The Crash Heard ‘Round The World

November 29

I was on the air hosting a day-after-Thanksgiving holiday special, wearing my cardigan sweater with the KNBR logo on the left breast, when news broke of the Tiger Woods car crash. Seems he’s still inconsistent with his driving. This time he hooked it into a tree.

( Punchlines allowed now because he’s OK. )

In the early going we were mostly concerned with his condition, and conflicting reports about his injuries. We finally got word on the extent of the injuries, but there were more conflicting reports about how he was hurt. There are a million questions, including why Tiger would be leaving the house in an SUV at 2:25 a.m. A caller on the show Friday theorized that he was going to Wal-Mart to scoop up some Emerson TV’s on Black Friday.

( Again, punchline allowable, Tiger is going to live. )

Less certain is whether his marriage is going to survive, and whether he will ever speak to police. He is apparently not required to do so, but he should know it doesn’t look good, and will only lead to more public curiosity. He has issued a “my bad” statement which also flatly denied all those rumors, which love to swirl.

In this humble reporter’s opinion, he is not required to say doodly-squat to anyone, as long as the chain of events a) did not involve violence by one person against another, or b) the chain of events did not lead to a public hazard. Was he woozy because of painkillers, and if so, why was he driving? And how did he crash going less than 30 mph?

What if he left his home and hit another driver, either because of painkillers or because he was in a hurry to get the hell out of Dodge, or Windemere? What if the facial cuts he sustained were NOT the result of the car crash? What if someone else caused the injuries? Those are questions the police and public would like answered.

Perhaps Tiger and Elin are balking at discussing the incident with authorities out of embarrasment. Perhaps they are trying to get their stories lined up. Tiger might be trying to protect Elin, or vice versa.

In a vacuum, any rumored marital dispute — or reason for that dispute — is none of our business. We should not be sticking our noses into Tiger’s personal life, unless that business somehow posed a threat to the public. Otherwise we don’t have a right to know everything simply because he’s the most recognizable sports figure in the world.


One question was answered emphatically Saturday night. The question: Is Toby Gerhart a legitimate Heisman Trophy finalist? Answer: Hell yes.

205 yards, 3 touchdown runs, an improbable touchdown pass, during a memorable 45-38 Stanford win over Notre Dame that was the final nail for Charlie Weis. “ND” stands for “No Defense,” but it’s also true that Gerhart has been an absolute load for everyone all year. Just ask USC. Ask Oregon.

Gerhart not only deserves an invite to New York, but he might be a front-runner now. Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Case Keenum have also made a strong case. I felt that Tebow would get some eastern and southeastern favoritism and he is definitely a factor — and he still has the SEC championship game — but I’m going to exercise some West Coast bias and throw in a vote for Gerhart. That is, if I had a Heisman vote.


By the way, in case you are wondering why Pete Carroll didn’t get much sympathy when Jim Harbaugh went for two in Stanford’s blowout win over the Trojans, look at Saturday night at the Coliseum. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel tweaked Carroll’s nose by calling a timeout with under a minute to go and USC leading 21-7. It was a silly move but what Carroll did was worse.

Instead of running out the clock, he had Matt Barkley throw one last touchdown pass. This tells you everything you need to know about the school and its football program. What a bunch of brats. USC 28, UCLA 7, Sportsmanship 0. )


We’ve said it on the air, and in this blog. The 49er offense needed to open up for Alex Smith, and to take advantage of emerging young stars Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. We told you on Friday that Singletary wasn’t totally resistant to change, and would incorporate a “spread-ier” offense on Sunday.

That’s exactly what happened. Smith threw 41 times and the offense actually had a bit of pace in the first half. As opposed to Green Bay, the 49ers opened up aggressively — on offense and defense.

Jimmy Raye, in a job-saving move, actually showed some ability to adapt to his talent and turned in a pretty-nice game of play-calling. The 4th and 1 pass to Vernon Davis which set up a pretty TD toss to Frank Gore in the second quarter was gutsy. The bootleg toss to a wide open Davis in the end zone was beautifully designed and executed.

Singletary showed he had a finger to the wind when he replaced a struggling Shaun Hill with Smith in Houston, then sticking with Smith. He showed it again Sunday by opening things up a little more against a somewhat porous Jaguars secondary. Smith looked confident and made several gorgeous throws. His numbers would have been better, save for a few drops.

Both sides of the ball got a jump-start out of the changes. The defense got after Jags quarterback David Garrard repeatedly, sacking him six times and forcing him to lose two fumbles. It was the polar opposite of the first half defense in Green Bay.

Much of the change is due to the fact that the 49ers have nothing to lose now, and hopefully it isn’t too late. Singletary, Raye, and Greg Manusky are taking more risks — and the players are beginning to play as if they have nothing to lose. As a result, they still have a shot.

Now the key will be to continue that aggression in Seattle and to avoid returning to the turtle shell. Arizona lost a thriller to Vince Young and hosts a tough Vikings team this Sunday. With any luck, the game between the 49ers and Cardinals December 14th at Candlestick will have some real meaning. More importantly, the Niners and fans are getting a glimpse of the team’s future identity, and it’s a bit more intriguing than we thought.

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