Harbaugh: 'Kaepernick really put on his cape'
The 49ers defeated Tampa Bay 33-14 to improve to 10-4, while the Raiders allowed a franchise-record 56 points to Kansas City and fell to 4-10. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Programming note: Watch Jim Harbaugh's Monday press conference on CSN Bay Area at noon or streaming live right here. Watch Dennis Allen's Monday press conference on CSN California at 1:00pm or streaming live right here.
The 49ers have re-established their place in the NFC pecking order – sixth, up from sixth. The Raiders have re-established their place as well – 13th, down from 12th.
In other words, if you were looking for change in the Bay Area in Week 15, you got more of the same. And you’re going to keep getting it until you develop a better taste for it.
The 49ers absorbed all that “Tampa Bay is much improved and a team to worry about” claptrap and clapped those traps with emphasis, 33-14. Colin Kaepernick played his best game since Week 1 by showing the fullness of his gifts without breaking the fantasy league bank, Michael Crabtree moved past Colt McCoy in the quarterback depth chart by hitting Tampa linebacker Lavonte David on a line from 40 yards. The defense reminded the Buccaneers that they are, in fact, the Buccaneers.
[MAIOCCO: Crabtree plays with pent-up emotions]
The Raiders, on the other hand, folded early against the Kansas City Smiths, rallied, and then folded again late. They are as they have been for 11 years now, and as they are likely to be so for another couple of years at the very least.
But the rest of the NFL didn’t change much, either. The Seattle Seahawks are still the most trustworthy team in the league, the Arizona Cardinals are the team most likely to get rogered out of a playoff spot by the league’s insistence on having every division represented in January whether it deserves to or not, and the NFC North and East just plain reek. The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals all took the pipe in varying degrees of shame this weekend.
And the central truth about Super Bowl XLVIII is not that it will be killed by the weather, but by the game itself. Oh well. Death through hubris-inspired laughter by any means . . .
The NFL has over the years become the drug of choice for the short attention span generation, so this week’s losers stink just as much as they were magnificent when they were last week’s winners. Philly, New Orleans, Denver, New England and Cincinnati all won last week, which means we’ve been led down yet another cul de sac, and five more quarterbacks (hey, that is how we keep score, right?) have revealed themselves as inadequate to the demands of the job.
Peyton Manning hates the cold. Tom Brady calls “s----y plays.” Drew Brees has been exposed twice in three weeks. Nick Foles is no longer the fabulous new item on the menu. And Andy Dalton is still red-haired and untrustworthy.
Oh, and Tony Romo? Don’t even start.
Conversely, Russell Wilson is back befuddling the masses, Kaepernick’s slump seems finally to be over, Andrew Luck got a much needed dose of Houston Texans, Alex Smith threw five touchdowns totaling 13 downfield yards, and people like Jay Cutler more than Josh McCown again.
For the moment.
Truth is, there are only two teams with what passes for between-games momentum right now, and they are, if the schedule is any judge, likely to hold it into the postseason. Two teams in the same division, with one holding all the cards and the other trying to delay the time when they meet again.
Seattle. And San Francisco. And one is likely to head for New York and the Super Bowl that a sleetstorm can only enhance.