Sigh. The OTAs and mini-camp are finished. There will be no further action for six long, agonizing, excruciating weeks until the 2010 ball game officially kicks off with Training Camp on August 2. SIX WEEKS!! Dead air, baby. You know what this means? It’s Amateur Hour folks. Gong Show on all channels. Hmmmmmmm. Wait. That’s the Outsider specialty of the house. Move aside Main Streamers, it’s Skeebers & the Albino Monkey time.
Just kidding. I’m sweating bullets here, actually. Let’s start off this deadest time of the football year by recapping the whatnots of the recently deceased OTAs.
There were no injuries. Whew! I think that about covers it.
The next six weeks is a critical time for the rookies and free agent acquisitions. The FA guys are a year behind in knowing the playbook and the rooks are dead solid clueless about the playbook and life in the NFL. Maybe not totally clueless, since they’ve just finished wobbling through the OTAs and mini-camp. But whatever was lessened in the unknown clues department was probably heightened in the oh shit department.
For the rookies who want to play some ball this year, the amount of the playbook they can cram into their skulls now will directly relate to how much time they get to perform when the pads go on. The more they are out there thinkin’ the more they will be stinkin’. After glorious years of high school and college ball, getting your butt embarrassed every day and being screamed at by a coach who is calling you a nothing burger is an unfamiliar psychic territory for these lads. It’s the territory patrolled by the lesser fleebs they’ve played against all their lives. All of a sudden, they are one of THEM.
Hahaha. Ain’t this a grand game? Have some humble pie, dude. Very few players come into the NFL and stand as tall as they did in college. Lawrence Taylor comes to mind as one who did. His teammates knew he was special the first time he stepped on the field. Surprisingly, the 49ers have one of those guys, too. Michael Crabtree, whom I fawned over in a previous post, had the same effect last year on his teammates and even his coaches.
From all accounts thus far, Mike Iupati is the closest of the rooks to nailing down a first string job, and by season’s opening game. Odds are good that Anthony Davis will be ready to go by then, also. The “Davis” boys, Vernon and Anthony, could be lining up near each other for quite some time.
So, while the rooks and FAs are cramming for their TC finals, the Outsider will be devoting some space to a task rarely performed on this homer prone site (sometimes referred to by black-hearted villains as the delusional clown syndrome): ruthless skepticism of the team and perhaps the coaches and management. We approach this chore with a heavy heart and little enthusiasm, but maybe it will be fun anyway. Who knows? Something is going to go wrong this year, that’s for sure. Maybe we can sniff out the likely or unlikely culprit.
As a brief introductory to this paw-the-fruit period, let’s initially face the fact that this team has yet to prove it is a winner. The boys seem to be exuding a lot of confidence, but that aura can go pffft with an 0-2 start. Especially a loss on opening day in Seattle. That would be a shattering blow to the psyche of the team. Not to mention that it would set off an epic bit of Pete Carroll-is-better-than-Dingleberry crowing by FlyingV that would cause a frenzy in the blog world.
On paper, this team should win the division and win it handily. None of this 9-7 stagger across the line stuff, either, even though that would probably get the job done. 10-6 or better is called for. Adding two wins to a slam dunk 8 win team is not as easy as it sounds, though. It calls for a team that can win games on the road. A team that can beat good teams, not just compete with them. A team that is just better than your team, week in and week out.
The key to the season is the first 8 games. The 49ers will be on the road for 5 out of 8 games. Of the three home games, one is against the Saints, one against the Eagles, and one against the might-just-surprise-you Raiders. IOW, 8 straight games that will all be tough to win.
If the 49ers arrive at the Bye week with as little as a 4-4 record, you can book the playoffs. The second eight games should be anywhere from 5-3 to 7-1. On the road at GB, SD, and AZ are the three most daunting games. A loss in any of the other five games would be considered a ridiculous pratfall.
Those first eight games, however, are anything but a lock. The team will have to prove itself then or the fans will be looking at another so-so year from a team that just isn’t good enough — and possibly a HC who is not the answer, either. The Outsider wants to believe in this team. But …