So…I promised you guys a blog that would discuss the Texans and Niners seasons ended, but after the Niners loss… I didn’t have any initiative whatsoever to write anything. Sorry, grieving fan. So now I have the wherewithal to actually write/finish it. So without further adieu….. Here’s the rundown….
*Then it’s gotten so late after the fact, I thought of just trashing this thing… Then I saw Bill Simmons article about him questioning “Why does this (sports) matter so much?” So I have to finish this thing.
In the last 2 weeks, my fandom, and really my love for sports in general, has been totally tested. Fandom is something we all take pride in. It’s something unique to all of us. All of us don’t root for the same teams. That’s what makes it so great. the diversity. The other portion to that is how we decide to celebrate that fandom. Whether as a diehard, or the more reserved, take it all in kind of a fan, we all showcase our fandom in a different way from anyone else. As a Houston guy, I’ve always been loyal to the three sports franchises since I’ve loved sports (Texans, Astros, Rockets). To that end, it hasn’t exactly been the best of times for us since the Clutch City Rockets years in the mid 90’s. We’ve been to one championship appearance since then, and that was the Astros run in ’04. Now, granted we don’t have the luck of a Cleveland, Ohio, who seem to be doomed for the rest of their days in any sport. But we also don’t have the payrolls of cities like LA, Boston, or New York, where they can just go out and buy championships it seems. As for my love of the San Francisco 49ers, I was never attached to the Oilers as a kid, and just migrated to the 49ers as an alternative to a very huge Cowboy family. This year gave me hope of a better fan future. Even if I just got glimpses of it.
Coming off the 2010 season there was a lot left to be desired for these Houston Texans. Another year of futility mixed with the league’s worst defense. So 2011 was a year of reckoning. Everything was falling into place for us…. Peyton Manning was hurt for the year and that opened the door for us to take the rightful spot of AFC South Champs. Then the injuries started. Arian Foster wasn’t 100% until Week 5. Then Andre Johnson blows his hamstring against the Steelers. Re-injures it against the Falcons 4 weeks later. It seemed like there was a Green Bay season curse of a year ago for the Texans. But it doesn’t end there…. Mario Williams in Week 7. Matt Schaub in Week 10. Matt Leinart in Week 11. And a litany of other role player injuries throughout the year. The reins of the season fell on the shoulders of 5th round rookie quarterback, TJ Yates, from North Carolina. The rookie did alright given the circumstances. His biggest moment coming in Week 14 when he led a comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals, that clenched the franchise’s first division crown, and a spot in the playoffs. Weeks later pitted the Texans against the Bengals again in a wild card round matchup. After rookie, JJ Watt, picked off a pass from Andy Dalton and returned it for a touchdown, the Texans won their first playoff game in team history. The next game put the Texans against the Baltimore Ravens in another regular season rematch. The turning point in this game happened early. WR Jacoby Jones tried to field a punt after the first Ravens possession. Managed to muff the punt inside the 10 yard line that led to a Ravens touchdown. The move completely killed off any momentum the team would’ve had and they were fighting back the rest of the game. I thoroughly believe that we would’ve won that game just playing great defense and running the ball. But losing that fumble right then and there, it just destroyed everything. So… Where does this team go from here?
The Future is Bright
Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, and JJ Watt (the guy in the picture) are the core pieces of this defense that went from worst to first in one season. That is huge turnaround and bonus for us. This defense will only get better as the unit stays together.
The great thing? This guy will not be on the roster in any capacity. Thank God. The Texans will do all in their power to replace him. And it’s not a moment too soon. Actually it’s 3 seasons too late.
The pink elephant in the room is the looming Mario Williams contract. He’s an unrestricted free agent coming off an injury. Good news is it wasn’t an injury of any real circumstance. Bad news is that we have to pay him a huge amount of money (that we don’t have) to keep him. The big issue is we’re above the salary cap. Oh, and the little thing about resigning a couple of other players… namely, Arian Foster. I’d love to have Mario back, and I think he has a spot on this defense, but it’ll take a lot of work on both sides to get it done.
San Francisco 49ers
Who would’ve thought that somehow first year head coach, Jim Harbaugh, could spin Alex Smith into gold? Seemed impossible. Yet, it happened. I’ll admit that after last year’s terrible season, I pegged the Niners for 6-8 wins AT BEST. I was given 13 in turn and the #2 seed in the NFC. Go figure. What Harbaugh’s presence has done to this team means can not be understated in any sort of way. He literally picked Alex up from the scrap heap, said I can make a QB out of you yet, and actually DID IT! My hat is off to the man. The team played in easily the worst division in football. This was fully realized when we managed to secure a division title by I think…week 3 maybe? We go into the playoffs red hot and have a thriller against New Orleans at Candlestick in Week 2 of the playoffs. That game definitely goes down as the best Alex has ever played. And it was a definite joy to see it. Alex Smith seemingly came full circle in one evening of football. Next up…the New York Giants for the NFC Championship Game. This game is the prime definition of a dogfight. These teams are fighting tooth and nail on a rainy San Francisco night. The Niners can’t get a man on Victor Cruz who keeps burning us, but we counter that with Vernon Davis who also can’t be guarded and manages to slip pass coverage twice for TDs. The game goes into overtime. And as we all know, WR Kyle Williams is replacing Ted Ginn Jr. on special teams as a return man and bobbles the punt inside our 30. I am devastated. Like the rest of the Niners. The Giants go in and 2 plays later, kick the field goal that would send them to their 4th Superbowl title. I’m stunned by this turn of events. In 2 weeks, both of my teams lose in IDENTICAL fashion. Unbelievable. And that starts my downward depression that lasts a little over a week. I had to get out of my apartment. I just needed air. Too much heartbreak in a week’s time. Just too much. Then after that week, I was able to talk about it again. Still to this day of me writing this, hurts like Hell but when I think of this team as the 6-8 win team I figured it to be, I learned that I can’t let it eat at me so much. So the moving on process is getting easier. What now for the Niners?
I don’t think this season’s greatness is a one year deal. Plus you throw in that the Niners still play in the NFC West, and we could be poised for a couple of these runs.
Defense! Defense! Defense!
This team has been built on defense through the Singletary years, and now it’s really starting to show. This defense is all about destroying the opposition and it’s fun to watch. That Donte Whitner hit on Pierre Thomas is still giving that guy nightmares. The addition of Aldon Smith, makes this defense a sight to behold. They’ve got to resign Carlos Rogers though.
Is it a one year miracle? I’ve already forgiven Alex for years of bad play. He’s a free agent this year and will more than likely be back with us and won’t be commanding a lot of cap money. We can use that money to go and resign other needs.
What an eyesore. Going into the NYG game, the 49ers had two healthy WRs… Crabtree and Williams. Whether it be through the draft, or free agency (and there are a plethora of WRs available), the Niners have to make it known that there’s more than Vernon Davis on this team to cover.
And that does it for my two team wrap up. Sorry again that it took so long. And do expect our annual first round NFL Mock Draft blog in the weeks ahead.
The Big Socrates