There are a lot of claims that the San Francisco 49ers’ statement to the NFL was the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions. Better known as Handshake-Gate, the game had the 49ers walk into a 5-0 team’s house (with a winning streak carrying over from last season) and made them submit. While this was the game that got the national media talking about the 49ers, their real comeout party came two weeks earlier against the Philadelphia Eagles.
No one knew what to expect of the 2011 49ers and many perceived them as a work in progress. They weren’t a pick to win anything in the division or otherwise, and after an ugly week 2 loss to the Dallas Cowboys where quarterback Tony Romo somehow overcame fractured ribs to throw a walk-off touchdown pass, they were pretty much who we all thought they were.
Then came Philadelphia.
The Eagles were a pick (many thought a lock) to make the Super Bowl. With Michael Vick returning to form and a defense considered one of the best, as well as some crazy depth, it’d be a safe pick to at least say the Eagles could make the playoffs. When the 49ers came in, most of what everyone figured was going to happen, did happen; stumbles, mistakes, and a 23-3 deficit going into the middle of the 3rd quarter. It all looked bleak.
Then Alex Smith of all people dug them out of the hole. Somehow, despite the Eagles answering, the 49ers chipped their way out of the hole and wound up winning the game. In all honesty, they probably should have lost, but the missed chip-shot field goals and the craftiness of one Justin Smith forced the ball out of the hands of Jeremy Maclin to stop a game winning field goal in the final seconds.
How the 49ers won this game, I really have no idea, but this was the signs of things turning. A sign of things to come. At this point, the 49ers were a cute team that just surprised someone. It would be the Lions game to solidify the change to a winning culture, one that had been missing from the building for years.
They talked about the 49ers after they beat the Lions, but this was the game to say they were for real.
As always, the video above is blocked by the DMCA biscuits at the NFL. So head to YouTube to see the highlights.