Alex Smith

49ers vs. Saints: Just like an episode of Friday Night Lights

By: Sports Girl Liz

I’m exhausted today. And not just from screaming as loud as I could for four hours straight, but from the emotional turmoil that was the 49ers vs. Saints playoff game.

So many highs, and so many lows. And just so many excruciatingly nerve-wracking moments.

When Vernon Davis caught the game-winning catch, I cried – and I know I wasn’t the only one. After the most dramatic and exciting game I’ve ever seen in my life, it made sense to emotionally let go.

It was the most perfectly designed winning formula for the most exciting and dramatic game. A game that Coach Taylor, Riggins and Jason Street would have been proud to have been a part of, because it was just like watching an episode of Friday Night Lights (cue the heart-string pulling Friday Night Lights theme song).

Thanks to my friend Kerra for making this initial connection and posting it on Facebook after the game – it makes perfect sense and I now feel like I can actually put into words why the unique individuals of this team made this contest the amazing game that it was. The perfect cast to create an instant classic playoff game.

Coach Harbaugh vs. Coach Taylor – clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose and nobody’s got it better than us!

Besides both having extremely motivating catch phrases for their teams, both of these men have the ideal coaching personas that every athlete and fan would want to see in their head coach.

Jim Harbaugh has been described as a fist with a mouth by his brother John. He’s tough and he’s a leader – just like Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights. But deep down, we know the two are total softies, and that they live for their players and making them who they are. Father figures who are football geniuses.

Who did Vernon Davis go to immediately after his catch, tears running down his face? Harbaugh was there to embrace Davis in one of the most touching moments of the game.

Even though the win last night was huge, Harbaugh remained composed and not overly-excited about the win. However, for both Harbaugh and Taylor, the end goal is not hung on every individual game.

Being at the last game of the year and winning it is the ultimate goal – State if you’re Coach Taylor, and the Super Bowl if you’re Coach Harbaugh. Every game is just a preparation to get the grand finale – watching Harbaugh run off the field last night, you could see that.

Alex Smith vs. Matt Saracen – the nice guy that needed the boost of confidence from their coach to become a star

We all really wanted to like both Alex Smith and Matt Saracen from the start. Piercing blue eyes that seemed so fierce and focused, similar to that of Joe Montana. We were ready again to get lost in the calming nature that Montana had embraced on the field.

But they let us down – and failed to make key plays in key games. The fans (and if we’re talking about the Panthers, the athletic boosters) pressured the coaches to look to another quarterback. Why not recruit or give the second-stringer another shot? After all, a good quarterback competition will create the necessary edge and competitiveness to come out in the quarterback, right? Wrong!

What it did was kill the confidence of both Smith and Saracen. The hesitation in both was awful to watch, leading to sacks, interceptions and fumbles. Mike Nolan called out Smith’s toughness after he injured his shoulder. Mike Singletary constantly blamed Smith for the team’s problems to the press, famously berating him on the sideline in a screaming match last year during a game.

What needed to happen was for both quarterbacks to be given the full backing of their coaches – no more competitions and no more threats to pull them out.

And even though neither one ever seems to be able to break 300 yards, they get the job done and are able to get wins. And both being underdogs, you can’t help but become fans, and seeing them succeed seems extra sweet.

Vernon Davis vs. Brian “Smash” Williams – star players that discovered they needed the rest of the team in order to succeed

The stars of both teams, that knew from the beginning that they were more naturally talented on offense than the rest.

Both Vernon and Smash started out with huge egos and attitudes – an “I don’t need anyone else to be a star” mentality.

But they soon discovered that they weren’t winning, regardless of their talent. And also that losing sucks and prevents them from achieving their potential as athletes and ultimately more money/college scholarship.

Vernon and Smash took their respective quarterbacks under their wings, and developed important and trusting relationships on the field. They helped give their quarterbacks confidence – in themselves and in knowing that Vernon and Smash could be their go-to guys on important plays.

They also needed the leadership and discipline from their coaches – something that we saw on the field last night with Davis and Harbaugh.

Michael Crabtree vs. Tim Riggins – lone wolf/crab

Ok, so this one might be a little bit of a stretch, but it’s hard to identify someone on the 49ers who has a drinking problem, is moody, steals cars and always seems to have wet hair.

However in looking at the way these two play, you can say that they both vary in somewhat inconsistent performances. They’re either completely on and star players, or they’re being a little lazy and not putting out complete and fearless attempts on the field.

Regardless, this kind of play creates drama and as a fan, you can see the potential that’s there. Crabtree dropped some passes yesterday, but he also caught an early touchdown.

There’s a definite bright future for Crab and he might just be able to accomplish what Riggins wanted to do but couldn’t. And you never know, maybe Minka Kelly will end up finding an interest in switching from baseball to football. Sorry Jeter.

Sports Girl Liz is wife to BASG and occasional contributor to the site. She is a Giants, 49ers and Warriors fan but has a special place in her heart for the Washington Huskies. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlLiz

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