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Is there any concern over 49ers?

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Is there any concern over 49ers?

Most Super Bowl championship teams have at least one bad game. Sometimes it happens in Week 1.

Maybe we’ll look up at the end of December, maybe even the end of September, and the San Francisco 49ers’ opening-game loss to the Arizona Cardinals will look like a blip in another successful season. Hopefully for 49ers fans, it was just a one-off.

Whatever happens next, Sunday wasn’t a fluky loss. Arizona had 29 first downs to 18 for the 49ers. The Cardinals outgained the 49ers 404-366. The 49ers were 2-of-11 on third-down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth down. Arizona deserved the win.

It might not be a problem if it wasn’t for the Super Bowl hangover, which might include Jimmy Garoppolo.

Since the 1997 season, both Super Bowl participants have won their respective divisions just once. That says either the Kansas City Chiefs or 49ers are likely to not win another division title, and we all saw how good the Chiefs looked in Week 1. It’s a trend that can’t be ignored.

There wasn’t much concern from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. He said that issues on third down and in the red zone were the reason San Francisco found itself in a close game. He was mostly fine with how the 49ers played otherwise.

“I thought we started out very well. Thought we had a chance to run away with it a little bit in the first half,” Shanahan said. “Anytime you average eight yards a play and you’re holding them pretty good on the other side of the ball, I thought we’d have more points to show for it than what we did.”

The focus will be on Garoppolo, fair or not. When the 49ers blew a lead in the fourth quarter of last season’s Super Bowl, Garoppolo’s overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders in the final minutes got more attention than all of the 49ers’ defensive mistakes combined. That’s the life of a quarterback.

Garoppolo didn’t have injured receivers Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk on Sunday, and tight end George Kittle was obviously affected by a knee injury suffered in the first half. Garoppolo wasn’t bad, but he couldn’t rally the 49ers for a winning score on their final drive. So he will take an inordinate amount of the blame. Again. The San Francisco Chronicle’s column on Monday had the headline, “49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo has another fourth quarter to forget as hangover clangs on.” It’s not the kind of attention you want after a long, long offseason.

The 49ers should be fine. They can still run the ball. Their pass catchers should get healthier, though Kittle’s injury is worrisome. Shanahan can coach. The defense is still very good. Sunday’s loss was not a great way to start the season but it wasn’t a cause for panic.

For now the 49ers should still be considered one of the NFC’s best teams, just one that started in an 0-1 hole. Then again, if Sunday was a sign of things to come, the 49ers would join a very long list of teams that couldn’t recapture their magic after reaching a Super Bowl.

Maybe I’m overreacting to one week, but that was a horrendous performance and I’m not sure why it’ll get any better. There are very few blue-chip players on either side of the ball and Adam Gase isn’t a good coach. Other than that, things are going really well for the Jets.

Carolina put up 30 points and lost. That will be a theme this season. The Panthers are going to give up a lot of points, but they have a lot of playmakers on offense including Robby Anderson, who had 115 yards and might have a big season away from Adam Gase. It’ll be a fun team to watch.

Joe Burrow’s debut was OK, not great. He missed a few throws he needed to make to lift the Bengals to a win. His fourth-quarter interception was a bad rookie mistake. There’s room for growth, and at least Burrow looked like he belonged.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0, LW: 32)

Gardner Minshew II was excellent, completing 19-of-20 passes for 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Jacksonville’s upset win. The Jaguars went about the offseason like they were tanking for Trevor Lawrence, but they might be fine with Minshew.

28. Washington Football Team (1-0, LW: 31)

Chase Young had 1.5 sacks in his debut, and Washington had eight sacks as a team. A stellar defensive line can help a rebuilding team win a few more games than it should, and Washington seems to have one.

27. New York Giants (0-1, LW: 27)

I can’t even blame the Giants. Monday night seemed like it was much more about the Steelers playing well than New York’s issues. Still, the offensive line has a long way to go and it better happen fast.

26. Miami Dolphins (0-1, LW: 25)

Christian Wilkins had perhaps his best day as a pro, with six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and two passes knocked down at the line. Wilkins, a 2019 first-round pick, had a quiet rookie season so Sunday’s performance was a great sign.

