Not since 1975 has a West Coast team traveled across three time zones on a short week to play an opposing team. The excuse is there, but regardless, the Ravens were the better team that day.
The 49ers' offensive line looked alien, giving up a season-high nine sacks on the day. Backup guard Chilo Rachal committed a mindless penalty that took away a 75-yard Ted Ginn touchdown and changed the entire momentum of the game. Alex Smith and his receivers looked out of sync from then on, and safety Donte Whitner appeared to have left his A-game at SFO.
But after a heart-wrenching Thanksgiving day loss, there is only one thing that matters now: How will they bounce back
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh can be quoted every week telling the media and his team that “The next game is always the most important.” This week, when facing the visiting St. Louis Rams, what has been cliche becomes real.
Not only will the 49ers' fortitude be tested, but they also have a chance to officially clinch the NFC West for the first time in a decade.
Can the 49ers bounce back from a tough loss like the one they were handed on Thanksgiving? Are they strong enough mentally to overcome defeat and return to their winning ways?
These are important questions that we will know the answers to after their next game on Sunday. The talent is there, now we will see if the will is.
On another note
Look for Frank Gore to pass the late great Joe “the Jet” Perry as the 49ers' all-time leading rusher. This is the oldest rushing record in the NFL—set 60 years ago—and Gore needs a mere 22 yards to surpass Perry in the record books.
If the 49ers can clinch the division and Frank Gore breaks the record, then the defeat against Baltimore will be nothing more than a bump in the road for the 49ers.
Don’t fret Niner fans, this season isn’t over. The good part is just getting started.
This article was originally published in the Benicia Herald.