Two down, 22 to go for 49ers

October 31, 2011, 5:13 pm
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Occupy the Second Story. Fight the fight for the 93 percent.

After all, the element of surprise is not as important a social issue as equality of opportunity, and there are 22 49er linemen and linebackers who havent had their numbers called yet to get the ball. And Jim Harbaugh doesnt want what Jason Garrett got Sunday night players fulminating on national television about not getting the ball enough.

In other words, you dont want to see Patrick Willis when he feels like hes getting his shoes squeezed.

The high points of an otherwise desultory 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday were the passes from Alexander D. Smith to tackle Joe Staley and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. The game was desultory because the 49er defense tends to crush bad offensive teams mercilessly, which makes for bad entertainment en route to a satisfying result.

But Staley, the former tight end, and Sopoaga, the former rugby player, spiced up the proceedings by catching two of Smiths 15 completions against the . . . well, desultory, I guess . . . Browns. And in doing so created a potential issue in the locker room that we would like to (a) invent and (b) exacerbate, all at once.

Hey, we have time on our hands, and were impish that way.

The point here is, Willis is the most important non-ballhandler on the team, and maybe the most important anything for that matter. Cant send him out on a fly pattern, or a one-step slant near the goal line?

To Jim Harbaughs credit as the second most important coach in the building (yesterday convincing us that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio should occupy the top of the medal stand for the time being), he is finding new ways each week to keep the gentlemen amused and engaged. Theyre not new to football, mind you. Mike Ditka created Refrigerator Perry out of whole cloth and goal-line blocking 25 years ago.

But two linemen getting paid on the same day? If that isnt unprecedented, you may bet that the last time it happened was when face masks were considered sissified.

Which means there are 22 guys who need a touch between now and the opening of business January 8.

And frankly, what better place to start than Willis? Then NaVorro Bowman? Then Mike Iupati? Then on and on until youre down to Jonathan Goodwin running the fumblerooski in the NFC playoffs?

I mean, you may get some squawking from Vernon Davis, or Michael Crabtree, or Delanie Walker, or the other receivers and running backs who are used to getting theirs. But given that they have lost two thirds of their games for most of the last decade, anything that gives everyone their moment while keeping the turgid routine of navigating the NFC West has to help everyone, right?

And because the 49ers are on the verge of making people wonder what the largest margin of divisional victory in NFL history is (nine games, by new England, 2008), and when the earliest clinching in history happened (we think it was the Patriots right before Thanksgiving that year), they need a little spice here and there to keep the engines churning.

And frankly, Harbaugh is easing closer and closer to having to use costumes and props to keep the audience wanting more. Maybe if he sawed someone from Marketing in half . . .

But we digress. The point here is that Staley and Sopoaga are on the board now, and you dont want the other 93 percent wondering where theirs might be. I mean, its good to feel good about someone elses good fortune, but a little 1-for-13 never hurt anyones morale.

And having seen more of the Seahawks and Cardinals and basically given up on the Rams, it isnt like the 49ers will be hurting for easy marks to make that happen. Hell, a few fake punts and some double reverses and you can have the job done before Christmas.

In the meantime, we will have to endure Staley on the sidelines gesticulating at offensive line coach Mike Solari, shouting, Damn it, Mike, I was wide open! Am I in the progression or not?

At least we hope so, anyway. Hey, you have your fun, and we have ours.

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