One love or one big mistake? The first 10 years of the NFL Draft’s #1 pick (1936-1945)

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)


PART 1 – The First Ten Years


What do Chunk from ‘The Goonies’, O.J. Simpson, Myles Garrett and Peyton Manning all have in common? 

The fact they are memorable characters, or that they have created headlines for a plethora of different reasons, good, bad and downright mind-boggling?

Nope these four individuals are part of an unmistakable piece of NFL folklore as they all share the accolade of being the number one overall pick of an NFL draft. 

With the 2020 NFL Draft in jeopardy as a televised spectacle, still currently due to take place under the bright lights of Las Vegas, we could see a more ‘virtual’ draft, delivered by a series of satellite links. This would be eerily reminiscent of how it all began back in 1936, in front of absolutely no media. 

So how did it all begin? 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sam Myers)

Funnily enough the team that won the Super Bowl a mere three seasons ago, the Philadelphia Eagles, were responsible for the introduction of a draft system, as opposed to a simple case of who had the largest cheque book and best sales patter. 

Eagles owner Bert Bell (above), tired of losing out on star College players to bigger teams, and sick of collusion whereby teams would give rights to players directly to other ‘chosen’ teams, decided there must be a way to make the signing of NCAA players much fairer. 

After protests from the then Boston Redskins owner George Preston-Marshall about an ‘exclusive’ deal between the Steelers and the Giants it was agreed in late 1934 that any player released in a season could be picked up in the order of worst to first records. 

This was taken one step further in 1935 when Eagles owner Bell proposed a drafting system for College players turning professional. The innovative idea was immediately and unanimously agreed upon, but not institutionalised until 1936. 

Rather coincidentally the 1935 Eagles finished with the NFL’s worst record, 2-9, and as if by magic they held the first pick in the inaugural NFL draft.

In fact the first NFL Draft took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, using 90 names scrawled on a blackboard, consisting of team recommendations, newspaper or magazine articles or lists and team visits to nearby colleges. 


Who was the first ever NFL Draft pick?

Photo Caption: News.medill.northwestern.edu

There have been 84 overall #1 picks in the NFL, going all the way back to 1936, when the inaugural honour went to Jay Berwanger, the gifted Iowa born running back. 

Berwanger was the star of the University of Chicago Maroons (now a Division III NCAA team). He was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935, an accolade that just 12 months later became the Heisman Trophy. Berwanger got the most votes, beating fellow Notre Dame back William Shakespeare to the trophy. 

Also a gifted track and field star during his college days, Berwanger held his Alma Mater’s decathlon record for over 70 years. 

Perhaps his most famous moment in college occurred in 1934, when he scarred Michigan opponent #48 just under his left eye. Nothing unusual considering the crude uniform of the day, but the recipient of the gash was none other than the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford. 

Selected number one in the first ever NFL Draft (1936) by the Philadelphia Eagles, Berwanger unfortunately never played a down in the NFL. The Eagles, fearful they could not pay the $1,000 game cheques, traded Berwanger to the nearby Chicago Bears. 

Berwanger, keen to represent the U.S.A as a decathlete at the upcoming 1936 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Nazi ruled Germany, opted to leave his Bears contract unsigned so he could keep his ‘amateur’ sports status. 

His aspirations to emulate football and Olympic legend Jim Thorpe were dashed when he was not selected to travel to Europe that Summer, and subsequent negotiations with Bears owner George Halas never found a mutually agreed salary, so Berwanger never played a down in the NFL. 

He went on to become a manufacturer and journalist and famously gave his Heisman Trophy to his Aunt, who used it as a doorstop. Thankfully the trophy was recovered and is now in the University of Chicago Hall of Fame. 

Berwanger’s case was not at all unusual for the time as he was one of 57 of 81 draft selections in 1936 to elect not to play in the NFL. 


What happened in the first ten drafts (1936-1945) ? 

Photo Caption: Notre Dame Media Relations

Here are some fun facts about the first 10 years of NFL Drafts: 

  • Despite the Second World War taking place during this time (1939-45) a draft took place each year. 
  • The first 8 #1 picks were not quarterbacks. It wasn’t until 1944 that the first QB was taken, when the now defunct Boston Yanks, took Angelo Bertelli (pictured above). Angelo served as a Marine during and after WWII, and never played a down in the NFL, instead playing for two AAFC teams in the late 40s. 
  • 8 of the first 10 NFL #1 picks were running backs (6 halfbacks and 2 fullbacks)
  • Only one non skill player went #1 – Centre Ki Aldrich in 1939 to the Chicago  Cardinals. Aldrich was a two-time NFL All-Star. 
  • No defensive players went #1 in the first 10 NFL drafts.
  • In 1943 and then 1945 half-backs from Georgia went #1 overall. 

Who were the successes from the first 10 overall #1 picks? 

Aside from Centre Ki Aldrich there were two outstanding #1 picks, Bill Dudley, a running back chosen by the Steelers in 1942 and Charley Trippi, another backfield dynamo, selected by the Chicago Cardinals in 1945. 

Both Dudley and Trippi are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dudley enshrined in 1966 and then Trippi in 1968. 

in 1942 Dudley led the NFL in rushing as a rookie, and he added to his legend by passing for two scores, punting 18 times, and returned a total of 31 kicks, including going to the house on a kick return. 

Following two years of military service, including a remarkable 12-0 record for the 1944 Army Football team, Dudley returned to the NFL for 9 more season, accruing just under 4,500 total yards, 36 tds, 23 interceptions and made 50% of his 66 field goal attempts. 

Trippi left the NFL having accrued the most total yards in league history. He was also the first #1 pick to also become and NFL champion. In the 1947 NFL Championship he had a 44 yard rushing td and a 75 yard punt return td. 

His 5.1 yards per carry career average sits above the likes of Barry Sanders (5.0) and Adrian Peterson (4.7). 

One statistic above all about Trippi tops any yardage metric, as of March 2020 Charley is still alive, at the ripe old age of 98. 

True talent it seems can almost live forever. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the NFL’s #1 Pick F10YRetro recap. 

F10Y Retro Feature – Tom Rathman – The original #44

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

When the San Francisco 49ers scored their first touchdown in Super Bowl 54, it wasn’t mega-stud TE George Kittle, red-hot RB Raheem Mostert or even mid-season acquisition WR Emmanuel Sanders who broke the plane of the end-zone, it was a guy with a name that features two z’s, and we are not talking Buzz Lightyear. 

Photo credit: NBCSports.com

Kyle Juszczyk the premier fullback (FB) in the NFL was the scorer of that TD. Resplendent in a #44 shirt Juszczyk could have gone on to score a second, but even if he had it would not have won the game for his beloved 49ers. 

Exactly 30 years prior to Juszczyk’s heroics the 49ers were in the Super Bowl, their fourth, and coincidentally their fullback wore #44 too. In fact that #44, a Mr Thomas Dean Rathman, went on to eclipse Juszczyk’s feat by scoring not one, but two touchdowns of his own.

The game, Super Bowl XXIV, ended up at the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history as the 49ers destroyed the John Elway led Denver Broncos 55-10. 

Turned out for Tom Rathman that in his 14 career playoff games he never again had two scores, and never topped the 11 bone-shattering carries he was given by Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana on that remarkable day in New Orleans. 

So who exactly was Tom Rathman? 


