Head East . . .

Flat as a Pancacke. Gonna have to dig out a track from that album. A band I discovered in 7th grade. The scheduling mavens in the NFL thought it would be a good idea to have the 49ers open their season on a Monday night, and then travel across the country on a short week (5 days off) to play a team that opened their season 4 days earlier (9 days off) in a ‘road’ game in their time zone. I guess respect is a fleeting thing in the NFL, but as Goodie Goodell has shown, he doesn’t give a shit about the players. Just about the TV money for Thursday night games.

Anyhow, the stage is ripe for a setback as the Niners face a highly regarded team in the Steelers, and the aforementioned short-week-travel double whammy.

Well, fuck that. Pittsburgh’s defense looked absolutely lost vs Brady, Gronk, Dion Lewis, and Edelman. They accounted for 260 of the 360 yards gained by NE. Sure, Pittsburgh gained 464 yards, DeAngleo Williams gained 127, and the uncoverable Antonio Brown had 9 for 133, and Heath Miller had 8 for 84, and hey, DHB had 5 for 58 . . . uh, shit. This may not be as easy as I thought. Pittsburgh, for all its vaunted this and that, still has Rothlisberger and a damn good offense.

So, what are we going to do? Well, as we saw last week, Eric Mangini is much more of a risk-taker than his predecessor. It worked to great advantage last week as 5 guys contributed a sack. Which tells me Mangini likes to disguise who’s coming from where. The DBs played solid in run support, and defending the pass. o, what happens? Well, I think we’ll bottle up Williams better than NE did. The worry IS Pittsburgh’s passing game. Brown is the hottest thing since hot things were invented. I’d imagine some bracketing thrown his way. Which means a lot of nickel D, which means a steady dose of Pitts trying to run through that. Jimmie Ward needs to pull up his pants as he’ll be the guy covering DHB one-on-one most likely.

Pressure is paramount. Rothlisberger isn’t the quickest guy out there, but he stands tall in the pocket and avoids hits better than just about anyone else. When they get to him, they need to stay on him and get him down. Broken plays are his specialty and they get a lot of yards off Worthelssberger buying time and finding the open guy.

Kappy is coming of a strong game vs Minn, a team with a good defensive backfield, of at least proving to the naysayers (you know who you are) that he can step up his game. He bought time well, and went through his progressions and avoided the one-done-and-run days of seasons past. Sure, it’s only one game, but it’s a start. 95% of the national prognosticators had Minnesota winning handily. Problem is, they like shiny things and sound bites. All they look at is St, Jim leaving and the retirements. They happened to overlook the talent that is ON the team and instead focussed on the players that left.

Since no one once again is giving the Niners a shot, I’ll go with 28-20 Niners.

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Revenge of the Jed(i)

Well, the new regime got off with a bang yesterday as the 49ers wore down and dismantled the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. Tales of the 49ers demise may just be a little premature. Then again, it was only the Vikings. The 49ers defense does what they usually do to AP, and that’s shut him down. Mangini and company disguised coverages, and blitzed from off angles to confuse and befuddle sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater.

The offense was nigh unstoppable, except by themselves. The 1st half saw a lot of yards, but a lot of penalties. The opening drive was thwarted by a holding penalty deep, and the rest were done in by various other problems. Carlos Hyde pretty much stamped his entry into the NFL as one of the top backs in the league (for a week anyway) by gaining 168 yards on 26 carries for  gaudy 6.5 yards a carry and 2 touchdowns.

Yes, we are a running team. But this run game is vastly different than last year as Greg Foerster, master of the zone blocking scheme ran very well against some stacked lines when we had 3 TEs in there, and also when we had 2 WRs in there. Cutback lanes were wide open, and Hyde took big advantage of that.

The passing game, and Colin Kaepernick especially, looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket this year as compared to last, and made most of the plays he needed to. He read through his progressions very well, and made the correct calls to run when he needed to. As I’ve been saying all offseason, we moved Kappy around in the pocket, and even ran play action (!) on 3rd and 1 for an easy toss to Hyde for a 1st down. Kappy’s numbers weren’t gaudy, but they were efficient. 17/26 for 165, 0 picks, 0 TDs. The difference being the Niners converted some tough 3rd downs (5-12 ain’t great, but it beats 1-9). An issue in previous seasons. Red zone offense was 2-5, but 2 drives were killed by holding penalties.

What can you say about the defense? What I saw as a strength for the team was pretty much dead on. Bethea, Tartt, Bowman, Carradine, and Lynch all had sacks. Tremaine Brock had a pick, and the defensive backfield played a very solid game all around. Even though Bridgewater is very mobile, the Niners contained him well, and the coverage was solid even as Teddy broke contain to buy time.

The problems? Well, Special teams were an early disaster. Blocked FG, muffed punt, and a punt return TD called back by 2 blocks in the back. However, Pinion boomed all his punts, and mashed all his kickoffs deep or out of the end zone. Penalties were a big problem early as well. They had 6 penalties in the first half, but only 1 in the 2nd half. So whatever Tomsula said to ST coach McGaughey and the players seemed to get them in focus.