25. Detroit Lions (0-1, LW: 23)

Matt Patricia can be angry over being questioned over the Lions blowing way too many fourth-quarter leads during his time, but it’s his defense that let Mitchell Trubisky to look like a star and reel off three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a Bears win. It was a really bad way for Patricia to start a season in which he presumably has to show something positive.

24. Cleveland Browns (0-1, LW: 16)

Odell Beckham Jr. had three catches for 22 yards on 10 targets, and 16 of those yards came on one catch. It’s fair to give Beckham a pass because the Ravens might just be that good, but it’ll be very concerning if he doesn’t look better against the Bengals this week. The same can be said about the Browns as a team.

23. Denver Broncos (0-1, LW: 15)

The Broncos won’t want to watch the film of Monday night’s loss. They had way too many brutal mistakes, like rookie Jerry Jeudy’s two drops, not getting in the end zone on fourth down at the 1-yard line, an interception taken off the board due to a defensive penalty and Melvin Gordon’s key fumble in the first half. And then Vic Fangio absolutely blew it by not calling timeouts when the Titans got into field-goal range in the final minute. The Broncos had plenty of heartbreaking losses last season, and that’s how this season started too.

22. Los Angeles Chargers (1-0, LW: 22)

Austin Ekeler’s season opener: One target, one catch for 3 yards. That has to change if the Chargers offense is going to be even average. Getting Ekeler the ball in the passing game, where he’s at his best, will be their focus of Week 2.

21. Indianapolis Colts (0-1, LW: 13)

Marlon Mack’s season-ending injury likely just means more work for Jonathan Taylor, and that was probably going to happen at some point anyway. However, eroding the running back depth could change the Colts’ overall philosophy a bit. And I’m not sure you want Philip Rivers being the focal point of the offense going forward.

20. Las Vegas Raiders (1-0, LW: 24)

Derek Carr had a typical Derek Carr game: 239 yards, one touchdown, no major mistakes, nothing all that flashy (though his TD pass to Nelson Agholor was fantastic) … and everyone will immediately forget all the positives the first time Carr makes a mistake this season.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1, LW: 9)

The offseason hype on the Bucs was a little too much. And any overreaction the other way this week won’t be of much use either. The Saints are a very good team and the Buccaneers were adjusting to a lot of changes. It’s not ideal to lose to the other titan in the NFC South but it shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on the Bucs. Let’s wait to see how they look against the Panthers this week.

18. Atlanta Falcons (0-1, LW: 26)

All three Falcons receivers had at least nine catches and 114 yards. And they were never really competitive in a Week 1 home loss. That’s a really bad sign for a team that has gotten off to slow starts the past couple years.

17. Houston Texans (0-1, LW: 20)

It’s repetitive to keep hammering Bill O’Brien for the DeAndre Hopkins trade. But you can’t get away from it when Houston struggles to keep up with Kansas City and then Hopkins dominates for Arizona in its upset win. It’s still hard to believe that trade happened, and it will be a story as long as O’Brien is Houston’s coach. It’s that bad.

16. Minnesota Vikings (0-1, LW: 18)

This was not the year, without a preseason, to turn over a cornerback group. The Vikings’ new cornerbacks were torched by Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota will get better on defense because Mike Zimmer is a good coach, but it also might take a little longer than usual.

15. Chicago Bears (1-0, LW: 21)

After three quarters, it seemed hard to believe that Mitchell Trubisky would be the Bears’ starter in Week 2. To call Trubisky’s fantastic fourth quarter a job-saving performance might be an understatement. The question is if Trubisky can build off that success, or at very least if it gives him a little more job security if things go poorly in the next game or two.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (0-1, LW: 14)

The Eagles were so beat up at running back, wide receiver and the offensive line that it’s hard to evaluate them after one week. No matter the injuries it’s not good to blow a 17-0 lead to a Washington team expected to be one of the NFL’s worst. A Week 2 home game against the Rams takes on a lot more importance than it should for Philly.

13. Arizona Cardinals (1-0, LW: 19)

We knew the offense would be good, especially with DeAndre Hopkins. The defense wasn’t great on Sunday but it was good enough. If Arizona plays defense to that level all season, it can win the NFC West.

