The 2017 NFL Season Kicks Off Tonight ! !

For you fantasy football types, you have your roster locked down, and are hoping your TE that will carry you through the season (Gronk) doesn’t get injured and waylay your shot at the $600.00 prize at the end of the year.

Anyhow, this is a pretty interesting game tonight between the defending champ Patriots and the perennial bridesmaid KC Chiefs. They of the omnipresent floating orb of the walrus, and his wizened charge, Young Sir Alex Smith.  The Pats of course magically won the last Super Bowl amid an epic 2nd half collapse by the Falcons that was likely as painful to witness as a fan as the 49ers near-comeback and coming up 5 yards short in 2012.

But I digress. Smith is finally hearing father time, and a bona-fide challenger to his throne in Patrick Mahomes, a guy KC and the Sunshine Band traded up for. The Pats however decided to stick with Jimmy G as their backup amid reports of trading him for gross amounts of swag. PRetty much based on nothing but being a Pat. NE was in a win-win situation, and I guarantee you they grab a higher-round QB than they have reached for in recent memory. They don’t even have a Taxi Squad QB at this point.

Anyhow, in my fantasy league I have Gronk and the Pats defense. Let the games begin.

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Here We Sit . . .

. . . broken hearted. Tried to hope, but looked retarded.

My Breakdown . . .

The Vegas oddsmakers notwithstanding (4.5 wins), the feeling about this team from the prognosticators ranges from wildcard possibility at 10-6 to abject failure at 2-14.  Of course most of the talk has been of the negative kind. I don’t really understand this as I can’t count on both hands and feet the teams that have come from obscurity to relevance overnight (or over the course of a season).

The salient points being:

  1. Horrible defensive coaching last year. Jim McNeill was over his head, and lost as DC. The scheme appeared to be hold the line with the D line, and drop the LBs into coverage. This opened up numerous holes in the run game. Even with NaVorro Bowman, the team was terrible on defense. Without him, they were awful.
  2. Misguided offensive coaching. Chip Kelly’s offense solved one problem plaguing the 49ers. Getting plays off on time. The rest however was a disaster. Neither Gaine Blabbert or Colin Kaepernick ever got any kind of consistency in an offense that was bereft of talent at WR and TE. Most routes consisted of the WRs running to a CB and sitting. Kaepernick had no patience despite decent numbers, and Gabbert had little accuracy despite decent protection. The run game was nil as the team was usually down quickly and forced to pass all the time.
  3. Lack of talent. Our no 1 receiver was a no-show most of the year, mainly because we never threw deep. Our no 1 TE is known more for dropping passes than catching them. Our no 1 RB was constantly stacked up behind a fair to middling line.
  4. Lack of pass rush. The order of the day appeared to be playing guys out of position. There were times, usually about 1.5 quarters a game, where the team looked decent defensively. However, a big play would usually ensue, or an inopportune penalty.
  5. Front office ineptitude. We’ve beaten this horse into the ground so many times since the Jethros took over the team in 2003 that the dead horse is now  in China. But it bears repeating that the front office meddled, whispered, and painted themselves into a corner with the Jimmy Bag-o-Donuts, and the Go-Go-(nowhere) Kelly offense. Both sets of coaching searches and hires were beset with stupidity, arrogance, and in the end, hilarity. Hello Adam Gase, the Jimmy T fart-a-rama, and the Chip Kelly debacle. He made the worst offense in the league even worser.
  6. Trent Baalke.  ‘Nuff said.

Now? Well, they hired a coach with no experience and they hired a GM who’s latest job was as a TV analyst. This sounds stupid, but I have to give Jed props for hiring guys who seem to have a grasp of the game of football. The good news?

  1. John Lynch, the Stanford safety who was an overachieving pain in the ass to every WR he played against, and a hard-hitter to boot, brings a  large amount of cred along with his football smarts.
  2. Kyle Shanahan directed and (almost) won the Super Bowl last year amid a career of being an offensive guru, and son of the last OC to with a Super Bowl with the 49ers.
  3. The latest draft. The 49ers managed to draft two top-five talents in the draft by getting Salomon Thomas with the 3rd pick, and Reuben Foster with the 31st on a trade up. The Bears were fleeced by Lynch to trade up one spot and garner more picks.
  4. The WRs. Garcon and Goodwin are the best pair of WRs in a long while. The backups are an intriguing batch of speedsters, including Trent Taylor and Victor Bolden.
  5. The run game. It hasn’t shown much yet, but Shanahan seems to be good at this, and hopefully Carlos Hyde will do a better job of waiting on his blocks, but the addition of FB Jevzvxvksfjdhjl should help immensely in bailout plays and bocking help.
  6. DC George Saleh. So far, and yeah, it’s preseason, and without showing our hand, the defense is much more active and attacking. If the pass rush comes around, I feel this team can really be a force on defense. I’m worried about the corners, and I hope Jimmie Ward hits the ground running, but overall I see a vast improvement defensively. Reuben Foster has been the 2nd coming of Patrick Willis so far.
  7. The Jedster. He APPEARS to be learning something about how to make his moves and shut the fuck up. Not a peep out of him, and that’s how I like it.

