Concussion leads to tie, QB controversy


Concussion leads to tie, QB controversy


SAN FRANCISCO -- As the St. Louis Rams walked through the tunnel to their locker room, many of them with the same befuddled look quarterback Sam Bradford wore, one put it succinctly, if not logically.Sometimes you win and they say you lost, and sometimes you lose and they say you win, and sometimes you do both, and it ends up in a tie.In other words, nobody knows what to do with the 49ers-Rams 24-24 tie Sunday. The Rams think they sort of got jobbed, but arent sure why. The 49ers think they underachieved, but arent sure why.And everywhere else in the Bay Area, it is Christmas Eve. The 49ers have a real quarterback controversy again, and nothing opens arteries in these parts quite like a quarterback argument that cannot be settled.In fact, because these are the 49ers, where information is not their most important product, were not even sure when it all began, because nobody is quite sure when Alex Smith received the concussion that eventually put him out of the game, off the field and out of the stadium. Most people thought it was the shot he took from linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on the first play of the last series of the first quarter, but head coach Jim Harbaugh claimed it happened on a quarterback sneak six plays later.
MAIOCCO: Smith sustained concussion on sneak
But it happened, with the 49ers down 14-0, and Colin Kaepernick sort of rallied the lads to a hard-fought draw that left both sides feeling ... well, pretty damned meh.The players feel like I do, Harbaugh said. They dont know quite how to feel.
RELATED: 49ers not sure how to feel after 24-24 tie
Oh. Okay. Whatever that means. Maybe thats just his version of Sometimes you do both and it ends up in a tie.The 49ers played down to the Rams, that much is clear. But the Rams also played up to the 49ers, so in that way, the NFLs first split pot in 10 years was probably the right result.But that ignores the number of ways the Rams kneed themselves in the groin (never an easy thing to perform), like the 62-yard Danny Amendola punt return that was called back by a Justin Cole illegal block, or the 80-yard Amendola catch and run on the first play of overtime that was called back because Brandon Gibson didnt cover Roger Saffold in the Rams original formation. Or Greg Zuerleins 53-yard field goal in overtime that would have won the game if not for a delay of game call.And it also ignores the ways the 49ers tried to lose control of the game before that, or the missed 41-yard David Akers field goal in overtime, or the two fake punts the 49ers didnt cover that allowed the Rams to extend possessions. Or, frankly, how the loss of Smith probably damaged their offensive cohesion in a game that was much more difficult than they expected it to be.But hey, you still got more useful evidence of the Smith-v.-Kaepernick death struggle youve been itching for all these months. Over the years, Smith has been unencumbered by true competition (with all due respect to Shaun Hill), and now Kaepernick brings a crypto-comeback to the argument.An argument, frankly, that still shouldnt really exist. Smith is still the better of the two for obvious reasons, and Kaepernick showed more with his feet Sunday than with his arm (which is still the major complaint against Smith).But weve never let logic chase us away from a quarterback argument when were spoiling for one. And Kaepernick did say while the result didnt feel very good, I thought I did pretty well.He did throw some smart-looking balls to Michael Crabtree on the 49ers first touchdown. He did hold serve on two long drives, one of 15 plays and 8:34, the other of 11 plays and 6:38. And he did gain 29 of the 63 yards needed to set up Akers game-tying field goal.So yes, he did pretty well, and that will keep the fires of tavern-based shouting burning at least until Smith is cleared to play again. He has protocols to endure and baseline tests to match between now and next Mondays game against Chicago, and between now and the day Smith is cleared, the customers will get the gift that keeps on giving.The Eternal QC. An argument that cant be settled because nobody admits that theyre wrong, and the kind of thing that makes coaches very uncomfortable because it introduces so many unknowns into a world that demands as much certainty as possible.In other words, good times, children. The 49ers are 6-2-1, and the 1 is the biggest game of them all because of the rhetorical bloodsport it has just spawned.In other words, a tie has the area all in knots. How does it get better than that?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."