The next big thing is often times, enamoring. Rhetorical or not, as fans, we ask questions to ourselves and others that include things like, “can you imagine.” I’m just as guilty too. I mean really, can you imagine a secondary anchored by safeties Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward?
Whatever it takes for the San Francisco 49ers to stay on top, I’m all for it. In the process of anticipating Tank Carradine finally becoming unleashed on the NFL, we can lose sight of how we got there. In our own minds we push out guys like Justin Smith and Ray McDonald without proper homage. Often times, when it comes to guys like Smith and McDonald we have them out of the line up while their still amidst their prime. There’s talk of old age and line rotations as if we’re Jim Tomsula or Vic Fangio.
Yes, players do get old. It’s happened to every player in sport in some way or the other. Their skills erode or their bodies break down. Some careers never really pan out at all for various reasons. But heed my warning. Guys like Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Frank Gore, or Joe Staley shouldn’t be taken lightly. These types should be acknowledged to the point where we wish they could play forever.
For example, take Justin Smith. Set aside the fact that’s he’s my own personal favorite player. Smith is what you want in almost every professional football player. He’s tough. He’s gritty. He rarely misses a game, and damn, he sure is good. According to the man himself, he signed his last contract in 2013 that retains him as a 49er through 2015. Count that as an opportunity to fully appreciate the things Justin Smith has done for the 49ers organization. Granted, he’s getting up there in years as an interior lineman in the NFL, but don’t push “The Cowboy” out until it’s time.
Add the names Ahmad Brooks, Andy Lee, Adam Snyder, and Patrick Willis that were either drafted by or spent the majority of their lengthy careers with the San Francisco 49ers. There’s youth behind these names too. Younger and fresher guys are vying for their spots as well. But again, be careful what you wish for. Promising college careers don’t always pan out to elite or even productive productive stints. Names like Rashad Woods, Mike Rumph, and yes, of course, A.J. Jenkins are prime examples of that.
So, as an increase in age and NFL experience appear for some key contributors to the San Francisco 49ers team, be wary of what you wish for. The days of when John Engelberger leading the team in sacks aren’t all that long ago. And for the love of the NFL gods, I never want to go back there again!