The 49ers are already tanking

And who can blame them? They lost their only true star in NaVorro Bowman a week ago, and let’s run down what we saw tonight.

  • The stadium was half full, and many fans who chose to attend this diarrhea fire probably bought tickets for less than half of face value.
  • The uniforms look like crap. If you can’t change helmets, don’t be stubborn. Wear uniforms that match the helmets.
  • The 49ers allowed David Johnson to rush for 157 yards and two scores.
  • The much-improved offensive line that we’ve heard so much about (and still doesn’t include a guy they moved up into the first round to get), allowed seven sacks and a safety.
  • Blaine Gabbert, despite what Phil Simms might tell you, isn’t good.


Yeah, I picked Thad Lewis On 1 leg. I figured he would need some help, but he actually had a pretty substantial lead over Gabbert. That’s how bad he is, and that’s how bad things are.


Tankalicious def

Tankalicious def

Tankalicious def def def def def def def def def def 

Tankalicious definition make the fans go crazy

Whatever happened to Fergie, anyway?


OK, better question: Whatever happened to this team? Oh, they hired a head coach who had no other options, who couldn’t lure a real defensive coordinator so they had to settle on a Cleveland Browns castoff. Then they didn’t trade Colin Kaepernick after he ASKED to be dealt. Then they waited until the sixth round to draft a quarterback or wide receiver, and the quarterback was cut before the season. Then they set up a situation where Kaepernick isn’t healthy enough to be the No. 1, but he’s healthy enough to be the No. 2.

We’ll get to Kaepernick in a bit. But the tankalicious part of this game seemed obvious.

Either Garrett Celek caught a case of the Vance McDonalds, or he earned a couple extra scoops of protein powder in his Chip Kelly Brand smoothies this week after letting two passes clank off his hands. Chris Davis probably didn’t mean to fumble that kickoff, so he gets a pass. But Rashard Robinson, who everyone drooled over after he earned a nice grade from Pro Football Focus last week, helped bury the 49ers when he ran into Chandler Catanzaro after he made a short field goal.


OK, it’s probably time to delve into this Kaepernick thing. I don’t think the 49ers’ fear is that Kaepernick is so good, he’ll ruin their chances at getting a top-2 pick (it’ll be tough to beat the 49ers’ AFC Spirit Animal, Cleveland, for the No. 1 overall selection). I do believe he isn’t ready physically, and it’s not like he played well last year. But how does Gabbert stay in the game after that interception to Marcus Cooper?

It’s one of two things:

  1. The 49ers don’t want Kaepernick to play because he’s a political lightning rod.
  2. They still consider Kaepernick an asset worth protecting.

I think it’s the latter, and here’s why.

Kaepernick might be hindered by his new body type and a lack of reps in practice, to the point where a season-ending (or even career-ending) injury is a possibility if he’s out there. Especially because this line isn’t as good as advertised and the skill position guys are atrocious. The 49ers might not want other teams to see him in a weakened state either, because they’d like to get something decent in a midseason trade.

Why not just cut him?

They didn’t want the Rams to get him during the offseason for free, and they probably wouldn’t want the Cardinals or … the Seahawks to get him. (C’mon, doesn’t signing Kap during the season seem like the perfect Pete Carroll troll?)

There could be internal disagreements about this, too. It seems clear that Trent Baalke isn’t a fan, but Jed York took Kaepernick’s protest as an opportunity to donate a million dollars to causes that would seem to align fairly closely with what Kaepernick wants to promote. York may enjoy the extra attention his team is receiving, since other than the anthem stuff there is absolutely nothing worth talking about this season. The 49ers won’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated for what they’re doing on the field, but Kaepernick was on Time Magazine because he took a knee.

Yeah, keeping the No. 1 jersey-selling player in the league might not be such a bad thing.

But the poll Davis ran makes a good point. Lewis on one leg seems like an enticing option after watching Gabbert overthrow wide open receivers and fling passes short of the sticks on third down. But Gabbert is a good soldier, and he’s performing even better than last year in this respect … the 49ers’ best-case at this point is keeping games competitive and rising up the draft ranks with each loss, and Gabbert won a couple more games than he had any business winning a year ago. With help from Celek, Robinson and one of the worst run defenses this franchise has ever put forth, Gabbert’s overall performance — bad when it counts and surprisingly competent when all meaning has vanished — is perfect for this team.

Kaepernick is too much of a wild card. Too expensive if he gets hurt, and maybe the 49ers get a little *too* much attention if he plays (and if he plays poorly, there goes the minimal trade value he currently enjoys). Conversely, if he plays decently, he might just lead this team to 6-10. That just won’t do. Tank Carradine may have left tonight’s 33-21 loss (the team’s fourth straight, if you’re keeping track) due to injury, but the essence of his first name will remain throughout yet another lost season.

Niners Notes

— I had several people calling me names (“hack,” mostly) for calling out the 49ers before the season, and they’ve gone quiet over the last few weeks. Just like last season.

— Maybe this was the tipping point and Kaepernick will start next week in Buffalo. No logical reason to stick with Gabbert after this clunker, but if they do, we’ll know that there are some shenanigans going on in Santa Clara. As per usual.

— Celek: six targets, one reception, four yards.

— Torrey Smith: one target, no receptions.

— The key to beating Kelly’s offense is pretty obvious — eight in the box and have your best cornerback follow Jeremy Kerley as long as Gabbert is playing.

— Did Aaron Lynch return from his suspension? Couldn’t tell.

— When you can’t pass, can’t rush the passer, can’t stop the run, and your best rusher is the same mediocre quarterback who can’t pass … maybe tanking isn’t the worst option.

— Maybe the 49ers front office should spend more time figuring out this catastrophic football operation than getting into the ears of announcers, I don’t know. My second-favorite obvious Gabbert-shilling moment came when Simms (pronounced: SEEMS) openly pleaded with Gabbert to not throw a late interception (Gabbert already had two) to avoid throwing “gas on the fire,” as if it mattered one bit.

— My favorite moment came at the end:

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