Soccer’s emergence arrives in Bay Area

This article will run Saturday in the newspaper.

SAN FRANCISCO — Sergio Busquets sat at a podium in the St. Regis Hotel on Wednesday afternoon as he thought about the state of soccer in the United States.

Busquets (known simply as “Sergio” to soccer fans) is one of the 15 best soccer players in the world. He’s a Spanish midfielder for FC Barcelona, the fourth-wealthiest sports franchise on the planet. Saturday they play an international friendly match at Levi’s Stadium against the fifth-wealthiest sports franchise, Manchester United.

It’s an exhibition game, and most of the top players from each team won’t play. Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s best player, won’t even be there. But tickets still are selling for as much as $1,000, and they will probably sell out.

Has America gone soccer crazy? Just a few weeks ago, the final game of the Women’s World Cup, which the United States won 5-2, drew 26.7 million television viewers in America, according to the New York Times.

It was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history, and it drew more viewers than Game 7 of the 2014 World Series between the Giants and the Royals, and more viewers than the deciding Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cavaliers.

Crazy, right? It gets crazier.

On July 21, 90,000 fans bought tickets to the Rose Bowl to see Barcelona play an exhibition against the Los Angeles Galaxy, an MLS team that signed 35-year-old former Liverpool star midfielder Steven Gerrard in January. Plenty of NFL teams couldn’t draw 90,000 fans even for a regular-season game.

The next day, July 22, Busquets held his press conference on the third floor of the St. Regis.

Back to Busquets at the podium.

“We’re glad that we saw a full house the other day,” he said. “We really do feel the support in every city that we go to. We just want to make the fans happy and enjoy watching Barca because it’s not something you can see every day here.”

What does FC Barcelona get out of playing in the United States?

“It’s good for the Barca brand to play here,” Busquets says. “People here like soccer now more than ever. Now that some of the European players are leaving to the U.S., I think the U.S. league is getting more and more competitive, and that’s important for us.”

Cut to Friday morning.

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney sat at a table in an interview room next to Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, just one day before the exhibition against Barcelona.

The interview room was the size of a spacious walk-in closet, maybe 10 feet by 10 feet — probably enough space for the media that typically covers the Earthquakes. Not nearly enough space for the 50 British and Spanish reporters squeezed on top of each other waiting to interview one of the most famous athletes in the world.

Rooney slouched back in his chair, seemingly trying to create as much room as possible between him and the media. His arms were folded across his chest, and his big, hard head was poking out of a black hoodie. He looked more like a boxer or a Greco-Roman wrestler than a soccer player.

Wayne, how do you view the state of soccer in the United States?

He raised an eyebrow, sat up and leaned forward toward the microphone.

“I think every time we come back here, we get the sense that it’s getting bigger,” Rooney said. “I’m sure it will keep growing and one day it will be as big as it is around Europe.”

By the look of things, he may be right. Hopefully the interview rooms will grow, too.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

This article has 126 Comments

  1. Grant you probably already know that ‘football’ is the most popular sport in the world, but did you know that the Americans invented a game and called it ”football”. After the final game they call themselves ‘World Champions’ even though they never play anybody from outside of the US….

  2. I love soccer. Used to play it for years. Thought the last couple world cups were epic.
    I wish to salute the American Womans team for their stellar performance. That half field shot by Carli Lloyd that caught the Japanese keeper out of position will be remembered for years.
    What peeved me was the horrid writing some clueless buffoons spewed forth. One clown even had the temerity to call Lloyd a terrible player who did not deserve to even be on the field, whose ball skills allowed defenders to take the ball away at will. He declared she should be put in the game at the end of the game because she is only good in the last 10 minutes. Then in the final, she scores a hat trick in the first 16 minutes.

  3. Hey Scooter-
    Speaking of rare sporting events, I saw in a piece on PFT that Mike Holmgren will be involved in coaching some kind of exhibition game in NZ; in case you’re interested.

