One of the teams around here wins a championship, and the temptation is to put everything in some sort of broader historical perspective. After tonight’s 27-6 win by the 49ers over the Cardinals, that wouldn’t be a good idea.
That doesn’t mean a lot of good stuff didn’t happen.
Nate Clements looked like early-’90’s Rod Woodson. Brian Westbrook looked like early-’00’s Brian Westbrook. The Niners’ o-line, who could barely help the team make positive yardage last week, were pushing the Cardinals’ nose tackles and linebackers backward during more plays tonight than in all the previous games combined this season. The 49ers made a MNF game unbelievably boring for 96% of the nation after two quarters, like they used to do back in the 1980’s and ’90’s.
Only this time, it wasn’t because the 49ers were incredibly awesome. It was because the Cardinals really, really suck. And the win was pretty much the only good news about today.
They’ve lost many great players from last year’s team, but losing Kurt Warner to television has destroyed the Cardinals this season. Derek Anderson shouldn’t be an NFL quarterback. He should be fighting for a job in the UFL, or trying out for an Arena League team. But tonight he played on national TV, and as a result the Cardinals fielded an entire team full of players who put out even less effort on Monday night than Oregon St. did against Stanford a couple nights earlier.
But enough about the Cardinals, who embarrassed themselves tonight but probably shattered the Niners’ hopes of doing anything this season other than being a thorn in the Rams’ and Seahawks’ sides.
Chilo Rachal: hammy.
David Baas: concussion.
Dominique Zeigler: knee sprain (read: bad ligament tear).
Frank Gore: broken hip.
At least now we’ll find out what Westbrook could do if given a chance. We’ll just ignore the fact that in the era where RB-by-committee is no longer some weird idea from Mike Shanahan but the NFL norm, the 49ers couldn’t get Westbrook on the field until Gore broke his hip. Yep, that makes sense.
At one point this team had these guys, all healthy at the same time: Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Brian Westbrook, Delanie Walker, Anthony Dixon, Josh Morgan, Dominique Zeigler and Ted Ginn. If Mike Singletary didn’t coach this team, the 49ers would be thought of as a team with “TOO MANY WEAPONS” like back in those days when they used to win MNF games 42-3 because they were that much better than every team in the NFL. But this year, their offense was so boring they should have been wearing leather helmets.
Like last year’s MNF against the Cardinals, the 49ers played decent defense and looked like world beaters. Only this time they were facing a team that was a shadow of its former self in every area besides “injuring the other team.” And even if the 49ers win the rest of their divisional games and make the playoffs, nothing has showed us they’re able to handle teams that actually care about winning well enough to do anything other than get humiliated in their first playoff game after going 7-9.
— If this sounds brutal, so be it: at some point Westbrook will suffer an injury that will give Anthony Dixon the chance to accumulate 25 carries in an NFL regular season game this season. And if Dixon doesn’t rush for 125 yards and 2 TD, I will be extremely shocked.
— Great, so Mike Singletary decided to rock the sunglasses tonight on national TV. Always great when the coach of your losing team worries more about how they look on the sidelines than figuring out a creative gameplan (Mike Nolan, hello!).
— Another reason why if the 49ers are deciding between Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh, I’m pleading with them to choose Harbaugh. The guy wears sweats on the sidelines half the time, and totally tripped and ate it in front of the tunnel while attempting to fire up his team (I’m in that photo holding a Flip Cam in front of my face, covering the game for Comcast).
— Seriously, though … do we really want another run of Gruden here? I know he’s better than the current guy, but NFL head coaches on their third team never succeed, and Gruden isn’t hungry. Have you heard him during these MNF telecasts? Jon Gruden is a little too content living the life of Jon Gruden.
— Why the 49ers are still screwed: up 14-3 with 12 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, the 49ers ran a Westbrook draw on 3rd-and-8 for 4 yards. A draw. 18 minutes into the game. With all their wide receivers healthy. Pathetic.