Madness, I tell you. This has been by far the weirdest season. This fairly reminds me of the 1988 season where the Niners stumbled midway through the season after losing horribly to the Vikings in the playoffs the previous year. There was turmoil in the building as Eddie D was on the rampage thinly veiling hints of a coaching change as the Niners were 6-5 and had lost an epically fucked up game to the LA Raiders 9-6. I was at that game, and it ended on a 4th and 1 reverse to Jerry Rice that lost 9 yards. The end of a cold, miserable, rainy day. To make things worse, the girl I went with ditched me in the 3rd quarter, and I had to catch a ride with a rando fan.
Here we are at 10-7. In the playoffs. In a season that saw very high expectations, the Niners lost 4 of 5 games to bring our record to 3-5. Jimmy G had missed a game already with a calf injury, and the Niners suffered their worst loss in recent memory, laying down like dead dogs to the injury-ravaged AZ Cards. Colt McCoy looked like Brett Favre and the Niners were folded, spindled, mutilated, crushed, demoralized, and defeated bady.
It was at this point I thought, well, this season is over. 3-5 and the Rams are coming to town to lay a whupping on us. Turns out the Ram game, like that Monday night game vs Redskins back in 1988, provided the springboard to propel the team into the playoffs. I have no idea what Kyle did, or what Lynch did, if anything, to get this team righted. But Deebo Samuel became a running threat, Brandon Aiyuk was released from the doghouse, and the team played better on both sides of the ball to go 6-2 down the stretch. Special teams? Wellllll, that’s a different concern.
Funnily enough I saw the Cards game as well. So, I saw the games that were the low point in the tale of those two seasons. Back in ’88 though I went to the Redskins game that saw John Taylor return two punts for over 90 yards as the 49ers killed Washington 37-20 iirc. Didn’t get to see this Rams game that helped turn this season around.
So, kudos for Kyle Shanahan for devising some new schemes, and getting his play calling in better order. The Deebo TD pass was pretty special and it completely fooled the Rams. Shanahan’s use of Deebo as a runner has also paid huge dividends even though it still scares the shit out of me to see him running between the tackles. Aiyuk and now Jauan Jennings, have really come on these last 8 weeks, and provided a huge lift to the offense. Elijah Mitchell has been outstanding as our lead runner. This team relishes contact and no one goes down after only one hit.
Kudos to DeMeco Ryans for finally understanding the need to blitz and to dial up pressure in obvious passing situations. The defense is finally getting to the point of being healthy and it couldn’t coma at a better time. I have dogged Ambry Thomas over the season, but I have also said he has improved dramatically these last few weeks. Leading to the game-winning pick last Sunday. Trial by fire indeed. The defense as a whole, and especially the defensive line, has really come
And lastly kudos to Jimmy G for pretty much staying his goofy-ass self. He hasn’t balked, a la Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, about training his replacement. He has been even-keeled even through the horrible games, the injuries, the errant picks, and the stunning victories. Like it or not he has turned into a gunslinger who throws some baffling interceptions, but then turns around and leads a 90 yard drive with 1:25 left and no time outs to win the game.
Fitting that we face the Cowboys in this playoff game. Bring it on!