I think this team does have an outside shot of reaching the playoffs. the NFC West is not near as strong as it was, and I think we can at least pass the Rams and the Cards. Seaettle is still the #1 team in the West but the gap is closing.

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Preseason Game Day IV – And Late Flurries of Activity

The 49ers are getting down to the end of the preseason tonight with a game against the LA Clippers, uh, Chargers, here in the friendly strip mall of Santa Clara. Overall, the team has looked pretty sharp on both sides of the ball (the turnover debacle in Denver notwithstanding). Special teams has been spotty at best, and there have been way too many penalties, but overall I have a pretty good feeling about how the team looks. They don’t look as retarded as they did last year, but again, preseason can be deceiving. Just ask Aluminum Mike Singletary and his stellar 4-0 preseason record in 2010. Teams aren’t game-planning for specific opponents, and many games (like the KC and Minn games) are determined by the 3rd string players.

Be that as it may, there has been a flurry of team activity recently. Ahmad Brooks was cut loose (and subsequently signed by the Packers), Vance McDropsy was traded to Pittsburgh with our 5th round pick next year, for a 4th round pick, and we traded our 2019 5th round pick to the Deetroit Lions for once-and future star first round pick in 2015 guard Laken Tomlinson. Sure, it’s a small price to pay for a 1st round pick, but he has been very underwhelming on a team that is desperate for line help. My thought was he didn’t fit their system, but we’ll see. He’ll be holding down the left guard spot as Joshua Garnett heals up.

I love the fact that we are giving George Kittle the opportunity to take over the TE position, as Vance can’t dance couldn’t consistently catch either. All of our previous TEs Bell, Celek, and Dray among others, left little impression as well, so the job looks to go to Kittle. The backups will be a fight with the other 5 on the roster.  Hikutini, Bell, Celek, Nelson, and Paulson.

After the game, we’ll take a look at the 90 man roster and see who stays and goes . . .

 

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Game Three Joy

They say that game three of the preseason is the biggest indicator of the upcoming season. Well, at least they used to. The 1s looked very poised and confident on both sides of the ball, and Brian Hoyer especially looked smooth and polish as he stood in the pocket and hit a myriad of passes. The fake-and off-end-around deep ball to Goodwin being especially sweet as he had beaten the coverage easily and was wide open. Hoyer hit him in stride for an easy score. The 2nd TD drive came on a pass over the middle to the 3rd option, Carlos Hyde on a short post (I think) and he took it the rest of the way up the middle for the TD.

The 1 defense pitched a shutout and looked very solid with a couple of sacks from Arik Armstead and the new guy Elvis Dumerville, Eric Reid continues his strong play at strong safety this preseason, and the defense as a whole is playing worlds better than last year. Even Rashard Robinson had a nice coverage on a deep pass. Our corners are fairly underwhelming at this point, but coverage was decent, and only 1 or 2 deep balls got through.

The 2s and 3s were another deal entirely. CJ Beathard looked terrible till he settled down and hit Raheem Mostert on a swing pass that turned into an 84 yard TD.  Mostert also added a 4 yard TD scamper in the 4th quarter to end the Niners scoring.

So, sure, we lost. Sure, it’s preseason, But the overall consensus, to me anyway, is that the 1st team is playing well and is rounding out nicely heading into the season. The run game isn’t hitting on all cylinders yet, and despite the TD, Carlos Hyde may be facing the same fate as the recently-traded Vance McDropsy, and jettisoned Ahmad Brooks, but things look pretty good at this point. The pass rush has yet to look formidable, but things are getting better incrementally, and I’m fairly optimistic at this point.

