• By Bradford Seaman
    Nov 13, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    So are we good? Or not? It’s funny how anticlimactic the Saints win feels. After all, this is the 49ers’ first win over a winning team since 1999 – and that win was over a Tennessee Titans team struggling to find itself early in the season. Without Steve McNair. Our joy seems toned down, but it doesn’t seem like it should be. Jeff Garcia again proved that 2000 was no fluke, and it now seems certain that he is the worthy heir to Montana and Young. Garrison Hearst’s return from his terrible ankle injury is now complete, thanks to a relentless 145-yard effort, including 97 in the fourth quarter. Kevan Barlow made a huge play on his touchdown catch that showcased the athleticism we can expect from him in the future. Terrell Owens was finally utilized the way the 49ers...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Nov 7, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The Lions were the perfect team for the 49ers to play after last week’s loss. Jeff Garcia is banged up, Terrell Owens is sulking (again), and the team is still reeling from the Bears’ come-from-behind win. You had to expect them to look a little ragged on Sunday, and they did. They fumbled three times, had two passes picked off, and again got off to a slow start to trail at halftime. The Lions are a dreadful football team, so to have the game go down to the wire against Detroit is not very inspiring. But a win is a win, and it should ease the shellshock from Chicago and help the 49ers focus on a big game next Sunday vs. the Saints. The pass rush responded with their best game of the season, and it’s no coincidence that the Lions gained only 131 yards. Mora has been criticized...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Oct 30, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Some games, you just have to walk away and allow the football gods to have their way. How else to explain Shane Matthews, the Bears backup quarterback, destroying the 49ers? How on earth do you explain blowing a 28-9 lead to a Bears team with a very mediocre offense? How do you explain 29 first downs? Eleven in the fourth quarter? Steve Mariucci can complain all he wants about how Anthony Thomas’ knee might have been down before he crossed the goal line on the two-point conversion, but the 49ers had already failed by that point. The damage had been done. I had feared for weeks that the Bears would win – but with a 17-14 kind of game. Once the 49ers took a nineteen-point lead, there is no way you should blow it against an offense like the Bears. But it...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Oct 23, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Then 49ers will arrive at Soldier Field facing perhaps their biggest test thus far in 2001. That’s certainly true for the 49ers offense: the Bears have been surrendering 8.6 points per game and have a front seven that is as tough to run on as any team in the league. But aren’t these the same Bears we whipped 17-0 last year? Hardly. Offense While no juggernaut, the Bears are starting to gain some momentum here with some fresh faces. Jim Miller has easily been the most effective quarterback for the Bears. He always looks pretty comfortable running the offense, usually plays within himself, and has success going deep when he wants to. He is still not a QB who will carry you, but he has won his team over and they seem to play well with him. In his only start...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Oct 16, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Jeff Garcia, like the team he quarterbacks, is facing new tests with every game. And he’s passing them. Jeff Garcia made a significant statement with his performance on Sunday vs. the Falcons. His entire day may have been summed up in his last-second throw to Terrell Owens to tie the game in regulation. It was a hard, tough, perfectly spinning bullet that split three Atlanta players and smacked Owens right on the hands. It was a pass that could not have been any higher, lower, to the right or to the left. It was a pass that was full of confidence. A pass from a quarterback used to overcoming odds; from a quarterback accustomed to recognizing what has to be done and how to do it, on and off the field. It was with that same confidence that Garcia won the game in...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Oct 9, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The 49ers are rolling. Their young defense is stepping up and making plays. The offensive line is starting to find its rhythm and is opening holes for Hearst and Barlow. Hearst seems to have lost any tentativeness he may have had. The rushing offense is now #2 in the NFL at over 150 yards a game. Yet the big story out of San Francisco is that the 49ers are struggling to find their offense. “I'm not complaining about the play-calling, but I think that when I'm working at my best is when I'm in a rhythm of throwing 70 percent of the time,” Garcia told the Oakland Tribune. After Owens, we note that JJ Stokes and Tai Streets have not been thrown many balls. The offense is running a lot and, sometimes, running predictably: they have run the ball 12...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Oct 2, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Stereotypes are hard to break down, even in sports. Why did the gameplan for this game, according to every sports reporter, call for the 49ers to bring a high-flying offense vs the Jets pound it down your throat running game? Why is it that people still talk about the 49ers defense as young and susceptible? Has anybody bothered to watch the 49ers offense the last five years? Has anybody watched their defense the last nine games? Apparently not, because the 49ers have been a team that relies on power rushing since Hearst arrived in 1997. They led the league in rushing in 1998. They like big bruising backs. Roger Craig was a fullback in college. Kevan Barlow weighs as much as a linebacker. San Francisco has been doing what they did against the Jets for a long time now,...