In this week’s installment of The Rundown, we take a look at why the San Francisco 49ers win even when they lose, the return of former Sharks stalwart Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Earthquakes’ exit from the playoffs.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
(Update: The 49ers swing a trade deadline deal Tuesday with the New England Patriots to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Niners gave up a second-round pick for Tom Brady’s backup, who many NFL experts think could be a star.)
The 49ers find themselves in a duel with the Cleveland Browns for the rights to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Sadly, San Francisco might need a winless season to avoid messing this up. But that’s exactly what the 49ers did last year, when they won a meaningless game against the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Eve that took them out of the running for the No. 1 pick.
The Browns selected pass-rushing extraordinaire Myles Garrett, who is currently injured but has all the makings of a Pro Bowler for years to come. The 49ers managed to flip the No. 2 pick to the Chicago Bears, but instead of drafting quarterback Deshaun Watson—who is absolutely killing it for the Houston Texans—the team went another defensive lineman.
Although the 49ers are devoid of grade-A talent at nearly every position, including quarterback, their lack of edge rushers and inability to touch the opposing signal-callers is downright glaring.
At 0-8, the 49ers—like the Browns—are halfway to a defeated season. Although a victory would boost morale, it’s almost imperative that San Francisco guarantee itself with the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. If that means tanking a game or two, so be it. The future of the franchise depends on getting some difference makers.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
After 19 seasons in a Sharks’ uniform, Patrick Marleau left San Jose this summer to sign a three-year, $18.75-million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. San Jose plays Toronto tonight at 7:30pm at SAP Center, and it promises to be an emotional reunion for everyone involved.
Marleau was nothing but a class act during his time in San Jose, finishing with 508 goals in teal. At times, fans got frustrated with him, mistakenly equating his easy-going demeanor for a lack of a killer instinct in crunch time. That was far from reality. With 98 game-winning goals to his credit, Marleau has been one of the most productive players of his generation.
On Oct. 18, Marleau became just the 18th player in NHL history to play in 1,500 games, a testament to his durability, work ethic and talent. The Sharks will have a lengthy video tribute to Marleau before tonight’s game, paying homage to one of the greatest players—if not the greatest—in Sharks history.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
San Jose picked a bad time to play one of its worst games of the season, dropping a 5-0 decision to Vancouver in the knockout round of the MLS Cup Playoffs last Wednesday. The drubbing at the hands of the Whitecaps epitomized the Quakes’ season, as they were spectacularly brilliant one moment only to be mistake-prone the next.
San Jose’s lack of cohesion cost it dearly against Vancouver, which scored its first three goals off set pieces. Making their first appearance in the postseason since 2012, the Quakes no doubt had a successful season—even amid turmoil. They made a mid-season coaching change and had a first-year general manager and club president.
Going forward, the Quakes need to hit a home run in the upcoming MLS Draft, continue to develop their young talent and add another legitimate scoring option alongside Chris Wondolowski.
SAN JOSE BARRACUDA
San Jose enters the week at 3-4-0-1 following a 3-1 loss to the San Antonio Rampage and a 3-2 defeat to the Texas Stars in a shootout over the weekend. In the loss to the Stars, Filip Sandberg and John McCarthy scored goals, and Troy Grosenick finished with 23 saves. The Barracuda on Wednesday play at Ontario before returning home for a Dec. 5 rematch with the Stars.