Waiting games: Some 49ers play cards to stay competitive

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers won’t play a football game this weekend.

They’ll play mind games instead.

Next weekend, the 49ers will play a very important playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Philadelphia Eagles or the Minnesota Vikings — the 49ers won’t know which team they’ll face until Sunday evening.

In the meantime, the 49ers players will practice, rest and play spades in the locker room. These activities aren’t unique to the 49ers. Lots of players play card games in their downtime, but not many play them in the locker room. And not many play spades, according to veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Day.

The 49ers host the NFL’s only underground spades game.

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This article has 57 Comments

  1. Spades is one of the most interesting games caus you may have to change strategy in the middle of the game when you see that you can’t make your bid. You also get ‘sacks’ or ‘bags’ for overbidding. Ten of those ‘bags’ will make you lose points, so might want to give your ‘books’ to the opponent when you see you can’t make your bid.
    Spades is a little bid like chess, it has a lot of nuances.
    I can see defensive players be good at it.
    I still play, but it’s hard to find good card players these days.

  2. Kudos for a fun read, Grant. It’s articles like these that separate you from the rest of the journalist pack. Love these little insider tidbits, thanks!

    Predictions on wildcard weekend?

  3. Where I’m from you’re taught spades and dominoes at birth.
    I didn’t expect to read the angles and rules of spades in here though. 🤣🤣
    Glad they’re having fun with it, the fights I’ve seen over spades…. wheeeew!

  4. While waiting for the bye week to run it’s course, I’m interested in learning the mechanics behind the evolution of shoulder pads. Think back to the huge pads of the early 70s, to today where they appear minimal at best. How’d it all go down?

    1. My thoughts…
      1. changes in the rules… less hitting and more pushing.
      2. Evolution of materials. lighter= faster.
      3. Vanity…players want to look sleak…many players even cut their pants above the knees..some pads look like kitchen sponges.

      1. Nah, 57 but I used to play with Grandma against my dad and Grandpa. I really enjoy the game, but as your question indicates; no one really plays it anymore….

        1. Giving you a hard time.
          Always good to have those memories though. Yahtzee was the game I played with Grams. She was a simple woman. 😛

  5. Some interesting news….a signing…

    And more…

    The Browns made Kindred a fourth-round selection out of TCU in 2016. He registered 45 combined tackles, a pass defensed, an interception, and a forced fumble through 16 games and two starts with the Browns in 2018. Kindred has recorded 148 combined tackles, 12 passes defensed, two interceptions, and a forced fumble during his three NFL seasons.

    The Browns waived Kindred on April 1, 2019, and the defensive back spent the next four months with the Indianapolis Colts and a brief stint with the New York Jets before being waived on August 31, 2019.

    Kindred is the second player this week signed by San Francisco to such a contract. The 49ers also signed former CFL defensive end Jonathan Kongbo to a reserve/futures contract.

    A reserve/futures contract keeps a player tied to a team but doesn’t go into effect until the start of the new league year.

  6. 1. I happen to know Bosa and Warner prefer video games versus each other after practice.
    2. The cry-babies in the emerald city can’t let it go. I actually agree that there should have been a PI call on the second to last play – Offensive PI – or illegal contact. Their TE ran into Warner and then started wrestling with him. Sherman has a good slow motion video on his twitter.
    3. I have completely changed my feelings toward Sherman. I really disliked him when he was a Seahawk, but I have a new found respect as both a player and person. Good dude.
    3a. Remember all the consternation about Sherman when we signed him.
    4. Niner WR TD leaders last decade: Crabtree 54, Boldin 16, Kendrick Bourne 9 . We need to upgrade our WRs
    6. Al Sacco@AlSacco49·Jan 3 According to @billbarnwell , in the 108 snaps Dee Ford, Nick Bosa and Kwon Alexander played together this season, opposing quarterbacks posted a QBR of 3. That’s 3 out of 100. Crazy #49ers
    7. We are a very young team. How young? Kittle is older than Buckner.
    8. Speaking of young, I like Greenlaw.
    8. Patrick Willis -No HOF – TOTAL BS
    9. Bills, Titans, Saints, Eagles. I sort of want the Seahawks to win. I feel like we have some unfinished business. Both games should have been a comfortable Niner victory. A Final Showdown is in order. Luke confronts Vader. Rey confronts …

  7. “It’s been covered like the last minute of no other matchup this year (49ers/Seattle).

