Pick a Story Line

Wily old coach who lollygagged his only Super Bowl shot away in 21 years of being a head coach?

Young upstart coach who couldn’t get a 1st down in the 2nd half with a 25 point lead and 17 minutes left in the game?

Young hotshot quarterback coming off an MVP season and about to be crowned Super Bowl champ and king of the world?

Perennial understudy game-managing quarterback who will be handing his off way to the podium?

High flying offense?

Hard hitting defense?

Even Vegas is having a hard time figuring this one out. The O/U dropped at 52.5 and all the money went to the over. In the first 24 hours of betting, there was ONE bet on the under. Vegas then jumped it to 54, and that hasn’t really changed things.

The line on the game has gone from pick ’em to -1.5 Chiefs to even -2 Chiefs. Frankly I thought the Niners would be favored by 2, but then again, I don’t see the numbers going anywhere past +/- 2 either way. Still a ton of money to be bet in the next 12 days.

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GYB – “Got your back” – This has been the mantra all season of this 49er team, and it was what Raheem Mostert said to Tevin Coleman as an injured Coleman was carted off the field. A team that has gone through their share of injuries across 17 weeks of football has had 2nd stringers, 3rd stingers, and in Mostert’s case, 4th stringers step up when called upon to join his teammates in battle.

From losing D.J. Jones, Ronald Blair, and Damontre Moore, on the D line, Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford on the edges, and Ahkello Witherspoon in the defensive backfield, guys like Dre Greenlaw, Emmanuel Moseley, Al-Shaair, Sheldon Day, Earl Mitchell, and even Anthony Zettel all stepped up in various ways to keep the team’s winning ways. And, despite what looks like an injury to take Coleman out of the Super Bowl, Mostert and Matt Breida are there to pick up the slack.

But, what a game! 6-8 for 77 yards? Jimmy G really brought it. 42 rushes for 285 and 4 TDs? Unreal. Raheem Mostert ran through gaping holes all night. Therefore we didn’t need to pass at all. Starting with a 3rd and 8 from the Packers 36 yard line that turned into a 36 yard score, the 49ers ran, ran, and ran again.

The defense held Aaron Rodgers in check until it was garbage time. Davante Adams had a nice game, and 138 yards, but again, the outcome was settled. Rodgers was harassed into 2 early turnovers that sealed their fate. An early fumble on what was a promising drive that looked to cut the score to 17-7 and momentum to close the half instead led to a field goal and a 20-0 lead. The next drive was Emmanuel Moseley’s interception of a rushed Rodgers pass, which led to the game-sealing 18 yard run by Mostert.

Feels great, baby!

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Hello, Green Bay My Old Friend

No, the 49ers aren’t part of the charter members of the NFL, but their history does go back to 1950 with the dissolution of the All American Football Conference and the absorption of the Niners, the Browns, and the Colts into the NFL fold. So, we’ve played the Green Bay Packers 68 times, amassing a 31-36-1 record. Our playoff record is 3-4 as well, but most of the Niner wins haven been recent, as in two of Colin Kaepernick’s playoff wins in 2012 and 2013. 2013 being pretty epic as Kaepernick threw for 263 and rushed for 181, with Frank Gore adding 113 himself in the 41-35 beatdown. I don’t want to mention the 1990s, as those playoff losses were brutal.

Because, of course the recent matchup was as good a game as this very good team has played. Amid the talk all season of the 49ers not playing anyone of substance, the 8-2 Packers took on the 9-1 Niners. And ot was an absolute dismantling of the Packers. 37-8. A game that saw the dominant Niners put up a 23 point 1st half lead. One we didn’t squander like the Houstons did last weekend. It was Aaron Rodgers’ worst passing day as a pro. The Niner defense stuffed the run, stopped the pass, and hassled Rodgers every time he dropped back to pass. Jimmy G had an efficient 14-20/243 2 TD mistake free game. Frankly, I don’t see much in the way of things being much different this time around.

