49ers, Raiders off to troubling starts | TahoeDailyTribune.com

49ers, Raiders off to troubling starts

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Three weeks into the NFL season, the Raiders and 49ers look about as imposing as The Best Damn Sports Show host Chris Rose.

With identical 1-2 records, both teams can only afford to lose four more games if they hope to qualify for the postseason.

Inconsistent offensive production has been the source of each painful start. The Raiders seem uninspired after being blown out by the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl and an aging offensive unit needs to pick up the pace against the winless Chargers and Bears the next two weeks or they should spend the last half of the season looking at third-year quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and promising rookie running back Justin Fargas.

If Bill Romanowski punching out a teammate during training camp didn’t get the Raiders out of their slumber, what can? I’ve heard of coaches taking the heat for their team’s atrocious play, but a kicker? With Sebastian Janikowski hogging the headlines, maybe the media will forget about how bad the Raiders have looked after three weeks.

Owner Al Davis could do wonders for team morale by cutting this guy loose. How many chances is Janikowski going to get? Darryl Strawberry must be his agent.

It must be a cost-cutting decision. The placekicker’s preference for jail cells could save the Raiders some money on road trips, but at least the fourth-year player has learned to “bend” the law two days prior to game day.

If the Raiders’ close call with the Bengals last week wasn’t sobering, then the Raiders’ inability to right the ship against recent punching bag Denver on Monday night may start a recall campaign to bring back Jon Gruden.

Rich Gannon had thrown for nine touchdown passes in the previous four meetings against the Broncos. On Monday, he didn’t deliver a touchdown pass while throwing for a paltry 149 yards.

Teams are catching on to Gannon’s dink game and without a breakaway threat like Jerry Porter to stretch defenses, the Raiders better hope their own defense exceeds expectations.

As for the 49ers, they should be ashamed for not being able to top the 13 points the Browns scored on Sunday. Despite some deficiencies in the secondary, the 49ers’ defensive unit has played solidly.

The offense, on the other hand, hasn’t been as consistent as fans had hoped.

Consider what happened against the Browns, who gave up a record 295 rushing yards to the Ravens’ Jamal Lewis the previous week: Jeff Garcia and his aching back had more rushing yards than the collective effort of running backs Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow. How much longer will Garcia last this season? But at least the 49ers now have a good field-goal kicker in Owen Pochman.

Most disturbing for the 49ers is the fact that they could easily be 3-0. Poor clock management cost the 49ers a chance at a winning field-goal attempt against the Rams and who remembers the last time the team kicked four field goals and didn’t score a touchdown?

The 49ers better spring an upset this week because after visiting Minnesota and its injured superstars Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, Seattle and Tampa Bay follow what should be a bitter reunion with former coach Steve Mariucci’s Detroit Lions on Oct. 5.

But how about those Giants and A’s?

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