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The NFC West continues its descent into total anarchy as the Seattle Seahawks joined the St. Louis Rams in losing pivotal battles today. The pair of losses give the 49ers new hope yet again as they remain one game back of both teams with one game to go. We discussed the consequences of St. Louis’ loss earlier today, so we’ll take a look at the Seahawks game now.
The Seahawks looked ready to hang close today as they took an early 7-0 lead and were only down 17-10 at the half. However, the Atlanta Falcons were moving up and down the field and it was only a matter of time before things got ugly. The third quarter saw such ugliness as the Falcons exploded for 17 points and a 34-10 lead. The Seahawks managed eight points in the fourth quarter but it was not going to be enough and they lost 34-18.
If the 49ers were going to win the division heading into today’s games, they would need to win out and have the Rams and Seahawks both lose a pair of games. Seattle hosts St. Louis at home week 17, so this week and next week were the best opportunities for such losses. Seattle got steam-rolled today and now has to travel to Tampa Bay to face a Buccaneers coming off a stinging OT loss to Detroit. We’ll see if the Bucs suffer any kind of hangover or if they’ll hook up 49ers fans.
The San Francisco 49ers playoff chances will remain alive for at least one more week as the Kansas City Chiefs did them a huge favor and defeated the St. Louis Rams 27-13. If the Rams and Seahawks had both won today, the 49ers would have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Seahawks still have their game to play right now, but the Rams loss is a start for the 49ers.
The Rams jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of field goals but their offense went to sleep shortly thereafter, reawakening in the fourth quarter after they were down 20-6. The Rams drove down and got a Steven Jackson touchdown to cut the lead to 20-13 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. However, on the first play of the ensuing Chiefs drive Jamaal Charles ran 80 yards to the Rams 2 to set up a Thomas Jones touchdown run, giving the Chiefs their final 27-13 lead.
The 49ers visit St. Louis next Sunday with a chance to get even with the Rams in the standings. The 49ers now await the Seahawks-Falcons result this afternoon to see if they’ll pull back to within one game of the division lead. The 49ers dominating performance in scoreboard watching really can’t be overestimated.
If you're still in the group of folks who are rooting for the 49ers to make it to the playoffs, read on. If you subscribe to the line of thinking that the 49ers are done for and should just shoot for better draft positioning, then surely you're sick of this talk by now. Either way, getting it all out there right now: the 49ers are still in the hunt for the NFC West.
They're shooting for a division title and a 7-9 finish with two games remaining, both against NFC West competition. A win against the San Diego Chargers would have set them up nicely for an 8-8 finish, but it wasn't to be. They were pushed around, dominated and thoroughly embarrassed by the Chargers. Now they remain back behind the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams.
So where do they sit? For one, they absolutely have to win next week's game against the Rams and the following game against the Cardinals. Winning out is the only thing the 49ers can do on their end. On the other side of things, if both Seattle and St. Louis lose at least two games, while the 49ers hold up their end of the bargain, the 49ers will win the division at 7-9. The Rams and Seahawks play eachother in week 17, so either of them could get a win on Sunday and the 49ers would still be alright.
This weekend, the Seahawks take on the very tough Atlanta Falcons and that doesn't appear to be a winnable game for them. The Rams take on the Kansas City Chiefs, who are themselves looking to solidify their place at the top of the AFC West, especially after the Chargers beat the 49ers.
The following week, Seattle has Tampa Bay and the Rams will be taking on the 49ers. Tampa Bay is trying to hang on in their division, while the Rams already lost to the 49ers once. It doesn't look all that bad for the 49ers at this point, but what are you rooting for, anyway?
A week after the 49ers unleashed an offensive and defensive fury on the Seattle Seahawks, they managed to merely whimper out of San Diego losing 34-7 to a Chargers team that looks primed for another December run. In a game that this 49ers fan would call horrifically officiated, the Chargers offense and defense was too much for the 49ers.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers keyed the offensive effort with a fairly flawless performance completing 19 of 25 passes for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. The 49ers managed to get seven points late, but one could argue the score could have been much worse given the 49ers performance.
The 49ers problems started in the first quarter when they looked like they were ready to capture some momentum. After Jeff Reed drilled a field goal the Chargers were called for a personal foul for illegal leverage by the field goal defensive unit. The 49ers got a second chance inside the red zone and seemed to capitalize with an Alex Smith rushing touchdown. The play was overturned on a Norv Turner challenge as Smith was ruled down at the six inch yard line courtesy of his knee. The team went for it on fourth down but a handoff to Anthony Dixon didn’t cut it and the team turned the ball over on downs.
That’s when things quickly started to fall apart. On the ensuing Chargers drive, Justin Smith got into a shoving match with a backup tight end and as the refs were trying to separate them, Smith pushed one of the refs aside. The ref threw a flag for unnecessary roughness and the rules state that when it involves a referee, it requires automatic ejection.
