The San Francisco 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this afternoon with an enormous opportunity presented to them. We've discussed the possible importance of this game in the context of building on their division lead. If the Cardinals and Seahawks lose, the 49ers would have a chance to take a three game lead in the division. That's the most obvious value of this game.
However, this game has an added importance in what it could mean in the bigger picture. The 49ers are coming off an unexpected upset of the Philadelphia Eagles and have a chance to improve to 4-1 for the first time in quite some time. The 49ers have had opportunities to "turn the corner" in recent years but have always fallen flat when that opportunity arose.
In 2006, the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 on the road en route to an unexpected 7-9 finish. The team looked ready to turn a corner but 2007 was a disaster.
In 2009, the 49ers were off to a 3-1 start and coming off a 35-0 shellacking of the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers welcomed the Atlanta Falcons to town and a 45-10 defeat set about a four-game losing streak from which they did not recover. They had a chance to even keep their '09 playoff hopes alive at Seattle and fell 20-17.
Today, the 49ers are once again in a position to either turn the corner or at the very least take a peak around that corner. A win over Tampa Bay doesn't guarantee anything other than a fourth win. But a 4-1 start for the first time since 2002 would be huge. Maybe they're not world-beaters yet, but a win this week gets them into a more interesting discussion than "how about that upcoming draft pick."
Tim Kawakami put together a short little piece comparing this year's team to 2009 when they were last 3-1. It'd be great to move past those comparisons today and the 49ers improve to 4-1. There's not much else to be said. Just go out there and get that W today. Turn the corner.