Are We the Plane, or the Quonset Hut?

We are still in playoff mode as the season progresses, and one has to wonder if the team can keep winning without a viable offense. Washington is another team that is a bottom-feeder that we should dispatch with ease. Thing is,, this team is always doing things like fumbling after a lengthy drive, 2 TEs crash into each other and neither catches the ball, drops, penalties, missed blitz pickups, botched snaps, asinine play calling, the list goes on. Funny thing is, the quarterback is catching heat for this. Some of it is deserved, as Kappy seems to hold the ball too long sometimes, and he has been off target more than usual lately, but a lot of it is on the other payers.

Gore never fumbles, but he did. Boldin is as sure-handed as a WR can be, and he dropped 5 in one game. The line is the best in the league, til they are injured beyond belief, and can’t block a toddler. VD and Crabs are in various states of pout mode. And the red zone offense continues to be an unsolvable mystery.

Through all this the injury-riddled defense keeps plugging away. Yes, another game that I say we should win going away. Still waiting for that to happen this year.

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Waaah-shing-tun Comes a Calling – or the Redskins Visit Alcatraz, uh SC

The semi-resurgent San Francisco 49ers host the team the shall not be nicknamed this weekend. After two of the 49ers ugliest losses in a while against the Rams and Broncos, they won two of their ugliest wins in recent memory against New Orleans and New York. Granted they were road wins, but stop me if you are happy with the offense.

The woefullest red zone offense was even more woeful as their 4 trips into the red zone against the worst defense in the NFL netted a grand total of 9 points. Eli Manning apparently tried to undo the damage his brother did against us by throwing 5 picks and generally sucking harder than a Kirby plugged in to 220 volts. Galling to me is that for all our losses, ONE can be attributed to the defense. And that was the misguided Fangio strategy of laying off Peyton’s WRs and not pressuring Manning in the pocket. The rest, the defense did enough to win. Or the offense simply couldn’t sustain any drives in the 2nd half to put games away and thus the defense wore down.

Which brings us to another weak-assed NFC East opponent. The Washington Red-asses. To say our team is in turmoil is not too far from the truth, but the reality on the other side of the line of scrimmage makes the 49ers look like the 1966 Packers. The Redskins yet again are a footnote in the NFC East having gone 3-7 amid quarterback controversies, benchings, and the dressing down of RG III by Jay Gruden, you have unrelenting stink. And, seeing how they sold the farm to get their QB who isn’t working out, they likely have another 3 years of crapitude coming their way.

So, what happens now? I have no clue. The team doesn’t seem pt have a very big home field advantage, or they aren’t used to playing in Great America’s parking lot, but losing to the Bears and Rams at home is not a good look. Granted, they did beat the Eagles and the Chiefs there, but I can’t understand why this team seemingly cannot design a cogent offensive game plan that takes advantage of a given team’s weaknesses, and can never seem to sustain anything other than the occasional big play surrounded by ineptitude and butchery.

The 49ers have gone away from their run game, and if you take away Kappy’s scramble numbers we go from 8th to 27th. Not good. Passing has been very inconsistent amid a ton of sacks, and a screwed up blocking scheme, hampered by injuries, holdouts, and blatant inconsistency. Beyond that, we play to the level, or below the lever of our opponents. Thing is we are NOT far from being a very good team. For all intents and purposes, we have no business being this good on defense. Vic Fangio has done an EXCELLENT job of integrating the rookies into the defense, as injuries have forced them to.

The newly-unleashed offense? Well, the leash may be off, but we still aren’t moving. The complaining alluded to early in camp and during the regular season seems to be emanating from two of our supposed stars and leaders in the twin virusses, VD and Crabs. Both have been lackadaisacal and both have suffered the dropsies all year. At least Crabs has come through amid the mistakes as he complains about his role. VD seems to be half-assing in on every route. He is but an afterthought.

