The Beta Quarterback Revisited

When you look at life from a psychological standpoint, you have leaders and you have followers. Well in the Taylor Blitz Times lexicon of NFL football describing the quarterback position, you have the alpha and the beta.

The alpha infuses confidence in his football team through his play and leadership. His teammates are inspired through his verve, spirit, and fight which in turn raises their level of play to meet his.  You can see the confidence in their eyes when the game is tight. He doesn’t shrink when games are on the line or when the team is up against a superior opponent. This is what every coach covets each year in the NFL draft.

dakslumped

Dak was 0-5 against playoff teams in ’19 and 5-9 over the last 3 years. Beta Quarerback

Then you have the beta quarterback that many teams seem to be afflicted with. He comes through with the physical gifts that scouts and coaches can see where he can improve, and can possibly sculpt a winner from. He shows promise and can win you a few football games yet isn’t a leader. This is the guy that looks to his teammates for confidence when they’re looking to him for theirs.

Subsequently when the situations get tight or they’re up against tough teams, he shrinks at the moment of truth.  Sure they win games they are supposed to win but the superior opponent he needs to beat to become a champion, he will always come up short. Late game interceptions, missed connections in crucial times, & mangled last minute drives which short ciruit his team’s efforts. Most important he always loses when an alpha quarterback is leading the other team. Constant big game heartbreak follows this guy….always.

Well this is how The Chancellor of Football sees the game. As you read those first two paragraphs, certain quarterbacks started to form in your mind.

One play after overthrowing a streaking Emmanuel Sanders in the endzone, Jimmy G took a sack and forced fumble that ended Super Bowl LIV.

One of the most unique aspect of the beta quarterback is he almost rises to prominence in the same way. Usually they are under appreciated talents that are among the best of the back-up quarterbacks.

Good enough to make the roster, run the scout team offense, and if we lose our starter he can pilot the ship for 3 or 4 games. Yet with the advent of complete NFL free agency, these are the guys signed after they have done well when they have relieved an injured starter. Jimmy Garoppolo was signed after performing admirably for Tom Brady in New England and is the poster boy for the beta quarterback.

The San Francisco 49ers had fallen on hard times and were in the middle of a meltdown under overmatched Coach Chip Kelly.  The Niners were struggling with Colin Kaepernick finding rhythm in Chip Kelly’s offense after a successful run with Coach Jim Harbaugh.

Then the 49ers brought in Kyle Shanahan who was the hotshot offensive coordinator who had taken the Atlanta offense to Super Bowl LI. To run his offense he needed a franchise QB and the team jettisoned Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert as each appeared damaged goods. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo who had gone 2-0 during Tom Brady’s suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Kirk Cousins is another beta quarterback

The 49ers surprised opponents in 2017 when they went 5-0 under Garoppolo. However the sample size wasn’t large enough to make a full judgment. He couldnt finish the ’17 or ’18 seasons and in 8 games he had thrown 12 TDs yet had an eyebrow raising 8 interceptions. Desperate for any competent quarterbacking after the last few years GM John Lynch & Shanahan had tied their success to Garoppolo’s wagon.They began to assemble talent around him. The team made progress and when Garoppolo didn’t do so well, the thought process was: “Once he matures, he won’t throw those passes.”

However that incessant tic never seems to leave this guy. It’s in his DNA and it becomes glaring once the rest of the team assembled with him should thrive with his leadership.

All season long as it became apparent the 49ers had turned the corner experts held out Jimmy G was the weak link that would let San Fran down. The Chancellor of Football was one of them. 49er fans would point to games he performed well in yet didn’t notice how he struggled in a prime time game at home with Western division leading Seattle. He played well as long as the team was out in front and they could sic that front four on opponents.

Once the 49ers outlasted New Orleans and Drew Brees 48-46 it looked like Garoppolo was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong. Yet a knock kneed performance in a 29-22 home loss and a mundane Monday Night performance when they beat Seattle 26-21 raised suspicions.

