Former 49ers linebacker Keena Turner, a four-time Super Bowl Champion, understands what's going out on the turf better than most which is what he'll try to share with you in his column Turner's Turf. In this week's entry, Turner reviews Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Bucs.
I think first thing I'd like to talk about is Bryant Young. I wore his jersey to honor him on Sunday. It's hard to find words to describe Bryant Young, but he epitomizes the 49ers and the NFL. He's a class act, a wonderful person, and those words just aren't enough to even really scratch the surface in describing him as a person. I think he's had a Hall of Fame career. For the last14 years he's established himself as one of the best interior linemen to ever play the game. He's an example for all of us, not just as a football player but as a human being. Simply said, if Sunday was his last home game, he will be missed.
Now as for the football game, you start with the win obviously.
The 49ers through the tough the losing streak and all of the tough times have continued to keep a certain will and fire about them. Even in games when they haven't played well, they've continued to come back the next week and given everything they've got.
I think the offense has finally been ignited by the play of Shaun Hill. What I like about Shaun is his instincts. He shows the poise of an experienced guy and he moves around and goes through his progressions and gets rid of the ball if nothing is there.
Of his three touchdown passes, the one that stuck out to me was the one to Darrell Jackson. It was a nice route by DJack going outside first which the defense bit on, but when he turned back inside, the ball was right there for him to make the play. Shaun threw it early in between the defenders to give DJack a chance. That was a great timing play.
Also, I like his toughness. He's playing with a broken finger on his playing hand and that can't be easy. He took some pretty big hits and he just kept getting up and kept playing well. I think he's taking full advantage of his opportunity.
Frank Gore, like I said last week, he's a lock. He went over 1,000 yards on the season in this game, and that's not easy to achieve in this league.. The season hasn't gone like Frank would want, but he's not been deterred and this guy still punches out a 1,000 yard year. My hat's been off to him all year long and I want to congratulate him for putting two 1,000 yards seasons back to back.
What I continue to like about the defense is that they are scrappy. I thought they might not ever come up with that interception because they had opportunities with the ball on the ground on a couple of fumbles, or deflected passes that were dropped. You kind of thought Tampa would luck out and not turn the ball over, but the defense stayed after it. Nate Clements gets the interception and does a great job on the return showing his running ability for 62 yards to put the offense in a great position to score.
Joe Staley forced the other turnover and this guy I just keep thinking wow, he's only a rookie. In his humble way, he's moving forward. Making a Pro Bowl his rookie year says he's got a lot of respect in the league and everyone has noticed the year he's put together. What impresses me is the way he handles himself in interviews. Every time I hear him speak, the first thing he says is my teammates are responsible, the guys up front help me do the job I do. You just have to love playing with a guy like that. I think Patrick Willis is going to rewrite the book for linebackers, not just for the 49ers but the NFL, and his teammates are going to be fired up about playing with him along the way.
The win was just a great job of putting it together on both sides of the ball, while special teams just continued to be what they are- a very solid unit.
Andy Lee is going to his first Pro Bowl, and he showed why in this game, putting the ball wherever he wanted. He's been amazing and we've seen him be special all season long.
The 49ers have now set themselves up with a nice two-game win streak and they've got another opportunity to play against another good team in the playoff hunt.
There will be a lot of work for this team to do in the off-season, but there's nothing like winning to end out the season and the 49ers have a chance to finish with three straight wins.
Outside of that, Happy Holidays to you and yours!