"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...


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