Friday, December 22, 2006


No, not the 49ers. This blog was only meant as a temporary home, and so after a brief stay at blogspot, this blog has joined Sports Blog Nation and now resides at I feel this will be a much better option for interaction. SB Nation has an option where visitors to the site can post diaries, which means you guys can get your insight published a little more prominently than just in an open thread. If you have something particularly insightful, I have the option of pulling it up to the main screen for all to see more prominently.

So thanks for your visits and I appreciate all the comments. We've already for a few people registered at Niners Nation so feel free to join in (it's free).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why Not Us???

The 49ers may be two games out with two game to go, but it's not like the Seahawks are grabbing the bull by the horns when it comes to locking up this division. Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly points out that the 49ers have momentum on their side, and considering how bad the NFC has become, why not the 49ers as Western division champs?

Pro Bowl Rosters - Larry Allen left out or not??

The NFL released their Pro Bowl Rosters for the annual exhibition in Hawaii. Obviously Frank Gore made it, but I'm a little confused about another 49er. says that Larry Allen made the team, but the and roster lists don't mention him. Before visiting the 49ers website I was going to say I was disappointed Allen didn't make considering the job he's done on the offensive line since coming back from injury. But I guess that doesn't matter anymore.

Additionally, Walt Harris is a first alternate and Bryant Young is a second alternate. If any corrections are made I'll post it.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Rookie report

I'm planning on putting together my own report on the 49ers draft class of 2006, but in the meantime Kevin Lynch has a nice piece about them at the Chronicle. While there have been struggles, this could turn into a decent class for the 49ers with 3 starters (Davis, Lawson and Oliver) and a handful creating needed depth (Robinson, Hudson, Walker and Williams).

It is just as interesting to look at where the 2005 draft class is now. You're getting significant contributions from Smith, Gore, Baas, Snyder and Fields, while Estes and Bajema have stayed on as backups. I definitely plan on doing a more in-depth analysis, particularly where it could lead in the 2007 draft.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Updated playoff picture

With Week 15 complete for the NFC, let's take a look at the current playoff picture, overall and where the 49ers fit in. First some of the major happenings that affected the post season picture:

Chicago Bears
- In spite of blowing a 14 point lead, they held on to edge the Bucs, thus clinching the best record in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints - In spite of a shocking loss to the Redskins, they clinched the South with the Panthers annihilation at the hands of the Steelers.
Dallas Cowboys - Clinched a playoff spot with their win combined with Carolina and the Giants losing.
Philadelphia Eagles - Moved into prime position for a wild card berth by beating the Giants. If they win their last 2 they'll win the East.

YOUR San Francisco 49ers
On the outside looking in, the 49ers face an interesting next two weeks. They could win the division if they win their next two and Seattle loses their next two. However, the wild card is a much more interesting picture.

The Giants and Falcons are both 7-7. The Giants face a tough two weeks against New Orleans and at Washington, while the Falcons face Carolina at home and Philadelphia on the road. It is entirely possible both teams lose at least one of their remaining two games. The problem for the 49ers is that if the Giants finish 8-8, they'll hold the conference record tie-breaker over San Francisco.

If Atlanta finishes 8-8, they'd be 6-6 in conference, same as the 49ers. The next tiebreaker is record versus common opponents, minimum of four. By the end of the season they'll have faced 4 similar opponents (Arizona, Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia). If both are 8-8, the 49ers will be 2-3, while the Falcons will be either 2-3 or 1-4. If they're still tied there, strength of victory, followed by strength of schedule are the next two tiebreakers.

Finally, San Francisco is tied with the Carolina, Green Bay, Minnesota and St. Louis. The 49ers hold tiebreakers over Minnesota (head-to-head) and St. Louis (divisional record). If Carolina wins their remaining two they'll hold the tiebreaker for record against common opponent, while Green Bay holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with San Francisco.

So what does all this mean? Well first, who'd have thought that going into week 16 we'd be discussing potential playoff scenarios for the 49ers? I said at the beginning of the year I'd be happy with 6-10. If they play well these last two games but lose both I still can consider this year a very big step forward. That doesn't mean I'll be happy with the finish but I can accept it.

More importantly, the team has two very tough opponents left, at home against Arizona and at Mile High against Denver. Arizona has been playing well as of late and the Broncos look to be fighting for their playoff lives in week 17. Of course if they don't show up this Sunday this will all be for naught. So we'll just have to take it one week at a time. Either way it'll be fun.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A healthy dose of crow baby!

I am MORE than happy to admit that I was wrong in my prediction. But this was certainly a tale of 2 games. Prior to the deep ball to Battle at the end of the 3rd quarter, Alex Smith couldn't get anything going. From that point forward, the 49er offense was absolutely on fire. Frank Gore blew up in the 4th quarter, Alex Smith went to his primary weapons and the 49ers shocked the Seahawks. I thought I was being a realist in not expecting a great showing. I'm glad to say this team proved me wrong big time. They lose Eric Heitman to a broken leg, but gutted out a very tough win. This may be the ugliest 24-14 win you'll ever see, but the W is what counts.

