Wednesday, December 31, 2014

To The Future!

Happy New Year, Mets Nation!

Here's to these three gentlemen above fulfilling all the promise that's got us excited about the upcoming season for the first time in several years.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Seasons In The Sun

Not surprisingly, the 49ers final game of the 2014 season ended up being the swan song for the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco. After an excruciating stretch of 4 straight losses, the 49ers were at least able to send Harbaugh off to (assumedly) Michigan with a win, closing out their season with a 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The game itself seemed kind of academic on both sides. It wasn't on in New York, so I was relegated to following on the computer, but basically the 49ers were just trying to get things right after 4 weeks where everything went completely wrong, while the Cardinals, already playoff bound, I assume were just trying to not get any more key players hurt. Colin Kaepernick finished an uneven season with a reasonably solid effort, throwing a 76-yard TD pass to Anquan Boldin and another short TD pass to Bruce Miller in the 3rd Quarter that gave the 49ers the winning points. Boldin capped off another 1,000 yard season, as did Frank Gore, who finished off strong with a pair of 100+ yard efforts. A patchwork defense intercepted Arizona's 3rd string Quarterback Ryan Lindley 3 times and made a slim lead stand up.

But the story was more about Harbaugh, whose departure from the 49ers after 4 seasons surprised nobody. The fans and the team seemed to rally around him after the game, and why not; he was obviously a major reason that the 49ers had this resurgence the past few seasons after so many years of failure. Under his watch, the 49ers returned to relevance, making it to three consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. There were great plays and great moments that happened these past few seasons that brought back all the memories of the 80s and 90s when this was the NFL's flagship team. Harbaugh took over a team that had a lot of undisciplined talent and molded them into winners. He took a chance on Colin Kaepernick and Kaepernick emerged as a rising star. Other players like NaVorro Bowman, Michael Crabtree and Aldon Smith grew into All-Pro caliber talent. The team went from a string of 7-9, 6-10 seasons to go 13-3 in Harbaugh's first season at the helm and for three seasons was as good as any team in the NFL. And for that, Harbaugh deserves all the credit in the world.

But for all the success the Harbaugh 49ers had, they couldn't finish off the job. Three seasons in a row, they came right to the precipice of glory only to be turned back at the last moment. And for all the victories, Harbaugh couldn't find that common ground with GM Trent Baalke and Owner Jed York. It's a shame, because clearly, Harbaugh is the kind of coach that doesn't come around very often. It's real easy to bring in a bad coach, the 49ers suffered through a few of those in their 8-year slumber. The fear is that without Harbaugh, and with the roster certain to change a bit due to salary cap concerns, the success could prove to be very fleeting and the team will rue not only their inability to find a way to work past their internal difficulties, but that they weren't able to seize the opportunities they had to win another Championship. It was a great few seasons, for sure. But you can't help but feel more than just a little unfulfilled. 

Whoever the 49ers do end up hiring to replace Harbaugh will have some pretty big shoes to fill. They'll also be taking over a roster that's going to have plenty of talent, but also a lot of questions. Not only are there some players that stand to make a good chunk of money next year that underperformed and may be cut, such as Ahmad Brooks, but there's some pretty big names that are heading into Free Agency, and who knows whether or not the 49ers may be able to resign them. Justin Smith may retire. Vernon Davis held out this year. Alex Boone held out. Players like Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Perrish Cox and Frank Gore may have all played their last games with the team. Gore, in particular, is perhaps the most poignant name on this list. The longest-tenured 49er, Gore finished up his 10th season strong, but there's a lot of miles on those legs of his. Certainly, younger guys like Kendall Hunter and Carlos Hyde are there to help spell him, but if he should return—and he's made it pretty clear that he wants to return—it would likely be in a reduced capacity. Then again, Gore has bucked the trend of the every down Running Back that wears down as the years pile on. The 49ers all-time leading rusher and a player who has gone about his business with class and efficiency, nobody on the roster seemed more aware of just how precious it was to find success as a team these past few seasons. Gore toiled away for years on those awful 49ers teams, piling up great games in mostly hopeless efforts. Nobody's embodied the spirit of the team more, so it's going to be truly sad if he moves on.

