OK, it's bye week and therefore slow. Furthermore, both our record and the way we've dominated most opponents so far show that last year wasn't a flash in the pan and that we're definitely back among the elite where we belong. So, why not have a bit of idle reminiscing?
My question is basically to pick the ONE moment during the bad years when you thought that we either turned the corner or that in the very least we would go on a dark horse rampage that year. Let's make it a bit more specific and (1) Define the dark years from 2003 and after, and not since Young retired; (2) Define the false dawn moment as a time within a season, and not e.g. when we apparently had a nice draft or when we "won" the FA in 2007. After all, the Bills this year prove what "winning" the FA really means. Zippo.
I suspect most people will either say the 2-0 start in 2007 or the 3-1 one in 2009. Some will even say the Denver win in the 2006 closer, which was followed by "winning the FA" that following offseason. But my moment was also in the 2006 just after we beat the Seacocks at home 20-14, playing a beautiful first half in glorious sunshine with a mix of nice offensive drives and a couple of nice turnovers . The score didn't really indicate how much we dominated what was then considered the class of the NFC West (for what that was worth a the time ). I really liked that 2006 team despite its flaws. They were inexperienced and, frankly, not very talented overall, but they had some great players coming into their own: Frank obviously, but also Walt Harris and even Bryant up to the Seattle game; and Alex actually looked like a decent NFL QB. That little 3-0 run vs Minny, Detroit (away) and Seattle, after some terrible losses at SD and KC, suddenly got us to 5-5 and hoping. Even ESPN had a tiny article that week titled "Are you surprised at the turnaround of the 49ers?"
And then of course it all went pear-shaped. Bryant got arrested that same night for speeding under DUI, then suspended for substance abuse, then we stupidly gave the game away at STL after running all over them but getting stopped at that infamous "4th and a half inch - take the FG" moment... and that was the end of the false dawn. We lost the next two as well, and despite the victory away at Seattle (Smith's naked bootleg and all that) I never felt the buzz again that season.