"The Only Yardstick for Success is Being a Champion" - Bill Walsh

Thursday, October 13, 2011

49ers Dominate -- Deja Vu All Over Again

I've been through this before.  1981.  I watched in amazement as my heretofore aimless 49ers ran through over and  around the very tough Dallas Cowboys 45-14 at the Stick.  We were looking VERY good.  In the 35 years that I had been a 49er fan, since the day my dad walked me across the street to the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park to watch the "new team" in town when I was almost 4, I had never felt quite this kind of excitement.  This team was good!

Flash forward to 2011.  Last week I watched the 49ers dominate the Eagles, a team with amazing talent at the skill positions and a lack of it in the line.  The confidence this team showed during this win reminded me exactly of the Dallas game 30 years ago.  I told my wife, "Honey, the end is near".  The end of the era of Nolan-Singletary is upon us.  Our modern version of Bill Walsh has arrived, this one with a rougher edge and a killer instinct.  He has no hesitancy in "running up the score".

So, I watched the Tampa Bay game with more excitement and anticipation than I've felt approaching a Niner game since they fired Mooch. The destruction of Tampa Bay, 48-3, so beautifully crafted by Harbaugh, whose blocking schemes were brilliant, enabling both Gore and Hunter great access to the outside and lanes being blown open by a highly criticized but much improved offensive line.  Anthony Davis had the best day of his career as a 49er and deserves credit.  He is still only 21.

Harbaugh has taken his time with Alex Smith and in essence has re-programmed him.  He has taught him to truly focus, something I admit I thought was was beyond his ability.  The genius of Harbaugh is what immediately places this team right up there with the 1981 49ers.  Go back and watch the final drive by Montana leading to "the Catch".  Most of the plays were misdirection runs, short sweeps, and slants over the middle.  Walsh had Dallas so off balance they didn't know which way to turn.  Watching Tom Landry and his hat stew on the sidelines is a memory I will always cherish.

Dare I say it?  This team compares favorably with the 1981 49ers:

QB - Montana, Cavanaugh (81);  Smith, Kaepernick (11)
RB - Elliott, Patton, Ring, Lawrence (81);  Gore, Hunter, Dixon (11)
FB - Cooper, Davis (81);  Norris, Miller, Sopoaga (11)
WR - Clark, Solomon, Wilson, Shumann (81);  Edwards, Crabtree, Ginn, Williams, (Morgan) (11)
TE - Young, Ramson (81);  Davis, Walker (11)
OL - Audick, Ayers, Cross, Downing, Fahnhorst, Quillan (81);
       Iupati, Davis, Goodwin, Snyder, Staley, Boone (11)

The 2011 team is deep and presents at least the same level of talent as the 1981 team with one possibly glaring exception at quarterback.  Alex Smith will have to continue his Harbaugh-directed imitation of a top-flight quarterback in order for this team to reach the level of greatness of the team in 1981.

NT - Reese, Harty (81);  Sopoaga, Jean-Francois (11)
DE - Board, Dean, Pillers, Stuckey (81);  MacDonald, Smith, Dobbs (11)
LB - Bunz, Harper, Leopold, McColl, Puki, Reynolds, Turner (81);  Willis, Bowman, Harrelson, Smith, Brooks, Grant, Gooden (11)
CB - Lott, Wright, Thomas (81);  Brown, Rogers, Spencer, Culliver (11)
S - Hicks, Williamson (81);  Williams, Whitner, Goldson (11)

The defenses are comparable.  The 49ers introduced their almost all-rookie backfield in 1981, while this season they have brought in outstanding secondary players from elsewhere in Rogers, Whitner and Williams.  The defensive line in 1981 was solid and the foundation of the best defensive line the 49ers ever put on a field in 1984, when they added Gary "Big Hands" Johnson, Manu Tuiasosopo, Michael Carter and Jeff Stover, not to mention big Louie Kelcher.

Now it's up to the team...Remember 1981!  Go Niners...


Copyright @ 2011 All Rights Reserved

@ 1998-2011 All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kapernick Has the Stuff

NFL.com news: Niners rookie QB Kaepernick to learn playbook through others

This is just one of the reasons I like this kid. He's eager to learn and I remember Joe Montana in his early years. He had that confidence but that impatience, yet he was catlike when he moved. Joe wasn't the fastest of all-time, but he was among the smartest. If you watched the Science video in the previous post, you can see that this kid gets rid of the ball in real hurry, despite a long throwing motion.

Like I have said before, I have seen every 49er QB that has ever played for the team. Frankie Albert was probably the most exciting -- he could fake, run, pass, and quick kick or punt. He was left-handed and could make plays where there weren't any. Tittle was the toughest, Brodie the cockiest, and Young was every bit the equal of Albert for excitement. Alex had all the physical tools, but no natural instincts. He's a thinker, and he doesn't do anything instinctually, he has to think first. You can't teach natural instincts, and Alex will never be more than barely adequate. He is like Steve Deberg (who was a far better passer) on steroids.

