The 49ers will probably call today’s 32-17 loss to the Lions a success, because for the first time all season they scored a touchdown in the first quarter. It came on their opening drive, and it looked so easy that one had to wonder if the host team had tanking on their minds.
In the end it was the visitors who dropped to 4-11, after yet another sleepy performance. This one was marked by six offsides and/or neutral zone infraction penalties … in the first half. It wasn’t just one player, either.
- Ahmad Brooks (OS – 7:58 first quarter)
- Gerald Hodges (NZI – 6:41 first quarter)
- Jimmie Ward (NZI – 15:00 second quarter)
- Arik Armstead (NZI – 0:26 second quarter)
- Tony Jerod-Eddie (NZI – 0:20 second quarter)
- Aaron Lynch (OS – 0:03 second quarter)
Eli Harold threw in another neutral zone infraction in the fourth quarter. It was a true team effort.
Second half disaster
Check out this legendary bit of analysis from Jim Tomsula.
Were Lions a step ahead in 2nd half? Tomsula” “I don’t know that they were a step ahead. I mean, obviously, they were a step ahead.” #49ers
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) December 27, 2015
The 49ers made it a game early, taking the lead to start the contest and going into halftime trailing 20-17. They were shut out in the second half while gaining just 72 yards. Meanwhile, their head coach paced the sideline the entire game, once again sweaty indoors with his mouth open, neither calling plays nor giving instructions to players. Then he trudged to the podium and uttered pure nonsense. This guy couldn’t talk his way out of jury duty if he were a single father of an infant while holding three jobs and suffering from leprosy. How did he hoodwink the Yorks, and how could his players possibly take him seriously?
Third and fourth down Tomsulery
A more accurate descriptor would probably be “Gabbermetrics” or “Geep Tricks,” but I’m partial to Tomsulery and starting to wonder how long I’ll be able to use that term. So, Tomsulery it is.
- 13:53 (3rd-and-1, SF 29): DaJuan Harris 22-yard run
- 9:47 (3rd-and-G, DET 5): Defensive pass interference in the end zone
(That’s it. It’s all bad from here.)
- 4:16 (3rd-and-3, SF 27): Gabbert pass to Boldin, no gain
- 9:08 (3rd-and-8, SF 12): Gabbert sacked, fumble recovered at SF 1 by DET
- 5:46 (3rd-and-8, DET 27): Gabbert incomplete short pass to McDonald
- 0:47 (3rd-and-10): Gabbert incomplete pass to Patton
- 7:01 (3rd-and-9, SF 48): Gabbert incomplete pass to Smith
- 2:16 (3rd-and-24): Gabbert 3-yard pass to Ellington
- 7:36 (3rd-and-3, SF 38): Gabbert pass to Hayne, no gain
- 6:59 (4th-and-3, SF 38): Gabbert 2-yard pass to Hayne
- 2:16 (3rd-and-10, SF 33): Gabbert 7-yard pass to McDonald
- 2:00 (4th-and-3, SF 40): Gabbert incomplete pass to McDonald
The final wreckage: 1-for-9 on third down, 0-for-2 on fourth down.
It was after the two passes to Jarryd Hayne when the cameras caught Anquan Boldin looking pretty upset on the sideline, and who could blame him? It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to consistently throw passes short of the sticks on third down. But to throw two passes like that in short-yardage? With stories this week percolating about Boldin wanting to return, the main question is “Why???”
The neutral zone infractions are embarrassing, but the worst part about this year’s on-field product has been clear all season.
It’s not the coaching, although there’s been nothing to indicate that the 49ers carried an advantage in that category heading into any game this season.
It’s not the offensive line, the quarterback, the running back depth, the receivers, the tight end, the outside linebackers, or even the punter.
It’s how everything has combined to create the most boring year of football the franchise has put forth in the last three decades. At least, that’s how it seems now — perhaps I’ve been able to nudge the dreadful mid-2000s out of my head. Those were some boring teams, too. But even the 2007 squad, which set franchise records for offensive futility and employed Trent Dilfer when he was past his “prime,” had Frank Gore and Patrick Willis.
Everything the 2015 49ers do on gameday has me thinking, “Who cares?” It makes me wonder what’s the point of even covering them. Until the entire franchise is gutted, and the head of this stinking fish is discarded, nothing will change.
No “Niners Notes” today. I’m sure an extensive breakdown of Trent Brown’s first start at right tackle can be found elsewhere. Other sites will find glimmers of hope in DuJuan Harris’ first few carries, and wonder whether they can head into next season with a Carlos Hyde/Harris/Shaun Draughn backfield and thrive in 2016. Hayne played, but unless he’s returning punts it’s tough to get all that excited. NaVorro Bowman missed a tackle or two in what has been an up-and-down season for him, but that didn’t alter this game significantly. No “is Gabbert the future” BS, either.
I’ll just finish with this … I got so much crap from 49ers fans before the season started. They thought I was too critical. They told me the team was incredibly talented, rich with youngsters who’d play better than the defectors. They told me the offense would surely improve without Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman around to ruin everything.
I predicted they would finish 6-10. They’ll be lucky to go 5-11 and they’re almost guaranteed to finish the year with the league’s worst offense and point differential. It turns out I was too kind.