All of this leads to discord with an offense that is already challenged. Kappy tried a few times to get VD involved in the offense, but got nothing for it. rabs? He’s 50-50. Time to up the plays for Stevie Wonder, throw a few more deep balls to BLloyd, and put VD on the bench. VMcD can block fine. And I loved the deep route they sent him on last week. Can you say Huh? Gimme a good goddamned break. You can’t use Lloyd on a play like that?

Fix the offense, and this team can go far in the playoffs. Don’t fix it and we are one and done, if not on the outside looking in. The Niners have the next couple games to determine their fate. Which they pretty much hold in their hands. 3-1 in the next 4, and they are in the thick of the playoff run. Anything less and they are done.

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A Rose By Any Other Name . . .

Still smells like shit . . . I’ve seen my share of ugly wins, but this last one takes the sheet cake. Sheeeit cake? Eli Manning gave us FIVE turnovers and plenty of field position, and the Niners scored a whopping 16 points. In yet another case of not being able to put away a shitty team, the defense again and again made 4th downs stands, hurried Manning all day, got 5 picks, and in the end, couldn’t score to help the woeful offense.

How awful? Well, I guess you had to see it to believe it. Kappy’s day was OK. 15-29, 193 yards and a TD. No fumbles, no picks. The Niners only gave up one sack. GOre had 95 yards on the ground, and the team had 148. Yet through all those yards, we yet again, choked, sputtered, and crapped ourselves in the red zone. 4 trips and a grand total of 9 points. One drive was killed by an inexplicable fumble by Gore. His 1st of the year. Which led to the Giants best drive of the day and their only TD. The rest were killed by more of the same crap-ass play calling that has plagued this team all season. A naked roll right was sniffed out and easily stuffed for a 7 yard loss to kill a drive. The next two drives seemed all about getting the ball to VD and Crabs at all costs, which led to two more FGs.

The 2nd half was one nice crossing route that Crabs took to the house after holding off a couple Giant DBs followed by loss on downs and 3 punts. Against arguably the worst defense in the league, the high powered 49er offense could not muster one measly FG. Eli kept getting ‘em close to the end zone, and he kept throwing picks. Some amazingly nowhere NEAR a Giant WR.

I’d love to feel good about 2 road wins in 2 tough venues, but my God, this team leaves points on the field like my dogs leave turds in my back yard. Yeah, they are 6-4, and they have a chance to go 7-4 against another hapless NFC East team (and this would give them the division sweep) but unless this team pulls out of thew collective funk that the offense is in, they will be one and done in the playoffs. I wonder id it’s time to bench VD. He’s not showing any enthusiasm in his route running, and half-assed it on the balls throw his way. I’m on the fence with Crabs, but he’s at least making plays around his drops.

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From the Big Easy to the Big Apple

Shadoobie. Shattered, shattered.

The 49ers are once again road warriors as they forgo Youngstown and instead roll home from NO, and then back across the country to the Jersey Shores. I’m hoping to get pictures, and an in-person report of this game from our intrepid Jerseyite, NJ49er. I hope he’s going.

Seeing as the New York Football Giants seem to have fallen on tough times, this game scares the shit out of me. The Giants started out slow as they tried to integrate their new west coast offense into place under Big Ben McAdoo. They lost 2 out of the gate, but seemed to hit their stride and reeled off 3 straight wins as their offense started clicking.  However, they’ve lost 4 in a row2 to drop to 3-6. The last loss a galling road massacre at the hands of the Seahawks that saw Seattle put up 350 yards on the ground in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the 38-17 score indicates.

What does this mean for our plucky bunch? Hard to say. This team has won some very tough games against very good teams (Dallas, Philly, KC, NO) but lost some games to shitty teams (Chi-town and StL). More galling was the fact that the Chicago and StL losses were at our new home. Hence my worry. This team has an annoying habit of playing to the opponent’s talent level. Only the Denver roadie got out of hand early. But this team has a big problem putting games away and scoring in the 2nd half.

