I Got 49 Problems But the Saints Ain’t One

Get outta my way! I’m trying to keep this job!

The 49ers went down to N’awlins and came back with a 31-21 victory over the Saints.

I hate the Saints.   I hate the Cowboys and some other teams too, but the hate I have for the Saints burns hot, high and bright.  Not like I want anything bad to happen to Drew Brees or anyone on the team, but I hate the way those swaggering, thuggish, roguish mofos act like they are they are the most formidable offense in the NFL.   Let’s get this straight.  The Saints are only as good as Brees is on any given Sunday.  If he’s having a bad game, there is no “Plan B” to fall back on.

The Saints running backs are Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram and all of them are given a chance to tote the rock.   Whenever a team uses a running back by committee approach it means they don’t have one that’s good enough to deserve the majority of the carries.   Marcus Colston is a fine wide receiver, but he doesn’t dominate the way a Calvin Johnson.   The only guy who dominates is tight end Jimmy Graham, but his four receptions for 33 yards made no difference on the game’s outcome.

It’s Crunchtime in the Big Easy.

As for the Saints defense, as good as the offense is, the defense is just as bad.   No wonder head coach Sean Payton and ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams instituted their bounty program.   The stiffs they dress up in those ugly black-on-black and gold-trimmed uniforms are among some of the most talentless losers in the league.  I wouldn’t trade the worst player on the 49ers “D” for the best one on the Saints (and I can’t think of whom their best player might be).

As a 49ers fan, there was NOBODY I wanted them to beat more this season than the Saints. After the whole Bountygate mess from the playoffs, it’s an established fact the Saints are a dirty football team. Beating their butts in their own house in front of their fans only makes the win all the sweeter. Playoffs? Not for you, suckers!

The story for the sportswriters coming out of the game is the supposed “quarterback controversy” between Kapernick and Alex Smith.  Look, no offense to Smith.  He’s a good quarterback.  He’s good enough to win more games than he loses and he’s good enough to make enough plays to get the Niners into the playoffs.   As he showed against the Saints last January, he’s good enough to use his arm and his legs to win a big game,

But here’s the thing.   After beating the Saints in the playoffs, the only thing standing between the Niners and a return to the Super Bowl was the New York Giants.   The two fumbles by wide receiver Kyle Williams gave the game away to the G-Men and Smith had a solid, if unspectacular game (12-26, 196 yards, two TD’s), but only completed one pass to a wide receiver.

The Niners knew they had to upgrade their receivers and went out and signed Mario Manningham away from the Giants as a free agent, lured Randy Moss out of retirement and drafted A.J. Jenkins with their first pick in the draft.   Manningham has only been okay, Moss has had flashes of former brilliance and Jenkins hasn’t played a single down (but may have to now that Williams is out for the season with a torn ACL).

None of that mattered when the Giants returned to San Francisco in Week 6 and rolled out with a 26-3 win that was never close and Smith was terrible throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns.

The Niners and the Giants look like they’re on a collision course to meet again in the playoffs.   The Giants have beaten them two out of the last three games.   Given another shot, Smith might be able to redeem himself from the beat down the Giants served up, but when the book on the 2012 season is written, that might have been the moment when head coach Jim Harbaugh realized how low Smith’s ceiling is.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses their job.

When Smith suffered a concussion against the Rams it opened the door for Kapernick to stroll through as the starter.   The unspoken rule in the NFL is a veteran isn’t supposed to lose his job due to injury.  But ask Drew Bledsoe how Tom Brady made the most of his shot and never let it go.

In pro football the next man up is always one play away from starting.   Maybe he’s only enjoying a few fleeting moments of glory before he crashes and burns but Kapernick is going to make the most of his chance.   I’m a little conflicted about how he got that chance, but after seven seasons I already know what Alex Smith has to bring to the party.    In Kapernick, the 49ers have a shiny new toy to play with.   I’m curious to see how he handles the pressure.

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Dreaming Out of Season

One bad play does not a season make. But two...?

The ultimate high in the surprising 2011 San Francisco 49ers season came when QB Alex Smith threw a precisely timed pass to TE Vernon Davis for the winning touchdown with seconds left to beat the Saints was dubbed by the 49er faithful as “The Grab.”  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in ancient Candlestick Park with sunshine, clear skies and a warm, pleasant light growing in the hearts of every long-suffering fan.

The rainy, foggy and cold Sunday where two critical mistakes by a stand-in punt returner brought an ignoble finish to the season will live in 49ers history as “The Fumbles.”

