Eight years of Dweeb football came to a resounding end Sunday at Candlestick. The 49ers completely stomped the Rams in a game that had zero sweaty moments. Not once, even for a second, was this game in doubt. NFC West Champs 26, Outclassed Rams 0.
It’s pretty hard to lose a game when the opponent never gets closer than 35 yards from your end zone. Wow.
A year ago at this time, not even Edgar Cayce could have predicted the following headline: “Alex Smith leads 49ers to NFC West Title.” The only place this thought could have possibly surfaced would have been a comedian’s monologue. 49er fans would have winced uproariously.
Sunday’s victory caps an incredible turn around year for the San Francisco 49ers franchise. It’s like the crew of Extreme Makeover rolled into the downtrodden digs at 4949 Centennial Blvd. last January and completely restored the Gold in the 49er colors. The owner, the GM, the Head Coach, and The Team have all gone from the outhouse to the penthouse in one year flat.
Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Adam Snyder. The three guys who are left from the 2005 foundation draft that represented the gleam in Mike Nolan’s eye. Isaac Sopoaga who came from the Erickson/Donahue years. These four blue collar guys have stayed the course through years of disappointment. They’ve seen headcase VD morph into Vernon Davis, Inc., Esquire, Duke of Dudeshire. The burned out carcasses of Nolan and Mike Singletary. The Michael Crabtree diva holdout. The tons of verbal sewage dumped all over them year after desultory year. These four guys most surely had a very Hallmark moment in yesterday’s victorious locker room. Survivors. Champs.
Winning the division has been the goal since Nolan hung the Win the West banner at HQ in 2005. Nobody expected it to finally occur as an anticlimactic moment. This title has been in the bag since the half way point in the season. Sunday was just a ceremonial moment. The focus has changed over recent weeks from the West to the NFC at large. Even the Super Bowl is not a far fetched notion.
To get to the ultimate game or have success in the playoffs, the team has got to stop leaving points on the field each week. Yesterday, they left 19 out there. Four field goals instead of TDs and one VD dropped TD. The unimaginative play calling in the Red Zone has become a worrisome factor. The Saints and Packers do not leave those points on the field. Those are the only two teams that the 49ers currently cannot hope to beat in the playoffs if they don’t maximize their scoring opportunities.
There have been positive signs in the passing game lately, though. Crabtree and Smith punctuated their arriving chemistry with a perfect 50 yard bomb Sunday. Kyle Williams continues to make a strong case for more playing time. This guy is dangerous with the ball. And he catches anything you throw at him. He may have moved ahead of Ted Ginn on the depth chart Sunday.
We’re also going to need Braylon Edwards, who has been hurt all year. Edwards, Crabtree, and Williams would be a dangerous group of receivers. Dangerous enough to loosen up the box for Gore. Dangerous enough to compete toe to toe with the Saints (at Candlestick) and the Packers anywhere.
Four games left to become dangerous. Four games left to reach the newest goal: a first round bye.
No matter how these remaining games play out, though, the 49ers have arrived as a big time team. They are only going to get better. Congratulations, fellas. This year has been a stunning success. You can keep it up, too. We won’t mind one bit.