Alex Smith struggles, Gore comes to the rescue

The offense was offensive for most of Thursday night in San Francisco, but when the 49ers needed to move the ball in the second half, they turned to Frank Gore. And it worked.

Gore showed off his usual mix of speed and power, finishing the game with 16 carries for 131 yards, and the 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-6.

The 49ers needed Gore to turn in a big game because quarterback Alex Smith struggled for the second consecutive week. Although Smith reduced his interceptions from three in last week’s loss to the Giants to one on Thursday night against the Seahawks, that one was a bad one in the end zone, and Smith wasn’t particularly effective doing anything other than dumping short passes off to Gore: When throwing to Gore, Smith completed five of six passes for 51 yards, but when throwing to anyone other than Gore, Smith was just 9-for-17 for 89 yards.

But the 49ers’ offensive effort was enough because the Seahawks couldn’t move the ball, either. Like the 49ers, the Seahawks’ offense was limited mostly to giving the ball to the running back: Marshawn Lynch had 19 carries for 103 yards, but quarterback Russell Wilson completed just nine of 23 passes for 122 yards, with one interception. Wilson will have growing pains as a rookie starter, but the Seahwaks need him to get better if they’re going to be a playoff team. Read more…

Patrick Willis doesn’t know who Matt Millen is

Matt MillenMatt Millen, the former NFL linebacker and former Lions president who currently serves as a TV analyst, was unimpressed with the 49ers’ linebackers when breaking down San Francisco’s loss to the Giants on Sunday. When 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis heard that Millen criticized him, he wasn’t happy.

Millen said on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco that he thought Willis and 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman had the worst game he had ever seen the two of them play on Sunday. Willis later went on the same radio show, heard the same comments, and said Millen doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“Whoever this Matt Millen guy is, I’d like to ask him if he could do what we do every day and do what we do for 16 games a year and see if he can hold up every game,” Willis said, via “I doubt he would. I doubt he would be able to consistently play at a high level as Bowman and I do. I really don’t care about what this guy has to say.”
Now, it’s easy to rip Millen after his disastrous stint running the Lions, and believe me, I’ve ripped Millen plenty myself. But the reality is Millen did, in fact, play linebacker in the NFL at a high level. So Willis is wrong when he says Millen couldn’t do it. If Millen ever criticizes an NFL general manager for drafting too many bad wide receivers with Top 10 picks, that G.M. will be justified in saying Millen has no room to criticize. But Willis is wrong to suggest that Millen doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to playing the linebacker position.
Still, Willis may be right to think that people were too quick to jump off the 49ers’ bandwagon this week. Read more…

Who had the worst loss of the week?

We all experience it.  That bitter feeling of defeat, that punch in the gut where your whole week is ruined because something that you have been looking forward to for awhile (for me, its been 9 months in the making) is taken from you and ruined.  And even worse, you know what’s coming — the Facebook posts, the Twitter tweets, the text messages, the Snapchat’s of people laughing at you, and if people still use it — the phone calls of people giving you shit because your beloved team lost.

So I’m here — mainly because I needed to blog and Kavon wanted me to write something — to rank the worst defeats of the week.  So, if one of your teams lost in dramatic fashion, a blow out, or your favorite player got hurt, then get all your sharp objects away from you because we are all on suicide watch.

Warning:  If you are in a good mood, no that’s too happy, if you are in a mediocre mood don’t read this you will become extremely depressed and may cut your wrists and black your eyes while listening to the Dashboard Confessionals.

The Candidates: 

