This season in Santa Clara has gone just the way Balls warned long ago, but it hasn’t been without one considerable disappointment.
Remember how Santa Clara was going to run the ball, the trademark of coach Chip Kelly’s spread offense? Feature back Carlos Hyde and the line couldn’t help but get better, Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke told us. They would control the tempo and clock, which would keep the iffy defense off the field and wear down opponents at the same time.
Well, Football Outsiders tells a much different story, sad to say.
Football Outsiders may not be the judge and jury here, but they are among the select few number-crunchers who pay attention to obscure stuff like this. According to their most recent ratings, Santa Clara ranks 31st in adjusted line yards on the ground, a category that takes into account down, distance, situation and opponent among other factors.
Left end was the only spot in which the ground game ranked among the top 15 in the adjusted line yards. Which comes as no surprise, because that’s the side that veteran Joe Staley holds down. Otherwise, only in third- and fourth-and-short situations have the group held its own.
Health isn’t an excuse for the sorry performance, either. Staley, Zane Beadles, Trent Brown and Daniel Kilgore started every game. The only reason that Joshua Garnett and Andrew Tiller didn’t was because Garnett replaced Tiller six games into the season.
As for Hyde, he gained 14 yards in 13 carries against the Arizona Cardinals last week. Or about 39 inches per try for those of you snoring at home.
Hyde is about as dependable as a broken clock. He forgets play calls. He’s prone to fumbles. He also gets hurt. A lot. In three seasons, he has suited up only 69 percent of time.
Better add a feature back and a couple or three linemen to a wish list that’s about, oh, a dozen long right now.
PONDER THIS: Remember all that talk about how Kelly also was gonna resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick along the way?
Well, the Make Kap Great Again campaign isn’t lookin’ so good at the moment.
In five games with Blaine Gabbert at the controls, the offense averaged 22.2 points, 19.0 first downs and 291.4 yards per game. In four games under Kaepernick, the numbers are no better and even worse in some categories — 19.0, 17.5 and 335.0, respectively.
If Kaepernick and company don’t show marked improvement against the New England Patriots this weekend — yeah, good luck with that — veteran Christian Ponder deserves a chance to show what he can do the rest of the way.
Or have we forgotten that Ponder outplayed the other two guys in the preseason, which Kelly called “a competition”?
YOU DON’T SAY: The silliest NBA trade rumor has the Warriors’ Klay Thompson headed to the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster deal.
Or so speculates ex-Warriors assistant Brian Scalabrine, now a Celtics television analyst.
Scalabrine isn’t sure where he got this exactly, but he hears the Celtics would give up Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and the Brooklyn Nets’ first-rounder in the next draft, a probable lottery pick. Then the Warriors would flip the pick for a rim protector.
As Scalabrine admits, “That can’t be true.”
Sure, the Celtics would take Thompson in a heartbeat. But what would the Warriors get out of the deal — an undersized off guard who can’t defend, a small forward who can’t score and draft pick that almost nobody wants?
Balls doesn’t need a source to confirm there’s no chance this will happen.
JUST SAYIN’: The Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 50 1/2 on Sunday. Now give the darn ball to Marshawn Lynch on the 2-foot line the next time. Uh, got that, coach Pete Carroll?
So now that quarterback Tom Brady has lost a game already, teammate Jimmy Garoppolo is the new Most Valuable Player favorite . . .
Of course, if Brady throws eight touchdown passes against Santa Clara on Sunday, he may be back on top soon.
San Antonio Spurs fossil Gregg Popovich is the latest NBA coach to pontificate about the presidential election. Let the man speak, people. No one knows more about bullying than he does.
Besides, Ayesha Curry said the election was fixed, anyway.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE . . . Bill Simmons?
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