This Super Bowl isn't about Baltimore or San Francisco. It's about legitimizing innovative concepts within NFL circles.
The Super Bowl typically doesn't carry too much interest for me. Like all football fans, I'll watch it. At least for myself in particular, that's not saying much. I'll watch any competitive football game that's thrown on to my television, really. Such is the life of a football addict. This Super Bowl is different for me though. While I'm not a fan of either team, I do have a rooting interest in one. The San Francisco 49ers.
Sunday night can go one of two ways: a win by the Ravens furthers the mentality of the status quo. However, a win by the 49ers legitimizes innovation and risk. It shows that this "pistol thing" isn't just some gimmick. That maybe it's something teams should look into. And, it goes beyond the pistol. It's a win for coaches that can go to their owners with a straight face about ideas that are "outside the box", yet fit personnel. Further, it's likely to make such innovation more acceptable within peer coaching circles at the highest level.
The NFL offenses these days have become so conventional and homogenized that it's almost laughable. With the conventional wisdom being that team should hire from within the existing NFL ranks, it's understandable how such homogenized ideas keep getting regurgitated. It's the same circle of recycled tired ideas, because rarely do outsiders with innovation get allowed in.
The 49ers broke that trend. While the hires weren't from outside the NFL circle (Harbaugh excepted...kinda), the concepts were. Teams had dabbled in the pistol up to this point, but few teams had dared to implement it in such a large capacity. Further, there's the point that, in the midst of a hugely successful season, the head coach elected to continue playing his dynamic young QB (benching the starter) and install completely new offensive concepts (or at least in a larger magnitude). All these things add up to a tremendous departure from the status quo.
While this game shouldn't matter given the success thusfar, it will. A loss will allow critics to dismiss these concepts as the latest gimmick that's reached it's ending point. It will be a triumph for "traditional" over "progressive". And while it's unlikely to be a wholesale win or dismissal either way for this aggressive new philosphical shift, the momentum that's built to date will surely slow down.
As Titans fans, this probably isn't a tough sell. You're rooting against the Ravens anyways. But, for those on the fence -those with Harbaugh, or Kaep issues - this isn't about rooting for the 49ers. It's about rooting for progress. It gives legitimacy and hope to the idea that one day you too may have an offensive coordinator that will be willing to pool ideas into a larger offensive toolbox so as to maximize player potential. For that reason, I'm excited about the game ahead on Sunday. Go Niners!