Giants 27, 49ers 23

That was a pretty entertaining game between two evenly matched teams, which is not what you want to say when the team you’re matched up evenly with came into the game with the worst record in the NFC and exited the game with you having the worst record in the NFC.

The “you” featured here is of course the 49ers. QB Nick Mullens played a reasonably decent game, but two tipped-pass interceptions and a fail-at-crunch-time defense turned his efforts into close, but no cigar.

The offense has at least found an identity at long last. It’s Matt Breida and George Kittle, with an occasional assist from Marquise Goodwin and just about nobody else. The defense plays well against the run, but not particularly well against the pass. Especially when the opposing team realizes it can concentrate on RCB Ahkello Witherspoon and have a field day. Which the dull-witted Giants realized late in the game, switching Odell Beckham away from his matchup with Dickhead Sherman and over to Witherspoon’s side to turn a ten point second half deficit into a four point victory.

A 49er win would have moved the team all the way up to the third worst team in the NFC, but now they must be contented with being the second worst team in all of the entire NFL. The other worstest team is the Raiders, of course, and that makes the Bay Area the worst example of NFL football by a slim margin over New York, which has the awful Giants and the nearly as awful Jets.

This marks the end of the Niners’ three game foray through the dregs of the NFL. They went 1-2 against the Cardinals, Raiders, and Giants. After their BYE week, the 49ers play four games against middle-of-the-road teams, before finishing up against the Bears and Rams.

I think it’s safe to say that in year two of the Kyle Shanahan Era, he’s managed to turn a bad team that was painful to watch into a bad team that is sometimes entertaining to watch. The team moves fairly well between the 20s, with the occasional big gainer play, but also features the previous teams’ standby effort of moving backwards with penalties and sacks and just hitting a brick wall. The brick wall play was pretty much the perfected feature of the two previous regimes.

Bottom linely, we still have a bottom feeder team, elevated briefly last year and this by Jimmy Garoppolo, who watched this game comfortably from the stands, instead of down on the field with his teammates. Not a good look, but these $25 million dollar babies have their own set of rules, far above and beyond we mere mortals of existence.

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A Long Way From 1990

Okay, two wins in nine tries. We can build on this! Maybe.

Nick Mullens will get a chance to prove or disprove that he was a one-shot wonder against the Raiders when he goes up against the free-falling New York Giants next Monday night. The Giants aren’t going anywhere this year except into the top five in next year’s draft, but it’s hard to fathom how they could be tanking the rest of the season worse than the epic disinterest displayed by the Raiders.

The Giants and 49ers have a lot of history between them and they now share the same fate. After dismissing proven winners Jim Harbaugh and Tom Coughlin, they’ve both skidded downward into the NFL basement.

After Monday night’s game, the 49ers don’t play again until  November 25th. By that time, most of the 2018 drama might be over with. In the AFC, it looks like the Patriots, Texans, Steelers, Chiefs, and Chargers are playoff bound. That leaves one wild card entry up for grabs, probably some team from the AFC North.

The NFC has some team from the NFC East, probably the Eagles, plus the Rams, Saints, Panthers, and some team from the NFC North. The final wild card team will come from the Seahawks or Falcons or some team from the North.

The true test for Mullens will come the following week, up in Seattle, where no 49er QB has won a game since Alex Smith was the starter here. Seven years ago. If Mullens wins that game, CJ Beathard may as well pack his bags and wait for the axe to fall on his 49er career.

In fact, if Mullens pulls that off, even Jimmy Garoppolo might get a little sweaty in the rehab room.

But that’s enough “maybe” stretching for today.

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49ers 34, Raiders 3

Well, that was unexpected. Nick Mullens climbed out of the 49er depth chart cellar and threw down the greatest game in NFL history by a QB newbie.

It’s unclear whether this was the birth of a legend or mostly the death rattle of the Raiders, but it was damned impressive anyway. The first true rout of the Kyle Shanahan regime.

The defense got in on the act by registering 7 sacks. Since the Niners have one of the worst pass rushes in the league, this stat helps bolster the death rattle theory. The Raiders were simply awful at everything. One bad team was still playing hard and the other bad team has thrown in the towel.

The victory elevated the team from the NFL gutter, which they shared with the Raiders and Giants. Last week they proved to be worse than the Cardinals, and the next time they play we’ll see if they are better or worse than the Giants. At best, they’ll be the third worst team in the league. At worst, they’ll be better than only the Raiders. High drama.

The immediate question is whether Mullens is better than CJ Beathard. One would suppose Mullens will start against the Giants. How could he not after a game like this. Shanahan is a stubborn fellow, though. He’s insisted that Beathard is the better player, and Thursday night he seemed to be proven wrong. Geniuses can get a little testy when their brilliance is dented. Just ask Spitblood, who reacted to being outed by huffing off the blogosphere and is now working at McDonalds, handing out hamburgers and bad advice.

