Down in a Hole

Losing my soul. I’d like to fly but my wings have been denied.

Well, this season is taking on an eerily similar tack as the 49ers were toyed with and humiliated by the Seattle Seahawks. As like last year, the 49ers beat a supposed up and coming team. Even more convincingly this year as we shut out the newly LAed Rams.

Also eerily familiar is the lack of doing much of anything in the passing game over 6 yards. He run game was stuffed all day minus one breakaway by Hyde when it didn’t matter at all. My thought was we would gamble a little more and take shots downfield with Torrey Smith. He has to be feeling sick right about now as the one pass he got was off line and good for 11.

The defense was flat not ready to play. 3 snaps, 75 yards, TD, the route was on. 3rd and 14 and we rush 3. Was I the only o e screaming at that scheme? That was it for me. I knew the rest of the game plan. Down by 3 touchdowns in the 3rd quarter? Run up the middle! 3  times in a row! There that gambling  hipster. 4th and 2 down 14-3? Fuck going for it. Let’s miss the FG. It’s like Jimmy T came out of retirement to leave his stink on this game.

Again, check downs by our hapless QB.  Dropped passes. No blitzing. We couldn’t stop the run despite the banged up Seattle line. Our LBs were nonexistent as they were washed out nearly every play. We couldn’t get pressure so a hobbled Wilson had a field day.

At this point the game plan looked like it was called to protect Gabbert from doing more damage than he did anyway. They need to get him out. Ponder? Kaepernick? I don’t give a shit. Gabbert has to go.

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Game Day Tres-0

Game 3 of the treacherous 5 game start to the 2016 season continues in Seattle, the land of Rainier Beer, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and year-round wet clothing. Seattle, for its part is coming off a couple of very uninspiring games. Offensively anyway. They have scored a grand total of 15 points in their victory over the Dolphins, and their loss to the Rams. Defensively of course, they are still formidable.

Our offense? Kind of a mixed bag of trix. While we have scored 55 points in 2 games, there have been too many 3-and-outs, notably in the 3rd quarter. Our quarterback has been inconsistent, quick to check down, and goes through stretches were he throws grounders, and the run game has been haphazard. Hyde has looked good at times, but the run game was shut down by the Panthers.

Thing is though. the Rams and the Panthers have good defenses. As does Seattle. So, where does that leave us? Well, our defense has done good against a shitty team (Rams 185 yards, 0 points), and bad against a great team (Carolina 529 yards, 46 points), so, again, a Mexican standoff when you look at the numbers. Seattle, for all intents and purposes, look more like the Rams than the Panthers so far, but that doesn’t mean anything. Russell Wilson is hurting with a high ankle sprain, and has lost a lot of mobility. Teams are taking advantage of that, and Seattle is struggling to score. Beast Mode is gone, and their offensive line has been a different kettle of fish with Max Unger gone.

So the name of the game is pressure. Get to Russell, and we should be able to control the game. Leave him alone like we left Newton unscathed last week vs Carolina, and we can expect to lose. Simple as that. Playing the safeties deep to keep things from going over the top is well and good, but it lets underneath stuff in and Seattle will try to take advantage of that. I think we may need to gamble more if we aren’t getting pressure early. We can’t let another QB play pitch and catch all day.

21-12 Niners . . .

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Restful in Seattle?

Game Tres is nearly upon us, and the prevailing sentiment is that the 49ers have a shot at actually winning a game in the big taco. How quickly perceptions have changed this season. It was a short time ago that some folks thought the 49ers would lose every game handily. A strong win over the Lambs, and a decent showing against the NFC champs have changed things a bit.

What does that mean for this weekend? Squadoosh. The game is still played on the field, and the Seahawks are still a force to be reckoned with. And the giant clam is still a tough place to play. We are a short way into the Chip Kelly era, and a couple things are apparent. The team has scored points against 2 solid if not great defenses. The offense, while not epic, has shown flashes of consistency and flair. Then again it has shown the inability to get 1st downs in alarming fashion, mainly in the 3rd quarter for some inexplicable reason.

