One of the plans I’ve had for this blog, since its inception, has been to write a recap of each game played by my beloved San Francisco 49ers. I originally envisioned these posts to be multi-thousand-word affairs in which I broke down the nuances of each game from start to finish, looking at the big plays–both the glaringly obvious and the under-the-radar ones–that led to to that week’s result. Basically, a professional, in-depth analysis.
Then I remembered that A) I am not a professional football analyst, and B) I watch all these games at Finnerty’s, meaning I miss most of the nuances because I’m drunk and in a crowded-ass bar full of screaming crazy people.
So, instead, what you’re going to get every week is a half-assed series of awards, cobbled together from my hazy recollections of whatever the hell happened Sunday afternoon. First up, we have the Green Bay Packers, who the Niners played in Week One in what I refer to, when I can speak coherently about these games, as “The Semi-Annual Niners-Packers Holy War.” (I probably shouldn’t say that on 9/11, but oh well.) The Niners triumphed in a tense, sometimes heated 34-28 battle. I got drunk. It was good. On to the Awards.
The Jerry Rice Award (Most Dominant Player on the Field): Anquan Boldin
One of the biggest worries for Niners fans entering this season is our wide receiver corps, depleted by the injuries to Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. Boldin was acquired to be the number two receiver, but the injuries elevated him to number one, and while he was huge for the Ravens in the playoffs last year, given his pedestrian recent regular seasons and his age (he turns 33 next month), it was no sure thing he was up to the task.
Until yesterday, that is, when Boldin caught 13 ball for 208 yards and a TD. Boldin isn’t fast, but neither was Jerry Rice. Bodin is incredibly strong and smart, though, and he was able to get open on every big play, including two huge catches on the final clock-killing drive. For one day, anyway, Boldin answered all the questions about the Niners receiveing corps.
The Joe Montana Award (Coolest Player on the Field): Colin Kaepernick
People always try to pigeon-hole Kaepernick. Running QB. Read Option QB. Tattoos. Etc, etc. What the mainstream media seems to miss about this guy is that he is the complete package: Strong accurate arm, high IQ, incredible athleticism, guts, and hard-working dedication. In the playoffs last year, he gashed the Pack with his legs. In Week One, he did it with his arm, to the tune of 412 yards and 3 TDs. And he dropped a quote worthy of Joe Cool after the game, telling the Packers, who spent all week talking about how they were going to hit Kaepernick every chance they got, and levied at least one ridiculous cheap shot at him: “If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I fucking love Colin Kaepernick.
The Emmitt Smith Award (Most Hated Opponent): Clay Matthews
The Packers linebacker and Motley Crue reject contributed to a lot of the pregame talk about hitting Kaepernick, and in the second quarter he launched himself at the Niners QB and clotheslined him when he was already well out of bounds. Given the talk before the game, I think you could argue Matthews deserved to be ejected from the game, or at least fined afterward. Douchebag.
The Justin Smith Award (Big Guy Who Breaks Things): Joe Staley
The Niners’ stalwart left tackle stepped up to Matthews after the dirty hit, telling the stringy-haired dirtbag to kindly fuck off.
Now, to address the officiating on this play. There has been some chatter about the officials mistakenly replaying third down, instead of making it fourth down, after the offsetting dead ball fouls (Boldin scored on the replayed third down). There has been somewhat less talk about the officials admitting that Staley was mistakenly flagged. Meaning that there should have been just the penalty on Matthews, which would have given the Niners first and goal anyway. So, I think we can agree that the two mistakes are a wash, and did not cost the Packers all that badly.
The Ronnie Lott Award (Guy Who Is Such a Badass He’d Cut His Own Finger Off To Make a Play): Eric Reid
Since this award is named after the greatest safety in NFL history, let’s give it to a safety, rookie Eric Reid, who looked pretty good in his first start, intercepting two passes (one was nullified by an offsides penalty) and generally playing pretty well against both the run and the pass.
The Adam Walker Award (Player Whose Actions Most Led to Defeat): The Secondary
Obviously, the Niners won this game, so criticism will be light here. And you can’t really blame them too much for giving up a lot of yards and points–the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who is awesome, and a deep group of fast wide receivers. What’s more, the defensive line really didn’t get that much pressure on Rodgers yesterday, and when you give him time, he’s going to make plays. With that said, Niners defensive backs missed several open field tackles that led to big plays, one by Eric Reid on the Jermichael Finley touchdown and one by Nnamdi Asomugha on a long Jordy Nelson catch-and-run in the second half. That shit can’t happen.
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 7.5 Anchors
Just to give you an idea of the scale, it’s almost impossible to get a 12 Anchor rating without winning the Super Bowl, and even a Super Bowl doesn’t necessarily get a full 12-pack (the Chargers Super Bowl would be like 9 Anchors, because the game was over after five minutes). I was six months old for “The Catch,” and I didn’t see Montana-to-Taylor live, so I can’t really rate either of those. The 1999 Young-to-Owens Wild Card win over the Packers gets 10 Anchors (downgraded a bit because they lost in an uninspiring effort the following weekend at Atlanta). The Niners smoking the hated Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game in 1995 gets 11 Anchors. The highest-rated regular season game, for me, actually came in a year when the Niners sucked, 2000, when T.O. incited a riot by celebrating on the star midfield at Texas Stadium (I really really really hate the Cowboys, so I give that like 8.5 Anchors). The only Niners game I’ve seen that gets a 12-pack is the NFC Division Round comeback against the Saints two years ago. That game had everything.
For Week One, I’m going 7.5 anchors. The rating is boosted by the great performances by Kaepernick and Boldin. It loses a little bit of its liquid gold rating because the team looked sloppy at times, and really should have gone into half time up by 10 instead of tied, which led to the game being in doubt all the way through the fourth quarter. On the other hand, it’s a win over the Packers, who, along with being a hated rival, are also, I think, one of the five best teams in football this year. So 7.5 feels about right.
So that’s it for the biggest game of the opening part of the Niners’ season … oh, wait, what’s that you say? The Niners go to Seattle for the Sunday night game next weekend? Yikes. I’m just gonna start drinking again right now.