49ers, Raiders succeeding at not entertaining, failing at everything else


49ers, Raiders succeeding at not entertaining, failing at everything else

A lot of fun/weird things happened in the National Football League on Sunday, which is why the sport, for its many flaws, still owns the sports business in this country.

But none of those things happened to the Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers, and they certainly didn’t happen for them.

On a day when NFL Red Zone got whiplash, when Odell Beckham and Graham Gano and Greg Joseph and Linval Joseph and Isaiah Crowell and Pat Shurmur and Sean McVay and Jason Garrett and Trent Dilfer and Blake Bortles and Patrick Mahomes all grabbed your brains and faces for different reasons, the Raiders and 49ers did remarkably little to leave an imprint anywhere except at the bottom of their separate corners of the standings block.

They lost comfortably to flawed teams before acres of empty seats, and here were the highlights:

-- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw an interception on first-and-goal from the Los Angeles Chargers' 1-yard line, advancing his rep as the best thing that ever happened to the defensive secondary. He's on a pace to be the first quarterback to average two picks per game since Vinny Testaverde did it in 1988 for a 5-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

-- Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to a scandalously uncovered Christian Kirk on Arizona’s first -- and only -- offensive play.

The rest of both games were turgid slogs in the sun that served only to remind the winners that they can’t be bad all the time and the losers that bottom has not yet been reached, even though they can see it from where they are.

Raiders fans suspected this would be their future the day Jon Gruden traded edge rusher Khalil Mack, but doubled down on the feeling when he decided as Pete Carroll did on a much larger stage that Marshawn Lynch cannot be trusted to get one tough yard when all he’s ever done his entire career is get tough yards, most recently a week ago.

And 49ers fans suspected this would be their future when the idealized version of Jimmy Garoppolo stepped wrong in Kansas City. Oh, they tried to take the cheerful road about C.J. Beathard and his toughness and how the team could thrive with him as quarterback when in fact Beathard’s insistence on defying the pressures of the pocket and his essential role as a backup quarterback on a rebuilding team leads to games like Sunday’s.

Either way, neither team was competitive in seemingly winnable games, and they certainly weren’t memorable or even conversation-worthy.

And while losing is the worst thing, losing and not covering only makes it worse, and not being interesting in defeat is the condiment that ruins the entire meal. 

Sunday was, in short, a thoroughly wasted day in what is looking more and more like a wasted year for the NFL’s designated representatives in our area. Neither team escaped the orbit of tedium, and both head on the road for what we can only imagine will be more of the same. The 49ers face a doubly angry Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, while the Raiders go to London to play Seattle and plan to maximize jet lag by staying in the Bay Area through Thursday.

In other words, our part of the NFL diaspora is an indistinct and spreading gray smear through four weeks, and it isn’t likely to get much better in the near term. Failure to succeed happens every year to 20 teams, 31 if you’re the win-or-die type, but failure to entertain is a lot harder to endure. Whatever else can be said about the 49ers and Raiders after five weeks, at least they haven’t been captivating.

49ers report card: Grading offense, defense in 33-30 loss to Packers

49ers report card: Grading offense, defense in 33-30 loss to Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. – What looked as if it might be an uplifting victory for a team in need of a little good news, instead turned into another heart-wrenching loss for the 49ers.

The Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers. He was the best player on the field, and he made plays in the clutch when the 49ers were looking for someone to step up. The Packers rallied for 10 points in the final two minutes to pull out a 33-30 victory over the 49ers on Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Here are the 49ers’ final grades for the evening.

Rushing offense

Clearly, the 49ers thought they had a speed advantage against the Packers, who proved to be susceptible to the outside zone runs. Matt Breida was banged up with a problematic ankle, but he still managed to gain 61 yards on 14 rushing attempts. Speedster Raheem Mostert had a career game with 87 yards on 12 carries, as he replaced Alfred Morris as Breida's sidekick.

But the 49ers did not get the yards on the ground when they were needed. On the final two drives, Mostert had one carry for minus-1 yard.

Grade: B-plus

Passing offense

C.J. Beathard was very good for most of the game, but he made two costly mistakes in the fourth quarter. He failed to hit a wide-open George Kittle on a third-down play that would have extended a drive deep in Green Bay territory. The 49ers ended up settling for a field goal.

Beathard’s only interception came on his final pass of the game against an all-out blitz. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Beathard could have chosen other, better options.

Grade: B

Rushing Defense

The Packers averaged 5.5 yards on their 21 rushing attempts. Rodgers had three big scrambles that picked up a combined 34 yards, including a 21-yarder on the game-winning drive.