So, there's no January story for the 49ers this year. The season is done and now come the questions, many of which have been lingering throughout this frustrating season. The first order of business, obviously, is to bring in a new coach and who knows who that's going to be. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio has been bandied about as a likely candidate, and other names such as deposed Jets Coach Rex Ryan have also been mentioned. I really don't know what to expect, other than that I know that it's hard to find the Jim Harbaughs of the Coaching world and it's not likely that the next coach is going to be as dynamic. Then come the players. In spite of the names that may not or will not be back, other players like Anquan Boldin will be here, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman will be back and the roster will have plenty of talent. But will the offense be able to rebound after a wildly uneven year? Has the rest of the NFC advanced enough to catch and pass the 49ers as a contender? The NFL season is a blur and so too is success on a continued basis. Hopefully this year isn't a sign that the team is about to go back into the tank.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Flores Forgotten

The Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors that were flying around late last week seem to have died down, probably because the rumors were more media creation than serious discussion, and quite honestly, I think that's a good thing. In fact, there seem to be more rumors flying around that Tulo might be headed to another of the local ballclubs, but that makes even less sense than Tulo coming to the Mets, because that other club has its own pariah to deal with, but I digress. Tulo as a Met isn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon, and I'm OK with that.

I seem to be in a small minority of fans that are buying in to the idea that Wilmer Flores can be the every day Shortstop for the Mets. I know it's not a particularly popular decision that the Mets are going with here, but you can consider me behind starting Wilmer Flores at SS in 2015. It's less a matter of me buying into what Sandy Alderson and the Fabulous Wilponendas are spoon-feeding us and more a matter of the kid can play.

I made the comparison a few years ago between Ruben Tejada and Edgardo Alfonzo, thinking Tejada could develop into Alfonzo with less power. I couldn't have been more wrong about that because in the two seasons hence, Tejada has been an abject train wreck and basically played his way out of town, struggling to hit his weight, getting hurt, or both. All the while, a player much more in the Alfonzo mold in Flores was working his way up the Mets system. Flores debuted at 21, much like Alfonzo, although Alfonzo arrived in the Majors with the kind of polish that few players of that age have. Even so, it took Alfonzo a couple of years playing part-time before he established himself as an every day player, and even then, he was constantly shifting positions. Flores lacks Alfonzo's defensive prowess—and that's being somewhat kind because he was kind of scary in the field at times—but he's also a player without a regular position, he's played 2nd, Shortstop and 3rd Base since arriving in the Majors.

One thing Flores has demonstrated is that he can hit. He didn't display it in full force in 2013 or in some early season cups of coffee in 2014, but as the season wound down and he found himself playing on a regular basis, he did hit with some regularity. 5 of his 6 Home Runs and 22 of his 29 RBI came after August 1st. I know 6 Home Runs and 29 RBI in 250 or so ABs isn't eye-popping, but considering that he bounced around for 4 months, the idea here is that if he knows he's playing SS on a daily basis, and that's all he's got to worry about doing, the offense will become more consistent and could offset whatever defensive liability he brings (and given that Daniel Murphy appears to be sticking around, it means that the Mets aren't exactly toolsy when it comes to middle infield defense). He could conceivably improve. He's going to be 23 on Opening Day of 2015, and hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, ever had a "regular" position that he's played. Worth mentioning that when Edgardo Alfonzo was finally given a regular position and regular playing time, he responded with a breakout season in 1997.

It's time to get over the fact that the Mets can't fix every single hole in their lineup at once, and remember that many moons ago, this team found success with players like Rafael Santana and Rey OrdoƱez playing SS. Flores may not boast a glove to rival either of those players. Hell, he might not boast a glove to rival Elio Chacon, but he can hit, and in an offense that's really been lacking, he's a better option than anyone's giving him credit for. So, maybe this is some blind, foolish hope, and maybe I might sound like an idiot 6 months from now, but I'm all in on Wilmer Flores. I want to see what this kid can do. This is one of those people that we've been waiting for, so now let's let him play.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Even The Good Is Ugly

