Fuck that game. But I wrote this thing, so I'll post it.
I'm fucking pissed. But I wrote this before that mockery of a game so it will sound a lot different.
Why couldn't they just blow us out?
Game 1: 49ers 30 Packers 22
Queen Song: Stone Cold Crazy
Hey, it even fits chronologically! Stone Cold Crazy is a very early Queen song, and you can tell - it's much more of a thrash metal sound than they have later. This brings up a very interesting discussion - what if Queen decides to build more off of Stone Cold Crazy than Killer Queen, from the same album? Do we regard them as highly? Perhaps they go in a more thrashy, punky direction and are known as the precursors of punk and speed metal? It's certainly an interesting conversation, but one thing is clear - Stone Cold Crazy sounds nothing like most of Queen's later work.
The 49ers team we saw in week one was also very different from the team we just watched in the Super Bowl, or the team that beat the Packers again in the playoffs. Alex Smith was the QB, and he was the man, playing a very efficient game - really, the epitome of Alex these past two years. David Akers was still DAVID AKERS, and more so than ever - he kicked a 63 yard field goal. Remember that? Remember that look of pure joy as he was mobbed by teammates? Remember comments like this, this, and this? Yeah, I think it's safe to say the Niners have changed quite a bit.
And like Queen's potentially missing out on being the greatest punk band in history, it isn't all good. Man, do I want that David Akers back. Man, do I want that completely unmovable run defense back (now it's just mostly unmovable). I am a noted Smith-lover, and man, it would have been nice to see him take the next step.
But all in all, I'll take what we got with the Niners and with Queen.
Game 2: 49ers 27 Lions 19
Queen Song: Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon
This song might be the opposite of the manic, punky Stone Cold Crazy. Both the lyrics and the song are simple, easy... lazy. Freddie hits his high notes without exerting any effort whatsoever, and the song behind him is simple and regular. And what's the song about? Well... it's about lazing on a Sunday afternoon. Congratulations, you passed the quiz.
The 49ers in this game seemed to have taken that message to heart. This game almost seemed too easy. There was never really a chance we'd lose. It seemed like everyone was content to simply put up something around their average output and shuffle on home. Even the post game handshake was boring.
And just like none but the most deep Queen fans really know about this song, I have a feeling most of us have already forgotten about this game. Next.
Game 3: Vikings 24 49ers 13
Queen Song: We Will Rock You
And here's the first shocker! I'm sure you were all expecting Queen's most popular and most overrated and overplayed hit to come on a big win, where we ROCK the other team. After all, that's the spirit the million repetitions of the song played endlessly in stadiums all across America strive for. But that would be too boring.
What this game really was was the start of a pattern the Niners just could not seem to shake, at least until playing the Falcons in the playoffs. They would win two games, then they would lose. Or tie. Stupid Rams. Let's just say the pattern was two wins and a fail.
This pattern dominated the 49ers this season. Going by DVOA rankings, the 49ers were the second most inconsistent team game-to-game. This was due solely to the fact that they would play great football for two weeks, and then they would collapse and play a horrible game. In their own way, the 49ers were the most consistent team in football - they'd win two weeks and fail the next. It was as inexplicable as David Akers' collapse and as inextricable as Justin Smith against the run.
So, what does this all have to do with We Will Rock You? A fair question. Let's try saying the pattern out loud. Win Win Fail. Hmm. Let's put an emphasis on the Fail. Win Win FAIL. Win Win FAIL.
Win Win FAIL.
Win Win FAIL.
SLAP SLAP CLAP.
SLAP SLAP CLAP.
BUDDY YOU'RE A BOY MAKE A BIG NOISE
seriously that song needs to die
Game 4: 49ers 34 Jets 0
Queen Song: In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited
Game 5: 49ers 45 Bills 3
Queen Song: Seven Seas of Rhye
These two games have mostly been forgotten as well, but they were among the most epic beatdowns of the year. In two games, the 49ers gained 1002 net yards and allowed 349. They won the turnover battle 6-1. And most importantly, they scored 79 points while allowing 3. 79-3! The stats are simply staggering.
