Silence in Seattle

Once more into the breach, as they say. Our recent roll courtesy of the Rams and Pats of course came on the heels of the huge steaming debacle at the hands of the not-so-lowly Miami Dolphins. They sprang into life after roasting the chestnuts off of us and have reeled off victories over, oh, well, the Jets and had a bye week. Nevermind. They are 3-3 and did play the Bills and Hawks tough, but whatevs.

Our task now is to travel to Seattle and play a team that always turns into a battle. Most recently the teams fought for the NFC West crown in week 17 last year. A game decided literally by a couple inches.

The upcoming game this weekend is a bit messier. We have been ravaged by injuries across the board. Especially defensively. Well, also at RB. And WR. And O line. Seattle on the other hand has lost their way defensively. They have given up the most defensive yards in the NFL by a whopping 54 yards. 31st Atlanta gives up 425 per game. Seattle? 479! Last against the pass, and 13th vs the run. The only reason they are 23 in scoring defense is because they are 5th in turnover ratio at +5.

Looking at Seattle’s record, they could very well be 2-4. The Falcons got beat. NE gave them a challenge but they came up short. The Cowboys had a late lead that they squandered. Miami made it close but ran out of time, Minnesota had the ball AND the lead with time winding down, and instead of kicking the FG and going up 8 went for it and failed on 4th down. And the Monday Night game where AZ put up 517 yards on the Seattle defense.

The X factor of course is the runaway MVP candidate, Russell Wilson. Game after game he is forced to score nearly every possession. In the AZ game, as it wore on, the constant pressure affected his game and he threw an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions. Seattle is a bit beat up themselves a RB and are now counting on ex-Niner Carlos Hyde. He had a pretty good game against the Cards and got 68 yards on 15 carries. Wilson natch had 84 yards on 6 carries. But, even when throwing 50 passes, his 388 isn’t that big a number.

But, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are an outstanding pair of wideouts. They’ve combined for 69 catches, and 1,061 yards. Even with our injuries, our defense is still plaing at a pretty high level, but the Seahawks are an offensive juggernaut that we will be hard-pressed to slow down.

If we can slow them down, we can win. I don’t see us winning a shootout with these guys. Mistakes and penalties are the usual factors.

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Road Warriors

The 2020 49ers are 3-0 on the east coast. Seems like we win handily out there. Another fairly easy victory against a team that was supposed to be a lot better than they showed. As Belichick himself said, we were outcoached, outplayed, out hustled, out everythinged.

Sure, Cam Newton looked completely lost as I think he hit on 2 nice passes amid the 3 picks and numerous bounced attempts. The run game was off, and even the QB runs were negated. Belichick walked up to him early in the 3rd quarter and apparently said “you’re out” as Jarrett Stidham came in and actually did a little bit worse.

The defense played well, but that was because the QBs were flat terrible. Edelman had one catch and 3 targets. Don;t know if it is because Fig hasn’t had enough time to absorb the new system, or if he’s toast, but it was an ugly game all around for him. ANd Stidham.

So, a nice easy road win, right? Of course not. Every victory seems to come with a huge price tag. Backup to the backup to the backup, Jeff Wilson, was having a career day as he had put up 112 yards on 17 carries and 3 TDs when he was rolled up during the last TD run, and is out for a while with the dreaded high ankle sprain, and Deebo Samuel pulled a hamstring on a pretty innocuous looking sweep.

Jimmy G looked fairly solid as he went 20-25 for 277 and 2 picks. He even hit a deep 35 yard pass to Brandon Aiyuk, who had a very nice 6 catches for 115 yard day. My only issue is the pass wasn’t thrown inside more. If so, the pass is an easy TD, and we don’t lose Jeff Wilson one play later. One pick was an end-of half hail Mary, but the other was an overthrow of Kittle over the middle.

All in all a solid game that was hyped as the comeuppance of the prodigal QB by his former teacher, but it ended up being the student schooling the master. The Shanahans continued their legacy of being a thorn in Belichick’s side.

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Game Day Lucky VII – Fig Newton Time

Lucky? Who knows? The last time the Niners played here, it was an epic shootout between Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick. The Niners built a 31-3 lead, pissed it away, but prevailed in the end with a late 40 yard TD from Kappy to Crabtree and won 40-34.

Today? I have no fucking clue. Instead of getting healthier, we are getting hurter. We lost both our starting safeties Tartt and Ward to go along with the rest of the IR brigade in the defensive backfield and all over the D line.

