Just remember, today’s game means absolutely nothing. The 49ers told us so. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
The team that plays its home games in a swanky library fell apart in the second quarter, and it started when the 49ers thought they had finally converted on third down. Blaine Gabbert fired a pass to Anquan Boldin on 3rd-and-10 with just over eight minutes left in the first half, and Boldin looked to add some yards after the catch. There was a problem that he didn’t consider, as an extremely large individual named Carlos Dunlap was right there with him, and Dunlap ripped the ball away from Boldin in a way that made an all-time great receiver look small and a little over-the-hill.
From there, it was disaster until halftime mercifully arrived. The Bengals scored a quick touchdown. The 49ers had one of their standard three-and-outs (two-yard run, 10-yard loss on a Vontaze Burfict sack, six-yard pass to the running back on 3rd-and-18), and Bradley Pinion punted one nearly sideways. Five plays later, Jeremy Hill had his second one-yard rushing touchdown.
It got worse.
On the ensuing possession, Blaine Gabbert threw a five-yard pass to the left. He was targeting Quinton Patton, who was all by himself. The pass was a little high, but Patton probably didn’t need to jump. The ball went through Patton’s hands and appeared to bounce off the top of his helmet. At least that pass didn’t land near a Bengal.
Gabbert tossed another five-yard pass on the next play, this time to his right. This one hit Vance McDonald, who had tipped an earlier Gabbert pass into the hands of Adam Jones. Much like the first interception, this throw hit the big tight end in the numbers. McDonald tipped it high in the air, and Burfict dove right past him and caught the ball. McDonald was so dumbfounded, it took him a second to realize that he should probably touch Burfict. By the time he figured out what had happened, Burfict on his way to a 16-yard interception return to the 49ers’ 20.
A.J. McCarron, whom CBS laughably compared to Tom Brady seconds before Gabbert’s second McDonald-fueled INT, fired a 20-yard touchdown dart to Tyler Eifert’s replacement on the next play to give the 49ers yet another dose of reality.
With all that nonsense, the 49ers will probably consider it a win of sorts that they *only* lost 24-14. Another semi-respectable score! Another semi-respectable score due to some Gabbert stat-padding at the end of a bad 49ers loss! All is well in 49ers land!
Except the fans are pissed
The second anti-Jed York banner flew around before a game at Levi’s. This particular banner looked like it read “HOLD JFD ACCOUNTABLE,” but the fans who paid for it made their point. It was made predominantly on social media, however, because this game was attended by about 35,000 people, based on watching the broadcast and seeing fan shots on Twitter.
Watching this game was depressing, and I say that after coasting through it on DVR after attending a “hey, come check out our new baby and eat snacks” party to celebrate my wife’s friend’s six-week-old son. A couple years ago I probably would’ve made an effort to watch the game live from beginning to end, but times have definitely changed. The snacks were certainly more enjoyable than the game.
I felt somewhat bad for the sparse crowd, who couldn’t possibly be expected to cheer loudly. The weather was blah throughout the Bay Area today (although that’s probably better for the ant-like spectators forced to sit under a virtual magnifying glass on the east side during sunny afternoons), but the conditions don’t make a difference when everyone is watching competitive, inspired, creative, daring, dramatic football.
The 49ers’ on-field product is spectacularly boring. But that’s not the organization’s fault, see. They’re just really unlucky.
Al Greedo speaks
Whoops, I meant 49ers Chief Operating Officer Al Guido! Honest mistake, I can assure you. According to Jed’s memo, “Al has taken the lead on the day-to-day business operations of the team and Levi’s® Stadium.” Everyone in the outside world thinks Guido will take over as Team President while Paraag Marathe runs the Yorks’ minor league soccer team and leads museum tours or something.
Guido, who was just a stadium guy in the past (as far as I could tell, anyway), became a bit of a spokesperson today for a team that has very few. Well, besides Jim Tomsula, who was the subject of Guido’s little chat.
Here’s what transpired (via CSN Bay Area).
CBS sideline reporter Jay Feely, the former NFL kicker, said he spoke with Al Guido, the 49ers’ chief operating officer, before the game. Feely said he believes coach Jim Tomsula will return as head coach for a second season.
“I had a chance to talk to Al Guido, the COO for the 49ers beforehand,” Feely said on the broadcast. “They knew what they were getting into when they had all defections. (He) said they underestimated a little bit the impact that it had in the locker room, specifically the lack of leadership. . . But I think they’re confident with Jim Tomsula going forward.”
And there you have it. We all know how this is going down, correct? Actually, we’ve discussed this quite a bit around these parts, but here’s a refresher.
Jed will do a press conference after the season ends. He will come armed with several talking points, including these five.
- The 49ers “defections” (wow, what a word; take that, Chris Borland and Anthony Davis) had more to do with their 4-12/5-11/6-10 finish than anything else. Well, other than a disappointing performance by the man they signed to be their “franchise quarterback,” of course.
