A Case of the Mondays: Christmas Edition

49ers:Christmas came early for the 49ers. For three quarters, Shaun Hill was feeling the Christmas Spirit and giving the ball away. Hill was almost rewarded for his generosity with a benching, but he promised the coach he still had more to give. He rallied the team and found his stride. He turned a forgetful homecoming for Isaac Bruce into a magnificent multiple milestone memory. Hill connected with Isaac Bruce for a touchdown to bring the 49ers within six points of the Rams with 4:06 left in the game. It was Bruce's 1000th career catch, the fifth player in NFL history to reach the 1000 catch mark. The defense seemed energized, even though they had been on the field almost twice as long as their counterparts. After two Steven Jackson runs, the Rams faced a 3rd and five. Bulger tried to find Holt on a quick out, but Nate Clements made a great play to knock the ball down. The 49ers needed to go 67 yards in 2:27 to pull out the victory. On first down, Hill is sacked by Pisa Tinoisamoa, two minute warning. The 49ers need 76 yards to win. After a Ram neutral zone infraction penalty, Hill hits Bruce for eight yards moving Bruce into second all time in receiving yards. Yes, second all time. Although he's 8,000 yards behind Jerry Rice. Hill finds Bryant Johnson for a first down and then The Play. Shaun Hill heaved the pass from the St. Louis 48 yard line and I didn't know what to expect. His earlier deep passes were ugly and poorly thrown and often intercepted. This pass was as ugly as any Shaun Hill deep ball, but well placed and Josh Morgan made a great leaping catch in front of teammate Jason Hill. Touchdown, Niners??? Wow.

You can say what you want about December victories for teams not going anywhere. After all, Nolan had a habit of performing well(for him) when the games didn't matter anymore. This game meant a whole lot. For one thing, this was a game that the 49ers were expected to win, on the road. Walt Harris summed it up:

If we would have lost, it would have been a big step back.
An ugly win? Yes. Did Mike Nolan have similar December wins? Yes. Is there a difference? Yes. Nolan was 2-3 in each December as head coach and his best December was, ironically, in 2005, his first season when the team gave up only 21.5 points a game. Singletary's teams is giving up only 14.5 points a game in December and under 10 points if you go back one game into November. On the season, the 2008 Singletarys are giving up 10 points a game less than the 2008 Nolans. That's not counting the Seattle game against either coach the week Nolan was out and Singletary was in. Maybe it's as simple as how Singletary speaks that makes me feel this is different. When Singletary speaks, his words make sense and what he says is beliveable. The fact is, if the Niners beat a Washington team at home who has nothing to play for, Singletary will be 3-1 in December and Nolan never did that.

Sharks: Sure, the 6-0 drubbing from the Champion Red Wings last week wasn't pretty. You don't want to lose like that to a team you may have to meet in the playoffs. You don't want to lose any mental edges and a 6-0 thrashing is unnerving. However, it was on the road, the second night if a back to back after losing the night before in overtime. The Sharks have some injuries and they weren't going to keep up "Best Start In History" pace the whole season, so a blip or two is to be expected. They came home and beat the Atlantic leading New York Rangers on Saturday and get a restful Christmas week at home.

Warriors: I can't watch this team right now. It's too depressing. Great, they beat the Bobcats. Jamal Crawford scored 50 points. Yay. Crawford and Turiaf tied with a team high 5 assists a piece. The Warriors only had 18 assists as a team, with Crawford and Turiaf accounting for 10 of them. That's abysmal. The Warriors need a distributor and have a bunch of bad contracts so they will have to overpay someone to get a "real" point guard and give up Wright or Randolph or both on top of it. It's funny how life works, especially for Warriors fans.

Raiders: Wish I could write about how the Raiders looked, but the game was blacked out.

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