    1. What I don’t get is why they are going to NZ and not Australia? With Jarryd Hayne trying to make a mark the interest in the NFL in Australia has never been higher. And Australia has a much bigger population. Oh well, I guess its just a short hop across the ditch…

  4. I played soccer in college for 2 years. It is a great sport for youths to participate in and a great sport to watch live. I acknowledge it can be a bit tedious on television , but that is what DVRs are for. What I dont get is the anti-soccer sentiment among some sports enthusiasts. Even some mainstream recognizable sports commentators will bash soccer – rome , olberman come to mind. It is especially pronounced during the world cup. I dont get it. I am not a fan of auto racing, but I dont piss my pants when the daytona 500 is on. Weird.

    1. I’m a fan of soccer, love watching the English Premier League, but the game has a well deserved stigma about prima dona players play-acting they are hurt to get penalties. If they stamp that out the game will be significantly better for it.

      1. Ah, yes, Scooter, agree on that. But did you ever notice how helpful Tom Brady is with the officials in pointing out infractions of the “Don’t Touch The Big Time QB Rule”? He’s a flopper and a whiner and throws a fit to get a flag thrown. It’s all for competitive advantage in the heat of the contest, I get that; but it’s still a blemish on my opinion of him. Unattractive and unmanly imo.

          1. Yeah, really that one issue is my only knock on Brady. His performance speaks for itself. First ballot HOF. Even all this deflategatebalogna doesn’t mean much to me. Brady tried to get an edge? Yeah.
            Gaylord Perry threw some spitters? Yeah.
            LeBron travels 10 times a game? Yeah.
            DBs and OLs hold? WRs & TEs push off? Yeah, yeah.

            1. BT,

              Do you really think Lebron only travels ten times a game? Or are you only counting the four step, plus, travels and not counting the three step ones?

              1. Don’t pick on Lebron. I’ve never seen him pick up the ball on a drive to the basket and sooner than the top of the key — his own key.

        1. Yeah, I don’t like seeing that either Brotha, and its not just Brady. However, Brady has nothing on the ridiculous lengths some soccer players will go to get a penalty.

          The ones that really get me are when the player intentionally drags his foot while “avoiding” a tackle so as to be “tripped”, then falls to the ground writhing in “pain”, then miraculously is “healed” when the trainer sprays some water on it. And of course to show just how much “pain” they were caused by this most heinous of tackle, they hobble around for a minute or so, until the ball comes near them again and they hare off with nary a hint of their “injury”. It really is quite disgraceful.

          1. Those Trainers must be using Holy Water LOL!!!
            I’d heard of proximity fuses in military ordinance, but not on the pitch!
            And what about MLB? A guy gets plunked on the elbow by a 98mph fastball and isn’t supposed to rub it or grab it. But the same baseball culture that says “You don’t rub it off in the Big Leagues” tacitly approves of a bench clearing 40 player melee over the way a guy trots around the bases or drops his bat.

          2. Scooter,

            Don’t forget the magic sponge! That can be a key piece of the “healing” puzzle. Some more modern “soccer healers” also use a miracle aerosol spray.

      2. They should just stop play and send off the player if he or she stays on the ground for longer than 10 seconds. That player should only be allowed back after 15 minutes. If the player goes down again, he or she should not be allowed back in the game. That may stop flopping.

        1. They’re running nonstop 6 to 7 miles a game. I’m sure that when someone goes down and stays ‘injured’ for a time everyone benefits and appreciates it. I think you are confusing actual injuries with pretending to be fouled, which is cheating. Two different categories.

          1. If they run 6 miles, in a 90 minute game, that is a 15 minute mile. Players could jog that.
            However, soccer is a game of sprints and players away from the ball stand around a lot. Plenty of time to rest.

            1. Sebnynah

              The only one standing around on a soccer pitch is the goalie. Every single other player is jogging at some pace the entire match. To say that it’s a game of sprints is true, but nobody off the ball stands around at all. There is no time to rest. Soccer players are the most well-conditioned endurance athletes in all team sports.

              Back in my playing days, when we were in training mode, we started by running 20 miles on a beach, then doing an hour of interval sprinting up sand dunes, followed by 2 hours of 6/side game play, in sand. There are very few NFL players who could have stuck with that particular program. I’m not saying any of us could have blocked Aldon Smith or broken through an initial wave of would-be tacklers, but we certainly could have run with anybody in the world.

              Jerry Rice was the guy who best understood the value of endurance training, and his transcendent 4th quarter and late-career performances illustrate that. Jerry trained like a soccer player.