  • The San Francisco 49ers blow out loss to the New York Giants – Well, we might as well start with my number one reason for depression of the week.  It started on a cold January afternoon (actually it was like 65 degrees in San Diego, suck it non-Californians), but the 49ers were in position to advance to their first Super Bowl since defeating the San Diego “Super” Chargers in 1995 and all did not exactly go well.  In case you’ve been living in a cave or have been so inebriated for 9 months then you probably know that the 49ers lost that game because of a couple fumbles here and there and an inept offense.  Okay, I’m officially teary eyed…must power through.  Well, the 49ers had a chance for a little bit of revenge on Sunday.  They had the defending Super Bowl Champions – who the Niners thought had their championship – in their home stadium again and laid a complete egg.  Dominated 26-3, the 49ers threw three interceptions, recorded zero sacks and got one (!) hit on Eli “Mouth Breather” Manning and didn’t even reach the Red Zone.  It felt like I was watching a Cleveland Browns game.  Okay, now I’ve gone from teary eyed to weeping like I’m watching Click or Air Bud (Fun Fact: those are the only two movies I’ve openly cried too).  Level of Depression: Getting drunk and bashing your head while yelling “Oops” like you’re on Real World.  (PS: RIP to that guy in previous video).
  • The New York Yankees and Derek Jeter – Not only did the New York Yankees lose the first two games of the ALCS at home, they lost Mr. Yankee Derek “How Could You End it With Minka Kelly” Jeter to a broken ankle.  But don’t worry Yankee fans you still have Alex Rodriguez.  Wait…he’s not on the juice anymore and 37 years old and strikes out almost every time a pitcher throws him a pitch?  Well, shit.  They can still win tonight though, right?!  Oh…Justin Verlander is pitching?  Shoot…I’m trying to find a silver lining…I got nothing.  Level of Depression: Find someone to feed you popcorn because popcorn makes everyone feel better! Right A-Rod?  Read more…

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: West Coast the best coast?

NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings1. Houston Texans (5-0) – One of the most well-rounded teams with a stud at running back in Arian Foster, but in a very easy division and without a signature win, they are first (for now) and are hurting without Brian Cushing.

Remember those cute little puns about the NFC West this past decade or so?  The NFC Worst?  Not anymore.  The NFC West is now the NFC best.  Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 in the division.  Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers are all above .500, no other division boasts that.

At the top of the division is one of the best teams in the NFL, the 49ers.  Against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers racked up 300+ yards passing AND rushing in a 45-3 shellacking.  Read that sentence again.  An incredible feat that has never happened, EVER in the NFL.  In a league that has already transformed into a spread offense, pass happy league, the 49ers run the ball at an amazing clip of 6.1 yards per carry through five games, even when teams know what is coming they cannot stop it.  Since San Francisco lost to the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had a wake up call, they have outscored their past two opponents 79-3.  And it hasn’t even felt that close.  Alex Smith leads the NFL in passer rating, yes, THAT Alex Smith and he had his first ever win throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdown passes.

The rest of the division possesses potential top-10 defenses with a lackluster passing game.  The Arizona Cardinals may have the worst offensive line in the NFL, with one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, Kevin Kolb.  Now with the loss of both starting running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, the run game will be even less effective for the Cardinals.  But they exhibit an elite defense at all three levels that will keep them in the game and with Patrick Peterson, the most dynamic return man in the game, returning punts and kicks, the Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot.  The Seattle Seahawks also exhibit a great defense that has been lifted to potential greatness with first round pick Bruce Irvin as the bookend pass rusher opposite of Chris Clemons.  The difference between them and the Cardinals is they can actually run the ball.  Marshawn Lynch is a beast and Robert Turbin has potential to be one of the better back-up running backs in the NFL.  The Seahawks weakness is that they lack any kind of passing attack.  Russell Wilson has been a nice story, but he’s a rookie and is holding back the Seahawks, we may see Matt Flynn soon.  Tied for third place with the Seahawks is the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams are building in the right direction, but lack any kind of explosiveness from their skilled positions on offense.  The Rams with multiple early round picks in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Sam Bradford transforms from injury riddled “Captain Checkdown” to a more explosive passer.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:

2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0) – The Falcons pass game has been incredible and the defensive secondary has really improved, but when they need to run it can you really trust Michael “Where’s My Cheeseburger” Turner?

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1) – The most balanced offense in the NFL. The offense is catching up to its defense, a loss the Vikes might have been a blessing in disguise.

4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – The surprise team in the NFL.  Christian Ponder has developed into a good quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, and Percy Harvin is turning into an MVP candidate. My Fantasy team thanks you.

5. New England Patriots (3-2) – Despite being 3-2, the Pats have a solid run game and defense that this team has lacked the past few years. Thankfully Tom Brady’s nose is still intact. Read more…

NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Dirty Birds rise to the top

Michael TurnerWeek 3 was all about the NFC West and of course, the replacement refs. While the refs played an important role in determining the outcomes of several games, mostly in a negative manner, we tried to take that element out and simply go with what we feel should have happened and what we expect to happen in the future. Hopefully that entails the real referees taking the field shortly.