Our run defense has been stout, and the return of Kwon Alexander, Jaquiski Tartt, and Dee Ford put us back in our position as the fastest and most lethal defense in the NFL. I think for now the Ahkello Witherspoon experience is on the shelf for another game as Emmanuel Moseley has proven he’s equal to the task. Witherspoon is a mercurial talent, but he’s been off since his injury earlier this year.

Stop Adams and Jones, and the game is done. Adams had 7 catches for 43 yards, and Jones had 13 carries for 38 yards. Everything Rodgers threw was underneath as he had little time to wait for plays to develop, and he was sacked 5 times.

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. . . and then there were four . . .

Funny, at the start of the playoffs I was worried about the Seahawks, the Saints, and the Ravens., and the Chiefs. Three out of four are gone. Thanks to a fast start, and Seattle running out of time, we have the Green Bay Packers traveling west to face us in the NFC Championship game. Yes, a team we faltered against way back in 1995, 1996, and 1997.

Trust me, I saw 1997 NFC Championship game loss, and the 1996 divisional loss. Both were rainy miserable games and we were sitting on the pull-out side. Meaning sitting in the rain all day. They even knocked us out of the 2001 playoffs. Next year of course was Jeff Garcia’s furious comeback in the WC game against the NY Giants only to lose to the Pack again.

Recent history is much kinder. We stomped them silly in week 11 here at Levi’s 37 – 8. In 2011 and 2012, the Niners stomped the Packers to advance in the playoffs. Revenge then was a nice dish, but it was cold as we didn’t finish the deal.

Nex Sunday? I think the 49ers can run at will on these guys. Green Bay was 23rd in yards given up running. Stop Davante Adams and you stop Green Bay.

So, a lot of history to sift through, but like we showed against Minnesota, history don’t mean shit.

Sunday, Jan. 19
AFC Championship 

Titans at Chiefs, 12:05 p.m. ET (CBS, stream on CBS All Access here)

NFC Championship
Packers at 49ers, 3:40 p.m. ET (Fox, stream on fuboTV here)

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Domination – 49er Style

Very good to see the defense come together right as the playoffs rolled around. To a man, everyone said the bye week was crucial. One play. Gigantic implications. Dre Greenlaw would be the hero of the year for his stoning of Hollister 6″ short of the goal line, and he will never buy a drink in the Bay Area forever.

Meanwhile, the return of Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander saw the resurgence of the vaunted pass rush that stymied so many teams early this season. Ford’s stat line was 1 sack and 1 TFL, but his presence allowed Bosa to run free for 6 tackles and 2 sacks. Everyone on the D line, including recent acquisition Tony Zettel, got sack. Kwon Alexander didn’t even get on the stat line, but just having his speed out there caused Minnesota problems.

The name of the ore-game story was stopping Dalvin Cook to slow the play-action passing game. Well, 9 carries for 18 yards is pretty suffocating.

The offense started guns blazing. On an 8 play, 61 yard drive, Jimmy G threw 6 times, ending with a 3 yard strike to Kendrick Bourne. The rest was a series of 7 yard runs by Tevin Coleman. To the tune of 22 carries, 105 yards. Speaking of Kendrick, Eddie Kendricks provided the only bright spot for Minnesota as he picked off an ill-advised Jimmy G pass late in the 2nd quarter. It turned into a measly 3 points, and ther 49ers never looked back.

Today, we have the improbable Houstons against the venerable Chiefs. With the path cleared by the Tennessee Tuxedos for the Chiefs, I see walk-through for KC. I’ll keep my earlier prediction of 35-20 KC.

After yesterday’s outlandish stomping of the Ravens by the Titans, I’m going with Green Bay to beast Seattle handily, 28-17 (read the Post of the Day!).