              1. E,

                What you’re saying is sort of true, but the only players that really run most of the game are mid fielders. All the other players, can find to rest, if they’re smart.


                If you are implying that most soccer “injuries” in the men’s game and, sadly, more and more in the women’s game, as well, aren’t to get unjustified foul calls, then you need to pay more attention.

                For the most part, when a player gets “hurt”, but doesn’t get the foul call, the play goes on, whether the “injured” player gets up, or not.

              2. I played left fullback, and when the ball was on the other side deep in their territory, I was not running at all.
                True, there may have been times when I jogged over to cover a player, but there were many times when I did not move at all because the ball was 60 yards away.
                I concede that soccer players have to run a lot, but players do not appreciate and benefit from some player lying on the field, just so everyone can rest.

    2. Tedious on television, its two 45 minute halves (plus stoppage time), that run without commercials…you can watch a game in under 2 hours, a NFL game is 3+ hours and some college football games can get close to 4, all with what seems like hundreds of commercials. If anything is tedious its watching a NFL game live where they come back from commercial, kick off, go to commercial, come back and within 2 minutes theres a time out and another set of commercials.

  5. The player must at least get to his or her feet. The ref can stop play if a foul occurs, and award a free kick. They could take their time and rest then, but soccer is a continuous time game, and teams cannot stop play with time outs. That is, unless they become drama queens and fake injuries.
    If a player is legitimately injured, there should be a system where a player can be substituted in quickly, and the injured player can return after 15 minutes.
    Players who do not want to leave will get to their feet even if walloped. Hopefully, this would eliminate flopping.

    1. To take it further, I would empower a ref to send off a player for at least 5 minutes if he sees a player grimacing in pain. There should be a substitute ready at all times to replace the sent off player. This way, players will turn away from the ref and try to hide his or her pain. No more drama queens, and players would try to look stoic and unhurt, instead of whining crybabies, lying on the field sucking their thumbs.

  6. Fortunately, the beautiful game is thriving without your heavy-handed input.

    Any rule can be abused and certainly a mechanism whereby you could sub in a speedy winger for 15 minutes then bring back your ponderous center back would be worked constantly. Soccer is a lot like life. Everyone is looking for their angle.

    People going down is not that big of a deal and there are rules in place to deal with faking. If that is your reason for “not liking” footy, sorry for you.

    1. I guess you like it when a player gets touched and he flops on the ground rolling over and over as if in extreme pain. He lies on the ground and demands the trainer to spray his owwy, wastes 5 minutes of time, has to be carried off, then all of a sudden, sprints back on the field fully recovered as if nothing happens.
      I am glad you like that, but it just turns my stomach, and is ruining the game.

    2. Not liking? I love soccer, and played it for years. I just want to make it better. Dealing with malingerers would enhance the game, and the present rules DO NOT stop the faking of injuries.

    3. Beautiful game? So there is no corruption? Everybody sings Kumbaya and there are no racial taunts? In the last WC, Germany allowed Brazil to score a mercy goal because they were afraid the team might be physically attacked for sucking so bad in the final? No players earning oscars writhing on the ground? I guess I imagined the fixing scandals, too.
      So beautiful.

  7. I’m a Brit and although football is still really popular in England, a lot of people are getting fed up with club football. There’s no salary cap, so the rich teams monopolise all the best players, and the majority of clubs are just there to make up the numbers. It’s effectively a cartel, dominated by teams like Barcelona & Manchester United, who poach all the other teams’ best players. One of the reasons I love NFL is because the cap, and the draft system, gives every franchise a chance.

    World football is also utterly corrupt, as demonstrated by the recent scandals at FIFA and the absurd decision to give Qatar the 2022 World Cup, even though it’s far too hot to play football there in summer.

    If club football really takes off in the U.S. it’s essential that you guys keep some form of cap, otherwise it will end up the same as the rest of the world, where a handful of elite clubs win their respective leagues year after year.

    The World Cups, between nations, are a different matter though and remain incredibly entertaining. It’s brilliant theatre, although the diving and cheating is a blight on the sport. Footballers in the UK are generally considered to be disloyal, greedy and have a win at all costs mentality (even if that means cheating). Basically what I’m trying to say is that football/soccer is a great sport, but somewhat spoiled by money and the antics of top players. NFL is growing in the UK precisely because people are turning their backs on soccer and searching for an alternative.

