Is there such a thing as a lucky tie? Because if so, the San Francisco 49ers might want to hurry up and patent the phrase. If the San Francisco Giants’ marketing team was on the case, all of us would’ve already received emails advertising shirts that say “Torture Tie” or “Sister Kissers” on the front (15% off for the next 24 hours).
What an ugly game, especially with those looking for the signs that the 49ers spent the bye week ironing out loose ends and forming a champion.
Kicking and punting and stuff
This is a team that was supposed to carry a special teams edge over everyone they faced. False. Brad Seely’s bunch was faked out by a punter named Hekker (twice!) and would’ve given up a huge punt return if Anthony Dixon wasn’t so good at eliciting blocks in the back. Luckily, Tramaine Brock was able to rip the ball away from Isaac Pead on that kickoff return, or special teams would’ve been a total loss.
Also, it’s time to forget about David Akers’ 63-yarder. Great moment, but since Week 3 Akers is 3-of-9 from 40+ yards. How much longer can the 49ers roll with Akers, seeing as he hasn’t had to kick in inclement weather yet and he missed a relatively easy 41-yarder in overtime?
Remember that physical unit that could be counted on to get pressure with three or four guys and never miss tackles? Steven Jackson turned the clock back to 2009, gained 101 yards rushing and sent Patrick Willis backward on more than one occasion. Aldon Smith had two sacks, but Sam Bradford won’t break out in hives every time someone mentions Candlestick (unless there’s some sort of weird skin virus floating around the visitor’s locker room — it’s possible).
Carlos Rogers made Danny Amendola look like an electric mix of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, only without the instinctive desire to avoid contact.
Colin Kaepernick is pretty good at throwing the football. Jeff Georgian velocity. Nice, tight spirals. And we might get to see more of that on Monday against the Chicago Bears (whose starting quarterback suffered concussion symptoms of his own).
In all, the second-year QB gained valuable experience in the least important game of the season (we can say that now since they tied), and looked more comfortable as the game wore on. Kaepernick also led a nice fourth quarter comeback, which along with how Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree played (along with Mike Iupati’s injury not keeping him out of the game) were the bright spots.
Getting the ball to Vernon Davis remains a challenge, however. For both quarterbacks.
The 49ers should’ve done what they did in the two games before the bye week — utterly destroy a divisional opponent’s will to live. Instead, it was the Rams who looked more energetic, more physical and more creative. The Niners left with a tie and with many questions. Their starting quarterback’s brain is bruised, their special teams is below average and has been all season, and their supposed best cornerback couldn’t handle a guy who isn’t exactly being considered for All-Pro teams.
What exactly are the 49ers good at? Special teams? Not really. Defense? Sure, they’re good statistically in that area but they didn’t exactly impose their will on the Rams. Offense? Okay, we probably knew they weren’t dominant in that area before they faced the Rams.
Maybe this was a letdown game, part of the win-win-lose-win-win-lose-win-win-tie path other championship teams have followed … or not. It was a weird day for the NFL, with the New York Giants getting blasted in Cincinnati and the Patriots almost losing at home to the Bills. The 49ers’ mission is to break away from the parity, and Sunday afternoon’s tie showed they have a long way to go.