Big O Tires

Very bad 49ers stay tumbling in truly lost 2016 season

Very bad 49ers stay tumbling in truly lost 2016 season

You can almost hear the sound whistling between the 49ers’ teeth at this point, beneath the droned platitudes and vague responses to what is a fully lost season:

“Look, what do you want from us? This is who we are.”

You can almost hear it, that is. They wouldn’t dare express such rampant defeatism – I mean, if they didn’t after Sunday’s 34-17 muzzling at the hands, arms, torsos and feet of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s unlikely you would hear it at any point.

But they must surely know by now that this is a season already in the rear-view mirror. There are no secret plans, or stashed players, or untried ideas left to unearth, sign or try. The coming bye week will not clear their heads and give them new inspiration, save that of having a week off from the steady beatings. They are 1-6 on merit, and proved it again yesterday before another dispirited two-thirds-of-a-sellout crowd which is coming to realize that their hope is a mile wide and an inch deep.

[MAIOCCO: Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss]

Sunday, for example, Colin Kaepernick was their best running back, Shaun Draughn was their best receiver, the downed kickoff was their best special teams play, and their best strategic decision – well, they lost the coin flip so they didn’t even get a chance to defer the opening kickoff.

And their defense? It only allowed whatever Tampa Bay wanted, and only on demand. Jacquizz Rodgers became the sixth running back to gain 100 yards against them (and the first to do it in one half), which is noteworthy only because they allowed five all last year in a bad season, and nine in the four seasons before that, four of those by Marshawn Lynch.

And quarterback Jameis Winston threw the ball to wide-open receivers and into coverage with the same sense of well-placed bravado. Though his numbers didn’t exactly aurora the borealis (21-of-30, 269, 3/1, 117.2), he never emitted a sense that he couldn’t do whatever he wanted – save get the officials to give him a better spot when he snapped and cost his team a potential touchdown with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for headless-chickening.

In other words, this was not materially different than the Buffalo game, or the Seattle game, or the Carolina game. The only game that has been different is the opener against Los Angeles, when everything worked and made sense and life was happy and Jed York hummed “I Am 16 Going On 17” all through the suite all night long.

That game was 50,000 years ago. These are who the 49ers are now, and who they are going to be for awhile to come.

They speak of consistency, and yet they are the very model of it – leading the league in punts, and ranking second in three-and-outs, 27th in first downs and 31st in plays per drive. They don’t stay on the field, in other words, and when on defense, they allow 118 more yards per game than their offense gets them.

And they swear with unanimity that they are together as a team, and work hard each week to achieve the acme of their talents and learning. So this, if that is so, must be at or near the top of their game – which, as head coach for now and the future Chip Kelly (stop thinking this is just a coaching problem, please) put it, “We’re not doing what it takes to be successful right now.”

That was in response to a question about whether the 49ers were going backwards. He ducked the issue by saying, “I don’t think forwards or backwards,” which is probably a lie, but we can help anyway.

They have gone dramatically backwards since Game 1, and essentially stagnated since Game 2. It’s how they have gotten to where they are right now, and how they have become who they are right now.

It may be that stranger things have happened in the NFL than a team starting 1-6 and rallying to win eight, nine or 10 in a row, but on this team, based all the available evidence, this team won’t be that strange. They have revealed themselves for what they actually are, which is not good enough to change what they actually are.

And if that is too tough a sentence for you to swallow, well, go out and write some of your own. You can tell any tale you want, but this is the tale of the 2016 San Francisco 49ers, a team awash in unpleasant self-realization and the knowledge that there is nothing to be done but to go out each week and do it again.

Except next week, of course. Bye may be a favorite, but Bye must be played, just like all the others.

Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points


Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

Friday's Cal-Oregon game took four hours, 18 minutes to play. It had 203 offensive plays. It saw 101 points scored (no big deal) and covered a 90-point over (very big deal). In other words, it was not much enjoyed except by the noted torturer Sonny Dykes, whose team is winning by an average score of 44-41.

Or, for context, roughly three quarters of Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

Fortunately, the Pacific 12 Conference is running a stealth league this year, and Cal will play this coming Thursday night at USC, which means that while they may not beat the 90, they have an excellent chance to beat the 4:18 and both irk and exhaust the fan base one more time.

And now, the things that matter.

1. COLORADO (6-2, 8-0, 3-5): Stanford scored five points. Five. Half of ten. One fist. FIVE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Oh, and missing the total (50) by five touchdowns is forgivable in this case, because anyone who thought this game was hitting 50 is too unstable to have money.

2. CHICAGO CUBS (playing through the acrid fumes of a town set ablaze by happy drunks): Win a World Series before you pop off, you maniacs.

3. CLEVELAND INDIANS (playing in a town spoiled by championships): The over/under on relievers used per game in the World Series has been set at 9½.

4. TEMPLE (5-3, 7-1, 5-3): A much different team than the one that lost on opening day to Army (which had seven turnovers Saturday), which lost to North Texas, which lost to SMU, which lost to TCU, which never covers.

5. EASTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 7-1, 3-5): Lost to Western Michigan (8-0, 6-2, 4-4), but had the good sense to ignore the meaningless scoreboard in Kalamazoo for the far more important one in Las Vegas. In other words, simultaneously losing by 14 and winning by 12½ is a good thing.

6. AUBURN (5-2, 6-1, 3-4): Trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

7. ALABAMA (8-0, 6-2, 4-4): Like we said, trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

8. PATRICK MAHOMES III (52-for-88, 734, 5 TD, 1 INT, 145.6 rating): The Texas Tech (3-4, 5-2, 4-3) quarterback who killed all the video games in the world, broke the Russian hacker network, and still lost by a touchdown. On the other hand, Tech did cover the 16½, and if you had bet the over of 124, you still won.

9. WISCONSIN (5-2, 6-1, 2-5): Cal and Oregon had to cover a 90 total and took all night to do it. The Badgers and Iowa didn’t come close to hitting the lowest total of the day (a pathetic 42½) in a 17-9 win in good weather. Look, fellas, trying doesn’t just mean beating the line.

10. BOWLING GREEN (1-7, 2-6, 4-4): Couldn’t cover against Miami of Ohio. Couldn’t beat Miami of Ohio. Can’t be helped. Can’t be saved.

11. COLORADO STATE (4-4, 6-2, 3-5): Very stealthy cover machine. I say that without knowing a single member of the university – that’s how stealthy the Rams (yeah, that’s it, Rams) truly are.

12. FINLANDIA (1-6): Our favorite vodka-inspired university beat Maranatha Baptist, 27-22, for the Fightin’ Screwdrivers’ first win of the year. Sadly, that is not their real nickname.

13. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (32-11, 21-22, 23-20): Won the WNBA title on a questionable call, which is fine as far as that goes as it didn’t affect the line. But as you can see, not a good team against the number, and barely adequate against the total. If Nneka Ogwumike wants to be remembered as more than a great player and future entrepreneur, those last two numbers must improve next year, She will discover that ABC (Always Be Covering) is not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.

14. NEVADA (3-5, 1-7, 1-7): If you can’t ABC, there’s nothing all that wrong with NBC (Never Be Covering, not our corporate overlords).

15. OREGON (2-5, 0-6-1, 5-2): Another fine example of this phenomenon, until Phil Knight screws up and hires someone who prioritizing the art of covering every once in a while and makes our work more difficult.

16. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-2, 4-2-1, 4-3): Boxed Missouri, 51-45, which merits a vote even with the barely adequate record against the line.

17. QI (unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in 13 years): Back on the tube for a new season with new host Sandi Toksvig. And no, I could not be less interested in your quizzical confused-puppy-in-a-rainstorm look. Do your own Top 25 if you don’t like it.

18. NEW MEXICO (4-3, 3-4, 7-0): Bob Davie is rumored to be in on the Notre Dame job, even though he has already been fired by Notre Dame. “Touchdown Jesus bets overs too,” said university president John Jenkins.

19. MONTREAL CANADIENS (4-0-0-1, 5-0, 3-2): All covering matters, even with subpar currency.

20. JACKSONVILLE (3-3): Beat Morehead State, 61-49, and sent its offensive videos to Cal and Oregon, just to show them how it’s done.

21. THE HERITAGE CLASSIC (Calgary at Winnipeg, combined records 3-5-0-1, 2-7, 7-2): It’s going to be 48 degrees by game time Sunday, so what exactly is the point of playing outside if outside isn’t going to make an effort?

22. OKLAHOMA (5-2, 2-5, 5-2): So you gained 854 yards, committed no turnovers and still couldn’t cover 16½? Your conference shouldn’t expand, it should relegate.

23. BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-5, 2-5): As the Buddhist scholar and lecturer Vernon Wormer once said, “Winning and never covering is no way to go through life, son.” This sort of stuff never happened when Chris Petersen was alive.

24. SAN JOSE SHARKS (3-3-0-0, 1-5, 1-5): The crap record against the line and total belie the fact that in the entirely mythical ESPN Ultimate Standings, L’Ailette jumped 58 places from the year before, when they dropped 57 places. I’d like a job like that, where you just make up standings and rankings while drinking out of a janitor’s pail. Uh-oh, wait. I think I have one.

25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-5, 1-5, 4-2): Speaking of the Ultimate Standings, the data here, being ranked dead last overall, in fan relations, and in the bottom 10 in five of the other nine categories reminds one of the actual line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Only Jed York’s phone autocorrects it from “like” to “hate with a near-solar intensity.”  

But hey, Sunday’s another day, for all the good that’ll get you. Just remember, there are 17 days until the election, and six years, eight months and 23 days before the last of the post-election lawsuits are dismissed as being frivolous, or all the lawyers die. Either way, keep a good thought, and go away.

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.