Grade: C-plus

Passing Defense

As well as the 49ers played in some stretches, they also played very poorly at other parts of the game. Rodgers barely completed 50 percent of his passes, but he threw for 425 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers also did not generate any takeaways for the second game in a row.

There were still too many blown coverages, and Richard Sherman was called for an illegal contact penalty that kept Green Bay’s game-winning drive alive. After Jimmie Ward left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, Rodgers went after his replacement, Greg Mabin.

Grade: D

Special Teams

Rookie D.J. Reed lost a fumble in the first quarter on a kickoff return after the Packers tied the score at 7-7. Green Bay scored a field goal off James’ turnover. He was benched in favor of Richie James for the remainder of the game. James had a 32-yard return late in the game, that could have been big if the offense had put together a couple of first downs and moved into position for a game-winning FG attempt.

Robbie Gould made all three of his field-goal attempts, and Bradley Pinion averaged a respectable 40.0 net on three punts.

Grade: C


Few expected the 49ers to be competitive. They were, and, frankly, they should have won the game. Instead, it was another agonizing loss for the 49ers, who fall to 1-5 on the season.

Again, the 49ers lost the turnover battle. They had three giveaways and no takeaways. The defense, at times, played well, and, at times, appeared confused. One could make a case that Shanahan should have gone back to the run game on the final drive, especially after a 7-yard pass to George Kittle on first down near midfield.

This could be a difficult one to brush aside. And, next up, the Los Angeles Rams come to Levi’s Stadium.

Grade: C-minus

C.J. Beathard, 49ers offense fade down the stretch of loss to Packers

C.J. Beathard, 49ers offense fade down the stretch of loss to Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. – C.J. Beathard saw the all-out blitz and went for the home run.

Instead, it turned into the type of play that has come to symbolize the 49ers of 2018.

Beathard threw deep for Marquise Goodwin before the Green Bay Packers' blitz arrived. His pass was underthrown and defensive back Kevin King made the interception. The turnover set up Aaron Rodgers for the game-winning drive as the Green Bay Packers rallied for a 33-30 victory on Monday night at Lambeau Field.

“There’s a lot of choices there against an all-out blitz,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “[Beathard] definitely chose the wrong one.”

Said Beathard, “It was an all-out blitz and it was something me and ‘Quise worked on. He’s just running by the guy. It’s a play if you hit it, it looks great.

“I felt I obviously could’ve put it in a better spot, if I could have it back.”

One week after committing five turnovers in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers had three giveaways and no takeaways in the loss to the Packers. 

Beathard, making his third start of the season after replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, made a lot of plays. He completed 16 of 23 pass attempts for 245 yards and two touchdowns and one interception.

“We have 100-percent confidence in C.J.,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “Everyone else thinks of him as a backup. He’s not a backup. The guy’s a starter. He runs our offense really well. He knows what he’s doing. He’s trying to make a play against one-on-one coverage to Marquise down the field, and he tried to let him make a play.”

There is no question Beathard is the 49ers’ starting quarterback. And there is no question that Nick Mullens is the backup, either. The 49ers would like to add a third quarterback to be in the building if the health of the team allows for it, Shanahan said. The 49ers decided, when they have the opportunity, they will sign veteran free agent Tom Savage over Matt Simms, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Beathard showed a lot of promise on Monday, but the offense failed to come up with the plays that could have won the game on the 49ers’ final two possessions of the game.

The 49ers took over with 4:06 remaining in regulation with a seven-point lead. But a three-and-out gave the ball back to Rodgers, who promptly led Green Bay to the game-tying touchdown two minutes later.

Then, the 49ers had an opportunity for the victory when they took over at their own 47-yard line with 1:49 remaining after Richie James had a 32-yard return with a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness tacked on at the end of the return.

But, again, the 49ers failed to achieve a first down. After Beathard hit tight end George Kittle for 7 yards, Beathard’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage and he threw the interception on a third-and-3 situation.

“We just didn’t execute those last two drives, and we had an opportunity to come out with a win,” Staley said. “We were running the ball really well. Then on the last two drives it was three and out. That’s the story of the game for us. It’s frustrating to go three and out when we were playing so well the whole game.”

With Matt Breida still nursing a sore ankle, speedster Raheem Mostert saw a lot of action instead of veteran Alfred Morris. Mostert came through with a career day, gaining 87 yards on 12 rushing attempts. But on the final two drives, he carried just once for minus-1 yard.

“Yeah, it hurts,” Beathard said. “It’s tough because you’re so close. You feel like you could’ve and should’ve won the game. But you got to get back on the horse and move on to next week.”