The 49ers have leaped over the first hurdle — or maybe they just plowed through the damn little thing. But getting ousted from the playoffs in round one is embarrassing, and we’ll have none of that here. Jim Harbaugh’s first team in 2011 won one playoff game, last year they won two. This year, they’ll have to win four if they want to be champions.
Green Bay can nurse that wound all the way till next September. Maybe Aaron Rodgers is getting a clue how Steve Young felt back in the 90’s when Brett Farve’s Packers kicked his 49er rear out of the playoffs year after year. Hey, Aaron, is that a monkey on your back?
Losing in round two, three, or four isn’t much fun, either, but at least it’s not an embarrassment. If you win in round one, you were worthy of being in the postseason. You’re a big time team. An elite eighter. Twenty-four teams and 1,400+ players are sitting at home next Sunday watching you play on TV — out there in a living room or bar like an ordinary citizen.
The Eagles and Packers at least went down valiantly, beaten by end of game field goals. The Chiefs and Bengals left the arena in shame. For the Chiefs, it was the defense that needs to hide under the covers this offseason. For the Bengals, it was the offense, more specifically, the QB Andy Dalton that will be curling up in a fetal wad of agony. Cheer up, Andy, at least not a single soul on earth would like to trade places with you.
Three of the final four games will be rematches from the regular season. Broncos/Chargers split 1-1 during the season, Panthers beat the 49ers, and the Seahawks slaughtered the Saints. Only the Indy/Patriots game is a newbie.
San Diego is the only team left in the hunt that has less than 11 wins during the regular season, slipping into the tournament at 9-7, courtesy of Zebra Error. That probably assures them of winning the Super Bowl this year. The lowly 10-6 Ravens won it last year.
In the NFC, the Saints are the remaining low ranked team, with a modest 11 win season. All four finalists are from the NFC West and NFC South. The North and East have been booted to the curb.
Colin Kaepernick has begun to resemble Mariano “The Closer” Rivera down the stretch this year. Seattle gave him the ball with six minutes left and he kept it until the final half minute. Arizona gave him the ball with 28 seconds and he finished them off in 26. Last Sunday, the Packers handed it to him with five minutes remaining and, once again, he hogged it to the last second. In each case, however, he was not closing out a win, he was achieving one.
One last Saturday/Sunday double header football feast this weekend before Title Game Sunday the following week. Let’s hope the 49ers are still standing come Monday morning.