1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)↑3

Other than the fact that Michael Turner, who did have a good game on Sunday (14-80-1), is on the Falcons they have some of the best playmakers in the league at their respective positions; Matt Ryan is smart enough to know how to utilize each one.

2. Houston Texans (3-0)↑2

The second of just two undefeated teams, the Texans have a great defense and several key players on offense. Matt Schaub won’t throw four touchdowns often, but when he does it’s time to take notice.

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)↓1

It was a rough week for the consensus number one team in the league; their defense looked tired; Alex Smith threw his first interception since Thanksgiving; Frank Gore lost the football; overall they just didn’t seem like the team everyone pronounced as “the best in football.” Let’s see if they bounce back against the Jets in week 4.

4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)↑1

No matter what your feelings are on the game-winning field goal, this team is good and if Joe Flacco continues to play well they will be great. Read more…

NFL 2012: Top defensive secondaries

Carlos RogersIn the NFL, they say that offense puts people in the seats while defense wins championships. Therefore, you can get a clearer picture as to which teams are going to be contending for a playoff spot simply by looking at their defenses. Due to the NFL becoming more of a passing league, it makes sense to spend some time looking at the defenses that have the best secondaries.
San Francisco 49ers: The San Francisco 49ers have the best secondary in the NFL. Carlos Rogers was an afterthought before being brought to the bay area. Last season, Rogers went to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. Guys like Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner add more depth at the corner and safety positions for the team. All of these players are known for their great hitting ability as well as their ability to stop the run.Chicago Bears: The Bears may not be able to keep Jay Cutler upright, but they can certainly play defense rather well. This season, Tim Jennings is leading the charge with three interceptions in just two games. Chris Conte has also supplied an interception on the season. If your secondary can average two turnovers a game, your team is going to put itself in a position to win games more often than not. Read more…

2012 NFL Week 2 power rankings: Patriots on top

Tom Brady Wes Welker

Source: AP

1. New England Patriots (1-0) ↔

Stevan Ridley looked good, Gronk and Aaron Hernandez each caught a TD, the defense literally hit the Tennessee Titans in the mouth, and Tom Brady got knocked down and got right back up. This team looks tougher, faster, smarter, and simply better!

2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)↑2

Speaking of hitting people in the mouth, the 49ers just beat up the Packers in week one. If it wasn’t for a questionable call to overturn a block in the back late in the game on a Randall Cobb punt return for a TD this one could have been really ugly.

3. Green Bay Packers (0-1)↓1

I know it’s tough to believe a team that was beaten up and overwhelmed in week one only falls one spot, but c’mon, it’s the Packers! Aaron Rodgers still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against what is arguably the best defense (by far) in the NFL.

4. Houston Texans (1-0)↑1

If the 49ers’ defense is indeed the best in the game the Texans are the second best. The best defense in the AFC recorded three sacks and forced four turnovers against the Dolphins.

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)↑6

One of the biggest climbers of the week, the Ravens deserve this spot as I admittedly underestimated what appears to be a top contender in the AFC. That said, they are old on defense and an Ed Reed injury could be severely detrimental to the success of this team.

The 49ers are golden again

Randy+Moss+Joe+Staley 49ers

Getty Images

There’s only a couple things I hate about Week One in Football’s Regular Season – 1) People, not fans, jumping off the bandwagon of teams and players so fast that they hurt their ankle more than Ryan Mathews gets hurt (I had to) and 2) Getting so overwhelmed and hyped up with a team that you make crazy proclamations about how good they are with 16 weeks left in the Season. Well…I’m about to hate myself because after Week One you have to crown the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC and potentially the NFL.

The San Francisco 49ers went on the road in Week One to face one of the best offenses in the NFL and arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, and dominated that game from start to finish. The score, 30-22, does not do justice as to how much the 49ers outplayed the Packers (It should have been 30-15 if it wasn’t for a bogus pick up of the flag on a blatant block in the back call, but don’t even get me started on this shitty refs). Alex Smith was the better quarterback on the field outplaying last years MVP, Frank Gore was his usual Week One self averaging seven yards a carry, Randy Moss made his triumphant return to Lambeau Field scoring his first Touchdown in two years, and the defense was, of course, dominant at every aspect. The winner of this game was going to be favored in the NFC and the 49ers, rightfully so, should be the team to beat.  Read more…

2012 NFL top linebacker corps

For the past few seasons, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Green Bay and Chicago have been among the few teams that feature savvy, versatile linebacker corps. In 2012 however, whether due to injury, free agency or retirement, each of those four are missing at least one of those components, allowing a handful of other teams to qualify as among the NFL’s top linebacker corps.

