49ers 17, Washington 13

The 49ers pulled another game out of their rear ends Sunday afternoon, stunning the disinterested Santa Clara minglers by scoring their first fourth quarter TD of the year! and oozing out a late victory.

After falling behind 13-10, old guy Anquan Boldin almost personally led the team down the field and into the end zone to re-take the lead. Then old guy Justin Smith closed it out with a strip sack of Robert Griffin.

The hero for Washington was undoubtedly their punter Tress Way, who kept dropping the ball inside the ten on the Niners all day long. Five times he pinned them against their own goal and the 49ers couldn’t get a single long drive going from the opening drive TD to the final drive in the fourth. Fumbles by Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde didn’t help much either.

TE Vernon Davis finally appeared in the offense. His contribution for the day was running third down pass routes that were one yard short of the first down.

Aldon Smith picked up a couple of sacks, along with Aaron Lynch and Ray McDonald. Disgruntled OLB Ahmad Brooks didn’t get any, but he was there to catch the ball at the end when Justin flattened Griffin.

It would be hard to say this was an entertaining game, because basically it was a hair-pulling, shoe throwing, screaming piece of horseshit. A Niner specialty this year. Just when you think you’ve seen offense at its awfulest, along comes another game and you see some more!

It seems ridiculous to point out the team is very much alive in the wild card race, since most of the time they seem very much dead just about every way possible in every game, except for the extra three or four points they manage to produce on the scoreboard than their opponent produces. It’s a miracle! The team has become the 2013 Arizona Cardinals!

The win completed a 4-0 sweep of the NFC East this year. That’s always sweet, even if that division sucks.

Still, it was a milestone game, with that first fourth quarter TD of the year. Could the flood gates open now? Ha ha ha.

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Posted in Post Game Spread

Washington Circus Comes To Town

Washington comes to town this weekend to remind us all that, whatever our problems are or are perceived to be, some franchises have infinitely worse crap to deal with.

This game should be a walkover, but the 49ers don’t do walkovers. At least not so far this year. Even without them, a win Sunday would give the team a clean 4-0 sweep of the NFC East. Har har hearty har har.

A win would put the Niners at 7-4, either a game ahead of the Seahawks or two games behind Arizona. Those two teams play each other in Seattle this Sunday.

The interesting points about Washington are that their stats (7th passing, 16th rushing, 10th pass defense, 11th rush defense) indicate a team that should be about 5-5 or even 6-4 like the Niners, instead of 3-7. A competitive team, not a joke. How they managed to rise up and beat the Cowboys, in Dallas, is one of the abiding mysteries of the year.

When it comes to Washington, though, everything is about the sideshow. The dysfunction that settled over the franchise when Dan Snyder bought the team in May of 1999. Snyder started a wallboard advertising business when he was 25 and by his 34th birthday, that business was worth a billion in annual revenue. But brilliant in business didn’t translate into brilliant in football. Not by the skin of his very red face. Even the brief return of the great Joe Gibbs couldn’t dent the ineptitude of Snyder’s operation.

If 49er fans are disappointed in the slow pace of Colin Kaepernick’s progress as a QB, it’s nothing compared to Washington’s disillusionment with their QB Robert Griffin. At the beginning of this year, NFL nitpickers considered Washington’s mammoth draft day trade with the Rams as an equal meh for both sides. Since then, the Rams’ youngsters gathered via that trade have begun to make St. Louis a very competitive team. Not so with Griffin, who continues to languish in languishness.

The 49ers have taken a lot of grief this year, but you have to admire their resiliency and the outstanding job our rookie draft class has done filling in for all the wounded or departed starters. Kudos to Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Chris Borland, Bruce Ellington, Dontae Johnson, Aaron Lynch, and the guy who drafted them, Trent Baalke. By all rights, we should be talking about a year lost to an endless stream of injuries. Instead, we’re still in the hunt, however shaky that journey appears to be.

One more unimpressive win, and we head into the Thanksgiving Day brawl with the Seattle Seahawks. Go Niners!

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Posted in Game Previews

49ers 16, Giants 10

It was fun watching other teams lose Sunday. The Seahawks got beat by the Chiefs, the Eagles creamed by the Packers, and the Rams wiped out Denver.

It was not much fun watching the 49ers win. In fact, somewhere late in the third quarter, I finally and reluctantly admitted to myself what has been obvious all year: our offense sucks and it’s not going to get any better. So unless the defense turns into the 2000 Ravens, there’s just no chance this team can win a Super Bowl this year.

Against the Giants, one of the worse defenses in the league, the 49ers managed ONE measly touchdown. They made four trips to the Giants’ Red Zone, or near it, in the first half and scored 9 points and a fumble. In the second half, outside of the OMG 48 yard TD to Michael Crabtree, they again shut down completely and ineptly. Ten games into the season, and they have not yet scored a TD in the fourth quarter at all.

For the day, the defense picked off five Eli Manning passes, but turned that into only 3 points, and stopped the Giants on 3 4th down efforts. And with all of that, we win by six effing little points. Sheesh. Booooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

After the game, Frank Gore praised the 49ers’ defense, then added, “As an offense, once we start playing better in the 2nd half, we can go a long way.”

No offense to the great man, but this is the second half, Frank, and your offense is no better than the awful it’s been all year. Maybe Frank meant the second half of games. Why the team would suddenly figure out this dilemma after ten straight failures seems more than a little optimistic.

