Monday, September 20, 2010

49ers Put On Good Show, Fall To 0-2

The 49ers gave it all they had Monday night on national television. In the end, the Saints did what Super Bowl Champions do, win by any way possible.

It was a great show by the 49ers, though. Of course, we all knew what the Saints were capable of. Alex Smith showed up, quite a surprise. Not many expected much out of him after last week, especially going up against the Saints' defense.

In the end, you can tally this one up as the 49ers shooting themselves in the foot. Sure, it doesn't seem like that. The 49ers played a great game against a great team, but the safety and "gimme" touchdown that followed early in the 1st quarter happened to be the deciding factor.

Give Smith credit, though. 23/32 for 275 and 1 TD, we haven't seen those numbers in awhile. The 2 interceptions cost him, sure, and they couldn't come at worse times. They were momentum busters, and the 49ers could use all the momentum they could get on Monday night.

But I'll attribute Monday's success (yes, that's what I'm calling it) to the offensive line. They are young and inexperienced, but they gelled last night giving Smith time in the pocket and Gore lanes to run in.

The 49ers were a couple dumb mistakes away from upsetting the Super Bowl Champs on national TV, but the Saints are where they are because they can win games like that in that fashion. Never thought I'd see the day when the 49ers were "too" eager to score a touchdown. They left just too much time on the clock, and Drew Brees knows what to do with it.

So the 49ers are 0-2 with a hill to climb from here. Monday night was a bright spot in this season, though. They showed up to the challenge that was the Saints, and fans should be proud despite their team's record.

One bit of advice, throw Vernon Davis the ball. He had 4 catches, but only targeted 7 times, while Josh Morgan was targeted 8 times. Game in and game out, Davis needs to be the #1 target despite being the TE. He deserves the most targets because he creates the biggest mismatches.

The road for the 49ers doesn't get much easier from here. They travel to Kansas City next week to face an impressive Chiefs team, and from there they head to Atlanta.

They would be wise to get a win next week in Arrowhead.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Communication Ruins 49ers In Week 1

How many of you saw this coming? Talented defense, undefeated preseason, another year for Coach Mike Singletary, another year for Alex Smith under the same offensive coordinator.....Week 1 loss?

The 49ers in their Week 1 game against the Seattle Seahawks were quickly dubbed as the most dissapointing of all the teams to play on Sunday. Just as the 49ers were receiving national attention for being the projected winners of the NFC West, they quickly shot those down themselves. That lasted a good while..

Another question: How many of you thought "Super Bowl" when Nate Clements intercepted the very first pass of the NFL season? Ok, maybe a stretch, but I'm sure some were thinking it, if not then a breeze to the NFC West title. There's a long way to go now, as if the road before Week 1 wasn't long enough.

The 49ers stunk in all aspects, mediocre defense, poor quarterbacking, the rushing attack was horrid, I can't think of any other degrading adjectives..

You can say what you want, but the meltdown for the 49ers began when 3 trips to the red zone in the 1st half resulted in 6 points. That will deflate any team, especially the defense.

The confusion amongst the offense was too obvious, and the man under center with the "C" on his chest was quite the opposite of what he was truly supposed to be, a leader. There was no communication on Sunday.

Blame who you want, though, but I choose Mike Singletary, no doubt. The 49ers looked underprepared and that reflects on your head coach. Enough said. Pete Carroll made Singletary look ridiculous on Sunday, and Singletary will receive some heat for that.

The 49ers should regroup and think long and hard about how they are going to choose to move on from this joke that was Sunday's game in Seattle. The 49ers were supposed to win that game, by a lot. Now, the Super Bowl champs come to town for Monday Night Football, and if you don't think Singletary will get heat for this week's underpreparedness, then an underprepared team on national TV should do the trick.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Uribe Shines As Giants 1 Game Back In The West

If I had told you 2 weeks ago the San Diego Padres were going to lose 10 straight games, would you have believed me? The Padres were tied for the best record in baseball. Probably not.

In fact, at that point 2 weeks ago, I bet most Giants fans had given up on the NL West and focused solely on the NL Wildcard. Fast forward to today, the Giants are 1 game back of the Padres, and the Phillies may be separating themselves in the NL Wildcard. The ol' switcheroo.

This is why September baseball is great. If chills didn't run down your spine when Juan Uribe unloaded on the Jonathan Broxton hanging slider Saturday night, or if you didn't rise from your couch when Uribe repeated the act again yesterday, then you don't have a soul.

Sure, the Giants stole one from the Dodgers on Saturday, but think of it this way. The Padres are 0-10 in their last 10 games, while the Giants are just 5-5. Yes, they did grab 5 games from the Padres in that stretch, but you can make an argument that the Padres are lucky to have the lead in the NL West the way they're playing.

This last series against the Dodgers was just what the Giants needed, though. Big wins against a team they don't rather care for. In this series, the offense lit back up, and pitching, although not outstanding, was better than series previous.

By the way, if there is one pitcher I want to start a game for the Giants right now, it's Jonathan Sanchez.

On the flipside of that, the Giants need to make 1 huge move down the stretch: Switch to a 4-man rotation, Zito to the bullpen.

From LA, the Giants will travel to Arizona to face the worst team in NL West on Monday. In exchange, the Dodgers receive the Padres. Giants fans will never be rooting for the Dodgers harder than in this series.

