“The 49ers are the best team in football, and if they continue to play the way they did Sunday, they will win Super Bowl XLVIII next month.”-Kevin Seifert, ESPN
Before this gets started, this post is more or less to get a little steam off. There will be a better post later this week to dive into the match up.
It has been plenty difficult to tune into ESPN the last couple days, especially if you are a fan of any team not residing in San Francisco. I don’t know what it was about that underwhelming victory over Green Bay, but it sure did get the “experts” at ESPN on their side. Oh, and it didn’t stop with their television analysts. Their bloggers were all over it, too. Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN), ESPN.com reporter for the NFC North, went so far as to say that this win over the Packers proved that the 49ers are “…the best team in football…”
I have heard a lot of folks make similar points, which leads me to believe that I was watching the wrong game. Now, please do not get me wrong. I have full respect for their defense. They consistently get after the quarterback and make running the football very difficult. It’s their offense that leaves a lot to be desired for in my opinion. They went out and scored 23 points on 381 yards on a defense that gives up 26.8 points on 372.2 yards per game. Underwhelming if you ask me. Some of this could be the result of harsh weather conditions, but I counter that with the fact that Green Bay’s already sub-par defense was shredded by injuries. It also doesn’t help my view of them that they were incredibly fortunate that the Green Bay defensive back completely brick-handed a ‘gimme’ interception on the 49ers’ game-winning drive. So, “best team in football?” Good team, yeah, but not the best, in my opinion.
Sure, they will have a couple pieces back on offense that weren’t there the first time around, when the Panthers beat San Francisco by the score of 10-9 on the road. Michael Crabtree is a good receiver, coming off a solid game in Green Bay and could prove to be a factor in Sunday’s game. Also, Vernon Davis missed half of the previous game after leaving with a concussion. I think he will make the bigger difference, as athletic tight ends have given the Panthers fits over the years.
Even with these guys coming back, things will have to change for San Francisco if they want to beat us this time around. Kaepernick was given all day to throw against the Packers, and he used every bit of that time to wait for his receivers to get open. He won’t have that opportunity against the Panthers, and their tireless pass rush. Last time around, we were able to sack Kaepernick six times, the most of his entire career. If we are able to get after him again, and force a couple turnovers, the Panthers should be able to care of business. Again, there will be a better comparison between these two teams coming soon, but until then, Go Panthers, Keep Pounding!