With all the nonsense that came out of the voting for baseball’s Hall of Fame, it’s nice when sportswriters look rational and observant instead of ignorant and/or vengeful. There are so many lists and end-of-season awards out there, but year after year it’s hard to find fault with the selections made by the Associated Press for their NFL All-Pro teams. One can quibble with a selection here or there, but players don’t find their way on these first and second teams by accident.
If we can all agree that the All-Pro lists mean something (as opposed to Pro Bowl selections, which are only slightly less silly than the actual game itself), the San Francisco 49ers go into tonight’s game with the most high-level talent of any team in the NFL.
The 49ers had six first-team All-Pros — Mike Iupati, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson and Andy Lee — more than any other team. The Seahawks came in second, with four first-teamers. So much for the NFC West being a weak division. It’s amazing how the balance of power shifts when you add a couple dominant Pac-12 coaches and some good draft picks.
The 49ers also had three players named to as second-team All-Pros in Joe Staley, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks (four if you count Justin Smith getting named as both a defensive end and defensive tackle).
Based on these lists, the 49ers have a strong advantage talent-wise over the Green Bay Packers, who only had two players named to the second-team: Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. However, one could argue that having a second-team QB is the equivalent to having two first-team middle linebackers, if not greater than. Which brings us to…
First, I have no idea what I’m doing. After Trindon Holliday took that punt to the house to give the Denver Broncos a 7-0 lead over the Baltimore Ravens early on this afternoon, I tweeted that it seemed like we were in store for a 42-14 Broncos win. About 10 minutes later the Ravens were leading 14-7.
I’ve watched more of the 49ers and even the Packers than either the Broncos or Ravens, but that doesn’t mean the following prediction won’t look any more ridiculous midway through the first quarter today. But here goes…
49ers 28, Packers 24
You want reasons? Okay.
— I don’t think the 49ers will make a field goal today. They might attempt one, but I don’t see how David Akers’ mental difficulties somehow vanished just because Billy Cundiff took a field trip with Brad Seely, Andy Lee and Brian Jennings to Candlestick Park.
— The 49ers’ defense, even without Justin Smith, is better than Green Bay’s.
— The 49ers have been hit by injuries quite a bit over the past two months, but the area where they might be healthiest is the secondary. For that reason, and because their pass coverage has been better all season than they were a year ago, I don’t see Rodgers picking apart the 49ers’ defense. He’ll get his shots in, but the 49ers won’t give up conversions on 50% of Green Bay’s third down chances.
— The 49ers won’t let Randall Cobb beat them this time around. Without Cobb, Week 1 would’ve been a rout for San Francisco.
— I’m predicting a big game for the biggest surprise on the second-team All-Pro list, Mr. Brooks. Great job by the writers to recognize the Niners’ less famous outside linebacker, who has made several huge plays this season as a pass rusher, run stopper and even occasionally in coverage.
I’m going against the idea that the 49ers have to score 30 to win, and that’s mostly because I don’t think Green Bay’s offense is quite as dynamic as in previous seasons. I very well may be proven wrong, and if I am we’ll probably find out some time in the first quarter.
Also, we have almost 100 people who have RSVP’d for this afternoon’s BASG Meetup at Northstar Cafe. I doubt every single one of those people will show up, because that’s the nature of Facebook RSVP’s. (BTW, I really wish FB would drop the “maybe” option for events, since it usually means, “No, but I really don’t want you to ask me why I’m not coming.”) However, if you want pizza, you should definitely arrive before 4:30 (and no promises on availability of slices if the place is a madhouse).