Post – Preseason Post

Well, for good or bad, the 2014 season is upon us. The only thing left now is to see how long we lose the services of Aldon Smith, and to cut 21 other guys from the roster. That is, if Goodie Goodell cooperates. Yesterday’s laugher at the hands of the Houston Houstons was an extravaganza of 2nd and 3rd string players going against the Walmart brigade. The highlight was back-up long snapper (and would-be TE) Kyle Nelson catching 2 TDs, Bruce Ellington catching one, and Chris Borland’s 60 yard pick 6.

The Niners did what so many teams do to them, and Houston followed the Niners old (hopefully) script of winning the TOP in the 1st half, but getting held to 2 FGs, and then giving up late TDs in the half to fall behind.

Still and all, after the defense started out sluggishly, they played well these last 2 games, giving up 13 points after giving up 57. The young LBs have come around nicely, and there are some big decisions coming up in their ranks, as Aaron Lynch and Chris Borland played very well. Nick Moody also played well. The pass rush, which was missing the first 2 games was much improved, and that was without blitzing. Then again, we were facing 2nd and 3rd string QBs in Kasey Casem and Red Skelton yesterday, so there’s that. And the Raiders beat the Seahawks. Huzzah . . .

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Offensive Musings

Here we are on the cusp of another season, and I can’t shake the uneasy feeling that this offense is going to remain closer to what it was as opposed as to what is should be. Yes, we have abandoned the 22 formations with 2 TEs, 1 WR and a loaded backfield to the 2 TE, 2 WR, 1 RB (12, get it?) set as the base deal. Well, they flip-flopped between that and the 21 (1 TE, 2 WR, 2 RB) but nothing much has changed results-wise.

I know, we haven’t played any starters very long, and no one has even been given a chance to get into synch, but as it lies, we are going to start Kappy on Thursday to address the very issue of continuity and consistency. Neither of which either side of the line has shown. The O line looked terrible against a very middle-of-the-road San Dawg defense. Funny thing was, though, that it wasn’t Boone’s replacement, Joe Looney who looked bad. He has done fine. It was Pro-Bowler Mike Iupati who was beaten like a drum last Sunday.

Still and all, Boone is one of the leaders on the O line, and you have to wonder what is happening behind the scenes. Boone hasn’t contacted anyone or done anything since camp started. He apparently wants ‘top 12′ money, and he would be here if it was offered to him. No one’s budging, so it looks like he’s cooling his heels for a while. On a side note, his agensts were successful getting Darrell Revis, Vincent Jackson, and Roddy White money after they held out. So their track record is successful. However, those guys play high profile (re: CB & WR) positions. There’s no guarantee that a right guard will fetch the payday he’s after.

Anyhow, as far as our high-flying offense goes, someone better wake up the players. Beyond the fact Kappy was pummeled nearly every time he went back to pass, the long game hasn’t shown up. The mid-range game hasn’t shown up either. We have a lot of 6-12 yard completions, but little to show for anything over 15 yards downfield. Kappy missed a wide open VMcD early in the game, and he just missed Brandon Lloyd in the Denver game. That’s about all they have to show for their attempts downfield with the starters.

Which brings me to our wide receivers. What gives? Stevie Wonder has little to show, other than a 5 yard catch on Sunday. Brandon Lloyd nearly scored vs. Denver, but between the two, they have 3 catches for 18 yards. Ellington looks pretty good after a shakey couple weeks. He made a very nice grab on a slant route that was thrown low by Blabbert. I fear that he falls behind the one guy they keep. Either Lloyd, or Little Stevie. 4 WRs? Garsh. Not very likely. Not much anyway. Not with this band of coaches.

But, as I’ve been saying for years now, open this up! I ain’t saying Mouse Davis Run ‘n’ Gun but something a little more nuanced rather than the plodding shit we’ve all seen for too long. We still run up the gut on 1st down way too much. We still throw 4 yard passes on 3rd and 8, and we still have been going 3-and-out too much for my liking.

So, color me concerned at this point. I keep thinking there’s a more sophisticated passing game under wraps, but I still see plays getting to the line very slowly, and the sense that both sides of the line know what is coming.

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Victory! Phyrric?