There's nothing left for the 49ers to play for at this point, we already know that. But in an opportunity for them to salvage some pride and knock the Chargers out of the playoffs, the 49ers charged out to a huge lead on Saturday night, ran all over San Diego to the tune of a team-record 355 yard rushing, got an unbelievable 90-yard Touchdown run out of Colin Kaepernick...and still managed to lose the game, blowing their lead thanks to a furious 2nd half charge by Philip Rivers and eventually folding in Overtime after a Quinton Patton fumble. The 38-35 loss marked their 4th loss in a row, their longest such streak in the now-almost-certain-to-be-over Jim Harbaugh era and each loss has underscored the issues with the team to the point where I'm not unconvinced that they haven't just decided as a team to give up and just lick their wounds and come back next year.

The game started out just fine for the 49ers. Frank Gore took off for a 52-yard Touchdown run on the game's 4th play. For Gore, just another forgotten man in this forgettable season, this could be a last hurrah of sorts; as an impending Free Agent and with a good deal of miles on his 32-year old legs, he certainly is approaching the end of the line. But he'd like to come back and it certainly doesn't seem right for a guy who's meant so much to this team to just walk away at the end of a bad season. But that's just another question the team has to address. One of Gore's potential replacements, Bruce Ellington, had a good half as well, running for one Touchdown and catching a second from Kaepernick in the first half, and Antoine Bethea picked off a Philip Rivers pass and returned it for another score, so the 49ers, who hadn't played well in weeks, certainly seemed off to a good start in this game, and went into the half with a 28-7 lead.

And then, of course, the whole thing went to shit.

The Chargers scored a Touchdown midway through the 3rd Quarter that seemed kind of academic. But the 49ers appeared quite happy to hand the Chargers even more on their ensuing possession. First, Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis, who might be even more forgotten than Gore this season, for a 63-yard Touchdown. Great! Davis has just been lost all season, not getting any kind of opportunity or momentum and for a guy who's been one of the real key guys in this offense, you can understand why he might be another player who's more than just a little frustrated and another guy who has a contract situation coming up (when I don't quite remember, but that's besides the point). So for him to catch a TD here seemed good, just to get him involved somehow, but of course there was a holding call on Joe Staley that wiped it out. And on the next play, Kaepernick was sacked, fumbled the ball backwards and was buried when the ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by the Chargers for a Touchdown.

The 49ers then managed to back themselves up by not returning the ensuing kickoff past the 10 yard line. This was rendered academic when Kaepernick, in yet another example of important parts of the 49ers offense that disappeared for no reason this year, took off on 2nd down under a little pressure, picked up a block and before you could blink was gone for the Touchdown, rushing all of 90 yards without really being touched. It was a career long score for Kaepernick, the 2nd longest run in 49ers History period, and Kaepernick's first Rushing TD of the season. In the next to last game of the season. Kaepernick's bread has mostly been buttered by his running ability and this was the kind of play that underscores how dangerous he can be...except that for whatever reason this kind of a play was absent from his arsenal all year. I've already talked about why but it's another question on that long list of questions.

You can forget the rest of the game. I'd like to. Whereas in prior weeks I was away and unavailable to see the carnage live and ultimately deleted recordings of a couple of games (Seattle and Seattle) mostly unwatched (though I did watch enough of the game in Seattle to see old friend John Olerud raise the 12th Man flag, which was probably the only enjoyable thing about that game), I was actually home for the 2nd half of this one, so I saw everything come apart from there. The Chargers were, at that point, down 35-21 and they scored twice in the 4th Quarter to tie the game. In Overtime, the 49ers started off with the ball and appeared to be well on the move because Quinton Patton, the young receiver who came on strong at the end of the year last year but got lost among the high-priced talent the 49ers brought in this year (and didn't accomplish all that much), gained 20 yards on an end-around on the 2nd play of OT, but then he was stripped by Eric Weddle and the Chargers scooped up the fumble, and ultimately drove down and kicked the winning Field Goal while Philip Rivers ran around screaming with the kind of ferocious intensity that would rival Matt Ryan. And that, friends, is how this game got away.