When Shanahan started to cover up his QB in the 2nd quarter of the 49ers divisional playoff win over Minnesota, it appeared he lost confidence in him. He turned the game over to his rushing game and defense and nearly won a title. Lost in 49er euphoria was Shanahan only allowed his QB to throw the football 27 times total in 2 playoff games. He really didnt beat any Alpha QBs as the 49ers used smoke and mirrors to keep him from throwing in obvious situations.

Then came Super Bowl LIV and alpha QB Patrick Mahomes. For 3 quarters it looked like the Niners were about to pull the upset and Jimmy G was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong.

Then the moment of truth… San Francisco was up 10 and the pilot light in the alpha Patrick Mahomes came on. He made play after play to will his team back in the game. The beta?? Jimmy G went 2 for 9 in the 4th quarter when his team desperately needed a play from him. All we got were deer in the headlights looks on television closeups. He had one last chance to bail his team out with 1:40 to go… Emmanuel Sanders split two Chiefs defensive backs and was streaking to a game winning touchdown… all he needed was one Garoppolo throw from a clean pocket. Jimmy overthrew him then had a sack and forced fumble on the next play to kill the 49ers Super Bowl chances.

Beta!!

Had he completed it he would be have gone into the pantheon of Super Bowl champions and would have completed his winning touchdown in about the same spot Joe Montana completed his to John Taylor to win Super Bowl XXIII. Same spot in the same stadium some 30 years earlier…

Like Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo is a beta QB….fools gold. They don’t have an alpha and they know it. The rest of us had already come to that conclusion before Super Bowl Sunday. This game just cemented it. Like S

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Super Bowl LIV Preview: Kansas City Chiefs v. San Francisco 49ers

We’re just 36 hours from crowning the 100th NFL champion with the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV. The narrative has largely been framed around the coaching experience of the Chief’s Andy Reid against the youthful brilliance of Kyle Shanahan. It should be as both have earned their way to football’s summit.

However the narrative that has dominated the headlines concerning both teams on the field is how can the 49ers 2nd ranked defense stop they dynamics Chiefs offense and all world QB Patrick Mahomes??

Kelce is crucial in moving the chains in LIV.

Over the last two seasons Mahomes has thrown for 76 TDs to just 17 interceptions. With TE Travis Kelce (97 rec. 1,229 yds/ 5TDs) Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, and Mecole Hardman the NFL  hasn’t seen this type of lethal speed since The Greatest Show on Turf St Louis Rams. This team can get deep on anyone.

One matchup to keep your eye on is LT Eric Fisher protecting against super rookie Nick Bosa. Each are former 1st round draft picks and had Fisher started all 16 games he might have been a Pro Bowl performer as he had been in 2018. Yet Bosa (9 sacks) Erik Armstead (10 sacks) and DeForest Buckner (7.5 sacks) have benefitted with the return of Dee Ford. They have to collapse the pocket and protect their secondary. If Mahomes can buy time he has the arm to get deep to Hill, Mecole, or Watkins on a 31 year old Richard Sherman.

Mahomes has only been sacked 17 times in the 14 games he’s started and the Niners plan to get after him. Watch for Kansas City to attack with screens early on to slow the pass rush down. Reid and OC Eric Bienemy did adjust to a 2TE alignment and run the Titans, a run heavy offense, out of their gameplan. Can they do that on the 2nd ranked 49er defense though??

However…Did you know the San Francisco 49ers outscored the Kansas City Chiefs this season 479-451?? Did you know the Kansas City Chiefs allowed fewer points than the 49ers 308-310??

Can Mostert continue his hot hand??

Over the last 5 games of the season the 49ers gave up 147 points which included 46 given up to the Saints on the road. However the defense coming in hot is Kansas City where they only gave up 32 points over the last 5 games. For all the talk of 49er DC Robert Saleh it’s Chief DC Steve Spagnuolo whose defense has jelled as the season concluded.

