6-10, coming off a lockout that gives our new coach Harbaugh only 1 month to prepare, with an OL, some new, some old, but with no sense of cohesion...what on earth could we expect but to hope for our 1st yr over .500 in 9 yrs? Additionally, we had developed a marquee front 7 on D, but our D backfield was just woefully weak. On Offense, Coach seemed to like what he saw in alex, which back then seemed a huge gamble. All in all, we were looking like we did the last 10 yrs. The question was, could a really red hot college coach come in and make some lemonade out of lemons?
We start off ok, no great shakes, but it looks in preseason that it willl take at least 10 games to get OL straightened out. One big change and that was Heitmann, and Baas, both with really questionable careers here, were gone, and Goodwin is acquired and becomes our C. Not too long into season, it appears we have a real shot at NFC West title, due to incredibly weak conference. Then we lose one to Dallas, and it is , "unh, oh" all over again. Thing was we could just as easily won that game as lost it. Then the surprise as we make an E. coast swing and win all 4 E coast games. It wasn't a huge thing but it was something, something making fans wonder, "could it be?". We go ahead and win West, have it all going and boom -bo, we get rammy-cackled by Coach's brother and his Ravens. We don't get beaten, we get clobbered. All those thots of could this be our yr?....suddenly vanish. We double our Ws of a yr earlier, and beat NYG altho at the buzzer. We lose one, a trap game, and finish out 13-3. Many are wondering , is fate finally coming our way. We eliminate Saints in a spectacular game, which highlights our newfound team....a D backfield playing on par with the best front 7 in the league. The NFC championship game was exhausting, emotionally and physically. Wall Street Journal runs an article, "Now that was a Defense."
Here we are on SB XLVI, watching , but our future could not be brighter, nor could a SB win this season be more realistic. Here's why.
D backfield, jelled, came together and proved beyond reasonable doubt they were for real. Carlos, culliver, brown, goldson. Warriors all, major hitters, and, for good measure, ball hawks. Our DBs had something like 12-13 INTs, and it could have been more. All of a sudden, going across the middle was a scary prospect if you played the 9ers. Our guys were hitters, but also covered well...something not seen here in over a dozen yrs. As for front 7, it is BEST IN LEAGUE, and war horse Justin Smith showed guys how to bullrush an OT, knock him over and grab the QB at the same time. And he didn't do it just once either. The other mr Smith, ALL DONE, turns out to be the incarnation of Lawrence Taylor, Charles Haley...except better. Currently only DeMarcus Ware can play even with ALL DONE. Let's not forget the incredible improvement by BigMac and Soap, both of whom dominated most every game. Our D coaching was masterful, our talent level now best in league.
On O, we had the return of Frank and four yds and a cloud of dust, plus the delightful scatback/power runner in Hunter. Our RBs were back...thanks to.....the newly redone OL. Granted after PS games with Texans and Saints, it looked like a yrs worth of playing together, but the deletion of marginal players heitmann and baas, and the starting of AD, Iupati, goodwin, Snyder, and Staley completely changes the game around. To be fair, much of that was also magnificent coaching by our new HC, who also let out game plans as the O was able to perform it...and well at that. Alex becomes chintzy with his INTs, throwing 7 all yr., along with 16 + TDs. virtually no turnovers, and no big passing games. Most were 175 -235 yds, but he did not turnover the ball, and miracle of miracles, we end up with best turnover ratio in entire NFL. A gutty D, a very cautious game plan and a HC who allowed only plays that worked to be used. Also he teaches alex how to throw it away by throwing turf balls...to some fans dismay.
Vernon establishes himself as a bona fide all pro TE, but we lose Delanie, AND Morgan. Crabtree makes some circus catches, followed by periods of completely disappearing, unforunately including in the playoffs. Our #1 WR by paygrade plays like a #4 or #5...and it really hurts us, especially on 3rd downs where there is nowhere to throw to...except Vernon, but that only goes so far. Our OL reaches new highs blocking for our established #1 QB, and alex responds by leading to 14 Ws with virtually no WR participation. Amazing, but it happened.
On STs, we are again, BEST IN THE LEAGUE, with a big thanks to Philly for letting go of Akers who sets 9er record for pts. On punts,
Andy Lee booms 50-60 yrders, but drops half his punts inside the 15 yrd. line. For PR we have the amazing Ginn, who with Lee, gives us a net 15-20 yds net gain on every punt exchange, making our O begin frequently on the 35 or better. Alas, our PR gets hurt and our 2nd string PR fumbles 2 to lose NFC title game to NYG. We lived by the sword, and died by it. Such is the fortune of football. Except for those 2 fumbles, we could be playing in an hour, not the NYG.
Finally, yesterday Coach Harbaugh becomes COY, and BEST IN THE LEAGUE. This comes as no surprise, because Coach H has just resurrected the 49ers from the scrapheap of shame.
Okay, that's all fine, but why do we win SB 47? Well, we have a glaring weakness at RG backup, and will need that fixed in FA or draft. We also need two bona fide WRs, a #1 and #2, because our current #1 by paygrade is actually playing like a #4 or #5. Chances of craps being here next yr are less than 50/50 in my book, but we have a #4 and # 5 in Ginn and Kyle. Look for us to move up in draft and nail down a viable #2 or #3, plus look for a FA #1 WR.( Bowe I hope, but Vince Jackson or the kid from the STeelers, maybe colston...just not DeSean me me me Jackson). In summary, we have:
BEST D IN LEAGUE
BEST COACH IN LEAGUE
BEST ST IN LEAGUE
and an O that is 2 WRs shy of becoming a dependable team to score TDs in RZ and move the chains on 3rd down. Our emabattled QB has proven himself, despite the odd detractors, and he is a smart kid, only needing a HC/OC to bring out the best in him. We are two WRs away from having the complete package, and bet your bottom dollar we will emerge from FA and draft with at least 2 starting WRs and a potential OG starter. I forgot the emergence of LB turned FB in Miller, who has a lock on that job. Truly we need just 2 receivers, and may end up with one of them being a TE (FLEENER?).
Sure there will be a rough road ahead, but we also have a real talented GM in Baalke, after some doubts earlier. Look for us to get two receivers and then on to SB 47...which we win. We will still have to beat Balt, PATS, saints, NYG, and GB, but with the strides and incredible near miss this yr, my money is on a lock for winning SB 47.
[ Edited by pasodoc9er on Feb 5, 2012 at 2:31 PM ]