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Week 8 Recap

Washington Redskins 52 - San Francisco 49ers 17

In what was arguably their laziest effort to date, the Niners were pummelled by Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins last weekend to the tune of 52-17. San Francisco started the game with emotion, keeping things within reach when a Kevan Barlow scamper cut Washington's early lead to 14-7. But despite their enthusiasm, it was clear the game would be another blowout by the middle of the 2nd quarter. Mark Brunell and Santana Moss had a field day against the Niners' depleted secondary, and the Redskins' blitz-heavy gameplan rattled Alex Smith -- who fumbled the ball 3 times and threw another pick.

Too many injuries to an already under-talented roster have solidified San Francisco's status as the worst of the worst. There's probably not another team out there that will challenge our local boys for the number one pick in next April's draft. There were, however, a few bright spots to be found amidst the rubble. Among them: Brandon Lloyd continues to emerge as a legitimate receiving threat. His adjustment to an underthrown ball early in the game was one of the nicest catches by a 49ers wideout this year. Likewise, rookie RB Frank Gore was effective on almost all of his carries (not just the 72 yard breakthrough sprint in the 4th). He should factor into the team's plans for years to come. It should also be noted that Alex Smith displayed some real toughness -- he could have performed a lot worse considering the heavy pressure the Redskins' lead allowed them to apply.

In all, this was the kind of discouraging loss that can ruin a season. There were no upbeat faces, no jokes, and no optimistic quotes to be found in the post game locker room. Probably the most positive thing that can be taken from the outcome is that this will finally end all of Mike Nolan's "we can still compete for the NFC West" talk. With the release of Rattay, and the scores getting more and more lopsided as the weeks progress, it should be safe to view the rest of this year as an extra 10 games tacked onto Alex Smith's next preseason. With players returning from injury, a clearing of cap space, and a plethora of draft picks to look forward to, San Francisco could start reversing their fortunes as early as 2007!


Other NFL Scores:

Buffalo Bills 17 - Oakland Raiders 38
Kansas City Chiefs 30 - Miami Dolphins 20
Green Bay Packers 20 - Minnesota Vikings 23
Detroit Lions 13 - Cleveland Browns 10
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 - Cincinnatti Bengals 13
New Orleans Saints 17 - St Louis Rams 28
San Diego Chargers 17 - Philadelphia Eagles 20
Dallas Cowboys 10 - Seattle Seahawks 13
Baltimore Ravens 6 - Chicago Bears 10
Tennessee Titans 10 - Arizona Cardinals 20
Denver Broncos 23 - New York Giants 24
New York Jets 14 - Atlanta Falcons 27

Week 9 Preview

San Francisco 49ers (1-5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1)

Chuckie's back. The man who cut his teeth as an offensive coordinator for the 49ers in the early 90s, and then went on to coach the Oakland Raiders to prominence before winning a Super Bowl title three years ago as head of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is returning to his Bay Area roots. And he's bringing his 5-1 club with him fresh off a bye week.

Sure, I could use this space to talk about the return of rookie sensation Cadillac Williams to Tampa's 5th rated rushing attack, the emergence of young QB Chris Simms -- who has stepped in admirably for the injured Brian Griese, the likelihood that QB Ken Dorsey will start for a dinged up Alex Smith, or the possible advantages that the Bucs' recent acquisition of Tim Rattay might provide. Yeah, I could talk about that stuff…but who would listen? Will any Niner fans tuning into the game really be watching the scoreboard?

Following the implosion of all hope last week in Washington DC, it's obvious the only way to watch the Niners this season is through the wide angle lens of long-term perspective. We're not expecting or even secretly hoping for a win over the 1st place Bucs. We're simply using our time to evaluate the growth of key skill position players like Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd, the gelling of the offensive line, the emerging battle for the starting RB job, and the search for any unpolished defensive gems worth hanging onto. This game has the markings of another blowout loss (what else is new?), but a diehard fan should be able to see signs of a young team steadily improving. And when San Fran brings back the Lombardi in five years, you can say "I watched them when..."

(Hey, stranger things have happened!)

Predicted Score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 - San Francisco 49ers 10

Other Predicted Scores:

Arizona Cardinals 13 - Dallas Cowboys 24
Oakland Raiders 28 - Tennessee Titans 17
Green Bay Packers 23 - Cincinnati Bengals 27
Chicago Bears 14 - Detroit Lions 16
Washington Redskins 21 - New York Giants 17
Minnesota Vikings 10 - Carolina Panthers 20
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 - St Louis Rams 24
Cleveland Browns 13 - Houston Texans 16
Miami Dolphins 20 - New Orleans Saints 23
Kansas City Chiefs 21 - San Diego Chargers 28
Philadelphia Eagles 24 - Denver Broncos 27
Buffalo Bills 17 - New England Patriots 30
Baltimore Ravens 13 - Pittsburgh Steelers 23

Last week's record: 9-5
Season to date: 67-35