In desperate need of a victory to end a two-game losing streak, the Niners traveled east to play Washington on Monday night. The result was a dominating 27-6 San Francisco victory. So I get to give some awards that aren’t laced with bitterness and hatred. Actually, that’s not true, but it at least took me a few paragraphs to get to the vitriol this week.
The Jerry Rice Award (Most Dominant Player on the Field): The Niners Defensive Line
I’m pretty sure Robert Griffin III is going to have nightmares about the Niners defensive line this week. It started early, as Ahmad Brooks, obviously still pissed that he got fined more for his should-have-been-legal hit on Drew Brees last week than Clay Matthews did for his pro-wrestling-style out-of-bounds late hit on Colin Kapernick in Week One, spent the entire first quarter in the Redskins backfield. He finished the game with two sacks and three tackles for loss. Then, in the second half, with the game still at least academically in doubt, Aldon Smith (looking like the guy who had more than 30 sacks in his first two years in the league) and Justin Smith (who sported a fu manchu and a mullet to go with his always stylish Budweiser logo biceps tattoo) collapsed the pocket on virtually every play. Officially the Niners only had four sacks, but it felt like twice that many, and the Redskins gained just 30 yards in the entire second half–the lowest total for a team in any NFL game this year.
The Anquan Boldin Award (Competent Wide Receiver Play): Anquan Boldin
San Francisco’s receiving corps has been so putrid in recent weeks that it’s caused Niners fans to become almost hysterical in their pining for Michael Crabtree. So it was refreshing to see Anquan Boldin have a real “Anquan Boldin” kind of game: five receptions (several of them tough, drive-sustaining catches in traffic) for 94 yards and two touchdowns. It was so refreshing, in fact, that Boldin gets an award named after him this week.
The Alex Smith Award (Young quarterback thrust into a depressing and impossible situation): Robert Griffin III
I’m stoked that the Niners won last night, but I find the RG3 situation to be so depressing. You know how some women get beaten by their husbands and end up in shelters and hospitals and such, and then when they leave they go right back to the abusive man? Watching RG3 last night felt like watching one of those situations, especially when Mike Shanahan kept sending him back in the game in the fourth quarter, when the score was out of reach. Forget the knee injury–I worry he’s gonna end up with PTSD, Gomer Pyle-style.
To see one of the most exciting, likable young players in the NFL take this sort of wanton abuse and just fall apart on national TV isn’t fun, even when it’s your team that’s dishing out the punishment.
The Emmitt Smith Award (Most hated opponent): Daniel Snyder
During the first half last night, Washington had a small on-field ceremony to honor the famous Navajo Code Talkers from World War II. Those men surely served honorably and deserve to be celebrated.
But the fact that Washington had the ceremony on national TV during a Monday Night Football game was such an obvious PR ploy, such a cynical attempt to prove that they’re not racist, while owner Daniel Snyder (a team owner who is so execrable that ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook calls him “Voldemort”) refuses to even consider changing their racial slur of a moniker (which you’ll notice I have not used in this column), that it just really pissed me off. So here’s a big fat middle finger to you, Daniel Snyder. Change the fucking name already. In fact, my attorney suggested the perfect name for your team full of incompetent, selfish, in-fighting, overpaid shitbags who happen to work in our nation’s capital: the Congressmen.
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 4 Anchors
The Niners brought their record back up to 7-4 with the win, reclaiming, at least for the moment, the final NFC playoff spot from the suddenly threatening Arizona Cardinals. They looked pretty good in the process as well, but let’s not fool ourselves. That game didn’t teach us anything other than that Washington is awful and that the Niners can still physically dominate awful teams with line play. For now, this win gets the same number of Anchors as our blowout wins over doormats like Houston and Jacksonville earlier this year. Turn in an effort like this against the P.E.D.-hawks two weeks from now, and then I’ll start to rev the bandwagon back up again.