FanPost

A Good Ending and a Bad Ending: How The NFC Championship Hurts for The Wrong Reasons




There’ s a lot of dust still settling after the San Francisco 49ers went to war with Seattle. Considering the Niners seasons with Harbaugh went in this order: NFC Championship game, Super Bowl and then NFC Championship again, it’s hard to believe that at one point they were doormats to the NFL…again. 3 years the Niners have been winning, which really isn’t that long. I do know it’s been two decades since we’ve taken a Lombardi home.

Two decades. It will now be over two decades when and if the Niners ever win a Super Bowl again. Just the fact we’re winning doesn’t mean much. Even 3 years of winning doesn’t seem fair. We want another trophy.

Three years. Marriages can’t LAST 1/3 of that. . Either way you look at it, we’ve been winning for three years and fans are a bit peeved, because three years still is eclipsed by two decades.

This is what you see when you’ve won multiple championships. Not "Never have" but "how long till the next one." Believe me, the latter is way worse in anything. Your first time in anything it’s something you don’t expect, maybe prepare for but probably not the way you should. After you taste it a championship, a milestone, a first real job, it’s a whole new world you are immersed in.

So now, with the Bill Walsh’s, Seifert’s and even Mariucci’s out of the picture we turn to Harbaugh. Cowboys out-and some city up north is in as the new rival.

Why? One could guess.

When you think of rivalries, you think of teams making life miserable for the other. You think of the many times Greenbay or Chicago screwed up a season for each other with a loss. You think about how the Niners always met the Cowboys, got stomped year in and year out until beating them in the worse way possible with the help of one Joseph Montana. Currently, most niner fans hate the Cowboys because most of us are still alive and were alive when they wanted to kill each other. Next up in hatred is Greenbay (the team I loathed the most until recently).

Yes, Greenbay.

The source of nightmares for many Niners fans in the 90s. The team housing some country bumpkin premadonna that waltzed around and gashed us year in and year out. And the bad calls. And their whining when we finally got our own bad call. And everything that went with it. It was expected-face Greenbay and lose.

Screw Greenbay.

Bring up the Seahawks and you don’t recall much of anything. I’ll tell you what I do recall – them assuming that since we were in the same division that they should hate us. I recall us stomping them in our house then a trip to Seattle where they stomped us in theirs. All while both teams really were going nowhere. Those rare times they kicked us to the curb it meant something to them, but we were so far from a complete team it really didn’t mean anything to us.

"Seahawks in a Super Bowl? Sure I’ll root for them! Oh the Steelers got some calls. Well that bites." Those sentences pretty much sum up my whole feelings to Seattle prior to 2011. I didn’t mind rooting for them, in fact I was happy when they did something.

Then the Seahawks got into the playoffs with a 7-9 team. Then Lynch went beast mode. Then they stated they were supposed to go to the Super Bowl the following year.

This is where it started getting annoying.

Living in Seattle as a Niner fan isn’t easy. They literally go out of their way to make your life miserable. Not by actions or pain, but just by this sly grin and complete denial that their team has no weaknesses. 49ers misery is second only to the greatest team reproduced year after year.

It gets funny when they lose after trash talking though. Beat them and they want nothing to do with you, lose to them and you can hear about it for months on end even if you went further in the playoffs while they watched. At the end of every year they look to next season, not even considering there’s 31 other teams in the league with much less minor adjustments needed to be any good. Every year they make a "great pick" They are going 16-0 until one of the first three weeks. Every year they say that they said it right here "We’re going to the Super Bowl this year."

Until 2014 they have only been there once.

In the meantime, when their season ends without a chance of post season completion, they turn to watch the Niners. They turn to the hate. The hate is their playoff schedule. In 2011 they made expert predictions the Niners were going to lose to the Saints, when that didn’t work they made a prediction that the Giants would win. Giants win, Seahawk fans were right-because they are smart football fans.

For the record, any idiot can be right in the playoffs with multiple guesses, but whatever. Point is, they had no reason to spew the hate, had no reason to taunt us, and certainly had no reason to wish the 49ers would go to hell. At least not yet. The only thing they succeeded in doing was finally turning the few halfway Seahawk fans like myself against them. I just had enough. Forget the fact that this fanbase does have smart football fans who can accept and point out their own teams weaknesses. Most of the fanbase swallowed up logic and wanted to bring us to their level because every season for them was always looking to next season.

