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Image of me in 49er sweat shirt

49ers Going To SB54!!!

Yes!!!   Today, my “local” American Football team, the San Francisco 49ers (who are actually based in the San Jose / Santa Clara area) defeated the Green Bay Packers by the score of 37 to 20 (and it really wasn’t that close) in the NFL National Conference championship game.  Now, on we move on to face the Kansas City Chiefs in two weeks at a neutral location (Miami, Florida) for Superbowl LIV (that’s 54 for those of you who don’t know your Roman numerals).
This is a hard game for me because although I’m a lifetime supporter of the “Niners”, but I was born in Kansas City and, until the 1990’s, supported the Chiefs as my “AFC” (American Football Conference) team.  The 49ers are in the Western Division of the National Football Conference (“NFC”).  So, either way, I can’t “lose” the game, but I sure will be rooting for the Red and GoldGo Niners!!!
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On This Day In:
2019 Are Your Dogs Barking?
Dangerous Waistcoats
2018 And 40+ Years Later?
2017 He Is Alone
2016 Compensation
2015 Charlie Redux
2014 The Crux
2013 Erosion And Rechannelling
Alliance, n.
2012 How Many Thought… (One I Know Of)
Choices And Decisions
2011 Speed Spoils
Simply Intended
2010 A Second 4 Hour Jog

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EVERY year I say the same thing in August:  “There are only two valid tests for a successful San Francisco Forty-Niner season – Did we win the Super Bowl or did we beat the Rams twice?
You see I grew up watching the Niners win one(1!!!) game against the Los Angeles Rams in ten years.  In the 1980s-90s, when we went on to win five Super Bowls in fourteen years, I still had the same question?  I don’t care about anything else if we don’t win the Super Bowl that year except:  “Did we beat the Rams twice?”  If the answer to either question is “yes”, then we had a good year.  Otherwise, I don’t want to hear about appearing in the Super Bowl, winning the NFC, winning the Western Division, having a winning record – or ANYTHING else.  Win the Super Bowl or beat the Rams twice…
Of course, anybody will tell you it’s also nice to beat the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders in the same season as either of the two above, but they are DISTANT seconds to the two defining conditions mentioned above.
Anyway, my point is we (the Forty-Niners) are halfway there…  Today, we went down to LA and put a whipping on the Rams (27-7).  We are now halfway to a successful season without even having to play in the Super Bowl.  Traditionally, NFL teams which finish with 10 wins in a season, make the playoffs.  We now have 5 wins with 11 games to go.  In theory, we only have to play .500 ball to make the playoffs.  Bottom Line:  our next game against the Rams is on 22 December.  Go Niners!!!
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On This Day In:
2018 VOTE – We Need A Wave
2017 Soothe, Inspire And Recharge
2016 Aren’t We?
2015 Cold Embrace
2014 Delightful
2013 Apprenticeship
2012 Curtain Rods
2011 A Living Force
2010 BART Rides – A Tipping Point

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Today the San Francisco Forty Niners won their wildcard playoff game against the Green Bay Packers by 23 to 20!  Go Niners!!
While I am obviously happy with the result, I am increasingly frustrated by watching the “game”.  Not just this game – all NFL (National Football League) games.  It really seems to me as if the refs (League?) have decided not to play the games by the rules.  The most egregious of these “no-calls” is pass interference.  Basically, a defender is allowed to butt / jam an offensive receiver once during the first five yards from the line of scrimmage (where the play starts).  After that, anything but “incidental” contact is considered “pass interference” until the ball touches the offensive player.  There are also a couple of ancillary rules, for example, a defensive player must “play the ball”.  This means the defender cannot watch the offensive player and then knock the ball away while making no attempt to see where the ball is.  Another rule is that both players have the right to catch the ball once it is in the air.  This also means an offensive player cannot strike the defensive player while the ball is in the air.
What is actually happening is that both teams’ players are now fighting each other in and after the 5-yard zone and before and after the ball is in the air.  And the Ref’s are letting them (the players) “play on”.  “Letting the players, play” is TV commentator speak for players breaking the rules and the refs doing nothing about it.  It has gotten so bad that at least one team (the Seattle Seahawks) coaches their team to “play aggressively” (i.e. ignore the rules) because they “know” the refs won’t throw a flag on every play.
The problem, of course, is the coaches are correct because the League allows it, not because the refs won’t do it.  In reality, if the League instructed the refs (and advised the teams) that these tactics are in violation of the rules and penalties should (will) be enforced from the start of each game, then the refs would comply, the coaches and players would recognize the rules are being enforced and they would then stop breaking the rules.
Now before any Seattle fans get all bent out of shape by my comments, let me just say: I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that the Niners have begun to play the same “aggressive” game.  I am not excusing my team, just as I am not accusing the Seahawks, in specific.  My accusation is against the NFL.  You either have rules and throw flags when the rules are violated or you get rid of the rules which you don’t want to consistently (and fairly) enforce.  It seems like a simple choice to me…
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On This Day In:
2013 Spoiling For Fame?
2012 How Many?
2011 Too Tired To Chat Much
2010 I Must Be Crazy!!

