The Dallas Fucking Cowboys. Again

The more things change, the more they stay the same. From 1970 to now, the 49ers and Cowboys have met 8 times in the playoffs. Six of them NFC Championship games.

  • 1970 NFC Championship Game – Cowboys 17-10
  • 1971 NFC Championship Game – Cowboys 14-3
  • 1972 NFC Divisional playoffs – Cowboys 30-28 (fuuuuck)
  • 1981 NFC Championship Game – 49ers 28 -27 (huzzzzzzah!!)
  • 1992 NFC Championship Game – Cowboys 30-20
  • 1993 NFC Championship Game – Cowboys 26-17
  • 1994 NFC Championship Game – 49ers 38-28
  • 2021 NFC Wild Card playoffs – 49ers 23-17
  • 2022 NFC Divisional playoffs – ?????

Dallas holds a 5-3 advantage, but the 49ers have won the last 2 meetings. Sure, the gap is 17 seasons, but 2-0 is 2-0. Dallas even holds a one game lead overall at 19-18-1. So, time to even this shit up.

I think Dallas is pretty much a paper tiger, but they do have, at times, a pretty solid pass rush. They don’t get a lot of sacks, but they do get sustained pressure most of the time. But this is the same team we played on the road last year, and took to the woodshed. With Jimmy G at the helm.

So, if the Niners can pay a clean game I think we take this one as well. As usual, Dallas has a ton of play-makers. Pollard and Elliott had 1,800 yards between them, CeeDee Lamb has ~1,400 yard receiving, Micah Parsons has 13.5 sacks, and DeRon Bland has 5 picks.

Which leaves Dak Prescott. He’s had a season of injuries and inconsistency. He missed 5 games with a thumb injury and still threw a league-high 15 picks to go with 23 TDs. Still and all, Prescott looked pretty sharp last night. And if not for the FOUR missed extra points, the game would have been further out of reach.

Keep the pressure up, and Dak makes mistakes. You can say that about most, but it is especially true with Prescott. The weather should be fine by Sunday. Bring it on.

Here’s the playoff schedule. From the first game to the last . . .

Saturday, Jan. 21 

  • (4) Jaguars at (1) Chiefs (-8.5), 1:30 pm (NBC) – Chiefs kick off their playoffs with what could be a closer game than I originally thought. Lawrence is playing pretty well, even though he came out throwing picks up the wazoo. They’ll prolly cover but not win. KC on to the AFCCG. Especially if Lawrence goes off on another interception-fest.
  • (6) Giants at (1) Eagles (-7.5), 5:15 pm (Fox) – Like the Niners and Seattle, Philly looks to beat the Giants 3x. I don’t know.  The Giants, and Daniel Jones, especially, looked pretty good last weekend. Philly is in for a tough game. I think the Giants pull off the upset.

Sunday, Jan. 22

  • (3) Bengals at (2) Bills (-5), 12:00 noon (CBS) – The rematch of the game that never was. The Damar Hamlin recovery has been fantastic, and the Bills have been through the wringer with it, but this is now gonna be the shootout that everyone thinks it will be. I think the Bills prevail, but I’m not nearly as confident as I was before the Bills struggled mightily against a depleted Dolphins team that made a boatload of mistakes early and should have been buried by the half.
  • (5) Cowboys at (2) 49ers (-4), 3:30 pm (Fox) – Here we are again. The Niners played these guys a year ago yesterday, and beat them as Dallas called a QB draw on with 14 seconds left without any timeouts, and couldn’t spike the ball in time to run another play from our 23. Oooops. Don;t think it will be as close this time. Niners win going away.
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Wild Wild Card Weekend . . .

And it isn’t quite over yet. This slate of games saw the Niners put away the always annoying Seattle Seahawks, and in the words of Pete Carroll, “we scared the shit out of them.” And he was correct, sir. The 49ers got punched in the mouth in the 2nd quarter, and Seattle turned an early 10 point deficit into a 1 point lead on some shakey coverage on DK Metcalf, and a really dumb late hit on Geno, preceded by a dumb squib kick call.

Metcalf ended up with 10 catches, 136b yards and 2 scores, but he was basically neutralized in the 2nd half, with the rest of the Seattle team, and the Niners’ 25-0 run into the 4th quarter sealed the deal.