Photo credit: ksnblocal4.com

Born in 1962 in Grand Islands, Nebraska, a city of under 50,000 residents, Tom went to his local high school, Grand Island Senior High. This was an honour he shared with another boy who went on to become the 10th heaviest recorded human being in history. 

Rathman was an excellent high-jumper, once clearing a distance of 6 feet 7 inches, but he was most at home in high-school running the football for the Islanders, so much so he earned a place at the University of Nebraska.

Rathman joined the Cornhuskers in 1981, but only saw limited action as a freshman, gaining 20 yards on four carries. A power running team, Nebraska’s backfield in the early 80s was led by Roger Craig (more to come later) and Mike Rozier, who went on to play in the USFL and then the NFL for 8 seasons. 

After redshirting in 1982 Rathman benefitted from a fortunate proverbial bounce of the ball a year later when the team’s starting fullback Doug Wilkening quit the team, allowing Tom to avoid the possibility of being converted to a tight-end. 

The 1983 Cornhuskers had a remarkable season, Rathman was lead blocker for Mike Rozier, who as a senior rushed for 2,148 yards and went on to win the Heisman Trophy. Nebraska reached the College National Championship Game, losing 31-30 to ‘The U’ – the Miami Hurricanes. 

Rathman averaged 5.5 a carry that season on his rare handoffs and scored his first college TD (a catch), and like most fullbacks he spent most of the season blocking, in fact in the College Championship he didn’t touch the ball. 

With Rozier gone Rathman entered his junior season in 1984, and again his carries went up, gaining 381 yards on 75 carries with 4 scores, but 0 catches. 

Photo credit: Richard Voges/Nebraska Football

The Cornhuskers lost two games, but won the Sugar Bowl against LSU, running the ball 59 times for 280 yards. Rathman had 2 carries for 8 yards in the victory. 

In his senior season (1985) Rathman’s draft stock shot up, and he was billed as the top fullback in the country after gaining 881 yards, at 7.5 a pop, plus 8 scores. Nebraska lost in the Fiesta Bowl to Michigan to cap off a 9-3 season. Behind the blunt force trauma blocking by Rathman, Nebraska ran for 304 yards in the Bowl game, Tom himself gaining 47 yards in the showcase contest. 

RATHMAN REACHES THE NFL

The 49ers 1986 Draft was one of the best negotiated and choreographed masterpieces of tactical execution in NFL history. 

San Francisco head coach Bill Walsh, who had won Super Bowls following the 1981 and 1984 season was reeling after a 1985 Wild-Card loss to the Giants. 

Walsh wanted to come out of the ’86 draft with an improved secondary, a devastating pass-rusher and blocking fullback, to lead the way for Roger Craig, who was fresh from becoming the first RB in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a regular season. 

Moving around the draft like a chess grandmaster Walsh traded away an acquired first round pick to the Buffalo Bills to pile up picks in the middle rounds, including the first pick of the 3rd round. With that 56th pick the 49ers selected Tom Rathman. 

Despite only watching footage of Rathman once Coach Walsh said:

“I saw Rathman take a screen pass, break two or three tackles physically and run 60 yards. He was an absolutely terrific blocker, and the thing we’d never had was the massive blocking fullback. I knew Rathman could be that player.”

The 49ers draft class of 1986 included DE Charles Hayley (4th Rd) who is now in the Hall of Fame, CBs Tim McKyer (12 season is the NFL) and Don Griffin (11 seasons in the NFL), WR John Taylor, and T Steve Wallace. Between just these six (including Rathman) their careers combined for 18 Super Bowl winners rings. 

As a rookie Rathman suffered from some training camp fumbles, and feared he would be cut, however by the time his nine-year NFL career was concluded he only lost the pigskin 7 times. 

Picture credit: 49ers.com

Now reunited with former college backfield team-mate Roger Craig, Rathman was going to become a significant feature in Bill Walsh’s final three seasons coaching. 

Tom’s first two NFL seasons ended in crushing playoff defeats, firstly a devastating 49-3 loss to the Giants and then in 1987 a huge shock defeat to the visiting Minnesota Vikings. 

In his first two seasons Rathman ran for just under 400 yards, and although big and bruising, it was found he had soft hands, catching 43 passes in a West Coast offense that would not simply carry a blocking back. He missed 4 games in 1987, but would not miss a start over the next four years. 

The 1988 49ers finished the regular season a rather middling 10-6, but went on to win their third Vince Lombard Trophy, a second win over the Bengals. Rathman led the way for Roger Craig to go All Pro with 1,502 rushing yards – Craig’s career best. 

Photo credit: 49ers.pressdemocrat.com

Rathman himself had 427 yards rushing and 42 catches for just under 400 yards in ’88. He touched the ball six times for 39 yards in Super Bowl XXIII, and narrowly missed scoring a second quarter rushing touchdown, a David Fulcher tackle preventing end-zone glory. 

Following the emotional retirement of Coach Walsh, the 1989 49ers, under recently promoted defensive coordinator George Seifert, and offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren, gained revenge against the Vikings from 1987, blowing them away in the playoffs en-route to their fourth Super Bowl title, a blow out beatdown of the Denver Broncos.

Rathman led all NFC running backs with 73 catches, but just one TD, adding a second score on the ground alongside 305 rushing yards. Tom had 11 carries in the Super Bowl and turned them into two scores. 

His first came in the second quarter, a 1 yard dive to cap a 14 play drive where he caught three Joe Montana passes for 39 yards, as well as converting a 4th and 1 at the Broncos 3-yard line. 

Photo credit: Focus On Sport, Getty Images

Rathman’s second score in the final period extended the 49ers lead to 36, a three yard dive, in what would turn out to be his final touch of a ball in a Super Bowl. 

An unsung hero, Rathman went on to play a further 55 games for the 49ers, winning a grand total of 7 division titles in 8 seasons. Whilst his trophy cabinet was bulging as a valued team-mate he never gained any individual recognition in his playing days, failing to make a Pro Bowl roster or an All Pro team. 

Rathman played his final season in 1994 for Art Shell and the Los Angeles Raiders, failing to find paydirt for the only time in his 9 seasons in the NFL. 

What happened after Rathman retired? 

Having sacrificed his body for almost a decade Rathman hung up his helmet and immediately went into coaching, spending 1995-96 as an RB coach at high school level and then OC for the Menlo College Oaks in California. 

The 49ers came calling in 1997 and Rathman was reunited with the red and gold colours as RB coach, a role he served until 2002. Rathman coached RB Garrison Hearst to three 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, including a team record 1,570 in 1998, to eclipse Roger Craig’s 1988 team record (where Rathman paved the way). 

Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Following two seasons out of the league due to a potentially career ending medical condition Hearst returned in 2001, and thanks in part to Rathman became the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. 

Rathman accompanied 49ers coach Steve Marriuchi (yes that crazy one on NFL Network) to Michigan and the Detroit Lions in 2003. With minimal talent Rathman helped RB Kevin Jones have his only 1,000 yard season as a rookie in 2004. 

Missing the West Coast Rathman spent 2006-08 with the Raiders, still as RB coach. With an equally inept roster as the Lions Rathman helped Huggy Bear’s (character from the original Starsky and Hutch TV series) son to lead the Raiders in rushing three seasons in a row, including his only 1,000 yard season (2007). 

Rathman then moved up the road and back to the 49ers for a second stint with the 49ers, from 2009-16, surviving four head-coaching moves (Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly). 

