The Seattle Seahawks ruined the end of the 49ers 2009 season and the beginning of this 2010 season. Sunday, they have a chance to ruin the end of the 2010 season, as well. That would be three straight ruinations and two straight years knocking the 49ers out of the playoff hunt.
If they accomplish this feat, the Seahawks will have almost single handedly destroyed Mike Singletary’s head coaching career. And the 49er career of one Alex Smith, who will make his third straight start against these blue covered fellows this Sunday.
It’s going to be a fascinating game to watch and I have no idea how it’s going to play out. But unlike most Niner games since the 2002 season, this one will have immense significance to the franchise.
What we could very possibly see this Sunday is the end of the Mike Nolan era. Most of the current coaches and players, indeed Singletary himself and Smith also, were brought in by Nolan during his three and a half years as the face of the franchise. It’s a face that is not particularly popular in the Bay Area, and neither is the face that replaced it. It is an era that has provided some of the worst offensive football in the history of the 49ers.
What makes this game so hard to predict is not knowing how much the players give a crap about it. They can’t help but know that sweeping changes are in store come January, whether they win this game or not. Every scribe and media head covering the team is openly speculating about who the next coach is going to be, as though Singletary had already been fired. Fans of course have been throwing in the towel on Singletary one by one all year, with perhaps the loss to Carolina triggering an almost complete towel in.
The 49ers depend heavily, especially on defense, on the players performing their duties as a team, within a system. If the players believe that system is not going to be here next year, or that they themselves won’t be here, the likelihood is great that said players will perform as individuals showcasing their talents for future employers, either here or elsewhere. They might also be looking to avoid injury. When these things happen, so does shit.
A rousing effort by the team, especially with the playoffs still a real possibility, would normally be expected for a game like this. But most team observers (that’s us) will not be surprised at all if the team plays a sloppy, half hearted game and gets stomped. An all out superb effort would almost be shocking.
Takeo Spikes is one guy on the team who will be fighting to the bitter end Sunday. He had a whopping 17 tackles in the Green Bay game. This guy has played thirteen or fourteen years in the league without ever taking the field for even one playoff game. This might be his final chance to get there. He will be bringing everything he’s got to this game. Maybe he can get the rest of the team to follow his lead. At this point, they are more likely to win one for him than for their head coach.
But anything is possible, as NoFear’s pics for today can attest. Ye gads, our renowned curmudgeon has actually offered up some humor! Look out Seahawks, THIS IS A TRAP GAME.
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Troy Smith to Vernon Davis for 66 yard TD.