Not this year.

San Francisco vs Seattle for the Super Bowl birth. It had to happen. This had been building for three years. Since the Hawks had taunted us, laughed at our misery and never shut up after our reminders to kiss our rings, we wanted to end it for a good six months. Losing meant probably the worst feeling possible for either team.

The First Half:

Going into the game I made a bold prediction-If San Francisco can’t get up to 21-0 by the half, they were going to lose. They needed that much of a cushion. To start things off Aldon Smith recovered a fumble which we knocked in for 3 points. Sure we can be disappointed, but points were not easy with these two teams. 3 points was amazing. My memory of exactly the sequence of events is vague and I choose to not watch the game over again, but it went something like this:

Then we got a TD.

Then they got a TD

Then we got a TD

Elpato worked on his heart attack in order to survive bragging rights at work.

Then somewhere in this vague mess Dante Whitner gets flagged for a legal hit for God knows what reason. Story of the Niners season-costly penalties screwing them over when they in fact did. Nothing. Wrong.

Then the clock winded down.

Then I knew we were in big trouble.

I don’t need to remind everyone of how lucky Seattle gets. They get the calls and have gotten the calls since tanking the Super Bowl.

We got some of those last season. I don’t need to remind anyone of a ‘correct’ roughing the passer call flagged on Atlanta because the defender accidently swatted Kaepernick’s face mask. That deep ball Wilson threw down the field after dodging big man after big man was just as much luck as it was incredible. Niners don’t usually leave people open like that for one thing, and they usually sack the damn QB before they get the chance to do that.

Sad part was the score. After as impressive as the Niners were, I looked at the score and felt depressed. We have been trained with this since the Singletary days: Don’t mess it up. But I knew the score may as well be tied. This was too little to take the crowd out, it was too short of a gap for Wilson to tear us up.

The Second Half:

Ker-splat

That’s really all you need to know there. We came out in the 3rd quarter, held things down, then just wound up slipping…slipping…slipping until Seattle decides to injure Andy Lee and the refs decide that since it’s SF it’s not roughing the kicker. For the first time ever the Fox news crew agreed with every Niner fan…hell Seattle fans agreed with every niner fan we were getting hosed. The final minutes ticked until a circus of an ending that even Vince McMahon couldn’t even come up with occurred. Navarro Bowman ripped his knee apart, Sherman went Sherman, and Kaepernick forgot how to hold onto the ball. And all this time I’m just wondering what has brought the NFL to this. Forget Seattle or the Super Bowl. Navarro Bowman recovered a fumble and it’s not ours? Sure we got better positioning later, but really?

No one is accountable?

People value and worship this game so much they are resorting to throwing popcorn onto an injured player? And I thought Seattle got bad when they chanted "SEAHAWKS SEAHAWKS" after knocking Kyle Williams back into 3rd grade on that collision two years ago I thought I had seen the worst of it. The 12th man got another wonderful representative in them in throwing popcorn onto the opposing team.

Oh and by the way, we were losing the game, had a bunch of time outs and a minute left. We all know how that ended.

But back to what really is going on. Just this game. These people. Us as a society of sports fans collectively. We have taken the game to this? The NFL is allowing this?

Why?

And then Sherman told us Crabtree is a mediocre receiver. Luckily I shut off my TV before hearing that. At that point I was stunned.

I was investing in this. I was refusing to work Sundays so I could watch…this? The Niners lost and I feel like I’m kicked out of my house and my girlfriend left me.

My God what’s happening to me?

I think the thing that hurts the most is the earthquake cheers I heard through the city that night. "We’re going!" They screamed. I lowered my head and wanted to punch my fridge. Not only did we get screwed, Seattle beat us.

Now they would never shut up.

Good End:

There are so many things we can bring up with regards to the NFC championship. The refs screwed us over, the run game was ineffective due to Roman’s bonehead playcalling, the pass game was nonexistent, Kaepernick can only carry the team so far. The secondary was abysmal, yet again. Two deep throws by a hobbit apparently is two too many, too many short passes, too much popcorn being thrown on Navarro Bowman. The Seahawks are impossible to beat unless you let Arizona give you a blueprint how and even then it’s a crap shoot. Russell Wilson is an oompa loompa. Colin Kaepernick is a dumb ostrich. Rabble rabble rabble.

