason Whitten to two catches for a mere 14 yards. An outstanding effort.

Two other newcomers played well, with Stevie Johnson catching two third down throws and Jonathan Martin subbing in at RT for the injured Anthony Davis. New center Dan Kilgore also played well.

All in all, a mostly satisfying road win to begin the season.

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Posted in Post Game Spread


Posted on September 5, 2014Skeebers

The NFL schedule makers have given the 49ers a wonderful way to start the 2014 season. A short trip to Texas for a humiliating butt kicking of the Dallas Cowboys. SF has gone to three straight NFC Title games and Dallas has rung up three straight 8-8 seasons.

Cowboy QB Tony Romo has had a bad back the past offseason, so he’s already got a built in excuse for failing again in 2014. Who says this guy isn’t progressing as an overpaid choke artist.

But the Cowboys biggest problem appears to be their defense, which was ghastly last year and has managed to disintegrate even more during the summer.

This would be a good game for 49er QB Colin Kaepernick to play a lot of catch with his vaunted new batch of wide receivers. Of course, to fully utilize three or four wide receivers, Kap first has to get over his penchant for making one read then turning into a running back.

Like the Cowboys, the 49ers’ biggest question mark is their defense. The coaches may know how it will perform, but none of us do. There are only five starters left from last year’s opening lineup: Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Patrick Willis, and Eric Reid. And while Romo and Gag are synonymous during December, old golfer boy can light things up early in the season. Our new look secondary should get a stiff workout.

The season kicked off Thursday night with Seattle stomping the Packers. Getting stomped on opening day is becoming a bit of a Packer trademark. Last year, the Niners wiped them out at Candlestick. Green Bay hasn’t looked dangerous and mean since they roared through the 2011 season and then stubbed out against the Giants in the playoffs. Yet people still swoon over Aaron Rodgers and pick them to win the SB. They’ll be lucky to win the NFC North.

Nobody seems to have a bead on the Niners’ prospects this year. Half the pundits pick them to win the SB and the other half don’t think they’ll even make the playoffs. Those imaginary and somewhat dubious halves are not represented on this blog, though, where optimism abounds. If you haven’t made your pick for the Niner record this year, this is the final day to cast your ballot.

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Posted in Game Previews
2014 Schedule
1. 9/7 @ DAL: W 28-17
2. 9-14 vs CHI: L 20-28
3. 9/21 @ ARI
4. 9-28 vs PHI
5. 10/5 vs KC
6. 10/13 @ STL (Monday night)
7. 10/19 @ DEN (Sunday night)
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