Our first win in our new home! The field didn’t burst into flames! Hip hip hoor . . . ahhh forget it. Preseason. Plus, center Marcus Martin went down with a knee injury in the 4th quarter. Martin was getting needed work in at center, where the line so far (minus Alex Boone) has been very pedestrian. The first stringers are neither running or passing very well against defenses which don’t scare anyone, Word is, Martin may have suffered ‘only’ a dislocated kneecap. Best-case scenario, a partial dislocation takes 4-6 weeks to recover from. The rest get progressively worse. Wait and see on that stuff.

Still and all, the line play on both sides of the ball so far this preseason has been awful. Kaepernick has little time to throw, the run game, minus the first drive of the preseason, has been minimal to lousy. Kappy is looking pretty shitty as well. He missed VMcD on that seam route. He’s been asked to throw very few mid-range balls and has missed. Yeah, they aren’t using VD much, and this shit doesn’t matter, but at what point do we get alarmed at the ineffectiveness of our supposedly strong O line? At what point do they get on the phone with Alex Boone? Troubling to me was Mike Iupati, the supposed stalwart, getting beaten like a drum yesterday. Encouraging to see was LMJ playing, and LMJ picking up blitzers. At least Gaine Blabbert looked like he had a clue out there, finally. He hit VMcD on a few nice passes and the O looked a little better, and they actually scored a TD. But overall, a shitty day for the first stringers.

And the D line, WITH Aldon Smith, has been meek so far. We generate no pressure with our base defense, and I know we haven’t blitzed at all, and the starters barely get warmed up, but while Kappy was harassed the entirety of his playing time, P Rivers was not touched at all. Jimmie Ward continues to get a crash-course in playing time, and has really done a solid job. He played through a tipped pass and ended up with a pick. Culliver got beat early but made a nice play on a deep ball. And the Niners did make a red-zone stand, stopping SD on our 7 yard line on a 4th and one. But all in all, not a very strong effort once again.

 

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Preseason Passes On With the Penultimate Pairing

As the NFL inches closer to the real games in September, teams are supposedly playing their starters today more than any other fake fest. The problem with that is you have things like Sam Bradford, recently repaired QB of the resurgent Rams, going down to another knee injury on a hit by the Browns. Wes Welker was knocked out of a game by being knocked silly with a blow to the head.  Something he’s had a few of. BJ Raji, NT of the Packers is out for the year with a bicep tear.

I get why Jimbo gets a little skittish putting his starters in these games for anything more than 2 series when you see things like this. Granted, scoring 3 points by the 1st string O is no great shakes, but then the 2nd and 3rd stringers get skunked, it sure doesn’t give Jimbo confidence that leading on the backups may not be a spiffy idea.

Andrew Luck played into the 3rd quarter, and was pummeled a bunch of times. Flacco is getting beat up in this game that I have no idea is taped or not. I;m thinking Kappy MIGHT make it into the 2nd quarter. For the supposed grumbling coming out of the Niner locker room about the grueling nature of practiice, the starters can’t reallyu complain on game day. .Unless your name is Jimmie Ward. He’s getting a ton of reps.

Anyhow, we get San Dawg, another team that we later play in the regular season. Will there be a few more heat-related deaths in the house that Jed-zeebub built? Will the grass flip over and die in the heat? Will the grass even stay put?

These questions, and more, will be answered, as the prolate spheroid rotates . . .

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Death Trap?

One week into the new stadium, and we’ve had a (possibly heat-related) death, and the removal of 2/3 of the sod today. Stevie Wonder was slammed to the turf by a wayward piece of loose turf, after a few earlier incidents, so Jimbo pulled the team off the field and promptly called it unplayable. We are assured the field will be ready for Sunday’s game. But seeing as they had all summer to get the field in pristine shape, it’s not a good look to deem the field unplayable after one soccer game, and one football game.

This of course was after an unnamed fan passed out in the heat, and summarily passed away despite attempts to revive him. No word was available about the health condition of the man, but I’ll tell you, sitting in the lower level of the stadium WAS very hot. Hotter than any Niner game I’ve attended, and I’ve been to a few hundred. Another aspect of the stadium which I mentioned earlier is the lack of shade anywhere in the seating areas. Irish Kevin did manage to score such a seat, so he’s sitting pretty in the 2nd deck, under the 3rd deck.