In the 2012 season Rathman coached in his first Super Bowl, a 3-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens. This was Frank Gore’s only Super Bowl and Rathman coached Gore to 110 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead all players in the game. 

Photo credit: Matt Kryger/Indy Star

Following the arrival of Kyle Shanahan in 2017 Rathman was cut loose by the Niners, and after a year out he was hired as RB coach by the Indianapolis Colts just under two years ago. Colts RB Marlon Mack had his first 1,000 yard season under Rathman’s tuition in 2019. 

2020 and beyond for Rathman 

Having spent 30 seasons playing and coaching in the NFL, 23 for the 49ers, it’s time for Rathman to move into a more senior coaching role, as a head coach or offensive coordinator at the very least. 

Maybe Rathman has been offered promotions but just loves to coach running backs, somewhat symbolic of the sacrificial role he had on the field, one where his reward was not so much glory, rather executing a pancake block or helping to find a tiny crease for a star half-back to get that crucial first-down. 

Millennial 49ers fans will only recognise Kyle Juszczyk as their favourite #44, but before him, paving the way for his team-mates, putting his body on the line against octopus-armed speed rushers, sledgehammer safeties and missile focused middle linebackers was San Francisco’s original #44 – Tom Rathman. 

Photo credit: 49ers.com

I’ll leave you with a recent intense quote from Coach Rathman, who was inducted to the 49ers Hall of Fame in 2017 (above):

“If you have the ball in your hands, you’re not only carrying yourself and your family, but the whole organization. The entire franchise is in your hands.” 

Follow Lawrence at @F10yRetro on Twitter for more blasts from the NFL past.

Season in review – New York Giants

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

In a decade that included earning their fourth Vince Lombardi trophy the New York Giants only won a single NFC East crown and had 4 winning seasons. How would they finish the 2010s? 


Entering the season


Having finished dead last in their division in 2017 and 2018 it was time for some significant changes if Big Blue was going to emulate its predecessors. 

Photo credit: Anthony J. Causi (N.Y. Post)

In possession of the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkey, a top three fantasy pick, the Giants were looking to begin the NFLs 100th season in a much better way than 1-7 (as they did in 2017 and 2018). 

The Giants bid farewell to a number of big names, WR Odell Beckham Jr and LB Olivier Vernon going to Cleveland by trade and S Landon Collins departing in free agency to divisional rivals Washington. The only veteran names of any significance coming into the team were WR Golden Tate and G Kevin Zeitler.

Without doubt the biggest offseason transaction for the G-Men was their first round draft pick (#6) Daniel Jones. Ridiculed by draftniks across the globe for selecting the former Duke standout so early, head coach Pat Shurmer and GM Dave Gettleman knew the writing was already on the wall for veteran QB Eli Manning. 

Ending up with three first round selections, the Giants made two more conventional early picks, grabbing DT Dexter Lawrence at #17 and CB Deandre  Baker at #30 to try and immediately improve a weak defense. They also picked up WR Darius Slayton in the 5th round. 

Reggie White Jr, son of legendary Hall of Fame DE Reggie White was signed as an UDFA but was cut before the season started, before earning a place on the Giants practice squad. 

Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Would this be the final season we would see double Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning suiting up in the Big Apple? Could Saquon move onwards and upwards? Could the Giants find some defensive consistencey? 


During the season


Despite going undefeated in the Preseason the Giants began the 2019 regular season in familiar fashion with two consecutive losses. In both defeats Saquon rushed for over 100 yards. 

With the season outlook already starting to turn dark Coach Shurmer made the bold move to bench Eli Manning for only the second time in his career (the first being for Geno Smith in 2017). 

Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In Eli’s place was rookie Daniel Jones, who despite harsh criticism, managed to win his first two NFL starts against Tampa Bay and Washington. Jones threw for 336 yards and two scores in his debut, but had a tougher outing against the Redskins, tossing two picks. 

The small taste of success was then turned into as much fun as licking an Amazonian tree frog for Giants fans as the team went on a nine-game losing skid, a franchise record defeat streak, last performed in 1976 when the team introduced the word ‘Giants’ on the sides of their helmets. 

Saquon Barkley missed Weeks 4-6 with an injury, and didn’t have his third 100+ yard rushing performance until Week 14, which coincidentally happened to be the next time the Giants won a a game, having not won a single contest in October or November. 

The two December wins, against the Dolphins at home and then on the road in Landover, Maryland was enough to leave the Giants with a 4-12 record, and the smallest of moral victories, having finished the season 3rd in the NFC East.


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A few side notes on another season without a sniff of the postseason included Eli Manning, in his final contest of the season, and his career, leaving the league on a winning note, a week 15 triumph against Miami, and the cutting of CB Janoris Jenkins for calling a fan a ‘retard’ on social media. 

After their 12th loss, a Week 17 defeat to the Eagles, Giants brass sacked head coach Pat Shurmer, who accumulated a poor 9-23 record in two seasons in charge. 

Team leaders for the Giants included Markus Golden (10 sacks), Janoris Jenkins (4 interceptions), and rookie Darius Slayton (receiving yards – 740 and touchdowns – 8). Kicker Aldrick Rosas did himself no favours missing 29% of his field goal attempts and failing on 4 point after touchdowns.


Offseason outlook 


Photo credit: Danielle Parhizkaran

Much in the same way that NFL experts were scratching their dandruff ridden scalps after the Giants selected QB Daniel Jones at 6 overall in the 2019 draft there were similar flake inducing moments when they announced Joe Judge as the new head coach. 

Judge, only 38, has an astonishing track record, winning two College championships with Alabama (2009 and 2011) and three Super Bowl winners rings as a special teams coach with the New England Patriots. This will be his first ever head coaching job. 

In other franchise altering news Eli Manning retired in late January 2020, ending 16 seasons of NFL gameplay, taking with him two rings, the same number as his big brother Peyton.

The Giants have lots of work to do everywhere in 2020 having failed to muster a single Pro-Bowl player for the 2019 season, the first time they failed to send someone somewhere sunny since the mid-90s. 

Photo credit: Newsday.com

Building blocks will include QB Daniel Jones, who rode out a torrid rookie season with three wins and over 3,000 yards passing and DT Dexter Lawrence (pictured above), who made the PFWA All-Rookie starting lineup.

This is a very young team, with no big names on defense, no 1,000 yard receivers, no Pro Bowlers and no big prospects in 2020. 

They do pick high again, this time at #4 overall and will likely be targeting a playmaking speed rushing defender or the best CB or S available. The team need to target WR, CB and LB in free agency.

The jury is out already and the verdict is not good for Coach Judge in 2020.

Season in review – Washington Redskins

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

The three time Super Bowl winners finished the decade without a single playoff victory and only three post-season games. 2019 turned out to be yet another disaster, as Chucky’s little bro had the locks changed when he wasn’t looking.


Entering the season 


This was not going to be an easy season for the Redskins to do anything meaningful. Two previous 7-9 seasons and 3rd place NFC East finishes were no great cause for optimism, and head coach Jay Gruden was many tipsters favourite as the first HC to get the axe after just 35 wins and one playoff appearance in five full seasons in charge. 

The team traded back up into the 1st round of the 2019 draft to acquire DE/OLB Montez Sweat after selecting their fourth 1st round QB this century, in the form of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Haskins would be competing with veteran free agent acquisition Case Keenum, who came from the Broncos for a 6th round pick this year. Veteran QB Alex Smith was still recovering from a horror leg break and was a huge outside shot to play a single snap. 