    1. Hmmm. Do you think it is inconceivable to surmise that a rich oil nation might have thrown money at the FIFA officials to get the WC?

    2. Thanks James for your perspective. The NFL owners are just as greedy, but understand the value of co-operative competition. Our sometimes-poster DClark had made all the same complaints in a comment last year. I believe he said he wouldn’t pee on ManU if they were on fire. I think I got his drift.

    3. James,

      Man, I feel your pain. Actually, I feel double your pain.

      Cause here in Brazil we have all the same problems plus another major problem that the product on the field really sucks since all the good players leave for Europe or even Asia, for better salaries.

      I used to love soccer, now I almost don’t really care anymore.
      It’s sad.

      P.S.: Busquets one of the 15 best players in the world? C’mon…
      So Barça wins then all the players are elite? It just feels like some people saying RW is a top 5 QB.

      1. It’s awful isn’t it. The problem in England is that your best players leave to go to rich clubs in the same division, often returning to score against you. At least if they leave the country they’re out of sight out of mind! :-)

    1. I agree… especially with Eric Reid. He says he’s in much better condition this camp compared to last year. Marcus Martin’s in much better shape compared to last season as well.

      Now that I think about it, that goes for Aldon and Brooks too. Vernon seems better prepared up to this point. Alot of guys.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Harold and Brown had up and down days in camp. Rookies (especially the speed guys) can shine in OTAs, but as training camp wears struggle from time to time.

  8. Soccer is a great game for girls and girlish men. You can fall down, roll around and cry and everything. Most of the time you get to stand around and scratch your crack on the TV until someone kicks the ball somewhere near where you were butt-scratching. Then you run over and kick it to the other team and wait for someone to fall down in agony on the opposing side.

    The reason it is so popular in California is because there are 10-million recent immigrants from the south where the idea of a good time is either watch a bunch of men torture and then kill a bull or kick a ball around a patch of dirt. Soccer is for losers…

    1. Yeah that was quite a thrashing of the game by Ghost, but I agree Soccer is pretty dull when compared to the faster paced sports (Baseball is the exception) we are used to in North America. There are a lot of stoppages in some of popular sports in NA, and some Football games can really drag if a lot of penalties are being called, but the action is fast. Soccer is really a slow moving game with fits and spurts and ultimately little action. Obviously it’s the most popular sport in the world but it really has little interest for me, and puts me to sleep if I actually try to watch it for awhile.

      1. It’s quite funny really. Critics of the NFL in Europe say it’s too stop start and dull, with nothing happening for long periods! Football is quite fluid by comparison, but obviously has less ‘yeahhhh’ moments. Goals don’t happen as regularly as touchdowns.

        1. I can see where fans in Europe would think that way, but even though the clock keeps running during a Soccer match, there are numerous stoppages, and the game itself features little excitement for long periods of time. We also haven’t touched on the key differences which are big plays and the physical nature in American Football that Soccer just doesn’t have. The reason it is so popular around the world imo is it’s simple and cheap to play.

    2. Soccer is a great game for girls and girlish men.

      Have a man twice your size in muscle mass kick the ball in a painful area and then come back saying the same thing. Odds are you won’t.

      1. You couldn’t get me within 20 miles of a soccer game so the chances of Pierre kicking a ball into my nuts are slim indeed…

        1. It happened when I was still a kid Razor. You’re not really thinking of that if you’re on a playground Razor.

          1. Yea, I firmly believe protection of the family jewels should really begin being taught in Kindergarten….

      2. Recipient of that experience myself…playing goalie in an indoor game, thought it would be smart to block a shot with my family jewels…needless to say I thought the diamonds had crumbled. Thankfully not. But the fear of looking down and seeing blood was real.

