49ers Have the Horses; Some Awful Announcing; Stanford Women on the Brink
Pity the poor Seattle Seahawks.
Pete Carroll's boys played a perfect first half Saturday and led the heavily favored 49ers, 17-16, at the break, before reality set in and the 49ers scored 25 straight points to win going away.
The final score was a misleading 41-23. "We scared the crap out of them," Carroll said after the game.
Indeed, they did. But the 49ers just have too many weapons to be held down for long.
I'd argue they have two of the best and most versatile players in the NFL--running back/wide receiver Christian McCaffrey, and wide receiver/running back Deebo Samuel. No other team in the NFL has a comparable duo.
Both are virtual big-play machines. McCaffrey had a 68-yard run and Samuel a 74-yard TD pass that was actually an 80-yard run off a short flip from quarterback Brock Purdy.
Throw in the second best tight end in the league, George Kittle, emerging wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, powerful running back Elijah Mitchell and the irrepressible Purdy, who's gone from "Mr. Irrelevant"--the last pick in the draft--to 23-year old wunderkind.
Purdy showed again Saturday why he's better than Jimmy Garoppolo. He has the same accuracy on short and mid-range passes, but has the mobility to escape pressure and extend plays that Jimmy G lacks. That's why he'll be the starter next season.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's enjoy the ride. The 49ers have the horses, including the league's best defense, to go all the way this year.
Awful Announcing: In a weekend of surprisingly competitive, down-to-the-wire NFL playoff games, the highlights included a fantastic performance by New York Giants QB Daniel Jones and a remarkable comeback by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jags were down 27-0 to the Chargers, due primarily to four interceptions thrown by franchise QB Trevor Lawrence, but came back to win 31-30. Problem was, the game announcers sounded like they were covering a funeral rather than the third biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. Pairing Al Michaels, who clearly has lost a step this year, with the dull, lifeless Tony Dungy was a mistake to begin with. But their broadcast of a thrilling, come-from-27 points-behind-triumph was sleep inducing. Michaels' call of the game winning field goal focused on a flag on the field, which was against the Chargers and had no bearing on the outcome, rather than the historic, dramatic nature of the comeback. It's probably time to hang it up for the 78-year old Michaels, who complained recently about the poor quality of the games he had to call on Thursday night. He's turned into grumpy old Al. As for Dungy, he needs to stay in the studio and never get near the play-by-play booth.
On the Brink: The third time wasn't the charm for Stanford's No. 2 ranked women's basketball team, who played three nail-biters last week against Cal, UCLA and USC.
After Cameron Brink almost single-handedly overcame Cal 60-56 and UCLA 72-59 (in a game much closer than the score indicated), Stanford was upset by USC 55-46 on Sunday. Coach Tara VanDerveer's squad scored only 4 points in the first quarter and struggled offensively throughout.
On Friday night Stanford was engaged in a dogfight with No. 8 UCLA, holding a tenuous two-point lead entering the fourth quarter when Brink took over the game. Brink blocked the Bruins first four shots, then added two more blocks later in the quarter. In a lifetime of playing, coaching and watching basketball, I don't think I've ever seen a player block six shots in a quarter. Completely befuddled and intimidated, UCLA went eight minutes without scoring and Stanford won going away. Brink finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks. A few days earlier, she had 25 points and 17 rebounds in the closer-than-anticipated win over Cal. After the UCLA game, when the announcers asked how she blocked so many shots, she replied, "well, I'm tall." She'll have to stand tall the rest of the season if Stanford hopes to return to the Final Four. And Coach Tara, who may actually have too many good players, must establish a consistent rotation and find reliable three-point shooting to compliment Brink and her other All-American, Haley Jones.