I don’t know about the rest of the faithful, but this has been the longest two weeks without 49ers football. Can you say withdrawals? I’ve literally watched the first three games multiple times just to get by. Judge me if you please. In any case, I’ve watched none of the first three games as many times as I did the home opener vs Pittsburgh, and I was there! See, I’m not just a San Francisco born and raised 49ers fanatic, I’m also a fan/student of the game, and youth football coach as well, so I watch (study) film by habit and default. I’m also very detail driven in reference to football, especially when it comes to 49ers football.
Wait, wait. you know what? *blows whistle* “Flag on the play, false start, offense, me. Five yard penalty, repeat first down”. I should be ashamed of myself, as I was raised better than that and raised to say thank you when someone gives me something and/or does something nice for me. That said, allow me to take this time to give a huge shout out and thank out to Robert Alberino Jr. and the San Francisco 49ers for making it possible for my Nothing But Niners family and I to be at the home opener to witness it live and direct, at Levi’s stadium. It was truly a blessing and amazing experience. We truly appreciate it, and it was a pleasure actually meeting you on the field after the game Mr. Alberino.
Now that I’ve minded my manners, let’s jump in the Silverado as we just take a quick ride home to visit my mother in the city before we head back to Levi’s. If you weren’t there, or for whatever reason didn’t get to see the game, what you’re about to watch will make you feel like you were and ready to suit up yourself, I promise you. If by chance you were there or did see it, do yourself a favor and take a moment to soak up all the greatness in that win, one more time.
Enough about that week, it’s time for the meat and potatoes of this piece — the main ingredients Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch need to ensure stay consistent after this time off over the bye week and in preparation for the Cleveland Browns next Monday night in a prime-time showdown.
As we know, standout cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon will be out at least a month with a foot sprain. (via espn.com). Spoon was straight ballin’ too, best he’s been yet! Rest up and heal up Spoon, see you when you get back. As of now in his absence, all signs point to feisty second-year cornerback Emmanuel Moseley stepping in and up to fill in for Spoon. The only question I have with Moseley now seeing starter snaps, who fills in for him on special teams? No way we have time going from kickoff coverage, right to covering OBJ, right? Guess we’ll see. Aside from that unknown, based upon what we’ve seen in limited snaps (45 career defensive snaps) from Moseley while at corner and on special teams, I’m confident in his abilities and believe he’ll fare well in his first start Monday night. It’s not just me that has confidence in Moseley, it’s his fellow teammates as well. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman had this to say about Moseley. “It’s all of it. It’s his feistiness, it’s his decision-making, it’s his press, it’s his confidence, it’s his movement his ability to move, his lateral quickness, his straight-line speed.” (via ninersnation.com).
So yes, even though the likelihood of having to check Odell Beckham Jr. is high, myself and his teammates have faith he’ll be up to the challenge. I know, I know. It’s OBJ, he makes one-handed catches, he has big play ability, and everybody knows his name. I so wish you all could see my face right now, because you’d see it says, “I don’t give a damn about none of that!” Put all that negativity in park! You know what’s more worrisome than someone everybody knows about? Somebody nobody knows about and has a point to prove. So yeah, do ya thang E-Man! If Odell sneezes, I need you to be close enough to say, “God bless you,” and provide him a tissue! I need you in his pocket like loose change! All else fails, like I tell all my DBs, “Just keep the play in front of you, and prevent the big play.” Moseley can also be benefit by a consistent pass-rush and both mixing up and disguising coverages by defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Let’s go sir, play confident, play smart, play loose. It’s your time. You hungry, go eat!
The Continued Evolution of Jimmy G
Thus far in the season through three games, Jimmy Garoppolo has compiled the following stats: 58/84 (69%), 739, 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. Though he had a rough (slow) start to the 2019 season, as he threw interceptions in each game, one of which was the worst I’ve seen vs Tampa Bay. I’ll jump on and off this right quick. As I stated in the Tampa Bay post-game video (jump to the 4:28 mark for the Jimmy G portion), “You were looking at him (Hargreaves), looking at you, and you still threw it, and you threw it late!” Now, before you go Smokey from Friday on me asking, “Why you bringing up old stuff?” Hear me out, there’s a method to my madness. As I also stated in this video, I don’t do nor harp on anything negative. I’m all about positivity, learning (growing) through mistakes (lessons), and making the necessary changes to prevent from repeating said mistakes. That said, Jimmy has taken huge strides and is trending towards being the stud the 49ers expected him to be when the team traded a second round pick for him, and then paid him to be.
Moving right along, I don’t know about anyone else, but though Jimmy has yet to reach his full potential, I’m pleased with where he is at this point. We must keep in mind his lack of starting experience, and he’s coming off that ACL-tear last season. It was bad enough he had yet to start many games or play a full 16-game season, then the injury. But, just as driven individuals that are determined to be great do when challenge stares them right in the face, they don’t look away in fear to avoid what’s coming. Instead, they keep their head and eyes forward, focused on the goal and perform. Just like the way Jimmy did vs Pittsburgh when he had multiple free rushers staring him right in the face as it was a staring contest. And what did he do? As seen below, he stood in there, took a shot, and threw straight on numerous occasions.
