NFC West Champions! Playoff Drought is OVER!

Week 13 turned out to be the lucky one for the San Francisco 49ers as they sealed their 1st Western Division title since the 2002 season. The 49ers are the first team to clinch their division (yes, Green Bay did clinch a playoff berth with their 12th win), and they did it in dominating style, shutting out the St Louis Rams 26-0. Kudos are deserved all around for the organization. From Jed on top, down to the practice squad players. Flash back to January, and this was one of the more dysfunctional franchises in the league. With the’nationwide’ search for the guy inside the building, the debacle that was the Singletary/Jimmy-Hat dynamic dud-o (and the Nolan/Hostler turd-fest), to the maddeningly inconsistent play in many different areas of the team (esp QB), the team seemed poised on another fruitless effort to improve. Jed York has to be given major props for going out and getting Harbaugh. Miami was hell-bent on signing Harbaugh, and while Harbaugh has Bay Area ties, had work with Bill Walsh, and picked his brain on many occasions, Young York got it done. Whether this really was the spot Harbaugh wanted to be plays into it, but Jed closed the deal. Miami is looking like a big mess front-office-wise as well, but what a difference a year makes.

Trent Baalke, although he was the recipient of the so-called nationwide search for a GM, has done admirably so far without the albatross of Mike Singletary hangning around his neck. He looks as though he stocked the team with this 2011 draft. He picked a winner in Aldon Smith. His 2 sacks yesterday pushed his team-leading total to 9,5. He’ll be the first Niner to go over the 10 sack mark since Andre Carter in 2002. Not coincidentally their last playoff run, with the likes of Jeff Garcia, TO, and Steve Mariucci. The rest of the draft looks very solid. Kappy is developing (looks like he’s behind Smith for a bit longer), Culliver is looking strong at CB (1 pick, 7 passes defensed, 24 tackles in limited duty), Kendall Hunter is a great change of pace from Frank Gore, Kilgore Trout and David Person-to-be-named-later are developing for O line depth (they looked good in preseason action), FB Bruce Miller is now an integral part of the offense as a blocking back, and catching the ball out of the backfield (hello Tom Rathman). Only Ronald Johnson (who was cut) isn’t in the future plans for the team. Curtis Holcomb, a FS from Fla A&M, suffered a ruptured Achilles. His status will be determined once he’s healthy. The 2010 draft under Baalke was solid as well, netting Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Navorro Bawman, Anthony Dixon, and Kyle Williams. Only Taylor Mays (a Singletary must-have), and Phillip Adams (injuries, on and off NE 3x) haven’t made the grade.

The lynchpin in the vast improvement sqaurely lies at the feet on one James Joseph Harbaugh. He and Fangio, and the rest of his coaching staff turned a group of underachieving players, browbeaten and yanked back and forth from starters to bench guys and back week to week, into the #1 defense in points allowed, and the #10 offense in points scored, and the #7 QB in Alex Smith. Special teams are vastly inproved as well. There is no element of the team that isn’t markedly better than last year. Harbaugh has gotten all the players to buy into his system. One that on the surface appears a lot like the previous versions. One that Singletary, and Nolan before him, strived to have. And that’s and offense built around a strong running game, and a punishing defense that doesn’t give up points easily. Harbaugh has done this, with little fanfare, preseason, or time. The result of the lockout may have forced Alex Smith to stay (as I think he would have left in a New York minute given the chance in a regular offseason), and for Harbaugh to work with him (this beaing said, the FA QB market wasn’t very good last offseason), but the results cannot be argued. Smith is 20 points up in his QBR from his previous career average of 74.1. 15 TDs and 5 picks is very solid, and when you look at the drops by VD and Crabs (seemingly 2 a game each), and the numbers could be even better. Gore’s running has opened up the passing game, and conversely the run has set up the passing game.  Harbaugh has gone heavy pass and heavy run at different times during the season. Not as a knee-jerk reaction like the previous regimes would do, but as  WEAPON to beat the opponent. Strategy. What a concept. Dumb as that sounds, it eluded the last 2 head coaches.

In other words, how much better will the team be when they get the privilege of a full training camp with Harbaugh and company running things? Even if the 49ers are one-and-done in the playoffs this year, the future certainly looks 100x brighter than it did at the beginning of the year. My thought is that the 1st order of business is to sign Alex Smith to a 3 year deal after the season ends.

