By Channing Kapin, Contributing Writer and Loyal 49ers Fan
The 49ers won a punishing game against the Lions. Mostly behind an awesome defense that shut down the Lions for about 98% of the game, completely stopping the run. And then on offense they have more weapons than last year, so Smith spreads the ball around with accurate 5-10 yard passes. Crabtree has blossomed into a stud possession receiver and Frank Gore is still a beast. Clinging to an 8 point lead late in the game, Alex Smith kept coming up with big plays, even sustaining a late hit elbow to the face (that wasn’t penalized) that busted open his nose.
Incidentally, you just know Alex Smith stopped the medic from washing off his face to be more of a hard-ass, because his face was still bloody 15 minutes later when the 49ers got the ball back.
So, the 49ers have continued their unbelievable run from last year that brought them to within two fumbled punts of the Super Bowl. They don’t make mistakes (except for those damn muffed punt returns) and they continue to force turnovers. Their pass rush is ferocious and they run a bunch of rushing stunts that keep the defense guessing.
This is definitely not the 49ers of the West Coast Offense glory days, that’s for sure. The 49ers rely more on field goal bombs and defense to preserve their leads than Jerry Rice breaking off touchdowns on slant patterns. It’s a defense, ball control team, not a launch out of the gates and get a 21-0 lead by halftime. No, this 49er team beats you down with tough defense and grinds you up with ball control. And then it hit me, this team is eerily similar to the hated 1990’s Dallas Cowboys.
Now that I’ve noticed that comparison I have to deal with it. Because in 49er-land, who is the most hated football team? Yes, the self-appointed “America’s Team.” Man, just typing that reminds me that I hate those guys.
And it’s painful to us fans who remember the West Coast Offense glory days. Now, winning changes everything. As long as those games turn into W’s, I’ll be happy to gut out the 13-10 victories from my couch.
But the similarities are eerie.
49ers have: a Tough, defensive-minded, but egotistical coach who was a stud in college and now looking to prove his credibility in the Pro game.
The Hated 1990’s Cowboys had: Jimmy Johnson, he of the impervious hair. And even as a bonus Barry Switzer even won a Superbowl, a tough, defensive-minded but egotistical college coach.
49ers have: A #1 draft pick who struggled his first couple of seasons, but evolved into a Super-accurate, smart but weak-armed quarterback that likes to make clutch passes.
The Hated 1990’s Cowboys had: Troy Aikman. Of course Aikman got better, faster than Smith, and went on to win 3 Super Bowls and a bunch of other records and honors.
49ers have: An elite ground control running back that won’t amaze anybody with his blinding speed but always seems to make huge plays when they matter.
The Hated 1990’s Cowboys had Emmett Smith, an all-Time great running back, all-time rushing TD leader and former Dancing With The Stars Champion, as well.
And these comparisons continue down the roster. Big, great hands possession receiver? Crabtree and Hated Cowboys had Irvin. Now Irvin is a hall-of-famer, so I’m not equating the two, Crabtree needs another 8-10 seasons of playing elite football, but they are similar players.
The Hated Cowboys had a duo of awesome tight ends, Novacek and a dude named Moose. 49ers have Vernon Davis, but nobody with a cool nickname. That’s a positive thing, however.
Basically what the 49ers don’t have are Super Bowl victories and a history of police arrests. Give it time for both.
I have fond memories of the West Coast Offense glories, 5 Super Bowl victories and all of those awesome 49ers players. I watch football because the future is unwritten and unplanned, so there’s always something new and interesting going on. And I’m a fan of this team, even if I have to learn to deal with that whole Smash mouth thing.