The San Francisco 49ers game against the Packers was always going to be an ugly one. The Niners were undermanned and it showed. They came into this game with a slight chance to keep it close, but turnovers and big plays took that opportunity away.
• Keep Garoppolo and see what he can do in 2021.
• But also add a veteran to give him the competition he’s lacked ever since he arrived in 2017.
• And back up the backup by drafting a prospect in the first three rounds in April.
My proposal, pending developments that could take place between now and March, of course …
QB1: Garoppolo, who remains very popular in the locker room, just turned 29 and is on an expensive salary but not one that’s beyond the market price or cannot be dumped whenever the 49ers choose. If they can’t land a surefire star QB, Garoppolo is their best starting option heading into next season for a team that already has gotten to one Super Bowl with him.
QB2: A solid veteran who is a step up from Mullens and C.J. Beathard and can move into the starting spot with a chance to make key plays if Garoppolo is injured again or falters badly. (My suggestion: Brissett.)
QB3: A rookie with some real chance to develop into a classic Shanahan passer and maybe take over in 2022. (My suggestion: Mond or Trask.)
Jerick McKinnon was tackled near the sideline and the clock kept running, and instead of letting time run, Shanahan called timeout with 39 seconds left even though his team had no chance to win. At that point, under bettors had to know what was coming.
Buck understood. The Fox play-by-play announcer made a joke about some people still being interested in what was going on, a reference to the over/under that was in the balance. NBC’s Al Michaels often makes similar cracks about people sweating bets late in games.
The 49ers got to the 1-yard line and McKinnon punched in a touchdown with 4 seconds to go.
“You mentioned Al Michaels a bit earlier. Now I feel like Al Michaels,” Buck said, regarding his sly comments about the over/under.
“I thought you handled that very well,” Aikman said after a long laugh.
At this point in the season, I’m going with C.J. Beathard. We’ve seen enough of Nick Mullens. The last game he started, he didn’t perform well. This week, he didn’t perform well. Too many bad balls. Too many late balls, and forced balls. There was one that he threw in coverage in a “hole” technique, where the safety was just standing there and he threw the ball right to him. I think we’ve seen enough of Mullens for the year. Let’s see what Beathard has. Let’s see if can move this offense, not turn the football over, and at least put some points on the board.
For as much as the 49ers (4-5) wanted to put on a brave face and show the world they shouldn’t be counted out, this overwhelming reality remained: What’s left of these 49ers simply isn’t good enough to keep up with most legitimate playoff contenders.
What did have a familiar look was how things went in the first game the Niners played without the players above. Most likely, it’s a look that, like in 2018, 49ers observers are going to have to get used to this season.
Even with some of their key players returning at some point, things aren’t going to get much easier. The Niners entered Thursday’s game with the third-hardest remaining schedule left in the NFL.
At times, this was akin to a schoolyard game in which one team somehow got the top two picks with Rodgers and Adams, the former just chucking it up to the latter when they got bored doing anything else. Adams is a stud. Plain and simple. People know he’s good, but his name is far too absent from the discussion as to the best receiver in the game.
Maybe going against the Niners in this setting won’t win over more people, but he went out there and did exactly what a player who’s as exceptional as he is should. He dominated to the tune of 10 catches for 173 yards and a score. He made it look easy on Thursday and looked like one of the best in the game – which he is. “I like get the ball to No. 17,” Rodgers said after the game, “he’s a special player.”
One other constant through it all? The sound of Hussle’s voice. Via music or interviews, Verrett found himself connecting with Hussle’s message.
Hussle often referred to the ups and downs of life as “The Marathon,” and Verrett found solace in the fact he wasn’t going through his struggles alone. When Hussle was slain on March 31, 2019, Verrett found even more motivation knowing tomorrow is promised to no one.
“I just feel everybody in life has their own handbook,” Verrett said. “It’s just the time when you get into that dimension of your life where you can be the storyteller of your own journey. That’s when you can find yourself. I’m able to re-write my story. And now I feel like I’m in charge of that.”