A good run for young 49ers

When my 12-year-old son started junior high this year, he had a choice between playing football and running cross country. My wife and I left the decision up to him, but secretly we were praying that he would select cross country.

I have nothing against him playing football, but because he has the lean and lanky family build, cross country seemed the better fit. In addition, we did mention to him that he would be in great shape once basketball season started.

He picked cross country, but has made a point to attend all of the school’s football games in case he decides to play next season. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I am encouraging him to watch as much college and professional football as possible.

Of course, during the games, I provide subtle commentary: “Ouch, look at the hit the running back took that time.” “Boy that guy is sure slow getting up from the pile.” “Wow, are knees meant to bend in that direction?”

You get the idea.

However, we do enjoy watching the games together and Sunday’s 49ers-St. Louis Rams matchup made for a great father-son activity. I am a 49ers fan from way back and, for some unknown reason, my son loves the Rams. To be honest, I was ready to concede a victory before the game even started but, boy, am I glad I didn’t. Just as I can’t understand why my son likes St. Louis, I also can’t figure out how the 49ers have beaten the Rams three straight times.

The 49ers’ 20-13 home victory was especially important after the poor performance against the Arizona Cardinals on the road. Had the 49ers fallen to 0-2 in their division, there would have been some discouraged fans and players. Instead, quarterback Alex Smith performed well, Frank Gore ran impressively, the offensive line blocked successfully and the defense got the big stops when needed.

Overall, a good performance for this young team and, hopefully, a confidence-booster for this week’s game against Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are not looking so good. Their defense wasn’t too bad for most of the game and the punting was great. Other than that, there weren’t too many bright spots. In the 28-6 loss to Baltimore, the running stunk, the blocking was non-existent and the passing awful. Thank goodness Oakland has a bye week to work on its shortcomings.

Regardless, I will continue to support the Niners and Raiders, win or lose. I will also support my son if he decides to play football next season. I just hope he loves cross country this year.

Former Warriors star Rick Barry is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. E-mail him at rbarry@examiner.com.NFLSan Francisco 49erssports

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