Truth be told, this was a gut-check game in its own right. The 49ers had taken the lead in the 3rd quarter 23-17, but Seattle was driving with less than 3 minutes in the 3rd quarter. Facing the possibility of falling behind again, With Seattle on our 13 yard line, Charles Omenihu hit Geo in the backfield and forced a fumble. The ball sat on the ground for what felt like 5 minutes as Nock Bosa pounced on it to end the threat and start the takedown of the Seahawks.

Say what you will about the Seahawks, but this was supposed to be a throwaway year for them, and they got this far and gave us a battle. They are primed for a ton of success as they have a boatload of picks coming from Denver as their never-ending search for a QB continues.

The other games were all wild and crazy. Buffalo nearly got beaten by the Dolphins with their 3rd strong QB Skylar Thompson as Miami dropped passes, make a boatload of false starts, and even had the lead late, but fell to the Bills.

The Chargers meanwhile took their seemingly unending playoff failures to epic proportions by being handed 4 Trevor Lawrence interceptions and a fumbled punt in the 1st half and squandered a 27-0 halftime lead. They were led by the enormous stupidity of Joey Bosa, who lined up offsides on a crucial 2nd down sack, which would have resulted in a 3rd and 20, but instead became 2nd and 5 and Jax marched down the field and took the lead. Bosa was also flagged for roughing the passer (iffy call) and unsportsmanlike conduct for slamming his helmet. On the field. Which led to Jax being able to run out the clock. Derp. I guess we got the smarter brother.

The Bengals got their own scare, as Baltimore and yet another backup QB Tyler Huntley chucked and ducked, and nearly led Balt to an improbable victory.

The Vikings? Saw this one coming a mile away. The New York football Giants smashed the Vikings early and often and Daniel Jones (who impressed me) had his way with the porous Minnesota defense.

Still one more game. I’m still of a mind that Dallas is closer to the Vikings than the Giants in terms of ability. I think if Tampa punches them in the mouth early, it’ll set the tone and Dallas will wilt under the pressure.

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Sweepy on Seattle

Bit of a nail-biter for a while. This first half anyway, but the Big Cock Brock led 49ers cruised past the crazed gum-chewing of Pete Carroll and the resurgent-for-a-half Seahawks. Brock Purdy came out a little wobbly, but led a quick FG drive, and a subsequent TD drive on a 68 yard run by CMC after the defense forced two quick 3-and-outs.

Then things got dicey. Seattle started running pretty well, and hit a ton of quick passes to score two TDs around another 49er FG. The 49ers seemingly took the lead into the half 16-14, but a questionable squib kick led to great field position for Seattle, and a monumentally stupid roughing the passer put them into FG range and they capitalized for a 17-16 lead.

Seemed important at the time, but the 49ers stormed out of the locker room and scored 25 unanswered points to salt the game away. The play of the game came after the 49ers retook the lead on the score to open the 3rd quarter. Seattle was driving deep into 49er territory down to our 13, and Charles Omenihu got pressure and knocked the ball from Geno Smith’s grasp and it was recovered by Nick Bosa. The Niners took that mistake and drove the length of the field and scored again to make the score 30-17 instead what could have been a 1 point deficit.

The rest was gravy as Deebo took a shallow cross 74 yards for the 38-13 lead to put the game away. Huge assist from Brandon Aiyuk for blocking 20 yards downfield.

All in all, a solid game that was tighter than it needed to be, but in the end the 49ers made a ton more plays and won going away. Brock Purdy looked skittish at times, and missed some reads, and maybe threw 2 really bad balls, but in the end he accounted for 332 yards in the air on 18-30 and 3 TDs, with a rushing TD to boot.

The defense was ragged at times as well, as the usual world-beater DK Metcalf had 10 for 136 and 2 TDs, and Mooney Ward struggled a bit with 2 stumbles that led to 80 yards in catches and a TD. He also missed a tackle on a 3rd and short that netted a 1st down. Pressure was inconsistent, but Omenihu made the play of the game, Demo Lenoir hade a nice pick late as the defense tightened up in the 2nd half and gave up a late garbage TD.

The Niners had a whopping 505 yards to Seattle’s 332. The D got 3 sacks and a pick to the offensive giving up 1 sack with 0 turnovers. So, Purdy gets his first playoff win, and the Niners win their 11th in a row. So far, so good.

_________________________________

Got a big laugh when they showed this!!!

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Zakk Wylde Card Weekend ! ! !