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About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers and SF Giants fan
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61 Responses to NFC West Champions! Playoff Drought is OVER!

  1. twinfan1 says:

    From the last thread, the point about Brees losing to the Lambs and Feeley No Goody, besides refuting that every other QB except Alex is God, is the fucking fact that any QB and team is beatable ( yes, Alex too). BTW, citing Smith’s career QBR is Death Threat crap. He’s been a 90+ since Raye left- Fact is the biggest difference between Smith this year and after Raye left last year is a better team around him.

    • unca_chuck says:

      Frankly, I think it’s the coaches more than the players. The team hasn’t changed all that much from the beginning of last year up to now. The biggest difference between this year and last is Bruce Miller over Moran Norriss, and Adam Snyder over Chilo Rachal on the O line. Alex’s QBR applies over the life of his career because those are the numbers he put up over his career. Yes, he’s incrementally improved over his career, but the jump this year is much bigger than in previous years. Even his near 13 point jump from last year to this is impressive.

      • twinfan1 says:

        Again, his numbers are very similar to his numbers after Raye Left. Harbaugh has helped him with the new system, but mostly, the rest of the team is better. Yes, because of the new staff. As to that sytem, Alex is virtually a second OC.

  2. unca_chuck says:

    On the P Willie front, Patrick Willis is scheduled for a precautionary MRI today on his injured right hamstring.

    The injury isn’t considered serious, and he walked out of the locker room with no problem last night. He certainly didn’t sem too worried during the game when he returned to the sidelines yesterday.

  3. grumpyguy says:

    And somewhere out there, a lonely V cries with his escaped goats since he has so little left to bitch about.

    • unca_chuck says:

      Well, I’m sure he’s pissing and moaning about parity. As long as it ain’t here . . .

    • phil fan says:

      Yeah grumpy there’s nothing like success to ruin the thrill of wallowing in negativity. We even see it here with my friend DMD who has been forced to upgrade his opinion of the Niners by the grim fact of our 10-2 NFC West Champs, lol

  4. twinfan1 says:

    A great example is the last two meetings with Rodgers and Brees. Against the Saints he railied the team to a tie with over 5 minutes left, then the offense never saw the ball again.Against the Pack he rallied from 20 down to 6, and again, never saw the ball again even thouigh there were several minutes on the clock after his TD pass to Gore. We’ll never know what the outcome would have been had the defense gotten the ball back, but we have some pretty compelling evidence that Alex would know what to do with it, given the chance..

  5. unca_chuck says:

    Speaking of V, I wonder if he is still posting as the hyperoptimistic Bullittwongrazor.

  6. twinfan1 says:

    A QBR weighted down by a rookie year on perhaps the worst team in Niner history and from when he was injured are not represenative of his improvement at all. His true progression is actually more dramatic than “incremental”. 74.8 under Turner, then low 80’s in 2009, and 2010 until Raye left, about 92 the rest of 2010, now 94+..

  7. twinfan1 says:

    After a masterful performance in the biggest game in 9 years- we still had people bitiching about the passing game. No other QB in the fucking history of the game could go 17 for 23 and have the incompletions be the focus.I think you had a poster whose only remark about the QB play was about an allegedly good pass from “Kappy”. Fact is, lack of consistency in the running game is the biggest problem offensively..

    • unca_chuck says:

      Christ, Twin, if you haven’t noticed by now guys will complain about anything. It took all of 15 seconds after the final out was recorded for the San Francisco Giants World Series glow to be nothing but a distant memory for some people. You screaming about every percieved slight gets just as annoying as the detractors. Like you say, every head coach and manager in the league has a fireinsertcoachnameherenow.com. EVERY QB has detractors. Unless you are Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning. And I’m sure there are folks that deride them for some percieved shortcoming (Manning only has one ring, Brady’s competition was weak, Rodgers is the product of a great team around him . . .)

      Alex has detractors up the wazoo. More than most? Sure. Does HE worry about it? No. The haters will hate, the Dennis’s will post nonsense. Let it go. The team will play, the ignorant will (for the most part) continue to be ignorant, and time marches on.

