49ers 26, Texans 16

It took 45 games, but the post-Harbaugh 49ers have finally won two consecutive games!

It’s probably no coincidence that both winning efforts were conducted by newly acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who appears to have wisely used his three and a half years backing up Tom Brady in New England. Brady’s backups don’t have the best track record when going out on their own — in fact, they have all pretty much sucked. But Garoppolo appears to be the exception.

It also helps that the team just played two straight games against a couple of teams that are stinking their way to the finish line. The next three games are all against teams heading to the playoffs — the Titans, Jaguars, and Rams — so how the team fares in these contests will give us a much better idea of how improved the Niners actually are.

After a slow start against Houston, Garoppollo caught fire in the second quarter. And unlike previous Niner QBs, he stayed hot the entire game, throwing for 334 yards on 20 out of 33 passing attempts. The team has seen those kind of numbers only a handful of times since Jeff Garcia was dismissed after the 2003 season.

The teams were tied at 16 apiece late in the third quarter, with DeAndre Hopkins doing most of the damage with 11 receptions for 149 yards and 2 TDs. Dontae Johnson was the CB getting scorched by Hopkins and as soon as 49er coaches finally benched him, the Houston offense went bye-bye the rest of the game.

For the Niners, WR Marquis Goodwin had a big game, catching 6 passes for 106 yards. In the absence of Pierre Garcon and the previous two QBs, Goodwin has emerged as the team’s top wide out.

Two straight victories are nothing much to crow about in the NFL, but for the Niners, it’s a seismic shift. They will now no longer be mentioned in the same sentence as the Cleveland Browns — the barometer of football dreadfulness. And that is one mighty baby step forward.

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Posted in Post Game Spread

49ers 15, Bears 14

The 49ers dominated the hapless Bears Sunday in Chicago, having a TOP edge of 38 to 21, a first down advantage of 23 to 8, 388 to 147 net yards lead, and a whopping 73 to 38 lead in offensive plays. But they only managed to squeeze out a victory with a last second FG, the fifth of the day by Robby Gould.

Gould was the guy who missed a chip shot FG while playing for the Bears two years ago, that allowed the Niners to win the game in overtime. He’s now delivered two victories for the Niners in Chicago.

But the story of the day was the impressive debut of QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards, looking handsome and virile, even studly, while deftly managing the pocket and driving the team up and down the field between the 20 yard lines. Several 49er cheerleaders had to be treated for swooning related injuries.

Inside the Red Zone, it was business as usual, though. The team would start self-destructing, committing penalties in various dimwitted fashion, and backing themselves away from the goal line, eventually having to settle for Gould and three points.

Chicago had one TD drive and one TD punt return, but otherwise produced mostly nothing but awful on offense. Still, it was enough to hold the lead all the way to the last eight seconds of the game. Maybe the last eight seconds of John Fox‘s NFL head coaching career.

The 49ers’ RB tandem of Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida combined for 99 yards on 29 carries. An underwhelming 3.4 yards per carry. But Garoppolo bailed them out by converting 10 of 18 third down plays. He was particularly effective throwing to Marquis Goodwin (8/99) and Trent Taylor (6/92).

It did not look like GM John Lynch or HC Kyle Shanahan wanted to play Garoppolo this year, but the cat is out of the bag now and there’s no going back without giving the impression of tanking and pissing off what few fans still sleep with their red and gold pom poms every night. Kudos to CJ Beathard for stoically enduring getting his butt pounded for half a season, but his time as the starter has come to an end.

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Posted in Post Game Spread

It’s Been Real

For the third consecutive year, the 49ers will travel to Chicago late in the season for a game against the Bears. The Third Annual Loser Litmus Test Game.

Three years ago, then HC Jim Tomsula was handed a fluke OT victory over Chicago that gave the team a 4-8 record and led him to prance around for a week like a guy who’d just signed a five year contract extension. The delusional joy was short-lived, however. The following weekend, Jed York brought his family to Cleveland to witness the turned-the-corner Niners trash the Browns, only to absorb Johnny Manziel‘s drubbing of the same-old Niners. Unde exitus Tomsula.

Last year, the Bears joined the rest of the league not named the Rams and whooped up on the Niners, adding to their eventual 13 game losing streak. And unde exitus Chip Kelly.

