Staff Roulette

The 49ers leapt into the new year by firing their D-line coach, their Trainer, and their Strength & Conditioning fellow. The first pink slip is a bit puzzling since the D-line was one of the few areas of competence last year. The other two are scapegoats for the amount of injuries that have beset the team the past two years.

Since that roaring beginning, the QB coach has gone to Denver and Denver’s DC has come here. Net gain:  who knows.

Nobody much has blamed Kyle Shanahan himself for producing only six victories and following that up with only four last year. Is the honeymoon going to end this year?

Probably not. Jed York pushed all his marbles into the pot when he hired Shanahan. He’ll undoubtedly give him at least four years before any consideration of pulling the plug. By that time, he’ll have paid off both Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, so he’d only have to eat the final two years of Shanahan’s deal. Par for the course in the NFL.

Still, how many victories would it take this season to keep Shanahan’s seat from turning hot this time next year. Eight at a minimum?

In the meantime, rumors are floating around in the NFL cesspool that the Niners should make a play for Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham. There’s no doubt either of these talented WRs would help the talent-starved 49ers, but that’s the sort of move a team makes when they are one or two pieces away from being a serious contender. Or when they need to hornswoggle the fan base into thinking good thoughts and buying tickets.

Both guys are considered me-first “divas.” That would normally be enough to hit the reject button with a resounding “phlbbtt!” But it’s been quite some time since the Niners had anybody good enough to even think about being a diva, so maybe having one now would be tolerable.

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Posted in FOS Speculation

Buzzkill Edition

We’re a week and a half into the offseason, and no 49er player has yet been arrested. Super Bowl here we come!

There seems to be a ground swell of optimism forming for the 2019 season, unlike any season in, well, never. For some reason, despite history and every lesson to the contrary, football fans seem to be constantly enthused that their team is going to be terrific the following season.

Last offseason, these optimists were wetting their knickers at the prospect of Jimmy Garoppolo leading the team to or very near the playoffs in 2018. That dream was squashed in the third game when Jimmy tore his ACL. As you can see from the Prognostications listings, one of those optimists was yours truly.

Now, we’re right back at the same space, expecting the same great things as we expected last year.  A bit of an offseason rerun. Still, it might be pointed out that Nick Mullens played eight games and finished as the seventh rated QB in the league in terms of average passing yards per game. Better than Garoppolo, in that regard. And yet, Mullens record was only 3-5.

There were a lot of injuries this year, but aside from Garoppolo’s, none of the injuries involved a major player. That’s because the team has no major players. There’s George Kittle and Deforest Buckner and nobody else. And neither Kittle nor Buckner were injured. Jerick McKinnon might have looked like a big loss at the beginning of the season, but how much more productive would he have been compared to the year Matt Breida had?

It’s tempting to claim Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis were major players who got injured, but neither has been healthy enough to yet be considered major players and being injured was a fairly constant condition last year.

At the least, the team needs a functioning secondary, a pass rusher, a healthy number one WR, and an O-line upgrade to make much of a push up the ladder of respectability.

On the plus side, though, the bar has been set so low by four consecutive very bad seasons, that nobody remembers how good the Niners used to be. A 7-9 or 8-8 season would probably cause hearts to tremble lovingly, but that was the expectation of most for last year. And is that really much of an improvement for year three?

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Posted in Delusional Therapy

Wild Card Weekend

Two games on Wild Card weekend will determine the matchups for the Divisional round.

In the AFC, it’s the Colts vs Texans game. If the Texans win, they go to New England and the winner of the Chargers vs Ravens game travels to Kansas City. If the Colts win, they go to KC and the other winners go to Foxborough.

In the NFC, it’s the Eagles vs Bears game. If the Eagles win, they go to New Orleans and the winner of the Seattle vs Dallas game goes to Los Angeles. If the Bears win, they go to L.A. and the other winners go face the Saints.

Meanwhile, the 49ers are where we are – Outsiders. Haha. Pull up a chair, fellas.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that your HC Kyle Shanahan thinks you should have won seven games this year, not four. He didn’t say who was at fault, but we can all guess he doesn’t think it’s him. Still, it wouldn’t be fair to you fine lads to omit mentioning that it was Kyle who didn’t recognize that his backup QB wasn’t nearly as good as his backup’s backup.

The Eagles have a similar situation. For the second year in a row, the starting QB Carson Wentz has gotten hurt and been replaced by backup Nick Foles. Both times, the team then began to play better. All the way through the Super Bowl last year. This year? We’ll see if Foles’ magic act can survive against the Bears defense in Chicago.