He put the Chiefs in goalline defense on 4th and 1in the middle of the field in the AFC Championship Game. “Spags” has lined up his defense with 4 and 5 down linemen to stop bruising NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry when he had to. Now that Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones is healthy he has a pivotal role stopping the 49er running game.

Mathieu has been putting the smack down on receivers in 2019.

All Pro and Pro Bowl S Tyrann Mathieu will be pit against 49er Pro Bowl TE Kerry Kittle. Number 85 (85 rec / 1053 yds / 5 TDs) has to have a dominant game against Mathieu and Sorenson. Don’t know if Kittle can get lose on the instinctive athletic safety. Spagnuolo had to learn the strengths of his new defense and Mathieu as his wildcard defender

Shanahan’s running game is the key to the 49ers winning it. He has taken the ball out of Jimmy G’s hands in these last two playoff games. He’s only thrown 27 passes while the offense ran 89 times and controlled the flow of both games. What is going to happen if forced out of that game plan?? Can they unhide Garoppolo??

murray.49ersThe 49ers defense in games against mobile QBs Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson, they went 3-2 in those games giving up 27, 21, 25, 26, and 20 points while allowing an average of 147.6 yards rushing in those games. The Chancellor was front and center during the Halloween contest when they let Kyler Murray run 5 times for 34 yards to keep drives alive in a 28-25 loss. Keep in mind this is with 4 games played against division rivals they knew best.

When they faced a Lamar Jackson they didn’t know… he burst for 101 yards rushing. Mahomes will keep his eyes up and buy time for Hill and Watkins to get deep. In figuring the winner of this game the best defense will win.

Kansas City will win this game as they can be stopped for half the game and explode for 24 in just a few minutes. Patrick Mahomes will bring the Lombardi back to Kansas City 38-21.

Andy Reid finally wins that elusive Super Bowl!derrick.thomas

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2019 NFC Championship Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

There is a tremendous amount of shared history between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Of course there is a tremendous amount of history dating back to the Bill Walsh coaching tree bearing fruit with Mike Holmgren heading to win in Lambeau to Steve Mariucci leaving Green Bay and coahing by the bay. Well this generation has Packers Head Coach Matt Lafleur having coached with Kyle Shanahan over the last 8 years.

Both Coaches are making their 1st appearance in a championship game and there are several questions:

  • Which coach will abandon the run first?
  • Which coach has self scouted their tendencies and know when and how to break them?

All year long the 49ers have boasted one of if not the best front 7 in all of football. With the return of Kwon Alexander, last week San Fran returned to the emotion & speed they played with earlier in the season.

Dee Ford has come back from injury and with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa (9 sacks) and Arik Armstead (10 sacks) have their complete package of pass rushers to get after Aaron Rodgers.

The unsung hero on the defense this year in The Chancellor’s eyes is Fred Warner. He’s made several splash plays this year (118 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int & 3 forced fumbles) has become the Novorro Bowman of this incarnation of a Niner championship defense. Warner & Alexander will eat up the intermediate throws if the Packers can’t establish the run. Which is the key to this game…

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones runs during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

The Packers have to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hand and feed Aaron Jones. They can’t get impatient and sit in shotgun and throw the football 30 plus times or they’re traveling back to Lambeau a loser. Surprisingly this is a weakness on an otherwise rugged #2 ranked defense. San Fran ranks 17th against the run but will LaFleur stay with it long enough??

In the last 5 games Green Bay has rushed the football more than 30 times, including 3 in the last 5 games. Even in last week’s playoff game when the run didn’t produce splash plays, they kept feeding Jones the football. His 21 carries for 62 yards allowed them to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands just enough in a 28-23 win. However on the road it’s real easy for a young coach to try to show his genius and throw the football more than he should.

