Soccer and the United States are two things that usually don't mix well together. Many sports fans in the United States feel soccer is too slow, too low-scoring, and not exciting. However, the USA Men's Team has certainly got their county's attention in Brazil, after their 2-1 win over Ghana on Monday. After the win, the United States has been in the middle of a Futbol Frenzy, and now you can't turn on the TV without seeing replays of John Brooks' header goal in the 86th minute, or the reactions of fans all around the country. The United States Men's team plays Portugal on Sunday, and if the US keeps playing the way they have, soccer may have a newfound love in America.
Key #1: Reliable Receivers
With Crabtree injured most of the season, and Boldin still getting used to the 49er Offense, the 49ers placed 30th in the NFL for passing yards per game last year, in front of only the Jets and Bucs. Boldin was the leading receiver for the team last year, gaining 1,179 yards of the 49ers 2,979 total receiving yards. San Francisco is looking to improve greatly in this area next year, not only because they signed Stevie Johnson, but also because Boldin is now used to the Offense, and Crabtree is fully recovered. Vernon and Patton are also valuable receivers for San Francisco.
Key #2: O-Line Keeping Healthy and Strong
In my opinion, the unsung heroes of the San Francisco 49er Franchise is their offensive line. They do a great job of protecting Kaepernick, and providing great running holes for Frank Gore. This impressive offensive line includes all-pro linemen, Mike Iupati and Joe Staley. They are a vital piece of the 49ers tough offense, and they are, in my opinion, what makes the 49ers such a great team. If Mike Iupati can come back healthy from injury, the 49ers should have nothing to worry about in terms of the offensive line.
Key #3: Having A Talented Secondary
The 49ers are constantly being compared to their rivals up north, and this year, I think they may have a secondary that matches them. Over the offseason, the 49ers drafted Jimmie Ward, a safety from Northern Illinois University, that is praised for his aggressiveness. Next year, every defensive back will have to compete for their starting job, and I think that will make them all better. Ahmad Brooks puts it this way, "If you compete, iron sharpens iron. The more we compete with each other, the better we’ll be."
Key #4: Sustaining a Strong Run Game
Last Year, the 49ers had the 3rd most rushing yards in the NFL, with an average of 137.6 yards per game. Sustaining this stat would be substantial for the 49er offense, by forcing opposing defenses to sink in, and letting their receivers get open. I think 49ers RB Frank Gore is one of the best running backs in the league. He is certainly one of the most fun to watch, bulldozing through defenses, then using his breakaway speed. Gore is certainly someone you can rely on for big plays, when they are needed.
Key #5: Share The Ball in The Clutch
Defensive backs all around the league are aware that Michael Crabtree is Kaepernick's go to guy in clutch moments. It seems when the game gets close, Kaep throws to what he is used to, but it is time for him to get a little bit out of his comfort zone. Now that the 49ers have more seasoned receivers, they need to start using them when the game is getting close. For example, take last years NFC Championship Game. In the closing moments, Kaep threw a risky pass to Crabtree in the end zone, when he could have thrown a safer pass to Vernon Davis or Quinton Patton. If Kaepernick can use all of his receivers in the clutch, the 49ers will be the team to stop next year.
Key #6: Being Responsible Off the Field
One of the biggest things holding the 49ers back is getting in trouble off the field. The 49ers have tied for the most player arrests in 2014 so far, and some players may face multiple game suspensions. Some of the franchises best players have been arrested so far this year, including Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver. Daniel Kilgore was also arrested. It is projected that Smith will be suspended anywhere from 3-6 games due to his arrest.
It's that time of year again; birds chirping, flowers blooming, sun shining and the best NBA teams trying to finish their season off with a ring. Four to be exact, each one of them with a different story.
With the 30th Pick in the NFL Draft the 49ers Selected Safety, Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois University. I think this pick will be good for the Niners, who are in need of a good DB, after losing Donte Whitner last year. Ward is a bigger hitter and a playmaker that will fit in perfectly with the 49ers Defense. Coach Harbaugh has already talked about playing Ward in the Nickel, and on Social Media, Johnny Ward is being compared to Seattle Seahawk Safety, Earl Thomas.
