It’s back to work week for our new found wunderkinds, the San Francisco 49ers. A win against the Cleveland Browns next Sunday would give the team a perfect 4-0 record for October. Does anyone remember the last time this franchise had a perfect month?
Each week, it seems we hear these words, “For the first time since …” And some fact follows that ISN’T NEGATIVE. Futility is working its way out of our vocabularies. And wending its way toward other franchises.
The 49ers have spent the past eight years fiddling around somewhere within the bottom third grouping of league teams. Then in one momentous six game stretch, they have vaulted into the top echelon grouping, completely bypassing the middle third moderately middling group.
An article on Grantland.com last week took the 49ers seriously enough to pose the question of whether Alex Smith would be the worst starting quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. The writer concluded he wouldn’t. The distinction for worst belonged to … Terry Bradshaw! Bradshaw was the only SB winning QB to be benched in the same year his team went to the big game. Of course, Bradshaw went on to win three more SBs and ceased being a truly awful QB.
Hmmmm. I think I just felt a shudder riffle through the room. Maybe it was only the Autumn wind. It sounded more like a moan than a brrrr, though. I’m probably just imagining things.
There remain some doubters about just how good the Niners are, pointing to two key plays that are probably the difference between 5-1 and 3-3. The Justin Smith sack which saved the Philly game and the Alex Smith TD to Delanie Walker that won the Detroit game. In the past, key plays generally were ones we didn’t make or ones that the other team did. That’s progress, to be sure. But the game that stands out as an indicator the 49ers are indeed a very good team is the complete drubbing laid on Tampa Bay. You just can’t demolish a quality team with luck or a fluke play.
Jim Harbaugh and his coaches have indeed worked wonders so far this year, but they couldn’t have done it without some quality horses in the stable. For the past couple of years, fans and observers have looked at the 49ers’ roster and scratched their heads. It should be the best roster in the division, but it didn’t perform that way. This year, it was generally concluded that the roster was just overrated. Now it is obvious that the team was just undercoached.
It’s a weird year in the NFC West. The 49ers have more victories than the other three teams combined. After next Sunday, they could even have TWICE as many victories as the other three combined. This is looking like a very lopsided situation. Is winning your division by six or seven games some kind of record? It could happen.
Harbaugh is probably not very popular among his peers right now. The way he has turned this franchise around in such a short time makes other coaches out there working on some sort of three to five year plan look like lesser lights. Owners tend to notice these sorts of things and raise the bar on what their own coaches are expected to accomplish.
I’m sure Harbaugh could give a rat’s rear end what other coaches think, though. And we tend to share those feelings of indifference. Especially for the guy in Seattle who took his team to Ohio Sunday and saw them out-stink the Browns in one of the most awful games of the 2011 season.
Here in the NFC Bay Area, things are peachie keeno at the moment. The AFC side of town is scraping dog poo off their cleats this morning, but that just makes our side of town even peachier! Here’s to the second half of our season. May it continue to amaze us!.