We are 10 weeks into the season, and this team still struggles in the red zone and still struggles to build a consistent offense. What really irks me is the fact that despite all the pressure that Colin Kaepernick faces, the braintrust does not implement ways to consistently beat the constant blitzes teams dial up against us.  We threw a couple misdirection passes vs the Rams, and never used it again. We used no-huddle to great effect to start the AZ game, and never went back to it as the game slipped away. We find shit that works, and then stop doing it. NOT because teams adjust, but because we move on to other things. The only thing we consistently do too much of is run up the middle vs a stacked D line.

The good news is the return of Aldon Smith. He of the no-break 9 game suspension. Kind of a pisser since some ESPN wonks talked of a 2-game reduction in his suspension that never occurred. The bad of course is the fact Patrick Willis is lost for the season with a toe injury. For all our early pass rushing woes, the 49ers are tied for 2nd in the league with 31 sacks. Adding Aldon to the mix, with Aaron Lynch opposite him should be a fun thing to see. Hopefully we can make Eli pay for the shellacking Peyton laid on us.

Anyhow, I hope the 49ers come out and exploit a very soft Giants defense. They are 25th in pass defense, and 32nd in run D. We SHOULD be able to win this one going away.

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Barbarians at the Gate

Well, the rioting from blogdom seeking Jim Harbaugh’s head on a pike a la Game of Thrones died down a little as the 49ers fought, scrapped, and ultimately flopped their way to a much-needed victory over the New Orleans Saints. They of the 19 game home winning streak dating back to late 2010.

The offense came out firing on all cylinders after an early pick by Antoine (Donte who?) Bethea, and some nice red zone running. Imagine my surprise that the 49ers ran out of 2-3 wideout formations. The defense played very well all game, and saved Colin Kaepernick’s bacon, as he once again tried too hard to make something out of nothing. Kappy was strip-sacked near the end of a stellar first half, but Chris Culliver picked off a real dumb pass by Drew Brees in the end zone to preserve the 49ers 21-10 lead.

The 2nd half? *Gulp* Well, the 49ers continue their maddening practice of shutting down in the 2nd halfs of games. Given the opportunity to close out the game, the 49ers seem intent on making the defense play mistake free football while they put together drives of 15 yards, -5 yards, 5 yards, and 26 yards, before the near-miraculous 51 yard pass to Michael Crabtree on 4th and 10 from the 22 set up the game-tying field goal.

Even through all that, the Niners nearly lost on N’Awlins version of the Hail Mary Santeria?), which they completed to Jimmy-hat Graham, but he was called for pushing off on Perrish Cox, and thus preserving the tie.

Overall, this game was called much better offensively than the Ram game (they just seem to find stupid-ass ways to beat us), and the offense, at least in the 1st half, was moving pretty well. Kaepernick was on-target, and if not for 7 drops (5 [!] by Boldin [including a sure TD] and one each by Crabs and VD [par for the course from these guys]), Kappy’s numbers would be much batter, and the game would have been a bit easier to win.

Defensively, what can you say about Chris Borland? After his 18-tackle debut vs the Rams, he follows that up with a 17-tackle performance yesterday, and he was the guy to recover the forced fumble by Ahmad (redemption) Brooks on Drew Brees, and thus set the stage for the game winning (ugly-ass) FG by Phil (Family Feud) Dawson.

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Game Day – Shoud He Stay or Should He Go?

One from Mick Jones . . . Well, it’s back to the Big Easy. The site of some of the highest highs and some very low lows. Montana to Rice vs Denver, and 5 yards away vs Baltimore. Last season’s penalty-filled game, and many many others.

That being said, the airwaves are once again filling with 49ers past and present stating things like Harbaugh is gone, the locker room is broken, we need to get back to what we do well, execution, on and on. Jerry has weighed in. Steve as well. Frank has dropped his words, Bruce Miller as well. When all is said and done though, it happens on the field.