So, there's now just one game left in this season, a game against the Arizona Cardinals that's similarly meaningless for the 49ers, and kind of meaningless for Arizona, who is in the playoffs and jockeying for position. You'd like to think that the 49ers would show a little bit of juice for this game, but after so many weeks of bumbling, I don't think there's too much to look forward to. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wrong Direction

The scuttlebutt flying around today involves the Mets, which is strange for December, but given that the Jets and Gnats both stink, the Knicks are even worse and nobody can get it up enough for the Rangers (and the Islanders are a non-entity), why not the Mets? The discussion centers around a trade that hasn't been made but has been talked about plenty, involving the Colorados and their all-World Shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki.

It's no secret that Tulo is a great Shortstop. He has been for several seasons, and what's more, he's one of those players that can actually hit in Citi Field, since he came in one year and hit something like 6 Home Runs in 3 days, or at least it felt like that. The resume speaks for itself; he's been an All Star 4 times, and he's got two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. With the Mets in need of a Shortstop since nobody seems too keen on Wilmer Flores (and everyone's given up on Ruben Tejada), well, a trade for Tulowitzki on paper makes a lot of sense.

But it's not the right move, in spite of several arguments to the contrary that I've heard.

Tulowitzki is a great player. That's not up for debate. But it goes against pretty much every principle that Sandy Alderson has been building towards. This might not be the world's most popular argument, but it's the truth. Tulowitzki right now is set to make $20 million a year for the next several years, with a contract that runs through 2021 and owes him $114 million in total. The Mets right now as they're comprised have a low payroll and ownership that won't spend for better or worse, and since you can't force an owner out (or at least not until someone catches Ratso Wilpon screaming racial epithets on video), this is what we've got. This means little now since the Mets don't have a lot of high-priced players, but if we're to believe that the guys here are going to continue their budding success, they'll have to get paid at some point, and sooner rather than later.

And, sure, Tulo is probably worth the money he's making, but he's got to be playing in order to make that work, and in his 9-year career, Tulo has played over 150 games twice. Injuries have been a major issue for Tulo, and in case you were wondering why we haven't seen Tulo playing when the Colorados have come to Citi Field the past few seasons, well, it's because he's always hurt. Injuries limited him to 47 games in 2012, 126 games in 2013 and a major hip injury cut his season to 91 games last season. And how major was that hip injury? Remember the hip injury Carlos Delgado had in 2009? He needed hip labrum surgery and it was Goodnight, Sweetheart for his career. I bring this up because that's the same injury Tulowitzki had last season and he's yet to prove he can return to his normal high level of play.

Then, there's the question of ransom. The Colorados are choking under his contract and his string of injuries and would happily get rid of him, but it's clear that they're not just going to give him away. The word is that Noah Syndergaard would have to be the centerpiece of the deal from the Mets' end of things, but what else are the Colorados asking for? Nobody's brought up what it would cost the Mets. Word is a second pitcher would need to be involved; nobody's quite sure what level pitcher but you'd have to assume at least Rafael Montero, and then even MORE! This goes against pretty much everything the Mets have done over the past 5 seasons. Why spend all this time breaking things down and rebuilding the farm system only to gut everything just when it seems like it's about to pay off? The hot word is that the Mets fans that are up in arms about Tulo and why they don't spend money "would go batshit" if they knew what the Colorados were asking in return.

The bottom line here is that it's a nice pipedream to think of Tulo coming to the Mets, but that's all it is, and that's all it probably should be. There's no indication as to what he'll be after so many seasons lost to injury, and it smacks of a replay of Jason Bay more than anything else. My feeling was summed up rather concisely by a caller on WFAN early this afternoon. If the Mets wanted an expensive, injury prone Shortstop, they would have kept Jose Reyes. In fact, Jose Reyes seems a much more attractive option for the Mets if you really believe THEY GOTS TA HAVE a better Shortstop. I know there's no particular discussion involving him and who knows if Toronto even wants to deal him, but you'd have to imagine he'd cost the Mets less than Tulo would, and lord knows Reyes would probably run back to the Mets in a second, since he a) Hates the Astroturf in Toronto's cave of a stadium and b) Loved playing here. It doesn't sound quite as crazy now as it did a few years ago.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fold Up The Tents

