I just returned from a weekend that included a wedding, an anniversary (our first) and absolutely no writing whatsoever — unless you count Twitter, which you probably shouldn’t. However, I did succeed in getting to watch the 49ers’ win over the Redskins. The first half from our hotel room in Healdsburg, then we drove south and watched the second half at what is now my favorite sports bar: Ausiello’s Fifth Street Grill in Santa Rosa.
A lot happened, so instead of getting my Grantland on and going long-form-essay with this post, here are a bunch of thoughts from the weekend that was, including today.
The 49ers are 7-1!?!?
– Jim Harbaugh needs to have a conference at midfield with the officials before every game and warn them about the weird shifts and stunts his team’s going to run, sort of like how NBA coaches and players do at the ends of quarters and through the media.
– My favorite part of the game (besides whenever the Redskins turned the ball over and/or failed to convert on fourth down) was when Braylon Edward caught that pass, saw DeAngelo Hall and purposely ran straight into him. Edwards and Michael Crabtree aren’t putting up amazing numbers, but they might make up the toughest WR combo the team’s had since Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Crabtree’s blocking in particular has been outstanding this year.
– Frank Gore deserves my apologies — he is much, much better than Kendall Hunter right now and has recovered from his broken hip in ways I never imagined. What a beast.
– Speaking of beasts, NaVorro Bowman has pretty much taken over that word as his middle name, but people need to stop with this “he’s playing better than Patrick Willis” silliness. Willis forced two fumbles yesterday and is going to the Hall of Fame. They make each other better, but nobody’s better than Willis in the entire league at that position — Ray Lewis included. Bowman’s making Willis’ job easier, sure, but it’s just as true the other way.
– Then again, the reason why Bowman might not force as many fumbles is he’s so easy breaking up passes before the receiver has a chance to make the catch. Except Willis has two more passes defended (8) than Bowman (6). Whatever, they’re both amazing. The kind of comparative nitpicking you do with those two is the best kind a football team could hope for.
– Nice to see Bruce Miller’s name called in this week’s edition of “which unheralded Niners player will catch the game’s most important pass?” Next week against the New York Giants, my money’s on Tom Rathman.
– What if Dashon Goldson didn’t come back?
– Maybe this is just the Kool-Aid talking, but I didn’t necessarily think it was so terrible that the 49ers gave up a late touchdown and 2-point conversion, even though it made the recovery of an onside kick a little too important. The Niners’ defense is spectacular this season, but the Redskins are not a good offensive team by any stretch — especially compared to the Giants. A little humility might not be a bad thing, especially this early in the season.
– Only one sack was kind of weird, though.
– How great was Ausiello’s? When we got there the place was packed, no surprise at the beginning of the third quarter of a Niners game. The bartender (the owner’s daughter) asked if we were having trouble finding a place to sit, and said to hold on while she figured something out. I was shocked, and she said, “That’s what we do here.” What?
Soon, the owner comes out in full 49ers gear and chastises us for showing up at halftime, although he understood when I told him how we watched the first half in a hotel room before we were forced to check out. Then he sets us up with two amazing seats at the bar, right in front of a TV showing Niners/Redskins. If I ever move to Santa Rosa, I’m going to live at that place.
Nice win for the Raiders … wait, what?
– When we got out of the car the Raiders had a 24-14 lead over the Broncos. The next time I checked my phone, the Broncos had a 38-24 win.
– What did we miss? Only about 200 of the Broncos’ 299 rushing yards and a ridiculous amount of penalties. In the game there were 26 penalties combined for both teams, totaling 223 yards. The Raiders “earned” 15 of those flags, penalties that added up to 130 yards. What is it about the color yellow that goes so well with silver and black? (Conspiracy theories, yay!)
– I put this up on Twitter, but for those who didn’t see, my wife said this about Tim Tebow after a pretty awful pass in the red zone early on, ”When he throws the ball it doesn’t look like he’s aiming for anyone.”
Adios, Jonathan Sanchez
– I found out about the Sanchez-for-Melky Cabrera trade after getting in the car around 11:10 am and hearing Henry Schulman talk about it how great the trade was. The first thing I heard was “Cabrera,” so I immediately thought Schulman was talking about the Giants re-signing Orlando Cabrera. That actually cushioned the blow when hearing about the actual trade.
– I am a huge of Sanchez and trading players when they’re at their most valuable, so this trade went 0-for-2 when it comes to my own personal preferences. The only good thing about this trade is that Cabrera (Melky, not O-Cab) is only 27-years-old.
– Cabrera also plays all three outfield positions and had over 200 hits last season. The worry with Cabrera isn’t durability, as he’s averaged 152 games over the previous three seasons. It’s that he isn’t really that great defensively in CF (where the Giants presumably would want him to play most of the time), and his HR (18) and SB (20) totals in 2011 mark more than what he accumulated in 2009 and 2010 combined (17 and 17). He’s not much for walking, either.
– One gets the feeling that Brian Sabean wanted to make this exact same trade in July, but the Royals didn’t want a pitcher who hadn’t pitched since June 24. Melky’s such a Sabean guy. Former Yankee, played for a winning organization in the National League in the Braves (he was horrible in Atlanta, but whatever).
– That might have been Sabean’s strategy, figuring opposing GMs might be more willing to gamble on Sanchez if he only were only dealing with “biceps tendonitis” than if they were able to watch him pitch against Major League hitters. Then, let Sanchez dazzle some minor leaguers before the deadline. Brilliant! He was okay in two Fresno starts afterward, but Sanchez might not have helped my made-up Sabean strategy when he got rocked in his one start for San Jose.
– How do I feel about this trade? Is “Melky” an acceptable answer? I think it should be. Yes, I feel kind of Melky about this trade. Sanchez pitched the only Giants no-hitter most of us can remember; he struck out 5 and walked 5 in 5 innings to help clinch the NL West is a game where he hit a triple off Mat Latos that made Latos oh-so-wonderfully upset; his eyebrows were almost a personality trait unto themselves, like Madison Bumgarner’s snotrockets; in that 11-strikeout game against Atlanta in the NLDS (his fifth double-digit K game that season), it looked like he had finally figured things out.
– Now he’s gone, and the Giants have proven that just because you say “Coco Crisp” 100 times doesn’t make it a certainty that the Giants will sign him to be their next centerfielder. Who else will the Giants sign, and what does this mean in regards to the Giants’ chances at re-signing their outfielders from last year? I have no idea tonight, maybe tomorrow I’ll come up with something.