The Rams laid down like dogs, to quote possibly the only memorable thing Phil Simms ever said. With 17 substitutions to their starting lineup, they were no match for the rejuvenated 49ers, who easily swamped the B squad from L.A. to close out the season on a five game winning streak.
Unless this late season surge turns out to be a mirage, or Jed York does something unspeakably stupid this offseason, it looks like 2017 will be the year power in the NFC West turned upside down. The Seahawks and Cardinals have owned the division the past four years, but neither made the playoffs this year and both look to be trending downward, while the Rams and 49ers are trending upward. Next year, we might see the natural order restored, with the Rams and Niners battling for division supremacy like they did for most of their 20th century rivalry.
The AFC playoffs look like a drab affair that will come down to the Patriots and Steelers yet again, while the other teams thrash around harmlessly in the background. The NFC is much more competitive. Five of the six entrants won at least 11 games this year, with Atlanta winning 10. And any one of them could end up in the Super Bowl.
The 49er offense finally crawled out of the sewer this year, finishing 20th in points and 12th in yardage. The defensive improvement was much more modest, finishing 25th in points allowed and 24th in yardage.
For the first time in four years, the 49ers will not be firing their head coach at season’s end. So far, not yet one day into 2018, the Lions, Colts, and Raiders have all handed out pink slips. Before the week is out, there will undoubtedly be more.
Stability has returned to Centennial Blvd. How long will it last this time around?