Stanford Cardinal Football podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: UCLA comes calling tonight at Stanford Stadium on Pac-12 Thursday Night Football

Photo credit: gostanford.com

On the Stanford Football podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1  Despite losing 10 key contributors from its two-deep depth chart and having five players out of the lineup, Stanford Cardinal (3-3) head coach David Shaw has taken his team and developed them into winning ways such as the way they were able to defeat the Washington Huskies (4-2), 23-13.

#2 Jerry talks about Stanford quarterback David Mills, who went 21-30 for 293 yards, and one touchdown.

#3 There was very doubt that coach Shaw and the Cardinal, who were 16.5 points underdogs against the Washington Huskies in the October 5th game, could pull this one off, but the defense was certainly key as the Cardinal won by ten points.

#4 Stanford head coach David Shaw and UCLA head coach Chip Kelly will meet tonight at Stanford Stadium. It’ll be like old times and Shaw hopes to pull off another win at Stanford Stadium.

#5 How does Stanford quarterback David Mills stack up going against the Bruins defense and Chip Kelly’s game plan?

Jerry Feitelberg does the Cardinal podcasts each Thursday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

49ers competitive in season-ending loss to Seahawks, then part ways with Baalke, Kelly

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) talks with head coach Chip Kelly during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

By Morris Phillips

For the third time in three seasons, the 49ers are starting over.

After an encouragingly competitive performance against the Seahawks, and a franchise-record tying 14th loss on the season, the team announced that general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly had been fired.

While Baalke’s dismissal had been widely anticipated for weeks, Kelly’s status remained uncertain until the reports surfaced the night before the season finale that the coach would be let go in sweeping changes aimed at getting the struggling franchise righted.

“I have informed Trent and Chip of my decision to pursue new leadership for our football team. These types of conversations are never easy, especially when they involve people you respect personally and professionally,” team CEO Jed York said in a statement released after the game.

“Despite my feelings for Trent and Chip, I felt the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary.  The performance of this team has not lived up to my expectations or those of our fans, and that is truly disappointing. Weall expected to see this team progress and develop as the season went on, but unfortunately that did not happen. That is why now is the time to find a new direction for this team.”

Whoever is hired to replace Baalke and Kelly, will enter a situation with as clean as cupboard as can be found in the NFL, and will inevitably ask for as much time as possible to right the ship.  The 49ers could say goodbye to all three quarterbacks currently on the roster, including Sunday’s starter Colin Kaepernick, whose restructured deal gives him a player option that he is likely to decline.

Beyond the quarterback position the most likely players to return with potential of transformative impact are rookie defensive end DeForrest Buckner and possibly behemoth offensive tackle Trent Brown. Tight end Vance McDonald recently signed a contract extension, but missed the team’s final four games due to injury.  Most NFL talent evaluators when asked have pointed to the team’s rosters lack of impact talent, especially at the offensive skill positions.

At the critical linebacker positions, the team will return NaVorro Bowman, whose 2016 season was cut short due to an Achilles rupture, Eli Harold, Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine. Longtime veteran edge rusher Ahmad Brooks isn’t likely to return.

The team’s secondary could see upheaval as well despite the presence of valued draftees Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.

Veteran kicker Phil Dawson said after the game he will take a couple of weeks to determine his future in football.  If the 41-year old Dawson opts to resume his football career, that does not automatically mean that he returns to San Francisco.

Given the lack of talent and uncertainty within the team’s roster, and York’s frequent firings, attracting a top-notch talent evaluating GM and a compatible coach won’t be easy.  The top candidates for those positions–Scott Pioli, Trent Kirchner, Eliot Wolf for general manager, and Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels for head coach–are expected to be in high demand  with at least six teams expected to make similar changes.

Just last off-season, Chip Kelly was hired after several bigger targets turned down the 49ers and York.

In Kelly, the 49ers had a capable coach whose team frequently enjoyed success early in ballgames only to see things stagnate once strategic adjustments were made.  Kelly also had the respect of his players, no small feat, just one year removed from Philadelphia, where the former college coach did not have the respect  of all his players.

On Sunday, the 49ers started fast again, leading 14-3 at one point as Kaepernick completed his first 10 passes and ran for 18 yards on four carries.

Afterwards, several Seahawks’ players admitted that the 49ers’ quick-hitting rushing attack hadn’t shown up on film and initally confused the Seahawks’ defensive front.  But Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said afterwards that a series of adjustments along the Seattle defensive line helped to slow the 49ers, who started Shaun Draughn at running back in place of the injured Carlos Hyde.

After leading 14-3, the 49ers allowed Seattle 16 unanswered points and a 19-14 lead in the third quarter.   Besides a gift safety where Seattle long snapper Nolan Frese snapped the ball over the head and out of reach of punter Jon Ryan, the 49ers were shut down the rest of the way save a Kaepernick touchdown pass to Grant Celek with 5:42 remaining.

With Seattle’s playoff positioning decided as the high-scoring Falcons put the finishing touches on the Saints to claim the NFC’s No. 2 seed, Carroll opted to bench quarterback Russell Wilson and several other starters as a precautionary move. But backup Trevone Boykin came on to convert two, critical third down opportunities and help the Seahawks run out the clock.

Ironically,  with Wilson in the game, the Seahawks failed to convert third downs on nine of ten opportunities.  But with Boykin aboard, the Seahawks converted their last two.

The 25-23 loss was the narrowest of the 49ers’ 14 losses.  As a result of the outcome, and the Browns’ loss earlier to Pittsburgh, the 49ers will pick second in the upcoming spring draft.