In these next 3 days, the Giants will need to worry less about the Padres and more about beating the D-Backs, a team who got them good in their last meeting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ex-Blackhawk Niemi To The Sharks

Former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, according to sources.

The Sharks had been looking for a clear-set goalie to start their 2010 season, although their recent pick-up of Antero Nittymaki from Tampa Bay seemed to be the default option, at least to start.

If you would recall, Niemi played the role of the brick wall in front of Chicago's net last season when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Niemi was only in net because of first-stringer Cristobal Huet's benching late in the season. Niemi surprised the world, and probably himself, when he lead the Blackhawks to the Cup.

The team most annoyed with Niemi's success last season is probably his current team, the Sharks. The Sharks were swept in the Western Conference Semi's after they couldn't get a puck past Niemi. Now that Niemi is on their side, their attitude toward him may be a little different.

But let's analyze this for a second. Next to the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks are most likely the Sharks' greatest rival because of the way the two teams continuously meet in the playoffs or how they are always on top of the conference.

If you're not too much into hockey, I liken this towards the Giants/Rockies or Giants/Padres series. It's not the Dodgers, but pretty close.

Niemi coming to the Sharks is like Ubaldo Jimenez or Mat Latos coming to the Giants, just a little less talent on Niemi's end.

Whether Sharks fans like this or not, or however they feel about a goalie who single-handedly eliminated their team the previous season and now becomes apart of it, Niemi makes this Sharks team a lot stronger than they were before they had him.

Will Niemi be given the starting spot? The Sharks won't admit it off the bat, but you would have to believe that a Stanley Cup winning goalie would have to be the only way to go. Especially over Nittymaki, who last played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of worst teams in the NHL last season.

Niemi fills the void that was left after Evgeni Nabokov departed. Instead of a goalie that proved everything in the regular season and nothing in the playoffs, you now have a goalie who has somewhat proven himself in the regular season and is overwhelmingly proven in the playoffs. Nabby Who?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Giants' Pitching Could Be Downfall

Who would have thought that this far into the season, the Giants' pitching rotation would be hurting and not helping their playoff chances?

The ringleader of this circus that every starting pitcher the Giants have (except for Matt Cain) seems to perform in is Tim Lincecum. Yes, the 2-time NL Cy Young Award winner is the downfall of the Giants to this point.

Cain seems to be the only one holding this fort, that is their playoff chances, up. The Giants have a total of 2 quality starts by their starting rotation in the last 7 games, both by Cain. That's not what the Giants are about. They're about having one of the top starting rotations in baseball, and not bad bullpen either. Instead, at this point in the season, the Giants are about come-from-behind wins and staying afloat in the NL Wildcard race.

We saw glimpses of hope from Lincecum in the past couple of starts, but are glimpses of hope really what you want to see from your #1 starter? I want to see consistency and a leader that despite the rest of the rotation's problems, he would still go out there and give a quality start. We haven't seen that. And if we don't see it in the near future, you won't see the Giants past September.

It irks me to think about the possibility of the Giants missing out on the playoffs because of their starting rotation. What a topsy-turvy season this has been. The Giants had a scorching pitching staff in the beginning of the season, but they had no offense. Now they have offense, but no scorching pitching staff. I would one day like to live in a world where the Giants have both a scorching pitching staff and an offense to boot.

If the pitching staff gets kicking somewhere between now and the end of the season, we may be able to see that. For now, squeaking out wins and staying afloat may be the last option if the Giants want to remain the playoff hunt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"The Freak" Not Looking "Freakish"

Although the Giants' recent power surge has distracted from the issue a little bit, the question still looms, what's wrong with Tim Lincecum?

The 2-time Cy Young Award winner has looked anything but in the last month and a half. He has been less of an ace and more of a hinderance to this Giants ball club that needs solid outings more than ever this time in the season.

Sure, maybe it's just a rough patch and we should cut the guy some slack for setting the bar so high to this point. But Lincecum picked the wrong time in the season to do it. Could Lincecum be the downfall of this Giants' postseason push? He sure isn't helping.

Blame this on several things, if you will: His hair, his mechanics, the bar he has set for himself since winning the Cy Young. I'll take 'all the above.'

He should cut his hair, that's a given. The guy looks ridiculous.

The meat and potatoes of the Lincecum problem, though, is his mechanics. The mechanics that got him to where he is today are not the one's he has used in his last several starts. And there lies your problem.

Reports are a month ago he changed his funky mechanics that he has used since forever, and things took a turn for the worst. Now that he wants those old reliable mechanics back, he can't find them. Or they're taking longer than expected to find.

What can be done to get Lincecum back in #1 starter shape? Several options have been thrown out there: He could cut his hair (I'm just gonna keep throwing that one out there), hire Chris Lincecum, Tim's dad and the man behind Tim's quirky wind-up and all his success, or keep working with him and hope it's just a speed bump in this kid's long successful career.

Good news, though. Lincecum's last outing, although a loss, seemed to show a much more sharper Lincecum. Instead of fastballs at 90-91, we saw them consistently at 93-94. The location problem still looms. He was so perfect with that location last season and early this season. Location will come with good mechanics, and it seems that Lincecum does not have that right now.

Pitchers will always have obstacles thrown their way. It is how they react to those obstacles that will tell how successful that pitcher will really be. Lincecum is at his crossroads. We will see how he reacts.