Originally posted by m_brockalexander:
Leading Off: 49ers' record proves little, means plenty
Read the article today in the Sac Bee. It answers your question directly.
A hard-hitting loss to one of the NFL's better teams, and the 49ers need to defend their still-young-but-growing reputation?
The chorus of "who have they beaten this season?" is being heard after their record fell to 9-2 after the Thanksgiving night loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It sounds fairly off-key.
These things are true: The 49ers' record, second-best in the league, was not built at the expense of a string of patsies. Of the nine victories, only four came against teams that had losing records when they played the 49ers. Both losses were to teams that lead their divisions; three wins were over division-leading teams.
They are far from perfect. Championship football is all about the trenches, and Baltimore provided a clear lesson in how that works. A couple of wins came despite shaky aspects to overall performance. Quarterback Alex Smith has improved, but he does not have a truly proven receiving corps (now, does he, Braylon Edwards?).
But the team's defense is tough and features some stars. Frank Gore is among the NFL's best running backs. The 49ers can kick/punt as well as any team. Their quarterback has been steady, and the coaching – despite a niggling tendency to get cute sometimes when basic seems preferable – represents one of the biggest upgrades for any facet of any team.
A 9-2 record guarantees nothing more than a good shot at the playoffs and that people will say the team is not as good as fans think.
That alone tells you the 49ers have taken a big step. They're part of the conversation again.