Teams from San Francisco beat teams from St. Louis. Putting aside baseball considerations for now, let’s look at the Niners’ 31-17 victory over the Rams.
The Al Davis Award (dysfunctional football team): The Santa Clara Raiders
The first half of this game was pure Santa Clara Raiders shit. There were stupid penalties and a bad turnover, the defense was getting carved by Austin freaking Davis, the clock management was abominable, and the Niners settled for a field goal the only time they had a sustained possession in Rams territory. For 23-and-a-half minutes, this team was so bad, I think they killed my fucking dog. And then…
The Gary Plummer Award (For the Play that Shifted the Momentum): Brandon Lloyd
On third-and-long, on what was the Niners last offensive play of the first half one way or the either, Colin Kaepernick dropped back and threw a strike up the left sideline to the single-covered Brandon Lloyd, who had somehow got five yards behind Rams corner Janoris Jenkins. Lloyd did the rest.
According to the broadcast, it was the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that a team had scored on a touchdown pass that long with less than 30 seconds on the clock. It was glorious, and given how bad the Niners looked throughout the first half, given that a loss would have dropped SF to 3-3 in a brutally tough division and conference, and given that the Niners have to go to Denver next week for a game they’re not real likely to win, I do not think it’s an exaggeration to say that Brandon Lloyd—who sat out last year, is the same age as me, and wasn’t exactly a lock to make the team this preseason—may have saved San Francisco’s season.
The Justin Smith Award (Big Guys Who Break Things): Ahmad Brooks and Dan Skuta
Specifically, Brooks and Skuta broke the Rams’ quarterback and offensive line. With Aldon Smith still suspended, the team has needed these two linebackers to step up, and on Monday night the combined for four sacks, three tackles for loss, two deflected passes, and three quarterback hits. They were in the Rams’ backfield throughout the second half, and they deserve the bulk of the credit for the defense’s complete shutdown the Rams after the half.
The Jekyll and Hyde Award (Schizophrenic Player Whose Inconsistent Performances Are Probably Going to Put Me in the Grave): Colin Kaepernick
Kaep threw for his best yardage total since Week One of last season, and made a number of stellar plays, including the strike to Lloyd. He also made two of the more ridiculous throws you’ll ever see, scrambling and then throwing high and far back across the field—something you’re not ever supposed to do. Of course, the first one went for a touchdown to Anquan Boldin.
Apparently emboldened, in the fourth quarter Kaepernick attempted a similar play. He was rolling right and as he was being tackled by Rams defensive lineman William Hayes, he threw a ball back across the field about 50 yards straight up in the air. Joe Staley batted the ball down, and Hayes ended up getting flagged for a horse collar penalty, but this was one of the stupidest throws I’ve ever seen a quarterback make. I don’t really have a point here, except to say that Kaepernick gives me an ulcer.
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 4 Anchors
Given how bad the Niners were in the first half, I don’t think this can get more than four Anchors. Let’s be honest, it’s been a four Anchor season so far. Still, they did win a divisional road game, and if the playoffs started today, they would be in, and both Seattle and Green Bay would be out. That’s pretty sweet. Better enjoy it while it lasts, because their final game before the bye is at Denver next Sunday night, and with a toe injury likely to keep Patrick Willis sidelined, Brooks will be the only member of our four Pro Bowl linebackers in the lineup. This is not going to be pleasant.
Also, fuck St. Louis. Shut it down tonight MadBum.
Go Giants. Go Niners.