12. Dallas Cowboys (0-1, LW: 6)

The call on Michael Gallup was unfortunate, but officials missed a call on Aldon Smith’s hands to the face that resulted in a Dallas interception. Calls generally will even out. What the Cowboys need to be focused on is why their ballyhooed offense produced practically no explosive plays and just 17 points.

11. Los Angeles Rams (1-0, LW: 17)

The Rams hit Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott seven times on Sunday. Aaron Donald had four quarterback hits, the rest of the Rams had three combined. Take the time to appreciate Donald. It’s either Joe Greene or Donald for the title of greatest defensive tackle ever, and Donald is going to keep adding to his resume.

10. Tennessee Titans (1-0, LW: 8)

Stephen Gostkowski has had a great career. Unless you have no heart, or are a Broncos fan, you had to feel good about Gostkowski being able to kick the game-winning field goal on Monday night after missing three field goals and an extra point earlier in the game. That would have been one awful plane ride home had Tennessee lost.

9. New England Patriots (1-0, LW: 12)

Cam Newton had 15 rushing attempts, his most since 2015, and 14 of them were designed runs according to Pro Football Focus. It was great to see Newton look effective in that role and for the Patriots to play to his strengths, but it’s fair to wonder if Newton can hold up all season if that’s the weekly plan.

8. San Francisco 49ers (0-1, LW: 4)

In general with the power rankings, it’s not smart to overreact to one game. The NFL is competitive and just about everyone is capable of beating anyone else once. Some teams have to show more than once they’re either much better or worse than preseason expectations. That’s why Arizona isn’t moving ahead of San Francisco yet. Jacksonville won’t be ahead of Indianapolis and Washington won’t be ahead of Philadelphia after one game either. Sometimes Week 1 upsets signal a true change that sticks all season. Good luck figuring out which ones fit that category.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-0, LW: 11)

It’s not like Aaron Rodgers is incapable of vintage performances like he did on Sunday. He had a game like that against the Raiders last season, too. We’ll have to see what happens when a defense has a cornerback that can at least compete against Davante Adams. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (who did have two drops to go along with two touchdowns) were good on Sunday but they’ll have to keep passing tests before anyone is convinced they can be above-average complements to Adams.

6. Seattle Seahawks (1-0, LW: 10)

Jamal Adams’ debut: 12 tackles, two quarterback hits, one sack. The Seahawks paid a lot to get the All-Pro safety, but he’s going to have a huge impact on their defense this season.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0, LW: 7)

Having seen the Steelers defense blast Saquon Barkley for four quarters and Ben Roethlisberger throw it as well as he did, I’m tempted to move Pittsburgh up even further. That team looked like it can win a Super Bowl (though, they might not win the division).

4. Buffalo Bills (1-0, LW: 5)

Social media had fun with Josh Allen missing an easy touchdown pass in the end zone, but anyone who watched the Bills dissect the Jets knows how good Allen was on Sunday. Yes, he is going to miss some easy throws. That will always be a part of his game. But he can also make a lot happen with his arm and his legs, and his performance on Sunday was a positive step, regardless of what you might have seen on Twitter.

3. New Orleans Saints (1-0, LW: 3)

Because Drew Brees is 41, every missed throw is a reason to wonder if he’s hitting the wall. The Saints won easily on Sunday but it wasn’t a great Brees performance. He had just 160 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt. It doesn’t matter too much yet because the Saints won easily, but it’s worth keeping an eye on Brees over the next few games.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0, LW: 2)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire already looks like the real deal. Drafting a running back in the first round is debatable but that was the right situation for it: The Chiefs didn’t have many other needs, it was the final pick of the first round and Edwards-Helaire adds a dangerous dimension to the Chiefs offense. Like the offense needed more help.

1. Baltimore Ravens (1-0, LW: 1)

Lamar Jackson will be an MVP candidate again. Marquise Brown looks like he’ll have a second-year breakout. Mark Andrews is one of the best tight ends in football. J.K. Dobbins could have a big rookie season. And the defense is still nasty. The Ravens are not going anywhere.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Doc Rivers out as Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers out as Clippers head coach

Doc Rivers’ time with the Los Angeles Clippers is over.