The loss of Justin Smith was not the end of the 49ers, but as Matt Millen pointed out in usual crappy way, “I think the 49ers front seven misses Justin Smith.” It was just one of many bad things tonight. The defense as a whole was burned throughout by Rivers. The offense struggled to get much going as the Chargers did an excellent job taking away Vernon Davis with double and triple coverage. All in all a poor performance.
The 49ers remain somewhat alive in the playoff race and we’ll have an update on that later tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime we can just enjoy what is truly bitter pill to swallow.
The 49ers had not given up on this game. After receiving the kickoff that was the result of the Chargers touchdown, which put them ahead 31-0, Alex Smith hit Tedd Ginn for 9 yards and then Josh Morgan for a 19. The two completions put them out to the Chargers 44 yard line. This is where the drive stalled.
The Niners found themselves in a 4th and 11 situation and they went for it. Alex Smith was picked off. The Chargers then inserted some of their back-ups, including QB Billy Volek. Volek was able to lead them to a first down and they then kicked a 39 yard field goal to make it 34-0. There is currently just over four minutes left and the 49ers have just cracked the scoreboard.
Brian Westbrook goes up the gut for a two yard touchdown run. It is now 34-7 with 4:26 until this one is over.
In what is becoming the mantra for this game, Vincent Jackson is making up for lost time. With a 24 point lead in the fourth quarter the Chargers began running the ball more, but facing a third down deep in the 49ers territory, they went back to the air. Philip Rivers again found Vincent Jackson, who caught the ball, turned and lunged forward while extending the ball as he was getting tackled out of bounds.
After a review of the play, it was confirmed that the ball did indeed catch a piece of the pylon. It was a 21 yard touchdown pass. The third of the day for Rivers. All three of Rivers touchdown passes have been to Jackson. Jackson now has five catches for 112 yards to go with his three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the 49ers offense is having a hard time avoiding three and outs let alone putting up points. They will start their drive after the Chargers touchdown on the 33-yard line, with 11:59 to go in the fourth quarter.
Tedd Ginn Jr. and the San Diego Chargers’ Special Teams tried to get the 49ers off to a roaring start in the second half. Ginn took the opening kickoff of the second half to the house, but it was all for not as the yellow laundry descended onto the field and likely took the 49ers hopes of a comeback with it. The call was a face mask on the return teams. So, instead of a touchdown the 49ers started inside their own 20 yard line.
The Chargers forced a three and out and then began to march down the field with relative ease. The 49ers almost forced a huge turnover on downs, but Mike Tolbert just crossed the line of gain, a line that happened to be on the 49ers one-yard line. Two plays later Mike Tolbert rushed over the right side of his offensive line and into the endzone for a touchdown. It is now 24-0 Chargers.
The 49ers are having a hard time consistently moving the football. When this is the case, you cannot blow redzone opportunities. This is exactly whatt the Niners did when they got second life on a leverage call against the Chargers found them with a fresh set of downs in the redzone. They ended the drive with zero points after being turned away on the goal line.
For the Chargers, the passing game is taking over. The 49ers are not getting adequate pressure on Rivers and he is making them pay. They put another touchdown on the board right before half on an 11-yard pass to, who else, Vincent Jackson. Jackson is making up for lost time in this one. Going into halftime he has four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
With lots of time to throw the ball, Philip Rivers is carving up the 49ers defense. He is 13 for 18 with 196 yards and two touchdowns. The Charger running game is an afterthought at this point. Yet, the 49er defense, that is now playing without Justin Smith, cannot get any pressure.
Josh Morgan leads the 49ers with four catches for 47 yards. After a solid start by Anthony Dixon on the ground, he has since been bottled up. He will go into halftime with 5 carries for 30 yards
Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are wasting no time getting their groove back. After the goal line stand the Chargers are marched down the field. Mostly on the strength of the Rivers to Jackson connection. For Rivers, it appears to be no Gates, no Floyd, no Crayton, no problem. He is finding the open man, which more often than not has been Jackson.
Jackson narrowly missed a third down TD reception in the back of the endzone when part of his right foot landed out-of-bounds. The Chargers ended up settling for a 25-yard Nate Kaeding field goal. It is now 10-0 Chargers. The Chargers are increasingly reliant on the pass in this game. We will see if this continues now that they have a ten point lead.
Meanwhile, Justin Smith remains on the 49ers sideline. He is, however about to be have his field-level tickets revoked as he will be escorted to the locker room. Smith was ejected for making contact with an official.
After a rocky start for the 49er defense, they have settled in. Vincent Jackson got things off to a fast start for the Chargers by hauling in a jump ball pass that resulted in a 58 yard touchdown. Since then the 49ers have held them scoreless.