The problem is the 3 headed monster in San Francisco with Tevin Coleman (544 yds) Raheem Mostert (772 yds) & Matt Breida (623 yds) has shown the penchaant to stay with the run. Last week they ran it 43 times and wore Minnesota down. Green Bay is 18th in defense 23rd against the run and tied for 24th allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

To win this game Green Bay needs to force several turnovers to steal the momentum. One of the problems is they haven’t forced any opponent with a winning record into just 2 in any game this season. In fact they haven’t forced more than 2 since they saw Mitch Trubisky (3) on December 15. Can they force Jimmy G into turning it over?? He has the most interceptions thrown of all QBs in the playoffs.

However we can’t bank on that… San Francisco wins 38-17 and make the trek to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

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The Collateral Damage of Kyler Murray

A few weeks back the Cardinal franchise was celebrating a 34-33 win over the sinking 1-5 Atlanta Falcons. This on the heels of a 26-23 victory over the winless Bengals lent extreme optimism out here in the desert. Kliff Kingsbury’s crew went from an 0-3-1 record to 2-3-1 in a matter of 8 days and local media was waxing philosophically how this team had turned a corner.

Had they???

Murray led a last second drive in The Queen City that allowed the Cardinals to escape with a win over the NFL’s 31st ranked defense in Cincy.  Then came the nail biter as Murray & his offensive mates hung on for dear life as a 27-10 lead evaporated as Matt Bryant’s field goal sailed wide left preserving a 34-33 win. The Falcons came in with the 27th ranked defense.

Now follow that up with a surprising 27-21 win in New York where backup RB Chase Edmonds flashed in relief of starter David Johnson. Behind his 126 yards rushing and 3 TDs the offense didn’t have to depend on Murray (14 of 21 for 104 yards) throwing a wet ball too much in a driving rain.

This brought their record to 3-3-1 although it came at the expense of the Giants 28th rated defense. Arizona had fashioned a 3 game winning streak with improved play from Kyler Murray. He had thrown for 697 yards completing 61 of 90 throws and 3 TDs and no interceptions.

Just feet from the action you can tell how diminutive Murray is.

The Cardinals beat a few down on their luck teams and we knew we’d find out where this offense truly was once they played at New Orleans, host the 49ers and then go to Tampa then San Francisco before they make it to their bye. At the time these are the 5th, 1st, 23rd and 1st ranked defenses and all 3 have played lights out in recent weeks.

Now here we are halfway through that gauntlet and the Cardinals dropped 2 straight to the Saints 31-9, and the 49ers 28-25 on Halloween Night and are behind 10-6 on the road in Tampa.

One aspect of attending the Halloween matchup with San Fran is being close enough to get a sense of size. Or rather lack there of….  At the goal line awaiting an instant replay review, super rookie DE Nick Bosa was standing next to Kyler Murray and it looked like a big rother walking his little brother to school. Yes it’s great to cheer for the little guy but the NFL is the land of giants.

All night Murray was on the move amid the moving redwood forrest that was the 49er defensive line. He was sacked 3 times, hurried on 7 other attempts and on 3 occasions, Murray had to hookslide on scrambles in front of corners Richard Sherman & Emmanuel Moseley. Each corner even dwarfed him to the point he never tried to make either miss or power through an arm tackle and pick up a 1st down.

Keep in mind this is Murray at his quickest and most nimble. He can’t make the plays on the run a Lamar Jackson can do and he has to develop in the pocket. He has nice touch but as Defensive Coordinators really game plan against him, can he keep his touch over a complete football game. In today’s game the telecast announced that 31 times Murray and the Cardinals had been in the RedZone and come up with just 11 touchdowns. The worst in football. Defensive Coordinators are able to knock Murray off rhythm for a half as in most games the Cardinals are off kilter in the 1st half…only to scramble back in the 2nd and falling short in the games they lose.

So Murray picks up a lot of fantasy stats in garbage time…not stats that equal winning football. Huge difference!

Some of this is Kyler Murray’s fault but more of it is Kliff Kingsbury’s.

Murray shows tremendous flashes with great throws but there are too many sporadic 3 and out series. However Kingsbury never puts Murray under center where he could use his voice cadence to slow the pass rush. He also doesn’t put him under center where he can call half rollouts that can also slow the pass rush. In the Pistol you can’t run “Waggles” nor standard formation (2TE/1RB or 2RB/1TE) calls that brings 1 and possibly 2 additional Linebackers on the field and open up Murray’s throwing windows past 15 yards.

