Monday, October 10, 2011
I Remember When They Used To Do This All The Time
"Did I die and wake up in 1989?"
Well, that sure was something, wasn't it? 48-3. 48-3! And every bit as dominant as that score would suggest. Frank Gore proved my fears of his slowing down and getting "Running Back Old" were greatly exaggerated, as he ran for 15+ yards over a half-dozen times on the way to re-engaging Fantasy Beast Mode (100+ yards and a TD). Alex Smith threw 3 TDs in a game and took the 4th quarter off. Of all the times Alex has left a game early, this is the first time it was for the best reason: Garbage Time. Colin Kaepernick took the field with guys like Kyle Williams, Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon, and a bunch of other guys you've never heard of unless you're one of the 49er Faithful. MISTER PATRICK WILLIS and MISTER NAVORRO BOWMAN flew all over the field introducing themselves. Even the secondary, which I expected to be a weakness all year long (and am still not fully confident in) played great [see photo above]. Speaking of which, even Carlos Rogers made a great interception for the third week in a row! Yes, that Carlos Rogers. And he took it to the house this week! Ted Ginn had multiple 20 yard returns, Akers was launching bombs, and for the first time in memory, Andy Lee trotted out to hold more often than he did to punt. Dashon Goldson dropped a WOO hit that echoed like the ghost of Ronnie Lott (except Ronnie's not dead, but, well, you know what I mean).
Offense, Defense, and Special Teams beat the Bucs so completely that the Bucs reserves left the sideline for the locker room early so that they could change costume and be back in time to walk off the field after the final gun in the old Creamsicle Orange Uniforms so synonymous with their traditional futility.
It was the largest margin of victory in a home game since 48-0 over the then-L.A. Rams in 1987, and any time a 49er fan hears "best since 198_" he or she gets a little too excited, because 198_ is a magical numerical prefix to us for obvious reasons.
The Buccaneers, the self-proclaimed West Coast Killers (and don't think Harbaugh didn't pounce on that as an excuse to put a chip on his shoulder and be a vindictive asshole and enter "What's Your Deal?" F.U. mode. He loves doing that shit, and he's got the 49ers loving to do that shit. Everything is a potential slight or insult or disrespect that honor demands we beat the shit out of you over), got beaten completely. It was gratifying to see them lose their composure so thoroughly that not only were they taking petty cheap shots and late hits (one player going so far as to not only hit Ted Ginn well out of bounds after a punt return, but then he shoved his hand in Frank Gore's face while he was over there, resting on the sideline waiting for the offense to go back out). Even Raheem Morris got a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct at one point for continuing to scream at the referee non stop over the course of like 3 plays. One of which was a dropped pass by "The Soldier" Kellen Winslow Jr. (remember him?) that led to him all but throwing a toddler's temper tantrum on the field in hope of a pass interference flag on a route where he simply fell down. LaGarrett Blount was a non-factor, and made so the old-fashioned 49er way: Score three TDs so fast the opponent can't afford to run the ball. It was glorious.
But not perfect. The downside to the thorough ass-kicking, and Coach Jim Harbaugh's otherwise amusing F.U. Mode, was that once he sent Kaepernick and the Scrub Boys out to make this into an unofficial preseason game, they kept throwing the ball. In so doing, they got Josh Morgan hurt in unnecessary action, setting up the final touchdown. Its a repeat of a Singletary mistake, only worse. Last year Morgan just got hit hard in the back on the last play of the Chiefs game and ended up not missing a game. This year he fractured his ankle and is going to miss A LOT of games. Puts a damper on this otherwise invigorating win. Not only because the 49ers are already paper-thin at WR with Braylon Edwards' knee injury, but Josh Morgan, oft-underheralded as he is, is an important piece to this offense. He's the main possession/3rd down converting receiver, and Alex is comfortable with him in a way that we don't quite see with Michael Crabtree yet. Morgan's also the main blocker (and a good one) down field creating those 20+ yard Frank Gore runs. He runs the Quick Slant pattern -- a pattern as vital to the classic 49er/West Coast Offense as the triumvirate of food/water/oxygen is to regular human survival -- better than any WR the team has had since Terrell Owens. He turns the 5 yard route into 30 yard plays, including the first TD of last week's comeback against Philadelphia. You haven't heard of Josh Morgan, but seeing him carried off the field by teammates and trainers cast a pall over an otherwise flawless day of 49er Football wherin they beat the shit out of a good team, just like we remember once being able to expect/demand of them on a weekly basis.
Two weeks ago I entitled my post "They Suck Less than Last Year" and now that title just seems so inapplicable. These last two games have forced me and many others to re-evaluate what constitutes "Realistic Expectations" for this team. I've gone from "maybe they can catch a good team napping" after the Bengals to "maybe they have a chance against most anybody" after the Eagles to now thinking maybe I can start expecting wins again. And perhaps, finally, the division title that seemed so certain last year.
Next week: potentially not only to be a sneak peak at January 2012, but one of the most thoroughly-blogged games by ACLB. 49ers @ Lions.