    3. But is IS the beautiful game. Football requires enhancements and the proof is watching players deflate after they are done playing.
      I like Football. I love the Niners, yet I could never dream of stepping on the field. Sigh, if I had had more talent, I could of played in the WC. Football requires a certain body type, just like basketball requires height. With soccer, anyone good enough can play, and smaller size can be an advantage since they are quicker and do not need to lug around bulky muscles, so they have better stamina.
      Football has its drawbacks like the off field roid rages and retired players pitiful repercussions. The NFL cries crocodile tears over CET, then schedules Thursday night football with only 3 days rest just to make more money.
      Soccer has its own problems with corruption and racial tensions.
      Still, I like both.

  9. No Bro’ don’t outlaw it cause then, instead of watching kickball, they’ll be stealing cars. Soccer gives the less intelligent something to do with their time. Plus they get to start fights whenever they are with the visiting team.

    As they used to say, Americans like their violence on the field not in the stands, Levi Stadium excepted… (and yes these are 100 percent genuine tongue-in-cheek rants although I do in fact despise soccer…

      1. Maybe if they bring back the days when they used a head in a bag, I might be tempted to start watching….

        There was no light shining through the window
        As Margaret lie in bed
        She was wearing cotton pajamas
        A crucifix above her head
        She awoke from a dream
        Her eyes were open
        Her lips were moving
        In the dark

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

        She put her hands upon her breasts
        And they were small and hard and young
        And everywhere she touched she felt a fire
        Waiting for the answer that must surely come
        Is this the way to love?
        Or is this just the way to die?

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

        Then she took her father’s Razor
        And watched it cut into her palm
        She put her hand up to her mouth
        To taste the blood so holy and warm
        She got up in the morning
        Put on her dress, and patent leather shoes
        Ate her cereal and kissed her mother
        Caught the bus and went to school

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

        1. Maybe if they bring back the days when they used a head in a bag, I might be tempted to start watching….

          That would make it a lot more interesting, as would the prospect of the losing team providing the head for the next game.

      2. Maybe if they bring back the days when they used a head in a bag, I might be tempted to start watching….

        There was no light shining through the window
        As Margaret lie in bed
        She was wearing cotton pajamas
        A crucifix above her head
        She awoke from a dream
        Her eyes were open
        Her lips were moving
        In the dark

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

        She put her hands upon her breasts
        And they were small and hard and young
        And everywhere she touched she felt a fire
        Waiting for the answer that must surely come
        Is this the way to love?
        Or is this just the way to die?

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

        Then she took her father’s Razor
        And watched it cut into her palm
        She put her hand up to her mouth
        To taste the blood so holy and warm
        She got up in the morning
        Put on her dress, and patent leather shoes
        Ate her cereal and kissed her mother
        Caught the bus and went to school

        Speak to me in many voices
        Make them all sound like one
        Let me see your sacred mysteries
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue
        Reveal to me the unknown tongue

      3. Well it wasn’t tongue in cheek but I needed a disclaimer to keep the soccer gonzos ( who all wear spandex and ride racing bicycles in packs) from getting in a snit cause snitty bicycle-riding soccer gonzos can really mess up a lawn…

    1. You clearly don’t know anything about soccer.

      But considering your other prejudiced remarks, I’d say you don’t know anything about life either.

      1. Bit touchy are we Al? I watched more soccer than I could stand on TV in my 20 years in Japan, nothing else on the tube but enka singing and dramas.

        I do know any game where the highlight is when someone kicks the ball 10 feet over the goal and the final score is 1-0 on a penalty kick cause a weeny-player bamboozled the ref with a fake tackle (they call that pitiful tripping a tackle, right?) is for intellectual midgets and masochists…

        Oh yeah the neat scarves and the singing. Glee club for bozos…

        1. Yeah, that sounds like EVERY soccer game. I don’t know why they even bother to play te game.

          I guess it is as much annoying to read some americans that pretend to know soccer just to criticize it as it is to hear some brazilians make fun of football calling it “just men grabbing men”, or “the action stops all time”, and so on.

          When someone argues about soccer because he watched it 20 years in Japan, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
          I mean, Japan? Even Alcindo could be a star over there. C’Mon!!!

    2. Dam, I promised to be good.
      All I will say is trying to say something intelligent and achieving that goal is a lot harder than it looks.

