by Daisy Barringer

Well, I hope y’all enjoyed watching the San Francisco 49ers face off against Arizona Cardinals yesterday in the NFL’s first-ever game of flag football! I really only have one complaint about the game and that’s the fact that no one remembered to let the Niners know that they weren’t playing regular football, you know the one where you’re allowed to hit and tackle and talk a little smack between plays, but instead were playing football where contact is not allowed and the players share their orange slices during halftime because that’s what good little boys do.

The other big rule change that I don’t think the Niners were aware of until sometime during the second quarter was that they weren’t actually just playing the Arizona Cardinals. No, they were also trying to beat the NFL Zebras, a team of old men who randomly throw yellow flags onto the field in order to ensure the game goes the way they want. And in this case, it was abundantly clear that they all had money on the Cardinals.

I don’t enjoy blaming the refs for a loss. And, to be clear, the refs alone are not to blame. But the amount of flags thrown on the 49ers would have been laughable if not for the fact that it completely changed the outcome of the game. The two most notable penalties are when linebacker Dan Skuta was flagged for unnecessary roughness after hitting Cardinals QB Drew Stanton mid-slide. Anyone who was watching could see that Skuta was clearly leading with his shoulder. According to Skuta even Stanton himself admitted after the game that it was a bad call. Then, on the very next play, Patrick Willis was flagged for roughing the passer. It was hard to see in the FOX replays exactly what went down, but based on Joe Staley’s sideline reaction, I’m going to say it was a bad call. Long story long: That’s 30 yards the refs just handed Arizona. Three plays after the Willis flag, Stanton threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brown and the Cards went up 20-14. It would have been more appropriate if Stanton had handed the ball to a ref and the ref had walked the ball into the end zone and then threw his hands up declaring 6 points. NOT THAT I AM BITTER.

The truth, however, is that refs are going to make bad calls. And they’re going to make good calls. And they’re going to miss calls completely. Which is why the 49ers need to learn 1) to win despite the referees, but also 2) to not make dumb-ass mistakes.

Also, it would be lovely if they’d try not to implode in the second half every week.

Colin Kaepernick actually looked great in the first two quarters. He was completing passes (including his first nine), evading sacks, scrambling down field… He looked like the QB Harbaugh thought was worthy of replacing Alex Smith (yup, that’s right: I am STILL talking about Alex Smith) and nothing like the QB who threw four million interceptions last week. And this was without his boy Vernon Davis on the field.

Thanks to some impressive offensive play, the 49ers were up 14-6 at the half and it looked like Arizona just wasn’t going to be able to figure out how to take the lead.

And then the second half started.

In case you live in a cave and missed the seven katrillion times this was noted by announcers, commentators, tweeters, sportscasters, and probably even POTUS, in three second halves of football played this year, the 49ers have been outscored 52-3. That’s right ladies and gents: the 49ers have not scored a touchdown in a second half all year. And, wait for it: they haven’t scored ANY points at all during a fourth quarter.

Why did the Niners implode during yet another second half? The list is too long to detail here, but includes things like a nonexistent run game, Cardinals receivers who were wide open, a 49ers blocked field goal when there were only NINE Arizona players on the field, nine penalties for 107 yards, and the fact that the 49ers really really miss Anthony Davis, NaVorro Bowman, and Aldon Smith.

Sadly though, I find myself putting the weight of the loss on one particular player’s shoulders. I love the guy — am so glad that he’s on the team — but feel like it has to be said:

Sorry Anquan Boldin, but if you don’t headbutt that dude when it’s first and goal from Arizona’s six-yard-line, we score the touchdown, go up by one point, and the momentum totally changes. Instead, 1st and goal from the six becomes 1st and 10 from the 21. And then a Jonathan Martin clipping penalty makes it 3rd and 23 from the 34. And then there’s that ridiculous blocked field goal and suddenly the 49ers get zero points instead of seven.

Boldin stepped up and took responsibility for his actions and I absolutely believe him that guys were taking shots at him all day and the refs weren’t calling it. But we all know the refs see what they want to see and sometimes actually don’t see things they want to see. So Boldin has to keep his cool. Mistakes like that cost teams the game. And in this case, I think it really did.

So where does that leave the Niners? Well, with Seattle’s overtime win (#$*@$*&!!!), it leaves us in third place in the NFC West. It leaves us looking weak and beatable and like we have a lot to figure out before we play the Eagles at home next Sunday.

Speaking of the Eagles, the 49ers have to win that game. Not just because we desperately need a win, but because Eagles fans are really some of the most annoying, despicable people in the entire world and I really want to shut them down. Also: because ohmygod, we cannot go 1-4. I’ll die.

Can we beat the Eagles? Absolutely. We have all of the tools we need. A good offense, solid defense, and a smart coaching staff. We just need to pretend like the second half is the first half. And pray the refs hate the Eagles more that they do the Niners. Here’s hopin’…