A whole bunch goes right: big, fourth quarter propels 49ers to win over the Rams, ending 13-game losing streak

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By Morris Phillip

Down one, the 49ers went for two. Just one of the memorable moments in a second half on Saturday that eclipsed all the forgettable football San Francisco has endured over last three plus months since the team’s last win.

Colin Kaepernick’s designed run on a two-point conversion with 31 seconds remaining lifted the 49ers to a 22-21 win over the Rams, snapping the franchise-record 13-game losing streak with one bold stroke. Amazingly, Kaepernick’s game-winner was merely the capper to a fourth quarter like no other for a team that hadn’t shown this level of resolve at any point in recent memory.

“It worked out for us,” Kaepernick gushed. “It felt amazing, a feeling this team had been looking for for a long time now. It is something this team can build on.”

That the 49ers played so poorly for most of the afternoon, punting on eight, consecutive possessions at one point, then trailed by two touchdowns with 10 minutes remaining, made this victory improbable. And that conclusion was obvious without factoring in how decimated the 49ers were on both sides of the ball.  In fact, when starting running Carlos Hyde was felled by a vicious tackle at the fourth quarter’s outset, the team’s offense was without its starting running back (Hyde), its top receiver  (Torrey Smith), two of its top three tight ends (Vance McDonald, Blake Bell) and all five, presumptive starters on the offensive line.

But somehow in the face of all this inertia, the 49ers and Kaepernick surged, and the Rams collapsed, due to equal parts disinterest and fatigue.  Kaepernick even overcame his well-publicized pattern of poor, second half play, finishing 28 of 38 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought he did a good job,” Kelly said of Kaepernick.  “We hade a whole new group up front.  There was some growing pains for some of the young guys as they were getting their first snaps up there.”

The 49ers struck first, capitalizing on an interception of No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. Tremaine Brock made the pick, and set up the San Francisco offense with a 38-yard return.  Two plays later, and despite a penalty for too many men on the field on the initial play, Kaepernick connected with Hyde for a 19-yard scoring pass.

But as the afternoon wore on, and the punts by both teams quickly added up, the 49ers proved for more generous than the Rams.

 

Defenseless: 49ers scorched by Ryan, Freeman in 41-13 loss to the Falcons

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By Morris Phillips

With laser-eyed focus reminiscent of Joe Montana, and athletic superiority last seen in the being of Jerry Rice, the purposeful 49ers marched into the Georgia Dome on Sunday intent on slaying the NFC South-leading Falcons.  Armed with a bullet proof gameplan carved from the genius of Chip Kelly, and led by the fleet-footed Colin Kaepernick…

And thus begins the story pro football journalists assigned to cover the NFC West bottom-dwellers have been yearning to write for more than three months.    But the occasion of such poetic license has yet to come to pass for those chronicling the exploits of the San Francisco 49ers.

So instead–and for a franchise-record 13th consecutive week–the San Francisco game recap strikes a far different tone, beginning with a desultory, first quarter in which the 49ers spotted the Falcons a three-touchdown lead prefacing their 41-13 loss.

The Falcons moved a game ahead of the Buccaneers in the NFC South with the win, and control their playoff destiny.  Meanwhile,  the 49ers moved two weeks closer to a date with Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and others in the small circle of top-tier NFL draft prospects.

Atlanta scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions, and only a Devonta Freeman fumble at the 49ers 1-yard line in the second quarter prevented the Falcons from scoring five consecutive times.  Still, the Falcons led 21-0 after one quarter, and 28-13 at the half.

Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdowns, and Freeman rushed for three more as the NFL’s highest scoring team cruised without top receiver, Julio Jones.  Along with the win, the Falcons established a new, single-season, scoring record with 469 points, surpassing the 448 scored in their 1998 Super Bowl season.  Against the 49ers, the Falcons scored over 40 points in a game for the fifth time this season.

That’s a really good offensive football team,” said Kelly, who saw his 49ers surrender 40 points in a game for the sixth time this season. “It’s a team that could make some hay in the playoffs.”

The 49ers’ ability to field a competitive lineup to counteract Ryan, Freeman and the Falcons’ offense was compromised when inside linebacker Gerald Hodges Jr.  was suspended prior to the game for a breach of team rules, with no other disclosure by the team regarding the nature of the offense.  Then with Nick Bellore set to start inside opposite Michael Wilhoite, Bellore was felled by an elbow injury three plays into the game.

That set in motion a revolving door at Bellore’s spot that included linebacker Ahmad Brooks, safety Antoine Bethea and backup safety Vinny Sunseri.  The lack of bodies at the inside linebacker’s spots put the team’s historically porous run defense at even greater risk, and the Falcons pounced.

Freeman rushed for 139 yards along with his three scores, and became the 11th back to surpass 100 yards against the 49ers this season.  The Falcons, fresh off their 42-14 thrashing of the Rams, totaled 550 yards of offense, including 248 on the ground.  Along the way, the team’s worst showing in a season in terms of rushing yards allowed zoomed past the record of 2,363 yards with two games yet to play.

Offensively, the 49ers weren’t good enough early to counteract the attrition on defense.  Kaepernick connected with Blake Bell in the second quarter to narrow the Falcons’ lead to 21-7.  Later in the quarter, Kaepernick connected with Rod Streater for a 5-yard touchdown pass, but the extra point was missed, and the 49ers would get no closer.

Kaepernick finished 20 for 33 passing for 183 yards, and he was sacked three times.  The 49ers’ offensive woes after halftime continued.  They managed just 85 yards total offense after halftime, with only four first downs.

The 49ers travel to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, with the mandate to beat the similarly-challenged Rams, the only team they’ve beaten in 2016.  Gametime on Saturday is 1:25pm.