Ouch. What a disappointing opening to the 2010 season for BadNFL. As some commenters have noted, this week 1 performance hearkened back to some of my worst weeks. After all, when BadNFL misses, it usually misses huge. And there's much left to be desired by my preseason analysis, as my instinct that the Raiders would start strong looked ridiculous after their atrocious and unexpected lack of improvement.
But that's not why we're here. We're here to discuss the Week 1 debacle that was the San Francisco 49ers. Alex Smith was the MVP of the game -- for the Seahawks. What people who simply look at the box score might not realize is that San Francisco started out quite strong. Hasselbeck threw an interception on the first play of the game, and the 49ers proceeded to march down the field with impressive efficiency. But then they (mainly Smith) proceeded to make the first of a slew of dumb errors. A touchdown overruled because the WR couldn't get his feet down, a series of blown 4th down opportunities, and some really terrible throws by Smith eviscerated the momentum that they came in with.
And despite the Niners' defensive dominance of the Seahawks in the first half, they entered halftime down, thanks to two absolutely brutal interceptions that led immediately to Seattle TD's (watch this pick 6 in which Smith overthrows his receiver by about 10 yards!). All in all, Smith's performance was at the bottom of the league in week 1, as his 1/12 performance on 3rd down was the cherry on top of his crap sundae. But it was his backbreakingly bad play over a crucial first half span that lost the game; his incompetence enabled Seattle to score 4 TDs in the span of 7 minutes, and just like that, the game was over.
By the second half, it was evident that the Niners had essentially given up. As a result, Hasselbeck actually looked pretty good, and their very shaky offensive line held up OK (the Niners only registered 1 sack). In other words, the prediction looks really stupid in retrospect.
1. The danger of an unproven QB and rookie offensive lines opening the season in a loud arena.
I know I previously acknowledged and then dismissed the "Qwest Field" argument. That appears to have been misguided. For those of you who missed the game, it's difficult to overestimate how out-of-sync the Niners were early in the game; they burned all 3 of their timeouts with 9 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, they didn't seem to have the right plays called, and in general nobody was on the same page. Early in the season, before teams are used to playing in real game environments, perhaps the loud environment was particularly impactful. Arrowhead seemed to have a similar effect on the Chargers last night.
But ultimately, as FO put it, "every San Francisco projection in the world ends with, '...if Alex Smith can prove that he's at least a replacement-level NFL quarterback.' So far, no good." There's not much else to be said about that. I blew off discussing Alex Smith in my analysis of this game, and I'm paying for it.
2. Beware the hype.
This game almost seemed too easy. The sharps were all over the Niners in this game, and several pundits have labeled Seattle's upset week 1's "biggest surprise." In addition, as I observed earlier, the line had been moving in San Francisco's direction. But as a commenter pointed out, this maybe should have served as a warning sign. The Niners were a chic pick to win the division, they were a young confident team that finished well last year, and they had dominated the preseason. Yet they appeared overconfident and underprepared. Week 1 is about finding undervalued teams, and the Niners clearly were not that.
3. Where do we go from here? Don't freak out.
Week 1 results are notoriously difficult to gauge, if merely because our sample size is so small. The Niners were clearly unprepared, but it's important not to overreact to one week's results. I still think that the Seahawks are a bad team, and if they weren't playing the pathetic Broncos this week, I might pick against them again. After all, remember that they dominated week 1 last year before proceeding to have a miserable season. At BadNFL, we plan on sticking to our instincts and trying to bounce back next week, perhaps exploiting some typical week 2 overreaction along the way.