Game Day!! Shanny’s Atlanta Redux

Kyle Shanahan’s last few minutes as a member of the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t have been more brutal. His team blew a 25 point 2nd half lead due to terrible clock management and his abandoning the run despite having a great running game. The Falcons dominated 3 quarters and had a 28-9 lead going in to the 4th quarter.

After the Falcons scored their last TD halfway through the 3rd, Brady led the Pats on a 6 minute TD drive, a 5:30 TD drive, a 2:30 TD drive, and a 3 minute TD drive to tie the game. Atlanta’s best drive actually reached the Pats 26, but the pass play that got them there was called back on a hold, and it pushed Atl out of FG range.

Shanny’s offense had 3 possessions in the 4th quarter, a 3rd and 1 sack for a 12 yard loss, a holding penalty to kill another drive, and the 3rd time, there was 56 seconds left, and they were at their own 11. And they never saw the ball in OT, so there you go. Not Shanny’s best moments, but Atlanta’s defense couldn’t stop a thing and they faded badly in the end. Shanny bears some of the brunt of the horrific loss., but the DC bears more of it.

Anyhow, this game is about us and the playoffs. Seeing as we have Matt Ryan and Jared Goff these next couple games, this is not exactly a great time to be down two more DBs. But Jaquiski Tartt and K’Waun Williams are both out for this game. D Jones is outwith the dreaded high ankle sprain, and as we know, Sherman is out as well.

Hate to say it, but we might be in for another track meet. 37-27 or something like that.

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The Pain Train Rolls On

That N’Awlins game was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but it came at a pretty heavy cost. Richard Sherman is out at least a couple weeks, Weston Richburg is likely out this year and most of next, Dee Ford is out a few weeks with his bad hammy to go along with his quad and knee tendonitis, K’waun Williams has a concussion, DJ Jones has a sprained ankle, and Jaquiski Tartt has a cracked rib.

At least Jones and Tartt are day-to-day, and Nick Bosa had a knee contusion he played through, but it looks that, for the next couple weeks anyway, we have to lean on the offense. The good news is our next two games are at home. The 4-9 Falcons are next. 4-9? I don’t get it. The Falcons still have Julio Jones and Matt Ryan, he being 5th in the league in passing yards.

Their defense has failed miserably this season, however. They are last in the league in sacks, and their pass defense is flat awful.  At one point they were 1-7, so they have improved a little. And they inexplicably trounced the Saints in New Orleans, but this is a defense ripe to be plucked.  Early and often.

And this just doesn’t get old. It is one of those plays, like Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch vs the Saints in that 2010 playoff game so many years ago.

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The Not-So-Big Easy

Well, that was fun. In one of the biggest victories in the past 6 years, the 49ers outlasted the New Orleans Saints in the hostile environs of the Louisiana Superdome. George (taste the rainbow) (S)Kittle(s) stamped his mark on the game with a defender-dragging facemask-pulling romp and stomp down the left sideline for 39 yards + the 15 yard facemask penalty to set up the game-winning FG with 0:02 seconds left. In a Bavaro-like performance (yes, we all remember that) Kittle dragged 2 defenders 20 yard downfield while safety Marcus Williams tried to unscrew Kittle’s head using his helmet. No matter the outcome of this season, this game, much like the slug-fest last week against the Ravens, is an instant classic. And it feels MUCH better to be on the winning side of one of those.

Crazy thing is, the 49ers are now must-watch TV for the entire NFL. If these last 2 games were in prime-time, like the Green Bay games was shifted to, the praise would be heaped even higher on them.

So, in the toughest stretch of games ever attempted by any NFL team at any time, 4 division leaders and 4 teams with 10+ wins in the last 6 games, the 49ers are 2-1 so far. They have the Seahawks to play, in Seattle, so you have to hope Seattle trips over their dick like they did last night in LA. I would love for that game not to matter. I’d much rather see them at home in the NFC Championship game, or not at all.

Richard Sherman’s comment after the game were classic. He said:

“Boy, in the 1st half they really got us. But in the 2nd half . . . . . they got us again!”

The magnitude of the game wasn’t lost on him, and the defensive effort was akin to running underwater with a ball and chain on each ankle, but Sherman gets it. The Saints are an elite offense with a Hall of Fame quarterback. The defense missed some plays, they missed some tackles, and Witherspoon dropped what would have been a game-sealing interception, but this team has had what could have been devastating injuries to Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, Westie Richburg, among many many others, yet still kept coming back. The biggest play of the game was very well the forced fumble by DJ Jones on Alvin Kamara. The Saints had taken the lead when the Saints intercepted a pass that skipped off Emmanuel Sanders’ hands to start the 3rd quarter, and the defense stood tall and forced a field goal.

Even with the pick, this was a shining example of a game that was won by Jimmy G and a very imaginative Kyle Shanahan offense. I wasn’t a big fan of some of the trick plays early (no more biplane sweep with Kittle), but the TD from Sanders to Mostert was executed to perfection. As was the option pitch from Juice to Mostert for 31 yards. Juice got blasted on the play, and he had less than a second to take the handoff and pitch it, but it got us a 1st down and continued a late 1st half TD drive that gave us the lead for the first time all day.

