When I opened Qoxhi Picks in 1981, the toughest team for me to handicap was the San Francisco 49ers. I suspect in looking back the reason for this was twofold; first, I had grown up a 49ers fan and saw the team fail a lot more often than they won. I was at Kezar in 1970 for their last game in that stadium, an NFC Conference Championship Game loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and at Candlestick Park two years later, when Dick Nolan’s squad surrendered a 15 point lead to lose to Dallas in a playoff game.
The next season, 1973, I started my years in the front office of the Oakland Raiders, first as an intern, then summer camp worker and finally as a full time staff member. The Raiders were always business, the 49ers had my heart, and that may be why I had so much trouble handicapping the Niners and found predicting the outcomes for the Silver and Black routine.
Dwight Clark’s catch against the Cowboys in 1981 was a huge day for fans of the 49ers, but a point spread loss for me and my clients. I had the Cowboys that day, but fortunately did win a couple weeks later with San Francisco over Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI. For more than a decade the 49ers were the best team in football, and had a road record better than almost every other team's home record for the ensuing 13 seasons.
That didn’t match with my history as a kid watching the team, or my charts as a professional handicapper. The Niners just won too darn often when my numbers said they should be in trouble, at least against the point spread.
This year, the success with the Raiders and problems with the 49ers is absolutely reversed. The Raiders have beaten me this year when I pick them or against them. They do it with dropped passes or end of the game safeties, yet the 49ers have been one of the bright spots this year.
I have picked the 49ers to beat the spread eight times this season, and are 6-1-1 in those games with the only loss a defeat on Monday night against the Vikings in Minnesota. I picked against the Niners once this year, their Week Six contest in Cleveland against the Browns. San Francisco had blown out the Dallas Cowboys the previous week, 42-10, to extend their record to 5-0 and were favored by 9½ points against the Browns.
The game proved to be the 49ers first loss of the year when a late field goal attempt was wide and the Browns escaped with a 19-17 win.
When the 49ers lost a third straight game the week before their bye to the Cincinnati Bengals, we didn’t have the game because I thought the 49ers made one of the major mistakes a team can make. That is, prepare all week in expectation that you will be forced to play with the backup quarterback, in the 49ers case Sam Darnold, and then over the weekend announce that the starter, Brock Purdy, has recovered enough from his injury to make the start.
The reason this is such a problem for a team is that their preparation was heightened when they thought they needed to win with the backup, and that motivation is leveled when they get the comfort of knowing their starter is back.
Since that setback to the Bengals on October 29th, the 49ers have returned to the terror they inflicted on their opponents during the first five weeks of the season. This time they have won four straight games by double-digits including a satisfying triumph in Philadelphia last Sunday where they somewhat got revenge for last January's Championship Game loss on the same field to Jalen Hurts and company.
In October, they had beaten the Cowboys by 32 points, 42-10, then got upset in Cleveland. Now, they come off a 42-19 triumph in Philadelphia and come home to meet the Seattle Seahawks while favored by 11 points.
The 49ers are very special, so special that the books have turned them into the wrong side of this week's wagering proposition. San Francisco comes into this game having scored a touchdown on a record six straight offensive possessions, now they have to find a motivational edge to win against a division opponent that they already creamed two weeks ago in Seattle, 31-13.
Qoxhi Picks: Seattle Seahawks (+11) over San Francisco 49ers