After the initial shock and joy wore off from the 49ers win, some
natural worry came in.
I'd thought, they won a one point game against a big opponent, sure.
But they had tons of help. The two fumble recoveries at the end were
obviously killer. Those were bounces that easily could've gone the
other way, and the 49ers didn't have that luxury - they didn't have any
fumble recoveries, they had injuries, nothing went their way. They
didn't get their bounces.
But didn't they? I had to recorrect myself.
For one, they got points (in a one point loss) that they didn't deserve
- the Vernon Davis incompletion was clearly a catch and fumble.
Carolina should've had that ball. San Francisco certainly had no
problem accepting a number of non-called holds (it was a very
conservatively officiated game overall, and the only costly SF penalty I
can remember was an offensive pass interference on an obvious pick
As well, while the way that the ball physically bounces in a fumble
situation is completely random - I imagine that, on average, the defense
has a numbers advantage on upfield plays. It's not really that lucky a
bounce for Carolina to have picked up the center exchange fumble, it
happened behind the line with blockers in front. That's not luck -
it's Carolina actually messing up and having the luxury of being safe.
There's a similar corrolation with the Thomas Davis forced fumble.
Carolina was in the San Francisco backfield all day (best way to stop
the read option is to smother it from all sides, and oh man did Carolina
do that), so it's not inconceivable that they'd be in position when
Davis put in a textbook tackle on Kendall Hunter and popped the ball
out. Carolina's a swarming defense, it's going to have its numbers near
the ball. If the ball's out, they have a good shot at it.
I won't put Carolina's various drops (Captain Munnerlyn's dropped INT,
the three first down-killing offensive drops) into any form of luck or
opportunity. Good teams take their opportunities, that's outside the
scope of this win. Had it been a loss, that's a different story.
Carolina's both lucky and good. I'm not going to question it for now.