The NBA Playoffs come along each year and, until the Semi-Finals it's lifeless. A seven game series of watching powerhouse teams humiliate other teams that barely, if at all had a winning record. An example of this is last year when the #1 Ranked Miami Heat swept the #8 Ranked Milwaukee Bucks, who had a regular season schedule of 38-44. These games are useless. What the NBA needs to do is make it a one game series. A one game series is what makes March Madness so exciting. There are upsets. A seven game series practically guarantees that the better team will always win, and as a fan that is boring. We don't want dynasties, we want Cinderella stories, and a seven game series doesn't allow that to happen.
The crowd at Candlestick Park is silent. With less than one minute left, the 49ers are losing to the Dallas Cowboys 20-21 in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. The 49ers have to score here to win the game and go to the Super Bowl. With the ball on the 10 yard-line, San Francisco Quarterback Joe Montana takes the snap and does his best to evade a gang of Dallas Defenders. Meanwhile, wide receiver Dwight Clark is setting himself up for a play that will define his career. With the season on the line, Montana thrusts a pass up that will likely send one team home and one to the Super Bowl. The pass is thrown high, and Clark had to leap up to make a prodigious catch using only his fingertips. A once inaudible crowd is now roaring with delight… The 49ers are going to the Super Bowl!
This moment, known as “The Catch” was one of the greatest moments in both NFL and 49er History. However, the list of great moments in 49er History is not short, ever since the franchise began in 1946, to the Modern Era, the 49ers history has been one of the finest in all of pro sports.
The 49er Franchise started in 1946 when San Francisco entered the All-American Football Conference. The Founder of the 49ers, Tony Morabito brought a football franchise over to San Francisco, because he thought it was time that their was a professional sports franchise on the West Coast in a business that was dominant on the East Coast. The 49ers did well in the All-American Football Conference, and after the league was discontinued in 1949, the 49ers, along with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore (Now Indianapolis) Colt were chosen to join the National Football League (NFL). The 49ers Inaugural Season in the NFL was rough. They finished the season with an unimpressive 3 wins and 9 losses. Year by Year, the 49ers progressed, and by in the 1953 season, their record improved to a respectable 9-3.
One of the best eras in NFL History was the 1980s and 1990s San Francisco 49er Teams. This period in 49er History is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age”.The arrival of Joe Montana and Head Coach Bill Walsh in 1979 helped turn San Francisco from a team that was slightly above average, to a team of Super Bowl caliber. In 1981, led by Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana the 49ers made a historic playoff run, defeating the Cowboys in the NFC Championship with “The Catch” and then defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, winning their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. The 49ers showed no signs of slowing, picking up another Lombardi Trophy in 1984. Jerry Rice was picked by the 49ers in 1985 with the 16th overall pick. The first game in 1986 Joe Montana was injured, and San Francisco was forced to trade for Steve Young. The 49ers barely missed a beat, and lead by an impressive Quarterback Combo of Steve Young and Joe Montana went on to win back to back world Championships in 1988 and 1989. The 49ers won their fifth Lombardi Trophy in 1994, led by current Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice.
The “Golden Age” of 49er Football set a high bar for future teams, but I think todays teams have done an extraordinary job in reaching it . Led by Jim Harbaugh and a tenacious defense, the 49ers have become one of the best teams in the league. During the 2012-2013 Season the 49ers won the NFC Championship but fell short in the Super Bowl to the Ravens. This past season the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship game to the Seattle Seahawks in a bitter rivalry game. The Seattle Seahawks went on to win their first Super Bowl in Franchise history. The 49ers offense is lead by dual threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as mighty running back Frank Gore. San Francisco's defense in based around its adept Linebackers and Defensive Linemen, such as Navarro Bowmen, Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks. With such an impressive line up, I don’t think it will be long before San Francisco finds itself with another Lombardi Trophy.
Ever since their beginnings in the All-American Football Conference, to the Modern Era, the 49ers have been able to construct great moments, such as “The Catch”. Their ability to construct these moments allows the 49ers to have one of the greatest histories of All Time in the NFL. These moments sometimes makes me wonder what great moments in 49er History are still to come.
Jack is an 8th grade student who enjoys participating in multiple athletic activities, including cross country, basketball, soccer and track. Jack was recently selected to be a Sports Illustrated Kid Reporter.
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