A couple weeks ago I suggested to my editor it would be interesting to have a fan of the Oakland Raiders write a scouting report on the San Francisco 49ers and vice-versa. I made it clear I was intent on objective looks at the NFL teams on the opposite sides of the Bay, not the same tired, unoriginal, inaccurate and lazy name-calling that has been written for years.
I was disappointed to read exactly that type of drivel in our Raider perspective written by a 49er fan at Golden Gate Sports on Sunday, a piece clever enough to mention Jamarcus Russell in three of its 12 paragraphs while offering zero insight on Oakland’s current football team. (FYI, Russell’s last season in Oakland was 2009.)
After considering passing on this project altogether, I’ve decided to share my abridged Niner notes. That way I can return with a clear conscience with my slightly more aggressive second installment in a day or two, when 49er fans will learn things about their franchise they’ll wish they hadn’t, and we’ll explore larger themes like social contribution in a liberal utopia.
And now, in the spirit of peace, we soldier on.
Notes On the City of San Francisco’s Final Season With An NFL Team
The 49ers’ single biggest asset is not any one player, or their new stadium two counties away; it’s their coach. Aside from his childish antics during (and particularly after) the Super Bowl, Jim Harbaugh has proven himself capable of changing cultures and leading men in both the NFL and college, and his firm grasp on the intricacies of game management shouldn’t be taken for granted. Simply put, I think Harbaugh’s the most valuable coach in the NFL, there are smarter coaches — but players will run through walls for Harbaugh.
On defense, rookie Eric Reid is key this year, but it remains to be seen if the safety’s instincts and hitting can make up for his lack of speed. Justin Smith turns 34 in September and he’s coming off a serious injury. If he can’t manhandle two blockers it affects every 49er defender. Dominant 3-4 defensive linemen may be scarcer than franchise QB’s and Aldon Smith’s production plummeted after Justin’s injury.
On offense, Frank Gore starts the season at 30 years old and with 2,000 carries on the odometer. The trickle-down effect of Michael Crabtree’s injury will see Vernon Davis, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James involved in a more creative passing game, but receiver remains a glaring weak spot on a strong roster. Anquan Boldin was a nice get, but he turns 33 in October and hasn’t broken 1,000 yards since 2009.
Colin Kaepernick has been anointed as a superhero, a man who professes piety and humility while wearing shades indoors, one whose kryptonite seems to be completing consecutive sentences without using the word swag. This “young” quarterback turns 26 years old in November, but do we really know if he’s accurate?
Kaepernick threw just 218 regular season passes in 2013, with 10 passing TD’s and nine fumbles in seven starts. He completed 62.4 percent of his passes in that tiny sample size, but the NFL has never had a muscle-bound QB with great accuracy, and Kaep’s own history suggests he won’t be the first. His career completion rate was just 58.2 percent on 1,271 college throws at Nevada, who play in the WAC, and Kaepernick completed over 60 pct only once in four years. (The “woefully inaccurate” Terrelle Pryor completed 60.9 percent of his career passes at Ohio St., which competes in the Big 10, and Pryor went over 60 pct in two of his three seasons.)
There isn’t enough room in my second installment for the avalanche of embarrassing facts available on the 49ers, we’ll just start with a sneak preview on their new stadium in Nevada.
Where Exactly Is the Santa Clara San Jose San Francisco 49ers New Stadium?
I was surprised to find my esteemed colleague ending his rudimentary analysis of the Silver & Black by suggesting the Raiders move down south, because the 49ers already have.
Set to open in 2014, Levi’s Stadium, which San Francisco 49er fans seem to be so proud of, isn’t anywhere near San Francisco, and Levi’s has already applied for a trademark on a nickname so cheesy it’s bound to stick — the “Field of Jeans”
The 49ers’ new stadium is located in Santa Clara, a city adjacent to San Jose, but nearly an hour away from San Francisco, and that is without any traffic in the tech corridor on a Sunday afternoon or a Monday night.
We as Raider fans aren’t smart enough to understand how these hilarious Red & Gold facts could possibly be true. Could a San Francisco 49er fan please explain why:
The 49ers’ new stadium is further away from its “home” city than any other team in the NFL, including the teams in New York City — who play in New Jersey.
The 49ers’ new stadium is closer to the city of Oakland than the city of San Francisco.
The 49ers’ new stadium is closer to UC Santa Cruz than it is to UC San Francisco.
The 49ers’ new stadium requires San Francisco residents to drive through fourteen other cities just to get to get to the home of the San Francisco 49ers, which is Santa Clara.
My associate jotted that as a native San Franciscan “I oppose the Los Angeles Dodgers”. (Oppose? Are they on the ballot?) Well even Dodger fans are smart enough to know that your team is supposed to play in the city it’s named after. See that photo to the left ridiculing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the funniest part about that Dodger t-shirt is that Anaheim is significantly closer to the city of Los Angeles than San Francisco is to the city of Santa Clara.
The entire country mocked the Angels’ bizarre decision to name themselves after a distant city where they don’t play, and yet San Francisco football fans are gleeful their 49ers will reside in a city they wouldn’t visit without a bribe from former 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo, or a scary threat by 2003 first-round pick Kwame Harris.
(Here’s a helpful guidebook from Charlie Murphy, Rick James and Chappelle’s Show for future 49er draft picks who may find themselves slapped by another man.)
I suggest San Francisco 49er fans enjoy the 2013 season, because when you tune in for a satellite feed of the home opener in 2014 — when the Banana Slug marching band of UC Santa Cruz will be leading the San Jose 49ers onto the Field of Jeans at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where Mark Zuckerburg is bound to be a bigger topic than any football game — here’s one sobering thought that might begin to dawn on you.
The 49ers may never play another football game in the city of San Francisco during your lifetime.
You stay classy San Francisco.