No one doubts that talent on this team. A battered and short-handed defense is playing spectacularly well. The retooled Ferrari of an offense is in the shop with a timing problem,  and what appears to be a clogged fuel filter. Shit ain’t moving right. We sputter and stutter regularly, and have bigger problems in the red zone.

So, wherein lies the problem? Since everyone has an opinion on this, it varies from Kappy not picking up his reads to the play calling to the rudimentary passing design to the play calling to Harbaugh sealing his own fate by losing and he and the Brinks truck travel to the Big House in Michigan (the Raiders? Shit, even he won’t touch that turd pile) to the 49ers throwing too much to the play calling.

Think it’s the play calling? At this point, who knows? All sides play their part in this struggle. But certain things haven’t changed. Getting plays in on time. Getting to the line with a sense of urgency. Scoring in the red zone.  Since these issues have been part of the 49er landscape since before Kaepernick (and even before Harbaugh), one would think the onus lies on the coaching staff to devise ways to fix these things. Harbaugh talked about these very issues before the season started, and yet they remain. They had to take a timeout on their first drive last week. They burn timeouts like fishsticks (you’d have to know my mom to get that one).

They’ve tried things like no-huddle in the AZ game, and since it worked so well, they never used it again. Same with misdirection passes to Anquan Boldin. Oh, that works? OK, we’ll save it for next year. Thing is, there may not be a next year for these coaches. This ios a winnable game, sure. But going to the Super dome to fix your ailing offense and stand behind your depleted defense is a tall tall order. Win, and the outlook is suddenly pretty good, what with a roadie in Jersey coming. Fight and lose a close battle, and the talk will be of a disappointing season with too much adversity to overcome. Lose big like the Denver game, and the fallout will be immediate and loud. Harbaugh’s tenure will be finished.

Such is life in the NFL. Riding high in October, shot down in December.

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Big Trouble in the Big Easy

At the half way point in the season, there are serious problems with the Red and Gold. Say what you will about the so-called problems with the front office and the head coach, the head coach and the players, the players and the media, and certain wardrobe choices by the players, the product on the field is a mess right now.

The bye week was a chance to get healthy and to organize a fairly inconsistent offense. One that had shown flashes of big play ability, but had gone away from the ball control in your face offense they were known for. The th0ought was to integrate the two to the success of both sides of the coin, running and passing. And, by proxy, improve the red zone offense.

Well, we got last week. A surprising beat-down at the hands of a team that gained a paltry 192 yards on us, yet found a way to outscore us. The offense sputtered and staggered its way to a 13-10 loss, giving up as many sacks in the 1st half as the Rams had gotten ALL SEASON. The completely dominant game we played in StL was but a distant memory as the O line was beaten regularly by the same guys who smothered them in week 6.

Say what you will about Jeff Fisher, but he makes adjustments. The Niners? Not so much. As evidenced by the score and the way the game played out.

Anyhow, on to the Big Easy. This game takes on a ton of significance, as to the point that we are going in the wrong direction. 4-2 to 4-5 would put us behind a bunch of teams, including Seattle, to gain a playoff spot. Green Bay’s ahead of us, and NO very well might play into the mix as well. Dallas? Well, they are right on track to fade back into mediocrity as Mr. October once again becomes Ms. December.

Question is, how will the 49ers respond? They NEED this win otherwise they will be 2 games behind Seattle and way out of the division race, as Sea will beat the Giants at home, and the Cards should easily dispatch the Rams in AZ. Dallas may get a win in Jolly Old England, playing the Jaguars (shit, they play more games in London than Man U), Green Bay, as schitzophrenic as they are, play a Bears team in Lambeau that is more schitzophrenic and lousy. Lose this game and there are all of a sudden 5 other teams on them that could very well pass them up.

Still and all, this is a long season, and a lot can happen. A loss here doesn’t close the book, but it sure makes it a ton harder to get to the playoffs. And as the SF Giants showed, once you get there, all bets are off. The playing field is level, and a hot team can ride the wave.

Question is, can this team get their shit together, or will they continue to squabble and fret and constantly screw up on offense?

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