Nobody can dispute the incredible fortune that came the 49ers’ way last Sunday. Not only did they take care of business against the lowly Cardinals in a game that was all but won before kickoff, they saw various other cards fall in the most beneficial of ways.
The Vikes over the Pack? Yeah, you had that in your knockout pool, right? No, you didn’t. As phenomenal as the Adrian Peterson story in Minnesota has been, Green Bay’s midseason resurrection was every bit as impressive.
As for the crimson and gold, aka the Niners, let’s get real and call them what they are: a longshot to reach the Super Bowl, and quite possibly nothing more than a less-than-menacing pothole in the road to New Orleans.
Why such a strong stance? Hey, I want the Niners to roll. It’s good for the writer in me, it’s good for the fan in me.
But it’s inescapable, this nagging feeling that the one thing that often derails once-promising title contenders — injuries — will do just that, and likely sooner rather than later.
Let’s start with Cirque de Kicker, and if you don’t think this is in any way related to an injury, wake the hell up. You simply do not go from being all-world, as was David Akers from the time he signed with San Francisco until shortly after he nailed that epic kick in Green Bay earlier this season, to being all-sketchy without something going awry physically.
A left-handed kicker missing consistently left? Doesn’t take a physicist to figure out he’s somehow altered his mechanics, and the only reason a kicker — very similar deal for baseball pitchers — alters his mechanics is to attempt to protect whatever might be ailing him.
Thus, we have to assume he’s either still hurting, or that whatever mechanics he altered when the assumed injury first surfaced have since become embedded as part of his mechanical muscle memory. That’s hard enough to undo as it is. Expecting to get it undone while under intense fan-media-teammate-coaching staff-playoff pressure is like asking Tom Arnold to step in for Christopher Plummer moments before the curtain goes up on a Broadway production of anything Shakespeare.
Enter Billy Cundiff, aka Who The Hell Is That Clown? He’s the clown who missed a gimme that cost the Baltimore Ravens a playoff game last year, then kicked himself out of a job early this season with the Washington Redskins. That’s Plan B? Yikes.
A bigger yikes, though, is the Justin Smith situation. Anyone still doubting that the Cowboy should have been credited with at least a half-sack every time Aldon Smith got one this year?
Anyone doubting that Justin Smith’s health will determine how far the 49ers advance in the NFL tournament? If you are, you’re spending entirely too much time trying to figure out what Macklemore is saying during the third bar of “Thrift Shop.”
And speaking of thrift shops, don’t be surprised if you see Jim Harbaugh all glass-eyed and vacant, roaming the aisles at a Goodwill store near you over the next week. He needs a cheap imitation of Mario Manningham in the worst way, and A.J. Jenkins isn’t it. Jenkins is the house coat with mushroom lining that only the dad from “Boomerang” can make work.
It ain’t pretty, folks. So pray for Ted Ginn Jr., Ricky French Name and LeSuperSub James to go nuts next week, or the Jim Harbaugh joyride comes to a screeching and humiliating halt.
ROLLIN’ ON DUBS: Wednesday’s Warriors game against the Clippers was a resounding victory in so many ways. Mostly in that it confirmed what has been presenting itself in spurts but is now so evident that you can’t help buying in.
Think of everything a good basketball team needs. The Warriors have it.
A few dependable scorers (David Lee, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson); a few guys who not only rebound well but take genuine pride in it (Lee, Festus Ezili, Carl Landry); at least one guy capable of exploding on your ass on any given day (Harrison Barnes); a lack of massive egos (everyone not named coach Jackson); a coach who knows how to handle varied personalities (coach Jackson); unselfish veterans who’ll sacrifice individual numbers for the good of the team (Landry, Jarrett Jack); and young, hungry guys visibly and supremely thankful to be making a living on the court (Ezili, Draymond Green, Kent Bazemore, Charles Jenkins).
Put it all together and you’ve got a recipe for sustained success. Add a dash of Andrew Bogut along the way and you’ll really be cookin’. These cats are for real, man, and it’s a joy to watch.
Mychael Urban has covered Bay Area sports for more than 22 years as a contributor to Comcast SportsNet, CSNBayArea.com, KNBR, MLB.com, ESPN The Magazine and various newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.