Look, Justin! Wishbone! (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Mike Sando of ESPN had a pretty good, extensive piece on what the 49ers want out of their defense going forward. The article was mostly about taking the next step in Vic Fangio's system, about players knowing their roles and options on a given play, and about trusting each other to be where you're supposed to be, etc.
Donte Whitner had spoken after a mini-camp practice, providing much of the material Sando used in the piece. It's no secret that Whitner has quickly become one of my favorite players on this team, probably a close tie with him, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith.
Whitner spoke of wanting the league to recognize the 49ers defense like they do the Steelers or the Ravens. To know that when you come to play against San Francisco, it's going to be a tough, physical game and you better bring your lunch...cause it's going to be a long day.
I started thinking about it...That's not enough for me. More turnovers (or sustained turnover differential), less yards and touchdowns...yadda yadda. Yeah. I want those things. But I want more.
Jump and let's talk.
I too want the 49ers defense to be feared for shutting down opponents. A stone-wall that doesn't allow much, if anything, through. That's reasonable to expect and I'd be thrilled with it.
But in terms of what other teams, what the public, the media...what they all think when they envision the 49ers defense...I want more.
I want opposing players to have fear in their hearts. To be more nervous to play this team than any other. To be as though a soldier who's only been through boot-camp and now is heading off to war. To be facing something larger, more intimidating than most.
I don't just want people to think of us as "physical". I want them to pack extra ice-packs and tape. To have stretchers waiting knowing that it's a good possibility someone's gonna get hurt (though not intentionally...we're no bounty pricks here).
I want all of the highlights on "Jacked-Up!" to be 49ers blowing-up anyone with the ball. I want pick-sixes to be a regular thing, bone-crushing sacks with strip-fumbles to be expected when you face us. For running plays to be stopped in the backfield with regularity.
I want more than just pretty stats. I want fear.
Sure, most guys in the NFL won't admit to fearing another player, another team. That's the right thing to say. But that doesn't mean they don't feel it.
Tick...tock....tick...tock....game against San Francisco tomorrow....Tick....tock...tick....tock...Can't sleep.
Savage images of NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis slicing across the field and crushing me...Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson reversing my momentum in a bone-jarring feat of physics...The Smiths (Justin and Aldon) coming down on my like a ton of bricks...
That's what I want.