In response to the two posts above:
1) Yes, a win is a win. Good teams capitalize on other teams struggling. My point was that the team might play better this year, and still only come up with 7 wins. Does that make them a better team in the win-lose column? No. However, did a qualitatively better performance indicate that a future .500 season or higher is around the corner? More likely.
2) The problem with defeating only teams that are the weak stepsisters of the NFL (the Niners played 5 games against 3 of the 4 worst teams in football last season), or those crashing and burning, is that these are not the teams we must beat to be a contender, or even considered a good team. To be a good team, you must beat the weak teams of the NFL, but also show that you can compete against the better teams. That did not happen in 2008.
Our victories came over:
The worst team in the NFL: Lions
The second worst team in the NFL (2 victories): Rams
The fourth worst team in the NFL: Seahawks
The eleventh worst team in the NFL: Bills
The thirteenth worst team: The Redskins
The 17th worst team: The Jets
The Jets were the only winning team we defeated (9-7), struggled at the end of the season, and they subsequently fired their coach.
As stated before, the Niners have not made substantial upgrades this offseason to automatically make one think that they will be better in 2009. We have possibily added two starters, a RT that is currently recovering from injury; and a fullback. Our top rookie is currently injured, and will probably hold out for some time at camp under contractual issues, and the rest are reserves. The team did not address the pass rush, has lost a starting CB, and still has a QB competition.
It is easy to look at our team optimistically. Every team's fans will complain about their ranking by publications. Nobody ever states: "They have us graded too high". However, somebody has to be the 32nd team in the NFL, and somebody has to finish with a 5-11 or 6-10 record. The Niners have done very little to assure the rest of the NFL that they are incapable of posting such a record. So, while I believe five or six wins is slightly low (I have them with 7 wins in 2009 right now), it is also very possible.
[ Edited by MadDog49er on Jul 15, 2009 at 1:12 PM ]