Analyze the way the season broke out for the 49ers, and it probably isn't too surprising that this ended up being as much of a mess as it turned out to be. Never mind the constant controversy surrounding Jim Harbaugh and the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go-and-if-he-goes-where soap opera. That's the least of it. There's the in-fighting between the Owner John York, the GM Trent Baalke and Harbaugh. There was the preseason holdouts by Vernon Davis and Alex Boone. There was the Aldon Smith suspension. There was the ongoing rehab of NaVorro Bowman, who this week was placed on IR, ending his season without him ever setting foot on the field. There were a constant stream of injuries, to key players like Patrick Willis, Glenn Dorsey and Daniel Kilgore. There were the other injuries to players like Anthony Davis, Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock and Stevie Johnson, which kept each of them off the field at one time or another and left the 49ers shorthanded. There were the issues with Colin Kaepernick and his general regression from a dynamic running and passing weapon into a confused mess who held on to the ball too long while pockets crashed around him. There was the general abandonment of a running game that had long been the strength of the team for no particular reason. There were too many questions that were getting answered with "We'll address it in the offseason..."

Add it all together and I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that the 49ers 2014 season, which had tenuously remained on the fringes of the NFC playoff picture, officially met its end Sunday, fittingly at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks 17-7 victory earned them a season sweep of their rivals, their 3rd straight victory over the 49ers overall and their 4th straight victory over the 49ers in Seattle, a place that has become a house of horrors for the 49ers in recent years.

This game wasn't quite the washout the Thanksgiving Debacle was for the 49ers, but that's not to say it was much better. The 49ers, this time, managed to hang around for most of the game and actually led 7-3 at halftime, but two Seahawks Touchdowns in the second half, the first, not surprisingly, by Marshawn Lynch, and the second on the heels of an egregious roughing the passer penalty that probably shouldn't have been called but almost always is, put the game away. Colin Kaepernick, whose numbers, 11 of 19 for 141 yards and 6 sacks, seem reflective of the way he's played all season, couldn't lead the 49ers back, couldn't get them out of their own way, and the Seahawks basically outwilled the 49ers the rest of the way and kicked them out the door and into the offseason.

Not only did the Seahawks bash the 49ers on the scoreboard, they did so on the Field. We already know what happened to the 49ers the last time they visited Layne Staley Windows8 Adderall The Shermandome Clink Field, and this game brought about similar carnage. Frank Gore, who started the game strong, left with a concussion in the 1st half. Carlos Hyde also left with an injury. Chris Borland hurt his ankle on the last play of the 1st half and didn't return. Not that any of these players would have made much of a difference on a day like this, but perhaps they might have. Who knows. At this point, it's too late to get too worked up about this particular game, because it seems like the team has been heading down this path all season long.

Consider that the 49ers, after 3 games this season, had managed 3 points in the second half of games in total. They've been outscored in the 3rd Quarter of games by something ungodly like 183-48, and they're last in the NFL in 4th Quarter scoring by a significant margin. This is a team that has always struggled with a general inability to play complete games, for all 60 minutes. They peaked last season late in the year and hit a stride, but even then they had some bad moments. This year, it seems like they never peaked. They never got going. The wins were all more of a battle than they needed to be, and teams that have those kinds of struggles ultimately can't maintain. The 49ers didn't maintain, they ended up collapsing, and after having enough of their games televised here in New York, I can't say I was too surprised to see it unfold that way. I already said I DVRed the Thanksgiving Night game and ended up deleting it unwatched. After being out most of the afternoon on Sunday with the DVR running, and coming home to see the waning minutes of the game come crashing down, I have a feeling this game may see a similar fate. Why subject myself to this when I already know how it turns out, and it doesn't turn out well?

