In the Trenches
The San Francisco Forty-Niners will win the 2013 Superbowl for three primary reasons: the offensive line, their defense and history. If that sounds arrogant on my part, so be it. No one from the Baltimore Ravens will ever see this post, so it can’t come back to haunt the Forty-Niners. Normally I would not be so bold as to state the obvious, for fear of upsetting the football gods, but the fact remains that only one team can emerge victorious, and the Niners are the better team.
Begin with the offensive line. The Niners drafted Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati in 2010 and they have started every game since. General manager Trent Baalke traded up two spots to draft Davis with the number eleven overall pick, while Iupati was chosen number seventeen, overall. When a team uses number one draft selections for offensive linemen, you have to figure that these guys are for real.
Jonathon Goodwin is the center for the Forty-Niners. He is one of four Niners to start a Superbowl in the past, having played for the champion New Orleans Saints, in 2009. Joe Staley, named to both the 2012 and 2013 pro-bowls, is the fourth member of the offensive line. And let’s not leave out six-foot-eight Alex Boone, who plays right guard, and holds down his position with tenacity. Together these players dominate a game, and dictate the terms upon which the Niners’ success depends.
You can regale me with many reasons why Colin Kaepernick will win with both his arm and his legs; you can ramble on about Frank Gore, and his franchise-best rushing yards; and you can list countless reasons why tight end Vernon Davis and wide-outs Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree will dazzle defenders. However, without the offensive line doing its thing with force and experience, the rest is just a crapshoot. Football games are won in the trenches, and the Niners have the warriors to handle the havoc of the trenches.
The second reason the Forty-Niners will win the Superbowl is because of their defense. Yes, the Baltimore Ravens have Ray Lewis. I have heard a lot about the power and inspiration of this single player, not to mention the forty-five tackles he has registered in the three play-off games this season. Yes, he is an impressive and inspirational player. But he is only one guy. Oh, Ed Reed is also there, and it was Cary Williams who intercepted the second of Tom Brady’s picks in the AFC title game, but they’re not going to be enough.
What the Forty-Niners present is a group of individuals, fused together to function as a unit, bent on dominating games, to allow the Forty-Niners to emerge on top. I am aware of the seventeen-point deficit that the Falcons accrued in the NFC title game, and the 28-point comeback that Tom Brady engineered on that Sunday night, only six weeks ago. But when push comes to shove in the NFL, no defensive unit is capable of producing the kind of havoc that the Forty-Niners have demonstrated, throughout the season. They are truly indomitable.
They never panicked against the Falcons, even though that seventeen-point deficit actually materialized twice, both instances in the first half. In the second half, the Niner defense stiffened up, and they threw a collective shut-out against Matt Ryan, and the highly-touted Falcon offense. That’s what I’m saying/talking about.
Much has been written about Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the two punishing linebackers of the Forty-Niners. Add to them Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner, the two starting safeties, and you have a nucleus of incredible talent, to spur the Niners to defensive success. Opposing wide receivers start out games with great fanfare, but after being tackled by the Niners’ hard-hitting safeties, they begin hearing footsteps. It helps explain how Atlanta’s Julio Jones accounted for eight catches for148 yards in the first two-thirds of the game last Sunday. After being lambasted by Whitner, he was able to garner only two catches for ten yards the remainder of the game, when it was most critical.
Finally, there is history. There are those of us who witnessed the Niners netting only two victories per season, in back-to-back years prior to a 6-10 season, and then their 1981, 13-3 season, followed by franchise-first Superbowl victory. If they make it to the “Show,” they will not back down. No other team, which has been to more than one Superbowl, is undefeated. The Forty-Niners have five Superbowl victories to their credit, with no defeats. Those who are too young to remember these events, have had ample opportunity to read about them. Do not sell the Niners short; they don’t shoot blanks.