With their loss against the Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers are now 1-6. The general feeling is that the team is now out of playoff contention and the season is a wash. That was my feeling on Sunday when they lost. Over the last day or so, I have rescinded from that feeling and am now having an optimistic view on the remainder of the season. But, a lot of that depends on the 49ers doing things right, and also on the health of Alex Smith. Alex Smith is a guy that I have given up on as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. I do not want him to be part of this team next season. Same thing goes for Mike Singletary. However, I know that the team’s chances of making the playoffs David Carr at the helm lessen significantly. But, who knows what Troy Smith can do? Perhaps more than David Carr, but that is completely unknown at this point.
Does Jed York still believe that the team will make the playoffs? I certainly hope he does. As ridiculous as his comment was, he has to stand by it, until the Niners are mathematically out of the playoff picture. He has me believing now. With that said expect Mike Singletary to remain the head coach as long as the Niners are in contention for a playoff spot (and win this Sunday). The losses have just been painful this season and at this point, the blame has to be squarely on Singletary. If York fires Singletary, the spotlight will be all on him, and I am not sure that the 29-year old team president/CEO is able to put up with all that pressure on his shoulders. He would be acknowledging that he has given up on his playoff prediction and on the season. Therefore, I expect Mike Singletary to remain the coach of this team in the near future. Early reports somewhat indicate that Alex Smith will probably have to miss some time. That should not lead them to throw in the towel on the season. If they do things right in their next nine games, they can turn this tumultuous start around.
The Niners are in London this week to take on the Denver Broncos. The 49ers could not have been out of the spotlight at a better time. Getting away will be great for the team I think. The constant media scrutiny will not be surrounding them everywhere they go. It will allow them to see things from a different perspective, I believe. Now, they can ill-afford to come back on this side of the world with a loss against the Broncos. The Broncos have their own set of problems, after taking a thorough beating from the Oakland Raiders in Week 7, losing 59-14. And, if the 49ers lose to the Denver Broncos, all optimism on my part is gone, even if they remain mathematically alive for the playoffs.
Now, why am I still optimistic of the 49ers? Many of you will say that the team is 1-6 and their win had more to do with the Raiders losing the game than it had with the Niners winning. The offense is brutally predictable and the defense has not lived up to its billing. I say, true, and true. But to me, it goes down to this week. This week is very crucial for the Niners. They have the opportunity to regroup in relative peace. They have to get a win. After their matchup against the Broncos, the Niners will have a bye-week. If they are 2-6 next week, they will not have to deal with any negativity from fans and the media. The more positivity they have, the better. I also remain optimistic because they have only played one game against their division. They absolutely can win the five games that they have left against their divisional opponents. The Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and St. Louis Rams have not shown me that they are ready to run away with the division. Now, a good record in your division won’t automatically put you in the playoffs, but it certainly will not hurt either. Assuming the 49ers play sound football, they will win not only this Sunday, but also those 5 games remaining in the NFC West, plain and simple. Just like that, the team will have 7 wins. The way the NFC West has been playing out this season, I think 8-8 will be enough to get into the playoffs. That would leave the 49ers needing to get at least one win against the 3 opponents they have remaining besides the Broncos and the NFC West. Those 3 opponents will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Green Bay Packers, and the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers can be 3-0 in those games, or be 0-3, but I believe somehow, someway they will do enough in those games to get them in the playoffs.
Again, I am extremely optimistic of the Niners at this point. I also realize that many of you will think I am naïve and know nothing about football. But, remember, this is all with the thinking that the 49ers will win this Sunday and be 2-6 during their bye-week. If the 49ers lose this Sunday, close game, or blowout, all optimism will be gone and the season, to me, will only get closer to being a lost one.