Ahh, the doldrums of the NFL off-season. Now is a time when players changing agents becomes a top story on ESPN because, well, there is NOTHING ELSE GOING ON. So unless you are a b-ball fan (Go Lakers), a hockey fan, or are interested in late-May baseball, this is a rough period of time for you.
Never to fear, those at Niners Nation are here to get your spirits up by looking to the future! In case you've missed Part I or Part II of the Fooch-Bigelow schedule discussion, go ahead and catch up by clicking those links, I'll be here when you get back.
Otherwise, here are weeks 10 through 13 of the 2009 San Francisco 49ers season; a stretch with some intriguing matchups, and games that could turn into must-wins if we want to make a playoff run....
ProfessorBigelow: DAAAAAAA Bears! Honestly, outside of the NFC West, I can't WAIT for this game to come
Fooch: how come?
ProfessorBigelow: I see the Bears as a real measuring stick. They match up well with us, are strong on both sides of the ball, but can be beaten. Its a showdown of Urlacher vs Willis in who has the more dominant linebacker (even though we all know who that is). Cutler is a force, but I still don't know how he is going to play with Chicago, kind of a wild card there...
Fooch: Yea, he's becoming that Favre-esque wildcard :)
ProfessorBigelow: ha, almost
Fooch: But honestly, this is a bit out there, but I think Juaquin Iglesias (3rd round WR from Oklahoma), could be a solid WR option for them. Even with Cutler they don't exactly have a ton of receiving weapons ya know?
ProfessorBigelow: They really should have gone for Holt, in my opinion... But there are still some WR's on the market.
Fooch: I'd expect they're not going to improve much beyond what they have. Cutler does make the WRs better, but their big offensive strength is some decent running back options. Matt Forte had a solid rookie season and a completely healthy Kevin Jones would really give them a solid backup
ProfessorBigelow: I'm a huge Forte fan as well. I struck gold last season and got Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in my fantasy league, and Forte became one of my favorite bruisers in the league.
Fooch: Nice :)
ProfessorBigelow: That man is going to have a future in the NFL
Fooch: Yea I'd say so
ProfessorBigelow: But enough [site decorum] licking, lets get down to picking this game. Their (the Bears) d is good, very very very good, but I think they are getting a bit long in the teeth. Urlacher has been losing a step every season. Again, if the Niners want to be a legit team in the NFL during the 2009 season, this is a must win. Otherwise they sit at mediocrity.
Fooch: I agree...good teams win home games. Maybe the 49ers don't go 8-0 at home, but I think this is a game they can win. I honestly think it comes down to how much Jay Cutler improves that offense. Football Outsiders had them ranked 22nd in the NFL on offense. What kind of improvement can we see?
ProfessorBigelow: Better than 22nd, worse than 15th.
Fooch: I agree that it's questionable how much the offense improves. I think the 49ers win this one. Depending on what Cutler does for the offense, this seems like the type of game that comes down to who can control time of possession more.
ProfessorBigelow: Same. It comes down to a few simple comparisons: Willis > Urlacher; Gore > Forte; Crabtree, Bruce, Hill, Morgan > Bears WR Corps; Cutler > Hill/Smith. OK, so 3/4 aint bad. Niners win - 6-3
Fooch: I like it :) But I'll go with 10-9 49ers
ProfessorBigelow: Oh, that was my Niners record til now. haha
Fooch: oh ok :)
ProfessorBigelow: Final score? Wow, wayyy to early for that... But 10-9 is a good one.
Fooch: I'm at 5-4, record wise.
ProfessorBigelow: Winning records, not bad...
After the jump; weeks 11, 12 and 13, including a trip to Seattle and the Frozen Tundra...
Fooch: This 5-game November stretch is pretty interesting. I don't think it happens, but it's possible they could go 0-5 in this stretch...not likely, but a possibility
ProfessorBigelow: I think it is what many people expect. We are seen as part of an "easy stretch" in these team's schedules, which is exactly what I want them to think... I'm ok with the underdog role for a while.
Fooch: Yea....even with a decent start, this stretch is where this team makes its bones.
ProfessorBigelow: OH! We forgot one VITAL point about the Bears; it is a Thursday Night NFL Network game!!
Fooch: Oh yea...forgot about that! Maybe I'll try and go to the game...
ProfessorBigelow: It's a quick turnaround after a (what should be) challenging Titans game... Two tough games, back to back, against two tough teams.
Fooch: how much does that affect the potential W?
ProfessorBigelow: It lessens its likelihood, in my opinion... But its not like the Bears have a week off before then; they play the Cards the week before.
Fooch: This is true....it could really come down to what each team's injury situation looks like.
ProfessorBigelow: Their D could be quite tired trying to keep up with them... So as of May 27th, Niners win. As of Nov 12th, TBD...