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Players must execute.  They can’t depend on emotion to win.  It doesn’t matter how much you want to win the game.  Everyone in the NFL is intense.  It’s foolish to think we can out intensity them.  The bottom line is: Can we execute a series of plays almost flawlessly?  Only through repetition and experience with those plays can each player complete the necessary assignments.  If you want something too badly, you can throw yourself out of sync trying to make a play that isn’t really achievable.  It’s not the attitude or the personnel that does it.  It’s how well you do things.  Don’t count on heroics.  Count on execution, on the things we have practiced and are good at.
     —    Bill Walsh
Former 49er Head Coach
As quoted in “The Genius“, written by David Harris
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 We Ain’t Afraid

A No

Birds!!!

Go Niners!  Beat the Ravens!

Go Niners! Beat the Ravens!

 Go 49ers!!

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For the last two years, about this time, I make my Super Bowl predictions.  I try to pick the winner, predict the score and explain why.  So far, I’m zero(0) for two(2) on my picks.  However, I’m not so easily deterred that I won’t try again.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure I will have to admit that I am a lifetime San Francisco Forty Niners fan.  This means my “normal” sense of objective reasoning will have to be set aside for this posting.
I believe the 49ers will easily win the Super Bowl to the tune of something like 34 to 13.  That’s correct!  We will score four touchdowns and two field goals and they will score one touchdown and two field goals.
The 49ers met the Baltimore Ravens last season on Thanksgiving night and they defeated us 16 to 6.  They scored one touchdown and three field goals to our (only) two field goals.  The difference in the game was nine(9!) sacks of our quarterback (Alex Smith).  This was very much a defensive battle and Ray Lewis, the Ravens middle linebacker did not play due to injury.  This year, neither team has as good a defense as they had last year.  I personally think the age (and related slowness) of the Ravens linebackers will prove to be their downfall.  The Ravens other great linebacker (Suggs) has been slowed by injury this year and is not his pass rushing best any more.  Not to take too much credit from the Ravens that night, the fact is the game was played on a short week (for both teams) but we had to spend a day travelling to Baltimore.  I honestly feel it they had had to come to us OR if the game was on a normal Sunday, we would have prevailed.
On the other side, our new quarterback (Kaepernick) is much more athletic than our quarterback from last year (Smith).  Kaepernick is also a much better deep thrower than Smith.  I believe Kaepernick will open with runs to draw the Raven linebackers close, then throw to Vernon Davis (our tight end) in mid-range, and then go over the top (and center) to Randy Moss.  With the Ravens thinking center and deep, Kaepernick will switch to shorter routes (in and outside) to Michael Crabtree.  With the Ravens dropping back to protect the pass, the 49ers will interweave the ground pounding of Frank Gore.
The Ravens offense is a mirror of the 49ers, but not as good.  Flacco is a good deep thrower, but we have a better pass rush than they’ve seen in a while.  Pitta is a large target as a tight end, but he is not as fast as V. Davis and our linebackers are better pass defenders than the Raven’s are.  Reed is their best pass defender, but he has lost a step.
So, this will be a VERY physical game, but the 49ers should win handily…
The Genius” — Book Review:
About a month ago, I picked up: “The Genius” by David Harris (2008©).  The sub-title is: “How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty“.
To be honest, I was expecting another “puff-piece” about how great and good Bill Walsh was.  (Walsh passed away 30 July 2007.)  The reality is (was) that he was not a particularly nice man – even if he was a great head coach.  Walsh is made to seem almost bi-polar and manically depressive in this book.  I don’t question this impression.  I just wonder that twenty years after the fact, so much of this is “new” to me.  I bought this book expecting to “re-live” some of the good-old days.  The book is a very fast read (which I didn’t expect) and was perfect to squeeze in in-between our winning the NFC Conference Championship and going on to the Super Bowl.
If you are looking for a book to advise you how to build a winning football (or sports) program, this one won’t be of much use.  If you’re looking for an in-depth explanation of the “West Coast Offense”, sorry, still no joy here.  If you’re looking for how to evaluate college players for drafting to create a winning team, nope.  How to create a game plan or manage an actual game, nope and nope again.
So why is this book “good”?  (I highly recommend it!)
Because it reminds of what must be sacrificed in order to reach the top (of any profession) and stay there.  It is a cautionary tale of an intelligent, forward looking and forward thinking man who could not separate sports losses from personal failures and suffered terribly / emotionally for it.
Although I enjoyed every Walsh (49er) victory, I also found his personnel actions disloyal and sometimes despicable.  This was true “back in the day” (when they were happening) and more so as I read this book.  That’s not to say Walsh wasn’t doing these things for the good of the team.  It’s just I found them morally objectionable.
It seems, for the last chapters, that Walsh, after his own retirement, made a concerted effort to try to befriend the players he treated so badly during their careers.  I’m happy he was able to convince them there was nothing personal in his intent while he was coaching.  It is stated that many former players came to have great affection for him, even a sense of love.  I think this a “common” response among people who feel someone tried to get the very best out of them – even more than the person themself felt they had to offer.
It’s a shame that a “truer” genius could not have found a way to be both a great coach and a better person at the same time.
In conclusion – Go Niners!!  Beat the Ravens!!
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