This has certainly been a season of ups and downs. There has been positive and negative momentum and now the team goes into the offseason with what has to be considered some serious momentum. Go into a hostile environment as double digit underdogs to a team literally playing for their playoff lives and pull out the overtime upset. I'd call that a good win. And that's the closest I've come in predicting the outcome of a game. I'll be the first to admit I was being optimistic in my prediction, but I'll take it every day of the week
- As stated in the preview, Frank Gore dragged this offense kicking and screaming to a win. Furthermore, he pulled ahead of Tiki Barber to win the NFC rushing crown by 33 yards.
- Walt Harris justified that Pro Bowl selection with 2 interceptions, one returned for a TD to take their first lead
- Joe Nedney was money yet again. He struggled at times this year, but has stepped up when they needed him.
- Maurice Hicks continued his fine special teams play. He's a solid complimentary running back, but he's really made his mark this year on special teams both returning and tackling.
- Arnaz Battle quietly put together a nice little game while being covered by Champ Bailey quite a bit. He could turn into a very solid possession receiver for this team down the road and I'd definitely like to see him locked up long term.
- The pass rush was absolutely amazing for once. The team had 3 sacks, 2 by defensive backs which would seem to indicate additional blitz packages in use. If your front 3 or 4 can't get penetration, why not bring extra bodies???
- The offensive line continued to struggle due to the many injuries as Alex Smith was sacked 5 times and rushed plenty more.
- The passing game struggled the entire first half, but considering the finish I'm not too concerned.
Since there will be no more football for the 49ers, and a detailed '06review/'07preview will be coming over the course of the offseason, I think New Year's Day is as good a time as any to start looking to the future. The difference between 6-10 and 7-9 is only one win. And yet I think the 1-win difference is huge in terms of perception. The team had double digit losses the last 3 seasons and the prior year (2003) they went 7-9 under Dennis Erickson and were clearly on the way down. This team is on the rise and while they may not be a Super Bowl contender next year, they will be a legitimate playoff contender with a solid draft, solid free agent period and the natural development of the younger players.
Here's to a Happy New Year to the Niners Nation community. It's a good time to be a 49ers fan as the future is oh so bright.
Additionally, condolences to Bronco Nation on the senseless death of Darrent Williams. It's a shame when this kind of thing happens and hopefully they'll bring those responsible to justice very soon. Rest in Peace Darrent Williams