If there’s anything to be learned from Santa Clara’s come-from-ahead, 32-31 loss in Minneapolis on Sunday — other than no lead is too safe for a Kyle Shanahan-concocted offense — it’s that this team better pack a defense this season.
Otherwise, the homies got no chance to be competitive, none whatsoever.
Bereave it or not, the good Brian Hoyer made his first appearance of the season. As the third and only preseason game in which the starters would see extended action, it came at a good time. The 31-year-old retread made several accurate reads and throws for a change. He didn’t get flustered against a remarkably lame Vikings team that appeared to be headed in the wrong direction. You know, kinda like Jim Marshall was at Kezar Stadium a few decades ago.
After consecutive lousy performances, Hoyer and team management desperately needed something good to happen to justify his $6-million salary and no-questions-asked starter job. When Hoyer did the hit a wide, wide wide-open Marquise Goodwin on a 46-yard post pattern less than five minutes into the game, Balls’ spies insist that general manager John Lynch screamed, “Thank you, Touchdown Jesus!” in the press box.
But as the Faithless are well aware, all one good Hoyer performance means is that another bad one is that much closer.
If the offense could run the ball consistently, it could overcome its Hoyer complex. Then, an overworked defense wouldn’t have to be stuck on the field for 30-something minutes most games.
But until Team Shanny-Lynch find a franchise quarterback — waiting, still waiting — there’s no great urgency to respect the pass game. Defenses can stack the box with eight or more defenders and double dog dare Hoyer to beat them.
The defense did its part in the first half, linebacker Reuben Foster in particular. Why, the rookie hit Laquon Treadwell so hard on one play, the wide-out spit up a Reuben with jalapeños and sauerkraut. Still, Balls had to question why a guy with a history of shoulder problems and a recently sprained AC joint would play every snap.
Sure enough, the 14-0 lead didn’t last, partly because the offense could muster only 91 yards on 26 carries. Go-to guys Carlos Hyde and Joe Williams combined for all of 35 yards in 14 tries. Hyde has a 2.6-yard average and a long gain of 7 stinkin’ yards in the preseason.
That’s no way to protect a lead in the second half, girls and boys.
REST OF THE STORY: While Vikings backup Case Keenum had his team on the move again, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said, “Boy, it’s sure nice to have an experienced back-up quarterback.”
Or even a competent young one, for that matter. Which pretty much rules out C.J. Beathard.
In the second half, Beathard looked every bit a rookie against mostly second-stringers. At face value, his 91.5 rating wasn’t bad, except that 87 of his 159 yards came on a screen pass that featured a bunch of missed tackles, which would never happen in a regular-season game.
Since Matt Barkley no longer is a candidate for reasons unclear, Team Shanny-Lynch may want to scour the waiver wire for an experienced option who can push Hoyer until a real starter comes along, if and when that ever happens in our lifetimes.
BROWN WORDS MATTER: When Buffalo Bills Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy says Colin Kaepernick isn’t worth the distraction, he raises a few eyebrows. But when the greatest athlete-social activist in NFL history speaks out, we should be all ears.
“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American,” the legendary Jim Brown told The Post Game the other day, ever the team player. “I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not going to do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.
“I want to be in his corner, and I do think, ‘God bless him,’ but that’s not my leadership.”
If a wise, old head like Brown gets it, why can’t the rest of us?
MR. FIX-IT IS AT IT AGAIN: Former Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle has 13 saves in 13 chances with the first-place Washington Nationals.
Former A’s reliever Ryan Madison has yet to allow a run in nine games with the Nationals.
Former A’s starter Sonny Gray has yet to give up more than two earned runs in any of his five starts with the second-place New York Yankees.
And former A’s catcher Stephen Vogt is on a 45-home run, 90-RBI pace in 18 games with the second-place Milwaukee Brewers.
Yep, if A’s mastermind Billy Beane isn’t the Executive of the Year, then MLB should do away with the award.
JUST SAYIN’: The solar eclipse was easier on the eyes than the Giants offense.
It’s time to boycott the Denver Broncos. Highly offensive to name a team after O.J. Simpson’s getaway car.
The Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas blockbuster has Cleveland Cavaliers player-general manager LeBron James as the early favorite for Executive of the Year honors …
But if Thomas really does turn out to be the damaged goods, then James may have no choice except to fire himself …
And nobody should talk trade with Boston swindler Danny Ainge ever again.
YOUR TURN: “Billionaire sports team owners have no business wrapping themselves in the American flag to legitimize their greed. Using phony patriotism to make money is the oldest sleaziest tricks in the book. And last time I checked, it’s not illegal to refuse to sing during the national anthem or stand and salute.” — Patrick McGuire, San Francisco
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