The Xth Game

Ronnie Lott once said you didn’t know what kind of team you really had until the tenth game of the season. As it so happens, next Monday’s game against Chicago will be game number ten for the 49ers.

I don’t wish to be alarmist, but it’s quite necessary to win that game. Four of the following five games are on the road and none of those road games will be a gimme. Far from it. Rams, Patriots, Saints, and Seattle.

It’s tough to get a handle on this year’s team. One week, they look like the class of the NFL and the next they look like they’re taking a class on the NFL. It appears as though Jim Harbaugh is finding it tougher to achieve the same level of consistent motivation in his second year of “Who’s got it better than us?”

If this is a problem, it’s one he never had to face while coaching college ball. In college, the turnover from year to year brings a constant supply of newbie eardrums into the locker room that have never heard any of the coach’s rah rah speeches before. In the pros, these rahmanations can get old in as little as two years. We all saw how fast Mike Singletary lost his motivational power in year two of his tenure.

Learning to motivate pro players year after year is probably a skill set Harbaugh has not yet mastered. He should have a few ideas about it, though, since he was in the league as a player for several years, and must have a memory for what did and didn’t get tiresome to hear.

In his favor, he’s a bit of a nutjob, which is always going to be more appealing to young guys than a buttoned-down fellow like, oh say, Mike Nolan. But, in the end, winning games is the only way any coach can retain the attention of his team over the long haul.

The overriding question for today, however, is who the starting QBs will be in next Monday’s game. Both Jay Cutler and Alex Smith were knocked out of Sunday’s games with concussions. We’ll discover sometime this morning whether both or either or neither of the two will be playing next week.

The ESPN announcing team would probably favor Cutler vs 49er backup QB Colin Kaepernick as the ideal pairing. Cutler is always fun to praise and condemn, all in one offensive series sometimes. Plus his personality will have the cameras following his every sideline grimace, sneer, yawn, whatever facial posture. His backup, Jason Campbell, is a bland fellow that even Jon Gruden would have trouble working up any decibels about.

Kaepernick, of course, is seen by many as the eventual successor to Smith’s tenure as 49er QB and that along with Kaepernick’s obvious physical skills would have Jon frothing from both nostrils. Smith is probably as bland as Campbell, though it’s doubtful Campbell ever had a streak like Smith has been on — completing 26 of his last 28 passes, for 307 yards, 4 TDs, 0 ints, and a 151.9 QBR.

One thing ESPN won’t be complaining about is the matchup itself. Both the 49ers and the Bears are leading their divisions and trying to hold off tough challengers — the Seahawks and the Packers. If the Niners lose, they’ll still be clinging to a half-game lead. If the Bears lose, they’ll suddenly be in second place and likely to stay there.

As John Madden might say in describing this game: “This is a FOOTBALL game, folks!”

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52 comments on “The Xth Game
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I wish I had the time to get the coaches tape. My fear is our problem is the D-line, which was our strength last year. Specifically, the NT position is not performing like last year. What is up with Sope? NoFear has the coaches tape. Maybe he can watch and give an opinion of what he thinks is up with the front 7. My initial rewaction is I would use more 4-3 for the rest of the year and until we can get better play from the NT position. I’d be curious to hear if NoFear concurs.

  2. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The biggest 49er blunder of the last 10 years was drafting Rashawn Woods instead of Vince Wilfork. Vince was on the board, we traded back twice and finally took Woods. We got Sopoaga with one of the picks we traded for. As good as Sope has been he’s no Wilfork.

  3. bullitNo Gravatar says:


    You can go nuts playing the what if game in the crapshoot draft.
    Wilfork plunged in the first round because of his attitude and motivation. Belichick was the right coach to straighten him out.
    Under Ertickson he might be Balmer V1.0. One could say things evened out when we drafted Willis, I remember they were leaning towards Carriker which woul’ve set us back another 5 years.
    We also did very well identifying Bowman but missed on Coffee.
    Just hope you have a 70% success rate in the draft.