This is the 2nd season (3rd? I don’t know) of the new only-one-team-gets-a-bye-and-14-teams-get-into-the-playoffs format. The Niners definitely needed it last season as our 6th seed was sealed on the last day of the last game. We turned that into a near-Super Bowl (damn you, Jaquiski Tartt!) appearance.

This year after once again early struggles were followed by a 10 game winning streak. This garnered us the 2nd seed. Still and all, we play the first game of the SIX Wild Card Weekend slate of games. We even get a Monday Night game.

Here they are in all their glory. All times Pacific:

Saturday, Jan. 14

  • (7) Seahawks at (2) 49ers (-10), 1:30 p.m. (Fox) – We should walk all over Seattle.
  • (5) Chargers at (4) Jaguars (+1.5), 5:15 p.m. (NBC) – Chargers should easily take the Jags. Well, maybe not easily, but win.

Sunday, Jan. 15

  • (7) Dolphins at (2) Bills (-10), 10:00 am (CBS) – Bills over the Fins. Even with the spread.
  • (6) Giants at (3) Vikings (-3), 1:30 p.m. (Fox) – Giants get past the Vikings late.
  • (6) Ravens at (3) Bengals (-6.5), 5:15 p.m. (NBC) – Bengals take the Ravens

Monday, Jan. 16

  • (5) Cowboys at (4) Buccaneers (+3), 5:15 p.m. (ABC/ESPN) Bucs beat the Boys

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When Is Too Much Enough?

Yeah, Seattle is our nemesis of all nemesises, and winning three times against the same team can be problematic but holy shit, Big Cock Brock and Roll Over Beethoven is Rookie of the Month (?), Christian McSavior-caffrey is Offensive Player of the month, Big Dick Nick Bosa was Defensive Player of the Month, and even Pete Carroll is getting into the act saying the 49ers are unbeatable.

I hate this feeling of the world singing your praises while getting ready for the playoffs. As we all know, anything can happen, and everything usually does.

I will say that I have a much better feeling around the way Shanahan has handled the play calling this season. Well at least after the early season mess that was the Trey Lance debacle and the early shit-show of Jimmy G. I think the biggest change is the can’t-be-understated acquisition of Christian McCaffrey.

CMC is as equally adept at ripping off tough runs up the middle as he is at taking swing passes and checkdowns up the field for 1st downs. Incorporating him into the offense takes the pressure off of Kittle to be the checkdown and he can be used in the intermediate passing game. This forces defenses, mainly linebackers, to account for Kittle and opens up routes for Aiyuk, Deebo, and Jennings. Even McCloud.

So, the point here is, this leads to any given pass play has someone open to hit. And since Purdy seems to be very capable of reading the field quickly, he is getting good passes off and hitting his marks. It isn’t super-flashy, but with the field spread out with our weapons, any 8-12 yard pass can easily turn into a 30-40 yard chunk play.

Defensively we are better than we have been in our recent successful seasons. The pass rush with Bosa is doing fine, AA is back, we are getting Greenlaw back, and I think we will look to cover DK Metcalf with Mooney Ward exclusively. I’d think Seattle will try to move Metcalf into the slot to get different matchups, but we will see about that. I just really with we didn’t lose Emanuel Moseley to injury. One thing I would like to see is Ryans go to the blitz earlier to try and force mistakes from Geno Pizza Roll.

The big equalizer? The weather. Today it isn’t raining, but Saturday looks like rain all day, and some wind. This means the run game looks to be something the 49ers can exploit, and yeah, this usually means shorter passes are easier to hit than long ones, but turnovers in wet weather are a huge issue. Punts and kickoff returns become scary and dangerous.

No matter how well we are supposed to do, ball control is paramount. Still raining, still dreaming of a Super Bowl.

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Jet City Jamming

Man, I really wanted to face Detroit. Someone different. Green Bay? Meh. Seattle? Wellll, on one hand, Geno Smith is no Aaron Rodgers, but playing Seattle three times has me a little bit nervous. The 49ers seemed to exorcize their demons this season with two wins over the Seahawks, who snuck in under the gagging Packers. But how good can Seattle be if they can barely take the Rams?

Yeah, the playoffs are a different animal, and Seattle has something that gives the Niners fits. And that is a deep passing game. Both Metcalf and Lockett have over 1,000 yards catching the ball, and 15 TDs between ’em. Geno has put up some gaudy numbers in 4200 yards passing, 30 TDs on 11 picks, but that is because they usually play from behind. Still, Kenneth Walker has over 1,000 yards rushing with a 4.6 average.