The problem for the 49ers is they are having their own problems moving the ball. They are in the middle of their best drive as the first quarter came to a close. They faced a third and 8 to open the second quarter, but could not convert. Alex Smith was flushed out of the pocket and threw the ball out of the endzone.
The 49ers did manage to convert on the field goal. Oh wait, as I type this the Chargers special teams makes its presence felt once again as they manage to pick-up a personal foul penalty to give the 49ers a fresh set of downs in the redzone.
Alex Smith was again flushed out of the pocket on third down. Only this time he takes it to the house himself. The play is called a touchdown, but Norv Turner chucks his red challenge flag onto the field. The play is overturned, setting up fourth and goal from the inch line. The 49ers hand it off up the gut to Anthony Dixon and is stuffed. Chargers ball.
Well, that didn’t take long. Vincent Jackson is the freshest player on the field. After essentially having missed the entire season so far with contract issues, a suspension for a DUI offense and then an injury, he scored an early touchdown on the Chargers first series. Philip Rivers took a seven-step drop and spotted Jackson deep down the right sideline with one-on-one coverage and did nothing, but throw up a jump ball.
Jackson made it look easy. He came down with the ball and Nate Clements could do nothing to stop it. Not only did Clements fail to tip the ball, but he also failed to get a hand on Jackson. Jackson walked the remaining 12 yards into the endzone.
In the backfield for the Chargers, the struggling rookie Ryan Mathews got the start. Mathews has struggled with fumbles and pass protection this season. It is apparent that the 49ers will need to get some pressure on Rivers as this game goes on.
Apparently it is going to take a lot to keep Patrick Willis off of the field. At least more than hand surgery the week of a game. He is active for the Thursday Night contest against the Chargers. Inactive players for the Niners will be, QB David Carr (third QB), K Joe Nedney, CB Tramaine Brock, CB William James, S Chris Maragos, LB Thaddeus Gibson, T Joe Staley, T Alex Boone.
The San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers will again be missing some key pieces to their potent offensive passing attack. All-world TE Antonio Gates, the Chargers leading wide receiver Malcom Floyd and his fellow pass catching mate Patrick Crayton are on the inactive list for this game. Joining them will be Larry English, Louis Vasquez, Darrell Stuckey. Tyrone Carer and Travis Johnson.
The Chargers were hoping to at least have the services of Malcolm Floyd this week, but ultimately the short turnaround that is Thursday Night Football proved to be to big of obstacle for his strained hamstring.
Is it cliche to go with the quarterback? Probably - but it's also probably cliche for the 49ers to go with Alex Smith at this point. They've turned to him for what appears to be the fifteenth or twentieth time to save them, to be the quarterback he was supposed to be when they drafted him, and to lead the San Francisco 49ers deep into the playoffs, all the while saving the jobs of Mike Singletary and Co.
It's almost romantic, but it's still folly at this point. Is Alex Smith's career in the NFL over? No, it probably isn't. Can he still start somewhere in the NFL? Definitely a possibility. Will it be with the 49ers? That's a lot less possible. But there's still a chance, he's coming off his best performance of his career and that chance is what the 49ers are sticking with tonight, and it's why you should be watching him tonight against the San Diego Chargers.
Oh sure, they boast the league's best passing defense and a top ten rushing defense. They get to the quarterback with the pressure while the 49ers offensive line is mostly inexperienced. They can make plays on the ball and force turnovers while the Niners may be playing a little bit of desperate football. Things are not stacking up in Alex Smith's favor and when we don't have actual, factual statistics going in his favor, we've got to turn to the murky world of intangibles.
Some folks will hope that Alex Smith is "on" tonight. He's out there fighting for a job, fighting for the playoffs and fighting for respect. Number one ranked passing defense? No problem. A turnover-creating unit? Get outta town. Bringing the pressure on the outside? Bring all you got.
Perhaps he won't be that confident tonight, but it would certainly help. Watch a potentially desperate, but definitely focused Alex Smith tonight against the Chargers.
The 49ers are hurting inside, it's true. It wasn't a bad breakup or the sudden discovery that Jason Cole and his inside sources are cheating on them with the Raiders across the bay. It's their inside linebackers, they've got a couple injuries to be worried about. Joe Nedney and Joe Staley remain out, with the usual replacements of Jeff Reed and Barry Sims stepping in once again. But, this game against the San Diego Chargers is a crucial one, and their top two leading tacklers are presently in jeopardy with hand injuries.
Both Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes are officially "banged up." They both suffered hand injuries in the 49ers dominating 40-21 win over the rival Seattle Seahawks. They both deferred discussion regarding their injures, and they're both listed as questionable on the official injury report. Backup NaVorro Bowman, is also listed as questionable with a hamstring injury and is expected to play. It's unlikely both Spikes and Willis would be unable to play, and it's slightly less, but still unlikely, that either would be absent. Hand injuries are manageable, just ask Willis himself.