Photo credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Elsewhere the ‘Skins brought in FA safety Landon Collins (above) from divisional rivals the New York Giants, and moved on from some big, but not superstar names, including WR Jamison Crowder (Jets) and Preston Smith (Packers). 

The running back situation was filled with optimism as second year back Derrius Guice managed to survive the pre-season intact and was hoping to make a big impact ahead of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, who signed a two-year deal.

Wide receiver was the team’s huge weakness, having released former first rounder Josh Doctson, carrying an injured and inconsistent but expensive Paul Richardson along with zero impact free agent signings, leaving the likes of Trey Quinn, and two rookies, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, to try and make some sort of impact. 

The biggest single issue in Washington, as the 2019 season was about to begin, was the holdout of stud 7-time Pro Bowler OT Trent Williams, who fell out with the team following surgery he had on his head to remove a cancerous growth, claiming the team medical staff did not take his concerns seriously. 


During the season 


Up 17-0 in Week 1, on the road against the 2018 Super Bowl champion Eagles, and Redskins fans were in a state of euphoria, but the defense, much as it would be for the entire season, collapsed, as former star WR Desean Jackson scored on two bombs as Philly pulled off a 32-27 win. 

Picture credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Things got worse as the Redskins slid to 0-5, including three home losses, under Coach Gruden and Case Keenum. Keenum was benched Week 4 for rookie Dwayne Haskins (above), but he too failed to create a spark, throwing three interceptions in his first game action against the Giants.

The big but inevitable move then happened as Jay Gruden was fired before Week 6, replaced by former Raiders Super Bowl losing coach Bill Callahan, who took the job on an interim basis. In a battle between to 0-5 teams Callahan and the Redskins eeked out a 17-16 win in Miami against the Fitzmagic led Dolphins. The Redskins stopped a 2-point conversion with six seconds left to get win number one. 

The single win was not built on as four consecutive losses followed, with just 35 points scored in the four contests, including a 0-9 home shutout to the San Francisco 49ers in a quagmire. 

Standing at 1-8 after 10 weeks the Redskins somehow managed to put together a two-game win streak, under rookie QB Dwayne Haskins in just hs third and fourth career starts. The victories against the Lions and Panthers turned out to be the last notes in the win column for the 2019 Redskins. 

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Bizarrely entering Week 14 the Redskins were still in playoff contention at 3-9, due to the ineptitude of the rest of the NFC East, but that dream died in a 5 point loss to the Green Bay Packers. 

The season ended with three consecutive divisional games, three consecutive divisional defeats, including a 47-16 humiliation by the Dallas Cowboys to end a miserable season. 

Finishing 3-13 the Redskins managed to rank 31st in the NFL, finished bottom of the NFC East and the NFC as a conference, and as a result ‘won’ the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. Redskins OT Trent Williams didn’t take a snap, the team lost all six divisional games, and they ended the season without a permanent head coach. 

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In a grave season there were few signs of life, with the exceptions being punter Tress Way (above), who became the NFC Pro Bowl starter and second-team All-Pro, and rookie 3rd Round pick Terry McLaurin having an outstanding year (58-919-7tds) and a place on the PFWA All-Rookie team.    


Offseason outlook 


The Redskins made a lightning quick move to get a new head coach in place, hiring former Panthers boss Ron Rivera to lead the team on New Years Day. Accompanying Rivera as defensive coordinator was another former NFL linebacker, in the form of Jack Del Rio, who served time as the Jaguars head coach. Bill Callahan is now back coaching the offensive line, and will be with the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

With the number two pick in the draft many experts are projecting Ohio State’s EDGE Chase Young as the obvious pick to make, after the 20 year old set a team record with 16.5 sacks in 2019. The Redskins will be hoping to emulate the success the 49ers had drafting a Buckeye at number two, namely Nick Bosa. 

After round one the Redskins need to target a tight end and secondary upgrades. With TE Vernon Davis retired, and TE Jordan Reed about as stable as a polystyrene statue, Washington need a blocking and receiving playmaker in the mould of former h-back Chris Cooley. 

Photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The quarterback situation is not locked in. Dwayne Haskins will be entering his second offseason, under his second head coach, and therefore no loyalty. With an absolute plethora of free agents available the Redskins will likely avoid a big name as they kick the tyres very gently on Alex Smith (above) who will be 36, but still under contract. 

The strength on paper, the defensive line, is not living up to it’s draft position as Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen have been gashed by running backs and need to go back to basics to tackle harder. 

In a division with Saquon Barkley, Zeke Elliot and rising star Miles Sanders, the Redskins need to beef up the front seven. One name to look out for that may finally get some award recognition in 2020 is DT Matt Ioannidis, who ended 2019 with 8.5 sacks. 

Even the most optimistic Redskins fan will only be reaching for mediocrity in 2020. 8-8 would be an acceptable finish, and in the NFC East that could win a division crown. 

Full10Yards – 54 facts for Super Bowl LIV

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

Some known, some unknown and some complete random facts for you to consume during Super Bowl weekend.

The 49ers and Chiefs have met only 13 times. The 49ers lead the series 7-6, but they have only won one of the last four meetings. 

The teams last met in Week 3 of the 2018 season, the Chiefs winning 38-27. Mahomes and Garoppolo combined for 5 TD passes, 0 ints and 565 passing yards. 

In 2006 the Chiefs beat the 49ers 41-0, the only time either team was shutout in a H2H matchup. The 49ers leading rusher that day was Frank Gore, who is still active with the Buffalo Bills. 

Picture credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

#54 for the San Francisco 49ers is LB Fred Warner who had 89 regular season tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and a pick. 

#54 for the Kansas City Chiefs is LB Damien Wilson who had 7 tackles in the AFC Championship win over the Tennessee Titans.

The 54th ranked all-time passing yard record holder is Brad Johnson with 29,054 yards. Johnson won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the day he passed for 215 yards and two TDs. 

Green Bay Packers legendary QB opened up the scoring in Super Bowl XXXI with a 54 yard bomb to WR Andre ‘Bad Moon’ Rison. 

The first Super Bowl MVP to wear the #54 shirt was the Dallas Cowboys LB Chuck Howley, winning Super Bowl V to conclude the 1970 season.

The only other Super Bowl MVP to wear #54 was another Cowboys defended DT Randy White. White was also the only joint MVP winner, sharing the honours with DE Harvey Martin in Super Bowl XII

Photo credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Two teams with predominantly red uniforms have never faced each other in the Super Bowl. The 49ers will wear white on Sunday and the Chiefs keep their Pantone PMS 186C red shirts on. 

In the past 15 Super Bowls the team wearing the white jerseys has won 13 times. The only exceptions have been the 2018 Eagles (green) and the 2011 Packers (also green). 

Exactly 11 players in NFL history have scored exactly 54 touchdowns. Active players with this number are WRs DeAndre ‘Nuke’ Hopkins and Michael Crabtree. Crabtree had 109 yards receiving and a score for the 49ers the last time they went to the Super Bowl (in 2013).

Super Bowl XIX was won by the 49ers over the Dan Marino led Miami Dolphins. The total amount of points scored…….54. 

The Philadelphia Eagles shocked the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl LII. The two teams combined for a record number of first downs….yes you guessed it 54. 

54 seasons ago The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers in the first ever Super Bowl. They scored only 10 points. The lone field goal they scored was with 0:54 seconds left in the first half. They were shutout in the second half. 