      • phil fan says:

        Are you saying chuck, that we really have no control over the thoughts and opinions of others? Yes true, we never do. The good news is that we are not responsible for those folks either. So let ’em blather. If the reality of a World Championship, Super Bowl win, winning season or whatever is not enough to make someone happy how can ‘I’ possibly do it?

        Can’t, not going to try. Our 2011 Niners season has far exceeded all my expectations and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Entertaining fun. A little pride mixed in, that’s what works for me.

        Cheers

      • twinfan1 says:

        Smith is easily the most maligned 49er in history. And of course it bothers him, he’s human. And Death Threat Denny is hardly the only one to take it to actionable levels. Of course the stupid piece of shit posts his Smith spiel to annoy and it’s successful, if knowing that pleases him. Often there are dozens of his idiotic Smith posts on a game game day, he’s obviously feels emboldened by the tolerance for it.

      • unca_chuck says:

        Brodie was villified by lots of people, and for longer. I remember some of it as a kid going to my first few games in 1968. My dad’s friend (who took me) also told me of the years of abuse he took. From around 1959 to 1970. I didn’t see it for very long firsthand, mainly because the team got very good toward the end of Brodie’s career.

        The point being, it’s a post. Don’t read it. That’s all I can say. You don’t like him on Flav’s blog either. He has been warned by both of us. He hasn’t gotten too outlandish as he got toward the end of the previous blog. But Snarkk makes a comment about Kappy, and you jump all over him. Snarkk insinuated nothing in regard to Smith, yet you made the jump and attacked him for a post about Kapernick.

      • unca_chuck says:

        . . . and a shout-out goes to Dr. Bob, who took me to those games oh so many years ago . . .

        He and his wife are both still doing well, even into their late 80s, though they don’t go to games anymore.

      • twinfan1 says:

        I remember Brodie and knew Brodie, it’s not fucking close.And what I said to Snarkk was hardly an ATTACK, dude. “Yeah, this was all about the Kapper. He might the QB here by 2016 if he hangs..that’s an ATTACK?
        Snarrk has always hated Smith. So after he leads the team to it’s first playoff appearance in 9 years, his only positive comment about the QB play was about Kappy…anyway, DTD IS outlandiish, including another wish for an injury to Smith yesterday. Your solution to not read him is fucking stupid- I can’t mention Smith without getting shit from DTD.So rather reining his ass I in, I’m supposed to avoid talking about Smith if DTD is on board.
        I used to like Denny a lot before the politics crept in, including a “joke” about Obama in the cross hairs of a rifle. I’ve spoken to him from the hospital, as I have many. He’s manic, but he was pleasant enough. Anyway, this can become Denny and Twin going back and forth and back and forth or you could consider suggesting that dozens of posts with no intention but to annoy are not acceptable.

  8. Kevin says:

    I think the Passing mishaps have more to do with the recieving core that the QB throwing the ball. the throw to VDavis in the EZ, it clearly hit him squarely in the hands, very catchable. He just flat out dropped it. the throw to Crabs was dead on and so was the throw to Williams. and both of those were caught. I think Alex has improved 10 fold in his accuracy with his passes, but the recievers need to make the catch. Dropped passes are mistakes that can cost a team a game in the playoffs.

  9. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah, the receiving corps has had more than their share of injuries and iscommunications. Morgan was a solid if unspectaular guy who was a good route runner who rarely dropped anything. Edwards was supposed to complement Crabs, and be a bigger deep threat, but he’s now nursing injuries. The slow emergence of Williams is s good thing, as he seems to have dependable hands, and his confidence grows as the season progresses. VD has been a chronic pass-dropper. One who has dropped too many. Crabs as well. Both rank near the top in dropped passes. That has to stop. Either that, or VD becomes a decoy/blocker.

    Those kinds of mistakes can turn games around. Think back to the NO/Indy Super Bowl. Indy was up 10-3 early and marching. On a 3rd and 4, Garcon (I think) dropped a 10 yard crossing pass on what would have likey been a 20-30 yard gain at the least. It would have put Indy in FG position and kept the drive going and resulted in more points for Indy. Instead it gave NO confidence, and they closed the gap to 10-6 at the half. A 17-3 (or more) Indy lead at the half and you wonder if Payton goes for the onsides kick to open the 2nd half.

