On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1) dropped their third game of the 2012 NFL season to a much less competitive St. Louis Rams team. Against the Packers, Bears and Saints, the 49ers are 3-0. But against the Rams, Vikings and Giants, the team is 0-3-1.
Like Fooch pointed out, the 49ers have had a habit of coming out flat every few games. Often it seems like the opponent doesn’t matter – it’s just whether or not San Francisco shows up and plays their game.
And while the 49ers were favorites in Sunday’s game versus the Rams, division games are no breeze.
Take a look at what happened to John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. In a divisional battle against the underdog Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens did not play to the best of their ability. The Charlie Batch led Steelers came out on top, as they were playing hard and playing to win.
In Week 13, both the Steelers and Rams played like they had nothing to lose.
Once again, it’s tough to win division games, especially when your opponent is going to fight to the very end, come hell or high water. And while the 49ers are now being threatened by the Seahawks, it should only make the rest of the season more exciting.
Not to mention, losses are often better character builders than wins. The tougher teams in this league are battle-tested. In fact, I’d argue that the root of San Francisco’s tough identity comes from the years of losing in heartbreaking fashion and being told they weren’t good enough.
Since losses are inevitable, it’s not so bad that they come in the pattern that they have. The 49ers will maintain a winning record and get to the postseason. And with all things considered, new starting QB Colin Kaepernick did well under difficult circumstances.
No. 7 gave the team a chance to win, and it’s good that he was challenged. The 25-year-old passer needs to face adversity in order to make strides. This is something he will grow from, helping him become better in the long run.
And during this process, Kaepernick showed incredible potential for the future. In particular, his presence in the pocket, his range as a passer and his athletic ability were inspiring.
"I’m proud of Kaep, proud of the way he played. He did some really good things under a lot of heat and duress, and handled himself well. Gave our team a chance to win," said Jim Harbaugh following the Week 13 loss.
But perhaps GM Trent Baalke summed up this past game the best. He did not discuss any specific players, but rather just put the game into perspective.
“Like I said, when you lose a game, everyone wants to focus on the reasons why. And when you win a game, no one wants to talk about all the things that went wrong – you just want to talk about the W. There’s good and bad in every game, there’s good and bad in every outcome. When you win, there is things you could’ve done better, when you lose, there’s things you could’ve done better. And that’s the key, is keeping it in perspective. It’s one game; it’s not doomsday in 49er land. We’re still ahead in the division. We still control our own destiny. And if there’s one thing I’m confident in, it’s the group inside this building; it’s the coaches and the players, who I have the utmost confidence in their ability to get ready to play these next four, especially this next one.”