Last Sunday’s home game against the Cowboys was a GPS game as to how competitive the 49ers were against one of the better teams in the league. The results were mixed. Yes in the first half, no in the second half.
This Sunday’s away game against the Bengals is a GPS game, also. It’s a game the team should win, but it’s also a road game and the Niners have not fared well in that department in recent years. Last year, they even managed to lose a road game to the worst team in the league, the Panthers. That loss set in motion the musical chairs QB rotation and the eventual demise of Mike Singletary.
Sunday’s game is also important if the team is to reach the Bye week with any sort of credibility. After the Bengals, the 49ers play at Philadelphia, home against the Bucs, and then at Detroit. They won’t be favored in any of those three games, and the Philadelphia game is so certain to be a loss that the team would be better off just forfeiting it and staying home for an extra week of practice.
As you may have deduced, credibility has a far different meaning around these parts than it used to have.
There is no denying the first two games have been a let down. Off season concerns about the negative impact of the lockout on teams installing new systems and regimes have proven to be true. The 49ers have not played with much cohesion. The style of game they have played has also been a let down, since it is a reminder of a previous style which was burned at the stake last December. Neither the style nor the results have jibed with Jim Harbaugh’s or the 49er players’ off season statements about what a dynamic and forceful offense this team would have.
So, here we are again, looking at a season of grinding for wins and hoping to sneak into the playoffs only by virtue of playing in the NFC West. A tad of a downer.
On the plus side, Harbaugh has made sure the fans don’t have any illusions about this year and he has driven this point home with two straight base offense practices conducted in real time games. We even won one of them.
At this point, hopes for the season rest on how quickly the team gels and how poorly the other NFC West teams fare.
Not exactly an adrenalin pumping scenario. Much more like a pull up the chair and watch a four hour documentary on the history of dentistry.
The Bengals will be entering this game sporting three of our former players and four pounds of NorCal dope sequestered at police headquarters and not at the home of WR Jerome Simpson. Whether this impounded dope gives the Bengals players more or less focus during the game is yet to be determined.
One thing is certain about this game. It will not be Bill Walsh vs Sam Wyche in a game of dueling imaginations. No, this game looks like fundamental trench warfare. A get a W any way you can game.