Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM
The fact that the San Francisco 49ers had to change out the turf in their brand new stadium this week was an apt metaphor for the start of their 2014 season. They can’t get any footing! The Niners have looked utterly inept through two weeks of the exhibition slate.
Baltimore 23, San Francisco 3
Denver 34, San Francisco 0
That’s the wrong side of 57-3 for a team that’s been a championship pick from many pundits!
If San Francisco plays well in their dress rehearsal, nobody will remember what happened when they weren’t trying. But, if those results represent an early red flag…then we could be watching the early stages of a major developing story. There are rumblings out of the Bay Area about players growing tired of head coach Jim Harbaugh’s intense approach.
And, let’s not forget that Harbaugh and the front office had a falling out that went public early in 2014. Remember when he was rumored to be the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns? Or, even the Texas Longhorns! The implosion may have already started, and America just hasn’t heard the loud boom yet. Thoughts like that were easier to dismiss before 57-3!
Big dress rehearsal for highly regarded teams. Let’s review their strengths and weaknesses from last season…
SAN DIEGO’S 2013 STRENGTHS
*Second in the AFC and third in the NFL in yards-per-pass-attempt at 8.2
*Led the entire NFL in third down conversions with a stunning 49% rate
*Had a balanced offense featuring 122.8 rushing yards per game
*Stellar TD/INT differential of 32/11 was second best in AFC
New head coach Mike McCoy got the offense to elite levels very quickly. He was the offensive coordinator for Denver coming in…and Philip Rivers responded very well to intelligent coaching! The Chargers did a great job of marching down the field and scoring, only trailing Denver in that regard in the AFC (now better than the Patriots!).
SAN DIEGO’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
*Horrible on defense, allowing 6.1 yards-per-play (worst in AFC, second worst in NFL)
*Very poor at forcing turnovers, with only 17 (third worst in AFC and NFL)
But, as often happens when an offensive guru takes over a team, the defense became horrible. They were barely there much of the season…except on third downs when the unit managed league average performance. We should note though that the defense did play well at Cincinnati in the playoffs, and kept Denver relatively in check in their playoff loss. They really need to improve on this side of the ball to become a Super Bowl threat.
SAN FRANCISCO’S 2013 STRENGTHS
*Fantastic defense, allowing only 5.0 yards-per-play and 34% on third downs
*Strong rushing offense at 137.6 yards-per-game and 4.4 yards-per-carry
*Excellent downfield passing performance at 7.7 yards-per-attempt
A classic smash mouth team very much in the mold of their hated division rival Seattle. The Niners reached the Super Bowl two years ago…and just missed going back last year. They have the skill set base of a champion as long as the chemistry doesn’t blow up because of issues with the head coach.
SAN FRANCISCO’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
*Surprisingly low number of TD passes with 21 considering other stats
*Poor mark of 36% on offensive third down tries
*QB Colin Kaepernick struggled vs. quality defenses who could contain his scrambles
The glaring weakness last year was that Kaepernick wasn’t a dynamic player when they most needed him. He almost made everyone forget that with a fourth quarter rally in the NFC Championship game. Maybe that was a sign that he got things figured out. We’ll need to see more proof of that once the regular season starts. Luckily, the early schedule faces some soft defenses from last year (Dallas and Chicago out of the gate…which makes San Diego an ideal dress rehearsal since all three had poor ’13 defenses).
Definitely must-see TV Sunday afternoon. JIM HURLEY will have TV winners in the NFL plays BONUS BASEBALL up in the morning here at the website. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office Sunday before first pitch at 1-888-777-4155.
Big week coming up in the NOTEBOOK, as we get caught up in the pennant races Monday and Tuesday before jumping into college football TV previews. Yes, COLLEGE FOOTBALL RETURNS THIS WEEK!
Here’s the upcoming schedule…
Monday: MLB Series Preview…St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…NY Yankees at Detroit
Wednesday: Early College Football TV Preview…Texas A&M at South Carolina
Thursday: College Football TV Preview…Ole Miss vs. Boise State (Atlanta)
Friday: College Football TV Preview…BYU at Connecticut
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington)
Sunday: College Football TV Preview…Utah State at Tennessee
Labor Day: College Football TV Preview…Miami at Louisville
It’s time to get serious…it’s time to link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!