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GRAB BAG
10/05/02


Because Trevor encountered a wicked case of writer's block this week, this week's Main Article will just be a senseless amalgamation of a handful of pointless topics Trev was kicking around in his head in the past week. Hence, grab bag. Enjoy.

OBSERVATIONS FROM WEEK 4:

1.) There is nothing more beautiful in the National Football League than watching Jerry Rice take a short slant and make a huge gain out of it. Watching him stride down the field, defensive backs falling in his wake... gorgeous. And we won't get to see it for much longer. Cherish it, true believers.

2.) There is nothing more ugly in the NFL than watching Vinny Testaverde drop back, try and read the defense, and get sacked before he can do anything. Vinny's about three years older than any starting NFL quarterback should be, and he shows it whenever he tries to move. He's probably the one happiest that the Jets have turned to Chad Pennington as the starter. Now he gets to rest his weary bones.

3.) Drew Bledsoe and Michael Vick are gooooood. One better than I remembered, the other better than I ever imagined.

4.) Watching Dick Vermeil on the sidelines makes me tired. I can only wonder how Dicky-V himself feels after a game.

5.) Speaking of the Chiefs, Kansas City's offense is really freaking good. They've piled up yardage beyond anyone's expectations and look like an offense perfectly constructed to run their scheme. And hey, there's some life in Trent Green's arm after all!

6.) Joey Harrington is the real deal. I saw him grow up at the University of Oregon, and to be honest, I figured he'd be a bigger bust than Akili Smith, but watching him play against the Saints, watching him show the poise under pressure, the mojo that I cited in my previous article, I realized it was only going to be a matter of time before this kid was among the best QBs in the NFL.

RESPONSES TO LAST WEEK'S ARTICLE

Below are some of the best responses I got to last week's article, The REAL West Coast Offense?. I didn't edit them or anything, so here they are in all their mis-spelled, poorly grammared glory.

E-MAIL

what were u thinking choosing larry centers as an ideal fullback in a west coast system...you must've been smokin dat ganja when u chose him...maybe u didnt take into account the tom rathman mold of full backs that make the west coast offense click on all cylinders.... someone has to creates holes for marshal faulk to run thru rite? not just catch the ball out of the backfield.. anywayz....i loved yur other choices. -HD$

My response: Yeah, I actually did take into account the Tom Rathman mold of fullback. And while I did mention Mike Alstott as a final candidate, I thought Centers just fit the mold better. He's a solid running fullback, a serviceable blocker, and like I mentioned, a fantastic pass-catcher.

Trev,

While I disagree with most of what you said, it was a pretty good read and got me wanting to call you an idiot and argue the heck with you, but arguing does no good unless it's over J.J Stokes, and you really didn't try to start much of an argument on him.

I will say this, though, TORRY HOLT??? Isaac Bruce's prodige of sliding wouldn't last two days in our offense, much less should he be on the all West Coast Offense team.

We don't run the WCO anymore, so this point is really obsolete. What we run now is MOOCH BALL.

I don't know about this Beasley has a lot of talent stuff but doesn't consistently produce. Every time he gets the ball in his hands on a running play, he shows why he's a top three runner as well as the greatest blocking FB in NFL history.

Jordan

My response: And a reply from my longtime nemesis on the 49ers Paradise Forum. Jordan does make a good point about Holt's propensity for not taking a hit, but I think that's a matter of coaching. The Rams' scheme doesnt need their wideouts to fight for yards. They teach their players to just get down and line up so they can run another play. The 49ers coaches could probably teach that out of him just fine.

But Beasley as the greatest blocking FB in NFL history??? I think I know who was "smokin dat ganja" when he wrote. NFL purists will recognize the best blocking back in NFL history as none other than the great Walter Payton. Beasley isnt even the top blocking FB in the NFL today. Lorenzo Neal and Sam Gash are. And I'm not trying to discredit Beasley, but he didnt make the team because I wasn't looking for just a blocker, I was looking for someone who has shown the ability to produce in all facets of his position.

49ERS PARADISE FORUM

Trev:

Speaking about your article on the wco,don't forget that for the most part this team was drafted and in the case of free agents signed by Bill Walsh to be able to run the wco, so as you said, they are running Mooch ball now but that doesn't mean that the players they have NOW wouldn't be effective running a 2002 version of the Walsh wco .If Walsh or a coach that Walsh had chosen were at the helm of the Niners instead of Mooch then that's exactly what they would be running and I think they would be very very good at it. Although I didn't agree fully with this particular article I am very glad you have joined the Paradise staff.Your use of words are like paint on a canvas and I think you have a real talent for the job.I will reserve any more praise for a time when I agree with you .(besides, if I compliment you much more then Bryan will have to start paying you)

TIM

Pay me for doing Trevor's Corner? TIM, you know something I don't?