And yet I’m having a hard time really being depressed about how the team played or not being in the Super Bowl. I’m more pissed it’s the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl than it is losing to a team with a Super Bowl birth on the line. They have their chance to shut me and everyone else up. If they win, we’ll never hear the end of it. One Super Bowl to them is the equivalent to seven and they probably will lobby to rename the Lombardi, the Carroll.

Why do I bring this up? Well it’s because before this season we were the ones the Seahawks didn’t want in the Super Bowl. Both of Harbaugh’s coaching years, it wasn’t congrats or good luck, it was "You’re going to lose." When Kaepernick overthrew Crabtree last year, I’m sure all of us got at least one stupid Facebook tag from a Hawk fan telling us about how we lost the biggest game of the year (btw, you new football fans-don’t taunt fans of a team just after they lose a big game. It’s stupid). The circle is complete. A rivalry, at our expense, has been formed in Seattle – they got what they wanted. The Hawks and the Niners are the new Cowboys and Niners. Before this loss, I hated Seattle for having severely terrible sports fans along with trying wayyyyy too hard to hate us for being a division rival. I don’t know why Seattle hated us to start this whole nonsense and I’m pretty sure the city doesn’t know either.

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really hate Greenbay that much anymore.

Back to the game though. The San Francisco 49ers were going to lose this game. I even said so myself. I rooted, I hoped, I had bad feelings, but we were simply outclassed by the Seattle defense. Russell Wilson played like Eli Manning-a Super Bowl QB who gets extremely lucky. That’s not discounting him-that’s how teams win Super Bowls. All the bounces go to these teams, all the fumbles go down the field and land in their hands. Luckiest team ever? We have one of those every year.

I’m not sure if this loss in itself is necessarily that much worse than when we lost to the Giants two years ago, or even the Super Bowl last year. Our team had some egregious flaws that Atlanta was happy to point out on Monday Night Football. It’s not like we were an unstoppable juggernaut. I don’t need to go into Kap’s stunted development or how our secondary can be easily gashed if you look the direction of Carlos Rogers. Sure, I don’t recall gracing an invincibility factor against Seattle either, but I can tell you they currently have better pieces than us and they proved it.

I’d get the sense this loss wouldn’t sting as much if A) We lost to Carolina or to New Orleans in the playoffs even if it wasn’t the championship and that team would have lost to Seattle. And B) having seen exactly how these games have gone down for us, I wouldn’t be able to predict at halftime how we were ultimately screwed being up by seven points.

What I’m getting at is we wouldn’t’ be as pissed about losing this game as we are by the compounded factor of losing to Seattle AND watching Seattle go to the big game while we stay home.

As far as milestones, we can certainly say this isn’t the most impressive win of the Seahawks’ 2014 season and it definitely isn’t the worst loss we’ve seen out of Colin Kaepernick. In fact, while we want to say he blew it, there is a lot of blame to go around that shouldn’t go on his shoulders. How about Aldon going offsides? Or the offensive playcalling on the fumble recovery? At the end of the day, football games aren’t lost by one play, but by several and this couldn’t be closer to the truth. Between Kaepernick’s turnovers, the secondary allowing deep throws out of nowhere and Lynch somehow getting to the end zone, the Niners just couldn’t play a full 60 minutes at Century Link.

It’s disappointing and strange that I now look to Denver to shut Seattle up. I always wondered why Seattle was more concerned about SF’s misery and I want to point it to bitter jealousy, but now I can say part of my desire to see the Broncos beat them is jealousy of my own. Though I also compound so many things the team does that irk me starting with their coach and ending with their obnoxious fans. I’m not much better now because I’m rooting for them to lose. I don’t care if Denver wins, I just want to see their fans miserable. So I guess I’m not much better even if I try to justify it.

Then there’s that issue of the refs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the refs are there to screw your team over. Yes you. They like the other team, not yours. This is always true. Talk to any fan of any team and they will prove beyond reasonable doubt the favoritism the refs show to the other team. You will concede to their points and videographic evidence that their team is in fact hated on by the league.

