It's been a while since I have been able to get to writing one of these... but between a six month deployment, a wedding and a baby, a guy can get really busy. I have been waiting patiently for the day when I can get some free time to write, and it seems fitting that that day is opening day.
It seems like only yesterday we were lamenting the last five yards the Niners left on the field in the Superbowl. It seems like only yesterday that we said goodbye to Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson, Isaac Sopoaga, and a whole host of players who at one point or another had been at the core of this team. And it seems like yesterday that we collectively grimaced as Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles on the first day of OTA's.
Today is the day that we can finally begin the long road back to redemption. But it is important to remember that old nugget of wisdom about the NFL season… it is a marathon, not a sprint. Whatever the outcome of today's game against the Green Bay Packers, it is almost a foregone conclusion that if we win, some fans will predict us to go all the way; and if we lose, that will mean that we are done for the season.
It's a marathon, not a sprint…
We have so many questions about this team, that one game simply won't divine an answer. Will Colin Kaepernick cement himself as the next great Niner quarterback? The Packers will provide a true test, as they are bound and determined to exact revenge for that divisional playoff loss last year. It has been reported that they have been studying the pistol offense intently, and intend to put a helmet on Kaepernick at every available moment. But whatever the outcome of the game itself, today is only the beginning.
Who will step up for Michael Crabtree? Trading for Anquan Boldin was a great move, maybe even a little serendipitous… but the spot opposite from him is a glaring question mark. Will Vernon Davis have regular season resurgence, and re-establish himself as the focal point of the passing attack? If the chemistry between Davis and Kaepernick is where they claim it is, then Green Bay is in for a long day. That doesn't mean that will stay that way for the remainder of the season any more than a lack of said chemistry is a sign of ultimate doom. Perhaps Quinton Patton becomes the receiver we thought we had in AJ Jenkins, or Marlon Moore proves he has been overlooked throughout his career. And let's not forget about Kyle Williams, who has always shown flashes of potential.
Is Eric Reid the answer to replacing Dashon Goldson? If we have any glaring weakness or question on a stellar defense it is at safety. Goldson was arguably the greatest free safety in the game, his play often setting the tone for the defense. Trent Baalke believed that Eric Reid the man to replace him so much, that he traded up in the first round to select him. Today, Reid will get a true 'baptism of fire' in facing Aaron Rodgers, one of the games very best signal quarterbacks. If Rodgers torches the secondary, the naysayers will already label him a 'bust'… or if he dominates his side of the field, some will already anoint him the next Ronnie Lott.
It's a marathon, not a sprint…
Truth is, we will only gain an insight into those answers today. There will be, at least, fifteen more games to go before we may have answers to all of those questions… and this is far from a definitive list of questions the Niners have going into the season. So before we all get too carried away, whether it's an urge to crown them, or a 'sky is falling' moment, let us all try to remember that one game does not a season make.
P.S…. a little prediction for the game today… 49ers 34 Packers 17
A marathon, not a sprint...
By John Croston
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