Home Opener – Do You Know the Way to San(ta) Jose(Clara)?

Last time we played Pittsburgh at home was the infamous ‘lights-out’ game that Irish Kevin (I think) went to. Here’s his pic of the Stick with no lights. We won that game by harassing an immobile Big Ben, and squeaking out enough offense. I see our side doing a lot more offensively this weekend.

Like I said earlier, this is a game that Teflon Mike Nolan and Aluminum Mike Singletary would puke on their shoes. A statement game that they would screw the pooch and lose whatever momentum they had built up.

So here we are with Kyle Shanahan. I guess his biggest difference is he isn’t a Mike. So he’s got that going for him. His dad was Mike though, so we need to be wary. Seriously though, this is the first major test of Shanahan and his team. Their first game this season was won by the defense. Their second was more on the offense.

Sure, the have been too many penalties and mistakes (Nick, please don’t line up offsides anymore. Look at Dee Ford for an example of what harm that can do), but the offense was clicking all game and the red zone issues were erased. For the time being.

Thing is, Pittsburgh is desperate. They are 0-2 and just lost Big Ben for the year. They can call this season a wash, but it also gives them a sense of reckless abandon. Mason Rudolph is a big dude at 6’5″ and 240. He looked pretty good in the little I saw of his highlights, but the Steelers need to see if they can back him going forward. I’d think they are going to move him around a lot, try to use him as a runner/passer, and throw a lot of TE slants, scrapes, and underneath things. He has a huge arm though, so you never know, . Our defense has to stay home on his movements and not let him break contain and get around the edges. And, as usual, pressure is the key. Get him off his marks and confuse him.

They will try to run, but they’ve had little success against Sea and NE running.

Defensively, Pittsburgh has been roasted. Tom Terrifuck scorched them for 341 and 3 TDs. RW? 300 and 3 TDs, and an astounding 82% completion rate. Due to this, Pittsburgh went out and got premier safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami for Pittsburgh’s 1st round pick next year. This would be a statement game for Jimmy Garoppolo to at least throw another high 200 game, get a couple TDs, and get through a game with no picks. He doesn’t need to set the sky ablaze with an aerial assault, as long as we can get our run game going behind Brieda and Mostert.

Pittsburgh is an east coast team doing the travel thing, and we are just starting to feel our oats. If we can get on top of them quickly, I think we can take them without too too much problem. It is all about the mistakes. Our margin for error is slim, and we can’t give shit away like the TB game. That being said, the fact that we fucked up all over the place and still won means something. We used to drop those games.

33-20 Niners.

Lights Out, SF.

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The St Cincinnati Day Massacre

This game was very reminiscent of the good old Bill Walsh days of beating Cincinnati.  I mean, who can forget Bill Walsh and Roger Craig skipping off the field arm in arm after a last-second victory in Cincy that harkened back even further to the Alley Oop days of YA Tittle and RC Owens?

Cincinnati always seems to be our foil whether it be regular season games, or Super Bowls. Yesterday was simply a methodical stomping of what appeared to be a vastly inferior team. Cincinnati was coming off a hard-fought loss on the road in Seattle. A game that gave them hope that their new coach had the team on a new path. A game that the Bengals had an outside shot of winning but for a terrible fumble call late in the game.

Yet the 49ers came in and imposed their will on Cincy’s turf (a vastly empty stadium) and on Cincy’s O line from the first play, a sack by Arik Armstead. The sack gave SF great field position, and on our 4th play from scrimmage, Goodwin lined up at the TE spot, and was left uncovered for a 39 yard strike. Cincy quickly struck back when we busted a coverage of our own, and gave Cincy a 47 yard chunk play,  but after that, it was all 49ers.

Offensively, it was reminiscent of Bill Walsh. 313 in the air, 259 on the ground. Garoppolo threw for 297 (1 sack), 3 TDs and 1 pick. Brieda and Mostert combined for 204 yards rushing, and Jeff Wilson went from the practice squad to 2 rushing touchdowns in 2 days. Deebo Samuel had 5 catches for 87 and a TD, and Goodwin 3 for 77 and a TD. George Kittle even got into the act with 3 for 56 yards.

Defensively, the Niners pressured Ginger all day and forced a lot of quick and inaccurate throws. Dalton’s numbers weren’t terrible, but Cincy was fighting an uphill battle as our 24-10 half time lead quickly jumped to a 41-10 lead. The run defense, which tired badly in the Tampa game gave up an astounding 17 yards to Joe Mixon on 11 carries. 1.54 yards per carry. Ahkello Witherspoon continues his resurgence as a lockdown corner. K’Waun Williams though, not so much. He was toasted early, but seemed to settle in as the game went on. Our LB play was stellar as Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner combined for 13 tackles. Even more impressive was the defensive line. Our base D, with Nick Bosa cycling in and out got 4 sacks, and innumerable hurries. Shit, even Solly Thomas got into the act.

Next week is our home opener, and should be a solid test against what appears to be a beat-up Steeler team. Goodly or badly, Rothliesberger is out for the rest of the season with a fucked up elbow. He was sucking pretty badly anyway, so I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for us.

 

 

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Cincy Bound – Game Dose

Two early east coast roadies to start the season is a bit of a test for this young and squirrelly team, and we showed it in spades last Sunday. What does that mean for tomorrow? I don’t know. But this being the NFL, any team on any day can do anything.

Tampa matched us for ineptitude when it came to hugely inopportune penalties, but we beat them improbably with our DBs, and a solid pass rush. To the tune of TWO pick-sixes, and a dropped third. Amazingly, TB went on the road and beat Carolina. A team that was on a roll last year until they lost 7 in a row. Newton looked fragile and iffy, and he was pressured all game. So maybe our win WAS something special.