Maybe there’s something about this “Nick” thing. Should we draft a guy each year solely because his name is Nick? Many GMs could do worse, probably.

C’est la vie. Time to sit back and watch three straight weekends of do-or-die football. Fun stuff after yet another year of brutal Niner football.

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Rams 48, 49ers 32

Drama got no favors from the 49ers this year. It took three games to boot it from the season (Jimmy Garoppolo tears ACL), but only two possessions (fumble, interception) to erase it from the final game.

Along the way, George Kittle set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) and the defense set the NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season (2). They also finished dead last in turnover differential at a whopping -24.

Everything else about the year was like a severed limb at an accident – you wish you’d never seen it because the image won’t ever go away. Well, maybe not that bad. The Niners have been piling up bad images for quite a few years now and they tend to form a collage more than a definitive portrait.

The 49ers finished the year ranking 23rd on offense and 24th on defense. The balanced effort of a high end of the low end team. However, they were the second to worst team in the league standings. An indication of an underachieving squad. The Robbie Gould offense will not be enough to turn this team into a playoff contender.

If you follow sports somewhat religiously, you know that when a graphic comes on the screen about how long it’s been since so-and-so threw an interception, it’s highly likely that the QB will promptly throw one. LG Laken Tomlinson was this week’s recipient of the dubious jinx factor. All week, it was pointed out that he had played every snap for over a year, so of course he tore his ACL in this game, even though he knocked on wood all week to ward off the demons.

This game was another example of a team’s running game being more important than a particular running back on the team. CJ Anderson stepped into the Rams backfield fresh off the street two weeks ago and put up back to back 100+ yard games. At the same time, Alfred Morris stepped off the bench as the 5th guy to be the lead back for the Niners this year and promptly racked up 100+ yards. This note is merely to warn NFL teams than Le’Veon Bell is not as valuable as he thinks he is. Nor, perhaps, is Todd Gurley.

At any rate, another sad sack season is completed. And it might be noted: Jim Harbaugh, 4 seasons, 44-19-1; Everybody Since, 4 seasons, 17-47.

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Posted in Post Game Spread

Last Call For 2018

The 49ers have not won a road game all year. It would be a shame to ruin such a pristine swing and a miss by somehow eking out a victory against the Rams this Sunday in Los Angeles.

After all, 5-11 doesn’t look much better than 4-12 – crap is crap by any other name – and it’s not worth slipping down the 2019 draft board to achieve. Not that these lovable lunk heads will be considering these practical ramifications. No, they just want to win the game and close the season thinking they’re better than they are.

Many of them won’t be starting next year anyway. Nick Mullens will be back on the bench, along with the entire secondary, a couple of RBs, one or two WRs, and probably a linebacker. But at least we’ll have some decent depth next year.

The Rams made a lot of splash last offseason going all in for a Super Bowl run this year, but they’ve kind of faded down the stretch since losing to the Saints last month. Ndamukong Suh was supposed to team with Aaron Donald to provide twin terrors at the DT spots, but only Donald has lived up to his reputation. Suh has played like a faded star who’s run out of gas. CB Aqib Talib has been injured most of the year and the other big splash CB, Marcus Peters, has shown more why Andy Reid traded him than why the Rams wanted him. And this year’s QB Jared Goff has lately played more like his rookie year self than his last year self.

Even so, the Rams are 12-3, which is not too shabby, and will have a first round BYE in the playoffs if they beat the Niners on Sunday or the Bears lose to the Vikings. And the Seahawks will be playing in January, too. While the Niners finish off their fourth straight losing season, a fully accredited Third World entity in the NFC West.

Last game of the year. Sigh. Kind of sad. Sixteen weekends of Munchausen Syndrome and then back to the real world and six months of acute withdrawal. Which is worse? The sickness or the withdrawal?

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Posted in Game Previews
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, L: Tampa 27, 49ers 9
12-2, L: Seattle 43, 49ers 16
12-9, W: 49ers 20, Broncos 14
12-16, W: 49ers 26, Seattle 23
12-23, L Bears 14, 49ers 9
12-30, L: Rams 48, 49ers 32
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
Closest to the Pin:
  Mr Fletch: 7-9

Bakkentom: 8-8
Grumpy: 8-8
Winder: 8-8
Bullit: 9-7
NJ49er: 9-7
Skeebers: 10-6
Spitblood: 0-16
Rob!!!: 16-0