Weirdest. Playoffs. Ever.

Here we are on the edge of Super Bowl LII, and the quarterbacks are:

Case Keenum
Nick Foles
Blake Bortles
Brian Hoyer (possibly)

Call me underwhelmed, but this is pretty terrible. Drew Brees had the last best shot of stopping the Patriots from yet another SB win, until Brady fucked up his thumb in Wednesday’s practice. So here we sit with a bunch of stiffs at QB, and some supposed defenses that will carry the day.

That is, until the Jags gave up 45 to us, and 42 to the Steelers. I don’t see too much hope for the Jags if Brady plays. Hoyer? Well, different story. The Paats defense was 29th in yards given up, but 5th in points allowed. Not sure how that flies, but it gives the Jags some hope. Pittsburgh was supposed to have a defense as well

Vikings Eagles? Shit, who knows? Vikings have the better defense, but this is a game of 7 yard dswing passes and dumps to backs out of the backfield. All day. Kinda like the Harbaugh Niners with Young Sir Alex. ZZZZzzzzzzzz

At this point we should be favored to win the Super Bowl next year.

I got Minn 27 – Philly 17

NE 31 – Jax 20

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Back (to the) Draft

As I said earlier, I think we need to go pass rusher first, but it looks like the Chubbster, as well as Arden Key, look to be drafted ahead of our 9/10 spot. The Raiders desperately need an inside linebacker so they won’t take a pick from us. The Browns, Giants, and Jets (pending free agency moves) will go Darnold/Rosen/Allen, and the Browns will prolly get Barkley with their 4. That leaves Harold Landry from Penn State as the best pass rusher available. Actually, Key may be available as he has an injury history behind him, so he may fall a la Reuben Foster last year. I’d still take Landry.

Thing is, though, given the needs of the teams ahead of us, Quentin Nelson could still be there, Courtland Sutton could be there, and any number of CBs not named Minkah Fitzpatrick will be there. Guard usually isn’t drafted this high, but it is a big need for us. I would be surprised, but not too surprised to see us draft him. We’ll likely fix the O line in free agency and go for a CB if our pass rusher isn’t there.

Speaking of CB, there’s the Ohio State guy, Denzel Ward, short-time starter, who looks to fly up the board as draft day nears. He’s smallish at 5’10, 195, but he’s a smart, aggressive, and fast, who has long arms and can play press or zone coverage equally well. He’s rarely out of position and has great make-up speed. I wouldn’t be too surprised at this pick either.

What say you?

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What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is Going On Here?

Well, that was nuts. Pittsburgh gained 545 yards of offense, scored 42 points, and lost. Jacksonville gained 378 yards and won. Ben Roethlesburger went 37 for 58 for 469 yards, and 5 TDs and lost. Blake Bortles went 14-26 and a whopping 218 yards and 1 TD, and won. Even the run game was fairly even with Fournette gaining 109, and Bell gaining 67. the apparent killer was Bortles gaining 35 yards on the ground.

Baffling to me was Pittsburgh playing their defense so soft underneath. Bortles isn’t Dan Marino. Or even Frank Marino. He’s a journeyman soft-throwing game manager. TEs and RBs gained tons of yards on 8 yard passes over and over. it worked for the Steelers as well, but really, play up on these guys. I can see the threat of Big Ben going deep, and he did. A lot. But Bortles? Unreal that he was able to hit so many short passes for big chunks of yards.

Speaking of unreal, there was the Saints/Vikings game. Another game that got out of hand early for the favorite, but N’Awlins did manage to take the lead late. The game saw 4 lead changes in the last 3 minutes as both defenses took turns allowing underneath pass after underneath pass. Case Keenum made his bones throwing blind ducks that were for the most part completed. His one pick late in the 3rd quarter should have been his undoing, but he threw 3 more. One of which set up a late FG that temporarily gave Minn the lead late.  Brees? Sure, I get playing your defense a bit loose to stop the deep balls, but Keenum is another game manager sho simply hit short pass after short pass. His one nice pass, the one that won the game, should have been the game ending stat-padder, but the whiff by Saint DB Marcus Williams allowed the score on the final play of the game.

The other games? Well, Atlanta was the first favorite of the weekend to fall behind early and spend the rest of the game chasing their tails.They did a fair imitation of the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVIII by choking away a great opportunity to win the game with a 1st and goal as time was running down, and blew it in the end with some worthless faide attempts.