  4. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    I recall there was a hanging pssoe
    when Jed York hired Trent Ballke.
    I defended the hire but many laughed at his name referring to Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers and Balky.
    That’s where the Holmgren talk started and Jed York was ridiculed.
    My how things have changed.

  5. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    bullit- When Wilfork became available to us I was jumping up and down in my living room with RenoJim. We were shouting we got Wilfork, and a minute later we were silent. Our coach had just announced we were gouing 3-4 on D. We pass on the best NT of the decade. Yes you can play woulda coulda shoulda, but that was a no brainer.
    I heard we were actually targeting Michael Clayton and when he got picked one before our pick “F” bombs filled the room. Instead of accomodating the coach with a dominating NT, they traded back and took a different WR. Donahue was just a terrible GM. Nolan was actually a major upgrade from Donahue. I’ve been bitching about passing on Wilfork since the day we passed on him and will continue until we finally get a dominating NT. Sope is the best we’ve had since but he is no Pro Bowler. At least we did pick up Sope and Andy Lee that year. Can we get a dominating NT in the house some day, Walsh use to keep three on the roster and we can’t get one.

  6. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I supported the Baalke hiring too. After a national search we hired in house. Nobody seemed to believe there was a national search. If Baalke doesn’t get this fan a couple of NTs soon I want a new search.

  7. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I’ll form the hanging posse!

  8. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Don’t want to crush any Coven dreams, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter on 49ers QB Alex Smith (concussion): “They feel pretty good that Smith should be able to go.”

  9. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Smith is the one who got a 2nd opinion, Skeebs. Not sure what it means, but he obviously didn’t like the results of Monday’s tests. Whatever they were.

  10. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    The inferrence would seem to be he wasn’t cleared by the guy he saw. I mean, his impetus would be to get out there and play, right?

  11. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    You spelled it wrong, Bers.

  12. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Knowing what an intelligent guy Smith is, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he got a second opinion just to make sure he fully understood what the concussion had done to his brain. But I’m sure he’ll explain it at his presser later today.

  13. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Too funny. Check out the name of the book. This is from Denver’s ABC affiliate, Ch 7.

  14. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Some intern in Denver just lost his job . . .

  15. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Might as well put this on TV as Housewives of the Military.
    These women are starved for attention. The second Kelly woman was on a Food Network reality show about 10 years ago.
    She claims to be a diplomat because South Korea made her an honorary consul.
    Four Star generals should see through these groupies and it’s disappointing when they think with their dicks but I guess they are only human.

  16. winderNo Gravatar says:

    The 49ers and Bears have a long history of some real hard-nosed football, this game should be no different

  17. RTFireflyNo Gravatar says:

    I prefer gaggle, myself. If you look carefully, I haven’t been gaggling this year.

    If the Niners had Peyton or Luck or RG III or Ponder, I’d be voting for Berg’s name change and I’d bring the rope.

    They could have Sanchez, with backup Tebow being the best QB on the team. Things could be worse.

  18. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    What will it take in NY to get Tebow on the field? I mean besides calling punt coverages.

  19. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Per Maiocco Alex Smith has been cleared to return to practice. Barring any setbacks he will start on Monday Night.

  20. NoFear49erNo Gravatar says:

    Berger, I haven’t seen the entire game again in the coaches film. From what I did see they had Sopoaga doubled frequently. They used a TE for inline blocking and they did a good bit of man slanting and zone blocking. They didn’t run a lot to Justin Smith.

    We were preoccupied with Amendola and Jackson. Rightfully so, but we played corners soft to help in run defense (I assume) and kept Willis on Jackson. Their guards were frequently on our ILBs and they let Smith chase the backside of runs with a chip. It looked like they did their homework on us.

    An example of the preoccupation with Amendola is the first TD by their rookie wideout. When Culliver played press and got out jammed. We had three guys on Amendola, Rogers, Bowman and Whitner and still Goldson was focused on him and didn’t see Culliver go down. He came over late and let the rookie stiff-arm him, ouch.

  21. RTFireflyNo Gravatar says:

    Chuck, I’m seriously beginning to believe that Rex decided to cash in the season when he lost his best players on offense AND defense the same week.
    Go for draft position. You might get a QB.
    If he put Tebow in, they might win a few. Can’t have that.

