1) Kaepernick: If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, they will have essentially won it in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers. Why? That 181 yards rushing has scared the living hell out of the rest og the NFL. DCs and defensive players are now SOOOOOO scared of the QB run...and the Read-Option...that they are now playing unsound defenses. The are concentrating so much time and energy on keeping Kaep in the pocket. They are VOLUNTARILY slowing down their rush in order to coral him and not let him escape.
I love every single little bit of it. It's like "let me get this straight...you are going to run your DE up the field to make sure the QB can't run for huge yards and give one less person to stop the RBs...then you are going to not rush quite as hard to make sure he's surrounded but give him extra time in the pocket....against a guy who had an 8.3 YPA during the season that has IMPROVED in the playoffs? Um...yeah...you got yourself a deal".
There are no quarantees that the Niners win on Sunday, but if they do it'll have ALOT to do with that Packers game and the way players and coaches have responded to it.
As for the Pistol (and it bugs me that people are confusing the Pistol and the Read-Option...one is a formation and the other is a play run out of that formation), what I find funny about it tho is how many people think of it as a "gimmick". Really? This isn't the Wildcat. You can run your entire offense out of the Pistol. Its simply a Shotgun formation that incorporates power running. You can run exteremely effective play action from this formation...and in fact, that's when it's the most dangerous. Will the league "figure it out"? I dunno, has the league "figured out" the Shotgun? Sorry peeps...it's here to stay.
One final note on Colin himself...I ndon't expect to see anything different than what we've seen before. No nerves. No young player mistakes. I really don't think he can be rattled. Go get it Colin. Bring it home.
2) Harbaugh: I read something during his press conference after getting of the plane. It was one of the graphics on NFL Network...
Wins, including playoffs, in their first 2 years:
George Seifert: 32
Barry Switzer: 28
Jim Harbaugh: 27
Steve Mariucci: 27
Jim Caldwell: 26
Mike Martz: 26
Outside of the fact that 3 of those 6 guys coached the 49ers, what really stands out to me? What stands out is the fact that every guy on that list not named Harbaugh inherited a team that had won a ton of games with the coach they succeeded...In fact all had Super Bowl vets on the team and were poised to make another run.
Jim Harbaugh is the only guy on that list that inherited a team with a losing record. Win or lose on Sunday, we need to realize that were are watching something pretty special right now. Moreover, they haven't peaked yet. Next year, Kaep will have starting experience and a full offseason to prep for being a starter. I expect to be writing another post sometime next year discussing the most wins over a coaches first THREE seasons.
3) Randy Moss: Lost in all the hyperbole that is Ray Lewis, there does happen to be another future HOF player who may be suiting up for the very last time...and this one has never won a ring. I must admit, before he signed his contract I was never a fan of Randy Moss. His on season in SF has really turned me around. He has been a HUGE factor this season. No, he isn't the same guy out there on the field, but he is a BIG part of the development of Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree. The way he has accepted his role as a secondary player is just huge. HUGE. In talking with his fans before he signed in SF, he said "Man, I don't need to be THE GUY. I just want to be on a team. I just want to help a team". When he signed I remembered that quote. I thought...ok, lets see. Well, we saw. Nothing but a team player. My hope is that he finally gets his ring. My preiction is that he scores a TD on the play they haven't been able to complete all year...Red Zone pass over the middle up high where only he can get it.
4) Aldon Smith: I have no real proof of anything here...but I just have a hunch that Aldon is going to be a thorn in the side of Joe Flacco. He actually played very well against the Falcons. I dunno if any of you remember it, but there was one play where he absolutely DESTROYED the LT. He knocked him flat on his butt and the only reason it wasn't a sack was Matt Ryan made a great, quick pass. I think we can all agree that Aldon has probably more hurt than the team had been letting on. He looked better against Atlanta, and he now has yet another bye week to heal. Combining that with the fact that Flacco likes to throw deep (IE, he holds th aball longer to let the play develop), I just have a hunch that Aldon makes his presence felt.
5) Greg Roman: This is it G-Ro. Anything you have been saving this season to break out on someone? This is the time to use it. Roman always seems to have a wrinkle here or there and you see it once and never again. Staley catching passes. Sopoaga Catching passes. Unbalanced lines where you run to the WEAK side of the formation. I would pretty much COUNT on seeing something we've never seen before. We've seen some really good stuff...and some not so good. It should at the very least be entertaining.
6) O-Line: I think these guys have a very bitter taste in their mouths after giving up 9 sacks last Thanksgiving. These guys respond when challenged. Remember when Staley got roughed up vs Clay Matthews in the season opener? How did that rematch turn out? Thse guys are going to come out with an attitude...and thats a good thing. Yes, the Ravens are getting older, but they are still pretty damn good.
7) Ray Lewis: I just had to bring this up...is anyone else as sick of hearing about this as much as I am? Ray Lewis has 44 tackles this offseason. WOW. OK....lets look at that for a sec.....Thats THREE games where they went into DOUBLE overtime in one game and played another game against the Patriots who run more plays than ony other team in the NFL. That D is AVERAGING over 80 defensive snaps when a typical game is about 60. Of COURSE you are going to have a huge number of tackles....you are on the field all the freakin' time!! NFL Network showed something on Playbook where they created a metric looked the the number of tackles made, the average gain before tackle, etc. Lewis finished 33rd in the NFL in this regard. Willis finished 5th and Bowman 2nd. Now that doesn't mean we should disregard or underestimate him. I'm just a little tired of the hype. Has that D played well in the postseason? Absolutely. Lets just keep it in perspective. I'm personally much more concerned with Ngata.
8) Frank the Tank: Oh man...I can't wait to see him get his shot in this game. IMO, winning this game means more to him than anyone else. This is the same guy who would sit at his locker with tears in his eyes when they would lose while other guys were dancing like it didn't matter...cough...Brandon Lloyd...cough. You could just see by his reaction to winning in Atlanta. This team just has to get him a ring. I don't know how many years he has left or how many more chances they are going to get at this....but I really want to see Frank get his ring. I think the writing is kinda on the wall that LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter are the future of this team at RB. I just want Frank to be rewarded for being the beacon of light in the darkness that was the last decade.
9) Akers: I don't know why...but I have a feeling this will be a non-issue. I think he'll come through when called upon and I don't think the gamne will depend on a field goal. Harbaugh has been right about just about every decision he has made...and I'm gonna ride with him on this one.
10) Who's got it better?: I have to admit that I've always thought that saying was pretty corny. I'll yell ou "nobody!!" at games, but I've never been a huge fan of it. In reality tho...who DOES have it better right now? Win or lose, the 49ers are RELEVANT again. They are at the point now where players will sign with them for less money because they think they can get a ring. The have a great coach, great talant, and in a little over a year they will have a brand spankin' new state of the art facility. The future is BRIGHT right now...and it fantastic!?!
I've said this before in another one of these posts and I see another post up right now that has a similar theme...but doesn't the struggle make this even sweeter?
[ Edited by Marvin49 on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:40 PM ]