Another Gut Shot

September 27

                      Did anyone doubt Brett Favre was going to pull one out of his arse against the 49ers … again?

                      There are few players in history who have ownage over a team as Brett Favre does over the 49ers, and he waited until the last play to break their hearts Sunday in Minnesota.  Remember, this is a 40-year-old guy just off surgery on his shoulder who made that throw in the back of the end zone, 40 yards away, just before he was sacked.  When he goes to the Hall of Fame, that play will be on the highlight reel.

                      It shouldn’t have happened, though.

                      The 49ers played it safe on their last two possessions, giving Favre one last chance with more than a minute to go.  On the final possession the 49ers plowed into the line three times, making the Vikings use their three time outs.  On 3rd and 6, they had a decision to make:  try to throw a short pass for a first down, but if it’s incomplete, you give the Packers the ball back with one time out.  Complete a pass of at least six yards, and the game is virtually over.

                     Instead of showing some faith in quarterback Shaun Hill, who again found his ryhthm in the 4th quarter, head coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye turtled.  If you’re on the road, you have to grab the win, it isn’t going to be given to you.  The 49ers punted and, unfortunately, the ball went into the end zone.  The Packers started at the 20 yard line with no time elapsed, and Brett Favre had 90 seconds to do that voodoo that he do.

                     Conservative was the word of the day on defense, as well.  When Kurt Warner had to ball with a chance to win in Arizona in Week 1 the 49ers pinned their ears back and went after him.  When the aged and semi-mobile Favre got the ball, the 49ers rushed three most of the time, the defense played prevent, and the results were predictable.  

                     And yes, Greg Lewis’ feet were inbounds.  The funny part was Favre didn’t know who he was.  Lewis had just been picked up after being cut by the Patriots.  The only reason he was in, was because Percy Harvin had run seven straight post patterns and was gassed.

                     It’s true, we might not have questioned any of this had Dre Bly intercepted the pass before.  It’s also true that we might not have questioned any of this had the 49ers secondary kept Lewis in front of them.  The bottom line is, none of that happens if the 49ers get the first down and keep the ball with 90 seconds to go.

                    Second-guessing is the second-favorite sport of American football fans, but I think fans would have been more forgiving of Singletary had he decided to go for the throat.  Try for a short pass and a first down, instead of three runs up the middle with a line that was losing the battle in the trenches.  Singletary’s winning formula includes the word “finish.”  The coaching staff didn’t do that today.

                    This is my harshest criticism of Singletary so far, and it’s a good thing.  It shows that the culture is changing around the 49ers.  Expectations have been raised, partly because Singletary has helped raise this team’s performance level.  

                    Without Frank Gore today, the 49ers almost beat a tough team in their noisy dome.  That is progress.  It wasn’t just false bravado after the game when Singletary told his team they would see the Vikings again in the playoffs.  Of course, that prediction is easier to believe with Gore in the picture.

                    On the 49ers pregame show on KNBR 1050 this morning, I asked the Press-Democrat’s Matt Maoicco if Gore’s ankle was really sound, considering they were playing on artificial turf.  We got the answer right away, in the first series.  Now Gore reportedly has a high ankle strain which could keep him out until after the bye in Week 6.

                   The 49ers can probably get by next week and beat the Rams without him.  The Falcons will be more difficult.  The 49ers might need to pick up another back by that time.  2-1 is good on the surface, but shaky without Gore at 100 percent. 


                    Other notes around the NFL:

                    Every Detroit Lions fan was saying “oh no” when the Redskins drove inside Lion territory in the final seconds, but something strange happened.  The Lions actually avoided the last minute collapse and WON A FOOTBALL GAME.  Jim Schwartz is king of Detroit, for whatever that’s worth.   He’d better enjoy the moment.  The next three games for the Lions:  at Chicago, home vs. the Steelers, and at Green Bay.

                    Matthew Stafford is already a far better #1 pick than Alex Smith and Jamarcus Russell, which isn’t saying much.  Mark Sanchez has already done more than Smith and Russell as a #5 pick.  Matt Ryan did more last year.  It’s amazing when someone who actually knows how to evaluate personnel can identify talent in a young quarterback.  On top of that, the 49ers and Raiders had #1 picks in the worst years possible.  

                   Schedules aren’t everything, but they’re very important.  Just ask the Titans and Dolphins.  Both are 0-3, and the Dolphins would like to send the NFL something stinky in a bag for giving them a Monday night game, then making them go cross-country the following Sunday.  They ran out of gas in the second half in San Diego.  0-3 teams have a history of doing, well, nothing.

                    Get ready Buffalo.  The Terrell Owens meltdown is about to begin.  The Bills are 1-2 and if you haven’t checked out his postgame dance with the media, complete with sunglasses, I highly recommend it for entertainment purposes.  Oh, it’s going to be a fun autumn.

                   The Seahawks’ jerseys made me want to scratch my eyes out.  The last time I saw that shade of green was in the capri pants myneighbor Mrs. Kelly wore in the 1960’s.  If you want to blind your friends, buy one of those hideous jerseys and combine them with the mustard yellow New York Titan pants the Jets wore today.

                   By the way, the old Titans beat the new Titans masquerading as the old Oilers today.  Confused?  Thank the NFL marketing people.   Typical of a league that thinks you’ll buy anything they shove in front of you.  Throw them back.

                  I’m not a fan of the blackout rule, but it was probably a good thing today in Oakland.


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