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The 49ers are Exactly Good Enough to Lose

Mark Kreidler
October 09, 2017 - 1:55 pm
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Monday, Monday…..

The 49ers have lost their most recent four games by a total of just 11 points, and here’s the not-that-funny part: This all puts them no closer to actually winning a contest than they were before.

In one of those developments you just cannot do anything about, the Niners are exactly good enough to lose close games.  They’re no better than that.  Their record accurately reflects the roster. 

It’s not that Kyle Shanahan’s team is actively bad, because that’s not who these 49ers are.  After another wrenching takedown, this one a 26-23 overtime loss in Indianapolis, the obvious conclusion is the right one: They’re not good enough, and certainly not deep enough, to put away a game in any predictable fashion.

Earlier in this 0-5 start, the problem was Brian Hoyer, the quarterback.  At various times it has been the sub-par receiving corps.  Occasionally the offensive line has simply been inferior. And on Sunday the featured running back, Carlos Hyde, carried eight times for just 11 yards, his future with the club looking more tenuous each week.

Aside from that 41-point blip against a Rams team that is already proving out, the San Francisco defense hasn’t been the issue, racked with injury though it has been.  And you can’t go down this road without stating what everyone ought to know: Shanahan and John Lynch are still in the earliest stages of building whatever this roster will eventually rise to be, and losing games right now may serve that larger effort.

That’s what they’ve got.  They’re got a team capable of – well, of losing close games. And the next three weeks – at the Redskins, home to the Cowboys, at the Eagles – may well prove the point a few more times. Buckle up.

  • One of the under-the-radar stats regarding the Raiders’ surprising 2-3 start: Their defense isn’t getting its hands on the ball much.  The unit has only two takeaways through the five games.  Last season, Oakland’s defense yielded chunks of yardage, but the team finished the year a plus-16 in turnover ratio.  Per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area, they’re dead even so far in 2017.
  • By the way, three NFL games are off the bookie board early this week: Vikings-Packers, Raiders-Chargers and Titans-Colts.  In every case, you may surmise there’s no line because the oddsmakers don’t yet know who will (or won’t) be playing quarterback.
  • Love A.J. Hinch as the Astros’ manager, but if you’re going to use Justin Verlander out of the bullpen for his FIRST relief appearance EVER as a pro, doing it in the fifth inning of a road game – when you’re up 2-1 in the series and may want him for Game 5 at home – is silly. Hinch did so on Monday, his team at the time leading the Red Sox 2-1 in the rain. Verlander promptly gave up a two-run homer to the first batter he faced, and proceeded to waste pitches left and right. So it goes.
  • I keep reading about the Indians’ heartbreaking loss to the Yankees in Game 3, or, as Sports Illustrated put it, “another painful chapter for the franchise.” Wait, the best team in the American League lost a 1-0 pitcher’s duel on the road to an opponent desperately trying to stave off elimination, and that’s pain? Dropping a close-out game in which one never leads is heartbreaking? Please allow me to introduce you to – well to Cleveland’s own past, which includes actual heartbreak. If the Indians don’t move on to the ALCS, then let’s talk about pain. (Spoiler alert: They’ll advance.)
  • Great piece on the Kings’ Vince Carter (that still sounds strange, doesn’t it?) by the Undefeated’s Marc Spears, and it includes a version of a line Carter has been repeating quite a bit lately: “I’m not at the point where I can sit there and be OK with it….I want to play.”  It’s very clear that Carter’s conversations with Dave Joerger have been about playing, not sitting – and certainly not mentoring at the expense of actual game minutes. This will be worth watching as the season unfolds and the cry for Joerger’s young players to get their minutes is raised.
  • There’s nothing about the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones that is real, aside from his ethics-light “I want winners” roster-building and his shameless profiteering. In other words, he’s an owner. So feel free to laugh from the highest height at Jones’ clear hypocrisy as a guy who’ll sign anyone (including a documented abuser of women) who can play, then deploy the American flag as a war cry on his employees. Standing for the flag is nearly the ONLY thing Jones demands of his players beyond their football talent.

Among those who evacuated from the horrific fires in Sonoma County: Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and a number of athlete-stars, all of whom were in the area for the UCSF Medical Center Celebrity Golf Classic. Lott and other lodgers – Byron Scott, Dan Jansen, Bret Saberhagen among them – got out of the Fountaingrove Hotel in Santa Rosa before flames engulfed the hotel. The event, needless to say, was cancelled.

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