Cincy? I don’t know. They nearly beat Seattle on the road last week. Ginger threw for over 400 yards, but came up short in the end. Didn’t even see the highlights of that game short of the blown fumble call on Dalton. They also came out 4-1, and 503 but faded to the point of Marvin Lewis FINALLY being shown the door.

I’ll just pull a NoFear and say we will fall somewhere between winning 30-14 or losing 30-14.

Hyuk!

Nah. I’ll forever be optimistic and say we win this one 28-17. There’s time for pessimism when the season really gets going. Tell ya one thing, I’m REAL interested to see how the Steelers do against Seattle. If Pittsburgh rolls into Levi’s at 0-2, it would be something.

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OhiO

While the team is hanging in Youngstown, we are trying to figure out if we are real or lucky. Can we run? Is our O line crap? Can Jimmy G avoid the pick 6? Can we stop Ginger and his 400+ yards last week?

Sure, it’s all possible, it’s just that we have to stop making stupid mistakes. Stop with the TD killing penalties, stop dropping interceptions, stop dropping the linebackers 15 yards on 3rd and 17, you know, GET SMART.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Fugly

Well, what a game. One that makes me think preseason is too short. There were 5 touchdowns (3 by us, 2 by them) call back by penalty, 19 penalties for 174 yards (11 for 87 by us, 8-87 by them).  4 INTs, (3 by us, 1 by them) 3 pick 6’s (2 by us, 1 by them). We dropped 2 additional pick 6’s. TB had a chance themselves. There were 4 fumbles (3 by them, 1 by us), we got an ejection for Kwon Alexander on a helmet-to-helmet hit. One that was repeated later by a Buc who wasn’t tossed, and we had a lot of terrible play calling on both sides of the ball.

Once again, the red zone offense rarely took a shot at the actual end zone. Then again, we were successful but penalized more often than not. The defense had a very mixed bag kind of day. But stop me if you nearly threw a brick at your TV when the 49ers lined up their LBs 15 yards behind the line on 3rd and 17. Of course TB threw a swing pass to the flat that gave the RB a 12 yard head start before even seeing a Niner, but the entire left side of their line was able to get out front and block for the 1st down. Of course TB fumbled that drive away.

TB for their part were grinding away in the 4th quarter inching closer to us by running the ball at will down our throats. So naturally after getting the score to 20-17, (they had actually taken the lead on a called-back TD), they got pass-happy, and gave the Niners 2 easy pick 6 TDs to salt away the victory for the Red and Gold.

TB actually outgained us 315 to 264, and we somehow won the time of possession clock by 8 seconds. Garoppolo outplayed Jameis (gimme a) Winston on the merits of only giving the other team 7 points instead of 14. We threw a ton of dinks and dunks, Kittle 10 catches for 54 yards, but for one very nice double move by Rick James on a 39 yard strike.

Offensively, the run game was non-existent but for 2 good runs. Coleman is already hurt, and Brieda can’t bust through the line, so we shouldn’t even bother. Which brings me to the O line. Terrible game for them as there was little time for Jimmy G to throw, and he didn’t help by making bad throws himself. At least 4 of his incompletions were throws that were simply way behind the receiver, and of course the pick 6 that was the oldest read in the book. But throw in a few holding calls that negated TDs, and there you have it.

Defensively, we were all over the place as well. I think the best unit was the much-maligned DBs though. Ahkello Witherspoon looked like the talented rook, noit the befuddled sophomore. Richard Sherman had his usual weird-ass game with a pick 6 and a nifty mugging on a long pass near the end of the game which likely would have been called PI in the 70s, when you could kill people out there. The pass rush was better, Nick Bosa got a sack, and the line in general got sufficient pressure all day. The biggest problem, and I’m sure the heat was a factor, was the run defense late. On TB’s blown 4th down on the 2, and the subsequent FG drive, they ran the ball down our throats. Seeing as we were gassed, the next drive they inexplicably stopped running and the pass pressure caused the late pick 6 to seal the game.

A win is a win is an east coast road win, but I sure hope to God they clean their shit up. Any good team would have killed us. Then again, Seattle almost lost at home to the Bengals, it took awhile for the Rams to put away Carolina, and AZ tied with the hapless Lions.

Early season games are like this, but man, what a mess.

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Game Day! Numero Uno!

Our season is about to start! Me, I think we play well and take the Bucs. I’m hovering between 9-7 and 10-6.  Based on our schedule, I think we can start fast. Whether we can sustain that is the question. Problem is, if we start slow, it’ll be hard to finish fast as our closing schedule is tough.

9-7 it is. If we can’t take the Bucs, we’ll be hard pressed to beat anyone. A 5 game improvement is about all we can hope for. I don’t see this team as a talented but undercoached one like the 2011 version. We are building. But we aren’t there yet.

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NFL Season 100 Kicks Off Tonight!

Yes!! Football is back! In a nod to the historical significance of the 100th season (or maybe they were just lucky), the NFL kicks off season 100 with the Chicago Bears vs the Green Bay Packers tonight. Two of the oldest franchises in the NFL.

The aging Aaron Rodgers vs the wobbly Mitch Trubisky. Two teams fighting for relevance in the NFC North as they resume their chase of the Vikings. We pay Green bay  in week 11, so I’ll be mildly interested as to how they look. Rodgers successfully got his head coach ousted, and has young buck Sean LaFluer as his head coach. LaFluer is from the Sean McVay Flying Circus Ram team, so this offense looks to be revitalized.

I’ve never believed their  defense, and their DBs are always a day late  and a buck short, so this should be high-scoring. That is, if the Biscuit man can hold up his end. The Bears lost their defensive guru, ex-Niner DC Vic Fangio to the Denver Broncos, but they still have Khalil Mack, the unstoppable force.

Should be fun.

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