The third week of OTAs has come and gone without incident … or interest. OTAs were newsfull in past years, but Jim Harbaugh’s closed practices have rendered these sessions useless as fodder providers to the blogosphere.
Normally we can fill the vacant hours of the offseason by kicking around Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, who have not yet held retirement press conferences announcing we won’t have them to kick around anymore, but adding an extra month to the offseason downtime beat down might bloody up our venerable duo so much that a reverse psychology backlash of sympathy could set in, disabling these icons as dartboards for the lull hours of future seasons. They might even become … gasp … folk heroes!
As it is, given the outrageous success of Harbaugh and his coaches last season, we are severely lacking in players we can kick around, either. Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, and Dashon Goldson are the only 49er players generating any regular sarcasm this offseason, any animated debate over their value. This is quite a fall off from previous years, when sarcasm generating entities were in prolific supply.
That will all change next year if the 2012 team fails to win the Super Bowl. It has been deemed worthy of this conquest, the players are openly talking about it, and the fans expect it to happen. This is a recipe for disaster. By going to overtime of the NFC Championship game last year, the team left no regular season or playoff goals for this year that could top last year — except a SB appearance.
Strangely enough, if the team had succeeded in its non-pursuit of Peyton Manning, fans would still expect nothing less than a SB title, but failure to acquire one would not generate as much heat as a failure of Smith to get one. The front office would be seen as bringing in the best and the blame for defeat would fall on either the coaching staff, the players, the referees, or just bad luck.
If Smith doesn’t hold up the Lombardi, though, there is little doubt who will get virtually the entire blame for the failure. Management would no doubt be strongly tempted to jettison Smith in a hurry, setting up a questionable future with one of the young QBs currrently on the roster. Although the window for the team is wide open, the window for Smith is ajar for only one year. Win, and Smith can set up housekeeping for the next eight years or so. Lose, and Smith might fade into the NFL background forever.
Except here in 49er land. Here, Smith would leap frog past Nolan and Singletary to become far and away the offseason leader in kick-the-man retrospectives. His shelf life would last years.
Personally, I’d rather continue to struggle through offseason doldrums aimlessly booting around Nolan and Singletary. We don’t remember our years by what happens in the offseason. And a sixth Lombardi — with zero defeats — would return the San Francisco 49ers once again to the pinnacle franchise in the NFL. Go forth and conquer, guys.