Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Week 14 - Bringin' it on national TV

You can bet your bottom dollar that Cardinals fan yodaddy is going to like this post about as much as he liked the outcome of Monday night's game. It was a complete dismantling, as the 49ers whipped the Cards 24-9 in a game that was more of a blowout than the score would indicate.

On a night when Alex Smith wasn't his sharpest, and when his receivers all had a case of the dropsies, the 49ers went to an old, reliable friend: Frank Gore. Gore took over the offensive load, rushing 25 times for 167 yards and a touchdown, earning him Offensive Player of the Week honors.

And it's not like Smith was terrible; I swear Michael Crabtree is the worst route runner in NFL history! He's seldom in the right place to receive the ball. So Smith threw for only 144 yards and threw 2 picks, one a fluke on a deflection, the other just a poor pass. But he also threw for 2 touchdowns. He's still looking like the future at QB for the Niners.

Though Michael Crabtree is an awful route runner, he did make a highlight-worthy play on his 32-yard touchdown reception. The catch was a beauty, and the run to the end zone even prettier.

Okay, enough offense. The offense got the job done, to be sure, but it was the heroic effort by the defense that made this game a blowout. The Niners forced 7 fumbles, recovering 6. They also intercepted Kurt Warner twice, ending a streak of 165 passes he had thrown since his last pick.

Safety Dashon Goldson had his best game as a 49er: 6 tackles, an interception, and 2 forced fumbles. He is definitely playing at a high level of late.

Patrick Willis shined on national TV, with 9 tackles - 4 for a loss! - 1 sack, and a forced fumble.

Perhaps the individual who most stepped up his game was Ahmad Brooks - 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles. Others deserving accolades include Justin Smith, who seems to always be around the pocket disrupting, and Tarell Brown, who intercepted Warner.

So...what does it all mean? Had the Cards won Monday night, they would have clinched the Division. Now they have to win twice or win once and have the 49ers lose a game in order to clinch. But last week's loss by the Niners to the Seahawks put them in a deep hole in terms of their playoff positioning. The 49ers can still win the division if the Cards lose twice (not likely; their next two games are Detroit and St. Louis, the two worst teams in the league) and the Niners win out. More likely is a Wild Card spot; it will STILL require that the Niners win out AND it will require help; the Falcons have a tie-breaker, and other teams will as well, depending on their record in Conference. It doesn't help that the next game is against Philly, one of the hottest teams in the League right now.

Still, it's the first time since 2002 that a Niners fan has had playoff hopes for his team. That's certainly worth something.


This just in from's Mike Sando:
Bill Bidwill owns the Cardinals 363 days a year. The 49ers own them the other two days.