Saturday, September 24, 2011

Suck It, Cris Collinsworth: Week 3 49ers @ Bengals preview

This week the San Francisco 49ers play their first road game of this season, and it will be against a few old friends now wearing the uniform of the Cincinnati Bengals. There was a bit of a pipeline from San Francisco to Cincinnati during the lockout-abridged offseason, for whatever reason; 2010 49ers Manny Lawson, Taylor Mays, and Nate Clements are all on the Bengals. Curious coincidence, especially since none of them have been implicated in any way in connection to THIS amusing story which manages to unite Northern California's love of sensimilla-as-cash-crop with the Cincinnati Bengals' love of players-as-committers-of-felonies.

Never let it be said that 49ers + Bengals doesn't bring a smile to my face, one way or another.

It also takes the smile OFF of this guy's face, which only makes mine bigger.

Cris Collinsworth, shown during the final game of his career, Super Bowl XXIII.
He did not enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed watching it.

Cris Collinsworth the NFL broadcaster, sometimes co-host of NBC's Sunday Night highlight show and sometimes color analyst during the Sunday Night games or games on the NFL Network, apparently gets on some fans nerves. I guess some people think he's a little too smug, or something. Or maybe a little bitter about the abrupt end to his playing days (he was cut rather unceremoniously in 1989 training camp and not one team gave him an invite to hang on elsewhere, forcing an early transition from player to talking head). I suppose Collinsworth does sound bitter sometimes, but this has never bothered me. You see, the true force of Collinsworth's bitterness only shines through when he's the color analyst for a game involving the San Francisco 49ers. It used to happen a lot more when he worked for FOX, less so now that his NBC/NFL Network duties means he only provides analysis for marquee matchups which the 49ers simply aren't good enough to qualify for much anymore. But Collinsworth calling a 49er game is never shy about letting some venom slip. He seems to relish any 49er mistakes or misfortune a little more than an objective broadcaster should, and he definitely isn't shy about reminiscing on his days as a player, how his career didn't end as successfully as he'd have liked, and just how much of that lack of success the 49er organization is directly responsible for.

I like to think Ronnie Lott and Eric Wright still haunt his dreams at night. Perhaps even the mere mention of the numbers 16 and 23 cause him illness or pain.

So I have a bit of a condescending soft spot for Collinsworth, because he remembers how good the 49ers used to be, and in his own way keeps those days partly alive by being courteous enough to still hold a grudge over them.

The last time the 49ers played Cincinnati was in 2007, in San Francisco and on the NFL Network. After wasting most of the year letting Trent Dilfer not only actually play QB for the team but doing so in John Brodie's specially unretired #12, just to increase the eyesore factor (yes, this team unretired a retired jersey number for the sake of TRENT DILFER; and you wonder why this team isn't nearly as good as it used to be!) the 49ers started Shaun Hill, who played a great game of QB, winning him a significant portion of fan support in our years-long QB controversy. Which in turn of course compelled the Yorks to exile him to a life of farming grit as a backup in Detroit, so he wouldn't outshine Alex Smith anymore. Anyway, the Hill-led 49ers took some of the sting out of a bad 2007 season by beating the Bengals convincingly in a national broadcast, which Cris Collinsworth had to watch and describe to said national audience. It was quite gratifying.

2011 brings the Bengals to the 49ers' schedule again, minus the national audience and Collinsworth's analysis, since the 49ers spent last year sucking their way to 6-10 while the Bengals continued to observe their Traditions of dysfunction in the front office and on the field and getting arrested off the field. Carson Palmer, the best QB the Bengals have had in a very long time, has gotten so sick and tired of the team he's currently sitting out and willing to retire from football while he still has some years of earning potential in him rather than play another down in a Bengals uniform, and their petulant front office has spitefully refused to trade him (passing up a chance to fleece some time for draft picks, like the Eagles did when trading Kevin Kolb). However, we 49er fans cannot take too much comfort in the Bengals' woes. Certainly we cannot presume to chalk this game up preemptively as an assumed win, for no matter how bad the Bengals may appear to be, recent 49er history in road games is rife with finding ways to lose to teams "on their level" (or whatever other way you want to say "winnable"). This is part of the pox laid upon this team by the York owners; whereas the 49ers once upon a time were as successful a road team as there ever was, currently they're just about the least successful there is. It's even worse than that stat NFL talking heads like to throw out about West Coast Teams crossing into the Eastern Time Zone. The 49ers record in road games out their division since 2002 (the last year they were a playoff team) is abysmal. How abysmal? Let's break it down.

2003 - 2010 is 8 seasons. Each NFL team has 5 out-of-division road games per season in the current schedule rubric. So that's 40 of these games for the 49ers in this period. They have won FOUR.


In Eight Years.

The last one was over 2 years ago, barely squeaking by the woeful 2008 edition of the Bills.

That's plenty of chances against plenty of not-good teams, such as the Bengals, going wasted because the 49ers out-sucked someone. That's the sort of thing we have no recourse but to hope Jim Harbaugh will turn around this year. That's the sort of thing the 49ers are up against this week. Last week the 49ers let the football nation down when they had a chance to beat Dallas, but instead failed and added fuel to the artificial myth of Tony Romo. This week, if the pattern of the last 8 years is not broken, the 49ers will lose to the Bengals and thus add fuel to THIS smug smirk:

And nobody wants to see that.

1 comment:

Raven Mack said...

See, now I'm starting to feel sorry for the 49ers, and I hate them. But I will probably actually root for them this weekend, although I am sad to see that cops busted up what was probably the Bengals team marijuana supply. I have never heard of an NFL player who did not love weed.