Here is a link to my Tuesday column. The full text runs below:
SANTA CLARA — What you got, 49ers? Are you legit or just an illusion the awful Ravens projected onto the football world?
What you got?
You play the Seahawks Thursday night at home — short week for both teams. And I’ll tell you this, the Seahawks don’t think you have much. Don’t consider you legit. The Seahawks own you. The Seahawks, who share a crummy 2-4 record with you, are counting on owning you.
They are the division champs and they want to redeem their season, get back on track. That’s where you come in. You are the patsies. The 49er patsies. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is telling his team you are exactly what they need to get well.
Forget the praise he’ll heap on you in news conferences preceding the game — how you’re improving, how you’re a top-notch outfit. That’s strictly for show. He’s telling the Seahawks you are the beginning of their comeback, a comeback they will start on your field, in your house, in your face. He’s telling his team thank God they are playing you.
How do you feel about that? What are you going to do? What you got?
Carroll is telling his guys right now you can’t put pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson, not with your wimp pass rush. He’s telling the Seahawks Wilson will run around for 15 seconds with no one bothering him and then he’ll find receivers in the middle of the field. Find them wherever he wants. Carroll is telling his guys you can’t cover tight end Jimmy Graham. With Michael Wilhoite? And he’s telling them you sure can’t stop running back Marshawn Lynch. Carroll is licking his lips so much he needs ChapStick.
The Seahawks are just as desperate as you. Carroll is telling his players they played in the last Super Bowl and almost won, and they can reassert their league standing on national TV because they’re playing you.
How do you feel about that?
Carroll wants to put the league on notice. He wants to remind everyone three of the Seahawks’ four losses came to undefeated teams — Packers, Bengals, Panthers. The Seahawks were in those games until the very end. Fought hard. Could the Niners do that? Carroll is saying no. He is calling you a big “No.”
He is saying the loser’s record on Thursday night falls to 2-5. Season over. He’s saying it’s your season that’s over. He’s saying the league expects that. And then the league expects the 49ers coaching staff to implode.
And he is saying your “differential” is a joke.
A brief interlude on differential. It is how many more points you scored against opponents. Or how many more opponents scored against you. Despite their 2-4 record, the Seahawks are plus-9. They have outscored their opponents by nine. Not bad. The Niners’ differential is minus-60, second-worst in the NFL to the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars who are minus-63.
What can you say to that, 49ers?
Because you better say something.
You sure have motivation against Seattle. Serious rival. Division rival. Big motivation.
At his Monday news conference, I asked Jim Tomsula what a win against Seattle would mean.
“To us or me?” he asked.
“How about us and you?” I said, not that I am part of the us.
“To me any win’s a good win,” Tomsula said. “To us that’s one thing around here that we all know. This is a big game. We don’t make any bones about that. Any time you play Seattle, it’s a big deal. So I wouldn’t expect that we’ve got to get anybody pumped up for this game.”
Someone asked if the Seahawks are the same team as last year? “Yeah, they’re the same team as last year,” Tomsula said. “And they’re a good team. The quarterback’s still the quarterback. The running back’s still the running back. Their O-Line, they’ve got a couple of new faces in there but it’s the same schemes and they do them well. Defensively, they are running their defense. They are doing the things that they do. So, they are a good team.”
Tomsula was being polite. Call it pregame coach politeness. The Seahawks may not be the same. Their offensive line is a mess. Wilson is running for his life. The Seahawks are there for the Niners to take them. If the Niners have what it takes to take them.
If the Niners win, they will have a two-game winning streak. The Niners will have a legitimate playoff shot. They won’t be in last place. Seattle will be in last place. The Niners can end the Seahawks’ season right there in Levi’s Stadium. How sweet. The Niners can take themselves seriously, finally. They will have earned the right. The whole league will take them seriously.
And the stench of losing will waft out of their building. Believe me, a foul odor permeates the place. Even now, even after beating Baltimore. But beat Seattle and the place will smell like a pine forest at dawn.
A win over Seattle is something Tomsula, so beaten down, could be proud of. There’s no way to downplay that. We’re talking redemption for the players, the head coach, the assistant coaches, even the ownership.
But can you do it, 49ers? What you got?
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.