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Sep 24, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Terrell Owens cost the 49ers this game, period. Before Owens goes off and does another dance, before he goes off and talks about how the 49ers have been 'disrespecting him’ (always an outrageous accusation from a millionaire football player), he might want to watch some tapes like the one from Sunday. His drops turned one first down into a Rams possession, a touchdown into a field goal, and another first down into a gimmee field goal. The Rams scored 20 of their 30 points on drives following Owens’ drops. Terrell did sit in front of his locker and stare at the wall for 45 minutes after the game, which I guess is his way of telling the media that he was angry. What makes Owens’ drops so painful is that the 49ers showed so much promise in every other aspect of their...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Sep 16, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Mark McGwire stood on steps of his dugout Thursday and seemed to fumble his way through his anger. "I feel ashamed we're even talking about it," McGwire told reporters. "For athletes to presidents of universities, general managers, owners of teams, to even think about taking a field, they should be ashamed. It's absolutely asinine." McGwire spoke for most athletes in this country, but his comments were shortsighted. There is a lot more to the issue of where sports fit into this tragedy to simply call the decision to cancel games 'easy', as McGwire did. It's not easy, Mark. In fact, it's damn near impossible. The central issue is this: to what proportion – and relevance – should the enjoyment of leisure activities...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Sep 9, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Coming off an exciting, sometimes frustrating 16-13 overtime win over the Falcons, a few of the serious questions regarding the 2001 49ers were answered. Sort of. 1. The 49ers need to spend the bulk of the 2002 draft on some offensive lineman. I know that I’m jumping the gun on this call, but the fact that the team is only carrying eight linemen should be very troubling considering their performance Sunday. Jeff Garcia had little time to throw and was on the run all day. Hearst and Barlow had few holes to work with. And this was against the Falcons defensive line. This is especially troubling when you consider that the 49ers offensive line has usually gotten off to good starts in the past few seasons. If one of the running backs does not step up...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Sep 4, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Carolina Panthers Predicted Finish: 3-13 (5th in NFC West) Outlook: Let me just say this about youth movements: they come in layers. You have a small core of seasoned veterans, some guys who have 2-4 years experience, and then a lot of rookies and free agents. You need some veteran presence; a good youth movement should not be a youth movement in totality. I think someone needs to tell that to George Seifert. The 'youth movement’ was his justification for jettisoning Steve Beurlein in the off-season – despite the fact that doing so made the 2001 Carolina Panthers the only NFL team in modern history with no quarterback on their roster who had ever started a professional game. Yes, Beurlein was injury prone and aging. His salary was a touch...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Aug 27, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    New Orleans Saints Predicted Finish: 11-5 (1st in NFC West) Outlook: The Saints could very well be the best team in the NFC this year. A big reason why is coach Jim Haslett, who has won the team over with his no-nonsense, go-for-broke style. The result is a dizzying array of the traditional and the not-so-traditional – the Saints are a team that believes in hard-nosed football but they’re never predictable. The Saints love to run it down your throat and play physical defense, but then Brooks makes some crazy play outside the pocket. They like to run on first down, but they also attempted 17 fourth-down conversions. It starts up front – the Saints have the best offensive and defensive lines in the league (yes, they’re better than Tampa Bay)....
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Aug 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    Imagine you are Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. You’re trying to turn around a franchise that has spiraled downward after their 1996 Super Bowl appearance. Granted, you have the personality of warm bile, but you are a good X’s and O’s guy who has a couple Super Bowl rings to show for it. You decide, in order to motivate underachieving players like Terry Glenn and Willie McGinest, to induce a small character movement: sign a bunch of players of modest salary but who are veterans and professionals who play hard. You ink Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, Marc Edwards, Anthony Pleasant, Mike Compton, and Roman Phifer, etc. But then your best offensive weapon, Terry Glenn, gets suspended by the league for missing his drug test, decides to skip camp, and then...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Aug 13, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The San Francisco 49ers have always had great receivers. They just always have. The way the Giants always seem to have backs, the Bears always seem to have linebackers, and the Lions always seem to finish 8-8. J.J. Stokes was supposed to be another one of those great 49ers wideouts. He was drafted 10 years after the 49ers traded up in the first round to grab another wideout – Jerry Rice. Sadly, the careers of the two took drastically different paths after draft day. Stokes has been telling anyone willing to listen that he has been waiting patiently for his chance to play, and that 2001 is it (somehow forgetting that he was the starting wide receiver for them every game in 1997, his third year in the league). Granted, Jerry Rice hasn’t helped. Even though...
  • By Bradford Seaman
    Aug 5, 2001 at 12:00 AM 0 comments
    The tragic and shocking death of Minnesota offensive tackle Korey Stringer last weekend has people questioning the safety of not only NFL training camps, but football practices at all levels. Stinger’s death followed the death of a Florida State recruit from heat stroke. The death of a Northwestern player last week from asthma only made matters worse. Shortly after Stringer’s death, Paul Tagliabue called on all NFL teams to reassess their practice habits. Is this an overreaction? Perhaps. The fact that such a tragedy even happened -- from something that seems so preventable -- almost assures that it will be over-analyzed. But perhaps, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said on Sunday, we should overreact, because that’s the only way change often happens....
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