After beating the Cardinals tonight and taking a comfortable lead in the NFC West it is apparent that this is a playoff bound team.
Obviously SF is in the discussion for a serious contender for the SB, but we have one opponent that we have to figure out... the NY Giants.
Losing to them in the regular season was obviously disappointing, but the one thing we have learned after watching the niners against the Seahawks and the Cardinals is that the niner offense can dominate in the running game and on the LOS.
The Giants D-Line is built to stop the pass. They have great pass rushers, but it also exposes them to the run. This was obvious in the first quarter of that game this season when the niners dominated them and the TOP. We got away from that formula and used Kapernick too much, and the game just got out of hand. That loss was worse than this team is, and I did not lose confidence in our team.
Steve Young and Gruden both mentioned tonight that the niner offense is not setup for a 300 yd passing game. Alex is at his best when he makes throws to supplement the running game. It also sets up play action and forces teams to respect the run. Many offenses in the NFL are either balanced or pass-based. We are not. We are run first team that has a smart, efficient, mistake-limiting QB. He is better than a game manager, but this offense simply is not built to throw the ball 40 times a game like the Saints/Pats/Packers.
Our style of football is effective, and we dont need to turn Alex into something he isn't. The current formula has worked, and it is working now. Run the ball down the throats of our opponents, play great D, and throw the ball efficiently enough to capitalize on the strengths of Crabtree, Davis, Manningham, Moss, and Walker.
We have weapons, we have a dominant running game, a very good O-Line, and a good enough QB. We just have to stick to this style of football and play our strengths in the playoffs. The Falcons, Bears, Packers, Vikes, and even the Giants are all teams that we can beat with this style of football, even when playing on the road in the playoffs. But we have to stick to our game plan, and we have to put Alex in a position to win on the road. The Giants game 2 weeks ago is not indicative of how I expect us to play against them next time around. I believe that if we see them in the playoffs on the road, we will do what we did in the first quarter of that game, and that is to run and run and run some more. We will take time off the clock, keep Eli off the field, and force them to play against our defense, rather than them forcing us to beat their defense. That is the style of play that this team is built for, and that this what we must do to win in the playoffs, especially on the road.
SB bound. Believe it.