I just thought people were fed up with the game. Apparently they were getting crazy from the heat.

 Anyhow, I posed a page with pics of the new place.

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Day One of the New Digs

Can’t say enough bout the new stadium. Beyond the fact its nowhere near the water, or San Francisco for that matter, the place is pretty damn nice. Took a bunch of pics. Didn’t try the wi-fi or any of that shit, and apparently there were problems, as with the lines and shit, but we ate early, and didn’t have any problems getting food or beer. The bathrooms are huge, so there wasn’t any wait there, and getting out was easy. Thing is, it’s hard to know the true situation because by the 3rd quarter, the place was 3/4 empty. No prob getting out either.

It was hotter  than any game at the Stick I’ve ever seen. And there’s very little shade in the stands. A little curious, but ain’t no thing. One thing they figured out was the sound. No annoying echoes like the Stick on the visitors side, and the big screens were nice. The place is gorgeous on the inside.

Other than that, this game was another exercise for the defense. They were on the field most of the game once again as the new-look offense (yes, more 2+ WR formations again) looked OK under Kappy and the ones (2 drives, 2 missed FGs) , while Blaine the Train (wreck) bumbled and stumbled into another dogshit performance worthy of banishment to the Arena League. JJ comported himself not-so-well by fumbling his first snap, and by then, we split.

The defense appears to be a bit out of sorts as well. The first string guys played a little, and held Manning to a FG early.  The run D was fine, but when playing Manning, that isn’t a big concern. My concern was the total lack of a pass rush.  We didn’t get close to Manning, although I will say we didn’t blitz at all. For all that, we still couldn’t cover with a standard 4 man rush. The linebackers are really doing terrible in underneath coverage as once again, they gave up 8-15 yard plays to the various TEs and RBs out there with impunity. The couple times Manning (and Ostweiler for God’s sake) went deep, the LBs were again slow and late and burned for easy scores.

In other words, the offense needs to make up for the defense, which will be without the services of Aldon Smith soon, as well as NaVorro Bowman. I’m not THAT worried about things, but after game 3 of the preseason, I’d hope we would have scored some points on offense, and stopped someone on defense.

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The Harbaugh Dilemma

I’m sure you are all as thrilled as I am over the machinations that are occurring behind the scenes of the San Francisco 49ers front office as they wrestle with the idea of giving Jim Harbaugh a contract extension. Gladly for the sake of the team, the players, and the fans, they decided, amicably, to postpone contract extension talks til after this season.

The thing is, Harbaugh will immediately get the lame-duck designation after this season, depending on how things work out. The team could be at a very very important juncture in their desire to reach the promised land if this team falls short of its goal to win Super Bowl 49.

Harbaugh is currently on his original 5 year contract. One that is set to expire after the 2015 season. Due to his wildly successful start as a head coach here, the flag was raised by Jimbo after 2 season to ask for an extension. Things cooled a bit when they lost the Super Bowl, and then lost in the NFCCG last year. It got to the point of a nonsensical yet partially valid trade offer from the Cleveland Browns that was maybe taken semi-seriously  by the team.

Harbaugh certainly has ruffled the feathers of those in the front office. In what ways, us on the outside don’t really know, short of his professions to want to keep certain guys that fall out of favor with the front office, or his maniacal sense of importance to the team.

Certainly, Harbaugh has done an outstanding job as head coach, no one is denying that, but what happens going forward? This is really Jimbo’s contract push. Getting so close so fast has really put him in a shitty position. He set the bar to ‘impossibly high’ in two short years. All the front office has to do is point at the trophy case and say, in their best Judge Smails voice ”Well? We’re waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiting!”

Yes, Bill Walsh turned around a much shittier team in three years. Yes, Walsh is an impossibly high standard to live up to, but Jim put himself in this position, and seems to be driving wedges between he and the front office by hammering this contract thing. He’s backed off, but if he doesn’t win the Super Bowl this year, and say the offense looks a bit ragged, what should the team do?

  • Would you give Jim Harbaugh $10 mill a year for not winning it all?
  • Would you lame-duck his ass and say win or take your khakis elsewhere?
  • Would you say ~$8 mill, take it or leave it?

If we don’t win it all, I’m going with #3.

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