 

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Game Two Blues

Game was was shakey and penalty-filled/ Game Two? Even shakier still, and penalty-filled. Fumbles fumbles fumbles. 5 of them to be exact. One TO was called a pick, but it was all on Goodwin not securing the pass and letting the CB take it away. Whatever the score was, 33-14? what progress was starting to show itself for the 1st string offense was thwarted by the 4 first half turnovers. I actually thought Hoyer looked very good, short of the (tuck rule?) fumble, but the run game never got going, and Hyde missed the hole a few times amid a poor blocking performance by the O line. Hightower didn’t help with a stupid fumble, and Hyde mishandled a pitch as well.

Rashard Robinson continues to look poor to awful in his coverage and especially his tackling.  He whiffed on a 3rd down stop that would have forced a punt but instead led to a 7 yard gain and a 1st down. And he got called for a stupid PI call in the end zone. He did cover nicely on a deep ball thrown his way, however. The defense played well given the field position advantage that the Niner O constantly gave them. But, the pass rush has nothing to show so far. Run D looks good.

CJ Beathard looked solid in his 2nd half start. He drove the team to their only TD drive with a nice crossing route to Aldrick Robinson and a tough athletic play by rookie TE George Kittle. That was pretty much the offensive highlight. Special teams is a pretty big concern to me even with the TD by Victor Boldin. Penalties and missed assignments abound.

We’d better hope this game was an outlier, or we are in for another 4 win season. I’m hopeful that the team will gel a little more and be able to play around .500 ball.

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The Kyle Shanahan Era Starts with a Whimper, and a Win

Or something. In a battle of non-epic proportions, we did get to see some good things. For one, the team is much faster than the previous version. And I don’t mean getting-to-the-line faster. I mean speed on the field faster.

The newly retooled offense had little to show short of a nice drive thwarted by 15 penalties called in the red zone. The worst being a OPI call on Burbridge when he ran his route and stopped as the throw went behind him for a TD to Robinson.  Hoyer hit a nice 15 yard penalty on 3rd and 12 negated by a penalty as well. That was pretty much the operating theme.

17 penalties for a total of 131 yards.  Certainly we need to lean that up. On the plus side there were no ints and no fumbles. CJ Beathard looked good playing the 2nd stringers. Joe Williams is fast as hell and looked very good in the open field. Reuben Foster nearly had a pick off of Alex Smith on their first TD drive. The defense was a little slow off the ball and gave up a big 42 yard pass play to speedster Tyreek Hill to set up that score.

Rashard Robinson had a bad start but did get a pick on KCs 2nd drive. Other standouts include Aaron Lynch, who had his way with RT Jah Reid. Of course he just got an ankle injury in practice. Trent Taylor looked very good when his punt returns weren’t being called back. He also made 3 catches for 33.

What to glean from this? Not much. Hoyer got one series, 1/3 for 3 yards. I’m sure they will all get a little more playing time next week. EWould like to see the line do better at holding the defense at bay while we actually try a deep pass.

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Game Day! Days of Future Passed . . .

Passed? Get it? Yeah, shut it. Still and all, it is time for some football! The preseason kicks off in Ninerland with the newly refurbished San Francisco 49ers facing off against their once-ascendant and cast-aside QB in Alex Smith, and the Kansas City Chiefs. They are still being led by The Walrus, Andy Reid. A coach who has been on the doorstep so much, he now has ‘Welcome’ tattooed across his forehead.

Alex Smith on the other hand is entering his 12 season, yet he is just 32.  He’s still a guy who is careful with the ball, checks down a lot, puts up solid numbers, but can’t seem to get over the ‘game manager’ moniker, and can’t seem to get deep into the playoffs. Smith may have some gas left in the tank, but it may not be in KC for much longer. The Chiefs made a bold move and traded up with Buffalo to snag Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick in the first round.

So, I’ll be watching him to see how he looks. Trubiscuit looked good in his Bears debut, DeShaun Watson looked solid as well, even De Shone Kizer played well, but this is after all, preseason. Still and all, a lot of exciting young quarterbacks are poised to make their mark.

Us? Well, we have Brian Hoyer. ZZZZZzzzzzz. But we do have an actual offensive minded head coach. One who can design pass plays better than run to a CB and sit down. Which seems to have been our plan since Mad Mike Martz left under mysterious circumstances.

Shit, anyone see Gaine Blabbert throwing lasers for the Cards? Too funny. He did cough up a fumble deep in his own territory as well, and missed a score of easy throws . . .

Speaking of missing throws, the new Jay Cutler jerseys are hot off the presses.

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