Speaking of defense, we are up against another mobile running QB, so our work is cut out for us. Cam Newton is their leading rusher, so we have to spy his ass. We cannot afford to give up large chuck plays, especially on 3rd down, to bootleg runs, and read-option type plays. Of course that is easier said than done. Passing, Newton is a little less scary with his 2 TDs, 4 picks, 9 sacks, and being the 29th rated passer in the league.

The hope is we can get some pressure on Newton and force a couple picks of our own.

So I guess that means we need to score. And score a lot. And it looks like our walk-on UDFA Frank Gore impersonator, James Hasty, will get some meaningful minutes tomorrow. The Jet has been playing like a Piper Cub lately, so I think Hasty will get some good long looks. He missed the hole on one of his late runs last week, but for the most part, he looked good. The game wasn’t too much for him to handle.

Yeah, we are up against Brian Belichick. But Brian without Tuck-Rule Tom has proven to be less effective. He doesn’t have a very high-powered offense, and his defense is middle-of the -road as well. But we are really hurting. Especially on defense. But since I think we can out-score them, we should win in the end.

This one will come down to special teams, and who makes the least mistakes. How ’bout them Dodgers? Hah! What an awesome end to that game.

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Yes, the win was nice, but it came at a pretty high cost once again. Raheem Mostert and Ben Garland look to land on the IR for their high ankle sprain, and calf strain respectively. Trent Williams has an ankle sprain as well, and Jaquiski Tartt has a groin strain.

Tartt was limited in practice today, and Williams was absent, but the good news for Trent is at least the MRI showed no break or high ankle sprain. He likely won’t practice all week, and be a game-time decision. Kwon Alexander is also not practicing due to his own ankle injury. Dee Ford and Richard Sherman both look to be on the shelf till after the bye week, meaning week 12.

Just got to keep plugging these holes till people start coming back. Who even knows when Richburg comes back? The team just disclosed he went through shoulder surgery to go along with his patella tear, so he’s not likely to see the field this season. Our guy now is Hroniss Grasu. Yes THAT Hroniss Grasu.

Needless to say, as the trade deadline looms the thought of trades for CB and linebacker help now has the center position to throw into the mix. And, seeing how we dumped a lot of draft picks a couple years ago to acquire all this injured talent, I’m pretty sure the team does not want to go that route again.

So who do we trade? Big Dick Nick’s value shriveled up pretty dramatically after his Eagles debacle. The Beater? He may be at least a little valuable as our 2nd string guy now. This may be their only route to get something for relative nothing. I don’t want to trade away any of our WRs, though maybe we could deal an RBly. But Coleman is down, McKinnon is an injury time bomb, Mostert is hurt again, so we are down to Wilson and Hasty.

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Victory!

Game balls all around. Jason Verrett, Raheem Mostert, Jimmy G, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, the offensive line, and especially Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh. In order to develop a rhythm with his quarterback and the offense, the 49ers came out throwing quick passes (where have I screamed that lately? Oh yeah, 3 days ago) and moving the chains, The opening drive was a thing of west coast beauty with swing passes, misdirection runs, and little to nothing downfield. the 1st half in general was a thing of beauty as the 49ers scored 3 TDs, one on a 4th and 2 from the Ram 44 yard line. The 3rd TD came as Shanahan was trying to run the 2nd quarter out while still scoring a TD. It worked but it was a bit annoying as I felt we were too conservative on the drive and we could have pushed harder. Still and all stopped the Rams next possession, and we had another chance to score. We took a couple deep shots, but being up 21-6 wa about as good as anyone could have hoped.

Defensively was definitely a mixed bag, as the Rams both ran and threw very effectively at times, but were also shut down at other times. But Jason Verrett made the play of the night on a 4th and goal play at the 1 when he intercepted a Jared Goff pass in the back of the end zone. The beauty of the play was that it got us out of what would have been 1st and 10 from the 1. Whether the Rams shot themselves in the feet with penalties, or suffered dropped passes, the 49er defense held the Rams out of the end zone for 2 of the 4 quarters. No mean feat.

Special teams even got into the act with Dion Jordan blocking an extra point, Robbie Gould providing a 49 yard field goal, and Tavarius Moore downed a punt on the 2″ line to pin the Rams deep. This led to our only 2nd half points.

