MMXII: The Year of WWL
December 25, 2012 at 12:23 PM • 12 comments
By Jeff Kaplan
Well played, you diabolical Football Fates. Well played, indeed.
You think this is hilarious, don't you? Of course you do. What an ingenious little plan. You spend the preseason setting us up to think that we're due for a "regression to the mean"—that the Super Bowl chance we'd botched last year would be the best chance we'd see for a while. But then you decide, why not raise their hopes a bit? Won't that make crushing them all the more fun?
So you start us off with two solid wins, against two of last year's playoff teams. All of a sudden, we're ranked #1. But then you send us to Minnesota, where we come out flat and get steamrolled. Worst loss of the Harbaugh era, all the pundits say as one. And the doubt creeps in: maybe we're really not that good.
But that wasn't enough for you, was it? No. So you give unto us the Jets and the Bills, whom we crush by the score of 79 to 3. You even throw in the first (and last) ever double-300, just for good measure. (Nice touch, by the way.) So once again the hopes go up, just in time for revenge on the Giants. But you couldn't have that, now, could you? So the Giants deliver a new worst-loss-of-the-Harbaugh-era. And the doubt returns, a bit louder this time.
And then you decide to get a little creative. After two more wins, where we give up nothing but three field-goals, you decide to take out our quarterback. Ah, but little do you know: though most teams can't go 10 minutes without their QB, for us you merely open the door for a better QB. But if nothing else, you've proven that you can adjust on the fly. Okay, so the QB change didn't have quite the effect you desired? No problem, you say. You'll just screw with a different guy.
How about this David Akers? Yeah, that'll do.
So against the Rams, you let our new QB drive us into position for a winning field-goal, and we send out Akers, who last year set every record there is. But now, thanks to you, the guy can't hit the broad side of a barn. He misses, and we end up with a tie. (It isn't a loss, but as you know, it might as well be.)
And back to raising hopes you go. With the new QB starting, we notch two of our most impressive wins. We crush the Bears, then go on the road and silence the Saints. (Though not without a heavy price: again, nice touch, taking out two of our guys on one play.) So once again we're on a roll; time to take some revenge on the Rams. Or not, of course. Offensively we can't get out of our way, yet still we manage to set up Akers for yet another winning field-goal. But thanks to you, he misses again, and this time you see that we're pinned with a loss.
Yet all these wacky highs and lows, as dazzling and demoralizing as they surely were, were just a prelude to the main event. On both fronts, you were about to raise the stakes.
After allowing us a routine win over Miami, you send us off to New England, where, in December, the Patriots are simply unable to lose. Surely the WWLs will end here. But no: you let us get out to a crazy lead, and though you make us sweat it out at the end—by taking our D's MVP off the field—we end up with our greatest win yet. And once again, we're #1.
Ah, but you're not done with us, are you?
Off we go to Seattle. Sure, the initial prognosis doesn't look good. After the exhaustion of the New England game, we go to a venue that's even more daunting. The Seahawks are on an amazing roll, and their crowd is truly intimidating—not just to opponents, but also to officials. The Seahawks' strategy is simple: commit several penalties on every play, and dare the refs to enrage the crowd. It's not the most sporting, but it's quite effective, as shown by their unbeaten record at home. Add their virtual obsession with knocking us from our divisional perch, and this game would be their Super Bowl.
Oh, and once again, freezing rain.
But it's time for us to screw with you. There's so much for us to win here—not just the division but the first-round bye, more crucial than ever. And with so much at stake, do you really think that Harbaugh is gonna let Pete Carroll do his silly fist-pumping at our expense? No. It's over, Fates. The trend ends here.
And yet there you are, just shaking your heads.
We never had a chance, did we? A three-and-out, a personal foul, and a touchdown run where virtually every O-lineman is holding, and that's pretty much it. But as if to hammer home the point, you give one more twist of the knife to Akers; no longer content with his constant misses, now his misses are returned for touchdowns.
Never mind what we stood to win; none of us seemed like we wanted to be there. Our O was rattled into incompetence, and our D gave up play after play after play. The score was 42-13, and the game itself wasn't nearly that close. Yet still that wasn't enough for you: two more crucial players down, one for the season.
For the fifth time this year, WWL. And for the third time this year, the L is the worst of the Harbaugh era.
Most disturbingly, Harbaugh couldn't even attempt an explanation, instead relying on the silly platitudes that make him sound like the man he'd replaced. And our intrepid beat-writers are all too happy to accept them, before going back to their offices to wait for ESPN guys to break real news. As a result, we're left again to wonder just what's going on—to wonder just how good we are.
Then again, by now it's clear what you've got planned. You needed us to lose that bye, to set us up for one more round. Next week, we'll beat the Cardinals, as any average high-school team would. And then we'll play a first-round game, finding a way to win at home. And then you'll send us off to some frozen tundra, for what would be the perfect ending....
You really are bastards, you Football Fates, raising and dashing our hopes like this. Getting us to think we're the league's best team, just to then make us look like the worst. But we know your plan, and we won't give up.
We've still got a different ending in mind. Two wins, yes, but then three more. MMXII, the Year of WWL, will end with a W in XLVII. Somehow we will find a way.
