The Niners traveled to Nashville this past Sunday to play the Tennessee Titans, I’d originally hoped to go to Music City to see the game live (in part because Nashville is a really fun town), but that didn’t work out, so I watched at my usual home base of Finnerty’s. This report may be a bit half-assed, because the Niners so thoroughly pasted the Titans in the first half that I didn’t really pay that much attention in the second half, when the Titans scored a bunch of garbage time points to make the final score of 31-17 seem more respectable than it was. Also, I was sitting next to an incredibly cute girl named Savannah (not making this up), which didn’t help with the whole paying-attention-to-the-game thing. Anyway, on to the awards.
The Jerry Rice Award (Most Dominant Player on the Field): Anquan Boldin
Boldin put on a clinic in the first half. First, he made an incredible over the shoulder catch on a 25-yard rainbow from Colin Kaepernick. Then he made an even more incredible one-handed catch that those of you with TVs have almost certainly seen on Sportscenter by now (if not, click the GIF below). Finally, on an early Kaepernick scramble, Boldin threw a block that absolutely de-cleated a Titans defensive back. A banner day all around for the Niners receiver.
The Joe Montana Award (Coolest Player on the Field): Colin Kaepernick
The Niners have been VERY hesitant to let Kaepernick run this year, and understandably so: If he gets hurt, our season is over. But for whatever reason, the Niners coaching staff decided today was the day to take the wraps off the read option a little bit. In addition to his efficient 199 yards passing, Kaep rushed 11 times for 68 yards, including his first rushing TD of the season, a 20-yard scamper around left tackle on a read option play. But it was the moment after he crossed the goal line that gets him this award this week: As he came to a stop at the back of the end zone, he held up his index finger for a moment, telling the crowd, “Hang on just a second,” before he kissed his tattooed biceps in his trademark Kaepernicking celebration. Then, after Frank Gore scored a TD in the third quarter, Gore stood in front of a TV camera, waiting for Kaep to join him, so they could Kaepernick together. As you can tell, I enjoyed both of these moments immensely. But not as much as I enjoy this photo, which my friend Tierney showed me on Sunday:
Coolest player in the NFL, bar none.
The Emmitt Smith Award (Most Hated Opponent): Akeem Ayers
It’s hard to feel too strongly about the Titans–the only player on their team that’s been memorable is Chris Johnson, and that’s only if you’ve had him murder one of your fantasy teams in the last couple of years. But in the second quarter, Colin Kaepernick rolled left and threw a pass downfield, and as he released the ball, Titans linebacker Akeem Ayers dove right at his knees, taking him down in a heap that had all my dreams for this season flashing before my eyes. It ended up working out–Kaepernick was fine, the interception that he threw on that pass was overturned thanks to the 15-yard “Tom Brady rule” penalty, and the Niners scored a touchdown a couple of plays later–but still, YOU STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM COLIN KAEPERNICK!.
This team is turning me into a soccer mom.
The Justin Smith Award (Big Guy Who Breaks Things): Justin Smith
The Cowboy wins his namesake award for the first time this season for logging two sacks, including one classic Justin Smith sack in which he just stood a Titans lineman up and shoved him five yards into the backfield before mauling Jake Locker. Smith also had a moment in the second half when, after a Titans false start, he stood up and tossed a Titans lineman away like a schoolyard bully. The world is a better place when Justin Smith is breaking things, especially when he’s breaking other large men.
The Bill Romanowski Award (Guy on Your Team Who Did Something That Would Make You Hate Him If He Were on the Other Team): Tarell Brown
Things got a bit chippy in the second half of this game. There was a dust-up between Joe Staley and Bernard Pollard that involved Jim Harbaugh getting in the middle of a scrum and almost pulling a Jeff Van Gundy. Then there was a deep ball on which Titans receiver Kenny Britt and Niners corner Brown ended up jawing at each other. On the following play, Locker threw the ball back to Britt on a deep post in the end zone. As Britt leapt up to try to make the catch, Brown jumped too, only instead of making a play on the ball, he just punched Britt in the ribs. Britt went down, then got up and tossed Brown to the ground, earning a fifteen-yard penalty. It’s always the second guy that gets caught in those situations—especially when he’s a known head case like Britt. As you can tell, this was another exchange I enjoyed a great deal.
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 6 Anchors
At the end of the season, this will be one of the games that we’ll have a hard time remembering, in part because we don’t think of the Titans as an especially tough team. But they’re actually pretty good this year, the game was in Tennessee, and they just got their starting QB back from injury. And the Niners just pummeled them, getting out to a 24-0 lead and keeping that goose egg on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. It was a dominating effort, and worthy of a full six-pack. Now the Niners travel to London for what’s technically a road game against the worst team in the league, Jacksonville (the opening line had the Niners giving the Jags 17 points), meaning they stand a very good chance of going into their midseason bye at 6-2. For today, at least, pretty much everything is right in Niners-land.