And yet, they are mostly forgotten, as are these two epic Queen songs. In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited might be their first true arena rock number, predating We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. In fact, it is among Queen's most epic songs ever - in terms of pure epicness, I think only two songs beat ITLOTGR. The power chords, Roger Taylor having his way with the drums, the powerful WOH OH LA LA LA OH... epic.
I chose to pair that song with the 49ers game against the Jets. Based purely on a numbers standpoint, it was our best defensive game of the year. Mark Sanchez barely averaged 3.3 yards per passing attempt. Rushing wasn't much better for the Jets - they averaged 2.6 yards per carry. The 49ers turned the ball over 4 times. The Jets made just 9 first downs. They made it past our 40 yard line twice.
Granted, it was against the Jets, who gave us this. Nonetheless, it was a truly epic performance by the defense.
As for the Bills game, Seven Seas of Rhye is actually my earliest song on this post. It was released in their very first album - Queen. It's probably the best song from that album, which really kind of sucks. But Seven Seas borrows from the proud English tradition, popularized, of course, by the great Led Zeppelin, of mystical rocking out. It contains some pretty relevant lyrics to this game: "I descend upon your earth from the skies/I command your very souls, you unbelievers/bring before me what is mine". The Bills looked completely unprepared for the Niners' offense, and proceeded to bring before them what was theirs - pretty much all of the yards. The 49ers gained 310 passing yards and 311 rushing yards. Yup, 300 in both. The Bills were pretty much powerless in this game, and it was also one of Alex Smith's highest moments. More on that guy soon.
Game 6: Giants 26 49ers 3
Queen Song: My Melancholy Blues
"Another party's over/And I'm left cold sober". That's a pretty good way to describe this game. The party that was the Bills and Jets games was over, and the Niners played like they were hungover. It's really that simple. The music fits as well - a kind of somber, mostly piano-based, lethargic tune. Lethargic - another perfect way to describe the 49ers in this game.
"I don't want to talk about it/Just want to forget about it." Sounds good to me, Freddie. Sounds good to me.
Game 7: 49ers 13 Seahawks 6
Queen Song: Fat Bottomed Girls
I want to make a little edit to the song's lyrics here: "Fat bottomed guys, they make the NFL go round!" This game, perhaps more than any other, was decided by the fat, strong, big guys on the offensive and defensive lines. It was a very physical game, the type old guys extol when they talk about "THE OLD SCHOOL NFL, THAT'S HOW WE DID IT IN MY DAY SON, NOW GET OFF MY LAWN". This is also one of Queen's most powerful songs - everything is loud and overstated, very 80's metal. That was what happened in this game as well - power ruled the day.
The big guys were the people who carried us all season long. The QB situation got all the attention, but in reality, the 49ers are where they are because of a dominant defensive front seven and a dominant offensive line.
And by the way, can we appreciate for a second how far the offensive line has come? We expected the defensive front 7 to be dominant, but no one saw this coming. Last year, the offensive line sucked - we allowed 9 sacks to the Ravens in the first Harbowl. The offensive line was one of the main weaknesses last year but a major strength this year - many people ranked it the best in the league, including Pro Football Focus, who said the following about the line:
Phenomenal. A near flawless collection of linemen. Most teams would kill for any one of the guys the 49ers put out, yet they have five of them. The introduction of Alex Boone provided a huge boost, with Anthony Davis upping his game with better play next to them. They’re a young unit by offensive line standards and look set to dominate for a long time.
The most amazing thing is that we didn't really change much from last year. The only differences have been inserting Alex Boone at right guard and the massive improvement of Anthony Davis.
So let's give it up to the fat bottomed guys who make the NFL, and in particular, the 49ers go round. They won us this game, and so many others this season.
Game 8: 49ers 24 Cardinals 3
Queen Song: Don't Stop Me Now
My personal favorite Queen song goes with one of my favorite games of the year. The song is an absolute tour de force, with every member of the band getting into the spotlight. Obviously, Freddie steals the show, but Brian gets some good riffs, John lays down an epic bass line, and Roger provides the foundation on the drums. The number is just as unstoppable as the lyrics suggest.
