Week 17 could not have gone any better. After our near-disaterous loss to the Seattle Seahawks, things were looking down here in Niners Nation (did you bring your passport?). We were looking at going into the playoffs with a tired defense, injuries that need healing, and the prospect of having to play at Green Bay once we despatched the Bears in the Wild Card Round. All that changed, thanks to one man.
By now you should know that I'm talking about the Niners Nation Week 17 49ers' Player of the Week award winner, Adrian Peterson. That's right, Peterson was far and away the most valuable contributor to the Niners last weekend and he deserves his own paragraph. Kudos.
Thanks to Peterson, and his 199 yards rushing, including the final scramble to set up the game-winning field goal, the 49ers path through the postseason has been made infinitely easier. If we do play Green Bay in the Divisional Round, it will be at Candlestick, with a rested Aldon Smith and a healthier Justin Smith against a Packer line that has been one of the worst in the leagues at protecting Aaron Rodgers (although, not many other lines get the opportunity to protect Rodgers). The difference is massive. Now the only road game we would have to play in the playoffs is at Atlanta. Is anyone afraid of that game?
On to the news...as this is a massive, end-of-year TWiNN that will take up a chunk of your time you probably didn't even know you would be investing when you clicked the link.
49ers 27, Cardinals 13
I just want it noted, that in my preview piece of the 49ers - Cardinals game for Bay Area SB Nation, I predicted the final score would be 27-6. I correctly factored in two missed David Akers field goals, a couple Michael Crabtree touchdowns against Patrick Peterson (he's lucky Crabs isn't going to the Pro Bowl, because you don't want to get burnt on your vacation to Hawaii) and a Frank Gore, meaningless-breaking-the-all-time-49ers-rushing-TD-record touchdown. I forgot to carry the one, though, and Chris Culliver got beat for the first time since forever in a garbage time scoring play designed by the football gods to embarrass me in front of my friends. Such is life. I also predicted 11-5 at the start of the year, although I think at Seattle was the only loss I guessed correctly.
Let's get things started with Fooch and his customary recap video. Let's just look at Michael Crabtree's stats on the year. 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is now elite in my mind. | 49ers vs Cardinals recap video: All hail the NFC West champs! (Fooch)
Dylan DeSimone has his post-game piece. He takes you through the ups and downs, highs and lows of Week 17. It was mostly highs, except for David Akers' struggles and the continuing absence of Vernon Davis. Davis had 6 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in Colin Kaepernick's first start against the Chicago Bears in Week 11. He has 6 catches for 61 yards and zero scores in the 6 games since. We need someone, anyone, to compliment Michael Crabtree in the passing game and Vernon is the logical choice. Paging Vernon Davis, Vernon Davis, please. | 49ers vs Cardinals: Highlights and lowlights from Week 17 (DeSimone)
Fooch has some more post-game info for you to digest. Did you know that Coach Harbaugh is tied for the third most wins after his first two seasons as a head coach in NFL history? Do you know who the top two are? Hint: they coached the 49ers. Harbaugh is the only one to not inherit a dynasty. | 49ers vs Cardinals: Post-game notes and transcripts (Fooch)
Anthony Ly comes up big with his 'Booth Review'. There's a great Ray Ratto tweet about the 49ers offense trying to establish the punt. He also notes Alex Smith's presumed final snaps as a 49er and the standing ovation given to him by the Candlestick crowd. | The booth review - 49ers vs Cardinals: "Star-crossed Niners win the West" (Ly)
This is a brief entry. It's Fooch's snap count piece. I bring it up because, you'll notice, the defense played only 50 snaps. They played 90+ vs both the Patriots and Seahawks. It's almost as though they get a week and a half of rest. | 49ers snap count vs Cardinals: Roster updates impacting future snap counts (Fooch)
49ers Playoff News
And the Super Bowl odds have been updated. We come in at No. 3 on the chart, behind the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. We've got the best chance in the NFC, according to Las Vegas, and us being behind those other two has more to do with the lack of depth in the AFC field than them being more highly regarded. I like Denver's chances, myself. A 49ers-Broncos Super Bowl will give me a great chance to renew my rivalry with Joe Peck, my best friend since 2nd grade, and a lifelong Broncos fan. He's still sore about 55-10. | Super Bowl XLVII odds: 49ers among favorites (Fooch)
James Brady discusses the possible foes we could face in the divisional round. Who are you most afraid of? Who is the easiest? James' pick may surprise you. My teaser may have given away the answer. | 49ers and potential playoff opponents: Who do you want to face in the divisional round? (Brady)
Remember what I said about Justin Smith and Aldon Smith? If you don't you should really get yourself checked out, as it was only a few paragraphs ago. They are going to be huge for us in the playoffs if we want to make any sort of run. It's not just me saying it, people much smarter than myself feel the same way. | Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and the NFL playoffs (DeSimone)
