The least surprising development of the last 12 hours is members of the media advancing the storyline that the Seahawks are officially taking control of the NFC West. Here is but one example:
The balance of power in the NFC West has swung to the north.— Ann Killion (@annkillion) September 16, 2013
This tweet came out within 90 minutes of the wrap of the 49ers 29-3 loss to the Seahawks, and has since been followed by plenty of additional discussion about how dangerous the Seahawks are, and how they are the new team to beat.
In a world where people like Skip Bayless are paid big bucks to spew instant over-reactionary crap, the 49ers ugly loss to the Seahawks can only mean the Seahawks are in control. In a world that is made entirely of shades of gray, many people think there is a need for black and white conclusions.
In reality, we can look at this loss in a variety of ways. We can make arguments for why this is not the end of the world, but we can also make arguments for why this is a particularly concerning loss. In reality, things usually fall somewhere in the middle, but let's look at our two extremes.
End of the world: The 49ers just got owned by the Seahawks. It's only Week 2, but the Seahawks physically overwhelmed the 49ers, and took them completely out of their game plan. The Seahawks frustrated San Francisco, which was a key factor in the late personal fouls
Not the end of the world: The 49ers came in with an awful game plan, but they have generally done a good job bouncing back the next week. The 49ers coaching staff can sometimes outsmart themselves, but they also know how to bounce back.
End of the world: The Seahawks held serve at home, which means the pressure is all on the 49ers in Week 14 at Candlestick Park.
Not the end of the world: Seattle did hold serve, but I think deep down many of us figured the 49ers were not so likely to get the win. It seemed possible to win, but I had steeled myself for a potential loss. A split of the season series doesn't decide anything. The pressure is now on the 49ers, but this was a situation expected heading into the season.
End of the world: The Seahawks are so good! How can the 49ers expect to beat them?!
Not the end of the world: The 49ers would seem likely to be better prepared for their next game with the Seahawks. There are no guarantees, but I think they will be. More importantly, at most, the 49ers will face the Seahawks twice more this season; once in Week 14 and then once potentially in the playoffs. I would not be remotely comfortable having to go up to Seattle in the playoffs, but with 14 games remaining, the 49ers have plenty of opportunities to claim the division and home field advantage in a potential playoff matchup.
End of the world: The 49ers were just dominated, Colin Kaepernick looked awful, everything is horrible!
Not the end of the world: The 49ers have lost big games before, and bounced back to have very successful seasons. Last season's losses to the Seahawks and Giants jump to mind. And of course, it is easy to look back to the 49ers ugly loss to the Eagles in 1994. The 49ers bounced back with ten straight wins an ended up winning the Super Bowl.
The reality of the situation falls somewhere in the middle of all this. The success or failure of this season comes in how the team responds to this adversity. The 49ers have plenty of opportunities ahead, and all that matters at this point is moving past this loss. The team needs to learn from it, but mentally they need to re-focus on the Colts and the rest of the schedule.
This coaching staff is incredibly smart, but that sometimes leads them to the infuriating ability to out-think themselves. The key will be learning from this performance, and not making the same mistakes again.
I won't pretend this loss is anything it is not. It is a bad loss, and it does have the potential to at the very least create some obstacles in the coming weeks. But we've seen this team and coaching staff deal with adversity before. We probably will not learn everything we want to know in the coming weeks, but this team has a chance to make a different kind of statement.
We want to see a team that can bounce back, win the games they're supposed to, win some games that will be a little more difficult, and simply put, show they are pissed off. Anger can be a dangerous emotion, but it can also be the kind of fuel around which a season is built. This team needs to come out productively pissed off.