Faint Praise

The Brad Seely era got off to an astounding start in San Francisco Sunday, as token HC Jim Harbaugh managed to keep the game close and allow Assistant HC Seely’s special teams units to dominate the game against the Seattle Seahawks, bringing home a narrow 33-17 victory.

The ghost of Mike Singletary must still be haunting Candlestick, because this game looked a whole lot like the games we saw the past two years. With QBs all over the league dropping back to pass 40 or so times a game, Alex Smith did so a mere 20 times. This was a run first, conservative game plan all the way. And like the Singletary years, it almost got us beat.

The defense dominated the Seahawks in the first half, but began to tire in the second half and midway through the fourth quarter a 16-0 halftime lead was suddenly a mere 19-17 two point nail-biter. Visions of a quick three and out by the 49er offense, followed by an efficient little Seattle field goal drive against our fading defense, and a bitter 20-19 loss was staring us in the face.

Game hero and oft maligned Ted Ginn then turned into Superman and put 14 points on the board in less than one minute. A 102 yard kickoff return, followed by a 55 yard punt return. Wow. Thank you, Teddy. Can you do that every game? We might need it.

It’s a win, though. Something we didn’t experience until game six in 2010. Send some flowers to the schedule makers for getting Seattle at home this year, instead of on the road like last year. Does anybody doubt we would have lost this game if it had been in Seattle? And maybe lost it big?

While the running game was going nowhere, the pass protection held up surprisingly well. It’s a puzzlement why we didn’t throw more often. We’ll certainly need to air it out next week, when the Cowboys come to town. They torched the vaunted Jets pass defense pretty good Sunday night, until Tony Romo decided to self-destruct in the 4th quarter. The Niners’ pass defense is not usually mentioned in the same breath as the Jets pass defense, so it is not hard to wince when envisioning what might happen next week at Candlestick.

It’s a new feeling, though, being somewhat disappointed with a win. With Singletary, any win was cause for rejoicement. Chalk this up to the offseason blather about Harbaugh’s magical hidden offense. Yesterday, Harbaugh just played trench ball, looking for a win and nothing more. Perhaps it was first date jitters. Bringing his act to the doorsteps of the NFL and not trying any moves in the backseat, or going for a good-night grope. Just showing his respect to the Big Time arena with a polite, buttoned-down effort.

In fairness, Seattle may not have much of an offense, but their defense is rock solid. Our own defense looked good Sunday, but a truer test will be next week’s Cowboy’s game, a team that actually has an NFL offense. That game looks to be the litmus test for how competitive the 2011 49ers are likely to be.

The team is going to get better as the year goes along, but if that betterment is described next Monday with the words “light years” or “a whole heaping bunch,” it will not bode well for our division title hopes. On the other hand, perhaps we’ll only be saying “slightly” or “reasonably.” In that case, I’ll probably be more excited by a close loss than I am this week with a close win.

Unless, of course, we beat the Cowboys. In which case, I will not be the only one going, “WTF!!”

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29 comments on “Faint Praise
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve seen JH call plays like this at Stanford. And then he’ll just opening it up, even while leading. It looked like he was starting to open things up when Ginn took the two kicks back. Seattle has Red Bryant, Clemmons and Mebane on the D-line, that is three good run stoppers. I wish we would’ve passed more except one thing, we won. I can’t say I’d change a thing knowing that piece of info in hindsight.

  2. barleyfreakNo Gravatar says:

    I agree — much more conservative than I anticipated. But I’m not sure I agree that SEA defense is truly solid. Somehow it is easy for me to imagine some other team putting 400 yards and 30+ points on them. I am still having trouble imaging us doing that. To anyone.
    Baby steps, I suppose. But the SingleNolan game plan ain’t gonna fly. Dallas WILL be aggressive — in the air — and with Ware. I want wins, but we won’t grind our way to the SB. My kingdom for a passing game.

  3. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    barley- Just my opinion, but I think Seattle has the personnel to stop the running game. Which could easily mean we should have passed more. But we won. As I’ve been saying, I agree with you that this game plan gets us beat next week.

  4. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    “Yesterday, Harbaugh just played trench ball, looking for a win and nothing more. Perhaps it was first date jitters. Bringing his act to the doorsteps of the NFL and not trying any moves in the backseat, or going for a good-night grope.”
    ‘Button down effort’? Hell I’m all for a good first date grope. Though I can see the wisdom of playing it cool. There was plenty of groping with numerous personnel groping/substitutions like OT Alex Boone lining up at TE and A. Snyder similarly drawing an off-sides as a tackle eligible receiver pulling up and getting a penalty on the befuddled ‘Gulls. This version of ‘trench ball’ confused the hell out of the poor virgins, ah I mean opponents facing Cassanova Jimbo for da first F-ing time.

  5. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    You ran with that one, PF.

  6. bigtimNo Gravatar says:

    a win is a win no matter how ugly,a interesting stat A.Smith had no turnovers, something that he had plenty of in last years opener.
    Harbaugh knew he could play it close to the vest and get a win,the team played well enough in this conservative style.
    against the Cows there’s going to be a little more needed to get a victory,I would rather start slow and build towards getting better, than start guns blazing and fizzle at the end when other teams have the film on the team and all there weaknesses exposed, kind of like a 4-0 pre season then a 0-5 start,its a polar opposite of last season

  7. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Moran Norris needs to go. When Gore get’s stuffed it’s usually an end result of Norris missing his block or being knocked into the backfield. Norris might be a step slower to the point of attack. I just remember them splitting him off wide left as a pass receiver. I just uttered out loud, WHYYYY?

