Washington 26, 49ers 24

Another week, another last second loss. The 49ers have developed an uncanny ability to almost, but not quite, win. Perhaps they will soon develop an uncanny ability to almost, but not quite, lose.

It might have to wait a couple of weeks with games upcoming against the Eagles and Cowboys.

Brian Hoyer’s last best chance to be a starting QB in the NFL probably slipped away to Neverland midway through the second quarter Sunday. After a 4-11 effort and 34 dinky yards, rookie CJ Beathard trotted in and rallied the Niners back from a 17-0 hole to tie the game, before coming up short down the stretch and losing by two points.

Of course, Beathard had a little help in performing his rally. Just before the half, Washington’s DJ Swearinger turned a Niner FG into a TD with a ridiculously stupid personal foul. Then in the third quarter, the refs allowed a highly dubious fumble recovery TD by Jimmie Ward that tied the game.

Still, Beathard did enough to get the starting nod for the remaining ten games. Whether that’s enough to establish himself as a rising young star or just another guy joining Hoyer in the career backup role remains to be seen.

The release of NaVorrow Bowman left the team with Brock Coyle and Ray-Ray Armstrong as the starting ILBs, and these two combined to allow 11 catches for 213 yards and one TD. One of the catches was a 51 yarder to our old friend Vernon Davis, who’s rolling happily along on his home town team. Half of this mismatch should be retired to special teams duty by the return of Reuben Foster this coming week. Whether Foster will be squaring off against the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott or not is currently under judicial review.

The Niners remained tied with the Browns as the only two winless teams this year, after the Giants inexplicably flew to Denver and knocked off the Broncos yesterday. This was New York’s first game without star egomaniac WR Odell Beckham, so clearly Beckham was the problem all along.

All in all, if you don’t mind the losses, the 49ers have been quite entertaining this year. How long this sort of entertainment continues to be entertaining remains to be seen.

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Colts 26, 49ers 23

For the fourth straight week, the 49ers lost a game by three points or less — and in the final moments of play. 12-9, 41-39, 18-15, and now 26-23.

They’ve become the Steve DeBergs of the NFL, with Brian Hoyer in the starring Deberg role. Just good enough to lose. Always in the hunt, often heroically so, but unable to ever make the winning play. Still, as many have pointed out, it beats being just bad enough to get completely butchered.

But, a loss is a loss. The team is 0-5 and with upcoming road games at Washington and Philadelphia, plus a home game against Dallas, 0-8 is looking like a tad more than a distinct possibility.

Both NaVorro Bowman and Carlos Hyde were benched at various times during Sunday’s games, and neither of them were very happy about it. HC Kyle Shanahan explained it wasn’t because of injury, but he was “… going with the hot hand.” That’s coach-speak for “they were playing like shit.” When you’re benched for Brock Coyle, however, there’s no shit deep enough that a player could be playing in to justify the move.

Maybe it’s just that any wild optimism Shanahan had of making a playoff run this year has been beaten out of him, and he’s going to begin playing the younger guys now and making a run for the top spot in the 2018 Draft. Trading both Hyde and Bowman for draft picks is not out of the question.

Last week rookie WR Trent Taylor flashed his promising skills at slot receiver and this week rookie TE George Kittle joined the party, with 7 catches for 83 yards and a TD. The Niners have not have much production from the TE spot since the peak years of Vernon Davis, four years in the rear view mirror.

The defense allowed our old favorite Frank Gore the necessary yards to move into 7th place on the all time rushing list, but otherwise held the old warrior in check. Not so his understudy, Marlon Mack, who ripped off 91 yards on 9 carries, with a 22 yard TD run in the third quarter.

Third pick in the 2017 draft Solomon Thomas continued his Invisible Man mehness. He has one sack on the year, but it came when he was still stymied at the line of scrimmage when Carson Palmer tried to gimp his way out of a collapsing pocket, allowing Thomas to slide sideways and tackle him for a 0.000001 yard loss.

The 49er secondary was primarily torched by Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, who had 177 yards on 7 catches. Mostly at the expense of CB Dontae “Turnstile” Johnson, who led the Niners in tackles, most of which were far down the field. Johnson’s main claim to fame so far in his career is that he has outlasted Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker for the “who else do we have to play CB” role.

Is it too soon to circle the November 12th home game against the New York Giants for the battle between two 0-9 teams? A far cry from the 1990 game between these two franchises, who were both 10-1 when they met on December 3rd for NFC supremacy, with the 49ers winning 7-3 on a Monday Night.

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Cardinals 18, 49ers 15

The 49ers and Cardinals played a seesaw OT yawner in Arizona Sunday, but the end result was the same as the previous week’s seesaw donnybrook. Another loss. The Niners have played three straight games against their division opponents and lost them all.

Both teams were allergic to the end zone — until the very last seconds of overtime, when Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald hooked up for the 19 yard game winning pass. The Niners had five FGs, the Cardinals four plus the TD.

Before the game 30 49er players jumped on the protest bandwagon and knelt for the Anthem in a purported show of “unity.” They must have changed the definition of that word recently, because 30 guys kneeling and 33 standing is the very appearance of a fractured and divided entity. Worse, it was so last week. This week, most of the kneelers had resumed standing. Which is pretty laughable all by itself.

Brian Hoyer completed just barely 50% of his passes during the game, moving backup CJ Beathard ever closer to the starting job. Another couple of losses and there wouldn’t be much point in not seeing what he can do. If that happens, it will mark the third straight year of musical chairs at the QB spot. That was a featured element of the 2005-2010 49ers.