All in all a solid game by the new coaching staff and team. Certainly you have to think this team at least for now looks pretty good.

Irish Kevin, our intrepid man-on-the-scene, shot this opening ceremonies video. Thanks, Kev!


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The First Day of the Rest of Our Football Lives

Well, the 2015 season is underway. Let’s check in on the doings around the league. One thing I noticed is the Rams have a very fast defense. Foles looked pretty good against a fairly weak Seattle secondary. AZ looked very good on defense as well. Their O? Well, as previously noted, they live and die by Palmer. If they can keep him upright, they are solid. Seattle Looks a little discombobulated. Their O line looks horrible as Wilson got sacked 6 times, and they couldn’t give Lynch enough room to get a 1st on 4th and one to keep their last drive alive. And no, this wasn’t the Super Bowl. This was a different team with a different line. Same outcome though. Hah!

Other than that, Denver looks shakey as Manning looked pretty frail out there. He threw a lot of ducks. Then again so did Flacco. 2 good D’s in a FG fest. Greg Roman had an auspicious debut, scoring 27 points against a VERY soft indy defense. 150 on the ground, and 195 in the air is the usual recipe for Greg. Buff has a stout defense, so Tyrod (Straight Outta Nowhere!) Taylor and Co. look like a legit team at this point. The Bears came up short yet again to the Packers. Maybe GB improved their pass defense. Or maybe it was just Cutler.

The Cowboys reffed their way to an improbable comeback win, Alex and KC beat the Houstons, the Bolts scored 23 2nd half points to blow past Detroit, and in the battle of first 2 draft picks, Marcus Mariota annihilated Jameis Winston as the Titans smoked the Buccos.

Aaaand, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Browns and the Raiders were both obliterated to start their seasons. David Carr was hurt trying to stiff-arm a defender (doh!), and McCown was hurt trying to score on a one yard plunge. Instead he fumbled out of the end zone and suffered a concussion. Johnny Football made a nice toss to give Cleve a 7 point lead, but a pick and 2 4th quarter fumbles sealed Cleve’s fate.

The Niners? Well, who knows? I feel we will be able to stop a rusty AP. However, if he gets to the 2nd level consistently we are in trouble. Teddy Bridgewater? He’s an unknown to me. 6-6 as a starter last year, 14 TDs 12 INTs. 224 ypg? Decent numbers for a rook. For us, its all about the O. Move the chains and sustain drives, and we should be good. One thing I noticed this preseason was a LOT of TE drag routes. Love it. As much as we like to use VD deep, teams easily took that away last year and that seemed to clog up the rest of the passing game. Torrey Smith will keep defenses honest (that’s the hope) and the underneath passes to Hyde/VD/Boldin should flourish.

Run blocking looked solid, pass pro not so much. The line was a work-in-progress all preseason. We’ll see the real thing tonight…

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Hiding Behind the Shield

What’s interesting in the fallout of Tom Brady’s overturned suspension, Jolly Roger seems to have had his legs cut out from under him. Throw in the Bounty-gate overturning, and the absolute bungling of the Ray Rice/Greg Hardy suspensions overturnings and reinstatements, players these days are immune to misdeeds. Barring convictions. Seeing as most of these guys can lawyer up pretty hard, and can therefore put things off til the season is over, they are pretty much able to live abouve the law and hide behind the shield.

I’m sure this isn’t was Goodie Goodell intended by being a hard-ass not interested in due process, but now the players use that very tactic to put off legal proceedings.

Aldon Smith is the latest example of a guy who has burned bridges and broken laws at every turn, and yet gets a make-good deal with the Raiders. And we all know that if he was a scrub, he’d be working at Home Depot stocking shelves. But hey, I don’t begrudge the guy a damn thing. Get what you can get while you can. There’s no law against accepting a job offer.

My point is some should make a stand regarding this. Tiring, sure to point this out again, but the league and the owners don’t care that some of their players are habitual criminals. Domestic abusers, child abusers, drunk drivers, and drug-fueled steroid freaks. All is fine as long as the collective perception jives with the reality that no one really cares what these guys do. Except for the victims of their misdeeds, of course.

So who makes the stand? Well, in the Niners case recently, Jim Harbaugh hid behind the very due process keeping these guys on the field. Of course he gave Seattle and the Ravens shit for the steroid problems and the Ray Rice deal, but he sure wimped out when the chickens came home to roost in the form of Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald. He ate teo big helpings of crow over that shit.

Course it took 3 strikes to force the Nienrs hand with both RayMac and Aldon. Now they can at least try to get in front of another situation by benching Ahmad Brooks. The team? Hiding behind the shield. Same with Sir Jed Tweetsalot. Seeing as Harbs wimped out, maybe Jim Tomsula will be the one to make a stand.