The 49ers were unstoppable this game, and one player in particular had perhaps the best game of his life - Alex Smith. Alex in this game is like Freddie in the song - he completely stole the show with a nearly perfect performance, carving up the Cardinals defense to the tune of 18 completions in 19 attempts. His only incompletion? A drop by a wide open Delanie Walker. Because of course it was. It wasn't like he was dinking and dunking it - he averaged an astonishing 12.21 yards per attempt. While he was aided by a mostly YAC 47 yard touchdown by Randy Moss, it was a completely dominating performance by Alex.
The rest of the team wasn't half bad either. Sure, they were facing the awful Cardinals, but holding a team to three points is difficult regardless of opposition. The defense was like Brian May - a great performance that was overshadowed by Freddie but still got their own riffs in. The running game was like John Deacon, with a solid bass line that powered the rest of the piece, and the offensive line was like Roger Taylor, laying the foundation for Alex to work his magic. An outstanding game in all areas, and an outstanding song in all areas.
And plus, with lyrics like "I'm burning through the skies, yeah/two hundred degrees/that's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit" and "Don't stop me now/I'm having such a good time/I'm having a ball", it's easy to find a thematic link between the lyrics and Alex's performance.
Unfortunately, the good time was about to be stopped.
Game 9: 49ers 24 Rams 24
Queen Song: Love of My Life
I, like so many other 49ers fans, hitched my proverbial wagon to Alex Smith a long time ago. I'm still pretty darn young - I only really started following sports around when he was drafted. I've talked about all this before, but let me sum it up here - I'm a huge Alex Smith fan, and when he went down and Colin Kaepernick took over, I was worried for the season. Alex was the love of my proverbial, football fan life, and he left me and hurt me. Not by choice, of course, but regardless - it meant, and still means a lot to me. Even though I know Kaepernick's the right choice, I can't help but feel sorry for Alex (and, of course, laugh at brilliant satirical pieces like this). Man, I hope he has success wherever he goes next.
This game also follows the tone of this song - sad, melancholy, and regretful of missed opportunities. If any one of a thousand things had changed, the 49ers - or Rams - could have won this game. If David Akers was still DAVID AKERS, or Colin Kaepernick was already COLIN KAEPERNICK, the 49ers likely win. Of course, if Greg Zuerlin gets the snap off 2 seconds earlier or the Rams line up correctly on the bomb to Amendola, the Rams likely win. Oh well, that's football for you.
As an added consequence (consequences can be good!) of this game, a certain someone was inserted into the 49ers QB position. That person will be talked about a lot in the rest of this fanpost. Get ready.
Game 10: 49ers 32 Bears 7
KAEP! AAAAAAH! SAVIOR OF THE NINERS!
Queen Song: Flash
If you believed some people on this blog, you might just think that Kaepernick was a superhero based on this game. It was a nearly flawless game, not against some weak team like the Jets, Bills, or Cardinals, but against the best defense in the league, both before this game and at the end of the year. To top it all off, it wasn't just under the normal spotlight but on national TV on Monday Night Football. It would be tough to think he was anything other than the "savior of the universe" after watching this virtuoso performance.
Wait, the enlightened pleaded. It's just one game, the enlightened explained. He'll likely regress, the enlightened said. Smith probably gives them the better chance to win, the enlightened opined.
The enlightened, with the exception of a few hiccups, were dead wrong.
There as another player in this game who looked like a superhero, and that was Aldon Smith. He finished with an unbelievable 5.5 sacks, the most in Monday Night Football history. Alas, his superheroism was not as true as El Kaeptain's (credit), as he collapsed when Justin Smith got hurt, but he still finished the year with an extremely impressive 19.5 sacks.
Game 11: 49ers 31 Saints 21
Queen Song: Another One Bites the Dust
Colin did slip a little in this game. He threw a dreadful interception midgame, giving the Saints a good chance to jump ahead. But then, the 49ers defense happened. 2 pick-sixes, and soon, the Saints became the next team to bite the dust against the 49ers amazing defense.
This game had a workmanlike feel to it. No unit played incredibly well, and the game turned on a couple of plays - no person or group dominated throughout, except for perhaps the linebackers, who accounted for 3.5 sacks and one of the pick-sixes. It was the opposite of the Bears game. Another One Bites the Dust is the same way - it isn't Queen's greatest song but it certainly isn't their worst. While John Deacon certainly stands out, it's a pretty well-balanced song. Nothing really makes it stand out, and yet it's a very solid hit. The 49ers game had, as well, one semi-standout but a balanced overall performance, and wound up as a very solid win.