Rivers is out as the Clippers head coach following their loss in the Western Conference semifinals at Walt Disney World earlier this month, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rivers had just finished his seventh season with the organization, where he compiled a 356-208 overall record. They reached the postseason in all but one season under his watch, but never made it out of the semifinals. 

Rivers confirmed the news on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

“When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination and bring a championship to this organization,” Rivers said in a statement on Twitter, in part. “While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through.

“Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support.”

Clippers bounced from playoffs after blowing 3-1 lead

Rivers and the Clippers nearly reached the Western Conference finals for the first time in his tenure this season, as they mounted a commanding 3-1 lead in their semifinal series with the Denver Nuggets earlier this month.

The Clippers, however, watched that lead disappear almost instantly. The Nuggets rallied back from double-digit holes in the final three games of that series to upset the Clippers and reach the finals. 

Rivers is the only head coach in league history to blow a 3-1 lead three times in his career — he did so with the Clippers in 2015 and with the Orlando Magic in 2003. 

Rivers spent five seasons with the Magic and nine seasons with the Boston Celtics — where he won an NBA title in 2008 — before making the jump to Los Angeles in 2013. The 58-year-old had two years left on his deal with the Clippers.

According to Wojnarowski, both Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy are among the top candidates who will be considered to replace Rivers in Los Angeles.

This post will be updated with more information shortly.

Doc Rivers’ time with the Clippers is over. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Studs and duds from Packers’ 37-30 win over Saints in Week 3

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Studs and duds from Packers’ 37-30 win over Saints in Week 3

The Green Bay Packers are 3-0 after going on the road and beating the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night. Matt LaFleur’s team scored 37 points, giving the Packers a team-record and NFL-high 122 points through three games.

Here are the studs and duds from the Packers’ 37-30 win over the Saints on Sunday night:

Studs

WR Allen Lazard: The degree of difficulty on his 48-yard catch was high. He was stumbling and had to make an over-the-shoulder catch with Marshon Lattimore trailing in coverage. Later, Lazard’s subtle move at the top of his route allowed him to blow past P.J. Williams and uncover deep for 72 yards to start the second half. Teams are underestimating his build-up speed. He might not be super quick, but he can get moving with a runway in front of him. Matt LaFleur is doing a terrific job of putting him in the slot and in bunch formations to create the runways. Of Lazard’s six catches, five gained first downs or touchdowns. His 146 receiving yards were a career-high. He did have a drop on a catchable ball over the middle, and his missed block on Malcolm Jenkins resulted in a stop of Aaron Jones on fourth down.

QB Aaron Rodgers: His impressive start to 2020 rolled on. Rodgers completed three passes thrown over 20 yards and was nearly perfect throwing underneath. The Saints got him with a few pressures, but Rodgers keeps mixing aggressiveness, accuracy and decisiveness with a little of old improvisational magic. He drew the Saints offsides twice and also created an extended play touchdown to Marcedes Lewis. His deep throw to Lazard while moving to his left in the first half was sublime. Matt LaFleur kept dialing up easy stuff, especially on rollouts and bootlegs, and Rodgers kept hitting them for chunk gains. He now has nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions through three games.

CB Jaire Alexander: The missed tackle on Alvin Kamara’s long touchdown was egregious and unacceptable. We’ll forgive it here because Alexander was so good for the other 57 snaps on Sunday night. He delivered a third-down stop on the first series and later dropped Kamara for a loss in the flat. Emmanuel Sanders didn’t have a catch against his coverage. He was very close to ending the game on a pick-six late in the fourth quarter.

DL Kingsley Keke: Both of his sacks – the first two of his career – were impressive. On the first, Keke executed a wide stunt to his right, bursting around the corner and closing down on Drew Brees with Rashan Gary crashing inside. Even at his weight, Keke can really move. Later, he executed a perfect push-pull move on Andrus Peat, beating the block with strength and collapsing the pocket on Brees before he could get rid of the football. He also helped string out a screen on third down, forcing a field goal. Keke might have the right combination of athleticism and power to be a valuable interior rusher. As an added bonus, Keke almost always gets his hands up and into passing windows when his pass-rush plan doesn’t work.

