While the Seahawks struggled to beat the winless Raiders on Sunday, two very different story lines played out in the Bay Area and in Dallas.
The 49ers lost in incomprehensible fashion, 13-10. At home. To the St. Louis Rams. When Colin Kaepernick fumbled on a quarterback sneak at the 1-yard line. San Francisco is 4-4.
The Cardinals handled a Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys team, 28-17. On the road. Arizona is 7-1.
Here’s a roundup of what the national media and major newspapers are saying about those two teams. Keep in mind the Seahawks (5-3) play both teams twice in the second half of the season.
Coming off a bye week, the 49ers’ offense extended its vacation into Sunday’s game against the Rams.
How else to explain its stunning no-show at Levi’s Stadium?
The 49ers didn’t score in the game’s final 41-plus minutes, allowed eight sacks, matching the third most in franchise history, and had their fewest yards (263) since November 2013 in a 13-10 loss to St. Louis.
By Lowell Cohen, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
And they (49ers) are very badly coached — especially on offense.
The 49ers were coming off a bye week. The 49ers had two whole weeks to prepare for the losers from the Midwest. What did the Niners’ coaches do? Maybe Jim Harbaugh took a mini-vacation at Sea Ranch where he drank fine Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, waded into the Pacific and had deep, thoughtful conversations with the dolphins and whales.
And maybe offensive coordinator Greg Roman . . . oh, who cares what Roman, the most overrated offensive coordinator in the NFL, did? His offense was dead on arrival Sunday. It tends to do that.
This is for sure. The 49ers players were unprepared because their coaches did not prepare them. The 49ers should have been rested, efficient and crisp. Instead they played down to the level of a bad team. Never — and I mean never — have we seen a Jim Harbaugh team this ragged, this sloppy. Eight Colin Kaepernick sacks is enough to cause collective nausea over all of Northern California.
Sunday was not a good day for the San Francisco 49ers‘ offensive line.
It cleared enough space for only 80 yards of rushing, on 3.8 yards per carry.
And it committed four of the team’s nine penalties, with two more declined.
The 49ers’ offensive line was so, well, offensive in a 13-10 loss to the Rams at Levi’s Stadium that it was obvious the coaching staff had no confidence in it to pound the ball into the end zone with the game on the line and a timeout still in the pocket.
Colin Kaepernick was sacked a career-high eight times this week against the Rams. It caused me to look at Kaepernick when sacked three or more times in his career and he has a 6-9-1 record. Compare that to Ben Roethlisberger, who was sacked three straight plays against the Ravens this weekend but now has a 9-3 record when he’s sacked three or more times.
On Arizona: There they are, the stories of the day. And maybe one more: Is this finally the year, the first year ever, that a home team hosts the Super Bowl? Bruce Arians has told his Cardinals, “Don’t let anyone dress in your lockers.” Translation: We’re hosting the Super Bowl. Let’s actually play in it too. The 7-1 Cardinals still have two games left with Seattle, and one at San Francisco, and they host Detroit and Kansas City; it will be very difficult to hold on to home-field. But through eight games, the Cardinals have risen to every challenge. They’re not lucky. They’re really good. …
On San Francisco: Third down: Heavy formation. Kaepernick under center. He took the snap, fumbled it in his hands, grabbed for it and started moving forward. Fullback Bruce Miller bear-hugged him and pushed the quarterback forward. But the replays showed Kaepernick, in mid-scrum, losing the handle totally and the ball falling to the turf, just over the goal line.
“I was shocked to see it there, of course,’’ said Laurinaitis. “The whole play was surprising. The play before, they go play-action and don’t give it to Gore. Then on the last play, they don’t give to Gore either. But I could sense when they got on the ball they were probably going to sneak it. You could just tell in their mannerisms, their body language, the formation. I figured if Kaepernick is going to sneak, he’d just put the ball over the line, like Tom Brady or Drew Brees. But I think what happened is he never really had good possession of it. He didn’t catch it clean from the center. So he just barreled forward.
(Carson) Palmer is back and healthy now, and the Cardinals have the NFL’s best record at 7-1, but it was how Arians’ team performed when it could (and perhaps should) have fallen apart that set the pace for everything else. Arizona was 2-1 in (Drew) Stanton’s three starts; the only loss came to Denver in Week 4. Perhaps there will be a rematch of that game in the Super Bowl — at (Bruce) Arians’ home stadium? Only a fool would bet against him. …
Since he became the 49ers’ head coach before the 2011 season, Jim Harbaugh has been among the most successful in his position in the NFL — a 40-15-1 regular-season record, three straight appearances in NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl shot at the end of the 2012 season? That’s nothing to sneeze at. But there have been those who wonder what might happen when the team isn’t as successful, for whatever reason, and Harbaugh’s coaching style (which is intense at best, no matter how successful) might start to grind the gears of those around him. Halfway through the 2014 season, the 49ers are 4-4, they’re facing several injury and off-field issues, and their loss last Sunday to the Rams seemed to typify a team that, while talented, is coming apart a bit at the seams.
So the point is the Cardinals, whom many gave a puncher’s chance to make the playoffs but certainly didn’t predict would win seven of their first eight games, are not only defying doubters right now. They’re also challenging the Super Bowl host jinx. It’s one of the many aspects of their season that makes them a heckuva story.
Though some realize it’s still too early to start talking about that short road to the Super Bowl.
“Yeah, it is. You’re trying to trap me into it, aren’t you?” Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer told FOX Sports in a sit-down interview for FOX Sports Live after he threw three touchdowns to lead the comeback against Dallas. “There’s a ton of football to be played. There’s no doubt we know where the Super Bowl is being played and there’s no doubt we believe we can play (in) it, there’s no doubt we believe we can get there. …”
He, and the 85,688 others inside AT&T Stadium, knew what was coming. But unlike the crowd, Bucannon knew the Cardinals No. 3-ranked rushing defense would be able to stop it. This play was almost too easy to predict: Hand off to DeMarco Murray. Arizona sent Bucannon and linebacker Sam Acho off the edges. The play came “full flow” toward Bucannon. He jumped off the corner and hit Murray on the side, then the linebackers piled on and pushed Murray back.
No gain. Cardinals ball.
“We were, like, not even blinking an eye,” Bucannon said. “We knew we would stop him.”
At the midway point of their season, the Cardinals are the ones to catch in the NFC West.
Efficient on offense, stout on defense and opportunistic in the kicking game, the 7-1 Cardinals surged to a 28-17 victory at Dallas on Sunday. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw three scoring passes for Arizona, which put the game away with two TDs in 100 seconds in the fourth quarter.
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