- Tomsula did a fantastic, borderline heroic job keeping this team together under trying circumstances. He deserves a chance to see his vision take shape with the locker room leaders who’ll surely step forward in 2016.
- We understand that the offense was unacceptable, and we will be making changes to ensure that the team has an offense that the FAITHFUL can be proud of. (This press conference may either follow, or contain the announcement, that Geep Chryst has been relieved of his duties.)
- We have absolute faith that Trent Baalke and the rest of the staff can take advantage of their abundant cap space and high draft picks and remake this team in a jiffy.
- Every team out there has “leaks.” That’s just the media climate we live in today. The 49ers don’t have any more than any other team. When you run a huge business, sometimes stuff gets out there. But there is not a concerted, systematic effort by this front office to leak information to hurt individuals.
That’s what we’re getting: another year of Tomsula and a load of bull from the same guys who brought us “Again, it was a mutual parting. This was on two different parties. This was on us and this was on Jim. So, it wasn’t that one side had a philosophical difference that couldn’t overcome it. This was two parties that decided that it was best to move in separate directions.”
If Guido went out of his way to tell CBS how great Tomsula is for the team, a loss to the Browns obviously didn’t sway ownership. So, neither will a loss to the Bengals. Or the Lions. Or the Rams.
— Colin Kaepernick was expected to be on the sideline today, but ultimately he wasn’t allowed to watch the game with his teammates due to “concerns over his physical safety,” as though his sling would serve as a magnet that attracts wayward linebackers who get shoved out of bounds. Tony Romo watches games from the sideline while wearing a sling all the time, and Romo’s collarbone might actually have magnetic properties. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton — a quarterback with a broken thumb who the Bengals hope will return in time for the playoffs — was on the opposite sideline.
— How ridiculously strong is Dunlap? The strip and recovery was nice, but the way he swung Boldin around looked almost like an orca seizing a seal at the surface of the ocean. And Boldin isn’t exactly a small man.
— Erik Pears was called for holding three times. Pears has the eighth-highest cap number on the team. Pears is awful. Pears was one of Trent Baalke’s best expensive free agents of the 2015 class, because he actually plays.
— The other half-decent signing (because he plays), Torrey Smith, doesn’t seem like a locker room leader. He seems like a guy who was given a boatload of guaranteed money, thinks he’s a socially conscious genius, and doesn’t give his all on every snap. While he’s probably a good guy, his body language and errors throughout the season don’t give the impression of a player you’d want at the core of an enormous rebuilding effort.
— Ian Williams played really well, as did the 49ers’ run defense as a whole. They only allowed 1.9 yards per carry and 4.0 yards per offensive play. Hey, the 49ers are pretty good defensively … at home.
— McDonald: “That’s definitely not me, underperforming, and you’ve got to have a better week.”
— Sorry to break it to you, Vance … but that’s definitely you.
— Gabbert sure made an interesting choice for his favorite go-to receiver. He probably learned his lesson today.
— For a guy who’s so interested in arm length and hand size, Baalke sure is terrible at drafting guys who can catch.
— One of the hosts at the party we attended talked to me about his time in a Levi’s Stadium luxury suite with some high rollers who invited him to tag along, and he described it as “like a hotel.” That’s exactly what the CBS play-by-play announcer said about Levi’s, although he meant it as a compliment. The party host told me he didn’t feel the need to attend another game in Santa Clara.
— Congratulations to the 49ers for breaking the 200-point barrier! The 14 they scored against Cincy gave them 202 for the season, just 39 behind the Rams.
— There is a reason why I’m only 99% sure Tomsula stays. While driving back from the East Bay after the party, I heard Ted Robinson harp on the 49ers’ decision to kick an extra point after Bruce Miller’s third quarter touchdown run. In hindsight (and at the time), it’s a pretty awful decision, not going for two when down 24-6.
— Perhaps Tomsula is under strict orders to tank, and that’s why he held up one finger … but that’s difficult to believe. Even if a suite-dweller told Tomsula to tank a couple weeks ago (highly doubtful), would he have the awareness to make that decision at the time? No, he’s just incredibly risk-averse, which looks increasingly absurd each week. This is a team that was technically eliminated from playoff contention a week earlier and for all intents and purposes was eliminated in Week 3.
— But that was just Robinson going off the cuff during a broadcast, which isn’t the same as toeing the company line during the week. In actuality, this was a perfect Jimmy-Tom game.
- They kept it close until some flukey plays bit them in the ass.
- The receivers dropped something like seven passes today, which is ridiculous.
- The Blaine Plane passed for 295 yards. Sure, only 65 yards in the first half, but think of how many yards he would’ve had if the receivers didn’t drop all those passes!
- The final score wasn’t an embarrassment nationally, especially considering the Bengals are currently second in the AFC.
- We’ve grown accustomed to these losses, where the 49ers fall behind by a lot early, then the other team stops scoring and the 49ers “rally” at the end to pull within less than 20.
- The defense was a bright spot of sorts, and that’s Jimmy-Tom’s specialty.
One more year! One more year! One more year!