(By Daisy Barringer)
I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief. With last night’s 27-6 win over the Washington Redskins, the 49ers proved that the offense does not need to fully rely on the defense to win games and that, despite some poor play/decisions in previous games, the players and coaches hungry for a spot in the playoffs.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman claimed the offense was going to “pop” last night, but I’m not ready to break out the champagne for him quite yet. Still, I’d be happy to give him a solid fist bump or even a slap on the butt. Except, not the latter because no. The play calling was definitely less conservative than in the last couple of games and that allowed Kaepernick to air the ball out effectively. Kap had a career-best 134.5 passer rating, completing 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards, three TD passes, and zero interceptions. In addition, he had six completions longer than 18 yards. But the best part? He didn’t give up when his first option wasn’t open, something critics (and fans) have been worried about.
It certainly helped that Mario Manningham was back in action, meaning Anquan Boldin wasn’t in double coverage all night long. Kap passed to Manningham often and early and once Washington saw that Manningham had three catches in the first quarter, they couldn't rule him out. And that’s where Anquan Boldin stepped up.
I could watch Anquan Boldin play football all day long. Last night I remembered when I was a little brat when we signed him (I didn’t want someone from the Ravens on my team because I was pouting about the Super Bowl) and I kicked myself. Thank GOD we signed Boldin. Without him I don’t even want to think about it. Last night he had five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. The first TD was a 19-yard pass into the corner of the end zone, the second an amazing catch between two defenders. I turned to my friend and said, “You could throw that exact pass to me 1000 times and I would never catch the ball.” I mean, you know, cause I'm a girl. NO NOT REALLY. Because holy cow, Boldin is so talented.
Also, a shout out to Vernon Davis (and the entire offense) who managed to somehow totally confuse the Redskins defense and was wide open for the final TD of the game. Or as @InstaDerek said on Twitter: “Davis had pitched a tent in the end zone, started a campfire and was roasting a marshmallow by the time the ball arrived.”
Of course, as always, the real props go to the 49ers defense. Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said they were the toughest defense his team had faced all season. And I believe him. The defense looked fantastic. Ahmad Brooks took his moment in the spotlight for his hit against Drew Brees and turned it into an opportunity to show everyone in primetime just how hard he really can hit—and legally, to boot. (Even though I will argue until I die that hit against Brees was legal.) Brooks had seven tackles and two sacks. And he did it in front of his hometown crowd, which has got to feel good. (Although I read somewhere that it was too cold for his mom to come to the game and that made me so sad! Still, I bet she’s proud of her boy today.)
Aldon Smith also had two sacks and showed that he’s back. In fact, the sacks got so bad (and by “bad,” I mean “good”) that at one point that my friend expressed pity for RGIII. This is the same friend who likes the Cardinals because “they play in that heat.” What? I’ve known her since I was nine years old. Some people you just have to love no matter what. Anyway, what I said to her is that if he wanted his offensive line to do a good job of protecting him, he shouldn’t have talk smack about his teammates after last week’s loss. I’m not saying they let him go down on purpose—no, our defensive guys stepped up and made sure it happened—but I can only imagine that perhaps they were just a little slower to react than before RGIII opened his big, fat mouth.
It wasn’t just sacks that got RGIII down though. He started the game by throwing four incompletions. His sixth pass was an INT—a pass I think we can all agree was pretty much intended for Donte Whitner. And yet, he still can’t figure out how to just take responsibility for his actions saying last night after the game that “people are trying to character assassinate [him].” No, dude. You’re character assassinating yourself. Get it together.
I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t recognize that LaMichael James is probably a better punt returner than Kyle Williams was. I didn’t appreciate his behavior at the beginning of the season or his sub-tweets that he claimed weren’t about football but clearly were him whining about not being a part of the game plan, but now that he finally is getting the ball, he’s doing a good job and I liked how aggressive he was out there.
I don’t know what else to say. This was one of those games where even when the score was 10-6 at the half, I was still pretty confident we were going to get the W. We just played better ball. Sure, they’re a mediocre team, but we needed to go out there play well on offense, continue doing what we do on defense, and show the world that we’re in this.
And we are. With the win, the 49ers secured the very last spot in the wild card race. Luckily, our upcoming games are against the 5-6 Rams at home (win), the 10-1 Seahawks at home (I'm not saying anything, lest I jinx it, but okay fine, I think we can 100% win that game), the 3-8 Bucs in Tampa Bay (win), the 2-9 Falcons at home on a Monday night (win), and the 7-4 Cardinals in Arizona (win). Oh wait. I think I just said we’re going to win all of our remaining games. Yay us! But even if we do drop one, that still leaves us at 11-5, which should be plenty to ensure us a spot in the playoffs.
Knock on wood.