Amidst some disappointing outings, the 2009 season gave 49ers faithful a solid foundation for their faith. Going into 2010 with two top 20 draft picks, it is not too far fetched to speculate we could win the division next year.
We saw a different team come out in the second half and totally outplay the Packers and the Texans in comebacks that fell just short. Bottom line, we saw games lost that we knew we should have won against the Titans and the Seahawks.
For the Rams, the fact of the matter is that drafting Suh or Clausen doesn't raise their team to the level of the Cardinals or 49 ers .
The Seahawks will not transform over one offseason with Pete Carroll, who is pretty close to a .500 coach in the NFL with better squads. I don't see either one of these teams presenting a serious bid for the division title in 2010.
There is speculation that Arizona may lose Pro Bowl DT Darnell Dockett next year, and also this could be Kurt Warner's last season in the NFL. I think we all know that Arizona's odds of beating us doesn't improve with Matt Leinart at the helm in lieu of Kurt Warner.
I believe that in the offseason , Singletary will prove to this team that they were the best 8-8 team in the NFL, and more importantly, how close they were to being 11-5 and 6-0 in the NFC West (If they don't already realize that).
A look at next year's schedule, we have our obvious home and away games against division rivals, which I think we have a serious shot of going 6-0 through.
Of course, we will be labeled as the weakest division in the NFL in the process, but none the less it is a well substantiated theory without me having to justify it further.
This is, of course, barring one of our rivals having one of the best free agency acquisition years in NFL history.
I am a die hard fan, but I know how to give credit when it's due. I'm willing to say that Atlanta and Philadelphia have good shots at beating us again after the performances they put up against us last year.
On the flip side, I would predict wins over Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Kansas City with substantial evidence that if you followed the season last year remotely I don't need to speak much of. Thus far I have us predicted at 9-2.
That leaves us with Carolina, New Orleans, Denver, Green Bay, and San Diego, and this is where it really comes down to free agency, game preparation, big players stepping up, etc. For argument's sake with other team fans, If I don't have substantial evidence to predict a win I won't, and it still doesn't change the end outcome.
At Carolina, we have two teams head to head that were previously 8-8. Against common opponents last year, we both lost to Atlanta and Philadelphia, Both beat Arizona, and we lost to the Vikings by 3 while the Panthers beat them 26-7.
Julius Peppers will probably not be back as a Panther next year, as it would require them to pay him $20 million for a second consecutive one-year franchise player tender.
Meanwhile, the 49 ers have Carolina's first round pick for 2010 and if they don't solidify their offensive line in this draft, they have no one to blame but themselves.
The wild card in this game will be the play of Matt Moore, who was hot at the end of the season and played well enough to shred the Vikings. I honestly like our chances in this one, and that moves us to 10-2
At home vs. New Orleans, they have beaten all of our common opponents pending the Arizona playoff game this weekend.
Among these victories are two over Atlanta, who beat us 45-10, and a 48-22 beat down on Philadelphia who torched our secondary for a 27-13 win.
I'm predicting a loss here, barring the team that played Indianapolis last year shows up with a vengeance. That puts us at 10-3.
"At home" vs. Denver, we have our closest head to head matchup of the year. Both were 8-8 and for common opponents we both had losses to Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
If they draft Rolando McClain out of Alabama, this could be very interesting. If not, they have as tough a time stopping Frank Gore as we do stopping Brandon Marshall. Ideally I would like to predict the winner after the draft.
This game will come down to one team's Offense, Defense, or Special teams stepping up and making a statement.
For argument's sake, our performances in 2009 in "should win" games, and an on the spot decision to wait for a different article to upset Denver fans who think that Kyle Orton is the greatest thing since John Elway, I'm going to chalk this one up as a loss that puts us at 10-4.
At Green Bay, we face an 11-5 team from 2009 that we lost a close one to. Against common opponents, we had the same outcomes with the exception of them being eliminated from the playoffs by the Cardinals after beating them the previous week in a meaningless game for AZ.
Again, a game I would like to wait till after the draft to call but for right now I'm going to chalk this one up as a loss and put us at 10-5.
At San Diego, I think Phillip Rivers coupled with the height advantage that their passing offense poses against the best secondaries in the NFL is too much for us to overcome.
I actually think we will lose this game regardless as I see these 2 teams head to head right now. That finishes our season at 10-6.
So after what I consider very fair predictions for outcomes next year with respect and benefit of the doubt given to the opponent where it exist, I see us winning the division in 2010 at approximately 10-6 and going to the playoffs.
I don't, however, see us winning in the divisional round yet. Nevertheless, if this transpires, it gives us faithful something to hang our hat on in the meantime.