Kaepernick has those same cat-like qualities and intensity of interest that Joe used to have. Will he be as good as Joe? Probably not. But he will be good -- very good, and I'm looking forward to him beating Alex out in head-to-head competition to make the passing of the torch official. In a creative Harbaugh system, he'll succeed.

Copyright @ 2011 All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 29, 2011

49ers Land a Gem



Before you naysavers start complaining about Kapernick can't do this and Kapernick can't do that, watch this video. Plus, the kid is the first QB in NCAA history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 2000.  With such incredible athletic ability, a little attitude, and under Harbaugh's guidance we may complete the great triumvirate of Montana, Young and ?  This kid gets the ball off before Alex can think pass.

Copyright @ 2011 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 28, 2011

Please, Tiger -- I can't watch anymore...

This non-49ers article is the first and probably the last that will appear on this blog, but it must be said.
 NOTE:  I wrote this after the second round at Bayhill when Tiger shot an excellent 68 and before his eventual weekend collapse. 
Twenty years ago I was playing in a Senior professional team tournament with my partner, Clyde Daniels, a good friend and former great athlete from Texas.  Clyde was now a local club pro raising his kids in Sacramento, and playing for dinero on the side.  During this round he was raving about a 15-year old kid with the greatest natural talent he had ever seen.  He described how this young phenom could already outhit him by 30 yards, and Clyde was known as a very long hitter.  That was my introduction to Tiger Woods.

Over the years, I, like many American males, adopted Tiger as my own and rooted for him with zeal as he amazed us over and over again with his feats on the golf course.  Whether it was hitting shots nobody had ever dreamed of hitting, or sinking putts from amazing distances and with incredible breaks, Tiger would consistently amaze us.

Since sabotaging his own life and career, Tiger began the long climb back to what he hopes is his return to domination on the tour.  I understand his wanting to change his lifestyle and personal habits and to become a great parent.  But, in my opinion, he has taken his mantra for change too far.  It's one thing to change your personal habits, quite another to take one of the best swings ever and completely re-do it.  As I watch him continue to struggle with the robotic swing changes instituted by "guru" Sean Foley, I can only cringe.

If his dad was alive today, he would be very frustrated.  The line "beware of false prophets" comes to mind.  David Ledbetter, Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, Sean Foley, the names are well-known.  So-called swing gurus and nowadays all the pros have them.  I find it ridiculous.  The great players of yesterday never used a swing coach, other than those who relied upon the wisdom of their dads.  I can never imagine Jack Nicklaus or Sam Snead going to someone else for daily advice.  It never happened.

Tiger now calls himself "Ranger Rick", because he hits the ball so well on the range, but can't bring it to the course.  Of course you can't, Tiger, and you won't.  As your dad would have told you, when you are playing under pressure, you ALWAYS return to your natural instincts and swing -- always. 

I can understand swing changes as we age and our bodies change.  In my case, I underwent multiple spinal surgeries in my early 30's.  All my childhood dreams of playing on the PGA Tour were put to rest.  Doctors said I would never play again.  So, never one to be told I can't do something, I shortened my backswing and had a 51-inch driver made to accommodate the changes.  It worked and my dream came true at age 50 when I got a win in a Senior mini-tour event, and a 292 yard hole in one on the fly on a par 4 in the same year. 

Swing changes are sometimes necessary, but Tiger has taken it too far.  The greatest putter in history with the greatest short game has changed his chipping and putting styles to "alter the release point", whatever the hell that means.  His dad must be screaming at him from above, "Return to your natural swing and stroke".  Tiger's perfectly smooth stroke is now a quick jab.  He regularly misses putts from six feet and under when he used to do things like make 49 out of 50.

Here is something to remember, Tiger.  Under extreme pressure, we will always do what comes naturally.  Your guru can tell you over and over to swing a certain way or to stroke the ball a certain way, but when the tv cameras are on and the whole world is watching, your natural instincts take over.  It's why they call them "natural".  So, Tiger, after your Masters experience in a couple of weeks and I wish you the very best, my recommendation is to dump your latest guru and return home.

Immediately dump this new putting stroke.  You're the greatest clutch putter of all time -- why fix it if it ain't broken?  Watch videos of your swing and stroke ten (10) years ago and get back to that fluid swing.  Dump Foley.  You are starting to look very robotic and mechanical, and that, coupled with few smiles, slammed clubs, loud profanity, and an old sourpuss, makes me long for the energetic, smiling Tiger.  It's not much fun watching you anymore, pal, especially as you seem to fall apart on the weekends when the pressure is at its highest, and that is very sad.  Let's send "Ranger Rick" packing and get Tiger back.  SOON!  Good luck.
Copyright @ 2011. 
All Rights Reserved

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