The 49ers have re-established their place in the NFC pecking order – sixth, up from sixth. The Raiders have re-established their place as well – 13th, down from 12th.
In other words, if you were looking for change in the Bay Area in Week 15, you got more of the same. And you’re going to keep getting it until you develop a better taste for it.
The 49ers absorbed all that “Tampa Bay is much improved and a team to worry about” claptrap and clapped those traps with emphasis, 33-14. Colin Kaepernick played his best game since Week 1 by showing the fullness of his gifts without breaking the fantasy league bank, Michael Crabtree moved past Colt McCoy in the quarterback depth chart by hitting Tampa linebacker Lavonte David on a line from 40 yards. The defense reminded the Buccaneers that they are, in fact, the Buccaneers.
The Raiders, on the other hand, folded early against the Kansas City Smiths, rallied, and then folded again late. They are as they have been for 11 years now, and as they are likely to be so for another couple of years at the very least.
But the rest of the NFL didn’t change much, either. The Seattle Seahawks are still the most trustworthy team in the league, the Arizona Cardinals are the team most likely to get rogered out of a playoff spot by the league’s insistence on having every division represented in January whether it deserves to or not, and the NFC North and East just plain reek. The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals all took the pipe in varying degrees of shame this weekend.
And the central truth about Super Bowl XLVIII is not that it will be killed by the weather, but by the game itself. Oh well. Death through hubris-inspired laughter by any means . . .
–Ray Ratto, CSNBayArea.com
It isn’t Terrelle Pryor, it’s looking as if it won’t be Matt McGloin, and it sure wasn’t Carson Palmer, Matt Flynn or Tyler Wilson.
It hasn’t been so much about tangible progress, of course — for the Raiders and their search for a stable starting quarterback, this all has been a process of elimination.
Not him, or him, or him, or him …
But eventually the Raiders need a winning quarterback, and here’s the big question and gut call for owner Mark Davis: Are general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen the two guys you want picking a quarterback in the coming offseason?
Of the many problems surrounding this spiraling 4-10 team, finding the next quarterback is by far the thorniest and most important to fix.
, by the way, was a defensive assistant in New Orleans when the Saints signed Drew Brees as a free agent in 2006.
When I asked Allen about that experience Monday, he immediately joked: “I’d love to have Drew Brees.”
Or the next Drew Brees, if that’s possible.
It’s mandatory, really. The Raiders haven’t had a good and enduring quarterback since Rich Gannon, and not coincidentally they haven’t had a winning season since his best days.
Last week in a conversation with Davis, I mentioned the swing and miss for Flynn and the ups and downs with the other quarterbacks this season and asked if he was confident in McKenzie’s ability to judge the position.
“All I’ll say is that, yes, the quarterback is very, very important,” Davis said. “I’ll agree on that part. I’m not going to say anything else right now.”
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
It sounds as if new Commissioner Adam Silver is willing to do something that never really concerned David Stern: fix the NBA’s playoff structure.
Silver, who officially takes over in February, has been alarmed by the state of affairs in the Eastern Conference – an ongoing issue since Michael Jordan’s last title in Chicago (1998) and particularly disgraceful now. Only two teams have winning records, and the 8-15 Brooklyn Nets are only two games out of first in the Atlantic Division.
The plain fact is that nobody cares about division standings until the playoffs, when division winners are automatically (and often awkwardly) granted a top-four seed. Silver recently told reporters that the NBA’s competition committee will strongly consider the possibility that “the divisions have outlived their usefulness,” so there’s hope for a more fair system in the near future.
But that’s only a first step, and hardly the answer. It’s time for the league to eliminate the conferences altogether, shorten the schedule and stop pretending the East-West thing has any meaning whatsoever.
It’s not as if the existing system ever kept a potential title contender out of the playoffs. There is no parity in the NBA, dating all the way back to the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain days, and any given season finds only a half-dozen teams capable of winning it all. But consider the Warriors’ plight. They’re roaming dangerous territory in the Western Conference, right around that eighth and final spot. If that’s the case in April, you’ll hear plenty of complaints about so many awful Eastern teams making the playoffs.
The NBA owners, who shouldn’t have a say in anything beyond the realm of their own organizations, are the ones holding up the perfect plan: no conferences and a 58-game season with two games against each of the other 29 teams – once at home, once away. That would eliminate fatigue, the absurd notion of back-to-back games and other pitfalls of an overly crowded schedule, including a wave of injuries that seems to become more drastic each year.
But, no, the owners have to protect their precious home dates. Forget integrity or common sense, just make sure they cash out to their satisfaction.
–Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle