NFL teams are all holding their rookie minicamps these days (the 49ers’ begins Friday), and hope blooms recklessly in the hearts of fans everywhere. Every team had a “killer draft,” it’s players are all “vastly improved,” and it’s coaches are all “really excited about this team.”
When the 49ers spiel out this baloney, it’s all good stuff. Excellent even. After all, the Niners are the champs, so eat my shorts if you beg to demur. Better yet, eat Chuck’s shorts.
But when fans in St. Louis begin to chat excitedly about the Rams chances of having the biggest one year turn around in NFL history next year, I gotta go lie down for a minute.
Uh, Ramsters, in your very own division, the 49ers had a seven game turn around just last year. Remember? Ran over you guys twice. You’d need eight wins to top the Niners’ feat. 2 + 8 = 10. Ten victories in 2012? And what will cause this massive improvement? There’s your new HC Jeff Fisher, who hired a cardboard cutout to be his Defensive Coordinator this year. Who needs those guys, right? Vic Fangio can take the year off and nothing will change for the Niners. But what a draft! Sorry, guys, but a DT, a headcase CB, a backup to Stephen Jackson, and a rookie WR are not going to get you eight more wins, or even maybe four. Then there’s the 2012 Rams schedule. Miami and Washington are the only teams in the first ten games you have a fair chance to beat. You’re opening the year at 2-8 or even 0-10. So long, dreamers! Scare me next year.
Seattle and Arizona fans can smoke the pipe dreams a little more realistically. Arizona beat the Niners last year and Seattle lost two close games. Each finished the season strong, with their defenses leading the turn around. And each doesn’t know who’s going to play QB for them this year. Seattle is using the throw shit at the wall approach, bringing in a FA and a draft choice to compete with leftover Tavares Jackson. Arizona prefers using the same ingredients as last year and hoping the cake turns out better.
Those two franchises are probably wishing most that the 49ers’ 2011 season was a fluke and the team will settle back toward them this year. That’s a concern locally, and probably a sure thing nationally. But isn’t it just as possible that the team will be even better this year?
If Jim Harbaugh is so effing great that he can coax thirteen wins out of Alex Smith and some guys who never won more than eight games, it’s hard to see him getting new weapons and a full offseason and then achieve a whole lot less. And maybe these 49er guys really are just some damn good players. Maybe 2011 was no fluke at all.