Fooch: :) I'll stick with the W...I think Singletary's hill will have this team in great shape!
ProfessorBigelow: You mean Pain?
ProfessorBigelow: It better... Ok, next week, Packers. A classic rivalry of sorts, and something ive been waiting a long time to see: Aaron Rodgers v. Niners.
Fooch: I'd imagine Shaun Hill will be the starting QB, but it'd be pretty funny if Alex Smith had worked his way into the starting job for this game.
ProfessorBigelow: Oh that would make for an epic week of discussion before then. Now on the flip side of having a short week for the bears, we get a long week for this game. Time to heal up, prepare for a trek to the what could be frozen tundra by November 22nd.
Fooch: Yea, I'd imagine we'll be dealing with pretty close to the frozen tundra just before Turkey Day (Thanksgiving is the next Thursday right?)
ProfessorBigelow: mm hmm
Fooch: I'd say it's safe to say we'll know what kind of team the 49ers are bringing to the table at this point. Personally, I think Frank Gore could be essential for this game. Freezing cold means you have to win that time of possession.
ProfessorBigelow: Don't forget what's good in cold weather... A big heaping cup of hot Coffee...
Fooch: This is true.
ProfessorBigelow: If Glen Coffee is being used regularly by week 11, he could turn out to be vital here in giving the niners a 1-2 punch at the line... Coffee or (gulp) Michael Robinson.
Fooch: I don't know if Michael Robinson will ever be at that point.
ProfessorBigelow: He apparently was the #2 during MNF AGAINST THE CARDS IN THE 4TH QUARTER ON THE LAST PLAY OF THE GAME!!! Yes, I meant those caps, again, I'm still, and will probably always be, extremely bitter...
Fooch: Yea, that's understandable :)
ProfessorBigelow: OK, prediction time. Call me crazy, but I think we have a bit of a let down and lose this one.
Fooch: Honestly it's not all that crazy really. Green Bay may not be awesome, but they're going to be a tough game, even if it were good weather. I don't think it's a let down so much as just losing to a solid team...I agree with the loss
ProfessorBigelow: K, Fooch - 5-5, Bigelow - 6-4. Now, Jacksonville; in the game that I couldn't call now if my life depended on it. The Jags were amazing two seasons ago, utter crap last season; they could yo-yo back, they could stay where they are...
Fooch: I agree. The addition of Eugene Monroe really will help that offensive line and by Week 12, they could be in sync. However, they're another team where I don't know if I can trust their offense....they lack much in the way of receivers. MJD is solid, but can Rashad Jennings play the Fred Taylor role?
ProfessorBigelow: Short answer: no. Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
Fooch: yea, I think the 49ers pull it out. The defense struggled last year, but like you said, they could do just about anything in 2009 and it wouldn't surprise me. But again, at home this is a game that needs to be won
ProfessorBigelow: A lot of these "must wins" eh?
Fooch: Yea, if the 49ers are going to step up this year, they become must wins.
ProfessorBigelow: Ok, At Seattle, Week 13 - the beginning of crunch time. The past few years, by this week, we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. At 6-5/7-4, they are certainly in the hunt, and going into an always loud and raucous Seattle crowd will prove to be a challenge this late in the season.
Fooch: Yea...we could very well have a 3-way playoff race, although I'm not sold on Seattle
ProfessorBigelow: Nor am I.
Fooch: But, heading on the road, it's a tough one. I honestly don't know where the Seahawks will be at this point. I remain convinced that their running game leaves a little something to be desired.
ProfessorBigelow: And TJ WHoseyourmomma does not make a WR corps: he's a sure-fire threat but Seattle is known for dropping the ball for a reason...
Fooch: If the wide receivers are healthy they've got talent though. Housh, Burleson, Branch....not too shabby
ProfessorBigelow: Ahhh, slippery Nate Burleson... So hard to bring down
Fooch: Indeed... I think this ends up as a loss for the 49ers...they can do some damage in the division, but road divisional games, no matter how crappy the opponent, are always tough.
ProfessorBigelow: Come on, really? This is the new Niners we have been talking about! If we are beating the Bears and the Vikings, and the Texans, we need to beat the Seahawks. Their D is not what it was last year, its worse. I think we walk in there and take one from them, after a long, wet, sloppy game.
Fooch: Call it a let-down. I'm probably predicting to reach a certain number, but I also think road division games are much tougher than normal games sometimes
ProfessorBigelow: I'm sticking to my original NFC West prediction of (SPOILER ALERT) 5-1. That means sweeping the Seahawks. And so the records spread again, Fooch - 6-6. Bigelow - 8-4
Fooch: I'd say right now it's you being more optimistic and me being more realistic!
ProfessorBigelow: Enough, we get it!