But seriously folks, TIM makes a valid point. Who's to say the talent the 49ers have right now wouldn't be able to run the "true" WCO effectively? Not I. I simply sought to point out that hey, the 49ers AREN'T running the West Coast anymore. Here's the guys that I think could run it to perfetion. And thanks for the props.

Instead of sending Trevor a personal email I thought I'd post a public "nice job" message here. That was right on imho and stated succinctly. I also enjoyed your other section "The Madden Simulator" immensely since I don't game much due to time constraints.

Your call on Tom Brady reminding one of Montana is eery. He is sooo cool and calm under pressure and almost always makes the clutch throws and right decisions. I thought I was the only one he did that too! OMG you're starting to freak me out Trev!

Kudos
2winspapa

Yes well, one week after I called him Montana-like, Brady went out and threw two picks in a loss to the Chargers. I still stand by the pick though.

Thanks to my loyal readers for slipping me some feedback. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

LAST WEEKíS GAME

Actually, the 49ers didnít have a game last weekend. I might have mentioned this. In fact, Iím pretty certain the greater majority of last week was spent sterilizing all the teamís equipment and serving chicken soup en masse to a team full of sick sick players. In the interim, game-planning for the Rams was probably a high priority, and for good reason.

NEXT WEEKíS GAME

The St. Louis Rams go into their Week 5 matchup with the 49ers sans Pro Bowlers quarterback Kurt Warner and offensive tackle Orlando Pace. Add to that the fact that the Rams havenít won since January of 2001, and things arenít exactly perfect in Ramtown.

But even though the Rams will have scrubs starting at quarterback and left tackle, this game is not one to be taken lightly, and Iíll give you five reasons:

Marshall Faulk.

Torry Holt.

Isaac Bruce.

Grant Wistrom.

Aeneas Williams.

Wait, Williams is out too? Hurm.

Okay, even though pretty much every good player they have is out, this Rams team is still dangerous, and now that the NFL thinks theyíre down, theyíre in prime position to jump up and surprise someone. The NFL is underestimating the Rams, something that hasnít happened since Week 3 in 1999.

But the 49ers are presented with a unique advantage. Defensive coordinators have finally figured out the Ramsí once record-setting offense. Teams have to play man-to- man with St. Looís multiple wideout sets, be physical with the wideouts at the line, rattle Warner (or, for at least the next eight weeks, backup Jamie Martin), and keep a spy on Marshall Faulk. The 49ers are built exactly to play this brand of defense: Ahmed Plummer, Jason Webster, and Mike Rumph are perhaps the most physical trio of cover corners in the NFL. Andre Carter is beginning to blossom in his second year out of Cal. He logged two sacks against the Redskinsí Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, and has three sacks this season overall. Going up against Grant Williams figures to be a significantly easier assignment, and another opportunity for a big day. And even though San Fran will be without the services of Trevorís Corner Mascot Jamie Winborn, the 49ersí linebackers are fast and athletic.

So while this game has lost some of its must-win allure for the 49ers, itís still a key game. A 49ers victory pretty much nails the coffin shut for the Rams and makes San Fran the early favorite to win the Wild West. A Rams victory gives them that spark of life they so donít need right now and sets the 49ers up for a potential must win Week 17 in St. Louis. Itís not a game to take lightly.


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  49ers 31, Rams 24
10/05/02

The 49ers finally got their struggling offense back on track against their arch rival the St. Louis Rams today, logging a 31-24 victory, their first over the Rams since 1998.

The Rams got the ball to start the game and threw an early scare into the 49ers. Jamie Martin came onto the field and led an all-too-easy 8 play, 75 yard drive which ended in a ten yard touchdown pass to seldom used backup tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

The 49ers took the ensuing kickoff and looked ready to make some offensive fireworks of their own. Jeff Garcia led off with a 21 yard completion to Eric Johnson and followed it up a few plays later with a 16 yard catch-and-run by Terrell Owens. But the 49ers' drive stalled and San Francisco walked away with Jose Cortez's 48 yard field goal.

The Rams lined up at the beginning of the second quarter leading 7-3. Martin looked a little rattled by the 49ers' defense at times and had some incompletions, but he still led a 10 play, 68 yard drive capped by Marshall Faulk's 13 yard touchdown run.

It began to look like another Rams route as San Francisco took the ball at their own 37, but Jeff Garcia stepped in and steadied the ship. He took control and engineered a 9 play, 63 yard touchdown drive in which he passed on every play and threw but two incompletions, one of which went just off Hearst's outstretched fingers. Garcia hit five different receivers on the drive, as Garrison Hearst, Tai Streets, Owens, Cedrick Wilson, and JJ Stokes all tallied receptions en route to Stokes' 4 yard touchdown catch.

