Fooch's Note: Big Thanks to R Dizzle for putting this FanPost together.
Waddup Niners Nation!
First of all, big thanks to Fooch and the entire Niners Nation crew for allowing me to post this and for their great work this whole season. Don't tell my folks back at Golden State of Mind, but Niners Nation is actually the first page I read in the morning...mostly to check out ninjames's links about how Alex Smith is obviously a game manager, and this and that. Also, big thanks to Tony.psd for the original artwork.
For those of you that don't frequent GSoM, SB Nation's Warriors blog, my name is R Dizzle and as my blog name suggests, I'm an avid Warriors fan (I am fully aware that doesn't make any sense). Yes, somehow, someway, I've been supporting the "amazing" basketball team that resides on the other side of the Bay. I've also been a 49er fan since I began watching/playing sports - but, unfortunately for me, my first season with the Niners was the SuperBowl season back in '94...and let's just say I've had some high expectations since then that have yet to be met.
Being a Warriors fan, I know what it's like to watch your team, for a lack of better words, suck, for a looooong time and then put it together for one amazing season.
Saturday afternoon brings the 49ers against the New Orleans Saints. It's been a loooong time since the 49ers have been in the playoffs. All of the "experts" claim the Saints and their high-octane offense are going to go "lights-out" in Candlestick (see what I did right there?) and destroy the 49ers. Kinda like the Warriors had no shot against the Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs...right?
Are the 2011 San Francisco 49ers...WE BELIEVE, PART 2?
Chapter 11 - How to Manage Yourself Into a Victory.
Big ups to Tony.psd for the artwork!
It's difficult to deny the parallels between the 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors and the 2011 San Francisco 49ers. In fact, it's becoming almost storybook-esque worthy of a future Disney movie. Check it...
A team of misfits and cast-aways
This is an easy one to spot. Halfway through the season, the Warriors pulled off a blockbuster trade that brought in Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington (and others) for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy (and others). Now, calling Stephen Jackson a "misfit" might be a bit of an understatement but he earned the title of a "cast-away" after playing for 4 teams in 6 years prior to being traded to the Warriors. He wasn't wanted (not faulting the Pacers for having to trade him) by numerous teams.
Al Harrington? Same thing - always on the move. Matt Barnes - ever heard of him before the Warriors playoff run? No...but 4 other teams had.
These guys were all players that nobody wanted...always on the move, had some talent, but weren't with the right team to harness their abilities.
Kinda like...Carlos Rogers? Donte Whitner? Ted Ginn Jr.? Yeah I think so. Funny how the Redskins (or anyone else really) didn't want Rogers back after spending a high 1st round pick on him but he turned out to be a Pro Bowl player for us...
Our best "cast-away?" David Akers. Hands down. As this lovely ESPN article discussed, after 11 years of great service to the "Dream Team" Philadelphia Eagles, Mr. Akers was shown the door after a terrible playoff game. After 1 year with the 9ers? Records are set, touchdowns are passed, and best of all, Akers got sweet sweet revenge in the insane comeback against the Eagles earlier this year.
Much like Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Matt Barnes, Baron Davis, and Jason Richardson of the Warriors, veterans like Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, (clearly this list can go on) are hungry. Hungry to prove the haters wrong.
Put the "wrong" players in the right place at the right time with the right people around them...amazing things happen. Which brings me to my next point...
In Harbaugh We Trust
Don Nelson. The Most Winningest (I can make up words yo) Coach in the NBA. The belly that I envy. It came full circle for the Warriors back in the 2007 playoff run - the last time they made the playoffs, guess who was the Coach? Nelly Belly.
Now I'm not going to say Coach Nelson was the Coach Bill Walsh of the NBA, but he did do things unconventionally. His theory of "let's-run-and-gun-like-chickens-with-our-heads-cut-off-and-play-no-defense" type coaching was...different, to say the least. But it took advantage of his team's strengths. Coach Nelson was no fool - he knew that he could run up the score and teams like the Mavericks couldn't keep up. Add that to "small ball" and he had a formula that could take down the best of teams.
Kinda like...what Coach Harbaugh has been doing? Play smart football, take advantage of the team's strengths (defense + special teams + run game + efficient QB'ing), and win the turnover game. Coach Harbaugh is no fool - his time as a QB and as coach for SD State and Stanford has taught him how to play and coach the game. As we saw in Rams game, Coach Harbaugh has some tricks up his sleeve - namely, faking FG'ing to score a TD. I'm willing to put moola that he has some more those trick plays up his sleeve for Saturday.
