The offseason is a fun time of year for fans of the NFL.
You spend the first phase digesting the season that just ended.
How could we have lost that last game? How could we not have won any games (sorry, Detroit Lions fan)? What do we need to do to “take it to the next level?"
Well, we need to sign free agents of course.
Who is worth the money? Is my team committed enough to winning to spend the big bucks? Who should we keep or let walk?
Then the draft hype starts. Actually, does it ever end? Is anyone else slightly annoyed, yet unavoidably intrigued, when Mel Kiper starts ranking next year’s draft picks five minutes after the draft ends?
This team had a brilliant draft. That team didn’t do anything to help themselves. This guy is the steal of the draft. That guy was overvalued but he has a tremendous upside. Okay, maybe this part isn’t so fun.
Now your team has their major free agent signings and their draft class. You can start looking at the new roster and next season’s schedule. You start imagining the possibilities. This could be the year it all comes together.
And the most popular phrase to be uttered by fans of every team, including those Lions fans: Hey, look what Arizona did last year!
Visions of Mike Singletary holding up the Lombardi Trophy start dancing in your head. (Did they leave enough room in the new trophy case?) Yes, I am talking to you, 49er fans. Some of you don’t allow yourselves to go there, but you know you want to.
Let’s face it, 49er fans, don’t say maybe we will make the playoffs this year. They say when are we going to reclaim our rightful spot in the Super Bowl? And we don’t lose Super Bowls.
This is the fun time of year. Between now and the opening kick-off...anything is possible. Optimism among 49er fans is at a higher level than it has been since the team owner’s name became John York.
But is it justified? There are good reasons. Let’s take a look at two.
The Jed York/Mike Singletary Era
The best upgrade this franchise has made is replacing John York and Mike Nolan with Jed and Singletary as the faces of the franchise.
Since taking over as team president, Jed York has been very public. For a while there I thought he had his own talk show on KNBR.
He says the right things. He has a passion for the 49ers. Those are two things his father never did or showed.
Jed just makes you feel better about the direction of the franchise when he speaks. I know I speak for all 49er fans when I say if we don’t see John York again until a Super Bowl celebration, that will be just fine.
Jed hasn’t done a whole lot yet. He is continuing to work on getting a new stadium. The timing couldn’t be worse, but a new stadium is critical to the success of the franchise. They cannot enjoy any long-term success without one.
Also, something tells me John York wasn’t the one green lighting the move back to the old school type of uniforms. All 49er fans are fired up and feel good about this simple move. Coincidence it didn’t happen until Jed took over? I don’t think so.
The most important decisions Jed has made were to pick Singletary as the interim coach and then to give him the permanent gig. And let’s give him his due credit for that.
Singletary had no experience as a coordinator or head coach. Jed certainly took a little bit of a leap of faith. It didn’t take Singletary long to show us why.
When Singletary kicked Vernon Davis off the field during his first game as head coach, he sent clear notice to every player who hadn’t figured it out. (Was there anyone besides Davis?) Things were going to be different.
And isn’t different what was needed?
Nolan had lost the team. He made idol threats of discipline and never followed through.
He threw Alex Smith under the bus, saying publicly he wasn’t injured when he was. Players were rolling their eyes at his meaningless rhetoric. This roster was craving leadership, begging for someone to show them how to win.
Nolan couldn’t do it—didn’t know how to do it.
One swift move, more of a natural reaction really, and Singletary had the locker room.
His teammates were sick and tired of Davis costing the team with mental breakdowns and not being held accountable for it. No one was being held accountable for anything.
Singletary’s action screamed follow me...I will take you there.
They have been following ever since, and it’s working. Even the games they lost after Singletary took over were competitive.
Heck, Alex Smith must have thought about running for the building exit under Nolan. After Singletary took over he was very outspoken about the vibe in the locker room and the direction the team was heading. He then took much less money to stay and have a chance to compete. In this day and age, that says something.
Now, the 49ers head into a season with a head coach that has a winning record with the team for the first time since Steve Mariucci, and a team president the fans want to embrace and give nicknames.
In fact, let’s give him one.
What works best? Eddie D III? Eddie D Lite? The Half Blood Prince? (Sorry, just saw the preview for the new Harry Potter movie, but it sort of applies doesn't it?)
Give me your own choice.
Jed York and Mike Singletary.
Will we one day think of them in the way we think of Eddie D and Bill Walsh?
Hey, it’s the offseason...where anything is possible.