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The Official Cut List and Ahmad Brooks? Come on Down!

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shield.

WR DiAndre Campbell
CB Marcus Cromartie
G/C Dillon Farrell
RB Kendall Gaskins
TE Xavier Grimble
CB Leon McFadden
LB Nick Moody
DT Kaleb Ramsey
OL Justin Renfrow
DL Marcus Rush
NT Garrison Smith
QB Dylan Thompson
G Andrew Tiller
S Jermaine Whitehead

IR: WR Dres Anderson, TE Busta Anderson, RB Kendall Hunter

Huh. No one of note on the cutdown-list (well Nick Moody is a little surprise) as Kendall Hunter was rolled to the IR, as was WR Dres Anderson. Desmond Bishop and the Niners reached an injury settlement, still and all if this was the direction they decided to go, I would have liked to see Stuka stick around. Oh well.

The big side-story is Ahmad Brooks is cleared to play. By the league AND the team. Yippee. Winning with class. Except when it gets in the way of a player who we need out there.

Another chance to make a stand, but the league and the team deem it frivolous and unworthy. Smoke a joint and feel the wrath. Beat up your GF? Well, boys will be boys. Carry on. Here’s to hoping the coach has something to say about this. Frankly I’m sick of these guys getting away with (sometimes literally) murder, and then being cleared to play as if nothing happened.

Jim Harbaugh famously chided his brother for welcoming Ray Rice back with open arms after the initial 2-game suspension for knocking his girlfriend out in a Las Vegas elevator, then hid behind the ‘due process’ mantra when it came to RayMac and his domestic abuse charge. He didn’t even bother to bench Aldon Smith hours after his DUI. It’s easy to lay blame at the feet of others, as Harbaugh did with the Seahawks and their steroid issues, but when the chickens came home to roost, he took the weasel way out.

My hope is Jim Tomsula benches Brooks for the game as no one else on the team or in the league gives a shit about the issue at hand. Well, let’s all wear pink for the fallen wives out there. I bet Rae Carruth is laughing in jail.

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Cut-Down Day 2.5

Well, it isn’t quite cut-down day, but the Niners got down to 69 players by cutting the following guys (16 to go):

Pos. – Name
WR – Issac Blakeney
S – Craig Dahl
DT – Darnell Dockett
G – Joe Looney
OL – Patrick Miller
LB – Philip Wheeler

By far the surprise is Darnell Dockett. HE of the tweeting his maladies and spending a lot of time yapping and not playing. It doesn’t bother me too much to see him go, as the D line is the best thing about the team at this point. He’s rarely played anyway, so whatevs.

Dahl? He actually had a decent preseason, so someone may pick him up, but Tartt has blown by him already. The rest? Meh. 2 O linemen getting cut is a bit surprising, but then again, the way they are going about dealing with the line has me confused. Unless they are clearing room for additions to the line.

(Familiar) Guys on the bubble to me appear to be Kendall Hunter and Quinton Patton. Kendall has lost a couple steps and still hasn’t seemed to be fully recovered, and Patton has been passed by Ellington and UDFA DeAndrew White. Let alone Jerome Simpson and Anquan Boldin. Dylan Thompson likely goes to the practice squad, as will TE Rory Anderson. Or they cut him and put Bell on the PS.

The rest? Who knows? I think a coupe more big names will be included. Reggie Bush?

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Preseason Finale – San Dawg City Limits

Here we are, 11 days before the real thing, and 22 players away from our final roster. And stop me if you[ve heard this before, but the O line seems unsettled. Devens, our RG picked up from NE seems to have put himself into the roster based on practices, because he didn’t leave a lot of film on game days.

We’ll let that go, but my issue is still with Eric Pears and his lack of ability. He has graded out miserably, yet they seem to be sticking to their guns with this guy. Maybe they are hoping for a surprise cut come September 5th, but this usually isn’t how Baalke rolls.

As this is the 4th preseason game, there may not be a lot to look for, other than the turf conditions, and the defensive backfield play. Ken Acker has risen to the top of the heap pretty quickly, but Tramaine Brock remains a mystery as Jim Tomsula channeled his predecessor by saying,”We’re not going to talk as in-depth there.”

Brock tweaked his hammy at some point in the joint practices with Denver last week, and hasn’t been seen on the field since. Behind him we have Keith Reaser, who has shown some good and some bad. Dontae Johnson, forced into a starting role as a rookie last year due to injuries, has been solid, if not spectacular. Jimmie Ward is battling injuries himself, and Shareece Wright has been relegated to backup status.

Kind of a mixed bag there. Brock is very good when healthy. He needs to GET healthy. He won’t be out there. Other than the giant suckhole that was the offseason, at least we have dodged the injury bug. Let’s hope this continues. Ahmad Brooks’ status remains a mystery as well as his buddy RayMac appears to have thrown him under the bus trying to defend himself. Boys boys boys . . .

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