What was funny last week is that Carolina went soft late in the 3rd quarter, which allowed the 49ers to score, and then score quickly when Ted Ginn had an allergic reaction to leather and gave the Niners the ball on the 2. A Ted Ginn special to pay back for the Ted Ginn special from years ago when he mishandled a pitch and watched StL recover for a TD. Anyhow, that ignited the Niners to close within a TD of the Panthers. Something unheard of last year. Sure we lost, but the team didn’t give up, and was a dropped VMcD pass from a big play and the possible tying score. Of course Gabby gurked the next throw, and therein lies the rub.

Our quarterback situation. Gabbert is the quarterback. For now. He’s under 50% and had 2 terrible picks last Sunday after nearly giving up 3 the week before.  He HAS made some strong throws, and even got some first downs with his feet, but he’s not exactly cementing his place as the guy for this year, let alone the future. He may not even be starting in two weeks.

Kappy? Well, he’s still getting back into shape after all his offseason surgeries and his dead arm deal. Good, bad, or indifferent he’s the #2 QB. Usually the #2 guy gets a lot of love, but this is CK we are dealing with. He has had a mercurial career to say the least. From 5 yards away from a Super Bowl to the depths of, well, Santa Clara. Unless Gabbert starts feeling it better and better as the season goes on, he will be replaced by week 6 I’d think. It really is tryout time for the QB spot. Christian Ponder may even get his nose in the race if both these guys roll snake eyes.

Anyhow, back to the game. Seattle is looking vulnerable as RW is hobbled by an ankle injury, and the idea of trading center Felix Unger for Jimmy Graham is not looking like a good idea as of now. The lynchpin of the line is gone, and Seattle’s offense has been a study in futility. They won a defensive battle against Miami 12-10 and lost a defensive battle to the LA Rams 9-3. Which begs the observation, Seattle has scored 15 points in 2 games and won one. The Rams have scored 9 points in 2 games and won one. Seattle has given up 19 points in 2 games, and only won one, while the Rams have given up 31 points and have done the same. Us? We have scored 55 points in 2 games. A HUGE difference from last year, but they gave up 46 in their loss. 0 in the first game is the kicker. 23 points doesn’t sound horrible, but we have to do a much better job of getting pressure. Giving RW time will be our death. Get pressure and we could win handily.

 

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Reality Checks In

Yeah, I figured this would happen. Granted, it was the defending NFC champs on a short week and a cross-country-early game, but the team at least kept trying, despite falling way behind in the 3rd quarter. And yeah, Carolina looked like they were close to unraveling completely after a Cam Newton fumble led to a FG and the subsequent kickoff was muffed by Ted Ginn and led to a quick TD.

The truth is Carolina is a better deeper team, but the team looked good at times, and looked overmatched at times. 529 to 302 in yards tell you a lot, and TE Greg Olson beat Anthoine Bethea like a drum all day. Our single coverage on Kelvin Benjamin was beaten badly as this didn’t help the pass rush in any way. . Turnovers didn’t hurt Carolina early  (Niner FG off the tipped pick) but it was a killer for Hyde as Carolina got 6 off his fumble.  Gabbert looked fairly solid till he started firing picks in the end. VMcD had a great play on a deep crossing route for a 75 yard TD, but dropped a big play on the next drive when the 49ers had clawed back into the game.  Next pass was picked off and the route was on.

Carolina was able to take away our run game with their defense, and it showed. Forcing Gabbert to take charge came with fair results, at least early. The Niners even had a 10-7 lead after scoring on a nice 28 yard pass to Torrey Smith. This off a Carolina fumble. But this lasted exactly one play, as Greg Olson caught a 78 yard bomb from Newton, and Carolina added a FG to close the half.

17-10 and the end of the half seemed pretty solid especially when the Niners deferred on the kickoff to start the game. Problem is, the 3rd quarter started with 2 three-and-outs sandwiched around two long TD drives that the defense couldn’t get stops on. So a one-TD lead became a three-TD lead. After cutting it to a 34-27 deficit, the Niners once again couldn’t stop Carolina to the tune of 7-15 on 3rd downs. That needs to improve. Yeah, it was hotter than shit, and the aforementioned short week, yadda yadda yadda, but the team showed heart, if not consistency. All aspects played well at times, and all aspects failed at times. The signs of a young team.

