The San Francisco 49er’s 2013 season is busy surrendering its weapons and checking into the prison of history this week, getting assigned to a cell in dangerous proximity to the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills. Three straight trips to the NFC Championship game and nada with the Lombardi hardware.
They’re also facing the real possibility that their division rivals are going to make ONE trip to the finals and come home as Champions. And of course the bigger than life ghost of Bill Walsh, who grabbed all the marbles the first time he had the chance.
Are we heading into the Schottenheimer Zone? Heck, have we already arrived at that dubious destination?
Marty Schottenheimer’s teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego) made the playoffs a whopping 13 times, but his postseason record was 5-13 and he never made it to the Super Bowl, despite playing in three AFC Championship games. Jim Harbaugh made it to the big show in his second season and second effort, so we’ll bump him up out of the Schottenheimer Zone.
Some people like comparing Harbaugh to Bo Schembechler, and perhaps that’s fair, but Bo is a college boy only. So he’s disqualified from this strictly NFL dissertation.
So, how about the Cowher Zone? Bill Cowher coached the Steelers for 15 years, captured eight division titles, earned 10 postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances, losing the first one in 1995 and finally winning the second one in 2005, a long 10 years later. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Steelers had the best record of any team in the NFL since Cowher was hired as head coach.
Sound like it could be Harbaugh’s resume 12 years from now? Is that enough to make us happy? Probably not.
How about John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother? Four years in the playoffs, two AFC Championship losses, a 5-4 postseason record, and then a clean 4-0 sweep of everything in season number five, after firing his long time OC Cam Cameron shortly before entering the playoffs.
The 49ers did succeed in knocking the swagger out of the Seahawks this year. They beat them at Candlestick and then came within a fingertip of beating them in their own supposedly invincible house. And you can bet on that final 49er drive there wasn’t a single cocky player on the Seahawks’ sideline. Scared shitless would be much closer to the truth. Their whole strutting PEDophile act on the brink of ruin.
At any rate, the 2013 49ers did overcome the Super Bowl losers’ syndrome by not only making the playoffs, but getting within a fingertip of making a repeat trip to the big dance. A commendable effort.
Now it’s GM Trent Baalke’s time to perform. Let’s hope he can impress us over the next four months and we’re patting him on the back when training camp opens next August.