A much as Shanny deserves a game ball for protecting Jimmy G, and neutralizing NFL sack leader Aaron Donald, I didn’t like the ultra-conservative nature of his play calling in the 2nd half. He relied too much on the defense to stop the Rams, and the 40 yard strike to Josh Reynolds was inevitable. The one shot Shanny took was the 3rd and 7 with 1:55 that sealed the game. However, it took a monster effort from Deebo, who broke 4 tackles on the ‘pass’ play to get that game-sealing 1st down. Other than that it was a bunch of 3 and outs for the most part as we passed ONCE on 1st down. My biggest pet peeve.

Still and all, a huge response by the players and coaches to the steaming turd that was the Miami game. This game was ginormous as the team needed a win at home against a division foe.

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Game Day 6 – Make or Break Time

This early in the season and we are already at the crossroads. Win this game, and we allay some fears that the team is on the road to nowhere. Lose the game, and the season is pretty much a wash. Seattle is paying the Cards, so they look to keep their roll going. We would be down 4 games 6 weeks into the season. Seattle could very easily be 1-4 seeing as every game has come down to the wire. Even the Falcon game was in doubt till the end. Their defense isn’t scaring anybody, but Russell Wilson sure is.

But i digest. The Rams on the other hand have played nothing but stiffs. Their lone loss came at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. They’ve beaten the No-Skins, Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants. Yeah, we couldn’t handle the Iggles, but they barely beat the Giants. Different Sunday, different outcome. Yadda yadda yadda.

At this point I really don’t know. What I do know is that Bruce Allen is back on the practice squad, and Moseley and ‘Spoon will play. Sherm had a setback, Greenlaw was fairly ineffective, Kwon Alexander is doubtful, and the defense is still a hot mess.

I don’t know. We win a shootout? WTF. Sure. Why not?

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R.I.P. Fred Dean

It’s a sad day in Niner Land as Fred Dean, Hall of Fame pass rusher for the Chargers, and 49ers, passed away at the age of 68 from complications due to COVID. In a stellar career that coincided with the dynasty that became the 49ers dominance for 20+ years, the 49ers traded for him during the 1981 season. Dean, who was going through a contract dispute with the Chargers brass, said he was making the same amount as his brother in law, a truck driver.

Walsh, always looking to improve the team, offered the Chargers a 2nd round pick early in the season, and seeing that the 49ers were 2-2 and coming off a 6-10 season, it looked like it could be a decent deal for San Diego. As it turned out, it was likely the greatest in-season trade in NFL history. At least for the 49ers.

His first game gave notice to the NFL that Fred was an elite pass rusher as he sacked Danny White of the Cowboys 6 times in our annihilation of them 45-14. Funny thing is, in his nearly 5 year career with the Niners, he had 5 starts. His main task was to pressure the QB, and smoke lung darts on the sidelines. He didn’t get in for very many 1st down plays, but wreaked his havoc on 2nd and long and 3rd down plays.

His next game, against the Rams saw Dean get 5 sacks of Pat Haden in the 49ers 20-17 victory. The Chargers of course became a much weaker defense and were summarily drummed out of the playoffs after winning the epic battle between SD and Miami in the 41-38 overtime game, and then getting stomped by the eventual AFC Champ Bengals. Dean ended up with 12 sacks for the 49ers in his 11 games.

Hard to imagine what would have happened to the course of the two teams had the trade not gone down. Dean was a generational talent who ended up as the UPI Defensive player of the year in 1981, and ended his career with 93 sacks. In his 4+ years with the 49ers, he had 41 sacks, and he was instrumental in the 1984 playoff run with his former SD teammates Gary Big Hands Johnson and Louie Kelcher.

Saw many a game where Fred Dean was a dominant force, and a relentless pass rusher.

Never met the man, but he always seemed to be smiling and happy.

“I WANT TO LIVE WITH MYSELF AND SOUL
I WANT TO BE ABLE FOR MYSELF TO KNOW
I WANT TO STAND AND SEE THE SUN
AND NOT HATE MYSELF FOR THE THINGS I’VE DONE
I WANT TO BE ABLE AS DAYS GO BY
TO ALWAYS LOOK MYSELF STRAIGHT IN THE EYE
AND FEEL THAT I NEVER HAVE TO LIE
TO MYSELF.”

R.I.P. Fred Dean

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Back to the Drawing Board

Funny thing happened on the way to the Super Bowl. We suddenly suck old-sweaty dog balls. In yet another embarrassing home loss to a shitty team, the 49ers let the 1-3 Miami Dolphins throw all over our depleted secondary, and harass out quarterbacks to abject ineffectiveness and handed us a 43-17 loss that wasn’t even that close. Miami stopped us from the get-go.

