Broncos 34, 49ers 0

The 49ers christened their new stadium by offering us a throwback game to 2005, the year Jed York christened himself as the new owner. A thoroughly tidy demolishing by the Denver Broncos was the result, 34-0. Anybody still think watching a bad team is better than watching a team good enough to lose NFC Title games?

Jim Harbaugh is a great believer in having his team look like shit in the exhibition season, but this year he’s really mastered his craft excrement-wise. It’s 57-3 after two games, prompting Harbaugh to comment: “We need to make decisions on who to play. We’re not going to keep experimenting. We need to tighten this down fast.”

Not to be redundant or repetitive, but No Shit, Jim.

For starters, let’s play some. Starters, that is. The first team defense has yet to play at all and the top tier offense has played only three series, one in the first game and two Sunday.

The third exhibition game is next Sunday against the Chargers, which leaves three weeks until opening day. It seems safe to assume that if holdout RG Alex Boone doesn’t report in this week, he won’t be in the starting lineup when the season begins.

Sixth round rookie CB Kenneth Acker was one of the very few highlights of Sunday’s thrashing. Cornerback depth has been a concern all camp and finding a diamond in the rough would be a most pleasant surprise. Of course, he was playing against the third team Denver receivers, so a rush to gushiness might not be warranted just yet.

The new stadium at least got good reviews Sunday. In fact, the crowd seemed more interested in wandering around checking it out than actually watching the game. Who can blame them?

The new, explosive offense promised all offseason by OC Greg Roman is still a closely guarded state secret. Obviously. Three points in two games is quite a long way from explosive.

Everybody says top rookie Jimmie Ward is playing well, but I have yet to see him knock down a pass when playing slot CB. Which is what we need him to excel at this year. Maybe I missed a play somewhere along the way while observing our D-line getting shoved off the map.

Astute readers may note I have not yet mentioned our backup QBs, who each coughed up a turnover Sunday, while methodically throwing high, wild, and nowhere. Saving the pain for the area of the column when most readers have already abandoned reading. Colin Kaepernick had best stay healthy this year. That is all I have to say.

Every year I tell myself not to worry about exhibition games and every year I worry about them anyway. P.T. Barnum is smiling in his grave. Seattle is destroying its opponents effortlessly and we’re getting destroyed limpily and I’m not supposed to worry? Please, real 49ers. Can you just give us poor saps a brief glimpse next Sunday of your manliness? Is that too much to ask?

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Posted in Post Game Spread

Changing of the Guard

By all accounts, Aldon Smith is having a superman TC so far. That’s the good news. The bad news is multiple reports are predicting a six to eight game suspension for the 2014 season.

The silver lining news is that he’ll be back for the second half of the season and the playoffs. Wreaking havoc on opposing offenses — if he stays in shape and out of trouble. Without him and Navorro Bowman, the 49er defense will be a notch or two below its best during the first half of the season.

A whopping 21 guys are currently on the team from the 2013 and 2014 draft classes. And none of them look to be in danger of getting cut this year. That’s some pretty good drafting by GM Trent Baalke.

Of this group, several are poised to become household names over the coming years: Eric Reid, Tank Carradine, Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Quinton Dial, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, and the next Bill Ring type overachiever Chris Borland. The franchise is in good hands these days.

With the exception of Colin Kaepernick, however, the core leadership of the team was assembled by former GM Scot McCloughan. Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, and Patrick Willis. A couple of these may well be in their final year here, but the rest still have several good years remaining.

The team has three new starters in the secondary this year (Chris Culliver, Antoine Bethea, Jimmie Ward) and this group will get a nice work out Sunday afternoon against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. At least for one or two series, before Manning tiptoes off the field to take his geriatric supplements.

This could be a critical game in the Alex Boone holdout saga. A good, solid showing by his replacement Joe Looney will put a lot of pressure on Boone to show up for camp or face a lost year, or even a year as a backup when he finally does report for duty. It’s possible Boone wants to force a trade, so he can get big money elsewhere, either as a guard or the more lucrative tackle position. His days as a Niner seem numbered, any way this unfolds.

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Posted in Mindless Drivel

Ravens 23, 49ers 3

On second thought, bring back the offseason!

The 49ers suffered their ugliest loss since the first game of the Harbaugh Era, back in 2011 against the Saints. That game was 24-3 and this one was 23-3. Jim Harbaugh is now oh-for-three against his brother John Harbaugh, who’s beaten him in the regular season, the postseason, and now the preseason.

In fairness, the first string 49er defense did not play Thursday night and the first team offense played only the opening drive. So, the team we’re reviewing here does not really exist.

Only its players exist and some were good and most were not. On the good side, Quinton Dial, Carlos Hyde, Tank Carradine, Vance McDonald, Bruce Ellington, and Michael Wilhoite. On the bad enough to get special mention: QB Blaine Gabbert and NT Mike Purcell.

Baltimore had a two to one Time of Possession edge on the Niners and most of it was on the ground and over NT Purcell, who was blown off the line time and time again, to the tune of 237 yards. A vigil will be held tonight at 49er HQ for the speedy return of NT Ian Williams, who’s still rehabbing from last year’s injuries.

British fans can take heart from the play of Lawrence Okoye, who was not outstanding, but certainly looked like a real football player and not a shot putter. On one sequence, Okoye was shoved ten yards down field (embarrassing), but on the next play he plugged a hole and stuffed a runner for no gain. Baby steps for the limey!