While we're here, talking about workmanlike performances and strong bass lines anchoring a song... how about Frank Gore. By all accounts, the man should have broken down again. And yet here he is, anchoring another 49ers offense with his tireless motor, averaging an incredible 4.7 yards per carry. I've never been the biggest Gore fan but I have to give it up - the man's a beast. And at this point, he's in serious consideration for the greatest 49ers running back in history. He didn't have an especially great game against the Saints, but he had a Frank Gore game - 19 carries, 83 yards. Ho hum. Game after game after game. What a player.
Game 12: Rams 16 49ers 13
Queen Song: Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To...)
Man, what was it with the Rams this year? They certainly weren't a great team, but they seemed to have our number. Maybe it was the three week curse. Maybe it was just a bad match up. Maybe the Rams were familiar with us, as a division rival. But they seemed to be that one team that the 49ers hated to play.
Death on Two Legs is Queen's anthem of hate to their old manager, Norman Sheffield. And boy, does it get vicious. While the Rams certainly weren't the team and fanbase that we hated the most - that distinction has to go to the Seahawks and that wretched hive of trolling and douchebaggery, Field Gulls (lovers of schadenfreude, here's some free... schadenfreude). And I was strongly considering giving Death on Two Legs to the Seahawks in week 15. But I felt it fit this game, and the Rams, better.
"Kill joy/Bad guy/Big talkin'/Small fry" certainly describes the Rams. They simply weren't very good, though they were better than people expected - and yet they managed to be total kill joys and not only hurt our record, but make us DOUBT COLIN KAEPERNICK. What a heinous crime. While that fumble was pretty bad, I still think this game was not his fault. Passing-wise, he played a very Alex-Smithian game (note: this is a complement), and he supplemented that by running for 84 yards on 9 carries. But for that one play, he had a pretty solid game.
"Do you feel like suicide (I think you should)... You're a sewer rat decaying in a cesspool of pride/Should be made unemployed/Make yourself null and void"... OK, so that song gets a liiiiiiittle bit too vicious there at the end. But it ends the right way - Queen becomes mega-stars, and Norman Sheffield gets naught but a vicious song from said mega-stars. And the 49ers get to/win the Super Bowl while the Rams finish 7-8-1 and get the 16th pick in the draft to look forward to. "Now you can kiss my ass goodbye" indeed.
Game 13: 49ers 27 Dolphins 13
Queen Song: Hammer to Fall
Another one of those average victories, the ones that won't really be remembered when the season is recounted (by my count: Lions, Saints, Dolphins, and possibly Jets). That said, for a time it was much closer than it should have been, and after the travesty that had befallen us against the Rams, we were really worried. But as it turns out, we were just waiting for the hammer to drop.
(Which isn't really a phrase. But it seems to be something like 'waiting for the other shoe to fall'. Because something's falling. Or dropping. And it's a hammer. But that's how Queen uses it and that's how I'll use it.)
And then, the hammer fell, in the form of a Kyle Williams-like muffed punt leading to an easy touchdown. The 49ers led 13-3, and soon led 20-6. But the game was not over yet - the Dolphins came back to make it 20-13. We were worried again.
And then the hammer fell again, this time in the form of a brilliantly executed read option by Kaepernick that faked out the entire Miami defense and sprung Kaep for a 50 yard touchdown run. And that was pretty much the last we'd see of the read option for a while. Remember that.
Game 14: 49ers 41 Patriots 34
Queen Song: Bohemian Rhapsody
It is fitting that mine and everyone's favorite Queen song, a winding, intense, crazy, confusing epic, is paired with mine and everyone's favorite game of the year, a winding, intense, crazy, confusing epic. Bohemian Rhapsody is Queen's greatest, most memorable hit, and the 49ers vs the Patriots, while they certainly played greater games, was certainly the most memorable.
