Bay Area Sports Beat: What You Need to Know Right Now
We teased you back in July about football’s return, but this time promises of its beginning is the type of football that consumes the Bay Area and is played with a pigskin.
Biceps will be smooched, tailgates will be had, frustration is inevitable, triumph will be washed down with domestics but, most importantly, we’ll all have something to talk (complain) about well into the new year.
In some parts of the Bay Area, mostly of the non-East Bay variety, expectations are as high as they’ve been going into a season in years. In others, of the East Bay variety, expectations aren’t quite what they used to be for once-proud units.
But none of the endless amounts of ink or keyboards smashed dedicated to the local football units will matter once the first hit is made.
So with that, let’s smash keyboard one last time for a quick rundown on the essentials for ‘em all.
Party like it’s the 80s and early 90s in San Francisco!
Because much like the Montana-Young days, the expectations are such that anything less than a Super Bowl triumph would be a disappointment.
Last season’s team came to the brink of glory before being stymied by the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl only yards away from lifting the Lombardi Trophy.
This year’s edition benefits from an entire year of Colin Kaepernick pulling the quarterbacking strings along with additions on both sides of the ball to an already-stacked team.
All assume the 49ers’ biggest roadblock to the Super Bowl to be the Seattle Seahawks, a team they’ll meet in the Pacific Northwest in Week 2.
Up first, though, the 49ers play host to the perennially tough Green Bay Packers and ex-Cal star Aaron Rodgers on Sunday in Week 1.
Watch Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller predict the 49ers to make the Super Bowl here.
Just win, baby...hopefully?
It’s been this way for years, but not a ton is figured out of the Raiders except fans hoping to see a steady upward hike toward respectability.
Then again, other than the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos, not much is expected out of the rest of the AFC West, either. So the proverbial door is open for the Raiders to surprise their detractors.
Problem being, it’s still uncertain who will be taking snaps for the Raiders’ most important offensive position: quarterback.
Matt Flynn was signed during the offseason to provide stability at the position, but has been tentative hardly inspired much confidence with the position. Terrelle Pryor, presumed backup turned fan favorite to take the position's reins, stumbled in his final audition to uproot Flynn, completing only three passes in eight attempts in the Raiders’ final preseason game, a 22-6 loss to the Seahawks.
Oakland opens against former Stanford standout Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Speaking of Stanford…
The Farm is back in the spotlight and looks to stay there for the long-haul.
Once an afterthought and suddenly perennially a heavyweight in the Pac-12, David Shaw has taken the Cardinal right where Jim Harbaugh left them and to even greater heights.
Rose Bowl winners a season ago, Stanford again will rely on a dominant offensive line and running game to again challenge for the top of the Pac-12. Its likely biggest obstacle, Oregon, will be a home game.
Stanford plays host to locals San Jose State on Saturday.
Watch a complete set of predictions for the Cardinal via Bleacher Report here.
Growing pains in Berkeley?
It’s a football trend in the East Bay this year: the Bears’ faithful will mostly be looking for steps in a positive direction.
After years of mediocrity in the Pac-12, Cal is restarting with a new coach (Sonny Dykes, formerly of Louisiana Tech) a true freshman quarterback (Jared Goff, who starred at Marin Catholic) and a new offensive scheme (the spread).
Coming off of a middling 3-9 campaign, gaudy offensive numbers are likely in the cards out of the new Cal regime, but gaudy win totals may not be…this year, at least.
And in case you missed it…
A freakin’ pirate invaded McCovey Cove last week. A pirate!
Middling expectations, too: @seanswaby