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Cool Grey City of Football
Jeremy Dorn | Photo: Courtesy 49ers.com | December 2, 2013
Despite a win, we're ready to bury what's left of the season.
Consider this a eulogy. Despite spanking the Rams right after spanking the team from Washington, I’d like to pay my respects to the San Francisco 49ers’ 2013 NFC West hopes. They're dead. The best position we can be in after tonight’s Saints versus Seahawks primetime game is two back with four to play. Get your four dollars ready, because the Niners are toast.
For the mathematically challenged out there, the 49ers would have to beat Seattle at home next week, win every remaining regular season game they have, and hope the Seahawks lose again. Even if that happens, tie breaker rules could still block the Niners from NFC West title. We're the walking dead.
Let’s be realistic about what comes next: With Joe Staley—quite possibly the best left tackle in the NFL—out against Seattle’s stout defense next week, Colin Kaepernick stands no chance. He already gets flustered in games against the Seahawks, and now his best protection is gone. We don’t know the status of Mike Iupati, or how Vernon Davis will recover from getting his "flag" pulled on a tackle. The 49ers could play well again. Hell, they could play nearly perfect football, and it wouldn't guarantee a win over Seattle. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL except for $50,000 fines for wearing blue shoelaces, but it’s okay to admit that Seattle has been the far superior team this season. We might as well be honest.
So, let’s enjoy the win this week over the Rams and revel in the great passes by Kap, the bounding leaps by Davis, and the emphatic return of Michael Crabtree. Let’s rejoice in the defense returning to its dominant form, and praise the special teams for keeping Tavon Austin under control.
Now, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that playing the way they did against a decent Rams team (you know, only being up 10 points at halftime, being a turnover away from a late-game tie, etc.) is really going to matter next week, home field be damned. If the 49ers can’t take the Seahawks at home, they certainly won’t be able to do it on the road in the playoffs, and the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle in the NFC.
This is kind of a big deal. The Niners need to improve their play-calling (again), cut down on mental mistakes (still), and prove they can beat Pete Carroll’s pesky PED-filled defense (for once) with Kaepernick. If they can’t, the NFC West will be lost. If they can’t, the playoffs will be a question mark. There’s a lot of work to do. Here’s to hoping the Niners aren’t getting cocky.
But if not, why did we trade 9-3 Alex Smith, who made mincemeat out of Seattle and just nearly Peyton Manning’d Peyton Manning in Kansas City yesterday?