  22. bullitNo Gravatar says: is reporting that Cutler is unlikely to play against the Niners as he hasn’t been cleared to practice.
    Dobbins the guy that hit him was fined $30K today.
    Looks like we see Jason Campbell Last timewe faced him in 2010 he threw for 83 yds and 2 picks as the QB for the Raiduhs.

  23. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    More Alex Smith news. he was cleared for and partici[ated in non-contact drills. The likelhod is he’s ready to go . . .

  24. RTFireflyNo Gravatar says:

    Cutler has had 4-6 previous concussions dating back to Denver. Alex has had none. That’s what I heard on ESPN.

  25. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    RTF, if that’s the case, then why the hell did they get Tebow in the 1st place? I find it hard to believe they would really sign him and expect him to be a good RB/ST guy. If they don’t start him, then they did it all (like I opined at the time) as a publicity stunt done to garner yackety yacking. Brilliant.
    The Jets ownership is hideous. Say what you will about Denver drafting him so high, but they did manage to get a 4th and 6th round pick for him. Not a very good trade, but they did make the playoffs, and oh yeah, sign Peyton Manning.

  26. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    ASmith had a concussion in the Rams game last year (or was it 2010?) IIRC. He didn’t miss a game.

  27. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    If Reid gets fired in Philly the 3 names being mentioned are Jon Gruden, Chip Kelly and Josh McDaniels.
    I would never hire McDaniels after what he did to Denver.
    He’s a decent OC but not a good head coach.

  28. RTFireflyNo Gravatar says:

    Reid might have a good rookie QB right now and patience is the key.
    If he gets canned, I think Gruden is dying to get back into the league on a talented team. Kelly I know nothing about, but I wouldn’t give an old shoe to McDaniels as a HC.

  29. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Smith siffered the concussion in the Cowboys game last year.

  30. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Kelly’d be crazy to leave U of O at this point. Especially to go to the Iggles.

  31. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Here is Maiocco interviewing Alex Smith after today’s practice.
    Still up to the doctors to clear him for contact and not up to him.
    So he still coukd be benched,
    According to Smith he only saw one neurologist at Stanford independent of the team and not the second opinion as was reported.

  32. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Chuck the NYJ screwed the pooch with the Tebow deal.
    They play second fiddle to the NYG and, constantly seem to seek fan approval with splash moves such as this.
    It was touted to be a motivational move for Sanchez.
    Where they really botched the move was following the Timmy signing with a Sanchise extension.
    What’s the point?
    The GM, Tannenbaum, guaranteed too much Cap money to guys like Santonio and Bart Scott on top of it.
    They’re a bonafide circus act.
    They’ve now got 2 quasi-QBs, no running game and too much money tied up in guys that can’t produce.
    Most entertaining stuff, especially when you add the NY Media and Rex the Ringmaster.

  33. 12th manNo Gravatar says:

    I figured he was there to run a wildcat thing for them and to get media attention. Once Sanchize began to suck it turned into a QB controversy that is only getting bigger. Couldn’t happen to a nicer team J-E-T-S suck.

  34. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    So far today, one anonymous teammate said Tebow sucked so bad it was laughable, Rex called the anonymous guy a coward, Tebow announced he was wounded but resolute, and now Shonne Green says maybe he should start. All in a Jets day.

  35. RTFireflyNo Gravatar says:

    That’s what the Lions said last year after they thrashed him.
    Then Tebow led the Broncs to 6 straight wins.
    The Jets locker room is a joke because Rex doesn’t control it.
    Tebow’s only real hope disappeared when the Jets refused to trade him to Jacksonville, which would have been a perfect fit for both teams.
    So, the Jets have Sanchez, no WRs, and I do feel sorry for them.
    They’re not the Cowpatties. After Texas secedes, will Jerry’s team need passports to play road games?

