Game Day ! ! ! Monday Night Frenzy ! ! !

Tell ya one thing, can’t imagine how horrible the traffic will be getting to the stadium tonight seeing that the team plays in the heart of the Sillycon Valley. Last Sunday was a breeze, but a work day? Yeeeesh. Expect to see a lot of empty seats early on.

This game is, for all intents and purposes, a game of the new guard in the NFL. A couple of upstart teams trying to make their way up the chain of the NFL to respectability, or even higher. In the case of the 49ers, they are trying to crack the glass ceiling to the top of the NFC West. a spot inhabited by the Rams and Seahawks for nigh on 6 seasons. A spot that is still a tough nut to crack.

The Browns? Well, they have a lot of flash and a lot of names, but they are a bit of a mess. Their coaching is suspect, and while they spent a lot of coin and draft picks on flashy players, they have a leaky O line, and their defense is scattershot, and defensive backfield is hurt. Their quarterback likes to talk, and he’s fairly reminiscent of a young Brett Favre in that he can do anything out there, good or bad, but they are inconsistent at best, shitty at worst. But they have Myles Garrett, a force to be reckoned with.

I liken them to us last year. A team that is a bit overwhelmed by expectations, and not quite ready for prime time.  One that can play well, but can also look like an inexperienced team looking to find their way.

I think we will take this one going away. Provided we stop giving the ball away. MNF has a way of making teams a little hyperactive and a little overzealous, so the trick here is to keep the adrenaline levels at a manageable level, and take it to the Browns early. Dee Ford was limited in practice, so that means he’s gonna play. That is good news. When he’s in he’s disruptive, and we have DeFo and Bosa to bring the heat from anywhere on the line.

The Browns LBs and defensive backs are shakey at best so the middle of the field, our bread and butter with, Jimmy G and Kittle, should be a matchup nightmare for the Browns.

34-17 Niners.

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Thursday Night . . .

This game is a must-see for us Niner fans. Seattle had had their luster dimmed a bit with many hits to their defense, while Russell Wilson continues to play behind a sketchy line and marginal weapons. The Rams? Well, their vaunted defense was just obliterated by the lowly Buccos to the tune of 55 points. Or maybe the Bucs aren’t as bad as everyone thought. They are after all, one missed FG from being 3-1.

So, the Rams and Hawks  get a short-week divisional demolition derby while we get 15 days off. I almost feel bad for them. Almost.  So, we need to take advantage of this. Win Monday night, and we will have 2 wins over the loser of this game. I’m thinking we’d want the Hawks to win, as the Rams appear to be the better team. Having 2 games in the pocket this early in the season would be nice. Either way, we stand to move on one of these guys if we can pull out the win Monday night.

I guess we’d just take an injury-filled penalty fest. Or is that a penalty-filled injury fest?

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Road Warriors

In one of the weirder weeks of pro football, 11 out of a possible 15 road teams won their games last weekend. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before, but it sure seems like a pretty rare occurrence. Sure, you expect New England over the Bills (but even that was very close, even with Matt Hot Tub Barkley manning the controls [side note: HUGE kudos to Frank Gore for eclipsing the 15,000 yard mark by cranking out a 39 yard run]), Seattle over AZ, and the Bolts over the Fish, but TB over the Rams? 55-50? Browns over the Ravens? 40-25?

Weird shit. 2 of the better defenses, Ravens and Rams, gave up 95 points. Which matters to us because we play both of them. But before we look ahead to the Rams, we have our Monday Night matchup with the Factory of Sadness. Like the Pittsburgh game earlier, this isn’t really a trap game, but it is a game that has a lot of baggage attached to it.

Monday night. Holding up as one of the unbeatens. All this league-wide exposure. Playing a fairly confident Browns team that has seemingly gotten to some form of respectability.

Then again I like our chances with our newfound pass rush and our ball hawking defense. Our offense on the other hand has been sporadically brilliant, but has been turning the ball over at an alarming rate. We are still #4 in offense (a monumental improvement) and 3rd in defense (a gigantic improvement).

I suppose we should feel lucky to have last week off as there are now only 3 unbeaten teams, and 2 of them struggled to keep their records intact. New England had a knock-down-drag-out fight with the Bills, a game decided by a blocked punt for a TD by the Pats, and KC had the flukiest of fluke plays go their way on a 99 yard fumble return as Detroit was about to score. KC ended up winning late 34-30.

