The San Francisco 49ers started this season with high expectations. Many analysts (including myself) expected them to win the division somewhat easily. ESPN analyst Bill Simmons, even went as far as saying the 49ers would finish tied for the best record in the NFC going 13-3. The preseason came and the 49ers went 4-0. Then the regular season started the 49ers couldn’t score for anything. They started 0-5, and it looked like the perfect preseason curse of the 2007 Lions was going to takeover the 49ers.
The 49ers fired Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye and then Alex Smith got injured. They skip over David Carr and start Troy Smith. The 49ers are now, 4-7, and the playoffs are looking like strong possibility. Only die-hard 49ers’ fans would have expected this type of turnaround. At only one game behind the Rams and Seahawks, the 49ers have to feel pretty good at this point, all things considered. But, wait, the 49ers have placed their best offensive player, Frank Gore, on IR. This is a major blow and it has the possibility to hurt the 49ers’ morale.
Brian Westbrook filled in extremely well against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, but Coach Singletary said that 23 carries per game may be too much for Westbrook. The 49ers’ need to face the music and realize that they have to run the ball to continue to win. Troy Smith is doing a good enough job, but he is not a long-term passing solution. Westbrook had 10 carries all season prior to Monday Night’s game, so there is no reason why he can’t carry the ball 20 times a game for the rest of the season. Yes, he has had injury concerns in the past, but he is 100% healthy now and he has shown he still has some game left.
If the 49ers aren’t afraid to use Westbrook like the Eagles did for so many years, the 49ers might have what it takes to finish the season strong and make the playoffs. I see the regular season finishing like this:
|Week 13||@ARI – Win||CAR – Win||@GB – Loss||STL – Loss|
|Week 14||@NO – Loss||@SF – Loss||SEA – Win||DEN – Loss|
|Week 15||KC – Loss||ATL – Loss||@SD – Loss||@CAR – Win|
|Week 16||SF – Loss||@TB – Loss||@STL – Win||DAL – Loss|
|Week 17||SEA – Win||@STL – Loss||ARI – Win||@SF – Loss|
Yes, I can see the NFL’s worst nightmare happening this season – a team with a losing record makes the playoffs while teams with nine or more wins will not make the playoffs. If my scenario plays out correctly, the 49ers will win the division since they would have beaten the Rams twice in head-to-head. The 49ers are lucky that they have three divisional games remaining and that they are in the worst division in football.
Thoughts? Do the 49ers make the playoffs this season?
[Photo Credit: TheRealTimer.com]