  36. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Yeh Skeebs, OG Slauson was the culprit.
    He’s the same guy that cheap shots people from behind all the time because he can’t get a clean block otherwise.
    Total dysfunction. The Team is loaded with personalities that can’t coexist yet they delude themselves into thinking they’re a player or two away from the big time.
    Again, it’s on Tannenbaum IMO.
    The guy is clueless and has too much power over the Organization.
    Poor talent evaluators bring nothing to the table.
    Add bad Contracts and Media scrutiny, you get the JESTS.
    As the saying goes in these parts,
    J-E-S-T Yuk Yuk Yuk.

  37. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The Jets were good when Rex took over because NT Kris Jenkins was absolutely unstoppable. The week he hurt his hip they started playing much worse. The hip injury was not reported. Later that year Jenkins hurt his knee. That was when they really went downhill. Jenkins retired after that year and the Jets have never been the same. With Jenkins healthy they kept telling us Sanchez was getting them to the AFC title game. Since Jenkins retired, Sanchez sucks. Hmmm!

  38. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Well Berger that’s where you and I can argue that we’re Brothers from a different Mother.
    Solid Defense, especially the 3-4, needs the NT.
    I will be one HAPPY Camper when we can score a stud like Haloti Ngata and plug the inside like fortress.

  39. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Sanchez sucked no matter what Kris Jenkins did, or didn’t do, by the way.
    He’s a hood ornament on the clown car.

  40. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    I have my frustrations with Alex but, if we had Sanchez, I’d be plotting to have him whacked by Tanya Harding.

  41. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Notre Dame has a red shirt Sophomore NT named Louis Nix. If he declares for the draft he may be our guy.

  42. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    There’s plenty of solid looking talent coming out in April Berger.
    I’ve got several guys I’d like to grab.
    As we discussed last night, hard to determine whether we’re playing for the 3-4 NT or possibly drifting more toward the 4-3.
    Check out Sheldon Richardson from Mizzou.
    Interesting prospect.

  43. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I was just noting how different the Jets were with a dominating NT and then how bad without one. Sanchez is in a bad offensive scheme and under pressure to make plays that aren’t there. He is not as bad as people are saying. Having said that, I’m no fan of Sanchez and would not want him as our QB.

  44. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    I was being a smarta$$ regarding Kris and Sanchez.
    I don’t like Sanchez at all.
    Can’t decide who’s worse at staring down a target, him or Romo.
    We’ll need to keep an eye on Bryant Young too.
    Last I heard, he and Dan Quinn were working together at UF.
    BY was working with the DLine down there.

  45. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    The DT Sharrif Floyd is playing for UF.
    If he’s being Coached by BY, put him on ‘The List’.
    6’3″ 303 with early 40 posted at 5:17.
    Early Projection puts him right in our wheelhouse.
    Late 1, early 2.
    He’s played DE/DT and has a blocked kick to his credit.
    Spells hustle to me.

  46. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    Denver had a running game when they had Tebow. They had a better defense as well. The Jets don’t have either right now. Even if Tebow was the starter, shit wouldn’t change. Joe Namath, or the pride of Davis, Ken O’Brien, couldn’t help that 3 ring circus.

  47. unca_chuckNo Gravatar says:

    And in other news:
    Coach Harbaugh is not at the facility today under doctor’s orders. He is having a minor procedure done at Stanford Hospital today for an irregular heartbeat. We anticipate that he will be back at the facility tomorrow, but do not have any further information to share at this time.

  48. Del Mar DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I’m available Monday night if Jimbo’s under the weather. But the forecast is for rain starting Friday and lasting throughout the weekend and possibly into Monday and beyond. That won’t fly. Just like Newman wouldn’t deliver mail in the rain, I don’t coach in the rain. But I will eat a calzone come rain or shine.

  49. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Harbaugh needs to tone it down when he’s coaching otherwise it won’t be funny, Ask Ditka.
    I suppose Seely would coach the team if Harbaugh couldn’t go because he’s the Assistant HC.
    They could have Mr Perfect Record Jim Tomsula do it. He hasn’t lost a game as HC.
    Anyway Jim sould try this but all kidding aside I wish him a speedy recovery

  50. 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