San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers came out of nowhere last season to become one of the league’s top teams, especially on defense. One of the main factors in their new-found dominance is a quartet of LBs (Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith) who are arguably the best unit in the NFL. Willis and Bowman both made the First-Team All-Pro and totaled 240 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 20 pass deflections between them in 2011. Smith, a rookie last season, had 14 sacks and forced 2 fumbles, while Brooks collected 7 sacks and a forced fumble. The foursome helped the 49ers to second in the league in points allowed (14.3 per game), tied for first in takeaways (38) and their 77.3 yards per game allowed rushing topped the NFL. It certainly wasn’t the offense that took the ‘Niners to the NFC title game.

Baltimore Ravens

Even though five-time Pro Bowler (and 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) Terrell Suggs may be sidelined for the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon and inspirational leader Ray Lewis is 37, the Baltimore Ravens LB corps is still one of the league’s most dominating. As with all great units, when one component breaks down, there’s a replacement to step in. Jameel McClain returns next to Lewis at an inside slot, while rookie Courtney Upshaw is slated for an outside berth. Paul Kruger slides into Suggs’ place, and though he certainly isn’t the fiery competitor Suggs was, he may be a better pass rusher. Ray Lewis has a way of getting teammates to perform beyond their capabilities and this season should be no different. Read more…

49ers make a statement with win in Green Bay

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith passes against the Green Bay Packers in the first half during their NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Green Bay Packers already have as many losses this season as they had all of last season. And the San Francisco 49ers have made a very big statement that they’re the team to beat in the NFC.

San Francisco jumped out to an early lead at Lambeau Field and never trailed on Sunday, playing tough and physical defense combined with effective and mistake-free offense and beating the Packers 30-22. Green Bay, which went 15-1 in 2011, is now 0-1 in 2012.

Alex Smith, the quarterback the 49ers selected first overall in the 2005 NFL draft, has heard many times that he’s not as good a player as Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback the Packers selected with the 24th pick that year. But on this day, Smith couldn’t have been much better. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and he was in complete control of the offense all day long. This is the quarterback the 49ers need Smith to be. Read more…

Which Randy Moss will the Packers face on Sunday?

Randy Moss

The Packers defense doesn’t know what to expect from Randy Moss, but they know what they don’t want him to do.

“That’s what makes the game that much fun,” cornerback Tramon Williams said, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “People want to come in and see the old Randy Moss. They want to see the guy who goes up the field and makes great catches over guys and that’s the mystery of it.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get. You don’t know if you’re going to get that or if you’re going to get a different Randy.”

The mystery is reasonable. The 49ers have had only glowing reports, but it’s hard to know what he’s got left for sure until you see it in a regular season game.

In the past, he’s played some of his best games against the Packers.

He’s played 14 games against the Packers, with 1,273 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

Then again, he’s 35, and all but one of those games were eight years ago.

The one in particular keeps coming back to mind, the January, 2005 game in which he faux-mooned the crowd. Read more…


2012 NFL playoff predictions

(6) Chicago Bears vs. (3) San Francisco 49ers  
Patrick Willis (52) and the 49ers’ defense proves to be too much for Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and the rest of the Bears’ offense.

Both teams come into the 2012 playoffs having already clinched a playoff berth weeks ago. The 49ers proved to be a tougher team at home in 2011, and are just as tough a home team in 2012. The Bears’ offensive line troubles hurts them, as defensive end Justin Smith and linebackers Aldon Smith, Navorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis help limit Matt Forte’s production and pressure Jay Cutler enough to seal the victory. 49ers over Bears 

(5) Green Bay Packers vs. (4) Atlanta Falcons: 
Familiar playoff foes, the Packers enter the 2012 playoffs on a two-game winning streak, and the Falcons enter having clinched the NFC South division in the final week of the regular season. Last time these two teams met in the playoffs in Atlanta, the Packers defeated the Falcons, 48-21, en route to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. Don’t expect the same kind of game, but expect a similar result for Aaron Rodgers and company.
Packers over Falcons
(5) Green Bay Packers vs. (1) Detroit Lions 

