The San Francisco 49ers are masters of mind games. They devote nearly as much time to devising elaborate psych-out routines as they do to memorizing and perfecting plays. On Friday, they unveiled their most nefarious tactic yet. Does it matter that their Week 8 opponents, the Cleveland Browns, were nowhere near the 49ers practice field at the time? No. It does not.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that the 49ers were warming up to the melodious strains of two very specific songs: Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and the seminal MC Hammer smash, "U Can't Touch This."
On the surface, these songs seem all too obvious; thinly-veiled macho cliches about their opponents' chances of victory on Sunday. "You (the Browns) are living on a prayer (if you hope to defeat us)." "[You] cannot touch (come close to) this (our ability at the game of football." Childish. Unimaginative. Sophomoric at best.
Let us ignore for a moment that any group that employs the irrepressible Jim Tomsula makes it impossible to take the MC Hammer track at face value. Let us be honest: no one cannot touch that.
In fact, the depth of this challenge to Cleveland runs so deep that it borders on the diabolical. The statement is not in the words of the music; it is in the existence of the music itself. It's almost too simple.
The Niners came out to practice on Friday ready to make a statement, and they made it all over the place. This is a group of individuals who -- in the year 2011 -- listens to classic Bon Jovi and MC Hammer cuts without a trace of irony. A healthy amount of 49ers players were not even born when "Livin' on a Prayer" was released. This cannot be nostalgia, because one cannot be nostalgic for a time that was never experienced. Their challenge to the Browns is brilliant in its simplicity. They are saying to their enemies, "Hey: check out the stuff we're into."
Imagine staring across your offensive line at a snarling man well over six feet tall. He has worked himself into a frenzy, and has more muscles than he has space for muscles. Now realize that just a little while ago, this guy was rocking out to Bon Jovi. Hard.
Please Niners, don't hurt them.