Leave it to the old pro Justin Smith to come up with a far more accurate assessment regarding the team. “[Chris Borland] is playing out his mind.” Borland only had 13 tackles in this game, down from his usual 17+, but he did have two interceptions.

The blogosphere seems evenly split between whether the team needs a new offensive coordinator or a new quarterback, but it’s a moot point. Neither is going to happen this year. How the team has managed to win six games so far is a bona fide mystery.

They’re gonna manage to win the next game, too. That will set up a Thanksgiving game against the Seahawks that will officially expose which of these two pretenders will be sitting out the playoffs this year. Maybe they both will, but one of them gets eliminated that Thursday.

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Trap Game Warning

Posted on November 13, 2014Skeebers 114 Comments ↓

Most of us thought we’d be talking this week about a 4-5 team whose playoff chances were dangling by their last flimsy thread, needing to win out to get into the postseason. I might have led off this piece by conjuring up memories of the 1988 team, which did exactly that — going from 4-5 to 10-5 and clinching the division with a game to spare. Prompting a lay down loss against the Rams that had the side effect of eliminating the Giants, which so incensed Phil Simms, he famously quoted: “They laid down like dogs.”

That might by the only concise thought Simms ever had.

At any rate, the 49ers are instead at 5-4 and very much alive. We can assume they will whip the Giants this weekend and Washington the following week, setting them up at 7-4 and a showdown game against the Seahawks on Thanksgiving. I say “assume” because a loss to either of these hamburgers, this late in the season, would be proof that this 2014 team just doesn’t have it.

The Eagles are at Green Bay this Sunday, and Detroit’s at Arizona. So two of these teams will be coming down within reach of the Niners. If they can hold their own this month and climb up to 8-4, December promises to be a very interesting month.

Giants’ QB Eli Manning’s glory days as an elite passer are but a distant memory now, but he can still be dangerous on any given Sunday. Especially with the emergence of rookie WR Odell Beckham. If Trent Baalke can draft great linebackers in his sleep, Giants GM Jerry Reese has an equal skill at drafting wide receivers. Perhaps these two could swap draft picks in 2015, with Baalke selecting an LB for Reese and he can fetch a WR for Baalke.

Cooperation between these two franchises, however mutually beneficial, is not ever likely to happen, though. The Giants and 49ers have disliked each other quite strongly since at least the ’80s, and certainly from 2011 and 2012, when the New Yorkers beat our butts twice, one a squeaker in the 2011 NFC Title game, followed by a walloping in the 2012 regular season. Since then, the Giants have taken a death spiral into second rate chumpsville. There should be enough 49er players left from those earlier whippings to have no trouble getting up to return the favor come Sunday.

The Niners will at long last get pass rusher extraordinaire Aldon Smith back this week. It’s not an overstatement to say the front four pressure has pretty much totally sucked so far this year without him. Ahmad Brooks has done almost nothing, the New Orleans sack not withstanding, but rookie Aaron Lynch has been a pleasant surprise. It’s possible we’ll see him paired with Aldon on passing downs, rather than Brooks.

Even without a pass rush, the Niner defense has been solid this year, even the secondary, which gets exposed the most when there’s no QB pressure. If Aldon can provide some consistent heat, we might see a few more interceptions in the second half and those sweet little short field possessions that have been so helpful to us the past three years.

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49ers 27, Saints 24

Posted on November 9, 2014Skeebers

A funny thing happened while packing my offseason bags for the long trip to Miseryville, Siberia. That goofy little ball actually bounced out of Drew Brees’ hand and wobbled around until 49ers’ all-Rocky rookie ILB Chris Borland appropriately scooped it up. One ugly looking Phil Dawson chip shot FG later, and the Niners somehow walked off the field in New Orleans with a most desperately needed victory.

And how eerie to see Brees, whom I envied watching all game long with his superb pocket composure and awareness, compared to Colin Kaepernick’s almost complete lack thereof, and yet it was Brees who committed the game ending fumble. Caused by the year long invisible man — Ahmad Brooks.

It was also fitting — and probably necessary — that the defense provided the win. They played an outstanding game. The offense, as has been usual all year, stopped performing with about five minutes left in the second quarter and produced their usual NADA from there on out. Except for one game ending 4th and ten fifty-one yard fairy tale bomb from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree that allowed Dawson to kick a FG and send the game to overtime.

The defense also set up the Niners’ first TD of the game, when Antoine Bethea intercepted Brees, giving our boys a first down at the 13. Three straight Frank Gore runs did the rest.

Of course, the offensive second half futility isn’t helped much by a group of WRs who take turns dropping passes at a ridiculous rate. This game, it was the usually reliable Anquan Boldin with the butter fingers. Boldin managed a trifecta of drops on the final drive that preceded the 4th and ten miracle to Crabtree. Even that catch was dicey, as Crabtree floundered around under the pass and barely made the grab.

With the win, the 49ers stayed alive in the playoff race, and confounded a nation of experts that gave them no chance to beat New Orleans. Even this humble scribner said it would be near miraculous to come out with a victory. And lo and behold, a near miracle did indeed unfold.

Still, if the team is going to the postseason, it’s going to be with one ugly ass win after another paving the way. Ugly is better than dead, no doubt about it. But it doesn’t make for relaxed Sunday afternoon viewing.

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Posted in Post Game Spread
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: L 10-13
10. 11/9 @ NO: W 27-24
11. 11/16 @ NYG: W 16-10
12. 11/23 vs WAS: W 17-13
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