So I was planning on throwing out my best and worst case scenario predictions for the 49ers sometime this week. Then Bill Williamson came in and stole my best case thunder. I never had any intention of saying the best case scenario was seeing this team in the Super Bowl. I love the 49ers and think they have really improved, but I was not going to throw than one out there.
Of course, in looking at it now, it's not the most insane prediction. It's a little kooky, but not full on hallucinatory. Most of us agree this team has a chance of making the playoffs. I don't see it as a 2 seed, but making it nonetheless. The Bears would certainly be tough to beat, but as has been suggested, anything is possible once you get in the playoffs. I don't think it will happen, but I won't discount any possibilities. Look at the 1981 49ers. Following a 6-10 campaign, they rode an awesome draft class to a 13-3 Super Bowl campaign. I'm just saying....
Semi-realistic Worst Case Scenario
Let's get the worst case scenario over with first. I don't consider myself a negative person, but it's certainly worth considering what could conceivably happen if all hell breaks loose. I'd still like to keep this in the realm of reality so I'm not going to throw out every starter getting injured and so forth. Just some things that could happen
- Alex does not improve from last year
- Ashley Lelie sulks his way to a useless season and Darrell Jackson hurts his foot again
- Defenses stack the box against Frank Gore and he just barely cracks 1,000 yards.
- The defensive line can not open up holes for the linebackers, which leads to zero pressure on opposing QBs
- Walt Harris reverts to the mean and realizes he's just an ok cornerback...not a Pro Bowler
- Vernon Davis gets benched after repeatedly getting 15 yard celebration penalties. He goes into counseling with T.O.
Obviously some exaggerations, but you get the point. In this case, the team finishes a miserable 5-11 campaign. I think there is too much talent for the worst case to be completely miserable, but it would certainly feel like it. Of course, I also think the worst case scenario has a slim chance of happening because I just don't see Mike Nolan allowing such circumstances to pass.
Semi-Realistic Best Case Scenario
So on to the rosy side of things. I'd love to predict a Super Bowl appearance but I'll be a little more realistic (It's my curse).
- Alex Smith steps up with 25-30 touchdowns and only 10 INTs.
- Frank Gore breaks his own franchise rushing record and leads the NFC in rushing.
- Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie combine with Arnaz Battle and Vernon Davis to form a lethal receiving corp that creates a variety of mismatches.
- Aubrayo Franklin proves to be the missing link in the 3-4, as the linebackers are able to find holes to pressure the QB
- Patrick Willis wins defensive rookie of the year.
- Manny Lawson finishes with 10 sacks and makes the Pro Bowl.
- In the playoffs against the Cowboys, Vernon Davis scores a touchdown and proceeds to slam the football on Dallas star at midfield. T.O. is not amused.
The result of this little scenario? A 10-6 record and the first division crown since 2002. The team advances to the Division Championship round before losing to the Bears at Soldier Field by 10 points.
Now obviously I'm pulling a lot of this out of my ass. I think it's reasonable to assume the team falls somewhere in the middle and contends for a playoff spot. I would love to see this team make the playoffs, but I also realize the reality of the situation. It's tough to show restraint and not just want it all to happen immediately. This team has its work cut out for it, but the talent is finally in place to build towards a return to the playoffs. Not making the playoffs would definitely be disappointing, but not heartbreaking.
All that matters right now is football starts on Monday Night for the 49ers and I am most definitely ready for some football.