Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports



It's Friday and Christmas is finally behind us. Rest assured, not many Colin Kaepernick jerseys were exchanged on Thursday Morning this week. Any 49ers fan, myself included, really doesn't want to dwell on thinking about the season behind us nor even the one solitary game that lies ahead.
Losing your last 5 games in a row to close out a season never leaves a good taste in your mouth, and considering this is Jim Harbaugh's last game, the sentimental notion of seeing him go out with a victory is legitimate. Yet if the team wins, they lose and so do we.

A win obviously affects next year's draft position, a most pivotal draft in light of the changes to come, and it would all but assure Seattle would lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Seahawks may do that anyway, playing the Rams at home in Seattle doesn't sound like much of a threat for them to slip up now, no disrespect to the Rams and maybe the best spoiler-coach in the business, Jeff Fischer. But the Cardinals stand as the only legitimate chance of making the Seahawks play on the road this winter with a win this weekend and if they can't pull it off, Seattle is just that much more likely to make an obnoxious repeat appearance in the Super Bowl.

Point being: GUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Seattle is basking in the glory we all thought we were in for when Harbaugh got the team into the Super Bowl in his second year and Kaepernick looked like an all-time-great in his first 10 games. Instead, a few wicked beatings up in Seattle and a backbreaking NFC Championship game loss later and the whole thing has come off the rails. If the 49ers send Harbaugh out with a win this weekend, and they all but guarantee that narrative is going to get worse before this spring.

It's impossible for me not to cheer the 49ers on when I'm watching the game and I'll say this very plainly, I'll remain a Harbaugh fan no matter where he ends up. (With the potential exception being him going to Michigan, I'm a Wisconsin Alum). The guy is a cult of personality and he grinds non-stop to achieve success. In his element, he's the most entertaining coach to observe in any sport in any league in any country in the world. And it's not just grandstanding, this guy lives it.

Watching this season play out the way it did was like watching a completely different person. Baalke and York had him backed into a corner and he looked timid, disengaged, and defeated by the 3rd week of the year. He of course says that nothing has changed in his approach, but the tape doesn't agree with the coach. There were flashes of his former self, but clearly nothing was like it had been through three wildly successful seasons. Maybe he can shake off the worries for this last game and put on a good show for the fans, but again I'm not sure I even want him to.

I'll obviously remain a fan of the 49ers no matter what happens, but my confidence and my enthrallment with this franchise and its leadership has been challenged this year. Losing this game could be beneficial to the long term success of the franchise, something I still hold out hope for with this group of players, and I feel loyal to that no matter what's going on. Yet, at this moment the faces of the franchise are Trent Baalke and Jed York and neither of those guys really tops my list of favorite people these days. Cheering for things to break their way doesn't feel entirely natural either.

No matter what happens, win or lose against the Cardinals, the season still has little to offer in the way of silver linings. Putting it to bed finally should be cathartic to some degree and as soon as some closure with Harbaugh happens and the next guy is found, excitement will return. At least the expectations will be tempered and the non-stop anxiety of this season will be put in the past. Next year will still be packed with concerns I'm sure, but I've never watched a season like this that was almost completely bereft of joy or excitement, even during some of the wins. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Yet, the window of opportunity for this team is far from closed. Matt Barrows wrote a great piece about his perception of what happened to this group and a point he made about the team playing 8 extra games over the past 3 seasons (deep postseason runs) rang in my ears. Professional football is perhaps the most brutally violent sport in the world, combined with the pressure of trying to win the championship, fatigue is inevitable. It's particularly challenging when the only satisfaction achievable is a championship and no real satisfaction has yet been felt.

We're a full 20 years removed now from the last Championship this team has won, so giving up on this group is impossible for a truly faithful fan. The thought of waiting another 20 is near unbearable, not an unrealistic number should they start to "rebuild". Let's hope Baalke finds his man and he can pull off a Harbaugh-like rejuvenation of a roster as loaded as they come. It seems unlikely, but so did this season to begin with.