Sunday’s 13-8 victory over the Bengals was probably the 49ers’ most exciting and satisfying unwatchable game in many years. And there are a lot of unwatchable games in contention for this distinction.
What made this ugly duckling sparkle over the many other honkers that have waddled through town in the past eight years was its significance in the grand scheme of Hopeful Signs. The Thursday night win over the Bears in 2009 was probably uglier than this Bengals win, since only the defense could take any pride in that embarrassing nationally televised event, but this ugly win had some real beauty to it.
The Bears game was at home. This win was on the road, out of the division, and in an eastern time zone. Three areas of noteworthy failure for recent teams. The 49ers had the lead in that Bears game and clung to it all the way to the end zone interception of Jay Cutler that sealed the victory. But this game required a come from behind effort in the fourth quarter, and by the quarterback many say can’t handle these kind of pressure moments, especially on the road. The defense then did what they failed to do against the Cowboys — close out the game. A true teamwide triumph.
Of course, this game will be quickly heaved into the furnace if it proves to be a fluke moment in what turns into another useless season, which is why its beauty lies in the realm of Hope and not Reality. For the moment, however, one can not only hope, but leap to amazingly ridiculous conclusions as well.
In that regard, let’s call this game the turning point psyche game. The day the team discovered itself. Discovered the will to win within. The ability to overcome its own shot feet, general ineptitude, and hostile crowd to find a way to win.
Too corny? What the heck. It’s Kool-aid Monday. There’s plenty of other days for handwringing and brutal analysis. Today is just a brief moment at the top of the NFC West. The team will reside in this less than lofty penthouse for at least two more weeks. Bottoms up, lads.
This may also be the game that featured three long term lineup changes. Chilo Rachal played so badly that Adam Snyder may well be our new starting RG. Rookies Kendall Hunter and Bruce Miller also played well in relief of the old standby twosome of Frank Gore and Moran Norris. There was another lineup debut of lesser star value, but important none the less — Isaac Sopoagna as short yardage fullback. We like this one, big time.
For those keeping track, this was not the game our offensive line found itself. How five large fellows could continue to wander lost in search of themselves week after week is a mystery for greater minds than this one. Man, these guys are just brutal. If they continue to play this way, there is no chance this team can be successful this year, or any other year.
And let’s hear it for Vernon Davis. For one of the few times in these parts, a guy shot off his mouth and then backed it up on game day. Vernon is probably the oddest runner I’ve ever seen, but he sure produces results.
In the end, the 49ers won a game they should have won and needed to win. That in itself is newsworthy. Let’s Hope it is not an illusion.