    1. You think they’d trade Miller and go without a fullback if they decide to execute a predominantly ZBS offense?

      1. I think they hang on to Miller unless they go exclusively with ZBS, which I don’t see happening.

        Logan’s WRAL chalk-talk on fullbacks stuck in my head. On a run to the left it had center and right side of line zone blocking… but fullback, LG and LT had specific man blocking assignments. At least for the play, Boone at LG made sense.

        Long term I think the positions of fullback/H-back might merge into an hybrid SAK. The Belldozer comes to mind. That’s why I don’t think Bell is competing with McDonald. I see him as competition with Carrier.

        1. I would leave Boone at RG and put Thomas at LG since they drafted him for that position. That way, if Pears goes south, Boone can slide over to RT.
          I am getting excited about TC, and am wondering how the O line blocking schemes will help the offense and reduce sacks.

          1. Why Boone wasn’t slid to RT last season is a puzzle. Maybe he’s just better at LT but struggles at RT (even though LT is considered more difficult).

            As far as pass pro goes, I think it boils down to individual skills + continuity. Gore will be missed, but Hyde and Davis can help. CK getting rid of the ball quicker will help.

            1. I think they considered him more important as a guard.
              I would not mind if he takes over the RT spot. At least he would not be able to touch the center to initiate the snap sequence. Last year he would do that, and I ground my teeth because it seemed to signal exactly when the ball would be snapped.

            1. Yup. If I remember correctly, Pears was so-so at tackle, but horrible at guard. That could glue Boone to the guard spot if two of Thomas, Martin, Looney aren’t ready to play guard.

      2. I don’t see them going without a FB on the roster. But if Millard does look good in TC and pre-season then they may well look to trade Miller (though they probably won’t get much for him).

        1. A trade would probably not be intended for value, but more as a preemptive move to prevent the Seahawks from getting him if released….

          1. I just don’t see anyone willing to trade for a FB. John Kuhn is currently classified as one of the best right now, yet he really didn’t get any biters as a free agent.

          2. Agreed razor. Even if they just got a 7th rounder in 2017 that would be better than releasing him and letting a potential rival pick him up.

            Mid, you could be right. The market for FBs just isn’t there these days. But you never know.

            1. That might make Millard a safe practice squad stash, increasing the chance players like “Busta” might make the 53.

              1. If Millard has a good camp and can show off his pass catching skills, he might out compete Miller.

              2. I must admit Brodie, I don’t buy the idea of Millard being a safe stash. If all he was was a FB, then sure. But he’s a highly versatile player that is also a standout STs player. If the 49ers make him one of the final cuts, and he has a good camp/ pre-season, someone will likely pick him up.

      1. I think its WR, only because it has two proven players at the position. TE very closely behind. If McDonald’s light comes on, VD plays like he can and Bell has a role TE could overtake WR.

      2. By week 16 I’m expecting position rankings to be shaken up.

        Corner was a worry at the start of last season, but turned out to be a strength. They could surprise us again.

        1. RT is the one I’m keeping an eye on. Everyone is assuming that the starting job is Pears’ to lose, but an article from suggests that Martin, Looney, Thomas, and Pears will all compete at the position with Brown as the dark horse.

          1. Another yellow card. One more and you cannot play next week and then you can’t fall on the “pitch” and have a hissy fit cause someone came close to you and now you’re writhing on the grass I’m-hurt-I’m-dying-whoa-is-me… Okay now get up the ref ain’t buying it…

      1. Oh trust me, I know. I went to a Wichita Wranglers games about 15 years ago. That game was so boring that the players were trying to see if which one of them could kick their chewing gum over the wall.

    1. When I was the P.E. teacher for the Mendocino Alternative High School I taught surfing out in Big River Bay and “Jungle Ball,” a form of soccer except you could pick up the ball once in a while for the hell of it, the goals were as wide as the end posts on the football field and any number could play on each team. It was a lot of fun… and way more exciting than that drivel they are forcing down out throats. Soccer = the metric system, another stupid idea from Europe…

      1. Ghost,

        The metric system is stupid? Hmm, my guess is it’s something else that’s stupid…

    1. Jonathan Martin got Harb’s fired with Jim’s dedication to former players and Martin’s inability to block anyone. If the Niners had had a decent RT, we would have had a much better record.

