The San Francisco 49ers were supposed to be in first place tonight, if everything went according to the Bay Area’s plan. Last week, the 49ers were supposed to beat the Seahawks and the Vikings were supposed to beat the Cards which would have given the Cards a one game lead going into the Monday Night Showdown. But, neither of those events occurred and the Cards came into tonight’s game with a chance to clinch the division.
None of this mattered to the 49ers. The 49ers, who can never be accused of not playing hard, came out in a fury against their division rivals. They forced 5 turnovers on way to a 17-0 halftime lead. The 49ers defense was attacking the ball all night long. Everytime the Cards had the ball, the 49ers aimed at the ball and they did not miss tackles. Warner was pressured all night long.
The 49ers were able to keep the momentum throughout the second half and force 7 turnovers (5 fumbles and 2 INTs) on their way to a 24-9 victory, completing the season sweep of the Cards. Frank Gore was dominant on the ground rushing for 167 yards and a TD. Alex Smith was good enough, throwing 2 TDs (one to Davis and one to Crabtree). He did throw 2 INTs, something that must be worked on. Kurt Warner was a dismal 16 for 29 for 178 yards with 2 INTs and no TDs.
The Cards now have a 2 game lead on the 49ers, but it will be hard for the 49ers to overcome the deficit. The Cards and 49ers both have similar schedules to end the season. In week 15, the 49ers travel to Philadelphia, in week 16 they host Detroit and they end it in St. Louis. The Cards travel to Detroit in week 15, then they host St. Louis in week 16 and they host Green Bay in week 17. I can see both the Cards and 49ers going 2-1 over their last 3, and unfortunately that won’t be good enough for the 49ers to make the playoffs this season. But then again, the Browns beat the Steelers and the Raiders beat the Eagles, so anything is possible.
Either way the 49ers’ faithful have to be happy with a possible 8-8 season, considering the Niners haven’t had a winning season in 6 years. Try not to think about what could have been… if Favre didn’t throw the magical pass in week 3, the halfback pass for a TD against the Colts in week 8, the last second field goal against Seattle in week 13.
The talent is there and the team is young, one or two more pieces and another year of growth and the 49ers can possibly reclaim their glory of the 80s and 90s.