Ch-Ch-Changes

Relax everyone; I’m not going to go on at length about who’s going to win Sunday’s game.  I don’t see the need to engage in the pointless exercise sportsyak talking heads across the country have spent the last 10 days or so doing.  I’ll simply say I think the Ravens will win the game, so for you gamblers who feel the foolish need to follow such advice, take the points and Baltimore.  Baltimore is a better D than any the Squared 7s have faced, have a passing attack that can strike the Niners weakest aspect in the secondary, and I just flat out dislike San Francisco so:

Ravens 24, Niners 21 (Note to the gamblers: Over/Under for the game is 47 pts)

What I really want to talk about is the two coaches.  Again relax.  I’m not going to ramble on about the uniqueness of two brothers coaching against each other in the biggest football game one can coach in or play.  Frankly, I don’t give a shit that they’re brothers.  What I do care about, what I admire, is the fact that they are two excellent coaches; each of whom got here because of a major decision that many in their place would not have had the stones to go through with.

In San Francisco, starting QB Alex Smith went down with a concussion opening the door for Colin Kaepernick.  Since the change, the Niners have shown a much more dynamic offense capable of scoring from anywhere at any time.  Kaepernick clearly has a much higher risk/reward ration than Smith.  Smith was likely never going to make the back-breaking mistake that Kaepernick certainly can, but he was also never going to be able to vex defenses and score the way a Kaepernick led offense can.  Of course, conventional wisdom at the time was much different.  “How can you bench Smith just because he got hurt?”  “He led them to an NFC Championship Game they should have won!”  “He’s won big playoff games, Kaepernick has no experience!”  “Smith has done nothing to lose the job!”  While all might be true, it’s all ridiculous.  First, PEOPLE LOSE JOBS BECAUSE OF INJURY ALL THE FUCKING TIME!  Ever hear of a guy named Drew Bledsoe?  Second, and of course I’m biased, they didn’t win the game last year.  They can say whatever the fuck they want, but they lost plain and simple.  The fact is, Jim Harbaugh and everyone in that building, likely even Smith himself, knew that Kaepernick gave the Niners the best chance to win, and Harbaugh 2 made the change, I’d say it worked.

As for Baltimore, a much more unconventional change was made late in the season.  Teams change QBs throughout the year for a variety of reasons, and in San Fran, the injury simply opened the door for the better player.  But for a team on their way to a division championship and yet another trip to the postseason, to fire an Offensive Coordinator with 4 weeks left in the year was flat out unheard of.  John Harbaugh realized that the current direction of the offense under Cam Cameron simply wouldn’t get it done against the top teams in the Conference.  Harbaugh 1 fired Cameron and promoted Jim Caldwell to run the offense for the final 4 games and on through the postseason.  But the move worked so well that even Cameron himself said it was the right move.  How often do you see a guy get fired from a Super Bowl team with mere weeks left in the season come back and praise the man who fired him?  The move not only worked, it turned out to be brilliant.  A team whose entire history since relocation to Baltimore has been built on the back of its defense suddenly looks like an offensive machine.   Caldwell truly made this an offensive club built around the strengths of Joe Flacco.  Where Cameron fell into the Mike D’Antoni zone, by trying to fit his square peg players into his circular offensive system, Caldwell saw what his players did best and fitted an offense to them.  The results are there, they dominated the New England game more than the scoreboard showed.  Had it not been for insane winds, Flacco could’ve hit a couple long balls that may have blown the game open.  Harbaugh 1 saw that his defense was aging and knew that in order to succeed in the playoffs it would be up to his offense to score points, and was bold enough to change offensive coordinators in December.  Genius. 

Two coaches, two brothers both got here by doing what most coaches often fail to do.  Both seasons were defined by a major change made by their generals.  In the NFL change is almost always reactionary.  People are ousted from jobs and positions following failures.  In these cases, both changes were made during periods of success.  Since they entered the league, it was clear that both brothers had a knack for this job they call coaching, but it wasn’t until this season that they truly cemented themselves as two of the best in the sport.  Forget bloodline, these are just two brilliant football minds who made great football decisions mid-season, and now find themselves 60 minutes away from immortality.