Much like last year week 16 meant the 49ers were eliminated… but this time it was from the #1 seed with a victory by the 14-1 Green Bay Packers. As we approach the New Year, it’s amazing to look back and see how much 1 year can make a difference. One year ago the Niners were going into week 17 with a record of 5-10, a coach on the hot seat, and a quarterback presumed to be moving on outside of the bay area. This year we sit at 12-3, have a rookie coach that very likely will win coach of the year, have a league high 8 pro bowlers, and QB Alex Smith has many experts arguing if he should have made the pro bowl.
Week 16 Review
The Seahawks came out as expected for a team up against the ropes. They took an early lead that they were able to hold into the 3rd quarter before the Niners finally got going. You have to give props to the way Seattle played down the stretch this season. After starting out 2-6, they were able to battle to 7-8 and had an outside shot of making the playoffs. After all that was made of the Kevin Kolb trade to Arizona, a terrible trade then for Arizona and one only looking worse now, and how St Louis was an up-and-coming team, Seattle seems to be the biggest threat going into next year.
The 49ers defense finally allowed a rushing touchdown. It would have been amazing if the defense could have held a runner out of the end zone all year, but 14 weeks was quite an impressive feat. The end of that record wasn’t the worst part; the more disappointing streak ender was that Marshawn Lynch was able to run for over 100 yards. It’s very hard to find a legitimate complaint against the #1 defense, so resorting to pointing out ends of impressive runs will have to do.
Congratulations to K David Akers on setting the league record for field goals in a season. He is the one player who has benefitted the most from the 49ers ineptness in the red zone. Akers added 4 on Saturday’s game to bring his total to 42 on the season.
Week 16 meant little to the conference and Week 17 will show little change as well, as the packers have locked up the 1 seed; the 49ers still have control of the 2 seed with New Orleans looking like the 3 seed. The cowboys and giants play a de facto playoff game to actually get to the dance as the NFC east winner.
The wild card teams are set as Detroit and Atlanta are both in. Right now the Lions are the 5 seed and Atlanta is the 6th. This could change because Atlanta beat Detroit 23-16 back on October 23rd. Atlanta will host Tampa Bay, losers of 9 straight, while Detroit travels to Green Bay to face the Packers.
The St Louis rams are a shell of what they were a year ago. They were a young talented up and coming team with a head coach that seemed to be making all the right moves. One year later they are back to owning a top 3 pick in the draft and their coach is on the hot seat. Their QB, Sam Bradford, who set records as a rookie could have an off-season of questions on if he’ll even be back next year with the possibility of the team drafting Andrew Luck. The Rams Organization is saying Bradford is the guy moving forward, but rumors are circulating that head coach Steve Spagnuolo could be out. As it seems with every head coaching candidacy former coaches Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher are names that are out there. I personally don’t think either will end up there.
The Rams are coming off an embarrassing 0-27 performance to the hands of the Steelers who decided to go with Charlie Batch at quarterback over the injured Roethlisberger. The 2-13 Rams might be better off losing this game just to give them a shot at the #1 overall pick. With the new CBA it’s going to be a whole lot easier to trade top picks in the draft, and with Andrew Luck coming out, the #1 pick could be worth a team like Washington trading 3 number 1’s for. It will be interesting to see how the Colts and Rams approach this weekend.
The only real news coming out of Santa Clara was the release of WR Braylon Edwards. I don’t blame the Niners for taking a flier on Edwards this year, WR was and continues to be a problem for this team. Edwards didn’t do much this year, so the often injured again wideout’s release wasn’t a major shock or loss. Don’t expect the niners to make any roster moves. The 38 year old veteran Terrell Owens seems to be lobbying to get back with his former team, but I don’t think there is any chance with this front office, sighs of relief from the niner fan base.
As far as the game the 49ers have swept the season series 3 of the last 4 years and should have no problem making it 4 out of 5. They beat the Rams 26-0 earlier this month. This game is tailored made for the Niners, they’re playing a team who can’t stop the run on defense and can’t put up points on offense. RB Frank Gore said it best this week, ‘We’ll go down to St Louis and try to get a win and lock up that second seed and get that bye week.”
I don’t think there is an issue if the 49ers win or not, I just wonder when Coach Jim Harbaugh will pull key starters. We need to have a comfortable lead, and expect some scoreboard watching to see how the Saints are doing. Hopefully the Rams lay down and we can coast to a 13-3 season and a first round bye.