Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Curb Your Temper

No, this is not a plea for "tolerance" (which misguided folk misrepresent as "acceptance") in the wake of the Kaepernick-plus-untold-numbers-of-other-players National Anthem issue. Our opinion on it is straightforward and simple. First, it's not a "free speech" issue since no one is calling for anyone's arrest. Second, the team we love to hate, the Seattle Seahawks, had it exactly right when they stood and linked arms as a team, emphasizing unity over so-called diversity. Third, no matter whether or not this was the proper time and place for Kap's "protest" (we don't believe it was, but you may disagree), there's no doubt it was, and remains, a "me-first" gesture in a game which values teamwork above all.  And finally, the NFL's insistence on rigid uniform policies, which threatens players who honor fallen police officers and 9-11 heroes while allowing disrespect for our flag and those who fought for it, is ridiculous in the present context and likely to cost the league money, attendance, and support. As it should.

Instead, this is a suggestion that while we needn't "curb" our enthusiasm over the 49ers' unexpected demolition of the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night, we may want to "temper" that enthusiasm just a little.

It was only a year ago that the Jim Tomsula 49ers, with Kaepernick under center, walked all over the Minnesota Vikings in similar fashion as the season opened. We all know how that turned out. The Vikings won their division, and the 49ers finished in the cellar of theirs.  Then, as now, the 49er quarterback looked poised, confident, and decisive in his play-making. Then, as now, the running game was dominant. Then, as now, the defense roared  across the field, looking very much like a "Jim Harbaugh"-style defense.

Those were the Vikings, a good team. These are the Rams, if not exactly a bad team then certainly a team with a bad offense, from the line to the quarterback to the play-calling. Any time you win a game by 28-0 it's a good thing, and any time your QB plays with confidence it's a good thing, and any time your offensive line blasts open holes for the running game it's a good thing, and any time your defense pitches a rare shutout it's a real good thing.

But let's give it four weeks before we get excited. Yes, Chip Kelly and his coaches are capable of pulling off a surprise season, as they did with Philadelphia in 2013. But with back-to-back road games at Carolina and Seattle, followed by home dates with Dallas and the Cardinals, in the immediate future, let's see if the 49ers are still worth getting excited about come October. Keep your fingers crossed.