Well, it was supposed to be the triumphant return of my Monday morning Pick Six column. Instead, it’s going to be a place to vent frustrations on what can only be described as an uninspiring performance from a team that was supposed to look like the polar opposite of last season. Well, overall, they didn’t. Stupid mistakes, stupid penalties, stupid decisions, and a loss. Rinse, repeat.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Jameis Winston looked absolutely awful. Now, the receivers didn’t do him too many favors early on. Mike Evans was rushing to the sideline every other play to lose what was left of his lunch, Chris Godwin dropped a pass that would have led to a first down on the first drive after it hit him right in the hands, O.J. Howard let a ball hit him square in the hands that was then popped into the air for an interception. It was ugly. But that’s not what I’m talking about. When the game was on the line, Winston reverted back to his old self and threw a pass off his back foot, with three defenders in his face, straight to a 49ers’ defensive back that resulted in his second pick six of the day. He had over two minutes left with a timeout and he full on chokes on first down. There’s no excuse for it. And he has four days until he can erase the bad memories of this game from all the fans’ minds or things can turn in a hurry.
2.) Penalties, penalties, penalties. There were two penalties by Demar Dotson on the same drive, each one negating a Cameron Brate touchdown. There were multiple penalties by the defense that negated third down stops and gifted the 49ers with first downs. There was a lot of self-inflicted wounds that we all believed we wouldn’t see under the new regime. We were wrong.
3.) The defense looked light years better. Outside of the penalties, the defense was solid. They gave up a few consecutive plays to Matt Breida that got some momentum rolling for the Niners, but overall they looked much improved. Vernon Hargreaves bounced back after a blown coverage with a pick six, Lavonte David was a man on a mission, rookie Devin White was third on the team in tackles including some key third down stops, and Ndamukong Suh had more tackles on the Niners’ first two possessions than Gerald McCoy had all game for the Panthers. Vea was getting some push and pressure up the middle while Todd Bowles sent blitzes from all different directions. Improvements still need to be made, but a gigantic leap in the right direction.
4.) Let’s hear it for Ronald Jones. For a guy that was written off as a bust after only one season, RoJo eclipsed his entire 2018 rushing total in one game. He finished with 13 carries for 75 yards, a 5.8 yards per carry average. Not only that, but he was running with authority. He’d make one cut or one juke then burst through the line, lowering his shoulder and plowing into anyone that got in his way. Jones put his foot down yesterday as someone well on his way to becoming this team’s number one back.
5.) The offensive line wasn’t awful. They weren’t great, either. However, after the full scale meltdown following the preseason game against the Browns, you would’ve thought this offensive line was made of five Steve Urkel clones. They faced a formidable pass rush and played decently. They asserted themselves in the run game. Again, plenty to improve on but an overall solid performance - all things considered.
6.) Really, Kwon? So, Kwon Alexander’s return to Raymond James ended abruptly when he was ejected for a helmet to helmet hit on Jameis Winston. The NFL isn’t messing around with this stuff anymore, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. We all know Kwon tends to get overly excited and it got the better of him Sunday. The truly mind boggling thing was that he was awarded the game ball following the game. I mean, okay...I get it. He returned to face the team that didn’t re-sign him and his new team escaped with a win. But the game ball? For getting ejected? C’mon, man...
Six Numbers To Consider
14,891 - Career passing yards by Jameis Winston, most in franchise history
100 - Percentage of field goal and extra point attempts made by rookie Matt Gay
1 - Number of touchdowns by Vernon Hargreaves in his NFL career following his pick six
12 - Consecutive games in the eastern time zone lost by the Niners, until Sunday
87 - Penalty yards for each team
28 - Receiving yards by Mike Evans, his fewest since 12/10/2017 (25 vs. Detroit)
I Like It, I Love It, I Want Some More Of It
This was supposed to be a fun little segment in honor of the pregame concert by country music star Tim McGraw. Now, it’s gonna end up being a bit of a stretch. Oh well, here it goes;
Two Things I Liked: I liked seeing the various pressures brought by Bowles. We didn’t see much in the preseason, so it was nice to see that he loves to bring pressure and you never know where it’s coming from. Could prove to be dangerous throughout the season.
I liked seeing that Cameron Brate is not going to be forgotten with all the other options on offense. Though he finished with only two receptions for eight yards, he had two incredible touchdowns called back due to holding penalties. When Winston is in trouble, he needs to lean on ol’ reliable like he has the past few years.
Two Things I Loved: I loved not having a panic attack when a kicker stepped onto the field. Matt Gay is the truth.
I love that this was only week one. Yeah, I’m fired up and pretty livid about what I saw from Jameis Winston, what I saw in terms of mental mistakes, what I saw in terms of penalties. But again, it’s week one. I trust this staff to do the work, correct the issues, and get better. I didn’t have that feeling last year (or the year before, to be quite honest). Now, if we start seeing the same knuckleheadedness (probably not a word, but you get it) week after week then I’ll start to get as irritated by this staff as the last one.
Two Things I Want Some More Of: Give me some more Ronald Jones. Was this a fluke? Or can he keep this up all year long, week in and week out? I loved seeing how he’s evolved as a player in such a short period of time and I would love to see him continue on this trajectory.
I want some more of these fellow NFC Southers to keep losing. The Panthers battled back, but the Falcons looked absolutely atrocious. Yes. Give me more of that. Please.
Six Reasons To Not Panic
1.) It’s just one week. The Bucs weren’t the only team to look like a discombobulated disaster. Again, I trust this staff to get it together.
2.) Despite the road trip, this schedule isn’t as hard as people wanted to believe. There are plenty of winnable games left. They can’t afford to drop to 0-2 after they face Carolina, but after that they get the Giants which should get them right back on track.
3.) Matt Gay. He’s awesome.
4.) Arians’ Arizona Cardinals team in his first year also started off pretty slow. It took a little while to really find their groove. Once they did, they were contenders.
5.) Speaking of Arians, he’s never lost nine games in a season as a head coach. He knows how to spot, address, and fix problems. Let’s trust he does it again.
6.) Again, three-way tie for second place in the NFC South. Didn’t really lose any ground.
Six Best Super Bowl Bets
1.) New England Patriots - Destroyed Pittsburgh Sunday night AND they’re getting AB? Yikes
3.) Kansas City Chiefs - No Hill? No problem. No look passes? Could be a problem. Knock it off, Patty...
4.) Minnesota Vikings - They look like how we all thought they would last year
5.) Los Angeles Rams - Tough road win, but got the job done.
29.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Wake up and win Thursday night or it’s gonna get ugly.