The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Climb Aboard The Bandwagon

An aggressive offseason by the 49ers has fans giddy about the possibility of building on a 7-9 record from 2006 and returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. But they might just be putting the horse before the bandwagon because teams don't qualify for the postseason in the offseason. Sure, recent history agrees that the 49ers have as good a chance as any team of making the jump from sub-.500 to the playoffs. Over the past four seasons, 13 teams have made one-year transitions from .500 or worse to 10 wins or more and a playoff spot. The New York Jets made such a leap twice in that span.

But plenty of other teams - the 49ers included - have not gotten over that hump. And if the 49ers are finally going to remove themselves from their five-year morass, they will need to have a lot of things come together - new coordinators on both sides of the ball, five new starters on defense, two new receivers and a young quarterback who has started just 23 games. That's a combination that none of the other recent high-jumping teams have had to put together all in the same offseason. And it's the reason the Niners probably won't make the playoffs in 2007.Although they improved from 4-12 in 2005 to 7-9 last season, the 49ers were just 4-4 at home and did not finish well, losing four of their last six games. Also, according to research done by Pro Football Reference, they were the least competitive 7-9 team in league history, with a point differential of minus-114. That means the 49ers will need to make vast improvement both in points scored (they ranked 24th in 2006) and allowed (32nd) if they are to bump their record in 2007.

Even though San Francisco has statistically the third easiest schedule in the league, it actually has a rather tough road to get to the playoffs; if the defense doesn't come together quickly and quarterback Alex Smith doesn't improve significantly, the 49ers could be staring at another 7-9 record. Yes, three of their first five games are at home. But all three of those home contests are tough: Arizona swept the 49ers in 2006, Seattle has won six of the past eight meetings, and Baltimore went 13-3 in 2006. And the road games are in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The 49ers probably won't win more than two of those first five.

After the 49ers' bye in Week 6, five of the next seven are on the road - at the New York Giants , Atlanta, Seattle, Arizona and Carolina - and the two home games are against new NFC powerhouse New Orleans and division foe St. Louis. That's not an easy slate, and the 49ers' fate will be sealed during that seven-game stretch. Unless everything comes together, the Niners will be fortunate to win three of those seven games (probably the ones against the Rams, Giants and Falcons), which would put them at 5-7 heading into the final four games. The first three of those are at home, and the finale is in Cleveland. So it is quite feasible that the 49ers will finish 3-1. But, in this projection, that would give them an 8-8 record. And that wouldn't be enough. Even if the 49ers can put it all together and win 10 games, there is no guarantee they will be back in 2008. All the Niners have to do is look at the four teams that made big jumps from 2004 to 2005 and then backslid in 2006: Cincinnati went from 8-8 to 11-5 to 8-8 again; Tampa Bay jumped from 5-11 to 11-5 and then fell back to 4-12; Carolina bounced back from an injury-induced 7-9 record in 2004 to go 11-5 in 2005 and then dropped to 8-8 last year; and Washington went from 6-10 to 10-6 to 5-11.

The 49ers probably won't fall prey to the roller-coaster rides those teams have taken because the Niners seem to be steadily building. But just because they were aggressive during the offseason does not mean they will be able to put it all together and keep the bandwagon rolling this year.

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