I’ve written my share about concussions on this site. I have what I don’t consider radical rule changes in mind to deal with this subject of debilitating injury to football players of all levels and ages. But a story by Benjamin Wallace-Wells from New York Magazine has me thinking of radically revising those contemplated rule changes.
Wallace-Wells writes that the Giants may have targeted the 49ers’ punt returner Kyle Williams because of his history of having been concussed several times in the past. Williams was labeled the goat in the 49ers loss because of his gaffe of a punt in the fourth quarter and his fumble while returning a punt in the overtime.
Giants 20 49ers 17 (OT) | NFC Championship
In the modern game of football, you can still make a good living with a suffocating defense. But there has to be a semblance of an offense when it is needed. Such as on third downs to keep drives alive. The New York Giants were 7-for-21 in third-down situations. The San Francisco 49ers were 1-for-13, allowing the Giants to have more of their share of possession.
And when you can’t make first downs, these things tend to happen:
San Francisco 36 New Orleans 32
Alex Smith flourished in Urban Meyer’s up-tempo spread offense at Utah. In 2004, Smith was a finalist for the Heisman. It all went downhill from there. Until 2011 and new coach Jim Harbaugh.
The San Francisco 49ers, with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft chose Smith. The once-proud organization had been in free-fall. Things had been unravelling since owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. pled guilty to a felony charge. Control was given to DeBartolo’s sister and her husband. The degradation of the front office filtered down to the field. Losing 11 of the last 12 games in 1999 was the ultimate implosion. They made a brief playoff appearance in 2002 (which included a comeback from a 24-point deficit to defeat the Giants by a point), but had to wait 10 more years to make it back to NFL relevance.
The last day of any NFL season can bring a lot of drama as playoff qualifications and seeds are sorted out. This season’s finale gave us a lot of notable bullet points. The following are those I collected throughout the afternoon based on a variety of Twitter entries and announcements on Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network.