Hard to believe we’re only five days away from the start of the 2011 football seaason. It kind of snuck up on us. Five days till we finally get a peek at what the heck this team is going to look like this year.
Last year at this time, we all knew pretty much what to expect out of the 49ers. The defense was entering it’s fifth year under Greg Manusky and the players were all intact from the previous year. We thought they would be good and they weren’t. We also knew what a Jimmy Raye offense looked like and were fervently hoping it wouldn’t look that way again for another year. Surely it would open up, wouldn’t it? But, no, it did not.
This year, WTFKs what we are going to see? The secondary is different, the D-line is different, the LBs are different, the Kicker is different, and the coaches are different. The offensive personnel is mostly the same, but they won’t be running the West Coast Thud this year, which is terrific even if it isn’t.
I’m excited about this year, but I’m also acutely aware we are pinning all our hopes on the expected wonderfulness of new HC Jim Harbaugh. This new HC enthusiasm hasn’t exactly played out too well around here the past eight years. Another pratfall on that front would be very hard to swallow.
I can’t imagine Friday’s game will be anything but a vanilla effort by both teams, with starters playing very little. A lot of the starters for both the Saints and the 49ers will only have had one week of practice by game time, making this game more of a scrimmage than an actual contest. That will make a lot of Niner fans happy, though, because we’ll be getting an extended look at Colin Kaepernick at QB.
There’s going to be some ragged football games at the beginnning of this season, with teams that are mostly the same as last year having a distinct advantage over teams that have made big offseason personnel or coaching changes. All the teams in the NFC West qualify on the disadvantaged list, naturally, but none more so than the 49ers.
Long odds to overcome this year. The Rams will probably be the early division favorites. Not that this distinction will win them any games, as we all know from last year. Right now, I’m tinkering with my Optimism Face. The mask I wear when marginal fans ask me how the team will do this year. Why they would ask me is a mystery, since I’ve not been right about anything for the past five years. Still, if you wear this mask with the proper nonchalant assurance, it seems to elicit positive feedback. Maybe this year these marginals will experience a breakthrough in wisdom and hand me a “You’re full of shit” reply. But I doubt it. Afterall, guys who pay attention all year long have an arsenal of useless information to marshal up at these critical social junctures. Tough for a marginal to compete with.
Anyway, the Optimism Face. Firm, guarded, tentative, wishful, prayerful … lots to pick from. I gotta see this game before I set my lineup, face-wise. See how our rookies look and how our guys stack up on just a basic physical scale against one of the premier teams in the NFL. I trust Harbaugh and Vic Fangio to eventually supply some clever game plans and schemes, but they won’t do a hellava lot of good if our guys just don’t have any, or nearly enough, talent.
For now, it’s a whisper from the back of the crowd. go niners!