The Long and Winding Road: Examining the Toughest Games on the 49ers 2019 Schedule
Image Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Disclaimer: I am not the Amazing Kreskin. In fact, I am the world’s worst person to predict the outcome of a game.
My predictions are so inaccurate that during a South Lake Tahoe weekend - with the ten most exceptional Turlock High graduates in history - I didn’t hit a parlay, teaser, money line, over/under or straight bet in three days.
Naturally, the 49ersHub editors felt I was the perfect contributor to discuss the toughest games for the San Francisco 49ers.
Week 3 vs. Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Steelers resembled more of an 8th-grade group of boys hanging around the trash can before school starts than a functioning football team. At any moment, I thought one of the team’s stars or its holdout running back was going to launch into a social media tirade about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wearing the same BUM Equipment hoodie every day to school.
Last season, Pittsburgh opened the first three weeks of the season with a tie, a loss, and a win; only a soap opera franchise like Pittsburgh could find a way to go .500 through three games.
Pittsburgh always reminds me of a sleeping giant. At any moment, the giant could stir and devour anything in its path. But the giant can also take on an attitude of 25-year old stoner with an insatiable attitude to nap and get Taco Bell delivered for all five meals.
These types of football teams (and people) always make me nervous. Plus, Pittsburgh has a loyal fanbase that seems to be in every village, borough, town, and city. Remember the game the lights went out at Candlestick? I swear Candlestick was split evenly between 49er Faithful and Steely McBeam groupies.
For some reason, even though it’s the 49ers’ home opener, I don’t get warm and fuzzy feelings about the match-up. If the 49ers win, it’ll be a 60-minute dogfight and probably come down to a last-second field goal.
Weeks 6 and 16: Los Angeles Rams
Every year when the Rams game rolls around on the schedule, I remember how much I despise the Rams. It’s like getting excited for a gameday menu of wings, nachos, hot dogs and Anchor Steam, and then remembering someone always brings a plate of deviled eggs.
A perfectly good afternoon ruined by the Eggs of Satan.
Anyway, the 49ers can beat the Rams. I don’t say this to get the Faithful chasing the tails of smoke and reason.
Here’s a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that describes Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff:
I learned to recognise [sic] the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.
When Goff had no pressure, he threw for 4,322 yards, 28 touchdowns and completed 71.7 percent of his passes. Pro Football Focus gave him a 93.6 overall grade.
With no pressure and a broken coverage, look at what Goff can do behind center.
He’s an entirely different quarterback when he’s dealing with a blitz. He threw for 1,078 yards, completing 79 out of 187 passes (42.2 percent), five touchdowns and seven interceptions. These high school back-up like numbers earned him a 44.1 grade from Pro Football Focus.
The 49ers need to play the best football possible to beat the Rams. It’s more than just keeping Goff on the move; the offense will need to score on at least seven drives, and the defense will need to generate late-game turnovers to seal at least one victory.
Week 14 at New Orleans
Some people get overly excited when a football expert recites psalms of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady dualistic cosmology.
We’ve all been hoodwinked by that unholy, sham marriage.
The One and True Gospel is the relationship between New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.
If you were to give me a football game where I had to put up everything I owned against everything you owned, and I got to pick a head coach and quarterback, I’d pick Payton and Brees.
After dropping the opening game against Tampa Bay, New Orleans went on to win ten straight. I remember turning to the 49er R-Bar crew in Week 8 or 9 saying, “When did the Saints when seven in a row? Why am I here?”
Unfortunately for the 49ers, this is a late-season game on the road. It could be a must-win for New Orleans to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs, and it also could be a must-win for the 49ers to keep a game up on Seattle or the Rams.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will need to keep Brees scrambling, as his stellar numbers fall back to earth when he’s under pressure.
New Orleans allowed the fourth most passing yards in the league last year with 4,302 and allowed 30 passing touchdowns. However, its run defense was the second best in the NFL, only allowing 3.6 yards per rush on 356 attempts (per Pro Football Reference).
This could be a game where the 49ers need to claw back from a large deficit to try and squeak out a win.
If you’re tired of predictions and guessing, rejoice! We are a month away from training camp. And even though not all of us went to OTAs, we’re all excited to talk about actual football.
You can follow Bret on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers analysis and coverage!