Yet that is too sophisticated for Kingsbury who is one of these analytic football coaches completely overcoaching the game and undercoaching situations. You’d think he was calling plays as though he is coaching football on Playstation or XBox Madden. Very few adjustments and shows why his hiring was questioned by those who never believed in him or his system when it never produced a winning record in the Big XII.

A collegiate conference that doesn’t play defense!

For The Chancellor of Football this all feels like “The Old Ball Coach II” when Steve Spurrier was supposed to revolutionize the NFL back in 2000 or The Run & Shoot offense only to fall flat on their faces when NFL Defensive Coordinators drew a bead on what they’re offenses couldn’t do.

Another is this penchant for hiring these “fast talking” young analytic football coaches a la Sean McVay who come in with a fancy Pistol formation and play call sheet and inability to react and make adustments in their offense when they face a defensive guru like a Bill Belichick. Or make adjustments to the elements or team’s defensive strengths. These guys are a thorn in the side of long time front line coordinators looking for head coaching jobs in the NFL. Same for many former black players who are not being afforded the chance to enter the coaching ranks with the “Rooney Rule” at these guys expense.

So teams are coming full bore on the Cardinals offense to chase Kingsbury back to college and Murray is the collateral damage. Remember in his 2nd preseason game showcased on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” when Murray, as the game concluded, asked several Raider defenders why the Raiders DC kept blitzing him when he expected a vanilla defensive game plan?? Its been relentless ever since.

Will Kingsbury adjust and learn the pro game?

Will Kingsbury alter his game plan away from the same formations and alter their plan of attack to protect Murray??

Will Murray be able to take the punishment before NFL defenses either beat the speed out of him or chase him back to baseball??

Interesting questions that history has shown direction but we have to let play out in real time. Asking “The Chancellor of Football?” We’ve seen this before and doesn’t think so. Kingsbury calls too cute a ball game just like Matt Nagy in Chicago. They’re too in love with playing to the point they are geniuses instead of adjusting to what will make their team’s successful. Then just like “The Old Ball Coach” they will be chased back to college.

This just in: The Arizona Cardinals just lost their 3rd straight, 30-27 to Tampa, and now drop to 3-6-1…and now travel to 8-0 (haven’t played this week yet) San Francisco with the NFL’s #1 defense. Yikes!! Kingsbury and Murray…your mission, should you choose to accept it…

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2019 NFC West Previews & Predictions

Once the final seconds ticked away at the conclusion of Super Bowl LIII, a series of questions rose to greet the Rams before they trudged back to their locker room. Scott McVay’s “Boy Wonder” status had been ripped to shreds in a 13-3 loss where the Rams offense couldn’t get out of it’s own way.

What was the impetus for RB Todd Gurley’s diminished role in LIII just as it had been down in the NFC Championship in New Orleans?? Did Gurley really hurt his knee where Rams brass kept it quiet or was it fall out from his appearance on LeBron James’ show “The Shop”??

How did the NFL’s highest scoring team, averaging 32.9 points per game, wind up tied with the Dolphins of Super Bowl VI with the lowest game total in S.B. history with 3 points?? Have McVay and Jared Goff recovered from being dominated in a world championship game when all eyes were on them??

When you lose a Super Bowl all questions rise to the surface and no team recent memory has as much to answer to than the defending NFC Champions.

One of the teams they have to stave off to repeat as NFC West champions is the #1 rushing attack of Seattle. Pete Carroll’s 3 headed monster, Chris Carson (1,141 rush yds), Mike Davis (514 yds) & Rashad Penny (420 yds) combined for 15TDs while averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Their combined 2,084 yards running established attitude and tone the Seahawks hadn’t seen since Marshawn Lynch. With Penny coming on at the end of the season it’s hard to see this group along with the front line not becoming the bellwether focal point of a young ball club.

