Monster ending at the 'Stick: As a relatively new fan, it didn't occur to me as I watched Navorro Bowman run almost the entire length of the field with a football in his hand (and cautiously awaiting the yellow flag of death) that I was watching history. That play guaranteed the 49ers a playoff spot and an eleventh win. It was huge...but how huge? I'll go ahead and say that, during the Harbaugh era, the Vernon Post was bigger. But after that, I'm at a loss to think of a bigger play.
Monster test of a game against the Card's approaching: Last I heard, Vegas is now favoring Arizona. Doesn't surprise me too much considering what they did to Seattle. It's hard to imagine Kaep having much success if their D resembles their last week's D. But I don't think this is one of those "Kaepernick needs to step up" kind of games. In my opinion, what we need is more pass rush and any way we can get it. Seems like those LB blitzes tend to work pretty well. In fact, why not just tell Willis and Bowman they can do whatever the hell they want all game long?
Kaepernick and playoff adjustments: All season long, blame has been hurled at G-Ro, Kaep, and Harbaugh for the offensive woes. Criticisms have touched on Kaep's limited reads, play calling, lack of QB scrambles/rushes, and avoidance of spreading out the offense. What are we most likely to see in the way of adjustments come playoff time? I would like to think that we see Kaepernick use his legs more for 3 reasons: a) higher reward-risk ratio due to the importance of playoff games; b) get fewer defenders dropping back in pass coverage to free up Kaep's targets, and c) Kaep seems to thrive and acquire confidence when he runs more.
Rookie production and the playoffs: Eric Reid had a sub-par game on Monday night. V-Mac seems to be a good but inconsistent run blocker with questionable catching abilities. Patton is nowhere to be found because of, what, an 8 week injury of which he's fully recovered? Lemonier hasn't seen much action in recent weeks, despite some pass rushing droughts during games. Obviously, Reid's situation is just determined by his evolution as an NFL player and his communication with other DB's and he'll probably (hopefully) be fine. Besides, it's not like we have any options to replace him should he start making some big-time rookie mistakes. As for the others, I'd say that any improvement by V-Mac would be huge for the 49ers' chances of going all the way and that Kaep must keep throwing him the ball and keeping him involved. Relying on 3 targets just doesn't seem like enough. It's hard to imagine a 3rd WR doing much of anything anytime soon. Patton's limited (non-existent?) reps might be a product of a coaching/locker room culture of deferring to veterans. But Manningham has yet to resemble a 53 man, let alone a starter. And I recall someone by the name of Baldwin but maybe that was a dream. Perhaps Osgood's single catch is as much as we can expect by a 3rd WR.
Moving on without Bruce Miller: I'd love to get some feedback about how we looked in our first game without our starting fullback. Tukuafu looks like a manimal out there at nearly 300 pounds but the running game seemed to alternate between success and struggle (well, what else is new?). How did Tukuafu do? How about Dixon?