Another Happy Monday. Seven straight weeks making the morning coffee while singing:
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
The 49ers have had some sweet victories this year, but Sunday’s heart-throbber over the NY Giants went beyond sweet. It broadcast itself from sea to shining sea. This is no fluke, America. The Real Deal is rising in the Bay. Get ready to see a steady diet of those blimp shots of the beautiful Bay Area in the coming decade because the Red n Gold are going to be major players for a long time.
One by one the season’s initial darlings are falling by the wayside — Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Diego — while the team nobody saw coming keeps surging forward. And the QB nobody gave a dime’s worth of credit is the guy leading the charge.
Sunday’s victory had a lot of contributors, as all 49er games do, but one guy rose to the occasion above all others — Alex Smith. On the biggest stage of the year, Smith did what nobody said he could do: take the team on his back and lead it to victory. Frank Gore gained ZERO yards Sunday, and the running game that had awed the league was a bit player from the first snap of the game to the last. That was the blue print for beating the Niners. Shut down the running game.
Make no mistake, this was Smith’s finest hour in a 49er uniform. The game plan called for a pass oriented attack and he delivered it. The 49ers would not have planned such a strategy if they didn’t believe in Smith, but the rest of the league most certainly didn’t. The Giants openly talked about what a fine Trent Dilfer we had managing our team. Every article written about the 49ers this year, good or bad, always gave faint praise to the QB.
Let it now be known far and wide: Trent Dilfer could’t carry Alex Smith’s jock.
There is no more heart warming story in the league this year than Smith’s emergence as the leader of this 49er team and his ascension into the ranks of elite QBs in the league. Few players in the history of the game have endured as much abuse as Smith and lived through it, let alone lived to conquer. Smith has had more people tell him he’s no good than Charlie Brown has sighed this opinion about himself.
Sunday’s game told the rest of the league that the Niners can beat you on the ground, AND beat you in the air; beat you on defense, and beat you in the end. This was the fourth 4th quarter comeback victory this year. The defense has closed out all four of those victories. Justin Smith has personally made the game saving play in two of them. How did Justin describe his great game saving play? “I was too tired to pass rush. It was blind luck.”
With Sunday’s victory, the 49ers just about polished off the NFC East as a contender for the number two seed in the playoffs. Only New Orleans in the NFC South has a chance to grab that spot from the Niners, and they are currently two games behind in that battle. Everyone seems to concede the number one seed to Green Bay, but they are only one game ahead of the Niners with eight to play. When the football gods are smiling on you, anything can happen.
The scary part about the 49ers, if you are not one of their fans, is the team should be getting better and better as the season plays out. The new offensive and defensive systems should be firmly taking hold and the new players should be attaining more synchronicity amongst their brethren. It’s a team game. And right now the 49ers have a greater sense of TEAM than any other franchise in pro football.
We’ll see where this ride goes, but at the moment it is quite pleasant to be a 49er fan. What a wonderful world.