It took me a few days to swallow the disappointment of the 49ers losing to the Giants 20-17 in overtime, but I’ve digested it now. The Giants deserve to go to the Super Bowl. They made the plays and caught the breaks. The 49ers didn’t and that’s why their season is over.

Now let’s talk about Kyle Williams, the guy who lost the two fumbles that cost the 49ers dearly. The player who so enraged some idiots they rushed to Twitter to make threats on his life.

After the game, my wife asked me if the Niners would cut Williams loose. I replied, “No, they won’t and no, they shouldn’t.”

“It was just one of those situations where I caught the ball, tried to head upfield, tried to make a play and it ended up for the worse,” Williams said.


W
illiams will forever be known and reviled as the goat who cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl. In part that is true and that is something Williams, a second year player from Stanford, will have to own for some time. But football is a team sport and the 49ers lost that game as a team. One or two plays can dramatically alter the outcome of a game but a loss can be attributed to an entire 60 minutes worth of poor execution.

The 49ers offense converted only 1 out of 13 third downs. That’s terrible.

The 49ers wide receivers combined for one catch for three yards in five quarters and almost four hours of football. That’s worse that terrible.  That’s pathetic.

Hero one day, goat the next. Welcome to the NFL, Kyle Williams

QB Alex Smith, who looked like a stud in the previous week’s shoot-out with the Saints looked pretty ordinary against the G-men. His two touchdown passes to TE Vernon Davis were things of beauty, but as Greg Cosell in his NFL Flims blog called out Smith for his “tentative and uncertain pocket play. “

Cosell said, “Smith was reluctant to let it loose on routes and throws that were not only well designed, but were open…One of the attributes that separates high level quarterback play in big games and critical moments is the willingness to make stick throws into smaller windows. Smith did that with confidence against the Saints. In the NFC Championship game, he was hesitant and cautious on throws that were clearly defined.  Simply put, Smith left a lot of plays on the field against the Giants. While Williams publicly shouldered the burden of defeat, it was his quarterback who failed to deliver on the promise he had shown a week earlier.”

In this season where a franchise that had once been the NFL’s Gold Standard of a successful football organization on and off the field, made an unexpected return to glory, no player benefited more from the coaching of Jim Harbaugh than Alex Smith. The former overall Number One pick looked destined to be a bust. Under the tutelage of Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, they made Smith an effective game manager who didn’t throw interceptions and didn’t make the critical mistake at the critical time.

Against the Saints, Smith proved he could not only manage a game, but with his feet and his arm, he could make crucial plays and win games as well. Smith didn’t throw any interceptions against the Giants, but he couldn’t get the 49ers in the end zone either when they needed to. Smith played it safe and the difference between his lack of comfort with his wide receivers and Eli Manning’s confidence with his group is like that between night and day.

I really believe Kyle Williams will make plays for the 49ers as he learns how to play the position. During the season Williams caught 20 passes for 211 yards and three td’s . Those aren’t flashy numbers, but Williams is fast and can stretch a defense vertically. I have no doubt as a slot receiver and in a four receiver package, Williams will eventually shine.

With this depressing loss the Niners become just another one out of 30 teams not good enough to get to the Super Bowl  with deficiencies and have needs that must be met.

No position needs upgrading more than wide receiver for the 49ers. Michael Crabtree, the first round pick three years ago is a solid Number Two receiver. He lacks the speed or big grab ability to be a consistent Number One. There will be free agent talent available that meets that need. Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Marcus Colston, and DeSean Jackson may be available if the Niners want to bid for their services.

The Niners may not have the bank available to sign a big name free agent. They have several free agents of their own they need to resign including Smith. They may have to look past the premier group of receivers for some gems remaining after the initial buying spree or trade up in the NFL Draft hoping to grab a young and speedy receiver.

I like the place the 49ers are in going in to the off-season. After their first playoff appearance since 2003, they have holes to plug, but this year it’s going to be about adding talent, not blowing up the roster and starting over.

“Everyone in here told me to keep my head up, it’s not on me,” Williams said. “You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it up in that fashion and lose a game of this magnitude. It is what it is. We’re going to move forward as a team. I couldn’t be happier with the teammates I have in here.”

I agree. For far too long after the 16th game the typical Niner fan had to sigh in disappointment and disgust, “Well, there’s always next season.” This year we can say “I can’t wait for next season.” Our Super Bowl dreams are merely delayed, not deferred.   We’re dreaming out of season.

