Certain games serve as pivot points for an entire organization, and the front office of the San Francisco 49ers know that Sunday’s 21-19 loss in Arizona is worth a meeting to assess.
In other words, this game more than others calls for some deep thinking and long-term planning. What kind of team are the 49ers now and what kind will they become mid-2012? But that question cannot be answered unless you consider the rest of the NFC West, and there’s no doubt that the Cardinals in Arizona were much, much better than they were when they played in Candlestick Park in November.
Meanwhile, up in Seattle, the Seahawks have quietly won four of their last five and head into Chicago this weekend. It could very well be five of six come Sunday evening. The contrarian in all this is St. Louis, which is sinking like a rock. The bad offensive line, the injury to quarterback Sam Bradford and the poor receiving corps comprise a Rams team that is woefully lacking.
And yet the 21-19 loss stands out in that the Niner front office and coaching staff has to begin to weigh the Who Stays, Who Goes questions. No position is more important than quarterback, and thus when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of whether to sign Smith to a contract extension, you’re really asking much more than who is the starting QB for the next few years. Here’s why.