Ten weeks down, eight to go in the longest NFL regular season ever. And if last night was any indication, the 49ers are planning to be right in the thick of things down the stretch.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Sorry! There was an error processing your subscription.
Let's get right to it.Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
If there were ever a time for the 49ers to make a statement, it was last night at home against the Rams. Consider the statements made from their very offensive first drive -- an 18-play, 93-yard masterpiece -- to their dagger play -- a 40-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-6. It all ended with San Francisco easily handling Los Angeles, 31-10.
The 49ers used the formula that brought them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago:They ran the ball 44 times for 156 yards. That allowed them to rack up an enormous 39:03 time of possession. When they threw, Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient, completing 15 of his 19 passes with touchdowns to George Kittle and blossoming star Deebo Samuel. More important than anything else, though, the defense was great (helped by a lot of Rams drops). Jimmie Ward entered the night with two interceptions in 85 career games. Then he had two in the first quarter, including a pick-six.
The 49ers had lost five of six coming in. They hadn't won at home in over a year. They could have folded. But they didn't. In fact, they earned a rare "A+" grade from NFL expert John Breech:Breech: "If there's one thing Kyle Shanahan has never had a problem doing as 49ers head coach, it's beating the Rams. Shanahan has now won five straight games against L.A. and this win epitomized why: Shanahan simply outcoached and outclassed Sean McVay. ... The 49ers needed a win in the worst kind of way and they got it by playing an 'A+' game." Honorable mention: And not such a good morning for...
THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
Two weeks ago, the Rams were riding high at 7-1 and winners of four straight. This morning they wake up 7-3 after back-to-back blowout losses and with plenty of questions to answer heading into their bye.
Here's the eye-popping one to me: From Weeks 1-8, teams blitzed the Rams on 27% of their dropbacks and generated pressure on 23% of those plays. In the last two weeks, teams have blitzed the Rams 8% of the time and generated pressure on 26% of those plays.
It's a huge concern for Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford if opponents can generate pressure without having to bring extra defenders. But Los Angeles also has to figure out how to start faster. Over the last two weeks, the Rams have been outscored by 32 points in the first two quarters, tied with the JETS for worst in the NFL. Any time you're in a sentence with the Jets, it's bad.
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for Stafford, who was all out of sorts, says NFL writer Tyler Sullivan:Sullivan: "For the second week in a row, Stafford appeared to be out of sync in the offense ... He had a number of throws that were either a tick behind his intended receiver while there were also a few passes that were off by quite a large margin. That rough sledding in the passing game contributed to a miserable day on third down where they would go 3 of 10." Not-so-honorable mention: Movement in the top four of our College Football Power Rankings ????
Behind the Bearcats, Alabama and Oregon were bumped up to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Georgia stayed at No. 1.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma is tied with Texas A&M as the biggest movers in the wrong direction with both dropping seven spots. The Sooners still have plenty to play for, but a spot in the College Football Playoff might be a big ask.Dodd: "Lincoln Riley and OU still have everything out in front of them. They can win out and grab the Big 12 for the seventh straight year. The challenge will be convincing the CFP Selection Committee to somehow forget the job Baylor did on them. The last time OU was this inefficient (six points in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl), offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was fired and Bob Stoops hired Riley."
We'll get a better idea of where everyone stands after the College Football Playoff rankings release tonight at 7 p.m.The hot stove is heating up... so where are the biggest names headed? ⚾
Will Eduardo Rodriguez agreeing to a deal with the Tigers be a sign of things to come across MLB? Maybe. Maybe not. But in case it is, our MLB scribe R.J. Anderson has you covered with a slew of predictions for where the biggest stars will sign, including a pair of top free agents headed to the Big Apple -- but not to the same team.Carlos Correa, SS: Yankees: "Correa makes a lot of sense for the Yankees: he can provide them better defense at the shortstop position, and he would give their lineup another impact-level bat. The Yankees have already signed one former Astro to a massive contract, in Gerrit Cole, suggesting New York's front office is unlikely to worry too much about the sign-stealing scandal." Kris Bryant, 3B/OF: Mets: "Bryant's defensive versatility makes him a fit for several teams. We're