This has been a terrible 4-weeks of 49ers football, but I feel the need to throw some positivity into the land of 49ers fans. I view the football season in quarters (4 games, 4 games, 4 games, 4 games). Here are a few discussion points that could lead to signs of light:
- The schedule was our enemy but may become our friend.
Before the season, I had the 49ers starting a modest 2-2 due to 3 road games and the only home game against the world champion Saints. Obviously, worst case scenario hit as they dropped all 4 games. But with the Seattle ambush, the tough teams (Saints and Falcons), and one of the surprise teams of the year in the Chiefs... the schedule has not been favorable.
What does the future hold? A pair of home games against the unimpressive Eagles (possibly lacking Vick) and the as-terrible-as-ever Raiders. After that we go on the road to mediocre Carolina and then have the neutral field game when we travel to London to play another mediocre team in the Broncos.
If (and this is a big "IF") the 49ers can eliminate some of these mistakes, they could certainly win 3 out of the next 4 games. 3-5 going into the bye week with upcoming home games against the Rams and Bucs could put this team in a position to make a run at the division title.
- The NFC West is putrid.
The Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals are all 2-2, which means the 49ers are only 2 games back. The greatest news here is that the 49ers still have 5 games left against these divisional opponents, so they can still control their own destiny. Adding to the good news is that fact the Seahawks and Rams still have to play the Falcons and Saints, and the Cardinals already got slaughtered by the Falcons and have the Saints next week.
The 49ers could possibly win this division at 7-9 or 8-8. With their remaining schedule and the weakness of their division opponents, that doesn't look out of question for this underachieving team.
- Taylor Mays looks like a star in the making.
While this may not be very relevant to the 49ers winning in the immediate future, it is very telling how Mays came in and played as well as he did in his first start on the road against a very good football team. This guy could become a star in that secondary, which is the biggest weakness of this defense. Michael Lewis had become a liability, and Mays is looking to develop into a strength of the defense.
- Mike Johnson is a breath of fresh air.
While MJ did nothing groundbreaking, he did make this offense resemble an NFL offense. He clearly understands match ups and the talent on his team. This offense will improve throughout the season under his game planning and play calling. He may be at mercy of his players (like Alex Smith) making mistakes, but he seems much more well equipped mentally to find ways to eliminate those problems and magnify the strengths of his players.
This may not follow in the same positive light as the rest of this post but...
- A discussion on Alex Smith.
We are all disappointed. We are all frustrated. Some of us have wanted Smith gone for years. Some of us have wanted him to get stability to see how good he can become. Others were on the fence and were in a wait-and-see mindset. But the time has come for the final chance.
Alex Smith may not show much luck on the field, but he is lucky in one way: He's lucky he has a head coach and a team that is committed to giving him every opportunity to succeed. And this is it. I'm of the estimation that he has two games left. If he plays the next two games and continues with the interceptions, a change will inevitably be made. But if he plays well in these two home games, it could propel this team to wins and give them the momentum to make a run within this weak division.
These next few games will be telling, and they will either resemble the end of Alex Smith starting in San Francisco, or they will represent the games he finally turned the tide. He has played well in spurts but ruins it by making mistakes. If he can find a way to eliminate these few mistakes a game, he will suddenly look like a quality QB. I have absolutely no idea if that will happen as this is a guy that has teased people his entire career but has never been consistent. I'm rooting for him, but he's hanging by a thread.
This is your last stand, Alex Smith. Only you can change that destiny.