April 19, 2014

Second Take: Five Thoughts on Bengals/49ers

The 49ers escaped Cincy with a win, 13-8.

Here are five quick thoughts on the game to get you through the work-week and into the next football weekend…

1. I’m sorry, but I have to lead with Jerome Simpson actually playing in this game. What was the point? How many other teams would have let Simpson suit up? The team could have simply said it was a “coach’s decision” and not meant as any sort of disciplinary move, saving itself from any possible complaints or legal entanglements in the future. Instead, Simpson, who missed two practices last week, played and wasn’t a factor at all, catching one pass for six yards. Surely, someone else could have duplicated that and saved Cincinnati from a bad PR move in the process.

2. Another year, another waste of Bernard Scott. I’m not saying Scott is the answer (especially considering he seemed to miss a pass block that led to a sack), but the team should at least give him a longer look. Several successful teams have adopted some sort of two-back approach, but the Bengals seem content to ride Cedric Benson solo. Scott only had two carries, but they went for 10 yards, which is a pretty good average for those of you who are mathematically-inclined. Hopefully, Jay Gruden can get creative enough to take advantage of Scott’s abilities before it’s too late. And if Benson is really suspended, he’ll have to, which might not be as bad as it seems.

3. My game ball goes to Kyle Cook. Certainly, someone on the defense may have played a bigger role in the game being close, but it was refreshing to see Cook hustling downfield on more than one occasion, looking for an extra block for his offense. Other observers may miss that kind of effort, but not me. Cook’s hustle is a powerful example that his teammates should aspire to. And it’s also the kind of thing that might lift this team out of the doldrums at some point. Might. Bravo, Kyle. Keep hustling.

4. Let’s hope the Bengals defense doesn’t return to the “solid at home, shaky on the road” formula of years past. The 49ers offense leaves a lot to be desired, but this was still a very solid effort overall. Kudos to me for starting the Bengals D in more than one fantasy league (and no, I’m not usually a homer). Cincy’s defenders rewarded me with five sacks and a fumble. Let’s hope they can repeat the effort when Buffalo comes to town next week.

5. To me, this game was lost when the Bengals couldn’t capitalize on the Frank Gore fumble caused by Rey Maualuga. You only get so many scoring opportunities that come gift-wrapped and this was one of them. Cincy’s offense, however, fizzled and they were left with a field goal that wasn’t enough to win the game. And for the record, I’ve seen enough of the Andy Dalton naked bootleg. Let’s tear that page out of the playbook.

Extra point: Buffalo is ripe for the picking. The Bills are 3-0, fresh off a dramatic, come-from-behind victory against the arch-nemesis Patriots, and have owned Cincinnati in recent years. Sounds like a recipe for a close game to me. Let the national media inflate the Bills balloon all week, but don’t be surprised if the Bengals keep things extremely close next Sunday. You heard it here first.