  8. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah Skeebs the ‘trench’ has been berry berry good to me, yuk yuk

  9. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Bullit, so he can demonstrate his “Dancing Bear with Hands of Stone” move.

  10. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Maybe it was to get a couple of guys on the Seattle defense laughing so hard they would screw up their assignments.

  11. robNo Gravatar says:


    ” Maybe it was to get a couple of guys on the Seattle defense laughing so hard they would screw up their assignments.”


  12. robNo Gravatar says:

    you just beat out GRUMPYGUY’s post at 11:48 for post of the month honors !

  13. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Hey, good for the much-maligned (by me, anyway) Ginn and tonic. As a lot of us are saying, I sure hope they bring in some more passing plays into the mix. The pass blocking was better than the run blocking for the most part.
    The Fawks seemed hell-bent on stopping Gore at all costs. The Niners should have taken more shots down field. Esp in the red zone. Play-action . . .

  14. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Play action? What’s that? Must be some arcane, ancient shit I don’t remember anymore, not having seen it much the last few years.

  15. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Of course, Mike Singletary thought Play-Action was unclean. It being unmanly and all to try to fool people…

  16. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Well, in Sing’s book, 3rd and 12 was perfectly acceptable for play-action.

  17. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    We’re not here to fool anyone, we just want to make the play a liiiiiiittle bit harder to execute by throwing a fake handoff into the mix when everyone knows we are passing . . .

  18. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Bradford just has a bruised finger and will play next week.
    Stephen Jackson is out with a strained quad and they have lost 2 starters CB William Bartell who fractured a neckbone and WR Amendola who dislocated his elbow.
    Both might be out for the year.
    Cards are our main competition but they gave up almost 500 yds total offense to the Panthers.
    Panthers had wide open receivers for Newton to throw to 25 yards downfield.

  19. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    In previous post I was talking Rams and Cards our main division rivals.

  20. robNo Gravatar says:

    GRUMP and CHUCK !
    like you , i’ve been wanting to see some play action for YEARS here ! how can you feature the power running game with GORE as your back …
    and NOT run play fakes !
    wtf !


    at least harbaugh want with some later in this game , so we can hope he’s still not showing his whole hand yet !

  21. robNo Gravatar says:

    anybody know that ted ginn took a 1.2 million dollar paycut to stay with the 9ers ?

    they say he might make some of it back with incentives , but imo

    they should give all of it back to him now !

  22. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    He’s a great weapon in B Seeley’s ST schemes, not so much as a receiver (yet?). Goes to show what can happen with Good Coaching.
    Teddy, as JH was calling him, says he’s playing for the love of the game and prolly he’s thinking long term…Wanting to be here long term, how rare.

  23. robNo Gravatar says:

    my point was always that ginn gave us a good return man for the the 5th rd. pick we gave up to get him … if he gives us a deep option a few times a game as our 4th or 5th WR that’s a bonus imo !!!

  24. robNo Gravatar says:

    and remember , the last good return guy we had was john taylor !

    unless you liked dexter carter ?

  25. bullitNo Gravatar says:


    He traded that pay cut so he could opt out of the club option
    for 2012. We are past the point of giving it back to him.
    Let the season play out and see how well he does and make him an offer accordingly.

  26. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Did I see the “alligator arm” play wrong? I thought I saw a defender pulling on VD’s shoulder, not allowing him to stretch his arms out. I thought that was a blatant pass interference. I’d sure like to see that play again to see if I saw it the way I remember it.

  27. robNo Gravatar says:

    the refs had money on seattle if you ask me !

  28. unca chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Berger, the DB was draped on his back, but wasn’t holding his arms down/back. VD has an annoying tendency of not adjusting very much to passes thrown his way. If they aren’t on the money, he doesn’t go after them.

  29. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    New post is up.

2021 Schedules
09/12: W 49ers 41, Lions 33
09/19: W 49ers 17, Eagles 11
09/26: L Packers 30, 49ers 28
10/03: L Seahawks 28, 49ers 21
10/10: L Cardinals 17, 49ers 10
10/17 BYE
10/24: L Colts 30, 49ers 18
10/31: W 49ers 33, Bears 22
11/07: L Cardinals 31, 49ers 17
11/15: W 49ers 31, Rams 10L
11/21: W 49ers 30, Jaguars 10
11/28: W 49ers 34, Vikings 26
12/05: L Seahawks 30, 49ers 23 12/12 · 10:00 AMCIN
12/19 · 1:05 PM v ATL
12/23 · 5:20 PM v TEN
01/02 · 1:05 PM v HOU
01/09 · 1:25 PM @ LAR

2021 Draft Class
1. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
2. OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
3. RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State
3. CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
5. OG/OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
5. CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
5. S Talanoa Hufanga, USC
6. RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
2021 Prognostications
Bullit: 12-5
Grumpy: 13-4
NJ49er: 11-6
Skeebers: 14-3
Winder: 12-5
Rob: 17-0
Spitblood: 0-17