Picture credit: Chiefs.com

The greatest Chiefs player to wear the #54 jersey was OG Brian Waters, who played between 2000 and 2010. The undrafted free agent earned 5 Pro Bowl nods and two All-Pro selections. 

The greatest 49ers player to wear #54 was LB Lee Woodall who won Super Bowl XXIX, was selected to two Pro Bowls and had 88 career starts.

Whilst he spent the majority of his career in Oakland winning two Super Bowls, LB Matt Millen won a third ring for the San Francisco 49ers (XXIV) wearing the #54 shirt. 

In a Super Bowl XXXVIII loss to the Dallas Cowboys the Buffalo Bills K Steve Christie kicked the longest big game field goal – 54 yards. It is still the record for a Super Bowl game.

Picture credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2018 AFC Championship Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins burned the New England Patriots All-Pro CB Stefon Gilmore for a……54 yard catch. The Chiefs lost the game. 

1973 was the 54th NFL season. O.J. Simpson (the 1969 number one draft pick) became the first 2,000 yard rusher that season. 

Chariots of Fire won the Best Picture Oscar at the 54th Academy Awards. It is a sports film based on two highly skilled athletes competing against each other to become a world champion. 

The 54th largest country in the world is Cameroon. Former Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou was born in Cameron. 

If you are in Miami for the Super Bowl you can head to 54th Street for some tasty Haitian food at Chex Le Bebe. 

Picture credit: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

The Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (right) led all TE in catches and yards in 2019 – 97-1229. His 49ers rival TE George Kittle (left) was one of only two other TE to go over 1k (1,053). Both TE had 5 TDs a piece

The 49ers have 5 Super Bowl wins, and a win on Sunday will see them join the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots with six Vince Lombardi trophies. They would become the first NFC team with six Super Bowls. 

The largest gap between playing in two Super Bowls is 50 years – held by the Chiefs, who’s last appearance was in Super Bowl IV. 

In their only Super Bowl win the Kansas City Chiefs QB Len Dawson completed just 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and one 46 yard 3rd quarter touchdown. 

Joe Montana won four Super Bowls as the starting quarterback for the 49ers. In all four games, four wins, he did not throw a single interception. 

Montana in fact went on to end his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, losing the 1993 AFC Championship agains the Buffalo Bills. Montana suffered a concussion in the game and was replaced by Dave Krieg. 

Picture credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

If Patrick Mahomes leads the Chiefs to a Super Bowl win he would be the second youngest winner in 54 seasons, only trailing ‘Big’ Ben Roethlisberger who won SB XL aged just 23. 

The most passing yards in a players first 8 career games is 2,507 by Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Surprisingly the fourth all time yardage is 2,277 by 49ers current backup QB Nick Mullens. Mullens 2019 stats – just 3 rushes for -3 yards. 

Chiefs backup QB Matt Moore wen 1-1 in relief of Patrick Mahomes in 2019. Moore has made one playoff start for the Miami Dolphins, an 18 point loss to the Steelers, in January 2017. 

Chiefs late 2019 acquisition EDGE Terrell Suggs and P Dustin Colquitt, along with 49ers K Robbie Gould are the oldest players to enter Super Bowl LIV – All aged 37. 

For Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt, in his 15th season as a Chiefs starter, it will be a chance to emulate the achievement of his father Craig, who won two rings punting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The youngest player at Super Bowl LIV will be rookie WR and return ace Mecole Hardman who will not be 22 until March 12. He is the only 21 yard old playing in Miami. 

The Chiefs name came from a public naming competition, set by owner Lamar Hunt after he moved the team from Dallas where they we know as the Texans. 

The 49ers, named after the West Coast 1849 gold rush, were the first professional sports franchise to be based in San Francisco. They began life in 1947 in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC). 

The 49ers have 27 players, coaches or officials in the Hall of Fame. The Chiefs have 22. 

The Chiefs have had one NFL MVP in their history, Patrick Mahomes in 2018. The 49ers have had five winners, split between three QBs – John Brodie (1970), Joe Montana (1989 and 1990) and Steve Young (1992 and 1994). 

Super Bowl 54 will be the 10th Super Bowl hosted by Miami. Five took place in the Orange Bowl and the more recent five in the stadium that has changed its name 4 times. 

On Sunday Katie Sowers becomes the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl. Katie, an offensive assistant for the 49ers, is already a world champion having lifted the IFAF Women’s World Championship in 2013 as a player. 

Picture credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid delivered the best quote of the Super Bowl week when asked about his relationship with his nine grandchildren. He said “They keep you young and at the same time make you feel old. It’s kind of like sweet and sour pork.”

Only one player has ever won three consecutive Super Bowls. That honour goes to LB Ken Norton Jr, who won his third ring with the 49ers in 1995 after gaining two with the Dallas Cowboys. 

The most Super Bowl TD passes scored in a half is 4. The record is held by the Redskins Doug Williams and the 49ers Steve Young.

The most career Super Bowl receptions (33) and yards (589) is held by 49ers legend Jerry Rice. Rice played in 3 finals for San Fran and one for the Oakland Raiders. 

With only two previous visits the Chiefs own very few individual Super Bowl player records. One they do hold is punting average, set by P Jerrel Wilson, standing at 46.5 a boot in 11 kicks

The 49ers have allowed the Super Bowl’s longest ever scoring play, a 108 yard kickoff return by the Ravens Jacoby Jones in SB XLVII. 

In fact the 49ers have allowed three kickoff return touchdowns in Super Bowls (Andre Coleman, Jacoby Jones and Stanford Jennings). 

Photo credit: Mike Powell

The most combined points in a Super Bowl is 75, as the 49ers put up seven touchdowns in a ’49’ 26 win against the San Diego Chargers. Steve Young threw six touchdown passes.

The most converted field goals in a Super Bowl is 4. This has been done twice, once by Ray Wersching for the 49ers in SBXVI and once by the Packers Don Chandler in SBII. 

Before their Super Bowl loss to the Ravens the 49ers owned the lowest Super Bowl win streak with 5 consecutive victories. 

The 1989 49ers set the Super Bowl record for points with 55. They scored 13, 14,14,14 by quarter. The game featured six future Hall of Famers, five on the 49ers roster. 

In the Chiefs only Super Bowl win they did not allow any first half or fourth quarter points. The team they beat, the Minnesota Vikings totalled 67 rushing yards. 

F10Y Retro – The 1981 49ers – The season that launched a dynasty

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

Sometimes legacies begin with a big bang, sometimes however they start without even a fizzle. 

Back in the Spring of 1977 Eddie De Bartolo Sr bought a present for his 31 year old son of the same name. It wasn’t a car or even a house, it was an NFL franchise – the San Francisco 49ers team in fact. 

From 1977 to 1979 the 49ers won just 9 of 46 games as they went through four different head coaches, finally settling on former Stanford College coach Bill Walsh. 

James Lofton in Canton – Picture credit: Raiders.com

Walsh was given the opportunity with the 49ers in part for his outstanding job nurturing offensive talent at Stanford including future 10-year pro RB Darrin Nelson and future Hall of Famer WR James Lofton, who caught two TD passes for the Cardinals in their 1977 Sun Bowl victory over LSU. 

The 1977 49ers started their season 0-5 and finished 5-9 with QB Jim Plunkett, a 1976 trade acquisition from the New England Patriots. Plunkett would go on to be released by the Niners in the 1978 preseason, before being picked up as a backup by the Oakland Raiders. Plunkett would go on to win not one but two Super Bowl rings as the Raiders starter in the early 1980s. 

