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The 49ers in an NFC Championship Feels Right, As It Has Forever



Photo: Thearon W. Henderson

There’s nothing like the feeling of the 49ers in another big one.

The NFC Championship Game, like so, so many times before. Choose your generation; that generation has Niners NFC title match memories, scars or tears of joy. The old heads have the Brodie 49ers at Kezar vs Dallas in the early 70s; Gen X has Joe and Joe and Joe and Joe in the ’80s; the millennials ask “Who’s Got It Better Than Us?” (well, the Seahawks and Ravens, unfortunately) and now Gen Z can ride Mr. Irrelevant into glorious relevancy of their own.

If you’re not fired up for the ‘SF’ on the helmet on a national stage in late January, I can’t help you.

Or, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitar legend Neal Schon of Journey, a City native, said to us on Friday’s show: “It’s gonna rock, man.”

So, what’s gonna happen?

That’s what we gather for, that’s why we prepare the wings and buy the beer. This is why the 49ers have meant so much to so many, because they’ve given us these moments, decade after decade — as I was just saying to my good friends Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

(See, to appreciate the light, you have to remember the dark.)

This slice of cyberspace last week extolled the virtues of young Brock Purdy and his “serenity and peace” as a person, and in a collapsing pocket. It sure felt right at the time, coming off that big, fat, rested bye. Purdy was “unencumbered by noise”, last week’s Jock Blog said and felt “precious little panic”.

Who are you going to believe? The Jock Blog or your eyes? Doh!

The win over the Green Bay Packers showed the opposite side of Purdy; flustered by a wet ball, crazy inaccurate on even check-downs, making a dangerously bad read that could have cost the team a pick-six. 

And yet . . . victory.

Somehow, some way, the kid fought off the damp pigskin and missed targets to go 6-of-7 on the final drive, and even a couple of rushes for 11 big yards. Did it remind you of anyone? (coughNumber16, cough cough, coughNumber16).

That’s why Sunday should be a return to 49ers normalcy.

Now, nothing is “normal” about an NFC Championship — unless you want to count the hilarious 30-3 spanking of the gutless L.A. Rams in the 1989 season. Mmm. That was fun. Or the 37-20 dismissal of Aaron Rodgers in 2019. Mmm. That was fun, too.

But NFC Championships with the 49ers can run the gamut from the holy and blessed (Thank you, Dwight) to adrenalized inspiration (bring on that frigid Soldier Field!) to unspeakable horrors (I won’t even mention the year or the team or the incident, but you know what I’m talking about and I have to stop talking about it right now or I’ll curl into the fetal position, unable to finish the Jock Blog.)

Which will Sunday’s be against America’s Darlings, the Detroit Lions?

What, you think I’m here to Jock Blog about a 49ers loss? Come on. We don’t put that stuff in the universe. I will confess that after the Packers game, I thought the Vegas spread of Lions +7 was too much; that this would be a tight game, 31-27 or some such. But as the week has gone on, and the weather is drying up, and I continued to ponder these factors — the Lions are different outside their dome, Jared Goff has trouble against Kyle, the 49ers have still played one fewer game than Detroit, there is no way Shanahan does not take advantage of that generous Lions pass defense, and Purdy will not worry about his grip on the ball — the more I see the 49ers outscoring the Lions.

Oh, and it looks like Deebo Samuel will play.


Mind, I love the Detroit offense and what coordinator/future NFL head coach Ben Johnson is doing. I fear Jahmyr Gibbs’ crazy speed and youth, respect the hell out of tight end Sam LaPorta and wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown and know they will score three touchdowns and kick a couple of field goals. But the 49ers will score more. The Niners are primed for a five-TD, two field goal game. Give me 41 points. After all, Christian McCaffrey is coming to the game.

The 49ers have knocked on this door too long and have too many things in their favor. They’re the flippin’ 1-seed at home, sports fans.

I can’t remember a time where the 49ers were so obviously the villains. Everyone in the lower 48 is swept up in the story of the ragtag-turned-ferocious Lions, the only team to play in every year of the Super Bowl Era and *NOT MAKE A SUPER BOWL*. Boy, you’d have to be a hard-hearted dude to root against the Lions on Sunday.

Sorry, Honolulu Blue. You’re in the way.

It’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business — the kind of business the 49ers have been doing for years.