Editor’s note: I was out of pocket this weekend, so I recruited the biggest Niners fan I know, my friend Tierney, to write the recap. She killed it—to the tune of 2,000 words! I hope y’all enjoy reading this as much as I did.
Hello fellow 49ers fans! Justin couldn’t make this week’s edition of “Breaking Down How the Niners Continue to Barely Pull Out Games They Should Be Dominating From Start To Finish” because he was out searching for a whiskey advent calendar (or so I like to believe) (Editor’s note: Sadly, no), so I get to step in and provide all the expert football analysis and witty banter you’ve come to know and expect. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may recognize me as the girl who’s alongside Justin in all his Finnerty’s endeavors, including the 49ers’ “The Faithful” docuseries, and also a former winner of the “Justin Smith Award (Big Guys Who Break Things)”. For the record, I’m a 5’1″ girl who weighs about a buck-thirty—so I’m pretty proud of that last one.
So let’s jump right in! First things first, I will not be saying the team name of this week’s opponent, as I am a person with common sense (occasionally) and decency (most the time) who does not use racial slurs (ever). For the purpose of this blog, this week’s opponent will simply be called the “Washington DC Football Team.” Which leads me into the first award:
The Emmitt Smith Award (Most Hated Opponent): Dan Snyder
This one is so easy: It’s obviously Dan Snyder. What can I say about Dan Snyder that hasn’t already been so brilliantly, and eloquently stated? The guy is a fucking tool. Snyder took over control of the Washington DC Football Team in 1999, and it’s been a hot mess ever since. In 15 seasons as an owner, his team has only made the playoffs four times and have gone through seven head coaches. Among team owners of 10 years or more, he’s got a winning percentage of just .433; only beating Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson (RIP), Houston’ Robert McNair, Arizona’s Bill Bidwill, and Detroit’s William Clay Ford (RIP). He’s essentially bought off the media in the DC area to avoid any criticism or coverage that’s less than favorable, going so far as acquiring and outright shutting down all independent team fanzines and newsletters. And by all accounts he’s an awful guy to work for. But being the bleeding heart liberal that I am, I am going to focus on how batshit insane it is that he continues to not only defend, but praise the horribly insensitive, flat out racist team name.
One year ago today I attended the 49ers/Washington DC Football Team Monday Night Football Game in DC. As you’re all aware, the NFL salutes veterans and military service in the month of November, having special services, awards, and all around heartwarming moments during every game in November. It’s a wonderful gesture to applaud and give back to those who serve. So, being that this game was in the month of November, and it was MNF (the biggest game of the week, and nationally televised) what did Snyder do to honor the vets and make a shameless PR stunt? He brought out World War II Navajo Code Talkers and had them wearing Washington DC Football Team apparel. I cannot begin to describe how cringe-inducing it was to see this live, nor how uncomfortable the energy in the stadium was during and immediately after the spectacle. There is no defending the team name, and yet Snyder continues to double down on it. Nearly every home game is met with protests of groups denouncing and demanding he change the team name. And I’m proud to see that tradition was carried over to yesterday’s game in Santa Clara.
Look, I am one of the biggest and most passionate 49ers fans out there. I chose going to the 49ers/Patriots Sunday Night Football game in December 2013 OVER my job. And then went to New Orleans and attended the Super Bowl in February 2013 while unemployed, after losing said job in December. (Financially responsible? Not so much. But I’m a diehard.) But if my team name was as historically ugly and damaging as the Washington DC Football Team’s, I would demand that Jed York change it immediately. There’s no pride or joy to be had supporting a team that you love if it comes at the expense of a group of people who have been abused and institutionally marginalized since we stole this country from them.
But enough about that, onto the good stuff!
The Jerry Rice Award (Most Dominant Player on the Field): Anquan Boldin
I’m not a historian, but I’m pretty sure the 49ers trade of a sixth-round draft pick for Anquan Boldin in 2013 will go down as one of the best in NFL history. (Also: Fuck the Ravens. Yes, I’m still bitter about the Super Bowl, and I always will be) I’ve been so impressed with him the last season and a half—this guy comes to play. I love big, physical receivers who use their entire body to catch the ball, and therefore I adore Boldin. He routinely catches passes that seem impossible for mere mortals. So I’ve been ever so slightly worried this season because Boldin hasn’t been looking like his usual self: He’s dropped passes as of late, and there was the bullshit headbutt penalty against the Cardinals back in September, which, sad to say, lost us that game. But Boldin showed up in a big way yesterday. He had nine receptions for 137 yards, a touchdown, and most importantly set up the game-winning touchdown by Carlos Hyde. In the 4th quarter Boldin had a beautiful 29 yard catch, with an additional 15 yards added on thanks to a personal foul from Washington’s Ryan Clark.
Boldin later had words on the sideline with Washington’s defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett, after a late hit. When asked about it after the game, Boldin said of Haslett, “He’s irrelevant.” Oh yeah, another one of my favorite parts of Boldin is the guy can talk trash … and back it up.