The NFL is much the same animal as it was years ago despite its attempts to make the game safer. Where I get annoyed is how they can’t get any sort of consistency with the refs and stick by it. I wouldn’t be so bitter if these calls were not happening to every single team in the league, and if ways exist to remedy it. And to be fair-Seattle had their share of bonehead calls as well. With replay and other means to monitor I see no reason as to why we can’t just have the box buzz down for potential penalties like the roughing the kicker so they can get it right. Why leave it to chance? Logistics and expectations have changed with the technology, but the officiating has stayed nearly the same since the 70s.

But it’s definitely the NFL. Everything that has defined the game is here. It strives to tug at your heart strings, its hits thunder the earth. The crowd goes nuts on the Cinderella ending when Sherman assists in deflecting Crabtree’s pass. We have melodrama. We have good vs evil. The great messages of hard work and overcoming adversity. How anyone can do anything in the league with hard work no matter how short they are.

This is what sports have always been about, and even from the earliest years of the shield, they were instrumental in the NFL’s success even if we didn’t realize it. This season isn’t any different from others. If you don’t like it, it’s not because the league is fixed; it’s not because Goodell shows hypocritical policies; and it’s not because the league has incompetent refs. You’ve just had enough. The way the league is, is just not for you. Stop complaining about how we were screwed, step away and let the other sports fans enjoy the game for what it is. Most importantly, I think we as fans have taken the game to a whole new level to where it is truly hurting our health. The NFL has always done this, it seems we as fans have taken it to a new personal level of vindication. And for what? We aren’t on the teams. We don’t get anything-we invest in advertising for them. If you are really going off on how we were screwed and the league is fixed and Goodell should go to hell-the NFL just isn’t for you anymore.

Bad End:

When the refs overturned Navarro Bowman’s fumble and gave possession back to Seattle, as well as when popcorn rained down on the Niners’ prized linebacker, the last shreds of respect I had for Seattle and the league in general went up in flames. Goodell probably tried his damndest to get the Chickens to win and also make an NFC championship that was worthy of all the hype and flash. I wasn’t there to see the leg snap and I’m glad I didn’t. I was so frustrated with the team that I went outside and got in my car and listened to some Thursday to calm myself down. When I came back in I saw the fumble and thought we had a chance.

After I heard Sherman’s speech I wondered if any of this is worth the grief. The Seattle Seahawks are by no means not deserving of a Super Bowl birth, but they have proved that the transition to bullies and classless winning is all but complete. If they lost we’d hear Sherman bag the refs some more. For all the defense of how Sherman was caught in the moment during his rant on Crabtree, I simply ask how many times on one hand you can count when a player on the team winning a big game like that going off in that fashion when the news crews get near them.

While the NFL in practice might be the same, it’s for this reason that there’s very little integrity left in the league. It has begun its downward spiral akin to the NBA, and while it may not change five years or 10 years from now, it certainly is going to change.

As for the hopes that we’ll get replay better integrated next season? That’s nonsense and you know it. If the MLB can’t even adapt replay and we have the challenge system, at least we got something. But it still isn’t enough. If I’m going to continue being a passionate fan I desire this league to move up in the times and get proper officiating in place. I also want fans to actually be fans and not total jackasses. This is everyone, not just Seattle. Throwing food on players is NOT OK!

None of this would bother me if the NFL didn’t act like it was doing us a favor by reinstating these terrible refs in the first place. If the NFL were half as good at making its officiating crews accountable and making the game safer as it proclaims to be, there would be dead space on television channels NOT airing an NFL game. What’s the point then?

I’m tired of going on about this. The NFL has become an absolute joke in of itself. Partially from the leniency it’s giving a team that can’t even act like it’s going to a big game. The game may remain unchanged but the media around it has become market tested hubris. Just watching an NFL game only gives Roger Goodell a badge of cultural superiority.

I’m almost to the point where I don’t want to watch anymore. It will just encourage the shield to continue doing things the way they are doing. It may be too late for it to change, but maybe it can still change. Maybe they can get integrity back.

With that said, I probably expect too much out of entertainment these days. And the NFC championship is still hands down the best game I watched this year. If the league is slowly going up in flames, at least the Seahawks and Niners are the ones at the top of the pyre ready to fight for everything.

But I'm a sucker. And I hate the Seahawks.

*sigh* Let’s see how Manning handles that D.

Special thanks to pitchfork's AWESOME Final Fantasy XII article which gave me the Good End and Bad End parallel Idea!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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