Gabbert for some reason just flailed at the end as he tried to bring the team back from a 10 point deficit late. Throwing into double coverage was terrible, but it came at the heels of a big play that was dropped by VMcD. He had another game where he hit some nice passes, and threw some absolute bonehead passes, and missed another deep one. 17-36  for 243, 2 and 2 is another game where he didn’t throw for 50%. This cannot continue. He missed way too many open guys, and again threw check downs off no pressure.

On defense, the pass rush was nowhere to be found. O’Neill left the corners out on their own, and Newton took advantage. And as mentioned, Olson had the game of his life as he toasted Bethea with regularity. Benjamin as well. Tough game against a team that looked like the defending NFC champs.

We played like a young team coming off a short week and a cross-country flight. Sloppy and inconsistent. Thing is we get another road test in Seattle next week. The schedulers just love us. And for what it’s worth, the whole division is 1-1 right now.

 

 

 

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Game Day Part Deux! Carolina in the Morning . . .

1-0 and the fans are rejoicing. Sort of. Guardedly optimistic? Depends on who you talk to. To me, the team looks a lot more coherent and solid that last year’s version. The lines look a lot better as well. and, speaking of last year, this season started just like last year. A strong Monday night victory against a supposed up-and-coming team followed by an East Coast trip through 3 time zones against a very strong team on a short week and the early game to boot. Hopefully the outcome of this game will be a little better than last year’s debacle at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their 48-18 thrashing.

This time around we only get the defending NFC champs, the Carolina Panthers. They of course were a field goal away from beating their Super Bowl conquerors, the Denver Broncos. So, how does this work out for us? Well, it is very hard to say. Our offense looks fairly similar to the one trotted out by the Broncos. Short passes, misdirection runs, runs from 3 WR sets, and some read-option. Gabbert had a fair-to-middling game, one where he missed wide open guys, but he also kept drives alive with his legs, and by buying time on the run. Still and all 22-35 for 170 and 1 TD isn’t going to stop any clocks, or even get the fantasy crowd excited, but a decent enough game. Will that fly tomorrow? I don’t think so. He left too many passes in the danger zone and should have been picked off a couple times, and missed an easy TD early on. The run game, namely Carlos Hyde needs to have a big game for this to work. I like the idea of getting a lot of WRs in the patterns to unload the box.

Amazingly, the 49ers last week were 4-4 in the red zone against what was supposed to be a top-tier defense. But they pretty much laid down by the end of the 3rd quarter, and their offense was flat to say the least. Carolina? Well, Denver has the blueprint for beating Carolina down pat. Pressure pressure pressure. Get people in his grille and make him rush his throws. Contain is also important, but the biggest thing is pressure. The DBs did well last week, and in the preseason. They again will be key to slowing down the Carolina offense. Keep the ball in Newton’s hands give the pas rush a better shot of getting to him.

Still and all,  I think we lose, but we play well in the cause. 24-20 Panthers.

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What Quarterback Controversy?

Well, we are getting closer to a real game I suppose. Maybe the Rams mailed it in and were shocked by our intensity. Maybe we continue our pattern of playing well at home and like high schoolers on the road. Maybe it was sunspots. Who knows?

The point being, we are flying across the country to play the defending NFC champs. Across 3 time zones. For the early game, no less. But that is how it goes in today’s NFL. You are perceived as a lower-echelon team, you get fucked right in the schedule.

Anyhow, the rumor mill has been turned on by Jed and Co once again regarding our current backup, and once and (possibly) future starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The rub now is that the kneeling during the National anthem is causing a rift among the teammates. Despite the fact that Daniel Kilgore and Torrey Smith have stated that they don’t have a problem with his protest. Both were leery at first, but get where he is coming from after players-only meeting on Aug 29th to address just that.

