Would you be mad at yourself or feel bad about your effort if you hired some of the best engineers and designed a phone inferior to the iPhone? Packer fans waking up this morning after a season opening loss (for the first time since 2006) should think the exact same way. There is no shame in losing to the NFL’s Steve Jobs. Swap the turtleneck and glasses for a sweater and headphones and you have the Bay Area’s latest creative and manipulative genius – Jim Harbaugh!
The first Packer game I remember watching live and in its entirety was the playoff win at freezing Lambeau field in January 2002. It was the heyday of the ‘Favre never loses when the temperature is below 34’ stat! It wasn’t a particularly memorable playoff Packer game in a decade where there were several (The Al Harris game, The Atlanta game, The 51-45 game).
But it was my first glimpse at a 20 year-long dominance that the Packers had over the 49ers. Since that November win against a motley crew led by Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens, playing the 49ers was as close to a guaranteed win on the Packers’ schedule as possible.
Through the last ten seasons, Packers went 5-for-5 and never came close to losing to the team by the bay. .
There were hipster teens and young adults draped in Frank Gore jerseys and KNBR beanies who had experienced legal sex, illegal drugs and alcohol but didn’t still know what it was to watch their beloved 49ers win one over the Packers.
Over the last five years, Mike McCarthy’s success in developing his roster, coaching up his offense and achieving consistent success had made him the best coach in the NFC.
I’m usually quite the trash talker to those fans not fortunate enough to root for the Green and Gold. But I had refrained myself immensely prior to this one as I had a fairly strong feeling the 49ers would be a tough out in-game 1 of the NFL season. While I’d rather have been wrong, here’s the key thought I wanted to get out after the Jim Harbaugh led 49ers conquered Lambeau field today –
There is no shame in losing one to these Niners. Jim Harbaugh’s magic last season in coaching up the 49ers to 14 wins could be viewed as an one-time thing and single season sample sizes are usually recipes for unintended conclusions. But Harbaugh did this in college and has shown a mastery over the preparation and planning phases of the game that it’d be foolhardy to look at him as anyone other than a member of the most elite tier of professional sports coaches alive today. Mike Mccarthy is an excellent top-tier NFL coach who has gotten great at situational calls such as fourth down situations, challenges and substitutions. Today though, he was outcoached as Jim Harbaugh gave him a real-time lesson in game day coaching. Outside of an ill-timed challenge for two measly yards early on, Harbaugh moved his chess pieces masterfully to over come everything the Packers, the replacement refs and the crowd of 80000+ had to throw at him. There was the perfectly executed Colin Kapernick draw, the time killing Alex Smith runs on third down, the limited and optimal use of Randy Moss, the efficient usage of two excellent running backs and holding the team’s composure in the face of a killer mistake by the refs (the Randall Cobb return for a touchdown)…….The list is pretty long and on a day when his quarterback refused to make any mistakes, Jim Harbaugh was pretty close to unbeatable.
While mourning this loss and future such defeats to the 49ers, it is important for Packer fans to remember that we are watching the next great hall of fame coach in action and he will be a thorn in our cheesy flesh for a long time to come. There is no shame in being beaten to a superior product by Steve Jobs. There is no shame in losing to Jim Harbaugh.
The Packers will win some games this season while playing a lot worse.
There is likely to be a lot of panic after the loss today and possible DEFCON 1 sirens across Wisconsin after Thursday. But it is very important to remember that the Packers on Sunday lost to a very good team coming of an off-season of rest and recuperation and coached by this decade’s coach extraordinaire.
Packer fans, it’ll get better and soon. We still have the best quarterback alive, a deep roster and talent that will easily win 10 games a season. Also, we will not have to compete against the mind of Jim Harbaugh for at least another 16 weeks. So let’s tip our cheeseheads to Jim Harbaugh and move on thru the 2012 season…..
As always- Go Pack, Go!