I was pretty devastated when the 49ers lost the Super Bowl. I thought it’d take a few days to get over it, but I’m already mostly over it.
Yes, yes, I know it’s only a game. I don’t think football is that much fun unless you’re emotionally invested. That’s part of the reason why fantasy football makes games interesting that you otherwise wouldn’t be interested in; you have something to root for. I let myself get caught up in the game for the fun of it. I have no control over it, so I guess you could call it a form of emotional gambling.
So far I’ve only seen my favorite teams lose championships. I watched USC lose to Texas in 2005. That close loss is actually what made me a fan. I don’t feel too bad about rooting for a really good team now, since I’m seeing them suffer through (unjustly harsh) sanctions. Still, since it’s not my alma mater, I’m not a huge fan. That is to say, I don’t like them as much as the 49ers. The 49ers have followed the opposite trajectory: They were a laughingstock, and now they’re great. Jim Harbaugh is a fantastic coach. It’s really cool going into each game expecting a victory.
I spent a bit of time looking at some ESPN articles and scrolling through comments. It’s weird seeing some people think that if it wasn’t for the blackout then the 49ers wouldn’t have been in the game at all. I guess the theory is that the blackout caused a change in momentum. Of course, last week, the 49ers didn’t need a blackout to blank out the Falcons in the 2nd half of the game. They make good adjustments. Plus, if the blackout changed momentum, why did the 49ers punt right afterwards? It’s just something really stupid to think. Oh and I think the absence of Ngata probably changed “momentum” more than anything else.
The refs made a bad call at the end, in my opinion. Overall, though, I don’t think the reffing was too bad. That is, I didn’t feel like the 49ers were cheated. Crabtree should’ve run a better route and never even got locked up with the corner. The Ravens also took advantage of Kap’s inexperience with their blitzing.
People are also criticizing the playcalling at the end. On the one hand, I am really disappointed that Gore didn’t get a carry. When LaMichael James ran for a few yards, I was joking that if it was Gore, he would’ve carried all the tacklers into the end zone. While it is a jest, it is also true that James doesn’t pick up a lot of yards after contact. Gore does. Despite the emergence of Crabtree and Kap, Gore is still the best offensive player on the 49ers. After all he’s done, he kind of deserved a shot to win it. On the other hand, Roman’s playcalling got them in position to take the lead. He also had a great play coming up when the 49ers almost took a delay of game. Chris Brown (of Smart Football) described it as a QB counter on twitter. I am convinced that had they got the play off in time, they would’ve scored on that play. I also thing Kap could’ve run to the pylon instead of throwing the ball away on second down. Greg Roman has installed an awesome, creative offense, so it’s worth the occasional bad series.
Brown also pointed out that the 49ers kicked field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Sando, of ESPN’s NFC West blog, showed that Alex’s stats were much better than Kap’s in the red zone. Considering that Alex improved a lot since last year, I think Kap can improve next year too. They’ll also really need to work on getting the play off in time. That pissed me off so much, and like I said earlier, I think it cost them a touchdown at the end of the Super Bowl. I think the offense will be better next year, providing Gore still has another year left of tread on his tires.
I am concerned about the defense. Ever since Justin Smith went down, the pass defense … sucked. Granted, Aldon was also ailing, so the drop in the pass rush wasn’t all Justin. Still, Justin Smith is the MVP of the team, and he’s already relatively old. If he can’t get back to form, the 49ers could face a lot of deficits. Their secondary is pretty ordinary. I’ve heard DT/DE is pretty stacked in this draft, so I hope they get someone to eventually take over Justin’s job. They also need an upgrade at safety.
The Seahawks will be good next year too. I’m looking forward to those battles. I wonder how the 49ers will contain Wilson. I think Wilson and Cam Newton will be bargains in fantasy drafts with people looking to take Kap and RGIII before them. I might still overpay for Kap because I’m a homer.
Back to the Super Bowl… I enjoyed the game. It was such an emotional rush, even though there was the letdown at the end. I’m glad my favorite team got to the Super Bowl. They were a good team, and they were lucky to get there… just not quite lucky enough to win. I think the game could’ve gone either way. I’ll enjoy the fact that the ball bounced their way enough times for me to root for my team in the Super Bowl. It’s important to savor moments like that. (After the game, we played some Soul Calibur V. When I won a match, I took the time to savor it, even though we were playing 2 out of 3. It was my first victory of the night, and I had to take a moment to enjoy it.)
I don’t know if they’ll get back any time soon because of the luck thing, but I know with Harbaugh at the helm and Kap at QB, they’ll be in the hunt every year for a while.
Finally, I’m convinced that Alex Smith is good enough to be a starting QB in the NFL. Even up until the playoffs, I wasn’t fully convinced that Kap should be the starter over Alex. I’d see Kap make mistakes and say, “Alex wouldn’t do that.” But then, he’d run for 50 yards or through a laser to Crabtree, and I’d have to admit, “Alex couldn’t do that.” I saw the potential, but I was worried about the downside. The downside cost them at the end (when the play clock almost ran out), but with Kap’s arms and legs, they never would’ve been able to come back from that deficit. After seeing Kap set an NFL record for rushing as a QB, I’m convinced he’s the answer. Alex Smith doesn’t have that elite ability. But he’s smart, emotionally tough, more athletic than you think, and has an ok arm. I think he still has a good career ahead of him. I don’t think he can carry a team, but he can do well when surrounded by the right pieces. He won’t make mistakes. He won’t always make the big plays, but he can make enough small plays to get you a win. He can lead a come from behind victory. I wasn’t a fan for so many years, but he convinced me during that New Orleans playoff game that he was good enough to lead a team. One day, I think Alex Smith will be a great QB coach or offensive coordinator, or maybe even a head coach. I hope he gets traded somewhere and does well, as long as he isn’t playing the Niners.
Update: I forgot to say that the announcers were terrible. At the end, they were saying San Francisco was unprepared for the safety, but missed that everyone was being held. Not that it mattered in terms of the game, since the penalty would’ve resulted in a safety anyway and not restored any time to the clock. However, the announcers could’ve mentioned something.