At the risk of echoing Sarah Palin, the San Francisco 49ers don’t need to rebuild.  They need to reload.

Who's got it better than us? Well, there's the Giants...

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.

R U Ready 4 Some Football? (The 49ers Aren’t)

Alex Smith: Back for another season of Suck.

The NFL lockout is over.  Too bad nobody told the San Francisco 49ers.

I don’t get stoked anymore by free agency.  It’s nice to bring in some sexy stud to make your team look pretty but after the sorry experience of watching Nate Clements punked by Roddy White on a regular basis, I’m glad he took his sorry butt elsewhere.  Unfortunately for me its only 100 miles from Cincinnati to Columbus, so I can smell the stench of him stinking up the Bengals all season long.  Oh, joy.

My bold pre-season prediction is the 49ers will circle the drain in 2011.   I pick them to finish last in the dead zone that is the NFC West.   The pricey wide receiver Michael Crabtree is already on the shelf (what a shock) with a foot injury and will miss his third consecutive pre-season in a three-year career., Gore is holding out for money he probably doesn’t deserve and Alex Smith is back as our starting QB and will be taking snaps from…errr…Eric Heitmann? (nope), David Baas?  (nope)…TONY WRAGGE!

Never mind who snaps him the damn ball, why in the name of all that’s unholy is the supreme El Busto that is Alex Smith back to prove for a fifth consecutive year he can not be a starting quarterback in the NFL?   How many pictures of Jed York and that sheep does Smith have anyway?  It has been proven beyond doubt the 49ers made one of the worst decisions in drafting history in 2005 when they selected Smith as the overall Number One pick over Aaron Rodgers.    Rodgers went on to run Brett Favre ancient ass out of Green Bay and won a Super Bowl.

Six years are forever in pro football and there isn’t another team in the league that has stuck with a quarterback who reeks of EPIC FAIL the way Smith does.  Even the Raiders finally declared JaMarcus Russell dead to them and after they cut his fat ass loose, nobody even brought him in a try-out.   You have to be totally incompetent as a football player to go from a top pick to completely worthless, but Russell did it.   Smith continues to hold on like an embedded tick.

What has Alex Smith ever done except make 49ers weep uncontrollably when they see a Joe Montana or Steve Young highlight on the NFL Network?

The defense will need a new nose tackle, free safety,  cornerback and inside linebacker along with the pass-rushing stud we still don’t have.   I’m starting to think a 7-9 season might be as good as it gets for this team and over .500 would be a gift from the gods.

Oh well, at least we got a new old kicker to replace the old retired kicker.

It’s been said the lockout would hurt teams like the 49ers more than most.  It hurts even more when the Bengals have made more moves than the 49ers.  Yes, they brought in a bust with Ohio State homey Clements, but they improved by canceling the Chad Ochocinco & Terrell Owens “Who’s The Bigger Asshole?”  Show, so garbage in, garbage out.

In life it is said there are people who watch what happens, people who make things happen and there’s the 49ers who get run over by the teams trying to actually put a competitive product on the field and lie there wondering what the hell just happened?

Looks like I picked the wrong time to start getting interested in the season.  The 49ers (ha-ha) brain trust seems to not have gotten the memo the lock out is over.  It’s okay to try to improve your team.

Turn on ESPN and watch the crawl at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the difference between teams trying to get to the Super Bowl and the ones like the 49ers, Browns and Raiders who can’t get out of their own way.   The Philadelphia Eagles traded a quarterback who couldn’t beat out Mike Vick to Arizona for a starting cornerback and a second round draft pick, then turned around and signed the most coveted free agent available and added Cullen Jenkins, one of the best defensive tackles on the board.

Meanwhile, my older brothers team,  the Raiders,  have done almost nothing, my younger brother’s team, the Browns,  signed a few pieces of scrap and spare parts.  My Niners?  They signed an old kicker to replace the old kicker who just retired.

The NFL is a league where if you want to try to you make smart moves off the field you can reap the benefits on the field.   First things first.   You have to have an ownership and front office all in to win.   The 49ers no longer do.

It’s not even the losing that bothers me so much.  I don’t like it, but I’ve seen so much of over the past 17 years, I’m used to it.   It’s the not even bother to try that drives me nuts.  It  makes me wonder why, besides nostalgia, do I still consider myself a San Francisco 49ers fan?

Gimme some hope.   At this point I’m desperate enough to settle for window dressing.

Nostalgia only goes so far. It's time for results.