I’m not a big seasonal decoration guy, despite the best efforts of my wife and daughters. And I especially hated the House of Horrors that the 49ers put on Sunday afternoon.
This game seemed scientifically designed to crush the souls of fans as methodically and thoroughly as possible.
We have gotten used to — this year — the steady thud of players falling to injuries like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. To the glacial pace of C.J. Beathard’s decision making and throwing motion, perfectly capturing that sensation in your literal nightmares where a monster (lineman) is chasing you and you’re stuck in slow motion, slogging through invisible molasses and can’t get away.
Seven different Cardinals defenders got hits on Beathard on Sunday. Beathard’s toughness is inspiring, but I want a QB who is inspired by Joe Montana, not by Tex Cobb. That’s the former football player who suffered “The Worst Beating in Boxing History” from Larry Holmes, but was too tough to stay down. His punishment was so brutal that boxing legend Howard Cosell quit his announcing career and called “for the abolition of professional boxing.”
This team is still talent-deficient, and our hopes that those 7th round surprises would all turn into Pro Bowlers have proven as unrealistic as we feared. And then their backups got injured. But still, Niners fans are used to all that from the last few years.
Sunday, this team found new ways to raise our hopes before killing them at the last second, just like … well, I don’t want to do a spoiler. But hey, do you like spy movies? That old John Le Carre one, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, hoo boy that was great. You should check it out on Netflix or wherever. I left that flick feeling better than I did Sunday.
I mean, how can you help but get your hopes up playing the second-worst team in the NFL, one that you played just three weeks ago, one that just fired their offensive coordinator in favor of a super green guy in his 3rd year of coaching at any level, one with a rookie QB easily rattled by pressure?
And then you play tough, smother their offense, build a good lead for three quarters and just need to grind it out. And the one thing SF is good at in the world is slow, run-based drives!! OK, against all better judgment, I let my hopes rise, thinking this was the game. For once, Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to break Faithful hearts!
You might be thinking at this point, “Wait a minute, Mark. Your article is titled ‘Doom, despair and turnovers.’ But the Niners didn’t have any turnovers yesterday, they were plus 2 and even got an interception for the first time since Bill Clinton was president!” Yeah, you’re right, or close enough.
And that’s precisely why this was the worst Halloween party ever. Because the only hope left for this season was that the Niners had lost close games, against good teams even, just because of turnovers. All they had to do then, logically, was clean up that up, turn some giveaways into takeaways, and they’d probably slaughter Arizona and some good teams too.
But yesterday, they destroyed that hope. They were almost perfect on turnovers. Perfect would be a takeaway on every drive, I suppose, but this was a miracle — no turnovers, no fumbles, no interceptions, and they stole two possessions away from the Cardinals.
And they still lost. That’s horrifying.