The last time the 49ers played the Patriots was 2008, a 30-21 loss at Candlestick. Matt Cassel was the Patriot QB and Mike Nolan was the 49er Head Coach. Nolan was fired two games later and Cassel is now sucking in Kansas City.
Take two Advils and continue reading.
I try to remember these things when faced with a possible humungous butt kicking in New England this Sunday. Even if that were to occur, the Niners are still a pretty good team and a whole star system removed from those abysmal last days of The Suit.
I also remember that two weeks ago, the Patriots barely squeaked by Miami 23-16. The Texans made these guys look invincible, but that’s more an indictment of the Texans for being fake contenders. I’m surprised a Wade Phillips defense got shellacked that bad, but the Texans’ offense stunk up the place and left the defense to just play out the string. Not a good situation against a coach who loves to run up the score.
The 49ers are not fake contenders like the Texans. Whenever the Texans are in the big spotlight, they shrivel like a morning stiffy in a cold shower. The 49ers do not shrink. Their finest games this year have been on national audience stages.
The key to the game is getting pressure on Tom Brady, but that is tough to do. The Patriots have their own version of long time 49er O-line coach Bobb McKittrick in Dante Scarnecchia, who has been the O-line coach in New England for Brady’s entire career. His offensive lines always do a great job of pass blocking, no matter who is in the lineup.
The Patriots do not have a great pass rush, so Colin Kaepernick should have time enough to throw. Their secondary was a disaster area early in the season, but has been bolstered noticeaably since Bill Belichick eagerly plucked problem child CB Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The Patriots think they are going to win the Super Bowl this year. The 49ers thought that way at the beginning of the season, but I’m not so sure they still feel as strongly about their chances. They were thumped emphatically, at home, by the Giants, which had to hurt their psyches. Another thumping at the hands of the Patriots would bring some glum realism into the locker room — and the fan base.
My own private fantasy is that Brady drops back to pass on the first play of the game and gets absolutely drilled by Aldon Smith, breaking Brady’s right arm into twenty pieces and sending him to the locker room while the New England crowd experiences a deathly quiet moment. I know the 49ers do not have a Bounty program, but I’m sure some anonymous donations would be sent to the 49er Christmas stockings from Denver and Houston and Baltimore should such a gruesome, yet delightful, moment occur. I mean, it’s only an arm, right? They heal. More or less.
One thing is certain about this game: the whole world will be watching. A 49er win would restructure the thinking of the entire NFL. A narrow loss would be a John Madden moment, these heavyweights will probably meet again in February deal. A blowout loss and everyone will move along to the great Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady moment in late January.
The 2012 season is coming down to the contenders’ room, for sure. The Texans and Falcons have been asked to vacate the premises. The Giants are there till somebody sends them home. Will the 49ers still have a chair at the bar come Sunday night? We shall see.