The San Francisco 49ers have lost four games by a total of just 11 points, which is less than a pair of touchdowns in the NFL. They lost one game, to the Carolina Panthers, by a couple touchdowns and that game remains the outlier. They are winless on the season at 0-5, with no serious prospects at winning more than one or two games on the remaining schedule.
But what if they were 4-1, just like Kyle Shanahan has pointed out? The week before their Sunday loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Shanahan pointed out the fact that the 49ers could easily be 3-1. Now it’s 4-1.
A 4-1 49ers record would make the Seahawks and Rams 2-3 on the season, and the Arizona Cardinals 1-4. So we would be looking at an NFC West led by the 49ers, then the Seahawks, then the Rams, then the Cardinals.
What would be the expectations at that point? The 49ers would have developed a reputation for gritty, ugly wins in crunch time. They would be seen as a young, aggressive team with a young, aggressive coach who maybe got lucky a few times in the midst of being sloppy.
They have rematches with the NFC West and games against vulnerable teams like the New York Giants and Chicago Bears on the upcoming schedule. Right now, I’m not picking the 49ers in any of those names, nor their upcoming matchup with Washington in Week 6.
But would my mind be changed if they were 4-1? If all the close games they have played to this point had a single play go another direction and the 49ers actually won them, would they be looked at as a considerably better football team? The statement that they could “easily” be 4-1 is Shanahan’s own, so I think it’s an interesting discussion to have.