    • barleyfreak says:

      I’ve been thinking the same thing but more about Ginn than Davis. But it is certainly true with both. If the game is on the line, playoff suspense, need the first down, etc, and the pass is going to Ginn OR Davis, I’m one nervous SOB. But right here right now, that is who we have. I do think Williams should see more looks than Ginn and GInn does function as somewhat of a decoy. But when the game is on the line, who do you want to see that pass to?

      I also don’t think we’re going to see any receiving epiphany with either. Davis does not possess receiver’s hands. He gets open, he’s a match up nightmare, but he does not have snagability. And you can’t teach that.

      • unca_chuck says:

        Yeah, Ginn has had more than his share of drops as well. He’s off the charts when it comes to dropping shit. It’s a bad situation to be in when half yor guys aren’t very good hands guys. 2 of the picks were due to bounces off of someone’s hands, and another was a bad read by the WR. And Smith has lost at the least 3 TDs this year due to drops. I’d say the recievers have left 15 catchable passes out there, spread among Crabs, Ginn, and VD. Gore has a couple drops, but his weren’t as damaging as say, VD not getting his feet down due to non-awareness of where he is on the field. Crabs has pulled that one as well a couple times.

  10. Berger says:

    The QB Alex Smith reminds me of is Bob Griese. If Alex comes back next year and gets more aggressive, which I think will happen, I’ll need to rethink the comparison.

    • twinfan1 says:

      Alex has shown he can be aggressive and has succeeding being so. But you do need an OL that can protect on the deeper patterns, and ours can’t.
      Just read another article on Dilfer and Sxmith, this dildo claims Trent was the much better QB in his Super Bowl year. You can all look up Alex’s numbers but Trent started 8 games that year, His QBR was 76.6, his completion pct. was 59.3, he threw 11 interception to 12 TDs.

      • Berger says:

        Dilfer couldn’t hold Alex’s jock. He was one of the one’s siding with Nolan that you need to play with pain when your shoulder is broken. Nolan and Dlifer deserved each other.

      • Berger says:

        I believe Alex will be a more aggressive QB as time goes on. For now he reminds me of Griese. That is supposed to be a compliment. I will say the game plan is getting more aggressive each week.

  11. twinfan1 says:

    Weird time to be dissing Ginn, he had a good game yesterday.There’s no doubt that VD and Crabs are the main culprits- but also the best receivers. If I recall we still had a shot at the playoffs in 2009 when they both dropped late TD passes against Seattle. But like many, that was put on Smith.
    The drops were nearly always put on Smith- he threw it too hard, too soft, too high, too late, too early- the axiom that an NFL receiver should catch anything he gets his hands on never applied here. I’m not talking about anyone on this blog, this was on the Insider, where Smith hatred ( and much of it WAS hatred) was an epidemic. When his QBR was poor, it was gospel. When it was good it was misleading.

  12. unca_chuck says:

    Ginn did hve a good game, but his drops in the Balt game were awful. Yeah, they get magnified in situations like that. He gave the ball away in the AZ game. VDs drop wasn’t a game changer, but it’s a major problem he’s had his whole career. Crabs shouldn’t be doing that, either. Their job is to catch the ball,. By now, they should have a better idea of how to do that.

    It takes 2 to tango, Twin. You don’t have to respond to EVERY post by Dennis.

  13. Berger says:

    VD sure gets a lot of grief for dropping some passes, and he should. What baffles me is those who forget about some of his spectacular catches. Also, Ginn does drop some passes but I think he deserves a roster spot as a WR, as well as a return man.

    • twinfan1 says:

      I did note that those two were also their best receivers… and Ginn helped spring Crabs on the TD besides a nice run and 4 receptions for over 50 yards- he had a VERY good game,

  14. unca_chuck says:

    That was Williams BTW, Twin.

    Berger, the biggest problem I have with VD is all his talk about being the greatest TE in the game. His perception of himself is greater than the reality. Much like his 15′ portrait of himself, he has an inflated sense of worth. You don’t see Tony Gonzalez dropping shit like VD regularly does. Or Jason Witten. For all his matchup issues that he brings, he drops too many passes. He goes down fairly easily on initial contact. He’s a good TE, and is an amazing blocker, but for all the attention he alls to himself, he isn’t consistent enough. If it wasn’t all the time, I wouldn’t be on him for it. But it DOES happen too much.

