By TED SILLANPAA
Everyone will have an opinion on the quality of the 49ers play-calling and the direction the club is taking in the Jim Harbaugh era … after Saturday’s NFC playoff game against the Packers. Then, it’ll be easy to spit out results-based opinion. So, let’s agree on a few things right now.
- Colin Kaepernick is the best quarterback for these 49ers. Harbaugh had this game in mind when he replaced Alex Smith with Kaepernick. Kaepernick earned the No. 1 job for what he can do that Smith can’t do, e.g., scrambling for big gains after eluding the pass rush. Kaepernick plays to a different standard than Smith did. Kaepernick isn’t out there to avoid making mistakes. He’ll throw the ball down the field. He’ll, side step the pass rush, and run for a first down rather than dumping the ball off for a 2-yard gain. No matter how Kaepernick performs against the Packers, the 49ers have the right guy at quarterback.
- Offensive coordinator Greg Roman does a good job calling plays. Fans mimic media types who respond to losses by explaining in cliches that Roman isn’t a good play-caller. That’s ridiculous. When the 49ers were rolling to, we all thought, a Super Bowl title at mid-season … we loved Roman’s willingness to run a reverse or to stick with the ground game when we were screaming, “Throw to Randy Moss!” Let’s agree right now that if a play doesn’t work, it was a bad play call. If the play works, it was a good play call. We don’t need to wait to see who wins on Saturday to judge Roman. His play-calling got the 49ers here. And, heck, if the offensive line blows the Packers’ front seven away for four quarters in a win, we’d be praising the genius of Roman if Frank Gore got 50 carries for 170 yardsand 3 touchdowns.
- It doesn’t really matter whether David Akers or Billy Cundiff kicks field goals Saturday. Either one is equally capable of making a game-winning field goal or missing a chip shot in the second quarter. The game, under no circumstance, will hinge on the decision to use Akers or Cundiff. If it comes down to a missed field goal … blame the offense for not getting a first down to begin with.
- The 49ers have a stout defense, but play down the stretch indicates it’s a good defense … not a great defense. So, it’s foolish to head toward Saturday expecting the bunch to shut down Aaron Rodgers.
- The 49ers are planning to throw passes to Vernon Davis so he can score touchdown after touchdown. Honest. The game plan includes passes to Davis. The Packers know that, though, and they’ll make it really hard for Kaepernick to pass to Davis. So, if Davis gets blanked, credit the Packers’ defense. OK, nobody can stop you from complaining that Roman didn’t plan to throw to Davis or that Kaepernick just wouldn’t do it.
- The Packers have as much impact on the outcome of the game as do the 49ers. So, while Niners’ fans are only thinking about what their guys have to do … we need to acknowledge that the 49ers might play well and just get outplayed by the Packers. We need to remember, there are two teams on the field.
Finally, Saturday’s game isn’t some benchmark by which we can judge Harbaugh and the progress of the 49ers’ organization. Lots of people are saying the 49ers have to win this week to keep Harbaugh’s program on track, that a loss would be a near fatal failure. That’s absurd! Harbaugh turned a terrible team into an NFC Championship finalist in 2012 and has the club right back in the thick of the Super Bowl tournament this season. The 49ers are in good hands and in great shape, no matter the outcome on Saturday.