Saving the Best for Last: The 49ers Shock the Saints

"I am a 49er. Hear me roar!"

The hero of the day in the San Francisco 49ers victory over the New Orleans Saints was tight end Vernon Davis who caught the game winning score from much maligned quarterback Alex Smith.  The 36-32 downing of the high-octane Saints gave the 49ers their first playoff win in nine years and punched their ticket for an appearance in the NFC Championship.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and the front office deserve all the credit for making the 49ers this year’s most unlikely Super Bowl contender.  Some credit should go to Mike Singletary, the man Harbaugh replaced for being responsible for getting Davis to drop the diva act and tap into his incredible potential.

For a while Davis looked to be just another in long list of first round failures for the Niners.  Nobody questioned if Davis had the talent.  The question was whether he would ever pull his head out of his ass and tap into it..  Singletary was not a good coach.  What he was was an excellent motivator.  Davis was motivated by Singletary and Harbaugh coached him up.

While Smith-to-Davis isn’t a moment as iconic as Montana-to-Clark, give them time.  They had to endure a lot of crap to get to this moment of glory.

My wife and I are 49ers fans going back to “The Catch” which occurred 30 years ago this weekend.

Today we witnessed “The Catch II” or “The Grab” as some have dubbed Smith’s TD pass to Davis. Whatever the hell you want to call it after nearly nine years or wandering in the NFL wilderness, it feels really good to return to being a relevant team again..

I respect the Saints and I’m not going to lie: I expected them to win.  I felt the Niners had a chance to throw some blows and go toe-to-toe with the Saints’ explosive offense.  Drew Brees is crazy good, but I also thought if the Niners had to deal with the Saints, that was fine.  They had to deal with us too.

If this had been in the Superdome, I’m not sure the Niners would have won.  They worked hard to secure that home field advantage over the Saints and it paid off in full.

The cherry on top is how satisfying it is that this the Saints/49ers was merely supposed to be the opening act for the main event of Tom Brady vs. Tim “Touched By An Angel.”  Tebow in primetime.   Nobody pimped this game harder than ESPN. They have been riding Tebow’s dick even more than they were Brett Favre.  I didn’t think that was possible, but ESPN’s saturation coverage and endless hero worship proved it was.

Joke’s on you, ESPN.  There was only one football game that was Must See TV and it wasn’t in Foxboro.  Brady demolished Denver and sent Tebow packing until he can plan his resurrection next September.

I have nothing against Tim Tebow personally.  He seems like an earnest young man who loves playing football and giving the glory to Jesus Christ, but I watch football because I enjoy the sport.  I don’t want anyone’s religious beliefs up in my face.

Anyone remember Reggie White? He was religious, very conservative and after the game he would gather with players from both teams and pray. But White didn’t make a show of his faith. Tebow does and that’s annoying as hell.

It only took seven years for Alex Smith to get San Francisco to fall in love with him.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Reggie White was one of the greatest of all time at his position and a Hall of Famer. The only way Tebow gets in the Hall of Fame is if he waits in line and buys a ticket.

Enough about losers that are not longer relevant.  The Niners are moving on and the Saints and Broncos are cleaning out their lockers.  For the past nine years it’s been the other way around.   I don’t know who the Niners will match up against next Sunday, but I know they’re playing and that is something I haven’t been able to say since they were rolling up Super Bowl wins.

These 49ers are not the 49ers teams of Montana and Young.  They lean on playing stout defense, capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes while minimizing their own turnovers.   Frank Gore pounding the rock between the tackles is how Harbaugh prefers it instead of Alex Smith strafing secondaries with his arm.   It’s not glamorous and it sure ain’t sexy.  Sometimes it’s even a little bit boring.

But it’s damn efficient even if it runs counter to how the Packers, Patriots and the Saints do things.  Those teams were supposed to be contending for a Super Bowl ring.  The 49ers were supposed to be happy if they finished with a .500 record.  Nobody could have predicted this kind of success and nobody did.

Anyone who tell you they saw it coming is lying their ass off.

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