Or you can believe Lowell Cohn’s discharge, Grant Cohn, and his second-hand accounting of a passing comment by an unnamed lineman in the locker room when passing by the knot of unchickenshit reporters gathered around CK after last week’s game. You know, the usual innuendo and obfuscation that this front office is so good at fomenting and promoting. Much like Trent Dilfer’s comments regarding CK. Funny Dilfer made his comments before the game, and  he’s surprised at the knot of reporters looking for a comment after the game about what he himself started. Kind of a self-perpetuating myth there, Trent. Dilfer of course said that a backup quarterback has no right to express his opinion. He should just sit in the back of the bus and be quiet, like a good boy. That’s one way to take it, anyway. You can take it also to mean that Kaepernick is disputing the team dynamic. Certainly this possibility exists, but this is happening at a lot of games now, and isn’t just the 49ers dealing with it. Which means SOMETHING.

Back to Dilfer, though, there are reports now that Trent Baalke wants to get rid of Kaepernick. And also that Baalke and Dilfer are good friends. In other words, Baalke uses Dilfer as his mouthpiece to float negative things about Kaepernick to get the word out. Of course neither guy is in the locker room on any regular basis, but the team is obviously once again floating innuendo and bullshit through outside sources. The hope is that Chip Kelly, who is apparently firmly on CK’s side, gets to keep CK on the team. Beyond the fact it would be a bad look to cut the backup who also happens to be generating social discourse, it would also leave us very thin at QB. Unless Mark Snachez floats your boat.

Point being, this should be a football decision, not some kind of witch hunt from the front office. Again. Baalke keeps winning these behind-the-scenes battles. Just ask Jim Harbaugh and Paraage Marathe. And Crabs, and any number of players and staff.

 

 

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Chips Ahoy!

The Chip Kelly era starts much like the Jim Tomsula era started.  With a resounding win on Monday Night Football. Last year it was the 49ers manhandling the soon-to-almost-beat-Seattle-in-the-playoffs Minnesota Vikings. Last night it was the newly rebirthed Los Angeles Rams, as Chip and the Cookies stomped the piss out of a really bad looking Ram team 28-0. Jeff Fisher, as I’m sure you folks know, is not high on my list of good coaches, had the best defensive line in the game looking ill-prepared and slow. Their offense consisted of futile runs and sideways passes. Whether we were covering well, or they just didn’t take shots is up for debate, but as a whole, the defense played every minute and gave up little.

The offense is a bit of a different tale. The run game is a different animal with Carlos Hyde in there. He ran well behind what appears to be a vastly improved O line. The Rams may be an offensively-challenged unit, but their defense is no joke. They are rated as one of the top front 7s in the league. However, with Chipper’s faster-paced plays, and runs from 3 wide sets, the line was able to create nice holes for Hyde to run through.

Blaine Gabbert? Well, he had a fairly uneven game. 22-35 and 170 (1 TD) isn’t going to make anyone forget Joe Montana, but he hit passes that needed to be hit for the most part. The first half was going well, but the game ground to a halt in the 3rd quarter. LA changed their defense to take away the short passing, and the 49ers were skunked the entire quarter to the tune of -4 yards and no first downs. The saving grace was the defense shutting down LA the entire quarter as well. The point being, Gabbert got sloppy for no reason as he forced passes on bad reads, and nearly had 2 picks, including a near pick 6.

Just as inexplicably, Chipper got a little more creative and the offense started moving again. 14 points later the game was a blowout, and the Rams, behind Jeff Fisher (10 penalties for 102 yards) got demoralized, chippy, and stupid. Which led to Aaron Donald being ejected from the game for trying to behead Quinton Patton.

As for the D, well, pitching a shutout is hard in the NFL. Even with a challenged group like the LA Rams and Kasey Kaseum. The line held Gurley to 47 yards on 17 carries, and a grand total of 185 yards. They got nothing deep and everything was horizontal.

All in all, it looks like a good game to start the season. How this bodes for the 3-time-zone cross-country-trip-on-a-short-week-and-play-the-early-game-on-the-East-Coast (FUCK THE SCHEDULERS) remains to be seen, but we did this last year and it went south in a hurry.

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