  15. unca_chuck says:

    VD ws the 6th overall pick in the 2006 draft. He signed a 6 year/$42 million contract extension last year, so I guess I have to get used to it. He should NOT be dropping as many passes as he does. Plain and simple.

    As it is, Crabs leads the team with 5 drops. Gore and VD have 4 each, and Ginn has 2.

    • Berger says:

      I’m not disagreeing about the drops. His drops are frustrating. My point is VD also makes some really good plays, and when he gets the ball in open space he is a major play maker.

  16. twinfan1 says:

    I thought, and the TV analyst thought, that the safety went with Ginn leaving Crabs with one on one.

  17. twinfan1 says:

    So if Chuck is right, Ginn helped spring the receivers on both TDs.

  18. unca_chuck says:

    I thought you were referring to the catch and run by KW, Mike. Yeah, Ginn was the underneath guy running a crossing route on the bomb to Crabs. I’m sure the pass was designed to go where the safety didn’t go. Kudos all around for Ginn for luring the safety his way . . . .

    Still and all, entering the playoffs, I’d much rather see KW and Edwards rather than Ginn and Williams. And, what’s the deal with Delanie Walker? He’s been a no-show in recent games. 0 catches (and 1 run) in the past three games.

  19. unca_chuck says:

    Patrick Willis will not need surgery on his strained right hamstring. However they are calling it a Grade 2 strain, and he may miss 2 games. I’d hope that he’d be ready for the Pittsburgh game, but his health is more important for the playoff push.

    Funny thing on pro-football-reference.com (not NFL-reference.com) is that they still show Joe the Jet as being the all-time rushing leader with 8,689 yards.

    Good for them.

  20. phil fan says:

    Even I don’t respond to all DMD’s posts, especially the negative ones. What fun could there be in that? And generally I don’t respond to negative posts from anyone. During the game yesterday twinfan posted something like: “What a bunch of dumb shits”. Coulda been about anybody, I dunno. Don’t want to know, don’t care. That’s what he felt about something at the time, that’s fine. I’m just not going to get into the middle of some argument between two other fans like Dennis and twin or buy into negative comments about me or anyone else. “It’s Not My Deal”, lol. Also I’m not going to hang my head because I happen to enjoy Dennis. He’s way off base about Alex but don’t really think he’s serious about it. IMHO he just having fun. That’s what I’m here for too, just my style is different. If someone bothers me here I just tune them out like Chuck was suggesting. Who cares what they think? Why would you?

    The thing I like about Chuck’s blog is that people are pretty much free to say what they want, in the way they want. That’s appealing. It’s clear Chuck is no control freak and I’ve seen some blog owners who are. That’s no fun and I don’t go there now. If our discussion wanders over to other subjects like Tebow, Chuck lets it roll, adds his own thoughts, then we move on. Controlling others never works. Start limiting the number of posts or the topics or swear words (lol) pretty soon the control freaks are in charge running the asylum and no one is enjoying themselves. That doesn’t mean this place should be dominated by negative people. I waited until the space settled down and certain folks left before dipping my toes into the water and chiming in. Now we are in the last quarter of a magical season with the best yet to come and I’m happy to have this place to share that with others.

    I wouldn’t change a thing.

