The lighting of any torch is sacred; as is the act of carrying any torch. Yet the passing of the torch is truly rarefied air. Honored. Solemn. Revered. One entity vacates as another assumes the burden. There is loss; yet there is gain. The treasured past moves on, while the enticing future moves in.
Currenty, the Green Bay Packers bear the torch as the NFL's premiere franchise. They have evolved the passing offense to a level never before seen. I contend, however, that we are not only their Kryptonite - but the new, ruling NFL class. Week 1, baby. One day ends. A new day begins.
The NFL is not 512 pro-bowl games. The Pro-bowl is on it's death bed for good reason; and all fans of football know why. Even during the past few years, while ratings-hungry rules have conflated with player safety fines - the best QBs have still needed their defense to win their championships. They always have, they always will. Defenders and their coordinators have adjusted. They are no longer bewildered into inaction. The back-shoulder throw is no longer a mystery. Defenses always catch up. The passing era is... well.. passing. Defenses are primed for a revival. The best defenses are primed for lasting dominance.
Don't let last year's one-and-done prat-fall fool you into thinking the Pack will come correct - no - they still have no idea how to play football in Green Bay.
The San Francisco 49ers cordially welcomes you back to the NFL.
This is how Green Bay passes the torch to the 49ers in week 1 of 2012.
Remember, New Orleans had a very good run game, as did NYG by the time we saw them in round 2. Yet, those well-balanced teams - both more balanced than Green Bay - dropped back to throw over 60 times. Green bay will have no choice; they might even arrogantly plan that a run game will not matter. In fact, I bet they do.
GB Offense: 4 or 5 wide with 1 RB every down. Pops, screens, dumps, shovels, all Aaron, all the time. They will call a game like he's Micheal Jordan. He is not. MJ played defense. They could have some success. Our 2ndary is not beyond reproach. But the pressure will stack and build and begin to make 4 quarters seem like a very long time for AR. They could score a TD or 2 early, before we settle in. But it will come at a price to the QB and to whomever the ball carrier may be, especially if he tries to gain extra yards.
GB Defense: They might be horrid but they aren't stupid. They will be patient, at first. They'll keep VDavis and Moss in front of them, mix up the coverage, key on Gore, and blitz our right side. If we show cracks or tendencies early, they'll seize those window of opportunities. Since they are weak - they will come out swinging. And for that, their defense may have some early success.
SF Offense: 100% don't care what GB does on defense. They have no film on this passing game. They have no film on this running game. We'll run the ball, execute controlled passing, take what they give us, and file away notes for 2nd half adjustments. They simply cannot stop this run game - and with Moss stretching the field. this will leave Alex many openings to convert on 3rd down and in the RZ. We likely score a TD per drive on our 1st 2 possessions and hold the ball while going in for a FG at the start of the 2nd quarter.
SF Defense: We make good running teams 1-dimensional - what is to be expected here? We will be in nickel/dime all day. Rush 4, get pressure, man-up here and there with zone coverage up top - press and jump routes all day. We might, again, have multiple turnovers in the 1st quarter.
Score: SF 14 - GB 7
This is where it gets interesting. We continue to impose our will while GB fails to assert theirs. We get a few long drives; they score on a big shot. AR becomes a bit frusty while we dominate the L.O.S. and hit everything wearing green.
Halftime Score: SF 24 - GB 10
The game gets really tight. GB goes to the bread'n'butter intermediate passing game which gets them in the RZ for a FG and a TD. Yet, SF just keeps running it down their throats. We move the ball well between the 20s but refrain from any risk. Both teams add 10 pts, while the GB offense keeps putting feelers out for any rhythm or any big play. They might find a big play, but they won't find rhythm. Meanwhile, their lineman are wearing down on both sides of the ball. It's getting out of reach for them. Harbaugh keeps the gas on, cuz that's what he wants to do. That's what he's built this team to do. He wants to win 80-0.
SF 34 - GB 20
The game continues as it has - see above. A late INT by SF seals it, and we close it out in victory formation. GIVE US THAT TORCH.
SF 41 - GB 23
Stats and Notes:
T.O.P.: SF 40: GB 20
Turnovers: SF 0: GB 3
SF Rushing: 225, 2 TDs
GB RB Rushing: 15yrds
SF Passing: 265, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
GB Passing: 390, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Green Bay Defense: Rushing defense goes from enthusiastic to surprised to over-matched to tired to beaten. Their passing defense keeps looking for plays on the ball while they give up yards - they keep fishing all day but get nothing.
Green Bay Offense: The passing offense is brilliant, but fails to produce much beyond taking sacks and hits on the QB and a few big plays. GB rushing offense is abysmal. Historically abysmal. They might rush 10 times for 25 yards.
SF Offense: Our rushing game becomes so dominant that ish gets weird. Our passing offense is spectacularly efficient. For all the hype of QB vs QB going into the game - the sweetest moment will be that Alex will end with a better passer rating and more TDs than that the other guy. The 9ers then take valuable minutes from Jets camp ESPN coverage, finally. That is, until the Jets begin to implode after we dismantle them too. Then Jets coverage dies off as the 9ers return to being the talk of the town.
And this, 9er Empire, will be the passing of the torch. The 49ers are back. Walsh revolutionized the passing game. That torch has been passed and passed and now resides in 1-dimensional Green Bay. Ironically, Harbaugh will take it back by revolutionizing the run game, with his very own twist on Walsh's offense. The era of 1-dimensional passing offense is over. The era of 3 phase physical dominance is back. Week 1, baby.
Let our 2nd Dynasty begin.