49ers-Saints gets scheduling shaft

January 13, 2012, 9:50 pm
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There are two things clearly wrong with the Saints-49ers game Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The date, and the time.

Its almost as if the NFL wanted to get it out of the way first, as the appetizer to the games it thinks the nation would rather see. And its hard to see the flaw in that logic.

New York at Green Bay? Way more nationally intriguing, because of the defending Super Bowl champions, the best quarterback, and the New York hype machine. This is what happens, after all, when the Jets do all that talking only to have to shut up at the last minute.

Denver at New England? Timothy Ebenezer Tebow versus the heat vision of Bill Belichick? Are you kidding?

But Houston at Baltimore? Can it really be that Joe Flacco and T.J. Yates ... oh, never mind.

This isnt about what network has what game or any of that. Its the feeling that the divisional round of games tends to build to a crescendo, rather than opening with its best work. This, then, is the clearest measure of what the nation thinks about Saints-49ers -- it cant be done with it fast enough.

This is difficult to reconcile with Texans-Ravens -- two defense-first teams with clear offensive issues, and unless it is going to snow like Finland (and it isnt; we checked), there is no excitement to build into that game save local fandom.

But maybe thats the case with this game, too. Maybe our myopia prevents us from detecting a national disinterest in this matchup. Maybe folks outside the 415, 510, 650, 925, 707 and 408 dont see the 49ers as effective counterpunchers. Maybe they see a rout, and dont really want to engage with the details.

If that were the case, though, we would have heard about it from Jim Harbaugh, Highlight Monitor. He never met a slight of his team he couldnt turn into a plane streamer.

Then again, maybe hes outgrown the respect card -- or more maturely, that his players have. Harbaugh has a good ear for what will stir the passions in his players, and the we dont get any highlights story line was played out pretty quickly.

Or maybe he knows that the real truth is this: That anyone who needs motivational help at this point is unfit to play in such a game. Motivation wont be the problem here, unless the 49ers and Saints have a lot less character than we think they do.

Still, theyll be ushered off the stage quickly enough. The nation has other needs, apparently.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.