So, the defense really needs to get after Geno early and often. Pete the Cheat has a way of figuring out how to get favorable matchups. At least on offense. Seattle’s defense is more of the Swiss cheese variety. The legion of Boom is now the legion of Booo as they are 26th in yards given up and 25th in points allowed. And most importantly, 30th in rushing yards given up. Their big saving grace is their +2 in turnover +/-.

The Purdy Boys of course have their full complement of weapons as Deebo and Mitchell came off the injury list and everyone got into the act last week. Yeah, this is Purdy’s first playoff foray, but as we’ve seen so far, not much fazes this kid, and he has led a 10 point 2nd half comeback, gotten past early struggles, and has generally not been rattled despite some inconsistent pass blocking.

And, very good news, Dre Greenlaw should be ready to go. He alone is our best defender on screens and TE drag routes that seem to kill us. This looks to be an early battle but one we should win going away. Got to guard against the early big play that seems to dog us lately.

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10 in a Row! Here Come the Playoffs!

Woulda been nice if the Giants didn’t tank and blow our shot at becoming the #1 seed, but we did ourselves no favors by losing to Denver and Chicago. But those losses are distant memories. The 49ers are riding a 10 game winning streak, and get to face the Seattle Seahawks for a third time on Saturday January 14th. Glad to have at least two home games, and possibly even a third if we get a break in 2 weeks. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Green Bay had their circuitous route to the playoffs dashed by no one but themselves as they shit the bed and lost at home to the nearly playoff-bound Deetroit Lions. Woulda been cool to see the Lions actually make it, but that glory fell to Seattle. A team that wobbled into the playoffs going 3-5 down the stretch. Speaking of wobbly, the Bucs ‘won’ the NFC South by never having been over .500 since week 3 in October. 8-9 and a home game vs the suddenly suspect Dallas defense. They went 6-2 to try and keep up with the Eagles, but Dak and Co had a pretty desultory loss against the Washington Generals.

The NFC looks pretty shakey and the 49ers should be able to win these next 3. Seattle is always a challenge given the gum-chomper always gives the 49ers fits. Maybe that was just the Russell Wilson effect though. Seattle was dogmeat last season, but with Wilson at the helm, he beats us twice. Seattle reached the playoffs this year, but we beat them handily both times with Geno’s Pizza Rolls at the helm.

And of course Wilson beat is as a member of the absolute garbage Denver Broncos.

But now shit gets real. Brock Purdy, the Super-Relevant Mr. Irrelevant, gets his first taste of playoff pressure. These last couple games have been a little inconsistent by the Red and Gold as both the Raiders and Cardinals both got off to fast starts, and both the defense and offense had their struggles. But the team is healthy.Not sure what the status of Dre Greenlaw is, but he and Emmanuel Moseley are our biggest injuries at this point.

Deebo and Elijah Mitchell got to knock the rust off, and after a few early 3 and outs, the offense clicked just fine. I’m a little worried about the pass defense as Lenoir is the one being picked on these last couple weeks. As always, the pass rush is paramount, and teams often go to the quick passing game to negate it, and the Raiders sure exploited that. The team has struggled with screens and TE drags, so getting Greenlaw back is important. Heard he has a bad back, and the hope is they are just resting him up.

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Last Game – Long Strange Trip Indeed . . .

This season flew by, but wow, what a weird-ass season. We weren’t supposed to have Jimmy G, let alone be counting on the last pick in the draft to lead the way. But here we are are at 12-4 and still with a shot at the #1 seed. When this team was 3-4 and had been waylaid by Kansas City, I certainly thought the team could reach the playoffs, but I sure didn’t see us running the table.

The thing about this season is, no one short of Buffalo, KC, and Cincy, inconsistency is the name of the game. Especially in the NFC. We have as good a shot as anyone of getting to the Super Bowl. None of the NFC teams scare me. Philly, Dallas, and esp. Minnesota look very beatable. We just need to do the usual. Take care of the ball. Avoid stupid penalties, and get pressure on the QB.

As far as today’s game goes, I don’t think AZ is really feeling anything but the offseason. That team has a lot of talent, but they had a lot of injuries, and a lot of giving up. Watching them on Hard Knocks was pretty cool but it really showed that the team was not playing with any urgency or heart.