After a quick 3 and out, they hit on a 50 yard pass against Brian Allen. A truly awful corner who played so well that we left him on his island for most of the 1st half and he was 0-10 defending passes and committed 2 PIs. A perfect outing that gave Miami 21 points and 258 yards passing. In the 1st half.

The fact that Selah THEN decided to put in Witherspoon is baffling. If Ahkello was able to play in the 2nd quarter, why couldn’t have they pulled the plug earlier? Or even start ‘Spoon? It just baffles me that on EVERY big 3rd down, they went to Allen and hit the play. No help from Ward. Over and over Fitzpatrick hit whoever Allen was on. No pass rush to speak of, and of course we gave up a 12 yard run on 3rd and 8. To 37 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick. Our future backup QB. The play of the game ended up being a 3rd and 16 dump-off over the middle that got 15 yards. The Niners had cut the score to 30-14 early in the 3rd quarter and were looking for a quick 3 and out to get the ball back. They would have punted had we been able to stop the play for less than 15 yards. But no.

Our offense on the other hand continues to sputter and stall on our plethora of slow developing plays that get our quarterbacks sacked, hurried, and hit with regularity. No quick passes, no slants off 3 step drops. The run game, except for the occasional big run by Mostert, and a jet sweep here and there, has been stalled because as far as I can tell, teams have stopped biting on all our pre-snap motion and simply play things straight up. Our interior blocking is just not any good.

Tell ya one thing, this is how the Rams felt lat year when it seemed that McVay went from the penthouse to the outhouse. Shanahan can’t convert a 4th down to save his life. Mainly because he does the same run up the middle. 0-4 this year. A bunch of guys running around but no play action, no misdirection.

Shany is wearing on my nerves this season. He refuses to adjust to game situations that are readily apparent to everyone but him.

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Game Day 5 – Jacques Cousteau’s Revenge

Here we go again. Another bad east coast team comes to Santa Clara after travelling west. Another chance to pad the record against the Miami Blowfish before the good teams roll in. The good news is the offense is getting healthy. Jimmy G, Raheem Mostert, and Deebo Samuel are back so we should be able to score.

The defense is in a state of disarray, but I think Dre Greenlaw is returning, so team speed just went up a lot. He has been missed terrible.

And this is also a big game for Kyle Shanahan. For me, his play calling and decision-making has been sub-par so far this season. His time management isn’t as bad as Snappie Khaki, but he seems to be unsure come 2-minute warning time. I’m also disappointed when we go away from plays that work.

The misdirection runs that work so well seem to vaporize as the games roll along. The run game seems to dry up when we aren’t trying to be less obvious. Which leads to 3rd and unmanageable. And sacks. ince our QBs are challenged with avoiding sacks, it leads to fumbles and bad decisions.

Raiders about to beat the Chiefs.

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Getting the Band Back Together

Both Jimmy G and Raheem Mostert have both made it through a couple practices this week so it looks like they are cleared to play. Just in time for a tune-up before the meaty part of our schedule hits. Rams, Pats, Hawks, Saints, Rams again, Bills. Small reprieve with the N-Skins, then the NFC West closers with the Cards and Hawks.

Which is why I thought we really needed that win last week. Oh well. Shit can’t be helped now. Big Dick Nick got flaccid in a hurry and couldn’t firm up for the win last week, so we have a tougher row to hoe now. And we seem to be a bit shitty on th eO line. Brunskill being the big culprit last week.

What irks me about our state of play is the fact that many many QBs, even slow white guys like Carson Wentz, can spring for 10-12 yards when in 3rd and long. Us? We usually trip and fall; trip, fall, and fumble; take an unnecessary sack; or throw a pick 6. Outr turnover ratio is +1. Not great, but a little better when you realize that Shrivel-Nick is responsible for ALL of them. THREE fumbles, THREE picks.

But let’s move ahead. This one SHOULD be an easy game. East coast team travelling west, another unvictorious team, yadda yadda yadda, but I said this same shit last week, and that sure didn’t work out.

In other injury news, thank God Dontae Johnson is injured and not likely to play with a pulled groin, Dre Greenlaw was limited in practice. An improvement from not being there, but Moseley and K’Won didn’t participate, and Ahkello was limited with his hammy.

Deebo Samuel is dealing with some kind of sickness and didn’t practice, but that’s all I know about that. We’ll see tomorrow.

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