As the 49ers see it, they have a long way to go and there is no time for complacency in this league. Going into week 10 where they will face the New York Giants, San Francisco has the second best record in the league at 7-1. But before the season began, most commentators had figured the Niners to be behind the 8-ball. They were wrong.
Lockout and all, the 49ers found a way to acclimate themselves to the new system, personnel and coaches fairly quickly. Niners' new head coach Jim Harbaugh had a laundry list of restrictions during the CBA negotiations and even for some time afterward. I would imagine that if Harbaugh had more time, and he will, that it would translate into more progress for the 49ers.
Had coach Harbaugh had more hands-on time with individual players in the offseason, it could've maybe meant bigger seasons from players like Michael Crabtree or Tarell Brown to name a couple. To Harbaugh, every player is just as important as the next and he is capable of instructing all the players just the same.
He has reached milestones in his first season that have him as a virtual lock for the NFL's coach of the year award. He has already had such an impact in so little time and it will be fascinating to this team grow under his command for years to come. The more time he spends with this team, the better it will get. And his mentality, and now the team's, is to get better every day - to always be better than the day before.
I believe we are just scratching the surface of this team's potential. We also have to take into consideration that this is a young team that will benefit from growing together. We have already seen the chemistry between Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and how they have a feel for what the down linemen are doing.
Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have also shown that they could assemble a top-notch coaching staff and that as a unit, they could bring in strong draft classes. The organization has made it known that they are constantly trying to bring in and have the best players, especially when it comes to depth. But players with the right attitude that fit their system and in line what they are trying to accomplish.
What we're seeing in the Bay Area this year could very well be the dawn of a new powerhouse franchise in the league, as we've recently watched the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers decline. It's a safe bet that San Francisco will continue to improve each season under Harbaugh. The 49ers also appear to have a stranglehold on the NFC West at the moment that could continue to get tighter.
The quarterback situation will be interesting at the end of the season, given that Alex Smith is currently on a 1-year deal. In addition to that, I mentioned the 49ers had a strong draft - and we may not have even seen the best one play yet. Because Harbaugh and Baalke gained credibility in my eyes when it comes to scouting talent, I have become more excited for Kaepernick's development. When Colin Kaepernick is ready to go, this team may become as explosive and efficient as any offense in the league.
Now, match that with a top 5 defense year in and year out, and what are we looking at? A potential Super Bowl contender each year, just like the Patriots, Steelers, Packers and Ravens are and have been. It's still a long way to go but it feels great to know we are moving in the right direction.
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