Whether I watch the game or not doesn't matter. What matters is that for the first time since Jim Harbaugh took over as coach of the team entering the 2011 season, the 49ers will not appear in an NFC Championship Game. They won't be appearing in January at all. With their record now at 7-7 and nothing meaningful left to play for, the final two games of this season are now more about seeing if what's done can somehow be undone, if there's some pieces here that can distinguish themselves, and, of course. if there's any pride left for this team to play for. The way they've looked the last few weeks, limp and sluggish, it makes you wonder what they can muster up.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grim Reapings


The 49ers, who've had enough of a puzzling season through 11 games, saved perhaps their worst effort of the season for last week, in a game so putrid against the Seahawks in front of a national audience that I ultimately erased the game from my DVR without ever watching it. But if their lifeless 19-3 loss to the Seahawks was bad enough, they appeared to be in a similar slumber yesterday when they voyaged across the bay to Oakland to face a Raiders team that, at 1-11 and coming off a 52-0 loss, was basically a punchline, and managed to not only lose, but lose convincingly, 24-13, dropping their record to 7-6 and basically putting their playoff chances on life support.

The offensive struggles that have plagued the 49ers for the past several weeks have pretty much come to a head these past couple of weeks, but it's one thing when your offense struggles against the Seahawks. The Raiders boast a defense that strikes fear into nobody, and yet they harassed Colin Kaepernick all day, holding him to 148 yards passing, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times. Kaepernick was intercepted by Brandian Ross (I know, who?) on the first play of the game and that pretty much set the tone for the game right there. Though Kap connected with Bruce Miller for a Touchdown late in the 1st Quarter, they didn't accomplish much else and the game was tied 10-10 at halftime. Then, the 49ers, as has been their annoying habit all year, went in the tank in the second half as their offense stagnated completely and couldn't respond once the Raiders went ahead.

The 49ers were in need of a better performance after last week's stinker, and certainly, though their playoff position in a crowded NFC was disadvantageous after their loss last week, but things now are looking pretty grim for them. Having lost two games in a row, the 49ers now have the pleasure of attempting to break this losing streak and save their season on the road in Seattle next Sunday. That's not what I would call a pleasant proposition. Seattle is streaking and Arizona, even without a viable NFL Quarterback is still cobbling together wins. Green Bay, the NFL's darlings, are primed to doublecheck their way into January, but unfortunately it seems unlikely that the 49ers will be there to kick them in the nuts once again.

Then again, given how Kaepernick has regressed this season, it seems unlikely that even the sight of the Packers would be enough to right his ship. It's baffling to me how badly he's played, even in some 49ers victories, and it can't simply be that the league is catching up to him. For one, the play calling isn't as wide-open as it has been over the past few seasons. An argument I'd heard—I forget where so I'm sorry I'm not properly attributing it—on Kaepernick's poor play ties less into the uncertainties surrounding Jim Harbaugh and the status of several other players on the team, and more around the big contract Kaepernick signed in the offseason. The 6-year deal that guarantees him a rather princely sum of money may have forced the 49ers to dial back their playbook in an effort to make Kaepernick more of a pocket passer, rather than a runner who can use his legs as a weapon of equal danger to his arm. This is in some sort of convoluted effort to protect him, taking the case of Robert Griffin III as a cautionary tale. The problem is, that's taking him out of his comfort zone and forcing him to go against his general instinct on the field. Kaepernick is used to making his progressions on the move, looking around and running in order to make things happen. If he's sitting around and not moving the way he's used to, he's going to end up a sitting duck, get sacked a bunch of times, and when you get your ass hit like that often enough, you start to look pretty ordinary.

Lately, Kaepernick has looked ordinary. That's not the way the 49ers have looked the past few seasons and not the way they were supposed to look this year. I can understand why the 49ers want to protect their investment, but stack Kaepernick and Griffin against each other for a second. Griffin had a history of knee issues before he even reached the NFL, and that's before you get into his height and his build, because he's a Quarterback in a scatback's body. Kaepernick, on the other hand, hasn't had injury problems, and that's probably because he's built like a truck, and where Griffin's promising start came off the rails because of a knee injury, the stupidity of his coach was also a contributing factor because he was allowed to play hurt. Kaepernick has had neither of those problems around him.