The Rams responded quickly though with the ball and 0:46 left in the first half. Martin threw three short passes and then hit Torry Holt on a fly route for a 37 yard gain. The offense was just able to sprint to the spot of the ball and line up in time for Martin to spike the ball with 0:02 left. Jeff Wilkins booted in a 25 yard field goal and the teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Rams leading 17-10.

San Francisco took the field with the opening kickoff in the 3rd quarter feeling the game starting to fall out of their hands. The Rams had momentum and the 49ers knew they had to keep matching St. Louis' production. Garrison Hearst ran off tackle for four yards on first down, but the ball popped out and was recovered by the Rams' Jamie Duncan. All looked lost, as the Rams had the ball deep in 49ers' territory poised to deal a killing blow. But Steve Mariucci challenged the call on the field. Replays showed that Hearsts' knee was down when the ball came out and the ruling was overturned.

Armed with the ball and new life, the 49ers went to work. The offensive balance was never more evident as Garrison Hearst logged five carries on the ten play drive, one of which a 27 yard stiff-arm fest. A 27 yard catch-and-run by Terrell Owens set up the Niners' next scoring play: a wideout screen run expertly by Owens. He received key blocks from Fred Beasley and J.J. Stokes and used them to grind out the seven yard score.

With the game tied and both teams flexing their offensive muscle, the 49ers' defense was the one to finally clamp down. After Ernie Conwell leaked out of Jeff Ulbrich's coverage to log a 12 yard reception, Martin had three consecutive passes batted away, as Mike Rumph deflected a pass intended for Terrence Wilkins, Jason Webster batted away a pass intended for Torry Holt, and Ahmed Plummer nearly intercepted a ball intended for Isaac Bruce. The Rams punted, and the 49ers looked to seize their first lead of the game.

The 49ers stalled early, but facing fourth and two, Steve Mariucci made an uncharacteristically agressive call. The 49ers lined up in a trips-left formation with three wideouts to the left, one to the right, Terell Owens, and Kevan Barlow in the backfield. Jeff Garcia sent Owens in motion to the left, overloading the left side. Garcia play-actioned to Barlow and ran a naked bootleg to the unprotected right side. With a yard to go, he juked, causing linebacker Tommy Polley to fall down, and dove forward for the first down.

Two plays later, from the Rams' 21 yard line, Garcia dropped back, faked a pass to JJ Stokes running a short out and saw Owens blowing by Aeneas Williams on a deep pattern. Garcia lofted it up and Owens came down with the ball for the touchdown. Jose Cortez put the extra point through and the 49ers went up by a score of 24-17.

The Rams took the field looking to respond, but that's when Julian Peterson went to work. On first down, Peterson broke through the line and stuffed Marshall Faulk for a two yard loss on an attemtped run play. On second and 12, Martin dropped back and fired a pass, but Peterson, again on the pass rush, jumped up and swatted the ball out of the air. On third down, the 49ers dropped back into dime coverage and Peterson was the sole coverage linebacker. Martin checked down to fullback Chris Hetherington and Peterson tackled him after a four yard gain, forcing St. Louis to punt.

San Francisco lined up and looked to run the clock out. Garrison Hearst ran on three straight plays, each for 6 yards. But after gains of 6, 6, and 6, the 49ers decided to strike fear of the devil (have I beaten this coincidence into the ground yet?) into the Rams. Garcia audibled at the line, playfaked to Hearst, and hit Owens for a 42 yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, to seal the victory. On the play, Owens put a double move on Williams that freed him downfield and Garcia did the rest.

The Rams threatened by scoring a touchdown and lining up for the onside kick with 0:45 left on the clock, but Eric Johnson recovered the kick for the 49ers and that was that.

Owens was named player of the game after violently snapping out of his offensive funk with 7 receptions for 126 yards and 3 touchdowns. Garcia threw for 221 yards and four TDs. Hearst provided a steady and effective ground attack, notching 113 total yards, 75 on the ground.

Torry Holt led the Rams with 8 receptions for 126 yards, but was held without a touchdown. In postgame interviews he said "Man, I actually kinda MISS playing for the 49ers. I gotta call my agent and see when my contract expires."

Owens, when asked about his breakout day, said "Man, I can't BELIEVE we didn't try and score after recovering that onside kick at the end of the game! Where's the killer instinct, huh?"

When asked about Owens' comments, 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci simply muttered something about a job in Tampa Bay and swallowed four aspirins dry.

The 49ers' next game is agains the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 14th. Your next Main Article and Madden Simulator will appear before then!