The 49ers have not compiled a 4-1 record to start a season since 2002. It took three straight wins to compile that 2002 record and it will take the same to achieve it now.
2002 was the last year the team made the playoffs, so comparisons to that year might find their way into our hearts and minds as this current season unfolds. At least, we hope that’s the path we’re on, and not a repeat journey of the 2009 team that started off 3-1 but fizzled to 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
Unlike the Eagles, Tampa Bay’s team is fundamentally sound, if not spectacular. They are well respected around the league. Last year, they trotted into Candlestick and popped the Troy Smith bubble, exposing him for the UFL QB he currently is, and methodically whipped the Niners 21-0. This year’s Tampa team has gathered a rep of starting slow, but finishing strong. Which is the same MO that the 49ers have had this year, excluding the Cowboy game.
Tampa is seen as a good young team on the rise, and beating them Sunday would probably garner the same sort of accolades for the 49ers. More significantly, with Seattle playing at the New York Giants and Arizona playing at Minnesota, a win over Tampa might give the Niners a three game lead in the NFC West. An envious position for a Tampa team that resides in the same division as Atlanta and New Orleans, where a 10-6 record last year was not good enough for Tampa to make the playoffs.
I believe that covers the basics for next Sunday’s game, so let’s move along to more festive craziness. Screw Tampa. They’re last year’s feel good team. The Niners are going to send them home with a serious dent in their teamwide aspirations. It won’t be quite as explosive as the grenade we lobbed into Philadelphia last Sunday, but it will definitely hurt the mojo of a team that can’t get its fan base excited enough to fill the stadium each week and avoid blackouts. A loss to the lowly Niners would just about kill off any excitement in the St. Petersburg area of Florida.
That would make two teams in a row that the Niners had sent to 2011 hell! Now that would be fun!
Speaking of envy, would it be too much to suggest that Pete Carroll up in Seattle is ruing that he had to lam out on collge football one year too early and end up with a barren Seattle team instead of cashing in on a loaded SF team one year later like Jim Harbaugh is doing? Of course not. Haha. Eat it Pete! You earned it!
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt is playing out the last year of pretending it was him and not Kurt Warner that brought success to the desert, and Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis is looking just like Mike Nolan in 2007, watching the wheels fall off of the upwardly mobile team bus and the nervous pacing in the owner’s box over his head. He’s also seeing his prized QB going down Alex Smith avenue, taking a beating each week and seeing his journey to the HOF derailed big time.
And here we are in San Francisco. The most stable franchise in the NFC West. Who’d have thunk we could get so far in such short time?