Don’t let me drift too far
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed
And that which you’ve given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you
There are always two ways to look at the same situation. Everything is the same, just seen from a different point of view. Take any inexplicable event and there are always two accounts of what occurred.
Remember in Pulp Fiction when Jules and Vincent are sitting in the diner, after getting cleaned up at Jimmy’s house, and they are discussing horrible aim of Marvin’s friend/divine intervention? Vincent chalks up the lack of extra holes in their bodies to a “freak occurrence” and Jules earnestly believes he witnessed a miracle. Same exact event, two different starkly different interpretations. Following last Monday’s win over the Vikings I was in more of the Jules “that was a f*%king miracle” camp.
All the doom, all the gloom leading into this season. A general feeling like everything was broken. Heading into Week 1 against the Vikings aka the NFL’s “sexy pick,” I figured the team would roll over like the 2014 team did in the second half of last season. Couple that with horrific BFBS unis and the stage was set for the Niners to wet the bed in Levis Stadium’s first Monday Night Football.
Regardless of how bad the first quarter was, one thing stood out, the 49ers offense not only looked productive, it looked like offensive coordinator Geep Cryst put some thought into the play calling. This trend would continue. Cryst called passing plays all night that put Colin Kaepernick in a position to highlight his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. They moved the pocket, gave him easy short range targets, and set up his drop standard NFL back passing with a strong run game.
The new zone blocking scheme was also surprisingly effective and Carlos Hyde demonstrated that (a) he watched and learned closely from Saint Francis Gore last year and (b) he still remembered his Ohio State zone reads. Let's not forget the most important thing, the Niners got every play in on time (SQUAD GOALS) and only used one timeout when the play clock was running down!
On the defensive side of the ball, the team looked hungry and was flying around the field all night. Couple that with an effective blitz package by Eric Mangini and the Niners defense rolled all night. The special teams, on the other hand had a very rough start, see: Jarryd Hayne, a blocked field goal, a called back punt return for a TD but settled down in the second half.
All of this amounted to a relatively easy 20-3 win. Was this a miracle turn around after arguably the worst offseason in the history of the franchise or a standard example of parity in the NFL?
After looking back on the game and discussing with other Faithful, I have come to a few conclusions:
1) The Vikings might be really really bad. Their offense was absolutely uninspired. They only gave the ball to Adrian Peterson three times in the first half and rarely used him in an effective manner. Their passing game lacked big play ability and their play calling appeared to be coming from Week 2 of the preseason. It was a perfect game for the defense to appear very strong. On the defensive side the Vikings looked inept at defending the Niners zone blocking scheme. Carlos Hyde was getting to the corner as if the 49ers were playing on Madden16’s amateur level.
2) Week 1's win might not have been a miracle but hardly looked like a “freak occurrence.” At a minimum, the Faithful should believe in the team. They might not have a football savant as a head coach, but they have a dip spitting, former no undershirt wearing, hard-nosed guy. They might not have Saint Patrick Willis and other familiar names on the defense but they still have some guys that can play. They might not have a top ten quarterback but it looks like they have a competent coordinator. They might not have Frank Gore but they have a guy who looks like he wants to be Frank Gore. This may be, dare I say, a likable team.
Looking ahead to next week, the Faithful’s belief will be tested. The Steelers' offense will be considerably better than the Vikings' and I would be willing to bet that the 49er secondary may get a little exposed this weekend. It will be interesting to see how well Mangini will attempt to tell Ben Roethlisberger that “no means no,” when it comes to putting the ball in the end zone.
Another significant factor is that the Niners will travel to the east coast for 10:00 a.m. PST kick-off. Will they be the road warriors of the first three years under Jim Harbaugh? Top all of that off with the Steelers coming off a Week 1 loss and having eleven days rest, and it looks like an up hill battle.
Regardless of the outcome, Week 1 renewed my Faith, we may still finish middle of the pack, but I would gladly be proven wrong. I believe.
Huss: 24-17 STEELERS
Josh: 31-21 STEELERS