2019 NFC West Predictions

  1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5 *
  2. Los Angeles Rams 9-7**
  3. San Francisco 49ers 6-10
  4. Arizona Cardinals 4-12

Pete Carroll’s team finished winning 6 of their last 7 and was the most solid NFC team coming down the stretch. Now they add the 4.3 speed and size of 2nd round draft pick DK Metcalf to bolster a receiver group in flux. He has the size and speed to become the 1st #1 receiver in Russell Wilson’s tenure. For the 1st time this team will be known for their offensive strength and rely on timely defense vs an overpowering one.

Eventually 49er QB Jimmy Garoppolo was going to have to hit the field and earn his large contract. Truth be told he struggled at the beginning of last year which should be the case at the start of 2019. He hasn’t played against live fire in nearly a year. Fan favorite backup Nick Mullens will have a chance to wrest a few starts from Garoppolo if this team starts 0-3 with a bye in the 4th week.

However the 49ers have bolstered their defense with the signing of free agent LB Kwon Alexander,1st round draft pick Joey Bosa and acquiring DE Dee Ford along with former Raider and Seahawk LB Malcolm Smith. The 49ers should have one of the better defenses in the NFC. It will make for closer games however the Niner offense lacks explosion so they’ll keep games close but…

The Niners running by committee and lack of explosive playmakers on offense will short circuit efforts early in the season. They’ll win a few ugly games late. Keep in mind this team was 1-5 in the division last year. They have to establish themselves here.

In Tinsletown the Rams are ready to bounce back from their Super Bowl meltdown… however we need to find out about Todd Gurley first. Last year Gurley was one of the best weapons in the NFL yet something happened. On Dec 2nd, Gurley rushed for 132 yds on 23 carries and 2 scores and was the big strike RB earning his $57 million contract. Two days later he appeared on Lebron James show “The Shop” where James famously made the comment “NFL owners had a plantation mentality” and all of a sudden we didn’t see him carrying the football.

In the last 4 games of the season he had 11, 12, 0, and 0 carries to finish the season. Interestingly in the wild card win over Dallas he burst for 115 yards on 16 carries yet played 2nd fiddle to CJ Anderson’s 123 yards on 23 carries and 2 scores. Then back in hibernation mode with 4 attempts for 10 yards in the NFC Championship Game and 10 carries for 35 yards in the Super Bowl. Hmmmmmm?? OK

Well there was some fudging with the injury report with an arthritic knee unofficially we learned leading up to the Super Bowl yet it wasn’t reported. Another theory is Gurley was silenced and pulled out of the lineup for the appearance on The Shop… it came at the height of the national anthem debate and in the black community we spoke of it on social media and in the blogosphere. He didn’t defend ownership or give a rebuttal to the “slave mentality” comment and we won’t know for some time.

Either way Gurley and the Rams have to deal with the psychological fallout from this and the Super Bowl flameout or a star running back with an arthritic knee. For one who relies on jump cuts and option routes on LBs and Nickel backs in the passing game, this is a problem and he could be worn down by week 12.

We’re waiting to see how Jared Goff bounces back from the Super Bowl. Goff enjoyed a Pro Bowl year completing 364 of 561 passes for 4,688 yards and 32 scores. Yet he only threw for 1 TD in 3 postseason games and didn’t throw for more than 300 yards in any of the 3. In this copycat league teams will follow what the Patriots did and disguise their coverages then shift into a new look when the play clock gets down to :15. This is when Sean McVay can no longer speak to him in his helmet speaker. He HAS to be able to audible and move his offense into different formations to beat defenses on his own and not just rely on presnap play design.

Keep in mind as NFC Champs they are going to get everyone’s best shot and this team was only 3-3 against playoff teams in the regular season. If the Rams can start fast they won’t have to deal with all these items discussed except Taylor Blitz sees a 3-3 start this year and the talk will begin. They will miss the playoffs in 2019.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks win the division.

