In an Instant Classic NFL game, the Niners held on to pull out the biggest regular season win since the Montana/Clark “Catch” back in 1980/81. Rookie Dre Greenlaw laid the wood on the Hawks’ Tight End, Jacob Hollister, and took him down 1 INCH from the Goal Line on the last play of the game. Yes, 1 inch was the difference between the Niners being the #1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs or being relegated to the #5 seed and having to play next week on the road at Philly in the Wild Card game. Instead, they get to rest two weeks and heal their bodies after a rigorous 16 game schedule. Their “bye week” was in week 4 so they have played in 13 consecutive weeks.
This was the first Niner win in Seattle since 2011 as the Hawks have owned the Niners for the better part of the decade. With the resurgence of the Niners this year, the rivalry is back on and future games between these elite teams should give fans more thrilling games. It’ll be hard to top the two games that they played this year with the Hawks pulling out a win in OT at Levi earlier this year and the Niners winning this thrilla’ last night.
The Niners have been in “playoff mode” since that first meeting vs the Hawks at Levi. Since then, they pulled out a last minute win vs the Cardinals, blew out the #2 seed Packers, lost to the #1 AFC seed Ravens on a field goal on the last play of the game, beat the #3 seed Saints in NOLA 48-46 in another Instant Classic game, lost to the Falcons on a TD that they scored by 1 inch at the end of the game, beat the Rams in another thrilla’ on a field goal on the last play of the game, then this classic game. As Duane Kuiper, broadcaster for the SF Giants, coined… “TORTURE” !!!
Every NFL game has its share of controversial penalties/non-penalties and play calls. Last night’s game was no different but it seemed that those events took place at the end of the game:
- With about 3 minutes left in the game, the Niners were leading 26-21 and had the chance to run out the clock with a game ending drive. On 2nd down they ran a sweep with Deebo Samuel. Ben Garland, the Niners Center, pulled out and ran downfield to block a defender. Deebo was tackled but there was no way that Garland could have known that so he blocked a Hawk and was called for a 15 yard personal foul penalty. If not for that controversial call, the Niners could have held the ball for another set of downs and potentially run out the clock.
- With 22 seconds left in the game, the Hawks had a 1st and goal on the Nines’ 1 yard line. Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then for some inexplicable reason, Pete Carroll was late in sending in LeastMode for the game winning Hawks score so they were called for a delay of game penalty. The difference between 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line and 2nd and goal for the 6 yard line was the difference in the outcome of the game.
- With 15 seconds left in the game, Wilson threw a 3rd down incomplete pass to Hollister in the end zone with Fred Warner wrapping him up. No penalty was called and even a booth review confirmed that no penalty should have been called.
- Then, with 9 seconds left in the game came that now storied 4th down tackle by Dre Greenlaw on Hollister on the 1 inch line. Game over…
The entire Niner team deserves game balls as they all played one heck of a game. The usual gang had their outstanding games (Garoppolo, Kittle, Juszczck, Samuel, Sanders, Mostert, Bosa, Buckner, Armstead, Warner, Greenlaw). But others, especially in the trenches, came up huge. The D-line have been decimated with injuries so Kevin Givens and Anthony Zettle were called up for this game. While their stat lines weren’t impressive, they played key roles in the D-Line rotation and the end result was that the Defense held the Hawks to 0 points in the first half and 21 for the game. The O-line was outstanding with Ben Garland filling in for the injured Weston Richburg and Daniel Brunskill filling in for the injured Mike Person. My game ball goes to Joe Staley who dominated Jadeveon Clowney holding him to 0 sacks and only 1 tackle. Joe is the only player who was on the squad that last won in Seattle back in 2011. He went through a tortuous 8 years of losing prior to this year and almost retired in 2017. But Shanahan laid out a plan that Joe liked so he stayed. A wave of emotions hit him after the victory and he cried tears of joy.
When one looks at the season that Jimmy Garoppolo had, nobody can question that he is one of the top QB’s in the game today. In last night’s game, he was 18-22 for 285 yards and did not throw an incomplete pass in the 2nd half. His passer rating was 118.8. His stats for the season:
- 3,798 yards (4th in franchise history)
- 69.1% completion (3rd in franchise history)
- QB rating of 102.0 (only behind Montana and Young)
- 13 wins and joins Montana, Young, and Alex Smith as the only other QB’s having 13 win seasons
Lastly, for fun, let’s do a comparison between this team and Bill Walsh’s team in his first 3 years:
- In Walsh’s first 3 years with the Niners, they went 2-14, 6-10, and 13-3 and won the first ever Niners Super Bowl.
- In Shanahan’s first 3 years with the Niners, they went 6-10, 4-12, and 13-3 and have become the #1 seed in this year’s NFC playoffs.
- When the Niners won their first Super Bowl, they drafted 3 key rookies who became starters immediately (Ronnie Lott, Carlton Williamson and Eric Wright).
- This year, the Niners drafted Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Mitch Wishnowski, and Dre Greenlaw whom are all key starters on this year’s team.
Let’s see if the Walsh/Shanahan comparison carries on…