Earlier in the season, the 49ers had just suffered their first back-to-back loss in the Jim Harbaugh era, sparking a mini-panic and wondering how the team would face adversity for the first time. We all know that they responded by winning five games in a row and absolutely dominating the opposition during that stretch. Well, here we are again after two losses in a row (Yahoo), and the Niners find themselves fighting for their playoff lives (NBC). Somehow though, it doesn't look as bleak (ESPN) as it did earlier in the season. We know that this team can adapt and we know that they can play at a much higher level when this type of motivating fire is lit under them. Nobody on the team is panicking and there is a veteran calmness (49ers) that is consistent with teams that are playoff-battle-tested.
The biggest question going forward though is how the offense can find it's consistency and most of it rests on the confidence of Colin Kaepernick. (I'm not going to mention Gore and the defense anymore because those are givens and they have consistently performed well throughout the season). A second factor, is the ability of the team to play healthy targets that Kap will be comfortable throwing to. At this point in his career, it's quite clear that he doesn't have the veteran savvy or patience yet to be able to hook up with whomever is available. He needs a healthy Michael Crabtree, a healthy Vernon Davis, a healthy Anquan Boldin and a healthy Mario Manningham to succeed. Yes, all of them playing together.
I look at last year's Superbowl winners and how the Ravens lost 4 of the last 5 games of the season, and yet got hot at the right time and put together an emotionally epic run. At this point in the season, that is what I am hoping for: Just make the playoffs and go on a winning run.
Saints' Game Notes
Post game analysis of Kaepernick, the running game and the line backers. Good stuff! | ReFo: 49ers @ Saints, Week 11 (PFF)
The buck stops with Jim. | Jim Harbaugh Holds Himself Accountable in Defeat (49ers)
Just unthinkable that the Saints were better at rushing on both sides of the ball. | Payton encouraged by Saints' ability run the ball (Yahoo)
Coach wishes he could challenge his challenges. | Jim Harbaugh criticizes himself over use of challenges (SJMN)
Brooks' Blow on Brees
The turning point of the game has turned into a debate. | Ahmad Brooks' Sack Sparks Debate (Price)
As expected, Jim Harbaugh stands by his players. Plus an interesting note about Michael Crabtree's readiness. | 49ers coach Harbaugh defends Brooks' hit on Brees (SJMN)
Ahmad Brooks penalty is one of those letter vs spirit of the law arguments. | Harbaugh: "I thought Ahmad hit at the right level" (Barrows)
The opposing view on Brooks' penalty. | Thompson: 49ers can't blame loss on Ahmad Brooks penalty (Inside the Bay Area)
The BAD news: LG Mike Iupati will officially miss his next start. It's not determined how many more games after that. | 49ers' Iupati has sprained MCL (Branch)
The GOOD news: Crabtree could play. | Harbaugh says Michael Crabtree is 'close' to returning for the 49ers (Gin)
Who is this masked man? | What exactly is Eric Mangini doing for the 49ers? (BASG)
Dax Swanson, you're going to Hollywood! Well Santa Clara really, but I'm sure that's what it feels like. | 49ers Add DB Swanson to Practice Squad (Scout)
A quick rundown of the other teams in the NFC West. | NFC West Report: Cardinals, Seahawks Climbing (49ers)
One of the most heartbreaking Candlestick moments. | 49ers at Candlestick: Roger Craig's fumble (SJMN)