When 49ers safety Donte Whitner delivered a touchdown-saving tackle to Saints running back Pierre Thomas in the early minutes of Saturday's 36-32 win, he did more than halt a scoring drive, force a fumble, change the momentum of the game AND -- as if that weren't enough -- knock Thomas out cold and remove him from the game for the remainder of the contest with a concussion.
For that split-second when the two large men collided, Whitner was the 49ers, according to the Bay Citizen. That is, the violent defensive machine that has propelled the 49ers to the NFC championship game through the sanctioned use of brute force.
"The 49ers are about raw, unapologetic violence," according to the Bay Citizen, which notes that fan-friendly moments like Alex Smith's turn from scapegoat to savior and Vernon Davis's tender moments are built upon a foundation of punishing power football.
It's that violence that ends careers prematurely and is quite probably also at the center of lives ending prematurely, with multiple former NFL stars dying young or suffering dehabilitating mental issues as a result of the constant contact sustained through decades of playing football, from pee wee to preps to the premier stage.
Yet it's also that violence that electrifies a crowd, and that may bring the 49ers into the Super Bowl. So bow down at the terrible temple, the Bay Citizen observes: it's what this sport is all about.