49ers, Opinion

49ers 2013 season preview

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Hi. Football is back. You may have heard. In order to enhance your anticipation for this joyous occasion, we’re constructing words into sentences and paragraphs to talk about it. Novel approach, really. We already did this with the Raiders, which you can read here. You can also check out our NFL predictions here. This is our season preview for the Santa Clara 49ers.

So, uh, what’s gonna happen if Colin Kaepernick goes down? He’s a mobile quarterback. He’s at the face of this new read-option craze whose Kool Aid the NFL is guzzling by the gallon right now. Therefore proven science says he has a 93 percent chance of devastatingly injuring himself in any given game. Kidding! I hope. (It’s funny; some running backs carry the ball for upwards of 20 times a game and endure a whole lot more pounding, but when a quarterback is prone to scramble 10 times a game, everybody has to start breathing into a paper bag when a thought enters their mind about him blowing out his knee as if his ligaments are made of Macy’s wrapping paper.)

But don’t act like this can’t happen. And pretty much everything the Niners have going for them rides on Kaepernick’s health. Yeah, the rest of the team is pretty damn good. The defense is menacing. And the Aldon Smith-Justin Smith pairing on the right side is the most intimidating defensive pairing since the Fulton Reed-Dean Portman blue line in D2. But if Kap gets hurt for a prolonged time, you’re essentially now the 2006 Bears, who had Rex Grossman as their quarterback. That defense was good enough to take the team to the Super Bowl, but they had Rex Grossman as their quarterback. And the Niners aren’t in the business of being just good enough to make the Super Bowl. They had that party last year. If they’re winning the Super Bowl this year, it’s because Colin Kaepernick is kissing his biceps in the end zone.

This injury predicament became real talk during training camp when the Niners were playing duck-duck-goose to figure out who would be the primary back-up. Colt McCoy eventually won that honor, but it took three preseason games before Jim Harbaugh was all like, “FINNNNEEEEEEE. He’ll do.” So McCoy doesn’t instill a whole lot of confidence. And to answer the question—what happens if Kaepernick goes down? Well, a lot of ice baths and Percocets for Frank Gore, probably. And sucking at throwing the ball, definitely.

Oh, hey. This Jim Harbaugh GIF. Just for old times’ sake!

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Harbaugh is pretty much the epitome of a Guy You Would Want To Punch in the Face If He Wasn’t On Your Team.

The Smiths. Speaking of guys whom the Niners can’t afford to see getting hurt this season, what about Justin Smith? He’s not higher than Kaepernick on the List of People Who Should Be Wrapped in Bubble Wrap At All Times, but he’s definitely up there. Let me introduce you to some numbers:

14 games, 19.5 sacks, 46 tackles
5 games, 0 sacks, 7 tackles

Those numbers? Aldon Smith’s numbers before (top) and after Justin Smith suffered a partially torn triceps, including the postseason. Justin, of course, later returned for the playoffs and played through the injury but was not 100 percent. Is it a coincidence Aldon was having a historic season and then suddenly became this guy once the dude who sets up in front of him was hampered by a serious injury? No. It just shows how vital it is for the front seven to have Justin Smith healthy (which he is now). Not only does Justin Smith bring a resume that includes four Pro Bowls and provide a disruptive force in the middle, but he also draws the attention that opens things up for Aldon Smith to do Aldon Smith things in the backfield.

Davis vs. Moss. You may have heard or seen that Randy Moss is a talking head on television now. Fox Sports 1, to be exact, is the place where he wears oversized suit jackets and talks pigskin. It’s his first job in television, so naturally Randy feels the need to make his mark early and come up with the #hotsportstakes even if it’s mostly just hot air. That was this case this week when the former 49ers glorified decoy called back to his one year with the team last season. His proclamation? (cue dramatic music) Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis don’t have chemistry:

“From my time there last year, it didn’t seem Kaepernick and Vernon Davis had a rapport. They haven’t shown that yet,” Moss said on a conference call as Fox Sports’ newest analyst.

Davis retorted:

“I feel me and Colin are on a different level than where we were last year,” Davis said. “You have to think about it: When a quarterback just steps in, it takes time to learn his receivers.” [...]

“I don’t think you can base everything on what happened last year, because a lot can change in six months,” Davis said. “Colin is a different man. Some of the things I learned this training camp, I didn’t learn last training camp.”

In the end, both guys are not wrong here. Moss was speaking from his experience and said something everybody knew, especially Vernon Davis fantasy owners: after Kaepernick took over, he and Davis never got on the same page until the playoffs. Fast forward to training camp and it’s a different story: reports out of camp are to the contrary. They now have a lot of chemistry.

That’s another dangerous element to the Niners offense this season. Last year the offense was the cat’s pajamas with Kaepernick being BFFs through the air with just Michael Crabtree. This year, assuming Anquan Boldin fills Crabtree’s role adequately, the Niners will have Kaepnerick in rhythm with another lethal weapon in Davis. AND THEN MICHAEL CRABTREE WILL COME BACK AND JOIN THE FRAY. The NFC West’s reaction:

glee-naya-rivera-sarcastic-sile

Thirsty Kap. Colin Kaepernick has reached the level of celebrity where people are now starting to speculate on potential love interests. As was the case this week with him and USWNT striker Sydney Leroux (who last I heard was dating JJ Watt, but whatever). She tweeted at Kap last weekend when her alma mater UCLA played Kap’s alma mater Nevada in football. And the Internet basically began speculating that these two were, well…

Because it’s obviously impossible to tweet at somebody without being romantically intertwined with them these days. That’s why the only people I tweet at are Mila Kunis and Emilia Clarke.

Here’s an actual sentence written about LeKap’s potential fling, as if the evidence presented was the smoking gun in a murder investigation:

Both Kaepernick and Leroux appeared this summer in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. They follow each other on Twitter, and Leroux sent out a tweet to Kaepernick on Saturday as her alma mater, UCLA, was beating Kaepernick’s, Nevada, in their football opener: “Hey @Kaepernick7 what’s the score of that UCLA Nevada game?”

Kaepernick addressed the rumors with an answer straight out of the Harbaugh School of Answering Questions (where’s he’s slowly working his way up to tenured professor): “Not my girlfriend. I didn’t see the game. I was working.”

So, there. Can we take him at his word? Who knows. But it doesn’t change how silly this whole thing started. You people thought you had a match made in heaven, like you were two Indian parents finding your son’s soulmate. You saw these two walking on the beach holding hands, going to get tattoos together and living happily ever after. Instead everybody got their hopes and facts twisted.

I assumed this rumor was bogus from the getgo (#HUMBLEBRAG). Don’t y’all know he already has, like, 500 girlfriends on Instagram???

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Seriously, though. When this man finds out about SnapChat, the 49ers’ season is going down the toilet.

Rookie report. First-round pick Eric Reid will be the opening-day starter at free safety, filling the hole left by Dashon Goldson. But I’m still leaning toward Marcus Lattimore, whenever his surgically installed robot legs are cleared for action, eventually emerging as the best player of this 49ers draft class. Loved that pick in the draft. Such a perfect situation for him. I also like Quinton Patton, if for no other reason than his touchdown dances are stupendous.

Nuanced X’s and O’s analysis: This team is good at football.

Prediction: 13-3*
*Super Bowl champs

PREVIOUSLY:
2013 NFL predictions
2013 Raiders season preview

[photo via A Syn]

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