clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Game Manager, Week 8: Fodbold! (or Short week, short temper, shortcomings)

If you think Sunday’s game was hard to watch, just wait until the 49ers play the Raiders on Thursday night in what promises to be the worst thing to air on Fox in prime time since ‘The Littlest Groom.’

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: International Series-Oakland Raiders Press Conference
Jon Gruden has denied the rumor he’s trying to trade himself to another team.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I spent the past week in Denmark, where football is called “fodbold.” That also refers to soccer, so to be specific, the NFL is called “Amerikansk fodbold.” And it’s not like the Danish don’t understand the NFL -- Denmark’s own Morten Andersen is a Hall of Famer, who was the all time NFL points leader until he was passed by Adam Vinateri this past weekend, ironically enough. Andersen’s excellence is what sparked Denmark’s interest in NFL, and while it certainly has not swept the nation, it did motivate them air the games there.

The Danish even gave an Amerikansk fodbold league called the DAFF. Copenhagen has two teams, which makes it the Los Angeles, New York, or bat area of Denmark. One of Copenhagen’s teams used to be called the “Vikings,” but I guess that was too on the nose, so they changed it. Now they have teams like the “Tomahawks,” “Demons,” and “Rebels.” There’s no 49ers, but there are the 89ers and also the “Gold Diggers.” which is pretty damn close if you think about it. Their championship game is called “The Mermaid Bowl.” This is what the DAFF version of the conference championship game looks like (backed by some traditional Danish guitar rock):

As for the NFL I saw, it was like the football we know and love in America, but just slightly different. In fodbold, the Sunday games start at 7pm and end at 6am. You cannot stream fodbold, no matter how hard you try to illegally fake your IP address. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) So to watch fodbold, I had to find a traditional English pub that stays open until 5pm, traverse through the bottom floor, where they play soccer on all the TV’s, and head upstairs, where a small but devoted and very friendly group of ex-pats watching the games on satellite -- including the Sky Sports version of the Red Zone channel, featuring Rob Ryan and former Niner Takeo Spikes. I had to ask them to put on the 49ers game, the idea of which made the bartender and several patrons laugh at the idea anybody would actually want to see that, but they took pity on me and agreed to put on one tiny TV in the corner so nobody else has to be subjected to it.

For most of the game, fodbold looked much different than regular football. I found that in fodbold, the 49ers not only create multiple turnovers — including a real live interception (their second of the year!) — they actually win the turnover battle. In fodbold, the 49ers not only hold an opposing team to three points through three quarters, they actually score two points themselves. In fodbold, the 49ers sack the quarterback like a real football team. In fodbold, the teams scored in twos and threes like basketball -- none of this six-pointers you usually see -- and score at the frequency and totals of a typical baseball game. Sure, Richard Sherman actually got beat -- against a rookie QB, no less -- but the 49ers defense was really good (which might have had more to do with them playing against said rookie, Josh Rosen, and Byron Leftwich, who still had that new offensive coordinator smell.

But eventually, somewhere around the end of the third quarter, fodbold morphed back into the football we’ve grown to know and love be nauseated by. Just as the 2018 49ers have morphed back into the 2017 squad, even managing to exactly match last year’s loss in Arizona -- 18-15 on a late TD.

Despite having an interception, Jacquiski Tartt left the game with his customary shoulder injury. Reuben Foster also had his weekly injury exit, those this time he shook it up by hurting his hamstring instead of his shoulder. The pressure the Niners put on the QB disappeared right when it should’ve thrived most -- once every play was a predictable passing situation. The defensive backs stop covering anybody -- even Sherman saved his worst play for a late toasting by Christian Kirk (though he did make one beautiful pass breakup on a potential game winning TD pass on the very next play). The 49ers defense gave up yards and points like they were on clearance. Robert Saleh couldn’t call a defense that worked -- even against a coordinator less experienced than he (or anyone else) is. Beathard absorbed unnecessary abuse. The team made untimely and unforced errors. Stop me if this all sounds familiar.

They lost, of course. That’s what these 49ers do. Say what you like about Kyle Shanahan -- and I personally like him quite a bit -- the thing his teams do best is lose, even when they every chance to avoid it. The 49ers have now played a full season of games Jimmy Garoppolo has not finished, and they are 1-15 in them. Chip Kelly and Blaine Gabbert think that’s unacceptable.

I will say this about Shanny: He’s not taking it lying down. He was much more animated and annoyed in this game than I think I’d seen him before. He chastised Beathard on the sideline. He yelled at Kendrick Bourne for screwing up. He ranted into the headset to anyone listening about penalties. He screamed and waved his arm at the refs.