San Francisco 49ers Jim Plunkett (16) right, and O. J. Simpson (32) Photo credit: AP

After jettisoning Plunkett, San Francisco made the bold move to sign the 70s biggest named running back, none other than O.J. Simpson, a West Coast native. The Simpson move was a disaster as he only scored one rushing TD in 1978 and he had his career low YPC of 3.7. The team set a then record of 63 turnovers in a season, not surprisingly a record that still stands today. 

In 1979 the 49ers repeated their paltry 2-14 record as they had achieved the season before, but there were good signs, as the team set an NFL record as the only team to lost 12 games in a season where they had the lead. Somehow the incredible patience the 49ers owner Eddie De Bartolo Jr showed, by keeping head coach Bill Walsh with the team, was soon to be rewarded.  

1979 was also the year the 49ers took a QB in the 3rd round of the draft to back up their starter. After trading their 1st round pick to Buffalo for O.J. Simpson, a pick that turned out to be the #1 overall pick, they went with Cowboys 1977 10th round pick Steve DeBerg as their starter, and he ended up leading the league in attempts and completions. Like Plunkett, DeBerg would go on to complete a prolific NFL career, passing for over 34,000 yards, playing his last game aged 44 for the Atlanta Falcons. 

DeBerg (17) and Montana (16) in 1979 – Pic credit: Pinterst

The rookie QB drafted by Walsh in 1979 made one start as a rookie, in a Week 14 loss to the St Louis Cardinals. He would go on to wrestle the seating job away from DeBerg in the middle of his second season in 1980. The QBs name – Joseph Clifford Montana Jr. 

Montana started 7 games in 1980, winning only 2 games, but his cool play, and high completion rate was enough to convince Coach Walsh that he had a future star commanding his teams huddle. A 64.5% completion rate 40 years ago was quite remarkable. 

After improving to 6-10 in 1980 and beginning to play a new breed of short passing possession sustaining football opposing teams got a taste of the next decade but no-one was prepared for what was to happen just one season later. 

Picture credit: Newsmax.com

With Joe Montana installed as the starter from Week 1 the 1981 49ers looked to be reverting to type, losing two of their first three games, including defeats on the road to the Lions and the Falcons. The Niners then tore off a 7 game win streak to enter Week 11 at 8-2. 

A 15-12 Week 11 defeat to the Cleveland Browns, where the 49ers failed to score a touchdown, turned out to be their last defeat of the entire season. 

The 49ers, led by a fresh but impactful rookie secondary of Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Willamson, went on the rampage to finish off the regular season 13-3, forcing a season high 6 turnovers agains the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14.

In the divisional playoffs Montana and Co. beat a New York Giants team led by the lesser known QB Scott Brunner, in what turned out to be Brunner’s second and last post-season game of his career. 

A second home playoff game ensued, the NFC Championship against the Dallas Cowboys, made remarkable by the fact it was the the first time in franchise history they hosted two consecutive playoff contests.

The game itself is part of NFL folklore as it featured ‘The Catch’, a Joe Montana touchdown hookup to fellow 1979 draftee WR Dwight Clark to tie up the game in the final period. The Ray Wersching extra point making the ultimate difference in a 28-27 thriller. 

Two weeks later the 49ers met up for a second time with the Cincinnati Bengals, as both teams, playing in their inaugural NFL title game met in Super Bowl XVI in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit. 

Personifying the West Coast ‘1,000 paper cuts’ offense Montana remained patient after leading the Niners to a first quarter 7-0 lead, capped by his 1 yard rushing score. In the second Montana found prolific pass catching full back Earl Mitchell for an 11 yard score. Two more Wersching field goals later and San Francisco had a commanding 20-0 half-time lead. 

The Bengals fought back to 20-14 behind Ken Anderson’s rushing score and 4 yard hookup to TE Dan Ross in the early stages of the fourth quarter, but the 49ers offensive machine went back to work and Wersching kicked his third and fourth field goals, before Anderson found Ross to bring the game within 5, but it was in vain, as the 49ers took the victory and began a dynasty that would dominate the 1980s. 

Picture caption: 49ers.com

Montana won the MVP, courtesy of his 157 passing yards, one rushing score and zero interceptions. Ken Anderson for the Bengals almost doubled Joe’s passing output and threw one more score, but he was picked off twice, once by rookie Eric Wright and once by 4th year safety Dwight Hicks. 

In a strike shortened 1982 season the 49ers went 3-6, but they more than made up for it by the end of the decade, winning a further three Vince Lombardi trophies, all with Joe Montana at QB. 

In an era where teams can transform their fortunes in a 12 month period it was the 49ers who showed that with patience, precision passing and some exquisite drafting anything is possible. 

Fast forward 40 seasons, from when Montana was drafted, and the 49ers are back for their seventh crack at a Super Bowl title. 

Can the 49ers strike gold and join the Steelers and Patriots on Sunday as the only teams to start their Super Bowl ring collection on a second hand? Can’t wait to find out. 

F10Y – NFC and AFC Championships 19-20 Look ahead

by Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND and @F10YRetro)

This will be the 22nd time that the conference championship will be a regular season rematch. The advantage has gone to the home team winning 13 of 21 rematches. The last team to gain revenge for a regular season loss by winning a conference championship was the the 2013 Seahawks who beat the 49ers – a game that featured a touchdown from Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch. 

Now I’m not going to be popular if you like to do the tomahawk or if you support a team with a red helmet, but I am going for a Titans v 49ers Super Bowl. Below I have provided some narrative on the two teams I think are going to make it to the 54th annual festival of football.

AFC Championship – Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

Photo caption: Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com

H2H – Chiefs lead all time series 29-24. Both are 1-1 in Super Bowl playoffs, and one win for the Titans in 1962 in double overtime when they were known as the Dallas Texans. Titans have won last four matchups by a combined 22. 

Titans 2019 record to date – 11-7 

  • Could become the first team in NFL history to beat their same conference division winners in a single season having dispensed the Texans Week 17, then the Patriots and the Ravens. 
  • If we include the Houston Oilers records, along with the Titans then this is the franchises 6th conference championship game – three for the Oilers – one from being in the AFL in 1967, two consecutive between 1978 and 1979, both as Wild Card entries, and both ending in defeats to the eventual Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers. 
  • As the Titans they reached two AFC title games in 1999 and 2002, beating the Jags in 99 and losing to the Raiders in 02. This will be the Titans 3rd AFC Championship in their 21 year existence as the Tennessee Titans.
  • They have of course played in one Super Bowl – 34 suffering one of three of the most heartbreaking losses in the finals history as Mike Jones the St Louis Rams LB tackled WR Keyin Dyson at the one yard line as the Titans looked to tie up the game in the dying seconds. 

Last decade – In the past 10 seasons the Titans haven’t won their division, and including this season are 3-1 in the playoffs. 

Outside of this season the Titans only playoff win in the past 17 seasons was in 2017 against none other than the Kansas City Chiefs. 

