Not to make 49ers fans feel any worse about not participating in Sunday’s Super Bowl 56, but consider this:
The 49ers went 3-1 vs the two Bowl teams this year.
a) Los Angeles Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.
b) 49ers owned those two teams.
Granted, two of the three wins were overtime wins, so “ownage” is probably too strong a term. But it’s my Jock Blog and I’ll cry if I want to.
At any rate, playing the Rams three times this season and the Bengals once gives a decent perspective on the two squads.
And reaffirms my belief that the Bengals —the no-Super Bowl-havin’, Joe Montana-scarred Bengals! — will win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Two reasons push my thinking.
(Well, really, three, but me delighting in Ram failure ever since the Gold Rush sacked James Harris 10 times on an indelible Monday Night Football at the L.A. Coliseum in October, 1976 doesn’t count as a football reason.)
Number one, I can’t shake my belief that, despite their relatively stout effort on defense in the NFC Championship, the current iteration of the Rams is softer than the average Super Bowl team, and will wilt under the most intense heat, as I was just saying to Matt Stafford as he launched a fair-catch towards Jaquiski Tartt.
And number two, when I survey the participants in SB 56, I return repeatedly to the alluring story of one Joseph Lee Burrow, born Dec. 10, 1996 in Ames, Iowa and raised in The Plains, Ohio, in the southeastern corner of the state, a region marked by Native American burial mounds and by too much poverty.
Burrow is my pick to click in SB 56.
A star is being born, and it’s not the guy who used to play for the Detroit Lions and who threw five interceptions against six TDs in his three games against the 49ers.
For what it’s worth, against the 49ers on Dec, 12, Burrow went 25-for-34 for 348 yards, two TDs, zero interceptions and a 125.6 rating in leading the Bengals to two dramatic fourth-quarter TDs in an eventual 26-23 49ers overtime win.
And for what it’s worth, Stafford lost twice to the 49ers in the regular season, never notched a rating above 96 in the three games, and tried to gift-wrap the game to Tartt before the Rams defensive line took over the final two possessions of the NFC Championship game.
Everything about Burrow screams storyline: his Heisman Trophy, his national championship at LSU, his return from a torn ACL in 2020 as a rookie to a Super Bowl appearance in only his second season. You know who’s won a Heisman, a natty and a Super Bowl?
Until my pick to click, Joe Burrow, does it Sunday.
And he’ll have done it in the remarkably short span of three seasons.
The Rams aren’t tough-minded like these Bengals. They couldn’t protect home field vs. the 49ers in Week 18; they tried mightily to turn in one of the great chokes in playoff history at Tampa Bay in the NFC divisional round; and they benefitted greatly from the ongoing fourth-quarter woes of Kyle Shanahan in January in the NFC Championship.
I’m not saying the Rams are the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs. I am saying that the Bengals going to Tennessee and Kansas City and winning was a more impressive run.
And I am saying that Joe Burrow is here to tell Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen that, while they may have played one of the great playoff games ever in the AFC divisional round, they better make room on the gold-medal part of the podium for Joey B, the new Joe Cool.
Watch Burrow make all the big plays on Sunday. Watch the Rams not.
Who dey? Dey da Bengals, Super Bowl champs. Let the Burrow Era begin.