        1. No proof? Ever watch replays of last year’s game. Martin was terrible at best… He should have gotten the Snyder award for worst Niner on the line…

          1. You said Martin got Harbaugh and that is just supposition on your part. And as I said, there were several problems on the OL last season.

          2. Any proof that Martin got Harbaugh fired is what I understood. Unless you think Martin, single handed, kept the 49ers from winning the Superbowl, he didn’t have anything to do with Jed firing Harbaugh.

            1. Better line play, especially on the right side, might have meant a shot at the playoffs. Niners usually did pretty great in the post season under our fearless commander. That’s all I’m saying… YMMV

              1. No, the continuous injuries, below average quality of depth and holdout of Boone played a big role in the down year. Then there’s also the fact that Vernon Davis stunk it up as a blocker. You can’t succeed with those types of problems.

      1. While Martin was a backup caliber player and couldn’t run block very well, he was not the reason Harbaugh was fired. Martin wasn’t even the worst rated pass blocker of the group if I remember correctly.

        1. Location, location, location. Just out of curiosity, how much house can one expect to purchase in California for $140,000?

            1. That’s actually got potential and I haven’t been out that way since the late eighties, but Riverside County used to be a great area….

  10. My house is the smallest and oldest in the best part of Sacramento. It is 970 sq.ft. A very simple two bedroom, living room, dining room, 5500 sq. ft. corner lot, garage old fruit trees. I expect to sell it next spring asking $550K minimum.

  11. It seems like everyone has cited injuries as a big reason why the 49ers had a mediocre season last year. This has lead me to be more interested in injuries and how they impact a team’s chances at making the playoffs. So, I decided to do some research and have put together a powerpoint.

    Football Outsider’s Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) is used to “quantify” the impact of injuries (definition of AGL is provided in the linked powerpoint). In the powerpoint I tried (but didn’t really succeed) not to include any conclusions that I might have consciously or subconsciously made.

    There are no earth-shattering conclusions that I could find. In particular, I was interested in looking at how injuries affect playoff teams versus all teams. Also, I played around with DVOA as a function of AGL. The results of the DVOA analysis, I suspect, are highly dependent upon the team and in particular the quarterback (which is why I also tried to construct plots of DVOA versus AGL for Denver, Green Bay, Seattle and Indianapolis) Nevertheless, I thought I would share this powerpoint for those who might be interested (see the youtube link below). I’m not promoting one point of view over another, but I did find running through the numbers interesting. This is the first time I’ve ever uploaded anything to youtube, but I tested the link and it seems to work okay.

    1. Cubus,

      Thanks for putting that together.

      As it was noted, a weakness in an AGL analysis is that no accounting is given for the quality of player injured.

      It was amazing that the 49ers defense was so good, considering that they had the most AGL (how can the Aldon Smith suspension not be included?).

      I also don’t think that the discontinuity on the offensive line can be overlooked. It’s very hard for an offense to function, if the O line is in the crapper. Other things contributed to the failure of the offense last year, but the deficiencies in the O line led the way, IMO.

      1. Thanks, Optimist. Two things that I found interesting. Although playoff teams have a lower average AGL than all teams, for four of the five years looked at, it really wasn’t that much lower. The other interesting thing is that it appears that a superstar QB can really make up for injuries (see Indianapolis, Green Bay, New England). Further, the five years of data indicates that once you have an AGL over 100, it is very difficult to make the playoffs. The only teams that did were the Packers and the Colts (and they both have superstar QBs. I guess the fact that the Colts made the playoffs in 2013 and 2014 with AGL > 100 supports the idea that Luck is in that club). New England also made the playoffs twice with an AGL just under 98.

        1. Sorry cubus, but all those numbers just make my head spin. I Think who gets injured is also a factor. If the QB goes down, the team is in trouble. If the center goes down, it might disrupt the cohesion of the entire line.
          Bottom line, injuries are bad.

        2. Cubus,

          Yep, it was surprising that playoffs teams weren’t a lot healthier than average. Conversely, the data showing that an elite QB can offset bad injury luck wasn’t that surprising and is just more evidence that QB is the most important position.

    2. Two other weaknesses I see are players coming back from injuries that have affected their play (Crabtree) or those that play through injuries without them being disclosed which results in less than stellar results.

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