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Bye Street Blues

We may not be playing, but there are still games. Most notably, the unexpectedly 3-0 Bills, with stalwart Frank Gore, at home against the 3-0 Patriots. We’ll see how real Buffalo is. I’m mildly interested to see how Seattle does against the 4th quarter wonder Cardinals. Other than that, no real scintillating games.

This season seems to be not very parity-laden as far as the NFL goes. Lots of have-nots and haves. It’s early but there are a lot of shitty teams out there. Seven 0-3 teams among the flotsam. 6 unbeatens in the top tier. Tanking, a la Miami and the NBA, is becoming a thing, apparently.

Still, though, the surprising unbeaten Lions vs the Chiefs should be fun. Browns Ravens? Interesting in that the busy Browns could very well roll into MNF next week 1-3. Something I’m sure wasn’t foreseen by their desperately hopeful fans.

Sunday night’s game finally looks like a good one as the 3-0 Cowboys travel to the Big Easy and the Bridgewater Saints.

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Real or Fake?

That is the question. Three weeks into the 100th NFL season, and the 49ers sit atop the NFC West, tied with the LA Rams. Is it real? Are we padding our record on the backs of patsies? Well, sure. But we don’t have control over the scheduling, so we play who they put in front of us. So far the teams we have played are a combined 1-8. TB is 1-2 (but a missed chip-shot FG from 2-1), Cincy is 0-3, and the Benless Steelers are now 0-3. Throw in the 1-3 Browns in two weeks and you have a whopping 2-11 record against (well, 2-12 when the Ravens stomp the Browns at home this weekend).

Still and all, the 49ers have the 4th best offense yardage-wise (5th in points scored), and the 2nd best defense yardage-wise (9th in points allowed). The problem? Turnovers. We lead the league in giveaways at 8. 4 fumbles and 4 picks. Our saving grace is the turnovers created. 7. 5 picks is a testament to or newfound pass rush, and we have forced a few fumbles along the way.

What of the rest of the West? Well the front-running Rams, 3-0 as well, have staggered their way through some sketchy games as well. They squeaked by Carolina 30-27, with a gimpy Cam Newton, they beat a no-wind (Brees-less) Saints team, and beat a Browns team that has talent but can’t seem to do anything right for any length of time. The Rams high-powered offense is mired in 16th place as Todd Gurley is off to a slow start, and the passing game is a mediocre 22nd in yards.

Seattle? They are 2-1, squeaking out wins vs Cincy and Pisstburgh, and losing to the Breesless Saints last week. The Legion of Boom is now the Legion of Meh at a middling 11th place (25th in points allowed) defensively, and the young offense is tripping along at 9th in yards and 10th in points. Decent, but not the scary dominant team of the early teens.

AZ? Well, they are exciting offensively and dogshit defensively. 0-2-1 is not an aberration.

As I said when the season started, we have the chance to rack up a lot of wins early to prepare for the grind at the end.  Our first big test is LA on the road in 3 weeks. The other games are the Browns, Skins, Panthers, Cards, Seahawks, and Cards before we hit the meat of our season. If this team is for real, the team should be able to go 5-2 at worst. The Seattle game is at home, so 6-1 is doable.

If this team hits 9-1 or 8-2 at the 3/4 pole, the team has a great shot at the playoffs. Stagger now, and the end will get ugly and we’ll end up 8-8 or worse.

They’ve shown they can win ugly. Now comes the time when they need to simply beat the bad teams and hold their own against the good ones. The Falcons are beatable, as are the Packers if we can pound Mr. Rodgers. Ravens and saints on the road are tough no matter who is QBing.  Hold their own in these early games, and 10-6 should be doable.

At least.

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There’s Winning Ugly . . .

. . . there’s winning fugly . . . and then there was this. The good news is 49ers are 3-0. The bad news? Well, we have to lead the league in turnovers after yesterday’s train wreck of an opening day. The 49ers tried to destroy the beautiful day that was unfolding as the game started. I will say this, making the call to sit on the shady side of the stadium was a good one. 85 outside the stadium is 95-100 inside. At least in the sun.

No need to rehash the ugliness, but there’s a lot to be mindful of. The defense played out of its mind. Granted, this was Mason Rudolph’s first start, but Rudolph and the Red-Assed Steelers gave Seattle a much harder time than we did.   Much like Cincinnati before them. A bit of a theme, as the Saints, without Drew Brees, beat the Seahawks handily yesterday. And without the turnovers of course, we win this game 38-17.

Ahkello Witherspoon is getting an MRI today, but if you believe him, it isn’t serious. One can only hope, as Jason Verrett looked like Jason Garrett out there. 2 plays, 75 yards and a TD.

 

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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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