69,000,000 TV viewers watched Kyle Williams’ leg make naughty with the football in the NFC Title game. That’s a whole lot of peepers tuned into the worst moment of your life.
I’m not sure what the worst moment of my life was. There are so many candidates. But 69 million people weren’t watching me die a slow death, I’m fairly certain of that.
Williams gained a lot of respect by looking straight into the spotlight and accepting responsibility for his mistakes. But unless his moment of ignominy is superceded by a larger moment of glory, this poor fellow will be haunted the rest of his life by his epic moment of splat.
Of course, this sports nadir moment is nothing compared to driving into a tree while fumbling on the floor for a dropped CD and having your leg sheared off in the crash. Perspectively speaking. Some agonies are far worse than others. And sports agonies are mostly confined to the psyche, not the physical.
Still, pain is pain. And a lot of 49er fans were feeling it this past week, as well as the fans located in New Orleans, Baltimore, and Green Bay. New Orleans knows it could have whipped the Giants at home and be in the SB next week if their DC had simply put a double team on Vernon Davis. Baltimore fans know they’d be in the SB if their WR had simply hung onto the TD pass one foot on the turf longer. And Green Bay fans know their team mowed through the league with colossal arrogance all year, then showed up with nothing when it really counted.
As expectations go, 49er fans have less to be crushed by than the fans mentioned above. In fact, 49er fans, at least in the blogorama, have enthusiastically bull rushed into the offseason less than one week after losing the title game. There has been some liquor abetting the enthusiasm, perhaps, but no where near the lethal amounts necessary to move on from seasons prior to 2011.
The first order of business, which is common following hugely successful enterprises, is to chip away at the reasons for the success and render them less impressive than they appeared to be. Two things jump out in that regard which contributed greatly to the 49ers breath-taking accomplishments in 2011: the relative lack of serious injuries and the whopping lopsided turnover differential. Neither of these helpful aids are likely to occur in back to back seasons.
The only area hit hard by injuries in 2011 was the wide receiver group. This proved fatal in the NFC Championship game. WRs are generally associated with scoring points. That the team managed to succeed as well as it did with only marginal help from this group bodes well for the future when this group is likely to be improved and not likely to be injury riddled yet again. This is an offsetting plus to the likelihood of non-repetitive advantages mentioned above.
The 49ers won’t be +35 in turnover differential next year, but they won’t be minus any amount, either. We’ll probably get less interceptions, but Alex Smith is not going to throw a bunch of them, either. Nor are we going to suddenly have a teamwide epidemic of fumbling. Still, turnovers were key factors in several wins last year and must be offset this coming year with increased offensive performance. Fortunately, that is precisely what a full offseason in Jim Harbaugh’s system is more than likely to produce.
The team won the West by four games, it might be noted. If the victory total is a couple less next year, the West would still be won.