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Legendary Days: The 1981 NFC Championship Game – The Birth of Camelot

With Dwight Clark’s passing a few weeks back it was nearly impossible to not think back to his signature play and this game. The Catch ushered in an era where the 49ers became the NFL’s signature franchise and brought Dallas down a notch. A win 2 weeks later in Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac gave Bill Walsh the platform to showcase his genius, The West Coast (Paul Brown’s) Offense, and launch an era he coined “Camelot”. Joe Montana became one of the NFL’s newest faces and would dominate the decade.

Dwight Clark as he will appear forever in the minds of fans everywhere.

Going into the ’81 NFC Championship the 49ers were an organization that not only hadn’t won a championship in their 36 year history. They were 0-3 against Dallas in the postseason. Even worse is they had left 2 NFL Championships on the table by celebrating victory prematurely then succumbing to huge comeback defeats.

In 1957, Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny and the Million Dollar Backfield bolted to a 27-7 3rd quarter lead in a playoff with the Detroit Lions. Detroit battled back and won 31-27. Then in ’72, a revenge minded 49er team fresh from back to back defeats in the first two NFC Championship Games to Dallas jumped to a 28-13 3rd quarter lead. Amid the taunts and trash talk Landry replaced ineffective QB Craig Morton for Roger Staubach. In another classic meltdown Dallas stormed to win 30-28.

Each of these losses crippled the franchise as they went into a tailspin for a decade both times.

Now here was a 3rd trip to the summit for an organization fighting for respect. Why would this generation’s group get over the hump where previous teams had failed?? This was the dreaded Dallas Cowboys they were 0-3 against in the postseason.

chancellor.coop

The Chancellor & former 49er Earl Cooper at PFHoF ’16

At the time Hall of Fame Coach Tom Landry was the Bill Walsh / Bill Belichick of his era having taken the Cowboys to the postseason 15 of the last 16 years. Not only had he won 2 Super Bowls, his teams was playing in a championship game for the 10th time with this tilt out in Candlestick. The NFL up to this time hadn’t seen this type of extended success. Not nearing 2 decades worth. Well a berth in Super Bowl XVI was at stake and all he had to do was get past this bunch of no names out in California. Consensus at the time by the national media cited that he would:

 

Eric Wright’s clutch tackle on Drew Pearson saved the game but Dwight Clark’s catch remains it’s signature. Prestige is much like momentum. You can’t exactly define it yet you know it once you feel it and see it. The mantle of prestige and esteem the Cowboys held transferred to the 49ers the moment Clark came down with the football. From that point on the buzz from NFL media in print and television began with Bill Walsh and his organization. His West Coast offense became the dominant offensive approach for the next four decades.

Epilogue:

For those of us old enough to have watched this game and remember those years it was a unique time in NFL history. A young Chancellor of Football was watching this frozen in -63 wind chill in Columbus, Ohio. These were bigger than life characters that were shaping how I viewed the game and learned of all those making history. When we lose Dwight Clark, who was one of those figures, a piece of us go with them. Things won’t be the same but thanks for the memories. Thankfully former 49er Coach Steve Mariucci shared this on Twitter.

Mariucci was a beneficiary of the prestige borne of The Catch. They were a well oiled and running dynasty 16 years in when he succeeded George Seifert in 1997. Hmmmm…isn’t that the same 16 year mark when Landry had the Cowboys in San Francisco back in ’81?? For irony…. Mariucci and the 49ers also lost the NFC Championship Game that year. Yet that story…can be told at another time.

WalshMontana

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh are linked forever in football lore.

Thanks for the memories Dwight Clark. RIP (January 8, 1957 – June 4, 2018)

Dedicated To The Memories of: Dwight Clark, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry,  Freddie Solomon, Bob McKittrick, John Ayers, Fred Quillan, Keith Fahnhorst, Ernie Stautner, Larry Bethea, Harvey Martin, Ron Springs, narrator Harry Kalas, Ed Sabol & Steve Sabol

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me.mooch