The NFL has officially reached the quarter mark of the season. The 49ers are 3-1 and have a firm lead in the NFC West. The team hasn't exactly blown opponents away, but this is a markedly improved team from last year and really any time recent 49ers memory. Since reaching the divisional round of the 2003 playoffs, the 49ers have been bottom-feeders for close to a decade. There were moments where things seemed on the upswing, but something always happened to slap it back down.
And that brings me to today. As a 49ers fan, I feel like I'm in a sort of middle ground as a fan. I would say it's a sort of fan purgatory but that's a bit too negative for my thought process on this. The issue is this: if you're a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you head into every week not only thinking you can win a given game, but also expecting such a victory. The Packers are arguably the best team in the NFL right now, which means their fans expect victories every week.
As a 49ers fan, I believe this team can be competitive every week and I would love to have a victory every week, but I don't have that same sense of confidence as say Packers fans. Again, it's not say I'm not confident this team can compete, but rather, I remain incredibly nervous about the outcome of each game. I consider it part of the transition from doormat to league power.
For example, the 49ers should be able to beat the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals at home. And yet, given how crazy things have been in recent years, I'm not sure any outcome would surprise me. I do sense a bit of change in that courtesy of Jim Harbaugh's confidence and belief in this team. But I still feel the confidence is not quite over the top yet.
This may come off as a bit of a rambling post, but hopefully you get my point. Sometimes I have a particular thought in mind, but it's difficult to articulate exactly what I mean. I figure with the always awesome NN community, at least one person out there will be able to better verbalize what I'm saying.
Simply put, I don't think I've ever been a "cocky" fan, but during the 49ers glory years I had a calm confidence more often than not. The 49ers are helping get me back to that level of confidence, but it's not quite there yet. Although the 49ers are in control of the division for now and have become the favorites to win the NFC West, it still feels like a transition year. Almost like a playoff berth would like playing with house money this year. Maybe the confidence will completely return before season's end. Maybe it will take into the 2012 season or beyond. Who knows.