NE was NE. However, an obvious false-start penalty was inexplicably reversed in the Pats favor, and it turned into a pivotal point as, instead of NE punting from their own 9, they were gifted a 1st down, which they then turned into a TD to make the score 21-7. Needless to say, the punt would have changed the future of the game as Tenn would have likely gotten great field position and could have tie the score. As it was . . . oh well. The Pats are a team that seemingly gets every break in the book, and then some. As NJ noted, though, the team that stands directly in their path has a man that has beaten them on a couple of occasions. Tom Coughlin.

The hope is he has one more game left in him to stop the Patriots.

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Playoffs?!? Playoffs!!! Playoffs?!?

Week 2 of the full-on win-or-go-home football games. The AFC looks to be Pittsburgh and NE. I’d be floored if it doesn’t go this way. The NFC is more of a crap shoot.  Philly would be the pre-emptive fave if Wentz didn’t go down, but now it is Foles vs Matty Ice.  I’m going with the Falcons, even though they have been fairly underwhelming this season.

Minn New Orleans looks like another barnburner, but again, I’m going with the better QB in Drew Brees. The Saints have won on the road and this game shouldn’t be a prob.

Pitt should take care of Jax. I mean we beat them with our ramshackle team. Same with Tenn. If we are better than half the current AFC playoff teams, then we area lock next year. NE in a wipeout.

 

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Upcoming Stuff, and Draft Needs

Feb. 20 — First day for teams to designate franchise or transition players. The deadline to designate players is March 6 at 2 p.m. MT.

Feb. 27 – March 5 — NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

March 12 -14 — Legal tampering period for NFL teams to negotiate new contracts with 2018 free agents. Deals cannot be signed until the start of the new league year, at Noon PT on March 14.

March 14 — Start of the 2018 league year. At Noon PT , new contracts can be signed and the trading period begins.

March 25-28 — Annual league meeting in Orlando.

April 2 — Teams that hired new head coaches after the end of the 2017 season can begin offseason workout programs.

April 16 — Teams with returning head coaches can begin offseason workout programs.

April 20 — Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

April 26-28 — NFL draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

SUCH EXCITEMENT!!

Anyhow, what with the only cool thing coming up that is 49er-relate, we have free agency and the draft.

Biggest Needs in No Particular Order:

Wide Receiver: If this season has shown us anything it is that Jimmy G can make a pedestrian WR corps look pretty special. That being said, we will get Pierre Garcon back, as well as the resurgent Marquise Goodwin. Trent Taylor proved to be a decent slot/3rd down option as well. The rest were meh. I suspect a couple FA signings to bolster this group. Donte Moncrief is a possible guy who wouldn’t cost too much. the big FAs (Davonte Adams) will likely just re-up. We could even trade down in the 1st round and go for a guy like the previously mentioned Courtland Sutton out of SMU.

Cornerback: Despite being thin at the position, the 49ers traded Rashard Robinson for a song (and a 5th round pick) from the Jets midway through the 2017 season. Apparently he had gotten into a couple fights on the team plane and was a bit of a head-case on the sidelines. To further that thought, Robinson was arrested last night for possession of edibles and driving erratically. Ahkello Witherspoon showed up his freshman season and played very well. Dontae Johnson didn’t. We desperately need another corner.

Will Minkah Fitzpatrick be there with the 9th/10th pick? Probably not what with CB being so in-demand, but there are some FAs available, notably Malcolm Butler and Patrick Robinson.

Edge Rusher: Another huge need is the pass rush. While the D line is fairly stout against the run, with a healthy 3.8 yard average gain per, the pass rush was a woeful 26th in the league with 30 sacks. We won ourselves out of the Bradley Chubb sweepstakes, so he’s out. However, BC’s Harold Landry and Okla’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are a coupe guys that most likely will be available. Guys out there available are Koly Ealy of the jets (who was tossed by NE), or Ezekiel Ansah. Both would be a vast improvement over what we’ve gotten.

And finally:

Guard: Yeah yeah, Bergs, guard. When Joshua Garnett went down, the thinness at that position reared its ugly head in a big way. Zane (beat the) Meatles, Laken Tomlinson, and Brandon Fusco all proved to be pieces of dried dog shit. The Niners need to address this with likely an FA or two, and a draft pick or two. The FA gets, are Andrew Norwell from the Panthers (he’s gonna cost), and Justin Pugh of the New York Football Giants. Tomlinson may be the only one to survive the offseason. Beadles and Fusco need to depart.

The draft? Say it with me, Bergs: Quentin Nelson. 