Gabbert did not look at all like someone you’d want to see trotting onto the field at any time during the upcoming season. He stared down his receivers and was wildly inaccurate all night. Josh Johnson was not a whole lot better, but at least he was quick enough to scramble 15 yards for a first down.

RG Joe Looney and new center Daniel Kilgore did not particularly distinguish themselves. Looney’s so-so effort no doubt cheered up hold out starter Alex Boone. Restoration project Jonathan Martin didn’t overwhelm anybody, either, and his stumble-bumble-face plant whiff on a second and two sweep from the Ravens’ seven on the game opening drive cost the team a first down or even a TD. On the next play, a third and one, the team went to its bread and butter, tried and false, run up the middle for no gain, then wimpily settled for a field goal. End of story offensively for the evening.

All in all, not a particularly fun night of viewing for 49er fans. But it was a football game, at long last, and that was quite good.

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Posted in Post Game Spread

Visiting the Uglies

Posted on August 4, 2014Skeebers

Sunday marked the end of life without football. R.I.P. hunk of shit dead air time.

The 49ers tee it up Thursday night against the Ravens. Can’t wait to see Jewel Hampton blowing through holes opened up by Al Netter and Carter Bykowski. At the rate our boys are getting injured in Training Camp, Al and Carter could be O-line starters by game time.

This will be the first meeting between the Harbaugh Bros. since Harbaugh the Younger’s squad stalled out at the five yard line in the 2012 Super Bowl. In fact, Junior has never beaten Senior in the NFL, losing twice.

Most people consider John Harbaugh the nicer fellow compared to his wild hair brother Jim Harbaugh. Perhaps that’s so, to the untrained eye. But consider which team each coaches. Jim coaches the illustrious, superlative San Francisco 49ers and John coaches the repulsive, backstabbing Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens’ uniforms are among the ugliest in the NFL. The black tights are obscene. Their dead owner recently had his grave peed on by a Browns fan, and rightly so. All Browns fans should be afforded the opportunity to Take a Leak on Art.

For thirteen years, the idiot Baltimore fans made a hero out of one of the biggest jackasses ever to play in the league — Ray Lewis, and just last week gave a standing ovation to Ray Rice when he showed up for camp after beating his wife senseless in an elevator and getting a mere wrist slapping by commissioner Roger Goodell. And Ray was promptly praised by John the Good for the heroic manner in which his RB thug was dealing with adversity. A truly putrid franchise. At least Jim the Bad would have snarled that Ray was working through something.

Here’s hoping the team doesn’t get any cooties from practicing with these jerks.

First round pick Jimmie Ward is getting great reviews in camp so far, as is second rounder Carlos Hyde. Last year’s second rounder, Tank Carradine, has gotten good marks for his ability, but bad marks for his brain. D-line is probably the least rocket science oriented of the various team groupings, so we trust the Tankster will get this cranial issue sorted out adequately in time for the regular season.

Despite the probable season ending biceps tear suffered by NT Glen Dorsey, the D-line currently looks like the 49ers’ deepest and most talented crew of this century. This should help offset the loss of ILB extraordinaire Navorro Bowman during the early part of the season. His replacement has not yet been decided among Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, and the rookie Chris Borland. This position battle will be one of the highlights of the preseason games.

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Posted in Training Camp

Little Big Men

Posted on July 30, 2014Skeebers

It only took three practices to answer the question about what to do with the crowded situation at running back. The answer was “Never mind.”

First Kendall Hunter went out for the year with an ACL tear, then LaMichael James dislocated his elbow during pass blocking drills. He’s only expected to miss a month, but by the time he heals, his RB job will likely be gone and his punt return job may belong to someone else, too.

James is not likely to get much sympathy, either. He spent all last year complaining about his role and announcing via Twitter that he had been traded. He’s part of the ill-fated 2012 draft class where Trent Baalke went against his own credo (big is better) by drafting two small guys with his first and second picks. Don’t expect Baalke to draft any miniature boys again any time soon.

In fact, the only guy currently practicing from that draft class is a big ole guy, RG Joe Looney. If Alex Boone isn’t careful with his hold out, Looney could be the starter on opening day. Here’s a tip, Boone. Baalke would like nothing better than to have one redemptive pick from that draft.

Scot McCloughan didn’t place a ton of value on offensive guards and apparently Baalke shares that view. In the past year, the 49ers have extended the contracts of both starting tackles, Joe Staley and Anthony Davis. But both guards are nowhere near to extensions. Boone’s holding out and talks with Mike Iupati are clearly not progressing.

With Iupati, it seems a little strange that the team appears reluctant to pay the man. They drafted him in the first round in 2010 and he’s more than lived up to that first round abiity. What were they expecting? Why draft a guy that high if you aren’t going to keep him because he’s performed well? Maybe Iupati is making super exorbitant demands, but I tend to doubt that.

Then again, the team restructured Ahmad Brooks Tuesday, creating another $2 mil in cap room. So maybe somebody else is going to get a contract extension any day now.

John Madden recently raved about the job 49ers’ HC Jim Harbaugh has done, pointing out that the negative rantings of brittle-boned alcoholics from Pinole should be laughed off the stage. The Outsider, of course, would never be so brutally frank.

Harbaugh is the first coach in NFL history to reach the conference championship game in each of his first three seasons. It took Madden eight years to win a Super Bowl, overcoming three consecutive AFC Championship game defeats along the way, so he knows a bit about perseverance. Not a favored virtue of the blogosphere, but worth noting nonetheless.

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Posted in Training Camp
2014 Schedule
1. 9/7 @ DAL
2. 9-14 vs CHI (Sunday night)
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 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