That being said, Coach Harbaugh has shown he has the ability to harness the talent and play-making ability of everyone on the roster. Anyone he thought couldn't do the job...he was willing to trade for peanuts (cough...Taylor Mays..cough).
Much like I said back in the 2007 Playoff run, "In Coach We Trust."
Leadership in an Unexpected Place
People talk about Baron Davis and his infatuation with Jenny Craig and his tendency to give up on his teams, but he was the leader of the We Believe team. He constantly ran the show without taking the spotlight, always gave credit to his teammates, and was one of the first to believe in the team. For that one year, he transcended his previous labels as a "quitter" and showed he had real leadership abilities. Although the story of We Believe Warriors ended abruptly, he left us with one amazing play (video - you have to watch it) that will always be remembered by Warriors fans.
Kinda like...Smith. No, not Justin (although he deserves Defensive MVP), Aldon (Defensive Rookie of the Year), or Reggie...I'm talking about Alex. Yeah..Alex Smith. The guy who I said should never be a starting QB. The guy that a lot of us said should never be seen in a 49er jersey. That guy.
Look, I spent the last 6 years hating on Alex Smith and his inability to do...well, anything above average. But this year has been different. And I gotta give Alex his props - he's survived the turnover on Offensive Coordinator, the turnover on Head Coaches that didn't believe in him, and the infamous "WE WANT CARR!" chants from HOME fans. Can you believe that? We, as 49er fans, wanted DAVID FREAKING CARR to play over Alex Smith. That's is some major disrespect.
Chanting "WE WANT CARR!" is like chanting "WE WANT LEBRON JAMES!" when I'm on the basketball court. I'm 1000x better, I'm better looking, and I'm destined to win the big one. David Carr? Not so much. LeBron James? Not so much. Straight disrespect yo.
(Side note - I have a feeling if LBJ reads this, he's about to come to my place and dunk on me.)
I'm not going to say we had any reason to believe in Alex before. But here's the biggest change. Even before the season, haters kept saying bringing back Alex was a terrible idea. Coach Harbaugh was saying things like
"Do we need a top-flight quarterback?...Do humans need air to breathe?"
when asked if the Niners could get by with a less-than-elite QB. Alex came back, played efficiently, and played within his strengths and weaknesses and showed us what he could do with a Coach that truly believed in him.
But here's the kicker. All season, critics and others players had been talking mess about Alex and how could not lead a winning team. In fact, a silly Giants player by the name of Justin Tuck just had to run his mouth prior to the 49ers-Giants game saying Alex was "decent" and was asking to "not lose games."
And do you remember what Alex had to say after beating the Giants?
Alex, have you heard any comments particularly from the Giants' media and the Giants players themselves about you being a game manager and things like that?
"I just saw the one that I got called a manager or whatever, and this and that. I could really care less honestly. That is the honest truth. It feels good to be 8-1. I managed myself into a victory that's all I could care about."
Yeah...that ain't your Alex Smith of yesteryear. That's your AleX Smith of Now...and this and that.
2011 San Francisco 49ers: We Believe, Part 2?
Look, none of us can predict what's going to happen on Saturday. You read all these blogs and articles on ESPN with people commenting on what the Saints are going to do the 49ers and how our offense can't keep up. Here's the way I look at it.
- No one thought the Golden State Warriors would beat the top-seed Mavericks in the playoffs with the league MVP, Dirk Nowitzki...but that happened.
- No one thought the San Francisco 49ers would win the division and make the playoffs...but that happened.
- No one thought Alex Smith could play well...but that's happening.
- No one thought Coach Harbaugh could turn this around this quickly...but that's happening.
- No one thinks the New Orleans Saints are going to lose but...
But..I don't know. Are the Saints going to score 40+ points? Will they somehow manage 700 yards of offense on Saturday? Will Alex be able to "keep up" with Drew Brees? Will our defense be able to stop the Saints?
I can't tell you. All I can tell you is that I hope the Candlestick is full of red just like the Oracle was full of yellow during the Warriors playoff run. I sincerely hope they believe. Cause I believe. And if you believe, then We Believe.
(See what I did right there?)
There is one thing I can answer though.
Big ups to Tony.psd for the artwork!