The Good
  • The offense blew up in the 4th quarter as the running and passing games clicked.
  • While aided by the elements, the defense stepped up in spite of a rash of injuries
The Bad
  • If you throw out the score, there was plenty to complain about. HOWEVER, this game was too much fun to do any complaining. Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy what's given to you
The Future
The team gets rewarded with a few extra days to prep for Arizona at home next week. In week 1 the 49ers hung tough but couldn't spoil the Cardinals home opener in their new stadium. Since then the Cardinals have been a disappointment while the 49ers have shocked many. A win here and the 49ers guarantee themselves a 7-9 season. Combine it with a Seattle loss to San Diego and the 49ers will have something to play for in week 17 for the first time in several years.

One additional note on this game: While the St. Louis win was nice and every other win counts equally, this was my favorite game/win of the year. The 49ers snuck up on the Rams, the Vikings, Lions and Raiders are not so good and the win over Seattle at home could be in part due to the Seahawks injuries at the time. This time, there are no excuses. There was bad weather but that affected both teams. Seattle had San Francisco on the ropes on offense but couldn't put them away. Now let's see what this team can do the last 2 weeks of the year.

40+ mph winds expected tonight - in a related noted, Frank Gore and Shaun Alexander expect to combine for 117 carries!

Lock down the ramparts and hide in your basement, because it could be a wild game tonight. A big storm is coming to Seattle leading to 40+ mph winds with gusts up to 65 mph and a high wind warning in effect. Some of you may remember the game in Chicago last year that saw winds gusting at 47 mph. For those that don't remember, Cody Pickett was 1-for-13 for 28 yards and passes and field goal attempts were flying every which way. It should make for an interesting game tonight.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Week 15 preview - 49ers @ Seahawks

I think I've made it pretty clear that I don't have a good feeling about this game. The offense might get some things done, but the Seahawks are well overdue for an offensive explosion. Combine that with a 49ers defense that is absolutely decimated on defense and it does not bode well for a road game in Seattle.

Best Case Scenario (Maybe even a little unrealistic)
49ers 31 - Seahawks 17: The Seahawks struggle in getting the offense going yet again, Alex Smith and Vernon Davis continue to connect and develop a chemistry while Frank Gore blows through the Seattle defense. With the receiving corp struggling, the Smith-Davis duo could prove huge the rest of the way. A lack of Darrell Jackson's big play ability makes the Seahawks one dimensional. The patchwork 49ers defense somehow performs a miracle and contains Seattle.

Worst Case Scenario
Seahawks 48 - 49ers 6: The Seahawks offense clicks on all cylinders. Hasselbeck spreads the wealth without Darrell Jackson and Shaun Alexander rolls over the depleted 49ers defense. The defense is down to 3rd and 4th string corners and while they put forth the effort, the results are not so good. Due to falling behind big early, the Seahawks defense stacks the box against Gore and tees off on Alex Smith. The offense just can't get going.

Seahawks 42 - 49ers 17: I think the 49ers can get some offense going but they can't hang with the high-flying Seahawks. The team has struggled the last few weeks but been competitive (excluding the 2nd half of the Saints game) and I think the struggles will really catch up this week.

2nd Injury update

A few big things I either overlooked yesterday, or are new today per the Chronicle's new report.
  • Donald Strickland is out for the year due to a sprained MCL, but definitely wants to come back next year.
  • Sammy Davis was placed on the IR yesterday due to a thigh injury.
  • Ulbrich is questionable, although he has practiced. Jay Foreman will see some action and would probably start if Ulbrich can't go tomorrow.
If Spencer can't play tomorrow, the secondary will end up being a hodge-podge of assorted parts. BJ Tucker and Marcus Hudson will get playing time if Spencer can't go, which only further increases my worries about this game. A respectable showing by the defense would do wonders for the mental state of this team. A worst case scenario would see the team's secondary get shredded while Alexander runs all over. A best case scenario would see the youngsters racing all over the field making plays and playing with a fire some of the veterans might be losing as the season winds down.

More in the preview tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Injury Report

It's been rough-going the last couple of weeks with the injuries piling up as the team has been struggling.
  • Adam Snyder is out for Thursday's game due to his knee issues
  • Eric Johnson and Derek Smith will get in individual workouts and hopefully show enough progress to play this week. Even if Johnson is healthy, I'd expect to see a lot of Vernon Davis after his solid performance this past week. Hopefully a sign of things to come.
  • Shawntae Spencer is supposed to practice today and is listed as questionable. Getting Spencer back would be huge for the secondary, particuarly considering the aerial attack the Seahawks bring to the table.
  • Donald Strickland is listed as questionable with a knee sprain. He's been solid as he's been getting a lot of PT due to injuries. If they can have Strickland and Spencer on the field the secondary will have a fighting chance

ESPN.Com Coaches Grades

Well this is certainly timed well. ESPN has their coach ratings, voted on by the general public. On the season, Mike Nolan's approval average rests at 86%, while the current week has him at 65%. His lowest rating of the year was 50% following the loss to the Bears. Although I am critical of aspects of his coaching, I certainly approve of him as a head coach. Like Alex Smith he's learning on the job and will only get better. He's not perfect but at least he's not Dennis Erickson!