Sunday, January 12, 2020

No. 4 Texans at No. 2 Chiefs, 12:05 p.m. PT (CBS, stream on CBS All Access here)
No. 5 Seahawks at No. 2 Packers, 3:40 p.m. PT (Fox, stream on fuboTV here)

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PLAYOFF GAME DAY !! Divisional Diversions

Here we are on the brink of another wild weekend of football. This means so much more now that we are back in the playoffs after a 5 year absence. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, Jan. 11
No. 6 Vikings at No. 1 49ers, 1:35 p.m. PT (NBC, stream on fuboTV here)
No. 6 Titans at No. 1 Ravens, 5:15 p.m. ET (CBS, stream on CBS All Access here)

Sunday, Jan. 12
No. 4 Texans at No. 2 Chiefs, 12:05 p.m. PT (CBS, stream on CBS All Access here)
No. 5 Seahawks at No. 2 Packers, 3:40 p.m. PT (Fox, stream on fuboTV here)

Minnesota gets the shortest end of the stick as they played last Sunday, have only 5 days to get ready, and they fly west to kill most of a day. They also have the disadvantage of being a dome team playing outside. Minn was 4-4 on the road, but all 4 losses came outdoors. They beat the Giants, Deetroit, Dallas, and the Chargers. 2 outdoor teams (NYG, Bolts) with a combined record of 9-23. So, there’s that.

The rest? We’ll see. Seattle I think is the class of the rest of the NFC. Maybe it’s just the way we kicked their ass, but I don’t see them taking Seattle. Rodgers looks skittish when pressure, and they can go south in a hurry. Hawks 24 – GB 17.

Ravens and Chiefs should roll. Balt 31 – Tenn 14 . . . . . . . . Chiefs 35 – Texans 20.

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Be Careful What You Ask For

I think most of us were happy to see the Minnesota Vikings improbably go to New Orleans and kill the Saints Super Bowl dreams yet again. Two years ago there was the improbable catch and run on the last play of the game that thwarted the Saints Super Bowl march. Then there was the non-call on a blatant pass interference late in the Rams game that ended their comeback.

This last game? Well, Brees had two huge turnovers in the 2nd half to kill drives, and the Vikes did just enough to take the lead late and hold on to force NO to kick a field goal and go to overtime. NO had their chances, yet squandered them. Minn pressured Brees all day and had 7 hits, 3 sacks, and one strip sack.

The 49ers? Well, we had the luxury of having the week of to heal up. Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt are ready to go, and the possibility exists that Kwon Alexander will be ready. He is on the same fast track that JJ Watt went on to play last week and propel Houston to a win over the Bills.

Certainly good news. Thing is though, Minnesota brings a lot of pressure, and the Niners haven’t been very good lately at pass protection. Jimmy G has weathered the storms very well these last few weeks, but it sure would be nice to try and establish the run to set up play-action. Minnesota’s defense gives up a lot of yards, but their turnover numbers and sack numbers line up with ours pretty well. They do a good job in the red zone.

Their offense is pretty much the same. Nothing spectacular across the board but they run and pass efficiently. Dalvin Cook had a solid 1,230 yards rushing, and Stefon Diggs had an equally solid 1,135 yards receiving. The Saints shut him down, but Adam Thielen took up the slack against the Saints, and they have a tough TE of their own in Kyle Rudolph.

Even Kirk Cousins, the almost-49er, had a solid season. His rating of 107 is 4th in the league, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He didn’t light up the league in yards, but neither did a lot of other playoff QBs. Of the top 10 QBs in yards per game, only Mahomes and Brees (7th and 8th respectively) made the playoffs.

So, what does all this mean? Well, those of us who have been around a while surely remember when the 1987 49ers cruised through the regular season at 13-2 only to get annihilated by the 8-7 Vikings in the opening round of the playoffs. A crushing defeat that had reverberations for quite some time as it drove an unmendable wedge between Eddie D and Bill Walsh to the point where Walsh had to be talked back into coaching by Eddie and his players. Walsh didn’t want to end his run on that note, and came up with his best coaching year in 1988 when the Niners staggered down the stretch, but won 7 of 8 games to win the West, and eventually the Super Bowl.

Overconfidence should not be a factor, and the 49ers shouldn’t be looking forward to the possible Seahawks rematch as that game won’t be decided till Sunday, and everywhere you look, you see references to the 1987 Minnesota playoff game.

I hope Kyle is making the team aware of that game, and its ramifications.

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