So the hope is we can get on top early and get the starters out ASAP.

Tell ya one thing, it would be funny to see the Bears beat the Vikings. Let alone the NYFGs beating the Iggles.

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The League’s Odd Decision – Hamlin’s Amazing Progress

I guess as of now, the NFL is gonna go ahead and cancel the Bills/Bengals game. Seems very odd that a game with so many playoff ramifications would simply be left unplayed. The easiest thing would be to give all the playoff teams a week off and create a week 19 to take care of this unfinished game. Cut out the 2 week Super Bowl break down to one and all is well.

But no, the NFL in its wisdom decided to let the game go since it didn’t ‘alter’ the playoff picture. Except that it would fuck up the seeding. KC stand to gain the most from this as they could very well be the #1 seed despite having lost to both Cincinnati and Buffalo.

Strange, that. But not our concern. Our big games to watch are of course our game vs the Cards (1:25 pm), Vikings @ Bears (10:00 am), and the NY FB Giants @ the Iggles. (1:25 pm). All these games are on Sunday.

The Minnie-soda game is early so we will know if the #2 seed is sewn up or not before our game starts. The Iggles are the late game as well, so the deal with that will be ongoing while we play.

FWIW, here are the games that matter in the AFC for the #1 seed. Chiefs @ Raiders, tomorrow at 1:00 pm. Ravens @ Bengals, Sunday 10:00 am, and Pats @ Bills, Sunday 10:00 am.

Still don’t make sense to me that they don’t make up the game, and there is talk of playing the AFCCG at a neutral site to forego any supposed favoritism to the missing outcome, but there you have it. Can’t upset the TV scheduling. Because TV is King.

On a very uplifting note, Damar Hamlin is off the ventilator and addressed his team in a Zoom meeting this morning. He still has a long way to go, but there is no permanent neurological damage. His first question was “Did we win?” The doctor replied “Yes, you won at the game of life.”

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A Horrific Reminder

That the game of football is violent is plain to see. Still and all, it is a game. No matter the rhetoric around ‘going to battle’, ‘fighting to the finish’, or even ‘sudden death overtime’, the game of football is still that. A game. It isn’t supposed to be life and death out there. Unfortunately, we all saw how fragile someone can become on the field of play. Damar Hamlin, in trying to tackle Bengals WR Tee Higgins, took what looked like a fairly run-of-the mill shot to the chest. He immediately popped up, but suddenly collapsed. His heart stopped and he had to be resuscitated twice on the field before being stabilized and taken to the hospital. Players on both sides prayed, cried, and were dumbfounded and horrified at the situation unfolding in front of them and an international TV audience. The latest news is that Hamlin is ‘showing signs of improvement’ today as he is still listed in critical condition and remains in ICU on a ventilator.

Violence and football of course go hand-in-hand as the game played at the turn of 19th century was nearly cancelled by the government for all the fatalities and maimings going on in college football. It was all ground and pound as most plays were runs up the middle with 22 guys swarming each other and getting their heads smashed in or bodies twisted into paralysis. Football in the early 1900s saw 10-20 deaths with hundreds of debilitating injuries a season. But Teddy Roosevelt saved the game. He brought about rules changes to allow forward passes and illegalize the scrum-like formations that got so many players hurt. These changes lowered injuries and deaths in a big way and the modern game got its start.

Nowadays, the effects are more cumulative what with all the ‘safety’ equipment now worn by the players. Now it is CTE, early-onset dementia, the occasional paralysis, and a myriad of issues the league strives to ignore. Hamlin’s case appears to be a fluke type thing where he was hit at the exact wrong time in the exact wrong place to induce a heart attack. This doesn’t make the injury any less horrible, but it also serves to remind people that this game is inherently violent, and it is pretty hard to figure what to do other than play on. It is kinda difficult to think about this upcoming game, but this injury, like so many others, will fade. The hope is that Hamlin fully recovers and is able to live a normal life.

Not sure how or when they will make up the Bengals/Bills game as it has huge ramifications for the #1 seeding in the AFC, but I’d think they’ll add a week to the schedule after week 18 as Buffalo and Cincy will play their regularly scheduled games this weekend. I’d think they’ll add a week 19 to allow Buffalo and Cincinnati to complete their game, while the rest of the league gets a bye week heading into the playoffs.

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