OK, lets see if Balls has got this straight …
In the preseason opener, Santa Clara’s alleged No. 1 quarterback played like No. 2. Its No. 2 QB played like he should be No. 1. And its No. 3 played like he should be No. 2.
So why hasn’t head coach Kyle Shananan declared the starter position open to competition rather than hand one of the 32 most cherished jobs in football to 31-year-old retread Brian Hoyer, who hasn’t done squad to earn it?
“We knew coming in we weren’t going to get a lot of plays, so obviously disappointing to only get six or seven plays and not really have any production,” said Hoyer, who guided the offense to minus 2 yards and nary a first down in two possessions.
Enter Matt Barkley, who did nothing to hurt his chances with 10 completions in 17 pass attempts for 168 yards, one sack and no interceptions. If not for a penalty that overturned a touchdown pass, his numbers would have been even better.
In his pro debut, rookie C.J. Beathard rallied the team in the fourth quarter — even if it came against third-stringers and the Chiefs’ primary defender fell down for a gift touchdown.
Yet to hear Shanahan tell it, Hoyer is his guy. Meanwhile, the coach can’t hide his affection for Beathard, whom he refers to as C.J. in public, another hint that Barkley will be the odd man out soon.
The preferential treatment has a bad look to it — publicly, privately, in all ways. Really, what message does it send to the players and fans when a journeyman quarterback is handed the keys to the car while no one else gets a free ride?
Furthermore, is it possible that competition could make Hoyer, Barkley and/or Beathard better players?
At 26, Barkley has a chance to take the next step, however unlikely like that may be. The USC product should be allowed to compete for the top spot, the stipulation being that he has to outplay Hoyer to win the job outright. As the veteran of the group, Hoyer should own the tie-breaker, but that’s all he deserves at the moment.
If Hoyer plays as well or better than the challengers, then fine: Best man wins. That’s the way competition is supposed to work.
WHOLE LOT OF NOTHIN’: Santa Clara won the game, 27-14, and when you don’t know when your next W will come, even a moral victory is never a bad thing.
Otherwise, here’s all you need to know about the opener: The Chiefs’ A team dominated Santa Clara’s A team — 7-3 in points, 127-12 in yardage — pretty much brushed it off like a piece of lint.
Oh, and Santa Clara was guilty of 17 accepted penalties, 131 yards in all.
Girls and boys, meet your new Santa Clara football team, same as the old Santa Clara football team.
HOLD THAT LINE: Let the record show that the first drive against the Robert Saleh-coached defense went like this: 32-yard pass, incompletion, 3-yard pass, 10-yard run plus 15-yard penalty, 4-yard run, incompletion, 9-yard run and 2-yard touchdown run.
That’s eight plays, 75 yards and six points in less than four minutes, for those of you snoring at home.
THEY DO RUN: After Santa Clara coughed up more yards on the ground than any team in franchise history, Saleh made that area a point of emphasis for his group.
The goal-line unit had a chance to make a good first impression at the 2-yard line in the first period. Except Spencer Ware was a half-yard past the goal line before Lorenzo Jerome made the first contact. Ware hit the rookie safety so hard that he almost landed on waivers.
Gimme an “S”! Gimme an “O”! Gimme an “F”! Gimme a “T”!
All together now — “Saaaaahhhhffftt!”
LOOK WHO’S BACK: OK, now for some good news …
Linebacker Aaron Lynch not only showed up to play, but he was an absolute mauler with two sacks, two QB hits and one pass break-up.
Let’s see which Lynch shows ups for the regular-season opener — the guy whom former coach Jim Harbaugh once said “needs direction” or the one who has the tools to be a difference-maker.
OH, SAY CAN YOU PLAY? Colin Kaepernick co-activist Eric Reid stood for the national anthem, but that was the only change since last season, apparently.
It took all of 81 seconds for Reid to lay out a defenseless receiver, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty. In other words, the veteran safety is capable of a dunderheaded mistake no matter what he does before the game.
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE: Raiders bad-ass Marshawn Lynch took a seat for the national anthem before the 20-10 loss to the Cardinals in Phoenix. Because the veteran rarely speaks publicly unless it serves his own purposes, his reason(s) wasn’t clear.
According to coach Jack Del Rio, he confronted Lynch about the decision and was told that it was a simple case of Marshawn being Marshawn. Del Rio made it clear that, while he strongly believed in the national anthem and what it stood for, he also respected the rights of individuals.
Del Rio has a 1-0 record no matter the final score.
ONE STEP AT A TIME: The Los Angeles Rams got quarterback Jared Goff a go-to receiver last week when they acquired Sammy Watkins last week. Then, Goff was allowed to throw only four passes in a less-than-scintillating victory against the Dallas Cowboys, 13-10, and who knows how it will take the Rams to remove the training wheels finally.
YOUR TURN: “Perhaps it is wishful thinking to hope that a sportswriter who obsessively denigrates Colin Kaepernick, an athlete who has inserted an ethical dimension into his professional life as ballplayer-entertainer, might appreciate the profound challenges faced by non-Europeans in a society plagued by both blatant and subliminal white supremacy. But still, your complacency and disdain are unworthy of someone who enjoys a public forum.” — Michael Koch, San Francisco
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