Devoted readers of the Jock Blog (Hi, Mom!) know that the JB had some fun predicting how this scintillating 49ers season would turn out.
It seemed reasonable to think the 49ers might not go 16-0. That seemed a reasonable thing.
After the 49ers dropped half-a-hundred on Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers last Sunday, things are being reconsidered.
For example, I had the 49ers losing this Thursday’s game at Arizona.
It seemed reasonable that a 7-0 team would be due a human letdown. It seemed reasonable to think a short week road game would be challenge. It seemed reasonable to remember that weird things happen in that airplane hangar they call a stadium down in the desert. It seemed reasonable to remember that the 49ers have not won in Arizona since 2013.
The 2019 49ers, however, are not doing reasonable things.
So it may be time for an all time first in Jock Blog history: A retraction.
It is quite hard to imagine the 49ers losing to the 3-4-1 Cardinals. The retraction is born along these lines:
The 49ers defense refuses to do anything but play at historic levels.
We could talk Nick Bosa all day, and that would be fun. He is a prime athlete. He just turned 22. He has advanced mental skills on how to rush the passer. The product of his NFL father and NFL older brother, he is born to do this.
But Bosa is not the only thing playing at a record level for the 49ers. Arik Armstead has 5.5 sacks. Dee Ford has 4.5. The team has 27. By way of comparison, 49ers’ opponents have 11 sacks.
The pressure is allowing the secondary to feast. The 49ers have plucked 10 interceptions out of the air. Last year, the defense had two. All year.
Choose your QB: Carolina’s Kyle Allen. Washington’s Case Keenum. Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield. The Rams’ Jared Goff, even. The 49ers have held four consecutive passing games to 100 yards or fewer.
That hasn’t been done in the NFL since 1977. I got news for you: passing the ball in 1977 vs passing the ball in 2019 is like the Pleistocene Epoch vs, a post-modern technological society. Nobody passed the ball in 1977. Everyone is passing the ball in 2019. Hell, Matt Schaub just threw for 460 yards last week.
So the idea of Kyler Murray, as intriguing as he is, dialing up a passing game that scares the 49ers on Halloween seems far-fetched. Not to mention, Murray’s 5’10” frame trying to throw over the outstretched arms of 6’8” Armstead and 6’7” DeForest Buckner seems a favorable matchup for the 49ers. It’s like watching Muggsy Bogues trying to get a rebound off of Dikembe Mutombo.
The 49ers offense, particularly the run game, are feeding off of the defense’s energy
Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo throws one interception per game on average. Come to accept that, 49ers fans. If you accept that, you can focus on better things, like his top-10 rankings in completion percentage and yards per play. Plus, he gets to hand the ball off to Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. That is, when he’s not tossing jet sweeps or handing reverses to Deebo Samuel. The 49ers are rushing for 181 yards per game. Only Lamar Jackson’s nutty Baltimore Ravens are better.
Kyle Shanahan can dial up a run game.
That’s an understatement along the lines of ‘George Kittle seems like he’d be fun on a road trip.’
And then there’s the Arizona defense. The Cardinals allow the 26th-most points in the league. The Cardinals rank No. 22 in rushing defense. Kliff Kingsbury was not hired in Arizona for his defensive prowess.
What I’m saying is, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers not going down to Arizona and winning every matchup. It’s hard to imagine Shanahan not using the motivation of ending the losing streak to Arizona on Thursday Night Football, with the league watching.
Yes, they will be tired. Yes, it will be weird down there. Yes, it’s Halloween and you’ll be trick-or-treating with your little munchkins, trying to steal a look at living room TVs while your kids grab handfuls of Milk Duds.
But the Jock Blog is issuing a retraction. If the 49ers are going to go 12-4 this year, as predicted, the losses are going to have to come somewhere else.
Not in Arizona this Thursday.
It takes a big Jock Blog to admit when you’re wrong.