Since free agency happens before the draft, it’s hard to figure how they go in the draft. That being said, I think the needs for the team break down this way:

  1. Edge Rusher
  2. Cornerback
  3. Guard
  4. Wide Receiver

I know we keep drafting for defense, and defensive linemen at that (3 in a row), but still and all, this is our biggest hole. A strong pass rush helps out for the next need, cornerback.

The O? well, yeah, the interior line play was terrible in 2017. The hope that with better guard play will come better play from Daniel Kilgore. He’s only 30 and should have some good years left, but his play suffered badly last year.

The rest? RB depends on what Hyde does. LB is thin. safety is in pretty good shape with Jimmie Ward, Jaquizz Tartt, and the rest coming back from injury. reid ended up playing well, and the young guys like Colbert and even CB Greg Mabin played well in limited time.

_______________________________

Free agency will give us a hint as to the direction they go. Funny thing is, I really think that what we say here jives with what actually happens. Unlike the Baalke era where Baalke NEVER drafted for need and instead seemingly picked random names out of a hat. Most famously, AJ Jenkins, whose name was placed in an envelope before the draft as the guy they desperately wanted.  WOOF!

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More Twists and Turns in the Garoppolo Acquisition

ESPN (aka TMZ lite) is now reporting that the Browns offered New England their 4th overall pick in the 1st round, and (I’m quoting the Cleveland Plain Dealer here) “other goodies” for Jimmy Garoppolo a couple days before the actual trade. NE nixed the deal, and traded Jimmy G two days later. Who made the decision is up for debate, but to me it makes sense that one of the quotes floating around is that Belichick wouldn’t trade Jimmy or help the Browns “in 100 years.”

Here’s the article:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/report-browns-willing-deal-no-4-overall-pick-jimmy-garoppolo-001050153.html

As it was, the 49ers were the only team that the Patriots negotiated with. You can speculate that Belichick did this as a parting shot at Robert Kraft and his meddling ways, or that Robert Kraft did this as a panacea to his star QB Tom Brady.

Short-term this sorta makes sense for Kraft, but long-term this hurts the team in a big way. Even short-term, the Pats are one hit away from Brian Hoyer running the team. Long-term though they can’t even pretend that Hoyer is nothing but the backup when Brady retires. They need to draft someone, and they REALLY could have helped themselves by taking the Browns 4th pick.

Both sides of the Pats front office of course deny any weirdness, but this smacks to me of Belichick burning a bridge on his way out of coaching the Patriots. I’m sure he wanted his legacy to be setting Jimmy G up as the heir apparent and next gen QB to take new England to the future, until Kraft and Brady subsumed his authority. Belichick is one of the shrewdest GMs out there and this completely looks like a parting shot as Belichick could have easily put himself into the Rosen/Darnold sweepstakes with that 4th pick. Instead he helps us out immensely and moves on to the NY football Giants.

All I can say is, sometimes it IS better to be lucky than good. There seemed to be a convergence of unrelated events to bring this good fortune upon the 49ers.

 

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The Playoffs and Poor Young Sir Alex & Adios to the Rams

The playoffs have not been very kids to the KC Chiefs or Alex Smith. His Chiefs always seem to get killed by injuries to key players at important times. Whether it be Jamaal Charles in 2013 amid the 28 point blown lead vs Indy in 2013, or Travis Kelce’s blatant spear to his head yesterday, the Chiefs seem to expect the inevitable collapse. And someone tell me how that hit equals wagging your finger at another player. Jonathan Cyprien should have been tossed for that hit. Beyond that, the play resulted in a fumble.

Then again, it was newly retired ref Jeff Triplette reffed the game. He made yet another bad call moments earlier when Mariota was sacked on a huge (legal) hit and fumbles. Somehow his forward progress was stopped. That means there are no fumbles because stopping forward progress is the result of tackling someone.

Beyond that, Andy Reid has to wear this loss more than anyone. More than Alex Smith, who had a stellar 1st quarter and little else, or the KC defense, which couldn’t stop the run despite knowing it was coming, or the semi-lucky Tenn offense which got a TD pass from Mariota to Mariota on a ball that could have easily been picked. Reid’s play calling was atrocious especially in the 2nd half as Reid gae up on using the league leading rusher for the last 3 quarters amid a bunch pf blown 3rd and short calls. Oh well. Smith likely walks the plant to AZ (or Hou, or Buff, Cincy, or NY [G or J], or even Jax should they get bounced today.

Speaking of Jax, I think they get bounced by Buff. I think NO is the only home playoff team to win.

Jared Goff? He looked like, as well as the Ram coaching staff, a deer in the headlights.

Good for them.

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