In our first installment of The Rundown, several pressing questions come to mind as we look at what transpired in local sports this past week, as well as what’s to come. Without further ado:
- Is there any chance Vice President Mike Pence could find more useful ways to waste taxpayer money than protesting the protests of football players?
- Will the San Francisco 49ers join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in NFL history? After the Niners’ latest gut-wrenching loss, a 26-23 overtime decision to the hapless Indianapolis Colts, the odds are increasing.
- Also, how long will the San Jose Sharks go winless to start the season? 0-82 seems like a longshot.
- And when it comes to the San Jose Earthquakes’ playoff push, the most pressing question has to be: How many Red Bulls and all-nighters did it take Jake Pisani to figure out all the different playoff scenarios? That’s some dedication.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
In another mistake-prone performance—and the 49ers never make the same mistake twice; they make it five or six times, just for good measure—San Francisco blew a chance to beat a Colts team that entered the contest allowing a league-high 34 points per game and 6.1 yards per play, the fourth most in the NFL.
One has to wonder, where on the schedule do the 49ers have a realistic shot for a victory?
Three of the team’s next four games are against NFC East foes, and while the Redskins and Cowboys—San Francisco’s next two opponents—aren’t exactly world beaters, not even Olaf would predict a victory for the woebegone 49ers.
It’s not all doomsday on the San Francisco front, though, as the team could see the return of two defensive starters against Washington in safety Eric Reid and inside linebacker Reuben Foster.
Going forward, something to keep an eye on: Running back Matt Breida should continue to see his reps increase at running back after Sunday’s performance. The rookie piled up 49 yards on 10 carries, finishing with a heavier workload to starter Carlos Hyde, who had just 11 yards on eight totes.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Fortunately for the Sharks, they have 80 games to turn around a season that kicked off last week with losses to Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The latter was a dismal 4-1 defeat to the arch-rival Kings, a lackluster effort that has called into question the team’s mental toughness, discipline and willingness to outwork opponents.
“I think we understand mentally where we’re at. It’s not where we need to be,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said after Saturday’s loss. “The hockey we’re playing right now, I respect that everybody’s coming to the rink ready to play, but we’re missing something. Just mentally, I think, we know we’ve got a whole other level. We’re just going to have to go back to the start, reset a few things.”
Looking ahead, San Jose’s overall effort has to improve if the club expects to contend for a playoff berth. The Sharks surely hope reigning Norris Trophy winning defenseman Brent Burns is not a minus-4 at this time next week. San Jose plays Buffalo on Thursday and the New York Islanders on Saturday, both at the SAP Center.
In addition to Burns, goalie Martin Jones is another player to watch in the coming weeks. His play/numbers often coincide with the team’s success or lack thereof. Through two matches, Jones has already let in a couple of soft goals—the Pillsbury Doughboy would be proud—leading him to be pulled from last Saturday’s loss.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
If the MLS Cup playoffs started today, San Jose would be on the outside looking in. Fortunately for the Earthquakes, they have two games remaining—Sunday at Vancouver and Oct. 22 at home against Minnesota—to change that outcome. The Quakes need to finish among the top six teams in the Western Conference to earn a postseason berth.
They’re currently tied with Real Salt Lake for seventh place, but just a point back of the No. 5 and 6 teams in Houston and FC Dallas, respectively. Considering the Quakes’ road record this season—a dismal 3-12-1—it would behoove them to put it all together at Vancouver, which is widely considered to have one of the loudest home crowds in the league.
SAN JOSE BARRACUDA
Unlike their parent club, the San Jose Barracuda opened the season with a thrilling 6-4 victory, rallying from a two-goal, second-period deficit to beat the Stockton Heat Saturday. Reigning American Hockey League Rookie of the Year Danny O’Regan had two goals on two shots, an impressive performance for a player that many observers thought would make the Sharks’ season-opening roster.
With the game tied at 4-4 at the 5:43 mark of the third period, the Barracuda received goals from Manuel Wiederer and Adam Helewka to ice the outcome. The Barracuda play their home opener at 7:30pm Friday against Grand Rapids, the defending Calder Cup champions.
Talk about a short turnaround: San Jose plays host to San Antonio on Saturday at 1:15pm.