by Daisy Barringer
I’ve been a 49ers season ticket holder since I moved back to San Francisco in 2007 and during that time, I didn’t miss a single home game at Candlestick. This year, I’ve attended just two regular season home games. Two. Truthfully, if the stadium were still in my backyard instead of on another continent, I would likely be at every game, but between the disaster that is Levi’s and the disaster that is the 49ers organization, I’ve opted to watch the games in a bar or on my couch, even if that means eating the cost of my tickets (which I did yesterday as no one wanted them, even when I lowered the price to $50 a pop).
I wasn’t surprised when I saw on television yesterday that I wasn’t the only fan who decided not to make the trek to Santa Clara. No, I wasn’t surprised, but I did feel a little bad. Because I couldn’t help but wonder what it must feel like for players like NaVorro Bowman or Joe Staley guys who 14 months ago were playing for a fired up sold out crowd who believed in this team to run out onto that field and look up and see, well, nothing. That’s gotta be a kick in the gut.
Still, the Niners actually played as though there was a full house yesterday, and for that they’re to be commended. I was pretty much dreading having to sit through the game, even if I was doing so in my jammies, but after a slow start, the 49ers managed to make it pretty interesting.
The offense was decent Gabbert had a few good passes but it was the defense, the same defense that suuuuuuuuuucked last week, who stepped it up. The run defense looked great (only allowed 70 yards and an average of 2.4 yards a carry) and if not for two turnovers that resulted in two field goals in the first half, the Niners would have been up 3-0 going into halftime.
Unfortunately, when it mattered most when the score was tied 13-13 the Niners allowed Carson Palmer to run the ball in the end zone and score a touchdown, and that was all she wrote. Niners lost by six.
Should the Cardinals even have been in a position for Palmer to run in the TD? Of course not. The refs made a horrific “roughing the passer” call on Quinton Patton that should have been a sack late in the 4th. Instead of 3rd and 18 at their own 30, the Cardinals got 1st and 10 on their 47. It was a completely insane call (watch it here) and without it, I think the Niners would’ve won this one.
Of course, it’s easy to play the “what if” game with football. If Tramaine Brock hadn’t dropped that ridiculously catchable would-be interception, the score is only 16-13 after the Palmer TD run, which means the Niners just need a field goal to tie, which means Gabbert isn’t under so much pressure, although either way, he never should have taken that sack on third down when the Niners absolutely had to keep the drive alive and get the ball in the end zone. Of course, he also shouldn’t have thrown an 18 yard pass when we needed 20 yards for the 1st down, but I could go on like this forever and the fact is: the Niners lost. But at least the game was kinda fun to watch for a change?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the refs didn’t just blow it on the roughing the passer penalty, but consistently threw questionable flags. Thirteen of them, in fact. And not just that, at one point in the first half, there was a six minute delay while the refs figured out which down it was. Seriously, SIX MINUTES. If they want for their calls to be taken seriously, they can’t take six minutes to figure out something as simple as what down it is. And while I think the 49ers could have (should have?) won this game despite the fact that the refs were wearing Cardinals red, it’s still annoying to have the game called by people who are clearly incompetent. Or as Alex Boone so eloquently said, “Those refs sucked.”
For me, the most terrifying part of the fact that the Niners played decently on offense is that I think York and Baalke may name Blaine Gabbert our starting quarterback next year. He’s perfectly adequate, I guess, but is he the guy I want leading my team on a weekly basis? Can I actually see him taking the 49ers to the playoffs? I mean, I guess if Trent Dilfer can get a Super Bowl ring then Blaine Gabbert could also, but oh, who am I kidding? The Niners aren’t going to the Super Bowl anytime soon. But that still doesn’t mean I want Gabbert in the huddle come next September.
I feel like I’m all over the place. And maybe that’s because the 49ers are all over the place. One week the defensive allows 200+ rushing yards. The next week they look a little bit like the defense from a few years ago. One week Kaepernick is QB; the next he’s on IR and Gabbert is our man. One week we’re getting blown out; the next, it looks like we might actually have a chance at a W. Seriously, someone get me (and them) some lithium.
The one thing that stays the same, however? Jed York. Despite the banner flying above Levi’s Stadium yesterday suggesting he and the 49ers should part ways, Jed York isn’t going anywhere. And unless he is willing to make some big changes in the organization, I think the Niners will be mediocre for years to come. And as long as that’s the case, there are going to be a lot of empty seats in the Emperor’s $1.3 billion palace including mine.
Next Week: 49ers go to Chicago to play the (5-6) Bears. We could win, but we probably won’t, and at this point it’s better if we lose anyway. #DraftPick