Point is, Kaepernick was within a whisker of winning a Super Bowl and within a second whisker of a second Super Bowl and now he's starting to unravel into Tim Rattay or any one of the 22 horrible Quarterbacks that managed to start games for the 49ers between 2003 and 2010. And there's no good reason as to why he's regressed or why the offensive game plan has now been designed to shackle him and take him out of his strengths. As Quarterback, he's subject to a majority of the blame, and certainly he's not blameless, but you have to wonder if this could all have been avoided if the team had just stuck to their guns. At the very least, they wouldn't have gone out yesterday and puked up an awful effort against the horrible Raiders and their Darth Vader hats.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Can't Bear To Watch

I'd mentioned that due to Thanksgiving family functions and the fact that I am outvoted on the TV front, I was relegated to DVRing the game that night. But in this age of technology, I was being fed updates on my phone throughout the evening, and as the game progressed and the results proved to be of the turkey-regurgitating variety, I felt little desire to watch the recording of the game when I got home. It's Monday, and the 49ers and Seahawks played on Thursday night. I still haven't watched the game, and I can't say I have any desire to. The 49ers probably put their worst effort out on the field in the most important game to this point this season, pretty much no-showing a Nationally Televised game against their most hated of rivals and losing to the Seahawks 19-3.

After last week's middling effort against Washington on the heels of another pair of unimpressive games against the Gnats and New Orleans, I talked in great depth last week about the general blah-ness of the offense, and in particular the play of Colin Kaepernick. I surmised that Kaepernick, who has a habit of playing his best in big-stakes games, might rebound against Seattle. But that didn't happen. In fact, for as bad as Kaepernick looked in the previous two games, he was downright embarrassing against Seattle, and I didn't need to see the game in order to know that to be true. Kaepernick completed 16 of 29 passes, which is actually a good game for him as far as completion percentage is concerned, but those 16 completions got the 49ers all of 121 yards, and when you figure in the 4 sacks he took, the 49ers offense gained all of 100 yards through the air. The rushing game did no better and the end result was the 49ers finished the night with 164 yards of offense, and that's not even getting into the two interceptions from 49ers nemesis Richard Sherman. Add it all together and this was a wholly miserable performance that team owner Jed York deemed unacceptable.

York has taken some flack for his tweet, but he's got a point. This wasn't an acceptable performance and the fan base has begun to abandon Kaepernick, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh in droves. A season that has been marred with injury, inconsistency and internal turmoil may now be coming to a head. This isn't good and kind of underscores the "season from hell" talk that's been flying around the team all year long. Somehow, the 49ers have managed to keep themselves in contention, and at 7-5 they are still very much in the hunt, but in a deep and competitive NFC playoff race, they find themselves currently on the outside looking in.

But the success of the team has been a one-sided effort, as the defense, a unit that's been really decimated by injuries and suspensions, has carried the team. The defense has, at one time or another, been missing Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Eric Reid, Glenn Dorsey and others has played sterling football all year long. The offense has been the problem, and when you look at the level of talent that the 49ers have, the blame naturally lies with the Quarterback and the Offensive Coordinator. Think about the local teams and the daily floggings their QB and OC have taken this season. No team is immune, and when you consider the high bar that's expected from the 49ers Quarterback, you realize how impossible a situation Kaepernick is in. But his early success has contributed to that bar being raised so high. We know he can play better, but he's not. Not even with 4 All-Pro caliber recievers (and that's not even including Vernon Davis) at his disposal. Is it his play? Is it the play calling? Is the situation involving the supposedly imminent departure of Jim Harbaugh wearing on this team more than they let on?

I guess it remains to be seen. All I know is that there's 4 games left in the season and, basically, the 49ers need to win all of them if they want to realistically give themselves a shot at making the playoffs for the 4th consecutive season. That would mean that the 49ers would need to go into Seattle in two weeks and win, so the odds are right now very much against that happening. But, stranger things have happened in the NFL. The bottom line here is that this team needs to get its act together, because they're not playing at the level they should be playing at, and they haven't done so at all this season. They manage to win games simply because they're an incredibly deep and talented team and can overcome opponents because of that at many times, but this isn't going to work when the Big Boys come to town and Big Boy Seattle exposed this to the point of embarrassment. And now you know why I don't want to watch Thursday night's game.