In the last two seasons, the number-one seed hasn’t fared well in the divisional round, as the NFC’s top seed has been outscored 85-41 in the last two divisional round match ups. Although the Packers are only a couple of years removed from a Super Bowl win, the Lions utilize Megatron, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, to their full-advantage and edge the Packers in a close and high-scoring match up in the motor city. Lions over Packers

(3) San Francisco 49ers vs. (2) Philadelphia Eagles
The “dream team” finally makes an appearance in the postseason, and stand toe-to-toe with the NFC West champion 49ers in Philadelphia. With LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Vick, the Eagles have too much offensive fire power for the 49ers to handle, and defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole make life miserable for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, as the Eagles do not disappoint and reach the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 2008 season. Eagles over 49ers
(2) Philadelphia Eagles vs. (1) Detroit Lions

A potential exciting and explosive match up including some of the NFL’s greatest playmakers, the Eagles and Lions will execute big plays in exciting fashion. The NFC Championship will come down to which team has the stronger pass rush. The Lions possess a deep defensive line which includes Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Corey Williams, Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch, while the Eagles’ defensive line includes Babin, Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, and Darryl Tapp. Which line do I have my money on? The Eagles, as the wide-9 gives Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offensive line a rough day. Eagles over Lions

Read the AFC predictions here…

NFC preseason power rankings


Al Bello/Getty Images

As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so to is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the NFC specifically, there are a lot of teams to like, as picking the six best teams was harder than I imagined. In my opinion, the top 12 teams in these power rankings are all legitimate playoff contenders right now. For various reasons though, some teams are better now, while some teams may be better next year or the year afterward. Nevertheless, here are the Week Zero NFC Power Rankings.


The Vikings are young, but the question of Adrian Peterson’s health, Christian Ponder’s potential, and the defensive secondaries’ deficiencies gives the Vikings a whole heap of trouble in an NFC North division which features quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers.

Projection: 3-13


The acquisitions of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and All-Pro offensive guard Carl Nicks were great, and new head coach Greg Schiano is installing discipline into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but only little progress will be made in 2012 as Schiano will need a couple of seasons to get the Buccaneers back on track.

Projection: 4-12  Read More…


NFC West: Game changers

Randy Moss Sings Autographs On The First Day Of Training CampJoin us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

San Francisco 49ers – I am going to go out on a limb here, and call #84 our Game Changer for the 49ers in 2012.  I realize that this may be a pipe dream, but when properly motivated, Randy Moss has proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Yes he is 35 years old and it has been two seasons since his last productive season, but he is still Randy Moss.  All the reports out of San Francisco indicate the Moss is in excellent shape and that he can still stretch the field with his speed and acrobatic grabs.  Yes, I realize Alex Smith is still the quarterback out there, but I expect Randy Moss to have a very significant impact on a previously non-existent Niners’ passing attack.Seattle Seahawks –  I am probably in the minority here, but I actually think Pete Carroll is doing a better than expected job in Seattle.  I don’t understand some of the personnel decisions that the team has made, particularly regarding the quarterback situation, but overall this team is starting to become a solid group of physical football players.  So it may be some surprise that I would pick one of the smallest players on this team to be the most impactful player.  Yet I think Earl Thomas will continue to develop into an elite safety, showing the reason he was a first round draft choice.  Thomas is a ball-hawking safety with great range, but he is also a physical presence despite his smallish frame.  I expect Thomas to play at an All-Pro level in 2012 as a turnover generating catalyst in an under-rated Seahawks’ defense. Read more…

49ers Aldon Smith ok after hip injury

Aldon Smith

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith was carted to the locker room Friday night with a hip injury, but he appears to be fine.

The 49ers termed Smith’s injury a bruised hip, and head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that while he hadn’t heard the official diagnosis from the medical staff, it appeared that Smith would be back soon.

Still waiting,” Harbaugh said. “Preliminary, looks like we’ll be alright. Looks like we dodged a bullet there.”

Smith took to Twitter after the game to assure everyone that he was OK:  Read more…