San Francisco 49ers – New York Jets: Just One Game

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bill-swift - October 3, 2012

Our series Just One Game takes a look at recent sporting contest that we fully expect to have major implications down the road. Ruined seasons, turning points, major injuries and exploding storylines will be examined here and we'll attempt to project just what's going to happen down that dynamic road.

New York Jets Fall To San Francisco 34-0

The big takeways from this game --Santonio Holmes' injury, San Francisco's dominant defense, Mark Sanchez' effectiveness-- all still stand and have direct, obvious effects on each team's fortunes for the rest of 2012. I'm going to go a bit further and say this is the game that knocked the Jets out of the AFC playoff picture and will lead to far reaching changes during the offseason AND this is the game that confirms the formula San Francisco will have to follow if they want to continue their Super Bowl dreams.

Hosting a West Coast team that's been on the road for more than a week and that's coming off of a loss should've been a huge advantage for New York. So huge that if they'd won, we'd all be sitting here saying how it wasn't a quality win because of those circumstances. Instead we saw the limitations of the Jets defense --the strength of this team-- and the fragility of their character. Since the beginning of the Rex Ryan era that Jets defense would shine in situations where their offense turns the ball over leaving them in tough spots with their backs up against the wall. In 2009 and 2010, the offense was efficient but relied on creative blitzes and coverages to throttle opposing offenses even if we're talking about Tom Brady in the redzone in the playoffs. They were that good.

Now, the obvious offensive woes are being highlighted by the fact that New York's defense --without Darrelle Revis-- can't hold on with superheroic effort anymore. The 49ers offense is good but not explosive. If there's an offense this Jets defense should be able to contain on a short field, San Francisco is one of them.

And so now the Jets will limp through the next 12 games and there will be occasional flutters of Tim Tebow talk, Antonio Cromartie comments and other silly distractions. However the die is cast. This team won't be a factor in their division or conference this season and discussions about their "window of opportunity" must begin. They've got enough talent but --like the Cowboys-- they don't have the intangibles that make championship-caliber teams greater than the sum of their parts. That has to come from leadership and the Jets have none.

San Francisco stayed in Ohio on their way to New York from Minneapolis and the organization looks like the smartest in football after obliterating the Jets like that. In watching how the 49ers handled Mark Sanchez versus how they handled Christian Ponder a week earlier, we see that this team is built to stop most conventional offenses run by pocket passers. Ponder's ability to improvise and create offense when his first options were cut off was good but against the 9ers he looked like Ben Roethlisberger (the best in the business) at certain points. SF's formula of applying just enough pressure to get the ball out of the QB's hands and relying on their swarming back seven or eight  to make plays and sure tackles will work against most of their remaining opponents. Maybe Russell Wilson can be a creative threat outside the pocket but he'll have to be a better QB then than he is now and that first SEA-SF game is October 18. There's no Big Ben, Cam Newton or even Robert Griffin III waiting for them the rest of this regular season. Watch them tee off on the likes of Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Bradford you'll see more results like we had against the Jets.

In the playoffs, all bets are off because San Francisco looks like the only sure thing when you're asking who's going to make the playoffs in the NFC.

So that's what Just One Game tells us: The Jets took a step toward irrelevance and San Francisco confirms they're the best against non-mobile quarterbacks.

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