All in all, this was the most satisfying win in a looong time.

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Game Day! Let’s Put the Aints in Saints

Here we are in the thick of things. Funny how expectations go from “Gee, I hope we get a wildcard spot” to “Shit, we just lost the 1 seed!!” It is a three team race for the #1 seed, and we play 2 of them in our last 4. Win tomorrow and it won’t really solve any issues, but it would put pressure on Seattle to keep up. Lose tomorrow, and we are the 5 seed playing in either Dallas or Philly, unless Seattle really blows it.

The Rams? I have no faith in them to do anything but lay down like the dogs they are.

The Saints? Well, if this season has proven anything it’s that mobile QBs give us problems. And Drew Brees is anything but mobile. He ain’t even from Alabama. Dee Ford got an extra week off of rest, and Nick Bosa is chomping at the bit to hit a QB, so I feel like we can shut their offense down. I didn’t see any of these wipeouts coming, but I don’t think this is one of those.

But I don’t think we sweat this one too much. 31-17. Niners.  Unless Jimmy G plays give-away. If anything worries me about this team, it is Jimmy’s turnover issues.

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Playoffs a la Mode and a Cup of Tea

Must Win. Crunch Time. All In. Draw the Line. However you want to say it, we are at the brink of ecstacy here. Our playoff push started with all those easy early wins. But after all that early semi-surprising success, we are 5th seed and hit the road against whatever dogshit team comes out of the NFC East if the season ended today. We have the best record in the NFL and no bye week or home game. Such are the vagaries of the NFL.

Tell me this on 9/1/2019 and I’d be giddy. Now however, it’s a little different story. Yes, I’d be more than happy to hit the playoffs, but we are SO close to a first round bye and home-field advantage for the playoff run.

Funny thing is, because of the schedule, we control our destiny for the playoffs. Win out, and we get the NFC West crown, based on our win over NO, and Seattle’s loss to them. Lose to the Saints, and we likely hit the 5 hole. Unless we beat Seattle. Then it gets cloudy.

The tiebreaker is as follows:

1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the teams).
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
5. Strength of victory.
6. Strength of schedule.

If Sea goes 3-1 and we go 3-1 and lose to NO, our head-to-head record would be 1-1.

Our common opponents would be the same, both of us losing to NO and Balt and beating the rest.

Our conference games would both be 11-3.

Strength of victory? Seeing as we stomped of our weaker opponents, and Seattle didn’t, we win in a landslide.

Oh, OK. That makes me feel a little better. We have some wiggle room.

The big BUT being, just beat the Saints and all is well. Unless we lose to Seattle. then they win the tiebreaker due to their 2 wins over us, I don’t really want to leave it to the last game, but it looks like we will regardless of how shit plays out.

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The Morning After

In the grand scheme of things, this was a hard-fought loss. West going east, hostile environment, hostile weather, early start, hottest team . . . yeah yeah yeah. No moral victories here. We played tough till the end, and could have won. Without the mistakes we should have won. The defense was outstanding, we fought scratched and clawed till the end, and came up just a bit short. The run game had a surprising field day, with Raheem Mostert getting 146 yards on 19 carries and 2 TDs, while Jimmy G was 15-21 for 165 and a sweet TD to Deebo Samuels. A guy who is really coming on as a 1a type WR.

Thing is though, some troubling problems remain, even this late in the season. Jimmy G’s pocket awareness leaves a lot to be desired, as he fumbled away the ball deep in our own territory for an easy 7 for Baltimore, and threw a near-pick six deep in our territory as well. Yeah, the conditions were rotten, but Garoppolo has 5 lost fumbles (9 total, for minus 21 yards) and 10 interceptions, He’s solely responsible for 15 turnovers.

12 TEAMS don’t even have that many turnovers. The rest of the team has 4 fumbles, 3 of them lost.

These turnovers played a huge part in our two losses this year, and kept Pittsburgh in a game we should have romped in. In Seattle, Jimmy lost 2 fumbles and threw a pick. Yesterday of course, the fumble on our 20. Yes, teams have turnovers. Shit, we forced one from soon-to-be MVP Lamar Jackson. But that was his first lost fumble of the year. For a guy that runs so much, that’s something. Jimmy has the 5.

Seeing as we are in playoff mode right now, as in we need to win out to secure home field and the division, mistakes kill. And Jimmy G really needs to tighten his shit up.

Hate to say it, but I think we take the Saints pretty easily as well.  Our defense is much better than theirs, and I think we can shut down Brees and stop their run game.

Again, though, mistakes are the wildcard. Lose this game and we ARE the wildcard.

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Game Day!! Morning Maryland Mayhem Madness

No idea how this one goes. But I think our defense can stop their offense enough to give us a squeaker of a win.

33-31 Niners.

(UPDATE – I was tired and a little buzzed when I wrote this last night)

I guess to commemorate the game tomorrow, they are showing Super Bowl XLVII on the NFL Network. Great movie but I hate the ending.

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