So what are the top 5 strengths of the Titans

Photo caption: Cbsnews.com
  • The running game and namely the hottest running back in the NFL Derek Henry. Henry became the first back in NFL history to record three consecutive 180+ rushing games. something that Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and even Jim Brown never managed.
  • Ryan Tannehill’s efficiency. From the point he replaced the ineffective Marcus Mariota this season Tannehill ended the 17 game slate with the highest rating in the league. Tannehill is an accurate passer 62.5% lifetime and 70.3% this season.
  • Jurrell Casey – You gotta love this defensive tackle who has started 137 of 139 games for the Titans. the four time pro bowler has recored 5 or more sacks for the last 7 seasons, and registered his first two playoff QB takedowns against Lamar Jackson last week. Casey has been twice voted the Titans Walter Payton Man of the year and he coaches a women’s flag football team made up of Titans WAGs. 
  • Head coach Mike Vrabel (pictured above) – This might be Vrabel’s first post season as a head coach but he won three rings as a player for the new england patriots in just a four year stretch. He has to be the only NFL player to have caught 12 touchdown passes on 12 career catches. 

Titans weaknesses 

  • Their field goal kicking.The team is 8-18 on field goal attempts
  • Pass rush – No player has more than 9 sacks and 1st round rookie dl Jeffrey Simmons had only two regular season sacks. 
  • Playoff experience – This is Tannehill’s third career playoff game and his only post season in his career. 

Keys for a Titans win 

  • Goes without saying feeding Derek henry the ball often – 25-30 carries and the Titans can dominate time of possesion and keep Mahomes off the field
  • Special teams tackling – The spark the Chiefs had last week was caused by a big Mecole Hardman kick return. If Haardman or Tyreek hill can find creases it means longer drives needed. 
  • Get the ball to the biggest playmaker. AJ Brown electrified as a rookie WR in the regular season, but he has been used as a decoy for two consecutive games to get a safety or corner to stay away from the line of scrimmage. Now is the time to unleash AJ in all his glory. 

NFC Championship – Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

H2H – Packers lead the series 36-31-1. They have met 7 times in the playoffs the 49ers winning 3. The last time the 49ers recorded a shutout against the Packers was in 1954. The teams did meet in the 1997 NFC Championship – the Brett Favre and Reggie White led Packers beating the Steve Young led 49ers 23-10 in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

49ers record to date – 14-3 

  • Back in the NFC Championship for the 16th time – with 6 wins and 10 losses. Made three consecutive NFC Championships 2011-2013 with Alex Smith and then Colin Kaepernick. They lost Super Bowl 47 in 2013 to the Ravens. Weird fact on this game the last scoring play was a safety by the 49ers – Ravens  punter Sam Koch running out the back of the endzone. The 49ers team then featured Frank Gore who ran for 110 yards on the day. 
  • The Niners are 5-1 in Super bowls, having won 4 with Joe Montana who didn’t throw an interception in any of the three games, Super Bowl 24 in fact remains the biggest blowout game when they beat the Broncos 55-10. 
  • In the past 10 seasons the 49ers have won their division three times and are 6-3 in the playoffs. The last time they won their division before this season they mad it to the Superbowl. 
  • 49ers are the surviving 1 seed and only home team to host two playoff games this season. 

Top 5 strengths of the 49ers

Photo credit: Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports
  • Adaptability to their surroundings – they had a better road record than home record – going 7-1 on their travels. Wins ranged from a 9-0 grinder in a quagmire in Washington to outlasting the Saints 48-46 in the game of the season in New Orleans. 
  • The surprise of the running game. the team finished 2nd in rushing yards per game behind a combo of Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and even jeff bison, just don’t ask jimmy Garoppolo to run – his 1.3 yards a carry is Dan Marino Esque. Don’t forget about Kyle Juzchck who is arguably the best FB in football
  • Grab a teabag and put the Kittle on. All Pro TE George Kittle led the team in targets, receptions, and was the only Niners to go over 1000 yards in the air. His 5 tds paced the team. Kittle’s catch against the Saints was easily a top10 highlight of the season. 
  • Pass rush – the 49ers registered 48 regular season sacks and followed up with six lashes of Kirk Cousins last week. The biggest name is rookie Nick Bosa, but the leading regular season sacker was Arik Armstead with 10 and two forced fumbles. in their regular season matchup the 49ers had 5 sacks of Aaron rodgers on his 33 attempts. 
  • The offensive line – Veteran LT Joe staley and mauling 2nd year right tackle Mike McGlinchey (pictured above) are not getting the headlines, neither made the first or second all pro rosters but they are solid bookends and RG Mike Person is one to look out for as a late bloomer. The team averaged 4.6 yards a carry in the regular season and paved the way for 47 rushes last week. 

Weaknesses 

  • Kicking game has become a bit of a risk. Robbie Gould who was injured for three weeks has missed 8 of his 31 attempts after foil 33 of 34 last season. Fortunately for the 49ers Gould has never missed a field goal in 8 post season games. 
  • Penalties by the defense – The team committed the 7th most penalties in the regular season and need to cut down on giving up cheap yardage. 
  • Wide receivers – Its a grab bag of talent with the 49ers ball catchers – no one is a dominant number one. Trade aqusition Emmanuel Sanders has registered 36 catches and 3 tds in red and gold – good but not great. This can be a 49ers advantage as Jimmy G will likely look for Deebo Samuel early and often but there is no guarantee he has a gig receiving game. 

Keys for a 49ers win 

  • Keep bringing the heat all game long. Joey Bosa looked as fresh in the final two minutes against the Vikes as he did in the opening 2. Aaron Rodgers is 36 and uses more of his smarts than he does his feet to move the ball. 
  • Run the ball and wear down the packers defensive line. It might be Mostert or even Breida that gets the lions share of carries whoever carries the ball they need to keep hold of the rock
  • Game planning – Kyle Shanahan lives every day with the numbers 28-3 etched in his mind after taking a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl as the Falcons offensive coordinator before being Bill and Tommed. Lesson learnt Shanahan will take no lead for granted and will want to showcase his play calling in front of a fired up home crowd. 

Enjoy the games tonight, for some this week is better than Super Bowl Sunday. We have a top seed, a bottom seed and two teams that are #2 in their conferences.

Photo credit: Albert Dickson/Sporting News

Sit back, grab your popcorn, and have a blast.

F10Y 2019 Divisional Playoffs takeaways

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

DID that really just happen?

Photo caption: Rantsports.com

Not sure if I had too much coffee over the weekend and started hallucinating but I swear I just watched an NFL game where the road team went 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, then allowed their opponents to score 28 in the second, before allowing a further 23 second half points, resulting in a 20 point loss. That doesn’t happen in the real world does it? That’s a Madden score when your cousin has unlocked a cheat code after playing possum for a quarter. Believe it or not it was what happened when the Houston Texans travelled to K.C. to take on the Chiefs on Saturday. Not all playoff loses have the same magnitude or embed the same emotional scars, but this game will take a lot of recovery time for the Texans, especially QB DeShaun Watson and head man Bill O’Brien, who will have to take it right on the chin (where incidentally a small family of sparrows have nested).

King Henry looking for more than the rushing crown

Photo credit: David Boclair (SI)

It’s pretty much in the can that Lamar Jackson will win the NFLs Most Valuable Player award for his incredible season, 13 wins in 15 starts and his destruction of the QB single-season rushing record, but in the cold light of day the most valuable player in the entire league is not a Ravens one. Titans RB Derek Henry, with help from a superb offensive line, are all still alive in the playoffs, and will not be daunted by a third consecutive road playoff game. Baltimore’s 14-2 record and number one seed meant nothing on Sunday as Henry ploughed, slashed, pummelled, drove, and executed his will over the Ravens, becoming the first RB in NFL history to have three consecutive 180+ yard rushing games. Already the newly anointed owner of the 2019 NFL rushing crown, and unlikely to get the regular season MVP award, the man with a beavers tail sticking out of his helmet is 120 minutes away from winning a Super Bowl MVP.

