In this week’s installment of The Rundown, we explain why the San Francisco 49ers have a legitimate shot to win against their arch-nemesis and examine the San Jose Sharks’ scoring drought.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The 49ers went back to back weeks without a loss! The football gods have yet again smiled on the Niners! Wait, what’s that? They’re coming off a bye? Well then.
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the 49ers, as they welcome a Seattle Seahawks team that has owned them in recent years. San Francisco has lost seven consecutive games to the Seahawks. But there could be an opportunity, as Seattle recently lost top cornerback Richard Sherman to injury.
Sherman, defensive end Cliff Avril and safety Kam Chancellor—three players who have made life downright miserable for the 49ers—are all on the mend. The Seahawks have placed 11 players on injured reserve this season, while San Francisco has had 18 go on IR. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the 49ers have only three defensive players—lineman DeForest Buckner, nose guard Earl Mitchell and cornerback Dontae Johnson—who have started every game this season.
Even though Seattle is still a formidable team, San Francisco played tough in a 12-9 loss the second week of the season. Of course, the biggest question for the 49ers is whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo will receive the start at quarterback.
If not now, when? If not him, who?
C.J. Beathard has a right thumb issue, and Garoppolo has had three weeks to grasp coach Kyle Shanahan’s playbook. It’s time to pull the trigger.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
After a strong stretch in which they won six of seven games, the Sharks (10-8-1) took a step backward last week with losses to the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins. Then they followed that up Monday night with a 3-2 shootout loss (4-3) in overtime to Anaheim at SAP Center.
Going into Monday, the Sharks were 0-for-17 on the power play over a six-game stretch. Their 14.5 percent success rate when holding an advantage in numbers ranked a hideous 30th out of 31 teams. The club got a rare power play goal from Joonas Donskoi in the third period of Monday’s game, but it still wasn’t enough.
The Sharks need to start putting pucks into the back of the net during regulation if they want to contend for a playoff berth this season, and no one needs to step up more than defenseman Brent Burns, the reigning Norris Trophy winner. Last season, he led all NHL defensemen with 76 points.
In 19 games this season, Burns has zero goals—that’s right, zero—to go with seven assists, and he’s provided zero points in the last eight games. Sure, Burns scored in Monday’s shootout and has made contributions in other facets of the game—shots blocked and shots on goal—but unless he and his teammates finish their scoring chances, they’ll continue to have mixed results.
SAN JOSE BARRACUDA
Forward Danny O’Regan earned another trip to the big club when he was recalled by the Sharks on Saturday. O’Regan, who played in three games with the Sharks last season, leads the Barracuda with six goals and 12 points. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound native of Berlin, Germany, was last season’s American Hockey League Rookie of the Year.
San Jose (6-7-0-1) split a two-game set with Ontario over the weekend, beating the Reign 1 to 0 on Saturday before dropping a 4-1 decision Sunday. Saturday, Jeremy Roy scored the only goal two minutes into the second period, and goalie Antoine Bibeau finished with 31 saves. The Barracuda have three games this week: Wednesday against San Antonio, Friday against Ontario and Sunday against the San Diego Gulls.