The Justin Smith Award (Big Guy Who Break Things): The Smith Brothers
You guys, I am SO happy that Aldon Smith is back. While he may not be the brightest guy off the field (Editor’s Note: That’s the understatement of the day), on the field he is a beast. You can see quarterbacks quiver in fear when he’s on the line, because he WILL find a way to get them. My individual love for Aldon is only matched by the delight I feel when he and his Smith Brother, Justin Smith, get to tag team the opponent’s offense together. These two would appear to be the quintessential odd couple, but don’t judge these books by their covers. Over the past three seasons, Justin’s combination of ungodly strength and athleticism set Aldon up as the fastest player to record 30 sacks (in 27 games) in league history. And you can see how much they compliment each other by what goes on when one of them is gone (as when Justin was out with a torn tricep in 2012). But they’re reunited once again, and boy does it feel good!
Justin and Aldon combined for three of the Niners’ five sacks of RGIII yesterday. Aldon recorded not only his first but second sack of the season, and did I mention it was only his second game back? Even better, Aldon’s first sack came on just the second play of the game. Seeing Aldon standing over RGIII gave me warm tingly feelings and flashbacks to his performance against the crippled quarterback one year ago. But it was Justin Smith that came through with the play that sealed the game for the Niners. The Washington DC Football Team, down by four after a beautiful touchdown by Carlos Hyde (set up by Boldin), got the ball back with 1 minute and 40 seconds left in the game. On 3rd and 8 with 55 seconds remaining, Justin had a glorious sack on RGIII, forcing a fumble that fellow former “Justin Smith Award” recipient Ahmad Brooks recovered to end the game.
The Al Davis Award (Dysfunctional Football Team): The Santa Clara Raiders
First off, I have to tip my hat to Justin for coining this phrase (Editor’s note: Yeah, I’m pretty witty), because it really couldn’t be more true. I love this team, and with the exception of Greg Roman and Chris Culliver, I would hate to see any of these guys go (especially Harbaugh); but this team has REALLY got to get it together. For the first time in my adult life I went into this season feeling very confident in our offense’s abilities and worried about our defense, due to the absences of Bowman and Aldon. But the defense has been strong, key guys like Wilhoite and Borland (holy shit is that guy a beast!) have stepped up, and every win the Niners have this season has been in large part due to the defense’s performance. But the offense has to improve. Did you know the Niners first-team offense had it’s FIRST 4th quarter touchdown during yesterday’s game? People, we are doing the WEEK TWELVE awards here. We still haven’t figured out responsible time management. I would love to peek inside Roman’s mind to try and understand his reasoning on most play calls he makes. And Kap, I need you to be more consistent. I need you to be the Kaepernick who shows up against the Packers in the playoffs—but for every game, kthanks.
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 4 Anchors
Like so many other games this season, I’m giving this week 4 Anchors. The offense had bouts of pretty play, but mostly looked ugly. The game was won by a great defensive performance (what’s new?) but left me feeling less than confident about our overall ability to finish this season as a playoff team. (I mean, I’m like 80% sure we are.) In other news, Seattle beat Arizona yesterday, leaving the NFC West up for grabs, and we face those two teams for a combined three games in the last five weeks of the regular season. Literally anything could happen. Which leaves us with…
Next Up: Fried Bird For Thanksgiving Dinner
Now let me start this off by saying I am 100% not objective and am completely biased when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks. (Editor’s note: All instances of “Seahawks” have been changed to the team’s proper name: Seabitches.) I attended college and lived in Seattle for 4 years, so this “rivalry” is especially personal. Please note the quotation marks around the word rivalry, because as a lifelong 49ers fan, a rivalry takes years, decades even, to build. The Cowboys? That’s a 49ers rivalry. The Packers? That’s a 49ers rivalry. Seattle, you don’t get that nomenclature just yet. You haven’t been relevant long enough to deserve it. So while hating everything San Francisco might constitute a rivalry for you, you can’t sit with us just yet (Mean Girls and football—that’s all I know, people). Thursday’s game is going to be big. But since it’s Thanksgiving, it’s only appropriate to be serving up fried bird, and that’s what I want and will be thankful for. I want Aldon to sack Russell Wilson. I want Gore to run all over the Seabitches’ less-than-stellar-this-year pass rush. And in poetic justice, I want Crabtree to pwn Richard Sherman. (P.S., am I the only one who thinks Crabtree fucked Sherman’s Mom and never called her again? Because that guy cannot get over Crabtree and won’t shut up about him.) It’s going to be a tough game. Both teams are good, but have struggled this season. I take solace in the fact that Seattle is pretty shitty on the road, but to be honest, the Niners have not been good at Levi’s Stadium. It’s going to be a battle, but we have the gluttonous, bird-murdering holiday on our side.