Somehow let us find a way.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
By: mbninerDate: December 28, 2012 at 10:28 PMComment: The worrisome thing about the WWL pattern is the way we play in every third game. We seem to come into those games without focus and without urgency. We sleepwalk in the beginnings and, if we wake up at all, we haven't got the ability to get the win. We lose to an ordinary Vikings team, to a below-average Rams team (and a tie), and to what turned out to be an average Giants team. When we did the same thing against the very hot Seahawks the result was predictable. I don't know if it's the coaches' preparations, the players' attention span, or a lack of team leadership, but we will make an early exit from the playoffs if we continue. This team is physically talented. Now we'll see how mentally tough they are.
By: GonzolaDate: December 27, 2012 at 6:33 PMComment: Be Real! Be a Niner! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIWFcvEJKUU
By: onemoretimeDate: December 27, 2012 at 4:22 PMComment: Singletary and all the non-functional brutes who thought that beating the opponent physically was the best and only answer (S M football), these are the same knuckleheads who for the last 2 years wanted the defense to go pedal to the metal 16 games while A.S. was still trying to convert 3rd downs and getting some recognition for his string of 4 yard completions. And yes there were some abberations in play, Detroit and Philly last year. I wrote in earlier that this style of football would wear down the defense. Remember Walsh's style was to outfox and outquick and not so much outphysical your opponent. The team is fatigued and when that happens injuries mount. The 825 lb gorilla has shown up and he is full of vim and vigor. Walsh would outthink or outquick him. The knucklebrains still think they can outphysical him. I hope thats not the major part of the game plans going forward. What happened to screens and counter sweeps. There is a lack of imagination left behind from the Singletary years. What we are seeing is what happens when the emphasis is on being the baddest (dumbest barely can think). That has left a target on their back. Walsh was smart enough to know that.
By: colo9erDate: December 27, 2012 at 1:55 PMComment: Seahawker congrats, your team won and proved to be the better team that day in your stadium designed to be the noisiest stadium, where you are undefeated. I will say one thing though, that hit by that LB that took out Manningham was dirty and should have been flagged. That definitely was a cheap shot at the runner's knees while in the process of being tackled.
By: seahawkerDate: December 27, 2012 at 11:50 AMComment: while i am amused that lots of niner fans are whining, i admire your team. they are good, and thats why we are so jazzed about the hawks beating them. the players themselves arent whining about refs, piped-in noise, etc, except for the coach, who does not represent your team well. so dont demean yourself...see ya in the playoffs.
By: MikeDate: December 26, 2012 at 1:41 PMComment: Seahawker GTFOH! I've never been a big fan of Jeff, but he has never been one to make excuses. The Niners would have been beat regardless, but the Hawks were holding on every play. Anyone who watched the game can see that. Congrats on the win, now quit trolling. A lot of Hawks fans seem obsessed with what the Niners do/say.
By: seahawkerDate: December 26, 2012 at 12:19 PMComment: ha!! jeff, you and most niner fans have turned into a pathetic harbaugh. complaining about the refs is for the truly lame. how about your team play well? that asking too much? apparently. must be refs, dirty players, dirty coach, etc.....
By: Nick S.Date: December 26, 2012 at 12:13 PMComment: You just wrote an entire article that can be summed up in one sentence: "Isn't it weird how the 49ers can't win three games in a row?" Kaplan, you're definitely slipping this year.
By: Dan BDate: December 26, 2012 at 12:04 PMComment: I hate being the bitter fan who yells "HOLDING!!" on every play. I really do hate it when other lesser teams' fans use the excuse that they only lost because of bad reffing. So I never do it...... Until this game! It was so bad in this game that it became almost comical. Hell! There was a highlight of Okung "doing a great job" on Aldon and it was like watching a 101 on how to hold. Collinsworth multiple times would be commenting on highlights and make comments "well, maybe he got away with one there" or "yeah, theres a little hold there". Not to say we would have won. Wilson looked like the greatest QB ever or as CWorth was so fond of calling him, "Tarkenton"...
By: Terry B.Date: December 25, 2012 at 6:15 PMComment: Don't tell Ceadderman, but look at what PFT wrote this week: "Any suggestion that 49ers pass-rusher Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks this season, none this week) should have been considered for defensive player of the year honors went out the window the moment defensive tackle Justin Smith left the field last week with an elbow injury, and was confirmed against the Seahawks. They ran straight at him, and the vacancy Justin Smith left. Aldon Smith is still very talented, and has to be game-planned for. But without his bodyguard, he's not nearly as effective."
By: hectorDate: December 25, 2012 at 2:37 PMComment: a mental issue could be my diagnosis for what happened for the niners on this pattern. after we get a statement victory against a big contender, the niners have played soft and overconfident in the next matchup (just see how ponder moved the ball so easily in that game but later on in the season was pathetic or how the rams fought with heart and high motors through 90 straight minutes). after i rewatched the seahawks game, the first drive tried to surprise the hawks D with long but reckless passes instead of smart, pounding, and unpredictable plays and instead wilson did what harbaugh & co were supposed to do. on the defensive side, i'm shocked that players were playing with a dull attitude cuz i clearly watched how they stared and ran passively when wilson scrambled outside the pocket. i know justin smith is the energy of your defense but as a team you have to overcome those situations. personally after this performance, i'd rather watch the superbowl with another team because i can't bear it if the niners do this embarrassing demonstration on worldwide tv.
By: Paul A.Date: December 25, 2012 at 1:51 PMComment: Jeff, La Forza del destino....