Dallas vs the 49ers – Opening Day Blahs

In what appears at 1st glance to be an easy road rest for a loaded team vs a team in a world of confusion, the tables have been turned somewhat as the Niners are going through the wringer this preseason and now season.

The Niners decided, with no qualms, to let Ray McDonald play. Despite the recent words of Coach Harbaugh saying there’s no place on his team for spouse abusers. Hypocritical to say the least, because something happened to give the girlfriend bruises around her neck. But due process, and the football juggernaut, supersede the ramifications of individuals getting hurt and abused by their loved ones and by the system.

Yeah, this happens all over the league, and yeah the 49ers of the Walsh era were not saints either. I mean, just look at Eddie, but Christ, 10 arrests in 3 years? And now this? Culliver’s hit-and-run hasn’t even hit the commish’s desk, and the Niner paperwork is stacking up with every passing week.

This shit gets tiresome.  At some point, the character of the entire organization must fall under scrutiny, and it doesn’t look pretty. From Jed to Trent Baalke to Harbaugh to the players themselves.

I’m excited for the team, I’m excited for the new stadium, and I should be gearing up for a game against our hated rivals the Cowboys. But this shit leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Aren’t we supposed to be better than this?

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Game On! NFL 2014 Kicks Off Tonight!!

“Raise your hand if you think this was the best preseason ever. . . .  No raised hands.” To paraphrase Jimbo there, what a trainwreck this offseason has been. Just when you think the Seahawks would get all fat and happy, run for the money, and lose their focus, it turns out the 49ers were the team to shoot themselves in the feet about 15 times since February.

I won’t even start with the myriad distractions, fuckups, and arrests, but it’s safe to say the issue with the 49ers isn’t very much about on-field issues. Yes, we have a young secondary, and yes, our D line has taken a hit, along with the linebackers, but now there’s news that Michael Crabtree has a calf injury. Not sure of the prognosis yet, but hey, at least he didn’t give his leg a molly and try to bang it.

And, in what should be a very rousing start to the NFL season, we have Green Bay and their All Universe QB, Chico’s own Aaron Rodgers going up against the Legion of Boom in the great white Northwest. This game will surely be a test for Green Bay’s maligned defense, as well as an early test for Seattle’s vaunted D.

This season can’t get started fast enough. Bring it on.

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Busy Weekend

Wow. The 49ers managed to pack in about 2 weeks worth of activity into a 3 day weekend. The 49ers Tijuana Brass apparently decided to negotiate with their terrorist Right Guard Alex Boone, and give him a raise. Ray McDonald, fresh off reworking his contract for the benefit of the team, went rogue on his birthday and decided to test out the new domestic violence rules enacted by Jolly Roger. Ray Ray is claiming the truth will come out, but when the victim (preggers, no less) has bruises on her neck, well that precludes about 99.99% of any reasoning that could paint this in anything but a bad light. Sorry Ray Ray. I think your days as a Niner are over.

The bad news is this came AFTER cut-down day. Speaking of cut-down day, pretty much all of the special teams squad was released, including the long snapper, good ol’ whatsizname. George Seely has his work cut out for him, but we’ll see how that works out. I like the fact we kept 6 WRs, but as usual, I hope they all get work. Not that Alex Smith was the good old days, but when he was in, he’d spread the ball around to just about everyone available. In recent history, it has been VD and Crabs, and pray for another disease to crop up. Anquan Boldin actually came on very strong in Crabs stead last year, so we do have a strong proven pair of starters to go along with VD, and a suddenly effective-looking VMcD. And there is a crop of solid backups in place. Patton has made plays, and Ellington got a ton of PS work, but the incumbents seem to be Brandon Lloyd and Little Stevie Wonder.

The fact that neither did much doesn’t seem to be a concern, but the hope is they bring vet savvy and a deep ball or 2 to the table. I certainly like Ellington’s speed, and he made some nice catches after a shaky start, and Patton has shown flashes of ability, but Duke will likely be relegated to KR duties, and the General relegated to 4 WR sets and the occasional slot toute. For the time being anyway. I’d love to see he and Patton getting in on 4 WR sets.

Point being, this offense really needs to get rolling fast as the defense keeps getting thinner and thinner as the season approaches. The team has stated they are still in ‘fact gathering’ mode regarding our latest ne’er-do-well, but the hooraw that would erupt should Mr Value Meal play would be deafening. It would be a PR disaster for the team to put him on the field in Dallas after apparently strangling his pregnant girlfriend. The Niners should just go ahead and suspend him for 6 games.

Then again, what good is taking matters into your own hands, as Aldon Smith did last year? His voluntary 5 game rehab stint last season has proven not to matter one iota when Jolly Roger gets a bug up his ass. One he firmly placed there himself when he went light on Ray Rice.

 

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UPDATE – 9 Game Suspension for Aldon Smith (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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