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49ers Gold Rush: Why Winning The Division Isn't Good Enough

amin arikatContributor IJuly 27, 2010

ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 3:  Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball during the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on January 3, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The 49ers beat the Rams 28-6.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have not made the playoffs since 2002. The team has gone through rebuilding and reloading stages. With the improvements made over the last couple of seasons, and the acquisition of talent through the recent drafts; the 49ers are primed to win the NFC West.

But that won't be enough to make most 49ers fans happy. And it shouldn't.

The 49ers showed great strides last season as they played high caliber football on most gamedays. They battled some of the best teams in the league- barely losing at Minnesota on a Hail Mary by that guy named Favre; and playing tough on the road against playoff teams in Green Bay and Philadelphia.

San Francisco also played well at Indianapolis giving the eventual AFC champions quite a scare, and played strong against an upcoming Houston Texans team on the road; almost riding three touchdowns by Vernon Davis to victory.

The 49ers beat up on their NFC West divisional foes last season, and it should be the same if not more this season. San Francisco can very easily go 6-0 in the division, kind of like the good ol' days when Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and the rest of the boys used to beat up on the Saints, Falcons, and Rams every year.

But because the NFC West is so weak right now, going 6-0 against Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals will almost be expected by the team and the 49er faithful alike.

The Rams have a rookie quarterback, a porous defense, and no real gamebreaking receivers. Arizona lost Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner, and defensive playmaker Karlos Dansby. Seattle, with new coach Pete Carroll will take time to develop their talent and get a new system battle-tested.

Add to this, the schedule for the 49ers is very favorable for a winning season. There are only three or four games on paper that look like they could be battles with upper echelon teams: New Orleans, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and San Diego.

Even more promising is that after the September and October portions of the schedule pass, San Francisco really only appears to have two tough games out of their final 8-against Green Bay on the road and playing San Diego at home.

November and December typically can bring cold and harsh weather conditions, but the only game to note for the 49ers regarding bad weather is a December 5 visit to Lambeau field againt the Packers.

What does all of this mean? It means there are no excuses this year. No more waiting until next season. No longer will 8-8 or 9-7 be acceptable amid hopes of a better future.

Though the team is young, the time is now to capitalize on several factors lining up in the 49ers favor. Among them are weak divisional opponents, a very manageable schedule, and the fact that there are no real dominant teams in the NFC.

Sure the reigning Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints are very explosive, but their defense can be scored upon and beating them is not out of the question. Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay, and Philadelphia all are good teams, but a 49er team playing to its potential can match any of them.

For the 2010 season, a record of 11-5 is attainable; and going 10-6 is very realistic. A record of 11-5 should get the 49ers at least one home game in the playoffs, and possibly a bye for the first round of the playoffs as well.

The 49er faithful have put their trust in Coach Mike Singletary, Patick Willis, Frank Gore, and the rest of the crew to lead them to the promised land. No excuses this season will suffice.

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