Game day! The Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs is at hand!
This round is so named because it used to actually be for division winners. This was before the playoffs were bastardized by the inclusion of “wildcard” teams. Teams that didn’t actually win anything during the regular season, but now get to fatten the coffers of the league and the TV networks. In baseball, “winning” the pennant means virtually nothing anymore. 162 games, your team comes out on top, big deal.
Of course, if the 49ers were a wildcard this year, I might not be wringing my hands over this issue, give or take my journalistic integrity on the morning that a column like this was due.
The San Francisco 49ers have accomplished the first part of their year long quest — getting back into the playoffs. They even once again secured the number two seed, defying the many “experts” who predicted they would fall back to the pack this year. Saturday night they begin the second, and hardest part of their quest — winning at least one more playoff game than last year — and preferably, TWO!
The Divisional Round game last year went into the books as one of the most electrifying wins in 49er history. It’s doubtful tonight’s game will top that in the drama department, but any kind of win will do just fine.
49er fever is sweeping through the Bay Area these days. The team handed out 49er caps to all the bridge toll booth workers, who presumably will be required to wear them all day today. This could be a tough assignment for a booth guy who’s a Raider fan. Which is a joke, really. If a Raider fan managed to get a toll booth job, he’d take your money, then stick a gun in your face and steal your car.
The team failed to win five times this year, and in four of those non-wins it was the defense that stubbed its toe. So it won’t take long for us to have a clue how the team will fare against Green Bay. If the defense is playing tough in the first quarter, the Packers should go home losers. If Aaron Rodgers puts up a couple of quick TDs, however, get ready for the offseason to begin early.
Long day ahead for all 49er fans, but especially so for the heavy drinkers amongst us. These lads have to somehow stay sober enough to see the TV screen at 5pm tonight. An even more heroic effort is needed for the East Coast fans who have to stay alive till 8pm. Good luck, fellas!
This will be the first big test of the Colin Kaepernick era. His success or failure will be tied directly to HC Jim Harbaugh’s credibility ratings. And, to more or less extent, the future of the franchise. I doubt Kaepernick will lay an egg, but the bar for him has been set pretty high by the QB that he replaced. An excellent, game winning performance is clearly a must. Not only this week, but next week, too.
All in all, another huge day in franchise history is upon us. May the fickle finger of fate flick that flirtatious football our way this year! Go Niners!