But none of that stopped the 49ers from making it a clown show at the end. Just like this season has turned out to be. They’ve become such a joke, they get laughed at in Scandinavia and their own esteemed beat writers can’t wait for the end of the first quarter before they’re firing off snarky tweets making fun of what they’re forced to watch.

I can’t blame them. My name may not be Matt, but I write about the 49ers too, and more than ever that actually feels like hard work.

Who’s got it better worse than us?

This week, it’s the 49ers upcoming opponent, the Oakland Raiders.

I know what you’re thinking: “You already used this a couple of weeks ago.” Or maybe you’re thinking “Actually, I had no idea you already used them because I never read your column, I just stumbled across it on a Google search for C.J. Beathard nudes.”

I’m In either case, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The bad news: we’re just about out of teams which are even potentially worse than the Niners. Only the Giants remain, and that could end as soon as next week. The good news: the Raiders are so laughable they deserve to be ridiculed twice. Honestly, I really only scratched the surface last time. Besides, this week’s game could determine the No. 1 overall pick -- which is way better than a coin flip (even with a specially made coin by the way.

I’m certainly not the only one who has been pointing at laughing -- or holding their nose -- at the Raiders. Deadspin named them their “Ass Team of the Week.”

Before the year even started, they had issues. They are, of course, lame ducks in Oakland since they officially announced their move to Las Vegas -- which is already having issues, and could face delays. Still playing in a city you’re leaving is weird, especially when it’s the second time you’ve ditched them. It’s like going back to your wife after leaving her for another woman, convincing her you’ve changed and still love her, then leaving her for yet another woman a few years later. And when you leave for LA and Las Vegas, it’s like that same story except the women you keep leaving her for are strippers. At this point, they’re lucky Oakland is just suing them, because the spurned wife in the above story would probably go Lorena Bobbitt on her man, and I doubt there’s a court in the land that would convict her.

Then, into this quagmire, walked the $100 million man, Jon Gruden. Sure, he hadn’t coached in a decade, but his reputation as a QB whisperer — built on helping Rich Gannon become an MVP with Oakland — made Raider fans hope he could revitalize Derek Carr’s career. But those fans may have ignored Gruden’s history in Tampa, where he went through lots of QB’s very quickly and without much success. That tendency followed Gruden to Oakland, where Carr has been inconsistent.

Now, there’s talk this past week of how Gruden might want to ditch Carr before next year, especially considering how little dead money would be left in his wake. Not to mention the fact his brother (not that one) felt the need to defend him on Twitter, and Carr himself felt the need to respond to tell him he didn’t actually need to defend him — using the opportunity to deny crying on the field (which is a sentence I never thought I’d find an occasion to write).

The idea the Raiders could trade the QB who was clearly their franchise guy just two years ago, and who they gave a contract befitting that, would seem shocking if not for the fact they have been in the process of blowing it up for some time now. First Gruden denied he was trying to trade Khalil Mack, right before he traded Khalil Mack. Then Gruden denied he was trying to trade Amari Cooper, right before he traded Amari Cooper. Now Gruden has denied he’s trying to trade Carr, and also that he’s tanking. You can imagine where it goes from here. (He fixes the cable?)

But give Gruden credit where it’s due -- people laughed when it was rumored he wanted a first round pick, but now who’s laughing? Well, lots of people -- now there just laughing at Jerry Jones for actually giving up a first round pick for Cooper.

All this after releasing Michael Crabtree and Marquette King in the offseason leaves has left the team nearly unrecognizable. Which isn’t necessary a bad thing since they weren’t very good to begin with. So blowing it up isn’t necessarily a bad idea. And now they have 416 first round picks in next years draft, leaving them in a good position to restock their roster with talent. But that doesn’t change the fact they stink -- and not just because they got skunked.

And if remaking the team is the plan, and this is all going as expected, that doesn’t explain some of the bizarre quotes from Gruden. And even if the Raiders can’t rush the passer to save their lives (something we 49er fans wouldn’t know anything about), maybe Chucky shouldn’t talk about it so much. That he can’t seem to do that makes one wonder about Gruden’s mental health, and makes Raiders fans just want him gone. But with more than nine years and $90 million remaining on his contract, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

If that’s not a completely untenable mess, it’ll do until one arrives. Which, considering how the Gruden error era has gone so far, shouldn’t be long now. But on the bright side, at least he has one of the great parody Twitter accounts there is, right up there with Capt. Andrew Luck for the NFL’s best.


Who will come out of Thursday night’s game looking worse?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    The 49ers
    (36 votes)
  • 19%
    The Raiders
    (39 votes)
  • 5%
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    The NFL
    (36 votes)
  • 38%
    Anybody who watches
    (77 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now