Although these next few weeks will feature some of the best sports games of the year, being the NBA and NHL playoffs and all, there has been a splash in the football world. The finalized regular season schedule will be blessed upon us football fanatics, who are desperate for the regular season to start, on April 23. I will analyze some of the most intriguing battles that the San Francisco 49ers will partake in by listing my 5 most enticing matchups for the 49ers this season:
5. vs. The Philadelphia Eagles. For the last few years, whenever I thought of the Eagles the word that immediately jumped into my head was “speed.” But now that Michael Vick is off to the Jets and the whole DeSean Jackson fiasco has sent him to Washington, that offense is not nearly as frightening as it once was.
Don’t get me wrong, Nick Foles played magnificently last year and could’ve been a legitimate candidate for MVP, had some guy named Peyton Manning not broken every single season passing record. LeSean McCoy is the cog that makes the Eagle’s offense run (literally), and will be a huge test for the 49ers’ front 7 when they have to deal with “Shady” out in the open field.
The Eagles’ defense has been susceptible to letting up big plays offensively, and the 49ers will need their fair share of explosive plays to keep up with coach Chip Kelly’s high powered offense.
4. at the Dallas Cowboys. Man, a lot of history here. These two teams used to be one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports back in the 80’s and 90’s. It was almost a given that these two storied franchises would match up against each other every postseason, and it was always must see T.V. Between Terrell Owens standing on the Cowboys’ star and Steve Young finally topping Dallas to go get the monkey off his back, there have been some sweet moments for 49ers fans while playing The Cowboys.
Oh yeah, and Dwight Clarke made some significant catch against the Cowboys that sparked a dynasty.
Enough dwelling in the past, this should make for an exciting matchup. For as much flak as he receives, Tony Romo can ball out with offensive weapons such as Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, and they will be a tough challenge for the 49ers to contain, especially with all the changes to the 49ers’ defensive backs this offseason.
The Dallas defense has been historically bad lately, and losing Demarcus Ware should have Vernon Davis and the rest of the 49ers offense licking their lips in anticipation. The 49ers should have the game wrapped up if they have the lead in the 4th quarter and Tony Romo has the ball…
3. at the New Orleans Saints. Does anyone else still cringe when they think about the game that took place last season between these two teams? I could write an entire article solely on how God awful the unnecessary roughness penalty was on Ahmad Brooks, but I’ll try not to get too riled up about that right now.
Drew Brees has been playing at a Hall of Fame level almost every year he has been with the Saints, and no matter how good a defense might be, I can guarantee that he will put up points. The Saints’ defense is no pushover either, and the 49ers will need to commit to feeding Frank Gore the ball in order to open up the play action passing game to give Kap more time against the Saints’ athletic defense.
2. vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. Welcome back, Alex Smith. I am really curious to how he will be received when he steps into Levi Stadium, but I hope he is not drowned in boos, as he was for a lot of his career here while the starter.
He was a trooper and class act during the 2012 season when he was replaced by Kaepernick, and gave me my all-time favorite moment as a 49er fan in the divisional playoff game against the Saints during the 2011 season.
But enough of that, he is the enemy now on a hungry Chiefs team. Smith helped resurrect the Chiefs from the worst team in the league to a playoff berth where they lost a thriller to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith was exceptional in this game, tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions, but he better get that chin strap nice and tight when he returns to the Bay. Smith must remember that he will be playing the coach that made him a quality player and knows him inside and out.
Harbaugh will know exactly how to disrupt Smith and put him in situations that will cause him to struggle. But Harbaugh must also remember that Smith probably has a little animosity towards Harbaugh and the 49ers organization, and he will come to Santa Clara with a chip on his shoulder looking for blood.
1. vs./at the Seattle Seahawks. Since they are division foes, the 49ers play the Seahawks both at home and in Seattle each year. Both games will be must-see T.V. for football fans all across the country.
I feel like analysis is hardly necessary for this game, so here is the lowdown: both teams will run the ball, both defenses will lower the boom, and neither quarterback will put up huge numbers, but will make a few jaw-dropping plays. Whichever offense makes less mistakes than the other will emerge victorious in this duel of the two kings of the NFC.
As much as Seattle and San Francisco fans love to hate each other, the one area both sides can agree on is that their teams are the two most talented teams in the NFL (sorry, Denver). Even if the 49ers went 2-14, as long as those wins came against the Seahawks, silencing the 12th man would be a successful season for me.
Not really. It’s Super Bowl or bust this year.