My friends and I had a saying: “No one squawks louder before a season, and shuts up faster when it starts, than a 49ers fan.”
Oh, what a difference a Harbaugh can make.
Despite having a frustrating string of seasons recently, the San Francisco 49ers have had the makings of being a fantastic team for a while and so it should come as no surprise that they finally came together for a successful year. They’ve suffered injuries and nothing but confusion at quarterback. There’s been multiple coaching changes. All this, plus a plethora of bad attitudes from some (not-so) star players.
After 2010’s hilarious downward spiral, complete with Troy Smith and Mike Singletary’s sideline meltdown (gotta love Ginn shoving the rag in his face), new GM Trent Baalke landed a giant with the signing of Harbaugh. While management touted Singletary as the hard-nosed coach to rein in San Fran’s many gregarious personalities, it was Jim Harbaugh who rallied the troops and finally instilled some confidence in Alex Smith. Baalke’s turnaround of the organization earned him some street cred, and the first-year GM was named Executive of the Year by Pro Football Writers of America.
The 49ers were the surprise of the season. They quickly became the team to beat, and their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship could have gone either way. And though they didn’t have the league’s toughest schedule (being in the NFC West tends to help out), none of the four games they lost were to teams with records under .500 (Cowboys, Ravens, Cardinals, Giants). It’s a good time to hop on a San Fran trolley. It’s a good time to be a fan of the 49ers. It’s a good time… for retrospection.
Team Highlight: Despite not making it to the Super Bowl, for the 49ers to make such a drastic improvement over the span of a year and to play in the NFC Championship is a major accomplishment. But it’s the game before that, when Greg Williams was reportedly attempting to manslaughter the entire 49ers roster in the divisional wildcard game against the New Orleans Saints, when Alex Smith took Drew Brees head on in the last three minutes. The 49ers had a one-score lead, when Brees hit Darren Sproles across the middle and took it 40 yards for a TD. The Saints go up one. What does Alex Smith do? HE RUNS THAT BITCH IN AND REGAINS THE LEAD. But oh no, the Saints responded and Brees just hit Jimmy Graham for a 60-yard score and they’re up by three with only two minutes left! YOU BUMBLEFUCK, you should have known not to leave Alex Smith with that much time! The dude SNORTS pressure on the daily, as everybody knows, and it came as no surprise when hit Vernon Davis right between the ‘8’ and ‘5,’ putting the 49ers up 36-34 with 9 seconds left, and ultimately sending them to the NFC title game.
Team Lowlight: Poor Kyle Williams. Much like Lee Evans took a lot of blame for the Patriots’ loss to the Giants, the young WR Williams (my alma mater! GO ASU!!!!!! kills self) was returning a punt in OT. Unfortunately, he fumbled when he was hit by Jacquian Williams, the Giants recovered up the field, and so the story goes. It was a heartbreaking moment for the 49ers. For a team that executed so well, that played such complete football on all ends of the field, to lose their shot at the rings over a tragic is nothing short of sad. The 49ers might have been the most fun team to watch in 2011, but even one crucial mistake can end the season. Say what you will about how much teams might have targeted Williams, but the kid has a history of screwing up in big moments.
Team MVP: Despite the fact that he’s gone unmentioned so far, if you thought this award would go to anyone other than Patrick Willis, well, you’re fucking crazy. Sure Smith finally became a quarterback, and he had a bad case of V.D. that kept him in the game, but Willis is the best inside linebacker in the game. The 49ers had the best run defense in the league last year, largely due to Willis large frame, his quick feet and cuts, and his physical play. The guy plows right through the middle and disrupts plays right at the line. And though he didn’t play in three games, he still recorded an impressive 97 tackles and forced the ball loose four times. He can improved his pass rushing this year, getting his hand on the ball and even recording an interception. Inside linebackers are allowed to do that!?
Needs: Shit, this is hard to gauge, because the team was arguably more complete than any other last season. Their O-line needs a bolster at right guard after Adam Snyder departed to Arizona. They could draft an outside linebacker to put more pressure quarterback play. Maybe a back-up for Frank Gore, who is bound to sit at least a game or two per season. And their receivers are finally starting to flesh out after the disappointments of Ted Ginn and Michael Crabtree. Signing Manningham and Moss might be risky, but considering Vernon Davis, Crabtree, and Ginn as the punt returner, plus the resurgence of Alex Smith, this team’s offense suddenly looks scary.
How does a 49ers fan celebrate Gay Pride?:
Straight Cash Homey Meter:
Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2012: I don’t think the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl. No, I think this is the beginning of their ‘Jets run.’ See, they’ll be hyped up in the off season, maybe they’ll be on Hard Knocks. They’ll be clear favorites, especially among their own players, who will go on any media outlet that will have them and they will bitch about not getting respect and how much they deserve the Super Bowl. Then they’ll lose and Jim Harbaugh will whine about his brother and promise everyone that they’ll be back the next year. And then Jim Harbaugh, Alex and Justin Smith will sign a deal with Pepsi Max and they’ll forget all about playing football. The end.
Editor’s Note: FUCK YEAH MOTHERFUCKING RETROSPECTIVES ARE FUCKING DONE! TIME TO WRITE SOME REAL FOOTBALL ARTICLES. Like…uh…hm. What’s Tebow doing this week?