4th and own goal 

Photo credit: Billie Weiss/Getty Images

When you enter the playoffs having gone 8-8 of 4th and 1, and the opportunity arrises to go 9-9 on these plays in a home playoff game that you are losing, but only by a TD, then its understandable to be brave. On their own 45 Coach Harbaugh decided to make s statement in the opening play of the second quarter. Problem was Lamar Jackson didn’t get any kind of exquisite block, and he was stuffed for no gain. On the very next play the Titans dialled up a miracle and Kalif Raymond picked up the receiver, or to put it another way the receiver connected with the ball. That two play series effectively ended the game there and then as the Titans didn’t need the last two touchdowns to win – they had the W when they went 14-0 up. Unlike some other AFC team that melted worse than that flying white guy in Raymond Briggs The Snowman the Titans defense stayed strong all game. 

By the time the Ravens packed their playoff bags they managed to fail to convert their second, third and fourth 4th down conversions. 

Miami motivation for revolutionary Ryan

Photo credit: Jeremy Brevard – USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt about it, stats lie. You can make a series of stats paint a masterpiece or a dirty protest, depending on the contextual angle you adopt. Let’s look at Titans QB Ryan Tannehill’s passing output in Tennessee’s two playoff games. In two full contests Tannehill has passed for 160 yards on 15 of 29 completions and thrown an interception. In those same three contests Tannehill has thrown three touchdown passes, gained two wins (his first playoff victories) and thrown the single most important touchdown in the 2019 playoffs. When the former Dolphins passer struck gold, following a Ravens failed 4th and 1, and hit Kalif Raymond (pictured above) for his first post-season catch of his career, it was single-handedly the point the air came out of the Ravens magnificent ambition balloons. After that completion, with just 7 seconds gone in the second quarter, Tannehill only competed three more passes all game, as King Henry and the Titans defense locked down the W. Ryan is now one game from going back to Miami to play in the Super Bowl. Just let that sink in.  

RETRO – The under 100 club 

Photo credit: Malcolm Emmons – USA TODAY Sports

Throwing for under 100 yards as the starting QB (playing the vast vast majority or all snaps) and winning in the playoffs is nothing new. Back in 1974 Terry Bradshaw  the Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller won the AFC Championship against the Raiders and then Super Bowl IX with passing performances of 96 and 96 yards (17 of 36). It gets better/worse as two quarterbacks played every offensive snap of their respective victories whilst managing to throw for under 35 yards. The first time this occurred was unsurprisingly in the 1970s as Bob Griese led the Dolphins to a 27-10 win by going 3-6 for 34 yards. The second time this happened was incredibly in 2010 by none other than Joe Flacco. He led the Ravens to a 33-14 Wild Card win against the New England Patriots. Flacco’s stat line that day was 4 of 10 for 34 yards and 6 runs for 5 yards. 

Can you Adams and Eve it the Pack are back

Picture credit: Clutchpoints.com

The Green Bay Packers have been criticised as the worst 13-3 team ever, barely mustering wins week after week. Now they are the 14-3 Packers after another just about good enough performance against the Seattle Seahawks. One Packers star to shine brightly was WR Davante Adams who led all Divisional Games receivers with 160 yards, on 8 catches. His two touchdowns were the difference makers in the game, and the first time he has caught a pair of six pointers in the post-season. We know the Seahawks secondary is not the finest, after the dissolution of the Legion of Boom. One former legionnaire, the not shy Richard Sherman, now with the San Francisco 49ers, will be licking his lips as he waits for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to travel over to the West Coast for the NFC Championship.

A-ROD on the brink of a TITLE SHOT

Picture credit: Jflanland.blogspot.com

Wrestling fan and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers wants a chance to pin down his second Super Bowl ring, and after forcing the Seahawks to tap out he is one game away from a title shot. Rodgers will now enter his fourth NFC Championship this weekend, having won his fifth Divisional round playoff contest. He did suit up in the 2007 NFC final but this was in the third year of the apprenticeship he was serving under Brett Favre, and he didn’t get on the field. Rodgers has faced the Bears, Seahawks and Falcons in the conference championship games, and in the three games scored 21, 20 and 21. In his 18 playoff games Rodgers threw his lowest amount of completions (16) in the home win at the weekend, but that doesn’t really matter when you convert 9 of 13 third downs. In his 15th season Rodgers is easily the oldest starting QB left with a shot to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, can he dial one up from the top rope or will he be suplexed into submission by Bosa and co. ?

GOLD RUN – CAN I HAVE A ‘W’ PLEASE BOB

Photo caption: Cbssports.com

Amongst all the bonkers momentum shifts, mind bending play calling and chaotic turnovers that took place in the Divisional Playoffs there was one team that emerged from the battlefield like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, mildly perspiration but without a scratch or a bruise on their collective bodies. The San Francisco 49ers looked calm and composed, and with the exception of a late second quarter interception by Jimmy Garoppolo, ruthless in their efficiency. When you hold Dalvin Cook and the impressive rookie Alex Mattison to a team total of 21 yards, execute six sacks, and don’t allow a second half point, you become the Super Bowl favourite. For a team that had not made the playoffs from 2014-2018 this was a statement win and also Jimmy G’s first as a starting QB. He already has two Super Bowl rings without taking a single snap in either big game. Staying in California the Niners now remain the only #1 seed still alive. As someone who lived through a significant period of time of San Francisco dominance, including watching four Super Bowl wins, I’m not sure I can deal with another Gold Run. Might be time for me to take a ‘P’.

RETRO – Divisional playoffs 50 burgers

Photo credit: Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the Chiefs firing up the playoffs grill and cooking a 50 burger (51) on the Houston Texans I was curious to see who had served up a similar culinary treat in the Divisional round of the playoffs in the Super Bowl era and scored over half a century. Surprisingly Mahomes and co. were the fifth team to exceed 50 points in the final eight stage (see below). Just imagine being a Jaguars fan 20 years ago as your team went up 41-0 in the first half, in only their fifth season of existence. This was a team that also went 24-0 up early, but unlike the Texans they didn’t take their foot off the playoff points pedal. The opposing QB that day – none other than Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Jaguars beat Dolphins 62-7 (January 2000) 

Raiders beat Oilers 56-7 (December 1969) 

Cowboys beat Browns 52-14 (December 1967) 

Redskins beat Rams 51-7 (January 1984) 

Chiefs beat Texans 51-31 (January 2020) 

Thanks FOR THE MEMORIES

Picture credit: Halilsrealfootballtalk.com

Two big requirement announcements this week, one inevitable, and one on the Andrew Luck scale of shock. Happy trails to TE Antonio Gates who leaves the NFL with the most touchdown catches in league history for his position. Gates was an outstanding route runner, sticky handed and a favourite of Philip Rivers for many years. Gates only won 5 playoff games in his career and bizarrely only scored post-season touchdowns in his first and last of 12 playoff games. The much more surprising news was the retirement of Luke Kuechly the outstanding Carolina Panthers LB. The 9th overall pick of the 2012 has called it a day after 8 seasons, 1,092 tackles and one Super Bowl appearance. Kuechly may have announced his retirement but he does have to make one more decision, does he suit up one last time with his team mate Christian McCaffrey for the 2020 Pro Bowl?