Ray Ratto

Talent gap key to 49ers-Raiders collapses


Talent gap key to 49ers-Raiders collapses

After two weeks, heres what we know about the Raiders and 49ers after you brush through the crypto-happy talk.They do know how to build big leads, and they do know how to blow them. In fact, theyre almost four-for-four in that key-but-too-often-unexamined stat.Both teams actually did spit their respective bits Sunday, the Raiders in Buffalo despite being plus-18 before halftime, and the 49ers in Dallas West despite being plus-14 right about the same time.And the week before, the 49ers nearly kicked away a 16-0 lead to a horrid Seattle team and the Raiders a 16-3 lead to a megabland Denver side. Thats 64 points worth of lead, which if you squint really hard becomes a statistic that requires a bit of analysis.So here it is. Theyre short on good players.
That seems obvious given the last eight years, but for those of you who always put hope before head, its a point that needs re-raising.Starting quickly is a tribute to the schemes delivered during the week, and the players who absorb and believe in them. In short, both the Raiders and 49ers are being prepped well, and they are taking that preparation seriously.But the second half deflations are about talent. Yes, theres an element of mental toughness, for those of you who love the power of intangibles, but mostly its about the natural attrition of talent.In other words, the good teams adjust and the teams that arent get adjusted. Not because they lack heart, or because theyve been served badly by their instructors, but because talent will typically find its own level.The 49ers are essentially the same team they were a year ago, which isnt a good sign for a 6-10 team hoping that all its playmates end up 5-11. The Raiders are actually not quite as good, and have a tougher schedule than they did a year ago.Yes, we can come up with more complicated reasons based on hours of tape study and brain-crushing analysis, but sometimes the answers are macro- rather than micro-. This is more obvious in the 49ers loss to Dallas than the Raiders loss at Buffalo, but both are cut from the same bolt of cloth.The 49ers cant run because teams defend them that way. They want to force Alex Smith to be heroic, and the game plans Jim Harbaugh has given Smith are not the stuff of heroism. They are the stuff of game management, and Smith manages games well enough. But neither he nor most of his teammates are genuine gamebreakers, and Harbaugh knows that.The Raiders are a different problem because while they have some special players (see McFadden, Darren), they have not yet figured out how to choke a team out. They didnt do it to a bad Denver team, and they didnt do it to a Buffalo team that may end up having one of the games best offenses.In short, you have, at least for the moment, teams that are committed but undergunned. They may lose some of that commitment if the season becomes too difficult a slog, but the undergunned part isnt likely to change. Making bad teams good ones is not an overnight process, and the first two weeks suggest that while the will is greater than the skill, will and skill is what is required if the 49ers and Raiders are to leave the last decade behind.For the moment, theyre halfway there. The half that is easy.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team


If eclipse ends life on Earth, it's bad news for fans of one Bay Area team

If the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe is right and the total eclipse of the sun is actually a harbinger of the end of life on earth . . .

- It’s good news for the Giants, who have been eliminated from the National League West race for less than 24 hours, or that they will not have to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers put their feet up on baseball for the first time in 28 years.

Besides, there won’t be any more years, so time becomes meaningless.

- It’s good news for the 49ers, who won’t have to endure a harsh week of practice from freshly irked head coach Kyle Shanahan, who finally saw exactly why the job came open for him in the first place.

- It’s good news for Raiders’ fans, who won’t see their team move to Las Vegas, and because they won't be soul-crushed if they can't beat the Patriots -- who will also die en masse despite Bill Belichick's entreaties to ignore the noise of seven billion terrorized shrieks.

- It’s bad news for A’s fans, who will never learn in what location their fabulous new franchise-saving stadium will not be built.

- It’s good news for the Warriors, who can say in their death throes that they were the last NBA champions ever, and that the Lakers will never get LeBron James.

- It’s good news for the Lakers because they cannot be found guilty of tampering with Paul George. It’s also good news for Jimmy Kimmel because he can’t lose a draft choice (some faceless F-list actor as a guest) as a result.

- It’s good news for the Kings, because they’ll never have to have the difficult meeting about Zach Randolph.

- It’s good news for the Chargers, because they won’t have to answer any more questions about why only 21,000 people were announced as the crowd for their second practice game, or to confront the very real possibility that they could become the NFL’s Washington Generals.

- It’s good news for the Jets, Mets, Nets and Knicks because the end of the planet is the only just solution for them all.

- It’s good news for Cal because it can stick its middle finger to the sky and say, “Here’s your $400 million debt. Try to collect it while we’re all dying.”

- It’s good news for Kevin Durant because he doesn’t have to slalom through the Internet trolls any more.

- It’s bad news for Roger Goodell, because he sure left a boatload of money on the table as he was hurtled into space like the rest of us.

- It’s bad news for Nick Saban because he will have never seen it coming. On the other hand, it’s good news for the people who cover Alabama football because they’ve endured their last journalism lecture from Prof. Nick on why they do their jobs so poorly.

- It’s bad luck for Jim Harbaugh because he will feel like a complete nitwit as he learns just what “an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” really means – the end of mankind.

- It’s bad news for all the sixth graders in America who are being offered scholarships that they will never be used by college coaches they will never meet. Of course, that would have been true even  if the world doesn’t end.

- It’s bad news for the hackers who have been spoiling Game Of Thrones because this is Game Of Thrones, only the dragon is the sun incinerating us all.

- It’s bad news for Kyrie Irving, because he will have died a Cleveland Cavalier.

- It’s good news for America, for the obvious reason that the planet will expire before our current political class can murder it.

- And finally, it’s good news for dignity, because the Mayweather-McGregor “thing” will never happen, and that alone means that even as we are torn asunder, we will know that the deity loves us all because both McGrogor and Mayweather are being torn asunder too.

Of course, if you’re reading this Tuesday, you’ll know the world didn’t end, and we’re just as screwed as we ever were. Oh well. Try to find your happy place, and drink like there’s no Wednesday.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.