Ice in his veins. Dimes from his gun. pic.twitter.com/oKoSgUQvIL
— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) October 1, 2019
That release… 😍
49ers slid protection to the left so Jimmy has the free rusher. The Steelers consistently sent edge blitzes, but Jimmy’s processing and release helped neutralize those efforts. pic.twitter.com/buZE8ladDD
— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) September 25, 2019
There were a number of other throws Jimmy made in this game that were impressive to help aide in the 24-20 victory over Pittsburgh in the home opener. But to avoid this turning into a film study session, I chose these two in particular just to show how he’s willing to hang in there with the ‘by any means necessary’ attitude and sacrifice himself for the team. Good show Jimmy, I see you and we’re with you. You’re on your way, keep going! As long as we can keep him relatively clean, I see him becoming more and more confident, and he’ll continue to trend upwards as the season progresses.
The Offensive Line
The game is normally won and lost in the trenches with them hogs. If the 49ers want to win this game, it’ll start up front on both the offensive and defensive lines. If they can protect Jimmy G and get to Baker, all should be well. However if not, it’ll be a long day. Let’s start with our offensive line. Through three games, the 49ers offensive line has given up 20 pressures, 13 hurries, 5 hits, and 2 sacks. You can play math wiz if you want, but I’ll just say that’s pretty good in terms of protecting Jimmy G. Especially knowing last year this unit was ranked towards the bottom in pass protection. The guard play has also improved. Mike Person has allowed only four pressures so far and Laken Tomlinson has only allowed one. (via ProFootballFocus.com). Not bad at all fellas, but that trend will most definitely need to continue this week as this unit will face the likes of Myles Garrett, and Olivier Vernon off the edge at defensive end, and Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi in the middle at defensive tackle. This next game will be arguably the biggest test yet for the team, and also for this offensive line unit responsible for keeping defenders out the lap and face of Jimmy G. Let’s go fellas, let’s keep their season total of 13 combined sacks, at 13. It’s go time! You guys provide the pancakes, us faithful will provide the syrup.
The Defensive Line
I couldn’t wait to get to this part, as a defensive coordinator myself; nothing pleases me more than to talk about pressuring the quarterback. That said, let’s switch sides on the line and discuss those dawgs on our defensive line and front 7 that will be responsible for harassing and hurrying Baker Mayfield, preventing him from getting comfortable and limiting his time to get the ball to his play-makers. You see what he did to the Ravens last week: 20/30 342 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int and was sacked only once. Smooth carved them up. We know who he is, a (young) gunslinger that can most definitely embarrass you if given the opportunity. Yeah, how about we not let that happen. As part of the gunslinger mentality, he takes chances, tries to force passes trying to make a play. Most importantly with him being young and still growing, he gets rattled if he doesn’t see early success. So this defensive line and front 7 need to get to and shake him up early. So Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, front and center. Set the edge, and GO GET HIM!
Speaking of the edge, Nick Chubb also had a pretty big day, 20 carries, 165, and not one, not two, but three rushing touchdowns, with 8.3 yards a carry. This defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season. The goal is to keep it that way. If Chubb can be held in check, it puts the onus and pressure on Mayfield as the defense would have made Cleveland one dimensional. So, on life Chubb going nuts cannot be tolerated come Monday night. I know it’s any given Sunday (Monday in this case), but no sir! DeForest Buckner, D.J. Jones, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner, time to work! The name of the game is, “gap integrity”. Cut off the running (cutback) lanes and fill the gaps. I need Cleveland to think this defense is endorsed by Visa (everywhere you want to be) Monday night! Don’t have Chubb out here putting up Madden type numbers, unlocking new achievements and whatnot.
Man, I know this unit is hyped and ready, because I am (and I won’t even be out there). Not to mention, THEY STILL DON’T RESPECT US! Not a problem though, respect isn’t given, it’s earned! And I’m confident this unit will do just that. Take back what’s ours; the respect that has resonated within the history of this franchise, one game at a time! I need this group to see to it that Mayfield and Chubb, are both tapping their helmets (asking for a sub) because they’re getting hit so hard and so often. LET’S GO! ALL GAS, NO BRAKE!!!!
Take This With You
Okay, we’re about there, so I’ll leave you with this: The team requested us faithful show up and show out and be loud as possible. We did just that, us faithful had that Levi’s, rocking! Especially in section 322, row 8, seats 1-14. (Yep, the Nothing But Niners section). I don’t think there was a seat filled on defense, especially on 3rd downs. In the words of newly acquired linebacker, the “hot boy” himself, Kwon Alexander, it was “legendary!” So let’s do it again! GO NINERS!