    What wasn’t talked about in the media was that Hollister, eyes up and running his route straight into Warner’s chest pads and tangling with him there, seemed far less like a victim of pass interference than a receiver who had been sent on a clear flag-drawing mission by his coach”….49er Webzone by Don Atkinson

    Tom D’s REPLY:

    Carroll complaining to the NFL twice in one week about the 49ers is weak, so I thought I would leave this video.

    3 plays before, on 3rd and 6, at the 4:24 mark, K’Wuan Williams uses his 5 yard chuck on a Seattle WR. The WR grabs Williams by the arm and Richard Sherman knocks the ball down (nearly intercepts) to…. (what I thought)…. end the game.

    I’ve seen that exact play not called a PI many, many, times.

    PI W-A-S called giving Seattle a fresh set of downs, bailing Pete Carroll out.

    Sorry, Pete!…The NFL wasn’t about to bail you out twice on a PI call in 2 minutes, because your team was less talented and was instructed to slam into LB Warner, then push off, to draw a PI.

    Posted video. Scroll to 4:24/4th Qtr mark to watch the #24—Kuan Williams PI call.


    1. *Coincidence or not…But Russell Wilson chose the exact WR whose arm was on the Seatte WR to throw to at 4:25, then, 2 plays later, also picks the exact WR (who purposely entangles a 49er DB at the goal line)_ to throw to?

      1. Great point TomD. So Carroll had a 50% success rate on just those 2 plays. What’s to stop him from taking that same strategy into future games. I hope the NFL is getting an earful on this.

        1. You do what you get away with, what works. Rules are often subjective, and it takes skill to figure out how far you can stretch them. And yapping after the fact is part of that, if you think it’ll help you get the call next time.

  8. What Carroll will face in a rematch:

    Prior to Kwon Alexander going down with a torn pectoral on Halloween, he, Bosa and Ford combined for just 108 defensive snaps together. But over those 108 snaps, opposing quarterbacks posted a QBR — which values the quarterback on all play types on a 0-100 scale adjusted for the strength of opposing defenses faced — of just 3.0.

    As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote, “That’s not a typo — 3 out of 100!


  9. I hope the Niners run the no huddle with quick varied snaps. Speed up the game, because it will exhaust the opponent. Attack the edges, making them run side line to side line, and have tag team WRs sprint down field to tire out the CBs.
    By the 4th quarter, the Niners should have gained a decided advantage, since they will have been well rested with this bye.

      1. KS has Jon Embree as Assistant HC, 2 Offensive Quality Control coaches. Bobby Turner as RB coach, and Mike McDaniels as the Run Game Coordinator.
        If all of those coaches could not convince KS to run the ball in the OT period against the Seahawks, why do you think I could?

  10. Cassie, leave poor Sebbie alone, he is trying his hardest to help the team win with his annoying comments. I’m glad that KS doesn’t listen to him. He does provide entertainment in the down times.

    1. Not on point with Seb’s often, however his no huddle in the playoffs would add a new wrinkle…I believe it would warm up JG’s accuracy faster also and set a tone.

      I did feel they should rush 5 D-Linemen vs Seattle, and they did, but only on 3rd downs.
      Hopefully they break it out all game vs 1st opponent.

      1. I disagree. Seb’s idea of the no huddle is foolish and irrelevant to what Shannys offense is all about.
        It’s very difficult to motion and redirect motion from the no huddle only because you cannot get a idea of mismatches from substitutions because the defense is incapable of it.
        Then you cannot attack defensive concepts from man to zone which Shannys offense does so well in setting up the next play.
        The no huddle works in the 2 or 4 minute drill but with a full 2 weeks to prepare, the approach should be get mismatches with what’s been working all year with play action and redirection and motion.

