Bus Stops: 49ers headed in right direction; no camp costs Crabtree
Alex Smith is stepping into a much better situation in San Francisco
There's really no upside for Jamal Lewis to keep playing football
Jeff Fisher, a principles type of guy, may be fed up with Bud Adams
Throughout the 2009 season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
I took a few important things away from the Colts-49ers game last week, and they weren't all Indy-related. Sure, it was impressive to see Peyton Manning do what he does. This team has reloaded again. It's on cruise control, even with a new coach. This reinvention occurs almost every two years, it seems. Kudos to Peyton Manning. But it makes you think: What happens when he's done? He's no spring chicken anymore. How many times can Indy reboot?
I was just as excited, however, to see Alex Smith back in there. His resurgence really is a good thing for this team. The guy looked confident and he looked like a leader. The 'Niners lost, but I was impressed by what I saw. Here's the thing: Smith finally fits in because he has a decent defense. He doesn't have to do as much as he had to do two years ago, when he'd sling the ball around to catch up. That wasn't his game. Now he can call a normal football game; he can hand off to Frank Gore; he can play small ball. I think we'll see a whole new side of Alex Smith.
I'll say this to Michael Crabtree: That costly fumble in the third quarter on Sunday is what happens when you don't go through camp. Crabtree caught the ball and made a pretty decent move, but he was carrying the football way outside his body, leaving it up for grabs, and it got swiped out. That's one of those things you see happen to rookies in the first couple days of training camp, before they know what these big boys in the NFL can do. Perhaps you can get away with that in college, Michael, but not in the NFL. The kid has some things to learn. I hope he takes a few things away from this loss.
I thought Brett Favre deserved the reaction he received. And I think deep down he knows that. He knew what would happen if he entered this situation, playing for the Vikings, but he went forward with it. Now, do I think it was his last game at Lambeau? Nope. The Vikings have given this guy a new lease on life. He feels young again, and he sees youth all around him in Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice. I would not be surprised if he stuck around another year. Look forward to it.
On the other hand, I think we really may be seeing the end of Jamal Lewis. I've known the guy a long time, having played in the same division for a while, and I have to believe what he said after Sunday's loss in Chicago, that he's hanging it up after this season. The guy has Barry Sanders Syndrome -- at that age (he'll be 31 next year) you hate to play for the loser. He's starting to ask, Why play anymore? Where's the upside? You play this game with hope that something good could come of it, and he knows the Browns are not getting better any time soon.
As a player, you know when your time is up, and if there's nothing to keep you motivated, you let go. My time was actually up the year before I won a Super Bowl; I knew I was on my last leg. But I had a light at the end of the tunnel -- we looked like we could be something special; and I had coaches and teammates who wanted me to stay for that final year. Jamal won't have that in Cleveland. If he gets cut and is a free agent, most GMs would agree, he's done.
There's an unwritten rule, Jay Cutler: You can talk crap to players on the field, but you don't direct that at coaches. I don't know how the chatter between the Bears QB and Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan started this week, but it's just not the way Jay should carry himself. Play the game. Rob Ryan can't make a play; he can't kick your butt on the field. So it shows a complete lack of class to bring him into the fray. I understand Jay is fiery. That's his thing. But let it go, man. Walk away.
It was nice to see Vince Young get a win under his belt, but I have to say this about Tennessee's quarterback situation: The way owner Bud Adams publicly forced Jeff Fisher's hand was terrible. He really undermined his coach by demanding Young start. Yes, Adams holds the right to tell Fisher, "Vince is in." But why go public with it? Why not say it in a private meeting?
So people start to think perhaps Jeff Fisher won't keep his job. Here's another way of seeing it: Maybe Jeff Fisher wants to leave. Maybe he's had enough. Jeff's a principles type of guy, and I don't think this situation went over very well with him. If he leaves, he instantly becomes the hottest candidate for every single job in the NFL this offseason. Do you really want that, Mr. Adams?
Earlier this week Roger Goodell went before Congress and declined to acknowledge a connection between football-related head injuries and brain disease. As an ex-player, I'm certainly following this with interest.
Have I had concussions? Oh man, I don't even know how many. I've taken quite a few dings in my days. I'd try to come up with a number for you, but here's the problem: As a running back you take a lot of hits where you get kind of dazed, but you don't even realize that it's a concussion. The difference between that and a hit that just made you a little woozy -- sometimes you can't differentiate. Those were just things you just dealt with. But those things come back to haunt you, and the league hasn't accounted for post-game life appropriately. It's time to address that. I don't think the league can get away with ignoring this much longer. But it will try.
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