Here's a bit more on the Justin Smith injury. It's a topic that's being beaten to death, but, in my opinion, there really is no single factor as important to our postseason success than this. | Justin Smith injury: Long-term health and the potentially controversial use of Toradol (Fooch)
"Next man up." That's Coach Harbaugh's mantra and that next man is A.J. Jenkins. LaMichael James has done his part, filling in admirably for the injured Kendall Hunter. Now Jenkins must make some sort of presence felt in the playoffs for his first year to not be a complete flop. More on this later on in TWiNN. | AJ Jenkins has to emerge as a threat for the 49ers (DeSimone)
Man, Dylan has really taken the 49ers WR position to task this week. I don't blame him. I mentioned above that Justin Smith's play will be the biggest factor in deciding how far we go this postseason, but finding a second option in the passing game is just as important. You never know when we'll have to win a shootout. You need a passing game to do that. Vernon Davis and LaMichael James could definitely increase their production. AJ Jenkins? Read the post above. What about Randy Moss? | Can Randy Moss help carry the 49ers offense in postseason (DeSimone)
And with the end of the 2012 regular season, our 2013 list of opponents and locations is complete. It's another tough schedule, befitting a 1st place team, but it would appear that our most difficult encounters take place at home. | 2013 opponents and places finalized: Another gauntlet (Fooch)
The 49ers, in light of all of David Akers' struggles this season, signed Billy Cundiff to compete with him for the job. They waived Eric Bakhtiari, whose name I just finally memorized how to spell, to make room for him. There were a lot of questions about this throughout the year, with some on NN saying give the job to Andy Lee. But then he has to be his own holder and I envision a Charlie Brown-like, swing-and-a-miss, landing on your ass type of thing if that ever happened. | 49ers sign K Billy Cundiff, waive Eric Bakhtiari (Fooch)
How good has Dashon Goldson been? What do we do with him at the end of the season? He's playing on a one-year deal and will be wanting to get paid. This is the general topic of the piece, but a larger discussion about the 49ers roster moving forward also takes place. Salary cap = fun, at least for one of our newest writers, Jason Hurley. | 49ers salary cap 2013: Franchise, extend or move past Dashon Goldson (Hurley)
There was a lot of talk, most of it initiated by me in the Nuggets, this week about A.J. Jenkins and the 49ers' need for him to emerge in some way this postseason. Dylan DeSimone, in praising Crabtree's performance this year, even discusses who we might draft to compliment him. That to me is an indictment on Jenkins' performance and his place on the team. Are we the Detroit Lions? Do we really need back-to-back first-round receivers? | 49ers need to find Michael Crabtree's partner in crime (DeSimone)
The continuously overworked Fooch is back at it. This post discusses 'Moneyball' and it's application in the NFL. Former Colts GM Bill Polian stated that it couldn't be applied due to the salary cap, claiming that with the cap, no player is undervalued. Some aspects of the philosophy are already in place, though. | Can Moneyball work in the NFL? (Fooch)
We may lose Director of Player Personnel Tom Gamble to a GM vacancy sometime soon. We may also lose an assistant coach or two, but unlike the coaches, Gamble can interview and leave at any time, as his work for the 49ers this season is pretty much done. And wherever he goes, a coach or former starting quarterback may follow. This isn't the 'sexiest' of stories as the postseason / coaching carousel gets underway, but may have big repercussions on how the team looks in 2013. | Tom Gamble rumors: 49ers personnel man interviewing with Jets, possibly Browns (Fooch)
Tre9er discusses the future of the 49ers' offense. The question posed in the title of the post is very pertinent and our personnel moves heading into 2013 will really answer it for us. Frank Gore is not going to be the focal point of our offense for much longer, as age takes its toll. | Are the 49ers building a spread offense? (Tre9er)
Here is the companion post to the above number. It discusses the 49ers' draft needs heading into 2013 and the fact that they are never static. He mentions the post on retaining Dashon Goldson and all the potential cap-casualties listed as evidence that we won't have any idea who, of the players signed through 2013, will even be on the roster when the draft is upon us. Plus, are we building a spread offense? | 49ers draft needs remain fluid (Tre9er)
And now to FanPosts and the most rec'd post of the week. It comes from Pat Willie and discusses how great 49ers fans are. I'm not saying that's fishing for recs, but you might win it with a GO 49ERS! The post takes us through some of the lean years, and through thick and thin, better or worse, sickness and in health, we've stood by our team. | Can 49ers fans get some love? (Pat Willie)
And my favorite topic of the week: AJ Jenkins. This FanPost, by Rafael777, details 49ers WR draft picks and their production during their rookie seasons. | AJ Jenkins: Is he a bust? (Rafael777)
And finally, to cap off the longest TWiNN ever, a FanPost questioning whether the 49ers have what it takes to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. There are some definite issues that the team has to correct. But most teams in this year's playoffs have big question marks (Denver being the possible exception). | Despite getting the bye, I don't feel good about this team (GhostsofKesar)
Whew! Time for a beer.
Being a Sheep
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