- Update Jan 16, 2012. Since this was written the day after Christmas, the 49ers beat the Rams and earned the right to host New Orleans on January 12. As exciting a football game as you will see. Three quarters of methodical and brutal football with the score at 20-14 in favor of the 49ers. About what a lot of us expected. Alex Smith doing just enough to keep the Niners in control of the game in which they led every step of the way to that point.
And then it started raining footballs. The Brees storm was expected, but not to the extent in which his receivers were running amok like one of those electric vibrating football games. What was jaw-dropping unexpected, except by the 49er coaching staff and players themselves, was the torrent of Joe Montana, Steve Young types of play not seen since the last century as Alex Smith put the team on his back and brought them back twice from sure defeat.
Even when the Saints went ahead with 1minute 37 seconds to go. Play after play until finally with 9 seconds left, he connected with former Maryland standout, Vernon Davis at the Goal line who did to Rolando Harper what Dwight Clark did to Everson Walls. Beat their teams in their last defensive play of the season.
And so Sunday January 22, 2012 waits for the New York Giants. Just like it waited for them in January 1982. It was a Divisional game then. A conference championship now. We shall see.
BMW – Before Montana & Walsh
Years ago, the 49ers were the personal speed bags of the Los Angeles Rams. They played in Kezar in those days. Right outside the stadium off Stanyan Street was Park Police Station. And the emergency hospital. Both were put under extreme duress on those Sundays when busloads of drunken Ram fans would fill the West End zone. There were no seats; just benches. Benches consisted of three-deep 2x4s so a “seat” was about 12 inches deep and 15 inches wide. And no leg room either.
Not The House On Pooh Corner.
As an 8 year old it was a great adventure to sit on the top row of the Christopher Milk Section and watch slack-jawed as cops and fans clashed in the opposite end-zone, beer bottles, billy clubs, and bloody noses.
Mix in unlimited amounts of alcohol, and little security and voila! – Ireland vs Britain in Liverpool! And there the 49ers dwelt from 1946 to 1970, finally moving to Candlestick in 1971. They had a few good years there, losing to the Cowboys three years in a row in the playoffs. They went South for 10 years until the two guys at the top showed up for the 1981 Season.
San Francisco And the NFL Would Never Be The Same.
The 49ers dominated football in the 1980s and for a good part of the 90s.The reign covered the coaching careers of Bill Walsh and George Seifert; Joe Montana and Steve Young. Steve Young spent the early part of his career backing up Joe Montana. This would have been like Mickey Mantle backing up Willie Mays. A legacy in the NFL is very short, because the careers are so short, and player contracts are rarely guaranteed. Domination for two consecutive generations was and is unprecedented.
The Most Unique And One OF The Best Teams There Ever Was
The Forty-Niners of the 1980s and early 1990s were the Babe Ruth Yankees of the 20s and early 30s. Some will claim equality for the 70s Steelers, 60s Packers, 90s Cowboys, and 2000s Patriots. None of those teams had two different head coaches and two different Hall of Fame QBs during their reign at the top. Much less a Hall of Fame Quarterback serving as an understudy to another Hall of Fame QB.
Some Deja Vu on Christmas Eve
So Christmas Eve, after more than a decade has passed since the last era of 49er dominance, another former Stanford coach runs roughshod over an old rival from USC. In the process he took over this season, as Coach Walsh did, a horrible 49er team from another young DeBartolo who made a lot of mistakes early in his presidency. Going into the last game of the 1981 season, they were 12-3 seeking to claim home-field advantage from the terrifying Dallas Cowboys who they beat in the regular season, but who owned them in the post-season the way Dave Stewart owned Roger Clemens in October. The 49ers won that last game of 1981 to clinch home field advantage and of course the rest was history.
A Most Impressive Victory
A great victory in Seattle Christmas Eve. Most impressive one of the 2011 so far. I just don’t think there is any such thing as a sure thing in December against an improving, fired up rivalry opponent in his house who hates your guts. The Carroll and Harbaugh feud has carried over from Stanford and USC to the NFL. These games are every bit as bitter as anything I can remember with the LA Rams, ever. Carroll and Harbaugh while new to the head coaching ranks, have lots of prior NFL experience, Carroll an early disciple of Walsh, and Harbaugh of course 15 years as an NFL QB.
Walsh always talked about how important December games were. He wanted his teams peaking going into the playoffs, unwrapping little new wrinkles along the way, showing just enough to cause concern for opponents. His patented ways of wrinkling the plans of even the most respected opponents.
A Lot of Us Want Harbaugh to be Every Bit as Successful as Coach Walsh.
A lot of media guys find Harbaugh to be irritating and condescending. Word. If your questions consist of an extended self-referenced statement ending with a yes-no question, he’s going to respond with a very terse and impatient answer. As would anyone who spends a lot of time in preparation for his job, and expecting in-kind professionalism from his inquisitors. Fools need not raise their hands. Coach Walsh may have been a little more gentile, but he did not suffer fools either.
Harbaugh is very much in that mold. Those that study history are deigned to learn its valuable lessons. Those that don’t are doomed to suffer the consequences.
Walsh-Seifert-Harbaugh and the DeBartolos.The Journey Continues. The adventure has resumed.