If Hoyer loses next week versus the Colts, it could be his last game as starter. The only reason Indianapolis isn’t 0-4 along with the Niners, Giants, Chargers, and Browns right now is that the Colts had the opportunity of a Browns game on their schedule. We’ll find out next Sunday which team is the lousier. And that’s about all we’ll find out.

In other news, the Rams look like the real deal this year. They beat the Cowboys in Dallas yesterday to take the lead in the NFC West. Their offense is explosive and if DC Wade Phillips gets that defense working, and he probably will, the Rams could be serious postseason contenders.

The shoo-in SB contenders, the Patriots, don’t look so hot right now. They lost to the Panthers Sunday, for their second home loss of the season. Hahaha. Their defense stinks and nobody wins SBs without some form of decent defense.

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Back to You, Ed

NFL season: Take Two. Let’s try this again.

Where were we? 0-3 and dead last in the NFC West. Next up, at Arizona.

This would normally be an automatic 0-4, but the Cardinals seem to have fallen apart about as fast as the 49ers did in 2015. They seem more likely to battle the Niners for last place than battle the Seahawks for first.

No team epitomizes the crazy ups and downs of the first three games of the season (and of a lot of seasons) than the Jaguars. Win by 22, lose by 21, then win by 37. Who are these guys?

Arizona has become a bit of an oasis for former 49er players. Alex Boone, Mike Iupati, Andy Lee, Blaine Gabbert, Antoine Bethea. Not sure if this is contributing to their shrinking win totals or propping them up from a steeper slide.

We’re only at game four, and Carlos Hyde is already breaking down. This time it’s his hip. Not a good place for an RB to have an injury.

A few years back, some of the players would meet at midfield after a game and form a prayer circle. That created some controversy, so the media naturally honed in on the circle after every game. Not sure if this is still a practice, since the media moved on after awhile to focus on other controversies.

Now we have a new controversy, a pre-game display of some form of protest over something or other. A lot of people who otherwise don’t watch football are tuning in now to see how creative and wide-spread the protests are. The 49ers played a week ago Thursday, before the madness began, so haven’t had a chance yet to compete in these pre-game sideshows.

So, for those of you who like to get your blood boiling on one side of the protests or other, or for the comfortably jaded who just like to observe the spectacle of the human condition, be sure to tune in early. For those who just want to watch a football game, it’s probably best to tune in five or ten minutes late.

And as they say in the they saying department, “This too shall pass.”

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Rams 41, 49ers 39

Wow. That was unexpected. After two straight defense-oriented yawners, the 49ers and Rams held an old fashioned offensive barn burner. Easily the most entertaining Niner game in years.

The game was as evenly matched as you can get. Each team had over 400 yards of offense, 300 by passing and 100 by running. They each scored five TDs and 2 FGs. And two turnovers. The Niners got their muffs out of the way in the first quarter, the Rams in the second and fourth. In the end, it all came down to a missed PAT by the Niners and a failed two point conversion.

The most glaring difference between the teams was the pass rush. The Rams had four sacks, the 49ers had zero. Number one draft pick Solomon Thomas was again barely visible, with one tackle representing his only stat of the game. In fact, none of the first five picks in the 2017 Draft Class are contributing anything so far this year, although Reuben Foster most certainly was, before his injury.

Defensive ineptitude by both teams was also equally on display. For the Rams, a bit surprising. One would think Wade Phillips would have his team a top five group, but they’ve been a sieve all three of their games. Maybe the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is not going very smoothly. If it ever gels this season, the Rams will be a legitimate playoff contender. Their offensive turn around, especially the play of QB Jared Goff, has been amazing.

For the Niners, the continued lack of a pass rush is killing them. Their run defense has been solid, a refreshing turn around from last year. But teams with good passing attacks are going to tattoo this group all year long.

On the plus side, Brian Hoyer finally found his groove and the offense at last performed like we all expected a Kyle Shanahan offense to perform. Bolstering the hope that the remaining games this year will be very competitive and entertaining, whether that is reflected positively in the win/loss record or not. The Niners are 0-3 right now, but are clearly better than the 1-2 teams of the previous two years.

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2017 Schedule
Sept. 10: vs Carolina: L 3-23
Sept. 17: at Seattle: 9-12
Sept. 21: vs. L.A. Rams: L 39-41
Oct. 1: at Arizona: L 15-18
Oct. 8: at Indianapolis: L 23-26
Oct. 15: at Washington: L 24-26
Oct. 22: vs. Dallas, 1:05 p.m.
Oct. 29: at Philadelphia, 10 a.m.
Nov. 5: vs. Arizona, 1:05 p.m.
Nov. 12: vs. N.Y. Giants, 1:25 p.m.
Week 11 — Bye
Nov. 26: vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 3: at Chicago, 10 a.m.
Dec. 10: at Houston, 10 a.m.
Dec. 17: vs. Tennessee, 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 24: vs. Jacksonville, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 31: at L.A. Rams, 1:25 p.m.
2017 Draft Class
1. DE Solomon Thomas
1. ILB Reuben Foster
3. CB Ahkello Witherspoon
3. QB C.J. Beathard
4. RB Joe Williams
5. TE George Kittle
5. WR Trent Taylor
6. DT D.J. Jones
6. LB Pita Taumoepenu
7. CB Adrian Colbert
2017 Prognostications
Bullit: 5-11
Chuck: 9-7
Grumpy: 4-12
Mr Fletch: 5-11
NJ49er: 6-10
Rob: 9-7
RTFirefly: 5-11
Skeebers: 6-10
Winder: 4-12