This year will be the rubber match, featuring the Bears’ rookie QB Mitch Trubisky against the 49ers’ newly acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo. However, this year, win or lose, there will be no exiting undies for current HC Kyle Shanahan.

Nope. We have been assured by York that Shanahan is the really real deal, unlike Tomsula who was the real deal until Kelly came along a year later and became the realer deal who would be here many years and now a year later we have Shanahan who is the realest real deal of all.

At the end of next year, the Niners will have finally paid off Tomsula’s contract. Kelly will still have a year to go on his. But Shanahan, as if to pound home the point of how undeniably real he is, will still have four more years on his contract.

As for Chicago HC John Fox, he’s simply toast. Gone baby gone. No real left in his undies.

A final cheery thought: York will probably someday reach the age of 60 or 70 and become an elder statesman in the NFL. Nobody here wants to live long enough to see that ugliness. So keep it in mind when the day of your croaking has arrived. Embrace the exitus with a smile of relief.

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Posted in Waltzing Matilda

Seahawks 24, 49ers 13

The 49ers’ massive one game winning streak finally came to an end Sunday in Santa Clara, as they wheezed to defeat against the Seattle Seahawks.

The team conducted a spirited battle of nothingness in the first quarter, then the Seahawks took control, putting up a TD in each of the next three quarters, while the Niners put up a couple of FGs.

The margin of defeat was gussied up to look competitive by a meaningless end-of-game TD. It was the 49ers’ only TD of the game and was interesting only because the new franchise-qb-in-waitng, Jimmy Garoppolo, trotted in for an injured CJ Beathard with only a few seconds left in the game and promptly whipped a tight-window pass to Louis Murphy, putting the Niners in the end zone, where they had ventured not during the first 59:59.99 minutes of the game.

The Saviour Has Arrived. And the assembled handful of masochists, disguised as 49er fans, cheered wildly. Is this the end for Beathard, the man from snowy Iowa who has offered up his body to be thumped and clobbered for the past six weeks?

Meanwhile, back in zombieville, the Niners are 1-10, a heartbeat away from the number one pick in next year’s Draft.

The Seahawks left town, thankful for an extra BYE week on their schedule, after casually stomping the Niners for about the ninth consecutive time.

And somewhere in a dark and empty bar, huddled in a corner draped with embarrassment, a Joe Montana jersey shares a quiet drink with a Ronnie Lott jersey, while the jukebox plays, “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end …”

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View From the Bottom

The 2017 NFL season is slipping by quickly and we’re down to our last six games. The 49ers have improved statistically from last year’s team, with the offense improving from somewhere near dead last to 23rd in the league. The defense is up one notch, from last to next to last.

Still, one victory in ten tries is nothing much to ho-ho-ho and a bottle of numb about.

The defense was supposed to be the strength of the team this year, but that has not been the case. The run defense is still dead last in the league, and the pass defense is 30th. There’s been almost no pass rush from the DEs or OLBs. Solomon Thomas has not been worth the 3rd pick in the Draft. He hasn’t been a game changer at all. ILB Reuben Foster looks like a star in the making, but he’s been injured most of the year. The secondary continues to be average at best.

On offense, the rushing attack ranks 17th and the passing attack is 23rd. The two guards are the most glaring weakness on the entire team. There still isn’t a #1 WR or a reliable third down option.

Seven members of the 2017 Draft class are or have contributed this year. Not with any particular distinction, but with just enough performance to sustain the hope they will get better.

The most significant development of the season was probably the trade for Jimmy Garappolo a few weeks back. If the Niners can sign him to a contract before the start of the 2018 Free Agency period, he’ll be the next in a long line of presumptive Franchise Quarterbacks the team has trotted out since Steve Young was put to sleep in Arizona in 1999.

If they don’t get Garappolo signed, they’ll have wasted a very high second round pick for a “pocketful of mumbles such are promises” and be back in the hunt for a QB next offseason.

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Posted in Vacant Observations
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: L 10-40
Oct. 29: at Philadelphia: L 10-33
Nov. 5: vs. Arizona: L 10-20
Nov. 12: vs. N.Y. Giants: W 31-21
Week 11 — Bye
Nov. 26: vs. Seattle: L 13-24
Dec. 3: at Chicago: W 15-14
Dec. 10: at Houston: W 26-16
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