Sitting at 5-1, the 49ers must be about as confident as ever. For nearly every single player on the team, their careers in San Francisco have been marked by, at best, mediocrity with a dash of hope and a halftime of "pants on the ground / pants on the ground / lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground."
I'll admit it: I'm about as confident as a fan as I have ever been since the day Steve Young went down. In 1999, I was 9 years old and even then I knew that replacing him was going to be pretty much impossible. I had a sense that the Niners were going to suck for a while. It took until 2002, but it was never the same.
So, I hate being confident. I can't help it, but if the apocalyptic years from 2002 until the post-apocalyptic "Harbaugh Age" taught me anything, it's that being confident will get one into major trouble. The 49ers have let me down hard. Like a bad break up hard.
In light of this wonderfully optimistic sentiment, let's imagine how the Browns can beat the 49ers on Sunday.
According to most anybody who knows anything about football, the 49ers should win. We are pretty clear favorites going into the game. But, what if? What if the Niners should lose? How do I see this happening?
The most overarching potential problem is the bye-week. Most teams use it for a bit of R&R, and usually this is a benefit. But who knows? Maybe all the "let's not get soft" talk is just talk. I don't think so, as Harbaugh seems to have a great grasp of the team's attitude and seems, again, to be very good at pushing them. But, it has happened before that teams get complacent and soft while coaches deny it to the media.
More specifically, though, let's look at the three facets of the game, shall we?
In some regards, I think Andy Lee and David Akers should sit around the locker room all day and just sing, "I am a rock / I am an island." Not because they are sad (and if you are, Andy and David, come on over to my place! I would love to entertain you guys into pure joy. I've got some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Oh yeah, don't mind all that stuff in boxes - it's my roommate's. He's recently ... disposed of. Here, have some liver!). No, not because they are sad, but because they are about as constant and unmovable as an island. Unless you have tectonic powers (fyi, you don't), they will kick about as well as any demi-god until the day they die.
But hey, should a freak accident of nature occur, and they both have an off day, losing the field position battle would be a huge start for a Brown's victory. Couple this with a bad day from Ted Ginn Jr. and the Niners might have an uphill battle going for them.
This, to me, is the most likely facet in which the Niners might stall. We have seen it countless times. AleX may turn into plain ol' Alex Smith. It could happen. The clock strikes midnight, and Alex runs from the ball dressed as an ugly step-daughter.
With the shutdown of Alex comes the stacking of the box. Bad Alex and excellent Haden leads to no room for Frank Gore. The worst case scenario would be another injury. The man hasn't been the fountain of health since, well, ever. It's nearly a medical miracle that he is standing up still. There must be all sorts of new knees inside of his reconstructed knees. More likely, though, is that he would simply have nowhere to run. The man is amazing, but he can only do so much.
This is the hardest to imagine, I think. Willis et al. on defense are such a formidable bunch, that I simply don't see much going the Browns' way. However, Colt McCoy did have a pretty nice preseason (from what I understand - I didn't really scout him at all) and that Hillis guy is supposed to be good (or something like that), when not injured, so it is a possibility that the Niners' defense could get gashed enough that the offense cannot keep up, especially if the defense has to be on the field for the majority of the game.
So, while I don't think it likely that the Niners lose Sunday, an attitude of humility is always good from us fans. Plus, this exercise is pretty fun too, in a sadistic sort of way. Tell me, Plebeians of Niners Nation, how do you see a Niners' lose happening, if it does?
Oh yeah, don't forget to go vote for the absolutely deserving Aldon Smith when you vote in the pop-up Pro Bowl Ballot I made with construction paper and glitter. And then, go vote for all the other Niners in the actual Pro Bowl Ballot.