This might be the high point of the season for the 49ers, and they’ll have nearly two weeks to savor it before the Monday night game against the Giants. At the very least, if the team has to be better than somebody, at least that somebody was the Raiders.

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Cardinals 18, 49ers 15

I confess I missed some of the “action” in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. I kept getting distracted by some paint drying on a nearby wall.

Apparently, Bradley Pinion was winning a spirited punting duel against former 49er Andy Lee, with 7 punts for 285 yards versus Lee’s 5 for 229 when the duel was suddenly interrupted by Marquise Goodwin going off script with a long TD that turned the game into a 15-3 laugher. Then the 49er defense was so miffed by this offensive rudeness that they rolled over and allowed the worst offense in the NFL to score two TDs and win the game.

It’s hard to keep up with the free falling Niner Empire these days. Each week brings new layers of rock bottomness, only to be followed in a week by a lower level of bad. The team has lost six games in a row and has a chance to lose eight more by season’s end. That would be a 14 game losing streak that would eclipse the record setting efforts of Chip Kelly‘s 2016 team. HC Kyle Shanahan has gone from boy wizard to boy idiot in six little weeks.

There’s something to be said for watching an arrogant self-appointed master of the gridiron turn into a sweating, defensive bumbler at the post-game pressers, but this is not the entertainment we signed up for and it’s becoming a tired act in Ninerland, repeated by each new regime and each new promises of glory to come which never materialize.

This regime was so full of slam-dunk greatness that it received a complete pass on an awful first year, redeemed only by the late season hope of Jimmy Garoppolo. That honeymoon is over now. When the fans come to the point where they pin their hopes on the QB and not the coaching staff, you’ve got an ordinary guy in charge of the marbles and not a boy genius who can out-coach anyone.

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Worst a Shire Marathon

The Battle of the Bottom Feeders begins Sunday! Mark your calendars! Don’t miss one minute of excruciating awfulness!

Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals has the added benefit of being a battle for last place in the NFC West. Currently, the 49ers have a tenuous hold on the bottom by virtue of getting beat by the Cardinals in abominable fashion on October 7th. Another loss, ugly or otherwise, will make the Niners the prohibitive favorites to clinch last place. And a better draft position in 2019.

In that regard, QB CJ Beathard‘s primary contribution this year might be in exposing the worthlessness of the 49er offensive line and dispelling any notion in GM John Lynch‘s noggin that this ensemble can wait until later for an upgrade.

After the battle for last in the NFC West, the team plays the Raiders for the title of worst team in the Bay Area. And finally, after that, they play the Giants for worst team in the NFC.

This obviously isn’t the scenario envisioned when the Niners took the field back in September, but even then no one had them winning more than ten games, and most were in the seven to nine bracket. IOW, not a SB contender or probably even a playoff entrant. A team that wasn’t much better than last year’s, but could be coaxed to more wins than it deserved simply on the play of Jimmy Garoppolo.

But still not a good team. So, all that changes is that the losses are much more now and the wins much less. Those of us who haven’t minded the team getting whipped regularly certainly don’t mind. There’s a certain karmic joy in seeing Jed York humiliated and embarrassed each week. He certainly deserves it.

Those of you who are only interested in the team if it’s winning or contending or looking somewhat respectable or growing forwardly ahead, I don’t know what to say. Or if I did, I wouldn’t.

No sense burning energy on a losing deal. Find some way to enjoy the games. They’ll be over soon enough and then along comes another long, long offseason. I can certainly wait for that.

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2018 Schedule
9-9, L: Vikings 24, 49ers 16
9-16, W: 49ers 30, Lions 27
9-23, L: Chiefs 38, 49ers 27
9-30, L: Chargers 29, 49ers 27
10-7, L: Cardinals 28, 49ers 18
10-15, L: Packers 33, 49ers 30
10-21, L: Rams 39, 49ers 10
10-28, L: Cardinals 18, 49ers 15
11-1, W: 49ers 34, Raiders 3
11-12, L: Giants 27, 49ers 23

11-25: @ Tampa, 10:00 am, Sun.
12-2: @ Seattle, 5:20 pm, Sun.
12-9: vs. Broncos, 1:25 pm, Sun.
12-16: vs. Seattle, 1:25 pm, Sun.
12-23: vs. Bears, 1:05 pm, Sun.
12-30: @ Rams, 1:25 pm, Sun.
2018 Draft Class
1. OT Mike McGlinchey
2. WR Dante Pettis
3. LB Fred Warner
3. DB Tarvarius Moore
4. DE Kentavius Street
5. CB D.J. Reed
6. S Marcell Harris
7. DT Jullian Taylor
7. WR Richie James
2018 Prognostications
Bakkentom: 8-8
Grumpy: 8-8
Mr Fletch: 7-9
Winder: 8-8

Bullit: 9-7
NJ49er: 9-7
Skeebers: 10-6
Spitblood: 0-16
Rob!!!: 16-0