by Daisy Barringer
What is it about football that turns intelligent, thoughtful people into irrational idealists? Like, yes, the 49ers beat the Ravens yesterday, and yes, the team looked pretty good doing so, but both teams were 1-4 going into the game. 1 and 4!!!! So while a win is a win and that’s great and all, I kind of feel like everyone needs to tone down the excitement.
“But we’re only two games behind in the division,” you say.
Yeah, that’s because the NFC West has regressed to being the NFC Worst and the only team that looks at all decent is the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals and even they might not live up to the hype.
“But Kaepernick threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns! And our offensive line gave him plenty of time to pass!”
Sure, against a defense ranked 27th in the league.
“But we have a magical field that eats feet when an opposing kicker is trying for a field goal.”
Fine, that one I’ll give you. But don’t fool yourself; that fourth quarter missed field goal, which should have been three points for the Ravens, was a much bigger deal than you think. If Tucker makes it, the 49ers are only up by three points. Which means Flacco’s touchdown pass to Aiken with a little over five minutes left makes the score 25-23 instead of 25-20. Which means the Ravens are fighting for a field goal when they get the ball back next, not a touchdown. Yes, it’s impossible to know how that would have gone, but it’s a scenario where the Ravens have a much higher chance of success. Unless the field eats Justin Tucker’s foot again, which maybe is how the 49ers plan on winning all of our games going forward, and hey, I like a win as much as the next girl, so I’ll take it. Whoever plays at Levi’s Stadium during the Super Bowl might not be so stoked though.
Am I being nitpicky? Maybe. But what I’m trying to point out here is that, yes, the 49ers won, but the team we beat? Not that amazing. Even worse? They almost beat us! Joe Flacco also passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns. The difference is that he also threw two interceptions, which was a great thing for our defense who is really struggling against the pass and hasn’t gotten a sack in two games.
In fact, if not for Shareece Wright (you know, the cornerback who asked to be released by the Niners earlier this month and was picked up by Baltimore) totally sucking, the 49ers may not have had either of their two touchdowns. Torrey Smith (who looked awesome) totally burned Wright on the Niners’ first touchdown of the game in the 2nd quarter and then Wright fell down trying to cover Quinton Patton who caught a 21-yard touchdown at the beginning of the 4th to put the Niners up 25-13. So, uh, thanks Shareece Wright! I almost feel bad for you. Except I don’t because I’m not that good of a person.
So yeah, I'm elated the Niners won (duh, people, duh), but I just want fans to have perspective.
Of course, maybe having perspective makes being a fan less fun. After all, with this win, we can fool ourselves into thinking maybe we have a chance at the playoffs after all. I’m the most cynical I’ve ever been about the 49ers and even I find myself running the scenarios. Especially since the NFC West isn’t looking as good as people expected.
10/22 vs. Seahawks - That’s this Thursday. The Seahawks, who are also 2-4, just lost to Carolina at home and they’re the ones who have to travel to SF. Of course, Pete Carroll (who I hate, for the record) is a far better coach than Jim Tomsula and coaching matters more than ever during a short week, but still, I think the 49ers could win this one. Which would make us 3-4.
11/1 at Rams - The Rams don’t look that great. Why not get the W for this game also?
11/8 at Falcons - Eh. I think we lose.
11/22 at Seahawks - We should lose, but let’s just pretend we win.
11/29 vs. Cardinals - Gonna go with a loss here.
12/6 at Bears - We could win this maybe?
12/13 at Browns - Win.
12/20 vs. Bengals - We’re losing this one.
12/27 at Lions - Win.
1/3 vs. Rams - Win.
Which would mean the 49ers go 9-7. Which could be good enough for a wild card spot. Why not?
Yeah, I can play make believe too. And don’t think for a second I don’t want exactly what I laid out to just happen. Hell, I would like for Kaepernick’s ridiculous dream of the Niners going 12-4 to come true. But I try to set reasonable expectations for myself and the team, so that I don’t give them the power to break my heart once again.
It’s already too late for Thursday’s game against Seattle. If we lose that, I’ll be devastated. Not just because it’s a loss to Seattle at home, but because if we can’t beat the Seahawks, I think we go 6-10.
I didn’t go to the game yesterday; instead, I chose to watch from the comfort of my couch. Levi’s Stadium remains a sweltering pit of misery during day games and seems to only get further away from San Francisco with each drive. But I’ll be there on Thursday. And despite everything I just said, I’ll believe we can do it. Because as much as I hate to admit it, the irrational idealist inside of me is rearing her ugly head and reminding me that it’s my job as a fan to be faithful. Even when I don’t wanna be.
Why does football turn intelligent, thoughtful people into irrational idealists? Because without belief, all we have is a depressing reality of facts. And it’s still early enough in the season where we can pretend like maybe, just maybe, those facts don’t add up. Maybe, just maybe, we can still win.
This Thursday: The (2-4) Seahawks travel to Levi’s Stadium. The (2-4) 49ers have to win, so I’m going to say that they will.