A few commenters felt yesterday’s post was too optimistic. Okay, actually, every poster was either too kind to bother commenting at all and suggesting I get psychiatric help or a few just laughed me out of the bar, down the street, and on out to the dump yard — in the next county. I had planned to write today’s column discussing the 49ers chances in the upcoming Super Bowl, but perhaps I should postpone it till next week.
Instead, I will discuss Alex Smith’s chances of making the Pro Bowl. Ummmm.
Next up, I will discuss the remaining schedule in one last further attempt to produce a tickle of Reasonable Doubt in those who have thrown this season in the toilet along with a goodly portion of Tommy Lasorda’s innards.
First, we have to get away from focusing on the 49ers offense and place the old eye ball on the key to the rest of the season: the defense. The defense was terrific last Sunday. It looked like the dominant defense we hoped to see this season. Perhaps you’re inclined to say “Yeah, but it was the Raiders.” Well, the Raiders scored 23 points on the road against the Cardinals, 24 against Houston, and 35 against the Chargers. Against the Niners, they scored 9.
With the exception of possibly Denver, the 49ers do not face another elite offense until the Green Bay game. That means the defense can quite possibly win the next five games for us, with only marginal help from the offense. As in, no turnovers, guys. Just plod along and try to put 20 to 24 points on the board each game and leave the heavy lifting to the defense. Maybe the defense can toss in a few points to help out, even. Or Ted Ginn could break one all the way home.
Should the defense accomplish this manageable goal, the team would bundle up for Green Bay sporting a 6-5 record and be right back in the thick of things. All that is required is to play these upcoming games like we did the Raider game. And like we did the Saints and Falcons games, minus the turnovers.
For those who have become numbed out by the first six games, consider this: the 49ers’ offense ranks 19th in the NFL and their defense ranks 10th. That’s a whole lot better than you were thinking, isn’t it? Both of these rankings are more likely to improve in the upcoming games than decline. The opponents will be weaker and the team will most likely be settling down and improving. A double win.
Still, most, if not all, of you are no doubt wearing protective armor by now against any and all consideration of things like “playoffs” and “NFC West champions” — heck, even the thought of considering this team to be any where near as good as was oncet bethoughted at season’s onset is vigorously denied, shuddered off like an unwanted kiss from a toothless old hag on Market Street. “No, no!”, you curse through gritted teeth, “I WILL NOT DRINK THE KOOLAIDE. NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!!”
You’re probably right. It’s hopeless. Still, I can’t help teasing myself. If we beat Carolina and Denver — IF — then the team comes home for a bye, followed by home games against the Rams and Tampa Bay. Sure does look like a 5-5 record heading down to Arizona for a division showdown in the eleventh game.
So, I’m holding off the throw-in-the-towel moment pending the outcome of the next two games. If we lose either one of them, I’d say the team is toast. But if they win both, . . . . .