TE Marcedes Lewis: His block on Cameron Jordan helped open enough room for Aaron Jones to score on fourth down in the third quarter. Later, he was on the same page as Aaron Rodgers in the scramble drill and made an athletic catch over his head with Malcolm Jenkins in coverage for a go-ahead score. His one-on-one block on a linebacker helped create Jones’ longest run of the night in the third quarter. Big Dog still has a little bite.

K Mason Crosby: Kicks from 52 yards and 48 yards were no problem for the veteran. He made the 52-yarder with more than enough leg and confidently drilled the go-ahead kick from 48 yards in the fourth quarter. Crosby has made all seven field goals and all 13 extra points to start the 2020 season.

Duds

S Will Redmond: He missed Alvin Kamara twice in the open field, and both plays ruptured into big gains. Both times, Redmond came flying in out of control and swung and missed at Kamara’s ankles. On the first, Kamara skipped away from No. 25 and picked up the first down on 3rd-and-15. Later, Redmond was the first to miss on Kamara’s incredible touchdown. Redmond’s misses were responsible for roughly 70 yards of Kamara’s 197 total on Sunday night.

CB Kevin King: Emmanuel Sanders did all his best work against King, catching all three passes for 38 yards, a touchdown late in the first half and two easy first downs. King also allowed a catch to Tre’Quan Smith that converted a first down and got dinged for a holding penalty. He can be disruptive at the line in press, but King can also be exploited in off coverage. Drew Brees picked on him a little bit.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Liverpool lay down Premier League marker in Arsenal win

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Liverpool lay down Premier League marker in Arsenal win

Liverpool came from behind to maintain a perfect start to their Premier League title defence as goals from Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota saw off a resilient Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield.

The Gunners had also won their opening two league games of the season and hit the champions on the counter-attack to take the lead through Alexandre Lacazette.

But while Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and now Arsenal have all lost in the opening three weeks of the new campaign, Liverpool have taken maximum points to lay down an early marker that they remain the team to beat in the Premier League this season.

The outcome of the match could have been very different had Mane not escaped with just a yellow card for an elbow on Kieran Tierney after just three minutes.

Arsenal followed the game plan that had brought them two victories over Liverpool in recent months as they dropped deep then looked to play around the Reds’ press when in possession.

However, unlike when they met at the back end of last season’s Premier League when Jurgen Klopp’s men had already won the league or the Community Shield in August, Liverpool were far sharper in pulling the Gunners out of position.

Mane was first to threaten with a clean strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross that was too close to Bernd Leno before Alexander-Arnold’s deflected effort came back off the crossbar.

The only time Arsenal did manage to pierce the Liverpool press before half-time, they opened the scoring completely against the run of play.

Robertson was at fault as he spooned Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s cross into the path of Lacazette, who also failed to make a proper connection but the ball bounced into the ground and looped over the helpless Alisson Becker.

Liverpool responded immediately to level within three minutes as Salah outmuscled Tierney and when his shot was parried across goal by Leno, Mane turned into an empty net.

Robertson them made amends for his previous error as Liverpool’s flying full-backs combined as Alexander-Arnold’s cross was this time converted by the Scotland captain.

However, where Arsenal sides of recent years might have collapsed, as they did in losing 4-0 and 5-1 at Anfield in 2018 and 2019, Mikel Arteta has instilled a new-found belief in the FA Cup winners.

The visitors were more expansive after the break and created a huge chance to level when Dani Ceballos put Lacazette through on goal, but Alisson stood up well to block the French striker’s shot.

Klopp introduced Jota for his league debut 10 minutes from time and the Portuguese international should have sealed the win when he fired into the side-netting from Salah’s excellent through ball.

The Egyptian was less generous moments later when he stole the ball of Jota’s toes and failed to beat Leno.

But Jota did not have to wait long for his first Liverpool goal as a sweetly-struck volley found the bottom corner to show why the Reds spent £41 million ($52 million) to sign him from Wolves.

kca/td

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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