The 49ers just rolled over the playoff contending Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday 20-3, and are starting to look like a competitive team for the first time in seven years. The Niners are now just two games back from the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals, and will be facing them two weeks from today at home. The 49ers face the 4-7 Seahawks next week in Seattle and the Cardinals have to face the Vikings who are arguably the best team in the NFL if not in the top three. Which could set up a showdown for the NFC west lead at Candlestick on December 14th.
How do the 49ers transform from a below mediocre team into a contender once again? The answer is they need to just sit pat and stay patient.
The Major heat this season has been on Jimmy Ray and his conservative play calling. The truth is he and coach Singletary have shown that they are flexible with their offensive scheme. During yesterdays game they showed that they are willing to let Alex Smith operate from the spread offensive that he is comfortable with from his days at Utah, and that utilizes his god given athletic ability to run and throw. Smith wasn't the number one pick in the draft because he is good at handing the ball off. He has immense talent that hasn't been demonstrated or utilized consistently yet.
The 49ers also have a considerable amount of talent at the skill positions. The spread offense suits running back Frank Gore, who is an elite pass blocker and catcher in addition to being a pro bowl level runner. Vernon Davis can and has excelled this season in beating linebackers and safeties on pass patterns. Michael Crabtree has demonstrated that he can be a number one receiver in this league, and shown why he was considered to be the best player coming out of the draft this year.
When given support the Defense has shown that they are as good as anyone. If they are not forced to stay on the field for 40 plus minutes the defense has held Peyton Manning to zero touchdowns throws, held Andre Johnson to two catches, picked off Jay Culter five times and held Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner and Stephen Jackson to under 100 yards. They did have a terrible game against the Falcons but every other game this year they have kept it close even with an anemic offense.
The year only gets better. The last two games of the season are against the Lions and Rams, who are two of the worst teams in the league. They will have two first round picks in the April 2010 NFL draft and they are finally settling in and finding their groove with the spread offense and Quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers have played two of the top teams in the NFL in the Colts and Vikings on the road and lost by a combined total of seven points. They have proven that they can compete with the big boys. Now the organization needs to maintain some stability, be patient and watch these young Niners grow into playoff competitors.
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