  21. NinerDog says:

    I hope Edwards is chomping at the bit right now, he obviously can’t do his thing while he is hurt, so when he comes back he needs to be healthy and then he needs to get his timing back, game-timing. He has a problem with dropping some easy looking passes too, but when he is “on” he has those “sticky” hands. When I say”easy” passes I don’t mean I could catch them ha-ha, I mean passes that they usually catch, the quick “in”, the “slant” the “curl” etc. We will see.
    I think Ginn has been improving a lot the last few weeks…hope he doesn’t have an “oops” moment at the worst possible time.
    I like Kyle Williams style, sure hands and he always seems to have his body in a controlled football position when he receives the ball…ready to run. Crabtree needs to keep his eye on the ball more, when he does he makes a play, but I’m not totally sold on him yet. Crabtree is getting better, I just hope he keeps GETTING better.
    When I see the ball going to D. Walker I get excited. He is a game changer, he gets the first down or the TD or the positive yardage the offense needs. He has had some drops in other years but this year he is money. Like Morgan was. I miss Morgan, talk about a quiet dude who got the job done without fanfare.
    V.D. ? All’s I have to say is I remember that Super Bowl where the Cowboys were trying to win their first Superbowl and TE Jackie Smith dropped a sure TD that could have been the game winner.
    I hope on my guacamole dip, that something like that doesn’t happen to him. He is an outstanding blocker and makes some big plays. I am always amazed how he makes a simple catch look difficult though, I don’t know how he has more TD passes than Brent Jones cuz he doesn’t have the same kind of hands. I am definitely happy we have him though, he is responsible for some huge plays whether it is blocking or snagging a pass stuck in his facemask.

    • unca_chuck says:

      Brent Jones had a lot of competition for getting passes his way. Including Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Tom Rathman, Roger Craig, Mike Wilson, etc. For the first few years of VD’s career (and even somewhat now) he’s the go-to guy.

      Yes, he’s a freak of nature physically. I just wish he was more consistent. Same with Ginn. And, yeah, Dog, I look at that Jackie Smith TD drop in the Super Bowl as a very distinct possibility. The Niners, without Morgan, are still without a true possession-type WR. The guys they have are all good to sometimes great, but over the years, guys like Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon, Mike Wilson, and Eric Johnson were guys who rarely dropped anything thrown their way. Tai Streets even. These weren’t the superstars of the team. Lunchpail guys. Unsung hero-types. Mike Wilson was playing behind one of the greatest tandems in history in Rice and Taylor. He ran most of his routes in obscurity. But he was ready when called upon.

  22. unca_chuck says:

    Edwards does have the rep for dropping balls, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I like the guy as a deep threat, and I hope he gets healthy in the next couple weeks. He looked very good early in the season.

  23. twinfan1 says:

    On game day day it IS dominated by Death Threat and his stupid Smith posts and been doing it for years- limiting the number of repititious posts intended only to annoy others is not being a “control freak”, it’s doing what any blog host should do. Anyway, as I said, if that bullshit is considered kosher, I am more than happy to respond in kind, multiplied by 10. I would think most people, like me, would like to talk about the game but I’m not going tolerate having Death Threat turn this into another Hate Smith forum. You people even tolerated, if not encouiraged, by your silence, the death threats from DTD and the Spitter. Anyway,, if this is to be no holds barred, I’m lovin’ it, bring it on Wet Brain…

  24. NinerDog says:

    saw Edwards at the fan fest and he is a big dude, If he and Alex can get warmed up, it could be a lethal combination.
    I think Kyle Williams can be that “possession” receiver for now. Crabtree should be, he is coming along but not there yet.
    This could be Ginn’s best year in the pro’s. Depends on how he finishes it.
    I hear you about Brent Jones having to share with all the other great receivers the 49er’s had.
    Green Bay is the clear frontrunner, and I can’t blame anybody for saying there is no way the 49er’s beat them BUT the 49er Defense is a monster and you win championships with defense. That being said, the front seven would have to beat the crap out of Rodgers and still the DB’s would have to play crazy to beat them…it could happen.

    I just hope Roman and Harbaugh have a ton more of goal line plays in the bag when it comes to the playoffs…no sense showing them now…against the Rams, Cards, even the Steelers.

    • twinfan1 says:

      Well, they’ve recently played two teams we faced- Tampa with a lower tier QB and NYG with an elite or near elite QB- and those teams put up 61 points betwwen them- and not in junk time, they were well contested through out. The Tampa game was in Green Bay. We match up very well with GB.

  25. twinfan1 says:

    Phil seems to do as many of us do-watch and post at the same time. It’s the simple kind of multi-tasking that even DTD can handle. So it’s disingenuous to pretend not to know what what my comment about the “dumb shits” meant- it obviously referred to what we had just witnessed on the field- the stupid celebration penalty.

    • phil fan says:

      Naw it’s quite genuine. Why would I lie? That’s silly. The broadcast is piss poor over here in coconut land. I do a lot of guessing as to what’s going on in the game some times

  26. unca_chuck says:

    NEW POST
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