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49ers vs. Lions: High-Fiving With Dwight Clark And Dave Benz


Since starting up Niners Nation almost five years ago, I have been fortunate enough to experience a few things I might not have otherwise experienced. Checking out 49ers-Broncos from the press box, interviewing Jed York, enjoying a bit of 49ers training camp the last few years.

Sunday morning I had another awesome opportunity. I went down to CSN Bay Area's San Francisco offices and viewed the 49ers-Lions contest with 49ers legend Dwight Clark and CSN Bay Area 49ers Post-Game Live host Dave Benz. Clark joined the CSN Bay Area crew this season on their 49ers Post Game Live show in which they conduct interviews with players after the game and break down every 49ers win and loss in great detail. Unfortunately it is not available online due to NFL rules about online content.

Clark and Benz are usually at the home games as their show is live from Candlestick, but for road games they view the games at the CSN office to prepare for their post-game show. They use the time to get an idea of what is going on in the game and what specific themes they will want to address during the post-game show. Through much of the first half, punter versus punter was turning into a potential storyline, but thankfully things got sufficiently interesting as the game moved on.

CSN has a "green room" for folks to get ready to go on air. The room has a pair of 40+ inch televisions, with the second one apparently only installed since the last 49ers road game. We had one television on the 49ers game and the second one on the Red Zone channel. I think it is safe to say this was some sort of football Nirvana. It was a little weird when the Red Zone channel would switch to the 49ers game because they are actually three or four seconds ahead of the Fox feed. I believe the Red Zone feed is on the non-FCC time delay feed since it's on cable.

While it is always awesome to get a chance to meet a 49ers legend like Dwight Clark, I actually got more out of hearing both Clark and Benz giving their thoughts on what was going on throughout the game. At the end of the day, many of us here are football junkies. When you have folks who's job is to break this kind of stuff down, it is often an interesting opinion to hear, even when it often backs up your own existing thinking.

The accuracy issues on the high passes to Crabtree came up time and again but as we saw in one of the post-game threads, it really is hard to get a handle on it. If it is a simple accuracy issue then it is something to work on over the bye. If it is somehow agreed upon that Smith will go high to Crabtree on those crossing routes, well ok then.

What I particularly enjoyed about the experience was how both were excited for the 49ers. A lot of times we hear how folks in the media have move towards a more neutral bent when covering specific teams. That is not the case for 49ers Postgame Live (and the other programs) and I think it makes for much more compelling television. We all got excited on big sacks and the day was capped with a round of high-fives after the Delanie Walker touchdown reception.

I actually intended on asking numerous questions, but to be perfectly honest, as the game got going it was hard to really focus on anything other than chatting about the game and the 49ers. Both Clark and Benz enjoy Jim Harbaugh and Dwight Clark sees a bit of Bill Walsh in him. Although Harbaugh brings a bit more of a blue collar personality about him, I can see some of the similarities even beyond Stanford and West Coast offense. There is a certain charisma they have with the players that doesn't always appear with the media. And really I'd much rather they save the charisma for the players since that is really all that matters.

Dwight said something about Walsh saying that if you talk to the media for more than 90 seconds or so, you're probably going to say something you regret. And yet, as he pointed out and we all know, Jim Harbaugh has mastered the art of talking to the media without giving much away. I asked Dave Benz about dealing with that on the Press Conference Live show that airs every Monday, and he said it actually sometimes made it more fun since it left open more room for commentary on where he was going with his comments.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. I got to talk football with 49ers legend Dwight Clark and an incredibly knowledgeable football fan in Dave Benz. The 49ers pulled out a heart-pounding last second win. All in all it really was a pretty nice little Sunday morning.

On a side note, and one I'll make sure and reference again during the next road game, Dave Benz and Dwight Clark also host a web-based show called Halftime Live. It streams at halftime of road games on CSN Bay Area's Live page and is a fairly quick five or so minute discussion of the first half and adjustments needed for the second half. Even if you want to have FOX or CBS halftime highlights on your TV, I recommend you check out this brief halftime show. I'll post a link again and tweet about it in a few weeks when the 49ers travel to Washington to face the Redskins.