One of the worst things about the BCS is how the Championship Game is usually so boring that Brent Musberger has to provide the entertainment. People only care about how he incorporates the sponsor’s name to invigorate the game with false importance because the game itself is painful to watch. Musberger also picks a topic meant to grab the average fan’s attention and talks about it ad nauseum. The most recent title game made Katherine Webb a household name, or at least a frequently-searched name online.
Two years ago, playing a drinking game based on every time Musberger said “Honey Badger” would’ve meant near-certain arrest and/or death. Again and again and again he said Tyrann Mathieu’s nickname with Larry Beil-esque authority. Even though the defensive back was a Heisman candidate that season, Musberger’s obsession rang hollow since the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the LSU Honey Badgers, 21-0.
That was the last game Mathieu would play for LSU, as he was removed from the team for violating team rules and later arrested on a marijuana charge. Now he says he’s sober (he passed a drug test at the NFL Combine) and wants to play football. Specifically, Mathieu sounds like he really wants to play for the San Francisco 49ers, based on his appearance today on The Jim Rome Show. Here’s how the interview ended:
Who were your best meetings with? Do you have any sense taking in who might be leaning towards taking you?
For me it would have to be the 49ers, the Patriots. Those guys embraced me with open arms, and I think those guys definitely tried to get it out of me in the interview process, working out. Just everything about even just meeting with those teams, they both seemed extremely interested in me.
Okay, so where would you like to go?
I was a 49ers fan growing up my whole life. I like good weather. But I’ve never played in the cold. So, I’m definitely open to playing in the cold. It doesn’t matter to me, be it New England or the 49ers, I just want to go out there and make plays. That’s it.
Do you have any sense what round you’ll go?
I’ve been hearing second. Even yesterday I’d even heard early second round. I’m not sure, man. I just hope one team out there believes in me and one team out there gives me a chance to show the world that I’m on the right track.
This wasn’t the first time Mathieu has mentioned San Francisco as a preferred destination. The 49ers happen to have a selection early in the second round (No. 34). Would they dare use it on Mathieu, a 5-9, 185-lb dynamo who was forced to take a year off for less than heroic reasons? The 49ers also have a pick late in the second round, as do the Patriots. We all know why the 49ers or New England would let Mathieu slip past the second round or even further. But reasons why the 49ers might draft Mathieu do exist, besides my idea that he since he still has hair of gold, he could dye the very middle part of his hair with a red stripe and put red/white SF logos on the sides of his head, so even when he takes off his helmet it still looks like he’s wearing one. Yeah? No? Never mind.
The 49ers need returners
Two of the top three options to return punts and kicks incurred season-ending injuries on the same play last season. No one really misses Ted Ginn now that he’s in Carolina, but who’s going to return punts next season? Williams isn’t the safest option for several reasons, and neither Kendall Hunter nor LaMichael James has returned a single punt in the NFL. Mathieu averaged 17.2 yards per punt return and took two to the house in 2011.
Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh aren’t afraid to gamble in the second round
In 2011, the 49ers traded up nine spots and drafted Colin Kaepernick with the 36th overall pick. In 2012, they took James at No. 61. James was considered an electrifying playmaker in college but somewhat of a luxury pick/risk when chosen. That was mostly due to a familiar concern — James is only 5-9, 195.
None of us know what Baalke and Harbaugh are going to do, so it seems especially foolish to believe that Mathieu somehow has cracked their code simply because they spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to get to know him. It’s also no coincidence that Mathieu is trying to curry favor with two of the better teams in the NFL (if he said he wanted to get drafted by the Jets or the Lions, teams would have a reason to drug test him one more time just to be safe).
But it’s interesting that a player heading into the draft pretty much called himself a member of the “49ers Faithful” with millions of people listening. That’s why he’s the Honey Badger, he just don’t care. Several of you named Mathieu as your 49ers “draft crush” today, and Mathieu feels the same way, only vice versa. All of this will probably end up meaning nothing on the Day 2 of the Draft as far as the 49ers are concerned, but it’s definitely a love story a lot of people will be following.