Even more fittingly, the biggest stars of each group shone in this game/song. Bohemian Rhapsody features a powerhouse performance from Freddie, who presents the unlucky hero's tale with both incredible pathos and pure, simple power and passion. He is equal parts tender and beautiful as well as dominant and forceful.
Kaep's game wasn't as incredible as Freddie's performance, but it was one of the young QB's best games. He had some problems with accuracy, with a bad interception and just a 56% completion rate. But he made plays, pure and simple. He finished with 4 touchdown passes on the day and made some incredible plays, including two 20+ yard, 1 play drives to Michael Crabtree for touchdowns, one of them to retake the lead after the Patriots scored back.
The song's narrative even follows the game's to a degree. The beginning of the song is a depressing narrative recounting how our hero falls from grace, killing a man despite clearly not wanting to. He says that nothing really matters to him, and that he wishes he'd never been born at all, and that he's got to go. Eventually, The Man refuses to show mercy and let the hero go. The hero is defiant, and there's a section where he rages back against The Man, but the song ends as it started - depressing, with the hero soulfully mourning that nothing really matters to him.
Wait, I just cast the 49ers in the role of The Man and the Patriots as the hero! MOVING ON NOTHING TO SEE HERE
Game 15: Seahawks 42 49ers 13
Queen Song: Somebody to Love
And we thought there couldn't be a worse defeat than the Giants game. We were very, very wrong.
Nothing went right for the Niners in this game. Colin Kaepernick wasn't himself, the defense didn't show up on the plane, Frank Gore and the rest of the running backs were shut down, no one made any plays... they just couldn't get no relief. They tried and they tried, but the Seahawks put them down. Perhaps it was because because they worked till they ached in their bones against the Patriots. But whatever it was, the only response for us after the game was to look in the mirror and cry.
And it happened against the freaking Seahawks and Field Gulls. And it nearly cost us a first round bye and home field advantage in Round 2. Man, screw this game. Remember, the Seahawks lost a heartbreaker in the playoffs. SCHADENFREUDE PLEASE THANK YOU.
However, one part of the lyrics certainly wasn't true - "Got no feel, I got no rhythm/I just keep losing my beat". The 49ers had a very clear rhythm and pattern during the season, and it included a heartbreaking loss every three weeks. They just had to get out of that prison cell. Someday, they were going to be free - and that day was coming.
Game 16: 49ers 27 Cardinals 13
Queen Song: You're My Best Friend
The 49ers had a total of 3 best friends in week 17 of the NFL. Let's take a look at all 3.
- Brian Hoyer. While he wasn't actually as bad as expected, he still was pretty darn bad, only padding his stats late in the game once it had already been decided. But the 49ers have and had a good defense, and pitting the awful group of Cardinals QBs against them really wasn't fair. While Kaep played a very good game and the defense deserves some credit, this game was really decided before it even started because the Cardinals QBs are terrible. This best friend gave the 49ers the division.
- The Minnesota Vikings, and in particular Adrian Peterson. Before the Vikings faced off against the Packers, the Packers were the team favored to take the NFC's #2 seed, an extra week of rest, and home field in round 2. But then, the Vikings decided to play out of their minds. In particular, Adrian Peterson was astounding. He had a huge game and nearly took the NFL's all time rushing crown 12 months after tearing his ACL. WHAT? For this, he was awarded the MVP award, the Vikings were rewarded with a playoff berth (in which they got demolished in a rematch against the same Packers), and the 49ers were rewarded with that critical #2 seed. But they wouldn't have been in that position if not for...
- THE REPLACEMENT REFS! What, you thought we could go through a post recapping the season without mentioning these guys? In fact, it was the replacements helping our hated rivals, the Seahawks, that gave us the #2 seed. If the Packers had won that game as they should have, it wouldn't have mattered that they lost to the Vikings - they would have finished 12-4, giving the Packers the #2 seed. So, this best friend gave us the #2 seed.
And that's really the only connection to this song, except for one notable lyric: "I'm happy at home". The 49ers were certainly happy at home as a result of this game.
