Sunday, January 19, 2014

Silver Linings in the 49ers Loss

Richard Sherman enjoys his win
Today's NFC Championship was an exciting contest between two evenly matched teams. The outcome was in doubt until the final minute, when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a potentially winning 49er touchdown pass away from Michael Crabtree into the hands of Seahawk linebacker Malcolm Smith, effectively ending the game.

Pundits will attribute the 49ers' 23-17 loss to all of the following: poor play-calling, three turnovers in the fourth quarter, failure to tackle Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, Colin Kaepernick's inability to spot the open receiver, and blown calls by the refs. Despite all those problems the Niners still had a chance to win the game in the final minute; a few inches higher on the throw and Seattle would be the team poring over its mistakes.

IMHO, the most-often mentioned factor before the game, the deafening Seattle crowd noise when the opponent's offense is on the field, was still the decider. If the Niners' final drive had occurred at Candlestick Park, the offense would have been able to communicate more effectively and would probably have scored. But we'll never know, of course, and anyway, the Niners have only themselves to blame for not securing home-field advantage during the regular season.

Jim Harbaugh: not so bad a guy
What solace may the 49ers take in this defeat?

  • Another Super Bowl loss would have been far more galling than the Conference Championship loss to the Seahawks. The 49ers' prospects for beating Denver were poor; two of their star players, guard Mike Iupati and linebacker NaVorro Bowman, suffered season-ending injuries in the bruising loss to the Seahawks.
  • The 49ers now wear the white hat in the burgeoning Seattle-San Francisco rivalry. Last year some observers had declared the 49ers, with their mercurial coach and tattooed quarterback, hard to like. But they're easier to warm up to than Richard Sherman, whose postgame rant dissed Michael Crabtree and proclaimed himself to be the best cornerback in football. When endorsement deals come their way, 49er players and coaches may have the Seahawks and their voluble cornerback to thank.
  • © 2014 Stephen Yuen

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