The long off season is nearly over. In two weeks, the San Francisco 49ers will begin the long and winding road to the 2010 NFL playoffs — or the agonizing pratfall into the hell of abysmal failure. The stakes are as high this season as they have been since 2002, the last year the club was considered the favorite to win their division. Probably even higher, since the franchise then was obviously slipping from elite status and facing a rebuilding era. This team, though, is seen to be rising and must validate that view this year, and that the rebuilding effort has been accomplished. Anything less than a winning season would be seen as a tremendous disappointment.
What a torturous time it has been for 49er fans to endure. Many fans, such as FlyingV, have found this endurance test so daunting that they have completely lost their minds. In V’s case, there was not much mind to lose, so the emptiness in his skull came quickly. And when a thing so small gets lost, it is nearly impossible to find it again. Even if the team won all the marbles this year, it would be a miracle if V could find his one small cat-eye and return to cognitive civilization.
If the coming season turns into a disaster, like the 2007 season did, there will be more than enough time to poke through the ashes and determine the origins of the fateful fire. So this site will proceed for now with the assumption of a successful season ahead.
One of the interesting sub-plots of the coming season will be the fate of the bloggers who have relentlessly trashed Alex Smith for three years or so. Many of them already have egg on their faces from the 2009 season when they hitched their venomous wagons to the journey man noodle arm of one Shaun Hill, only to see him exposed by defenses that, for the first time in his Ivanhoe career with the 49ers, actually took the trouble to game plan for him. No sooner had Hill collected his first bench splinter, than these relentless fellows immediately unhitched from his wagon and hooked themselves up to the Nate Davis bandwagon.
Since a successful season means there is little chance that Smith will not settle in as the franchise QB this year, what are these fellows going to do? Will they change their screen names, as TOP_CAT (now TIM) did last year? Will they just disappear from the blogosphere? Will they shift their attacks from “Smith will never be any good” to “Smith should be a lot better” or the classic “He’s no Joe Montana?”
They could, of course, simply apologize to fans who have had to endure their unseemly and never ending diatribes, no doubt rooted in unresolved childhood traumas. But that is not likely. After all, it’s the blogosphere, where character is not a particularly prevalent virtue — especially from those who lacked it in the first place.
The most likely scenario is that they will wriggle agonizingly for a few disgruntled weeks years, minimizing their previous vitriol and settling into a new career of nitpicking Smith’s week to week performances. They will mostly be forgiven — until they say something disagreeable and can be reminded of the quality of their opinions vis a vis Smith. This is not the gentlemanly or fair way to debate issues, but it works. Hahaha.
The beginning of TC also marks the end of the annual Troll Season, when guys like Mr_Zero infest a mostly abandoned blog and rail endlessly about how hopeless the 49ers are. These gutless fellows usually fade away quickly when TC starts and the actual fans return en masse to the blogosphere and overwhelm their nonsense. It was such an ugly spectacle last year that Zero’s kiddie skull lost all its blood and when he returned this year, the skull was a wimpy pale effort. Perhaps next year, it will be a Ghostbuster green slime mist.
Speaking of Trolls, whatever happened to Thnkbg? This poor chap had one of the shortest runs of blog rabble rousing in memory. Not even two months before he limped away bruised and battered. Last year, it was Crg-something-or-other who came on the scene to heave grenades at the 49ers, but he lasted almost until the start of the actual season before running out of ammo and being overwhelmed by the reality of actual games.
One thing is for sure: the 2010 season will mark the end of an era. Either the era of ineptitude as the 49ers break on through to the playoffs, or the era of the 2005 rebuilding project that would officially be deemed a failed endeavor.