• Travis Rapp

RebuildWatch 2018: Critiquing the MNF Game

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

Look, losing sucks. It sucked in 1989. It sucked in 1997. It sucked in 2013. It sucks now.

I sat quietly Monday night, watching Aaron Rodgers complete passes right and left. Making Greg Mabin look like a high school freshman playing senior night. I knew. I had seen it happen over and over again. I knew when C.J. Beathard threw up a complete prayer bomb to Marquise Goodwin and Goodwin didn’t even make an adjustment to it. It was going to happen again. The 49ers were going to lose. Again. In a close game.

Flashbacks of barely losing to Troy Aikman- and Brett Favre-led teams entered my head. When I was younger I would have been stomping my feet and complaining about how the ball bounced during that last interception and they didn’t even take the time to review it properly. In my young adult years I would have thrown my hat across the room, spilling my beer and spraying expletives around the room. Not today. I just sat back and watched the collapse while drinking my craft hard cider.

Lost in the loss was a lot of brilliant football. Kyle Shanahan had finally balanced the offensive attack, with Raheem Mostert serving as the second punch to an energized Matt Breida. The team committed only two penalties, something that has plagued the team for the past two seasons, although one of those penalties was Richard Sherman’s defensive holding penalty, which kept the Packers’ dreams alive. The offensive line boasted three of the five offensive linemen who made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week.

Goodwin and Pierre Garcon combined for eight of the team’s 16 catches, with Goodwin hauling in two beautiful touchdowns. The defense, though not causing any turnovers, did play enthusiastic football and got to the quarterback for three sacks, a fourth nullified by Sherman’s defensive holding penalty. There were a lot of beautiful things to look at during the 49ers’ Monday night loss to the Packers.

There were also the ugly. The team continues to try and establish a second cornerback alongside Sherman. It doesn’t appear that Ahkello Witherspoon, Greg Mabin, or Jimmie Ward are up to the task. Jaquiski Tartt got picked on at times, and Adrian Colbert has trouble with judging the deep ball as well as with the tackling lanes. The rebuilt secondary needs to be continued to tune up. Sherman taking on Davante Adams in the fourth quarter and shutting him down was classic Sherman, but he soon realized, much like everyone else has realized, he can’t be everywhere.

After giving up a disastrous first-quarter touchdown, the 49ers defense held Aaron Rodgers to a couple of field goals for the better part of three quarters. Going into halftime up 24-20, after a methodical touchdown drive punctuated by big runs, and two big play touchdown receptions by Goodwin, felt great. That feeling kept me from stomping my feet or throwing my hat across the room. This was a good football team getting beat by a more confident football team.

That is where the rebuild has gone to. Last season nobody expected the 49ers to win any games. Currently they hold the number one draft pick for the 2019 draft, but there isn’t a football roster in the NFL who looks at this 49ers team and says, “There is an easy one.” Record notwithstanding, this is a good football team. This is why I could silently watch the collapse. It felt like Steve Young coming just this close to a win against the Packers. It didn’t feel like Tim Rattay attempting to overcome the Browns and keep Cody Pickett on the bench.

This team is relevant, even with the losing record.

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