San Diego fares a little bit better than San Francisco at this point. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton and linebacker Larry English are both out, while star tight end Antonio Gates is listed as doubtful. Gates has yet to practice following the Chargers' win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. He's a primary target for San Diego and would definitely be missed. Wide receiver Malcolm Floyd went from limited participation to no participation from Tuesday to Wednesday and could be another target out for the Chargers. He's listed as questionable.
The San Francisco 49ers have been facing "must-win" games for a few weeks now. Since around Week 6 or so, to be exact, we at SB Nation Bay Area started adding the "crucial" tag in summaries and descriptions. Then it kind of went away for awhile as it didn't seem as though the Niners had a chance to make the playoffs. It's still a bit ludicrous to think they can, but looking at where they're at now, other teams around the league are in the same situations and they have a myriad of playoff scenarios playing out at every interval. They just have a few more wins total than the 49ers, so why shouldn't the NFC West be singing a similar tune?
So here we go! The 49ers have three games left and two of them are against division rivals in week sixteen and seventeen. Right here in week fifteen, they're taking on the San Diego Chargers in what is technically not a must-win game, but it's definitely a game we can all label as "crucial." If the 49ers do not beat the Chargers on Thursday Night Football and both the Seahawks and Rams win their games on Sunday, the 49ers are eliminated. If the 49ers do not win, they need the Seahawks and Rams to lose any two remaining games and also win their two remaining, which are against Arizona and St. Louis.
If the 49ers do beat the Chargers on Thursday, they can hope for two losses from Seattle and St. Louis on top of one more win for themselves to make it. If they beat the Chargers on Thursday, and then win out by winning their two remaining, they need only one loss from either team to make the playoffs.
So there are scenarios for winning, and in this stream we'll take a look at Seattle and St. Louis and their matchups this weekend. For now, the 49ers remain "in the fray," so you can do with that what you will.
The San Francisco 49ers travel down to Southern California to face the San Diego Chargers in a game fraught with playoff implications for both teams. Given the Chargers explosive offense and the 49ers relative inconsistency this season, the gambling folks have opened the line with the Chargers sitting as 8 1/2 to 9 point favorites. The over/under on the game is 44-45 points.
The 49ers have struggled immensely on the road and I’d imagine that factored into it. Even though the 49ers just whipped Seattle at Candlestick, a 1-5 road team is a 1-5 road team. The 49ers do not have to win this game, but a loss would leave them in limbo through Sunday. I’d imagine whatever the result they’ll be scoreboard watching on Sunday, but if they lose, wins by St. Louis and Seattle against the Chiefs and Falcons, respectively, would eliminate the 49ers from playoff contention.
It will be interesting to see what the short week does to the line. A short week likely means tired players, which could be seen most notably in special teams coverage. If this game remains close it could turn on a key punt or kick return.
As a 49ers fan I’d bet the 49ers all the way, but in attempting some kind of objective view point, it’s tough to bet on the 49ers either to win or to cover. They can definitely spring the upset, but I’m certainly not holding my breath. They’ve played up to competitors at times this season, but also been blown out at Kansas City and Green Bay. Really I’d say just stay the heck away from this game.
One game back of the NFC West once again for the San Francisco 49ers. After their obliteration of the rival Seahawks, the 49ers sit within one game of the NFC West lead and a win against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football would give them an overwhelming source of confidence. But it's a tall task. San Diego is coming off the destruction of their rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, who soundly defeated the 49ers earlier in the season.
They're also one of the top ranked defenses, and it will take a perfect game from the 49ers to get a win. With only three games left to play and two of them against NFC West opponents, the 49ers can technically afford to lose to the Chargers providing the Seahawks and Rams lose but why lose the one semblance of controlling your own destiny you can hang on to? The whole "The 49ers are still in the hunt," talk has been grating on the nerves of just about every 49ers fan out there. The most diehard are sick of hearing it and the casuals have moved on.
But it's a very real possibility with the 40-21 victory over the Seahawks. A victory that saw a lot of good things happen for the 49ers. Running back Brian Westbrook showed that he could fill in for Frank Gore and make plays in one facet of the game at the very least. Rookie Anthony Dixon has been running hard and does not give up. Wide receiver Josh Morgan let everyone know that the team does have receiving targets outside of tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.
Oh, and Alex Smith just had the best statistical game of his career, his first game back in five weeks after an injury and a hot hand from backup Troy Smith. 17-of-27 for 255 yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions, that's what he was good for against the 'Hawks. The Chargers have a very tough defense though, but one that is exploitable. Can the 49ers do that? Their playoff hopes ride on their ability to do so. Look for more in depth analysis of the matchups and the game in general as we go into Thursday.
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