Monday, November 28, 2005

Powder Daze

by SonDog

As DMo and I discussed the situation on Saturday evening, one thing was painfully clear: Sunday was going to be a damn good powder day on Beaver Creek.

Thus, after a brief discussion, we came up with a perfect plan for Sunday. 1) Wake up early and get on one of the first chairs at Beaver Creek (Sunday powder days, for weekend warriors like myself and DMo, are rare for some reason). 2) Retire around noon to watch our beloved 49ers play what promised to be a competitive game against the equally lowly Tennessee Titans. 3) Drink some fine whiskey while our manly, athletic dogs (I mean, it's a border collie and an Austrailian shepherd... that's the equivalent of a Kobe Bryant and a Tracy McGrady in the dog world, sans a sexual assault charge... er, on second thought, my neighbor's Chihuahua is considering pressing charges) beat each other up all over my living room floor.

The day started out in perfect form. The powder runs in Rose Bowl at Beaver Creek were as good as it gets through the course of the season. Spider and Ripsaw felt virtually bottomless. DMo and I were "shredding the pow-pow" (as they say) like never before (or at least since last year). And while it felt about as cold as an ex-girlfriend's heart, we weren't complaining.

(To be honest, for the purposes of this story we weren't complaining. Because in truth we were both bitching like a couple of seven-year-olds. In fact, to stay warm on the lifts, DMo and I would crank up our respective iPod's and individually bounce to our respective beats while we slowly climbed through the blistering cold. I assure you, there is nothing like the sight of two small-town white guys attempting to bounce to the beats of Dr. Dre, Snoop, Jay-Z, Linkin Park, et. al. In addition, when those two white guys are practically frozen stiff on a ski lift with snowboards dangling from their left legs, it's a perfect 10 on the unintentional comedy scale.)

Once the noon hour hit, we sped down to the bottom of the hill like our faces were on fire (or maybe that was the frostbite -- seriously, I got frostbite on my face). From the top of chair 5 to my front door -- 20 minutes. By 12:30 we were at my house, with whiskey in our hands, the 49er-Titan game paused exactly at the 11:00 AM start time (God bless TiVo), and our dogs wrestling harder than an ultimate fighting match. To this point, there was nothing that could damage this day.

And then, the third quarter began.

SonDog & Rocky, DMo & Des, enjoying an ideal Sunday
It's been an interesting year to be a 49er fan. While the team is scuffling mightily, there is still a sense of optimism that surrounds the team. First-year coach, Mike Nolan, has injected a sense of purpose and stability to a franchise that has been dying for a lot of both. Each week the scrappy Niners play with heart and effort, neither of which they showed during their 2-14 campaign last year. There's hope for the future in the arm of Alex Smith, in the hands of Brandon Lloyd, in the coverage skills of Bruce Thornton, and in the leadership of Julian Peterson.
Sadly, yesterday was not the future. In fact, the third quarter looked eerily similar to the past. (I realize that technically, yesterday IS the past, but just work with me on this one, smartass.) A few things I noticed during my downward spiral into 49er-induced depression:
1) The boneheaded mistakes must stop. This team has made more silly offensive, defensive, and special teams penalties this year than a pee-wee league squad. I don't think I've seen more false-start or illegal procedure penalties called on wide receivers in my life. Seriously, I've counted 731 this year against the Niners' receiving corpse... I mean group.
2) Alex Smith needs to start playing again. Look, I truly believe Ken Dorsey will be a good NFL backup. But, he's just that... a backup. If Smith is healthy, Nolan must throw him back in there to get killed... I mean to learn.
3) Next year's draft is absolutely critical to the long-term success of the team. Nolan has everybody believing right now, but, frankly, none of the players drafted in 2005 have accomplished much on the field. RB Frank Gore is the closest to being a success (with apologies to Adam Snyder and David Baas, who both played yesterday -- I mean, really, does anybody care about offensive linemen? The only time they are noticed is when the QB is sacked or the RB is stuffed behind the line; both of which happen frequently on this team.). No matter where the Niners end up picking in the draft (for God's sake, I hope they get Reggie Bush), they need to hit homeruns with each of their first four selections, at the least. This team simply does not have the talent to consistently produce a solid game.
4) Is there a more inconsistent player on the planet than Brandon Lloyd? From Bill Simmons of, "By the way, has any receiver in the history of mankind vacillated between "absolutely unbelievable" and "freaking terrible" like Brandon Lloyd? Either he's the next Lynn Swann or the next Hart Lee Dykes. Maybe a little of both." Twice yesterday Lloyd ran lazy routes, resulting in either incompletions or interceptions. Lloyd criticized the QB two weeks ago (subsequently getting an earfull from Nolan), but he has nobody to criticize but himself after yesterday. While I'm on the subject, rumor has it that Lloyd has his own rap album out. I'm not making this up. I'm not making this up either: That could be the hands-down stupidest thing I've ever heard. Concentrate on your route-running, B-Lite, okay?
With that putrid second-half effort, our perfect Sunday crumbled like our hope for a victory. Fortunately, I had plenty of Jameson around the house for this exact emergency situation. By 7:45 PM, as I crawled into bed for the evening, I couldn't even remember if I had eaten dinner, let alone the sad display of football I had witnessed just hours ago. That, my friends, was a beautiful way to end the day.

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