1st and Goal Niners Progression to Championship

Updated: February 8, 2013


Four years ago at Candlestick Point, The San Francisco 49ers were in last place in the National Football Conference Western Division. The Gold and Red made mistakes on and off the field. It was time for a change. It was time for a leader to take charge of this west coast misfit team.

The 49er administration hired a defensive mastermind, a taskmaster, and a fierce linebacker. He was also a Hall of Famer named Michael Singletary. Singletary guided the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bear Championship team with his quick middle line-backing skills. He was the quarterback of the Bear defense.

The first on Mr. Singletary’s agenda was instill a winning mentality with team discipline. In the first week of the season he sent Vernon Davis to the locker room after he made a personal foul on a meaningless 4th down play. Davis slapped a Seattle Seahawk defender in the 2008-09 season. That sent a message to the team that everybody would be held accountable from that day forward.

The Niners struggled and lost the first five games but the team had a different attitude after the Davis – Singletary incident. The defense began to have that special swagger that great defenses have when they know they are good. The corner was being turned; and the Niners were quietly becoming men. However, the question remained, would Singletary have enough time to complete his task?

The Niners went into a different offensive mindset with the spread offense and quarterback Alex Smith. San Francisco’s offense continued to struggle and the Smith-Singletary relationship was a bone of contention. The 49er administration could not wait and they fired Singletary in 2010. But the Singletary defense foundation was built. Defense wins championships and Mike Singletary finished that job making the 49ers one of the meanest defenses in the NFC. In 2008 the Niners were in last place in every department. During the Singletary Era, San Francisco rose to number 5 in league defense, a commendable achievement that most sports media entities seem to forget – especially, the Four Letter Word Network.

The bridge would be complete with the offensive minded Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the successful Stanford University Cardinal football team. Harbough led the Red and Gold to their first playoff appearance in years with Alex Smith as quarterback.

In 2010 Head Coach Jim Harbaugh ran into a gold mine (pun intended). He tweeted the offense and replaced quarterback Alex Smith who took them to the NFC Championship game last year. Colin Kaepernick, a younger mobile quarterback would lead them to the Super Bowl. It ended with a 1st and Goal on the opposition’s goal line with time running out.

It was one of the most fascinating comebacks in Super Bowl History with a very odd twist to the end of the contest. The San Francisco 49ers were down by 22 points to the American League Champion Baltimore Ravens as the teams went into the locker rooms.

The beautiful and musically talented Beyonce with Destiny’s Child entertained the American public for 34 minutes singing and dancing to most of her hit songs. The Stage was cleared and the on field participants went back to their seats.

The teams returned to the field with the Ravens receiving the ball to the start of the 2nd half. John Harbaugh had outcoached his younger brother Jim Harbaugh for the first 30 minutes of this game. Two mistakes by the 49ers created scoring drives for the purple birds and a 21-6 lead.

The 49ers kicked off as the football zipped into the end zone on a low trajectory Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones went back to the back end of the end zone and caught the ball. The Niner defense relaxed, Jones picking up speed and made a bee-line down the middle of the field passing the whole 49er kicking team in 11 seconds which lead to a commanding 28-6 Baltimore lead.

Most Super Bowl historians started thinking this game was over and the Niners would be looking to next year. No team had ever come back from more than 10 points behind. Then the unthinkable happened, half of the Super Dome went dark on the Raven side of the field. It took another 34 minutes before the Super Dome returned to normal lighting. It gave the Niners time to think about their situation.

Jim Harbaugh, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree finally put it together and got back into the game. Kaepernick rushed 12 yards for a touchdown with nine minutes to go in the game.

San Francisco failed to tie the game with the two point conversion. This was the 1st major mistake and coaching error of the game. The Baltimore Ravens received the ball and kept it away from the Niners for over five minutes driving for a 38 yard field goal by rookie kicker Justin Tucker and a five point lead. So the 49ers had to score a touchdown to win.

Then Niner history seemed unfolding to football fans. The San Francisco 49ers started a game ending drive. Visions of Montana, Rice, and Clark. Visions of Steve Young and their wonderful Championship years were beginning to be a reality. It also put their undefeated Super Bowl record on the line. The Red and Gold were destined to win another ring, or were they?

With over two minutes to go in the game the San Francisco 49ers were knocking of their door to their 6th Super Bowl Championship. The 49ers had the ball on the Raven seven yard line, first and goal. The stage was set for a Bay Area party.

In the 2nd half, the Niners ran the football down the Ravens throats. This goal line march should have been easy with the league’s best running quarterback, 2nd year man Colin Kaepernick, who ran for 60 yards, with 1 touchdown and the best running back in the game Frank Gore who rushed for 110 yards. This should have been a cinch touchdown.

It did not happened. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh sent in four straight passing plays with the last one being a roll out to the left. The series ended with a controversial play in the corner of the end zone. It never should have came to that critical fourth down play. Fatal mistake number two. The Niners did not score and the Baltimore Ravens are the 2012-13 Super Bowl Champions.

For some reason Harbaugh lost faith in the running game and it cost them. This was a clearly a coaching mistake by Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff. Yet The Four Letter Word Network did not say a word, neither did The (CBS) Columbia Broadcasting Network. Jim Harbaugh has not beaten big brother John Harbaugh yet. The last time, Thanksgiving Night 2011, The Ravens manhandled the 49ers for a Baltimore victory.

Think about this if Jim Harbaugh were of darker hue would he still have his job? We all know that answer.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com


©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

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