        1. There you go again. I want to make it easier for the Niners to win. You are implying that the Niners are incompetent, and cannot effectively run the no huddle. The no huddle will stop the opposition from substituting, and they still can do their motions, and create mismatches.
          I want the Niners to exhaust the opposition. It will make the opposition easier to defeat. The Niners are getting players back because of the bye. They are healing up and will be rested.
          Grinding down a weakened and injured opponent is just common sense. It may not be pretty, but the whole idea is for the Niners to win, using every strategy available.
          Guess you want the Niners to have a twice as hard a time to win, by WANTING to play twice in the Clink. I am happy the Niners do not have to play there again these playoffs. I am glad they have an easier path to the SB. I want the Niners to win, unlike you, who were resigned to having the Niners lose, and have no bye.

    2. Au contraire. Even though I only post here, so KS probably only gets feedback when Joan in accounting passes along an idea. I do believe that some of my missives have been effective.
      KS was probably so sick of me excoriating him for wasting time outs like a drunken sailor, he actually stopped wasting them. Lo and behold, those precious time outs were wisely used, and they helped win games. Was it only because of what I wrote? Cause and effect, but he could have gotten there without my advice, too. Overall, KS’s game and clock management has greatly improved over last season.
      All I am glad is that they now consider time outs to be precious, and saved for legitimate challenges, and the last 2 minutes of each half.

      1. KS doesn’t know you exist. He wouldn’t care if he did. Doesn’t care about me either; it’s just that I know it and you don’t. Try to get a life.

        1. KS complained that his players become upset when they see negative player assessments in the media.
          He does not coach in a bubble.
          Edward J Debartolo Jr also claimed to never read the papers, then in an interview with Grant, admitted he read every word.
          Sure, they should not let the media affect them, but that does not mean they are totally unaware.
          When Sanders threw that flea flicker in the Saints game. I said before the game that I hoped KS would be innovative and dial up a flea flicker. Did he call for a flea flicker because I asked for it? Maybe, maybe not.
          You could not claim any credit, because that thought about a flea flicker, never crossed your mind.

  11. Eyes on Watt with that torn pectoral.
    Hope he makes it through, so I’ll have more confidence in Kwon when he returns

  12. ninermd: Watt’s history of injuries / returns! Not really that comparable with Alexanders
    Alexander and Watt’s history for NFL injuries:
    Kwon Alexander: 2017 season; Sept. Thigh Hamstring Strain, Grade 2
    2018 season; Oct. Tore his left ACL, missed rest of the season.

    JJ Watt: 2015 season; A groin injury and a fractured left hand, but started all 16 games.
    2016 season: Back surgery for a herniated disc in July; On PUP list during
    training camp, but started week one. Placed on injured reserve in
    Sept. for 2nd back surgery. Out the rest of the season.

    2017 season: Week 5 suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg. out rest of
    the season.
    2018 season: Played full season
    2019 season: Week 8 Watt suffered a season-ending torn pectoral. Placed on
    IR Oct 30th.
    Designated for return from injured reserve on December 24, began
    practicing with the team again. He was activated on December
    31, 2019 prior to wildcard playoff game.

    1. Geep…..
      They both have the same injury.
      That’s what I’m talking about.
      And by the looks of it, if Kwons surgery and rehab has gone as good as Watt’s he’s in good shape.

        1. Get a receiver. Turn off the center channel. Annoying announcers muted, while the rest of the audio from the game is still audible. Problem solved.

  13. For those of you who screamed about Shanahan kicking the FG instead of going for it on 4th & 1 against Atlanta, we just saw a perfect example of why you kick the FG.

    This game should be over. O’Brien should be fired if the Texans lose.

  14. Interesting. The Bills scored 5 times, and lost. The Texans scored 4 times, and won.
    The Patriots scored 3 times, and until the last 9 seconds, was losing by a point. Until 9 seconds left, the Titans had scored twice, and was leading the Patriots by one point.
    Both games underscore the point that the bold, winning way to play, is by scoring TDs, and not settling for field goals.
    Hope the Niners learn from these 2 games.

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