NFC Divisional Round: 49ers 45 Packers 31
Queen Song: Spread Your Wings
This game was about one player: Colin Kaepernick. And, in particular, about one facet of Colin Kaepernick's game: his running, particularly out of the pistol and with the zone read option. In the late weeks of the season, the 49ers shelved both the pistol and read option - after the Patriots game, they barely ran it at all. They brought it back with a vengeance in the game against the Packers, who simply couldn't stop it. Kaepernick ran for 181 yards and passed for another 263, more than making up for an early game pick 6. That 181 yards is an all-time record for a QB. No, not a playoff record, and not a 49ers record. Colin Kaepernick, in his first playoff game, ran for more yards than Michael Vick, Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, Fran Tarkenton, Donovan McNabb, or Vince Young et al ever did in any game.
Spread Your Wings is about a boy named Sammy who is depressed, but he can be so much more. It asks him to spread his wings and fly away, because he's a free man. Kaep certainly spread his wings in this game after being so 'low' in the late season. He looked like he was flying on the field, and no one could catch him. And he was most certainly free - the Packers defense looked completely unable to restrain him.
And speaking of spreading one's wings, I can't believe I've gotten this far without mentioning Michael Crabtree. What a season it was for him. He was basically the 49ers only threat once Mario Manningham went down and yet thrived, with by far his best season - 85 catches, 1105 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He also had a huge game against the Packers, with 9 catches for 119 yards and 2 scores. This entire season has been about Crabs spreading his wings and becoming the 49ers' clear #1 receiving threat.
Also, Kaep's pet tortoise is named Sammy, just like the hero of the song. Well, how about that.
NFC Championship Game: 49ers 28 Falcons 24
Queen Song: Under Pressure
One of Queen's most underrated hits, this song is absolutely magnificent, and David Bowie is possibly the greatest person to possibly work with Queen except for possibly Michael Jackson in his prime (which, by the way, totally happened and is totally awesome, as you might expect of perhaps the two greatest performers and singers in the 20th century). But I digress - the real reason this song matches up with this game is because of what the Falcons did to the 49ers in the first quarter.
Which is simple - whatever the heck they wanted. The Falcons put the 49ers under some serious pressure by jumping out to a 17-0 lead, with Matt Ryan playing a simply incredible game - at the end of the half, he was 18-24 with 3 touchdowns. "When it rain[ed], it pour[ed]". The 49ers pass defense was not shredded like that at any other time this year with two exceptions - the 2nd half of the Pats game, in which they went to sleep, and the awful Seahawks game, in which they simply didn't wake up.
But under an intense amount of pressure, Kaep and the 49ers stepped up. Kaep made a bunch of big plays through the air, finishing with an incredible 12.26 yards per attempt, but his biggest asset this game was the zone read option. He didn't do so much damage himself, but his mere presence froze the defense and forced them to commit an extra man to him, which gave LaMichael James and Frank Gore running lanes all day.
The Falcons put the 49ers under pressure (that nearly, in fact, split my family in two, but that's a whole 'nother story), and the 49ers responded incredibly. They were headed to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl, 49ers lose: Ravens 34 49ers 31*
Queen Song: The Show Must Go On
This is by far the saddest Queen song, in my opinion. They recorded this in 1991, when Freddie was wracked with AIDS and could barely walk. Supposedly, he was so sick, the members of the band didn't think he could record it. What did Freddie do? Took a swig of vodka, said "I'll f**king do it, darling", and nailed the vocals in one take. According to Brian May, "he went in and killed it - completely lacerated that vocal". That's a man incredibly sick with AIDS, who died a few months later. Try listening to the song with that knowledge - it's completely different.
And it's with that sadness that we must look back on this season, at least for now. The season ended in heartbreak. And yet, we should keep a happy face - "Inside my heart is breaking/My makeup may be flaking/But my smile stays on."
Because the show must, and will, go on. The Niners are still in very good position. They have a young QB on the cusp of stardom. The offensive line is young and extremely talented. We have at least one wideout who's a star, and we can add more. The defense also has young stars - Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Chris Culliver (homophobia aside), Dashon Goldson (assuming he re-signs). We have possibly the best head coach in the league, a rock star of a GM, a great ownership group, and we're moving into a fantastic new stadium. We're in a great position heading forward.
Queen did not have a very happy ending, but the show is not over for the 49ers. They'll be back next year, and the show will go on. And it'll likely be better than ever.