Niners: Right direction or directionless?

Niners: Right direction or directionless?

Maybe it's the fact that the Lions were awful, the Rams even worse. Maybe it's the fact that 8-8 doesn't feel all that different from 7-9.Or maybe those ugly losses to the Falcons and Titans are just a tad too difficult to forget.More likely, it's that "non-losing season" smacks of earrings on a pig.The 49ers' just-concluded season leaves even those of us who look at our less-than-full sporting glasses as being one satisfying pour from overflowing feeling out of sorts.Alex Smith? The best you can say about him is that he's improved. But given how low he'd set the bar, does that really pump you up with conviction that he's The Man going forward? Probably not.Mike Singletary? You're absolutely dying to climb completely into his corner, and developments such as Vernon Davis' transformation from hotheaded me-guy to borderline elite game-changer -- "borderline" until the drops stop -- give you hope. But admit it: something stops you, be it the Waffle House offense or the oft-empty rhetoric.Jed York? Talks a mean game, doesn't he? Really seems to care, and that's more than you were saying not long ago about the family members who handed him the keys to the franchise.
But that tough talk at the end of last season about making the playoffs now reeks of hollow bravado -- a reminder than Lil' Jed is all of 28 years old. And most of us who've seen both sides of 30 know that at 28 we were unclear on our own future, much less that of a storied professional sports franchise.Simply put, it's an odd time to be a 49ers fan.
You want to be hopeful, but there are just enough red flags -- whatever happened to Paraag Marathe, anyway? -- to stop you from going all-in.You want to point to the team's three wins in its final four games and join the Right Direction Brigade.Then you watch the wins over the Lions and Rams a few more times on your Comcast DVR and realize that only the Lions and Rams would have lost those games. You want to point to Smith's modest improvement and think that with a little continuity -- i.e., working with the same offensive coordinator for more than 45 minutes -- and a stud offensive lineman or two will come more, greater strides.Then you realize that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye didn't really have a system. He had a different game plan every week. And that O-lineman don't grow on trees; even when you get a keeper, he usually needs a couple of years before making an impact. And that Smith led the 49ers to zero point in the first half Sunday against a team that might very well have given up 28 points to De La Salle in the same span.You want to point to the defense's brilliant play in the closing month of the season and Wait, there's that whole Lions and Rams thing again. Granted, the Niners' D had gems against some decent teams, too, but it also got carved up to the tune of 45, 34 and 30 by the Falcons, Titans and Packers. Only the Packers are playoff-bound, as a wild-card entry.If it's not one thing, it's another. Is this truly a team headed in the right direction, or is it a directionless team that escaped the clutches of another 7-9 -- or 6-10 -- season on strength (rather, weakness) of schedule?Can it be both? Kind of feels that way, doesn't it?

Report: 49ers seek first-round pick for Staley


Report: 49ers seek first-round pick for Staley

If the 49ers are active at the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 1, the organization figures to be sellers.

With a 1-6 record, mired in a six-game losing streak and seemingly fielding a less-competitive team every week, the 49ers do not figure to be in the buying market with the trade deadline approaching.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 32, one of the team’s few players who would be attractive to a contender, is available for a first-round draft pick, according to Pro Football Talk. The report cited a “source with knowledge of the dynamics.”

Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is also on the trade market for a second-round pick, according to the report. The teams mentioned with potential interest in acquiring Staley or Thomas are the Vikings, Giants, Cardinals, Seahawks and Patriots, reports PFT.

Staley has a base salary of $5.4 million this season. His pay increases to $8.95 million next season, including $8.25 million in base salary. He is signed through the 2019 season.

Staley, a first-round draft pick in 2007, has been selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls.

If the 49ers trade Staley, it could open the way for right tackle Trent Brown to move to the left side. The only other tackle on the roster is rookie John Theus. Veteran guard Zane Beadles is also capable of playing tackle.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. (PT). The 49ers enter their bye week after Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team’s next game is Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints.

Kickers miss short field goals in OT; Seahawks, Cardinals tie


Kickers miss short field goals in OT; Seahawks, Cardinals tie

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

The last tie in the NFL came in 2014, when Carolina and Cincinnati tied 37-37.

The Cardinals (3-3-1) dominated the game statistically and looked to be in shape to win it after Carson Palmer's 40-yard pass to J.J. Nelson set up Catanzaro's short kick.

The Seahawks (4-1-1), stuffed throughout regulation by the Arizona defense, took over and Russell Wilson completed passes of 31 yards to Jermaine Kearse and 27 yards to Doug Baldwin to give Houschka his short attempt.

Both kickers made field goals on their teams' first possession of overtime.

Catanzaro, who kicked field goals of 46 and 45 yards, also had a 39-yard field goal blocked by a stunning play by Bobby Wagner.

Until the overtime, the only time the Seahawks crossed midfield came when Tanner McEnvoy blocked Ryan Quigley's punt with 4:33 to play. That gave Seattle the ball on the Arizona 27 and led to Hauschka's 40-yard field goal that tied it at 3 with four minutes to play.

Catanzaro's 46-yard field goal put Arizona up 3-0 with 3:11 left in the first half and the Cardinals nursed that lead until the blocked punt.

On a bruising night, Arizona's David Johnson had a career-high 41 touches. He carried the ball 33 times for 113 yards and caught eight passes for 58 yards. Russell Wilson, obviously slowed by leg problems, complelted 24 of 37 passes for 225 yards, most of the damage coming in the overtime. He carried the ball once for minus-two yards.

Arizona's defense nearly scored halfway through the fourth quarter when Chandler Jones hit Wilson as he was about to pass and the ball bounced toward the Seattle goal line, but Michael Glowinski jumped on it for Seattle and the 4-yard line, a 20-yard loss.


The Cardinals had the first scoring threat. Catanzaro lined up for a 39-yard field goal but 245-pound linebacker Wagner jumped over Arizona long snapper Aaron Brewer like an Olympic hurdler and blocked it. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians argued loudly for a penalty and was charged with a timeout when he challenged a play that is not reviewable. That proved significant when the Cardinals couldn't stop the clock to get off a short field goal attempt as the first half ended.


The Cardinals were without speedster John Brown after doctors diagnosed sickle cell traits that were causing leg pain. The other wide receiver named Brown, Jaron, left the game early with a knee injury, depleting is usually one of the league's deeper wide receiver corps.