How's that for a post title?
News is finally picking up as the sluggish parts of offseason fade and pre-season looms. The season itself is right around the corner.
For the first time in a decade, we have a lot to look forward to as 49er fans; and in my typical cheer-leader ways I decided now was a good time - on the eve of what will be our greatest season yet! - to embark on a homer-laden tirade.
Jim Harbaugh is the second-coming of Bill Walsh and has had coaching success everywhere he's gone; we have resident-bad ass, Jim Tomsula, coaching our defensive line; we have future Hall of Famer, Randy Moss, lining up to catch passes from perennial underdog - The Phoenix, the new Captain Comeback - Alex Smith; we have resident-Playboy Jim Tomsula coaching our defensive line; we have The Professor, who I refer to as "Brad freakin' Seely" (feel free to replace "freakin'" with preferred expletive), instructing our boys in the lost art of special teams play and leaving a Super Bowl-less wake of destruction to the futures of every team once he departs (ok, not entirely true)...
... we have The Inconvenient Truth, Frank Gore, still squeezing his way through the tiniest of holes, but now he has Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, and mini-Rathman, Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce Miller, backing him up; we have resident-man-who-totally-dates-Swedish-twin-super-models-on-the-weekend, Jim Tomsula, coaching our defensive line; we have Cowboy, The Closer, Mr. Clutch himself, Justin Smith, mauling and otherwise wreaking havoc in Drew Brees' real life and his NyQuil-induced nightmares...
... we have The Fastest Man Alive, Teddy Ginn, baby; we have the greatest scorer in the history of 49er football, David Akers, kicking field goals and otherwise challenging all 53 Giants players to a fight; we have The MVP, Andy Lee, kicking the all-important punts and throwing touchdown passes that the NFL has made illegal on the grounds that Andy Lee being used as an offensive weapon violates their terms of Fair Competition; we have Donte Whitner, the most well-spoken, erudite man in the entire NFL - that's right, I said it - I'm gonna start calling him Whitner the Wise, or Dante with an "a" on purpose, maybe Donte's Inferno; how 'bout The Poet if we take his already-beautifully phrased sentences and convert them to proper metre? (an exercise I shall undertake on a later date); and did I mention we have Jim Tomsula?
We have all that for 2012. Yet still, none of it compares...
... to the "Stone Cold Killer"
... the "Dark Lord of Schemes"
... the "limousine ridin', jet flying, kiss stealin', wheelin' dealin', son of a gun"
... the "jabroni beating, pie eating, trail blazing, eyebrow raising; the best in the present, future, and past - and if y'all dont like it you can kiss... (too far?)...
... Lord Fangio.
Ahhhhh yesssss. It is a good time to be a Niner fan.
So just who is Lord Fangio?
Born in Dunmore, Pennsylvania to a modest family of evil geniuses, Vic was subjected at an early age to the sick experiments of his...
Just kidding. Fangio's professional career began outside the NFL, in the short-lived USFL and its most dominant team: the Baltimore Stars. In 1984 the Stars were 16 - 2, giving up only 225 points all season long for an average of 12.5 per game.
Fangio was their defensive coordinator under head coach Jim Mora. They fielded, at the time, a young Sam Mills, and dominated their opposition that year all the way to their first USFL Championship.
Mora would move on two years later to become head coach of the Saints in the NFL as the USFL was forced to fold for financial reasons. Mills followed him. So did Fangio, where he would act as linebacker coach from 1986 to 1994.
Similar to Fangio inheriting Patrick Willis (we can assume Future Hall of Famer?) on the 2011 Niners' squad, Fangio inherited future Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson on the '86 Saints. Both men had made the Pro Bowl for several years prior, and that didn't change upon Vic's arrival.
What did change was that a year later, in the '87 season, Mills etched his name into a Pro Bowl appearance, and again in 88. This was followed by Vaughan Johnson and Pat Swilling in '89, '90, '91, and '92.
And it was in '92 that this group of linebackers made history when all four of them were elected to the Pro Bowl - solidifying themselves as the most dominant linebacker corps in NFL history.
Fangio helped oversee the following Pro Bowl appearances of the "Dome Patrol":
- OLB Rickey Jackson, 3 Pro Bowl Selections (86, 92, 93), Ages 25 - 34
- MLB Sam Mills, 4 Pro Bowl Selections (1987, 88, 91, 92), Ages 28 - 32
- MLB Vaughan Johnson, 4 Pro Bowl Selections (1989, 90, 91, 92), Ages 27 - 30
- OLB Pat Swilling, 5 Pro Bowl Selections (1989, 90, 91, 92, 93), Ages 25 - 29
Entering 2012, Fangio's second year with the 49ers, he has overseen one year of spectacular play from everyone on the defense, but especially at the linebacker position, where Willis (age, 27) and Navarro Bowman (age, 24) both made first-team All Pro as voted on by the Associated Press.
Bowman missed out on the Pro Bowl. However, he managed an NFL Top 100 spot and, more prestigiously in this author's opinion, he managed a very high ranking in Pro Football Focus' annual Top 101 Players list.
Rookie outside linebacker, Aldon Smith (soon to be age 23), also managed a spot on that list after he ranked top five in the league in sacks, despite limited playing time, and was only half a sack away from tying the rookie sack record. Smith will be looking at a lot more playing time this year as Fangio expects him to take over for Parys Haralson.
You might have noticed before, in my post-opening tirade, I mentioned many of our star players, but I did not include Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, or Aldon Smith.
That's because I am going to boldly predict right here and now - as only a homer of such immense lengths as myself could do - with The Dark Lord himself at the helm, that all three of these men will make the Pro Bowl in 2012.
But no! I'm not done yet! What about Ahmad Brooks (age, 28), who has found a new sense of purpose...!?
That's right, folks! ALL FOUR OF OUR LINEBACKERS will make the Pro Bowl this year! We will field the new Dome Patrol and Lord Fangio will cement his name into history. BOOK IT.
What I need your help with now, is not critiquing this bold opinion, or engaging in any kind of debate over my vision for the future (unless you really, really want to...) - no, I need you to help me come up with a nickname for our soon-to-be Pro Bowl-bound linebacker corps.
I've included a list of possibilities below and in the poll. Please share your own ideas in this thread as well.
I will note here to end that on the event that Brooks does not make the Pro Bowl, or gets supplanted in the next year or two by a younger talent (not that that necessarily will happen, or even needs to happen), Bowman, Willis, and Aldon all making it to the Pro Bowl this year is a total possibility. It really depends how long people keep giving votes to Ray Lewis for his past achievements, otherwise Bowman would have made it this year, surely?
#SUPER BOWL OR BUST
Candlestick Killers - The alliteration is nice, but with the word "killers" in there it is unlikely to ever be picked up by the national media. Still, it's a pretty cool name.
The Watchmen - Famous comic book and now movie. Not a bad name for a group of awesome linebackers.
The Dark Lord and His Minions - But who watches the watchers? Lord Fangio, of course. This is his group of guys out there, exercising his evil will.
The GOATs - What more needs to be said? This is the kind of phrase people throw around all the time - which is why it would be totally awesome if we just went ahead as fans and adopted it officially for our own guys before someone else does. Why not do it?
Of course, if our secondary steps it up again like they did last year, and we maintain a high turnover total, and an even lower points against total - then maybe we can just call our entire defense "The GOATs".