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49ers-least talked about comeback story?
November 15, 2011 12:24 PM   Subscribe

The 49ers are back, but who's paying attention? Sitting on top of a weak NFC West, is the Niner's impressive rise going overlooked?

While the NFC West performed its best since the reorg in 2002, the 49ers are still on top at 8-1. They beat the playoff bound Giants, gaining the edge 18-17 in the overall series. This is their first win against the Giants since the 2002 Wildcard playoff game when a dramatic miss by the Giants kicker gave the 49ers the win in the last second, cementing the second greatest comeback in playoff history.

The 49ers have deflected praise this season though. Rookie coach Harbaugh even seemed to ask for it saying "I believe in you guys, the media I believe that you will find a way (to underrate the 49ers). As long as all that is written is being written against us, we'll be happy." Justin Smith similarly dismissed his game winning block by attributing it not to skill or planning, but to his sheer tiredness and inability to press on.

The 49ers may be on their way to the playoffs, but should their rapid rise be making more waves?
posted by Carillon (77 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
They've been mentioned in every sports media outlet I pay attention to, so no.
posted by tommasz at 12:25 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


football has been wacky this year.

i will say that in the news i watch/read all the noise about the 49ers is "why isn't anyone talking about them" - except, everyone is saying that, so isn't everyone talking about them?

i do think that as the weather turns, things will normalize and the playoffs will be mostly the predictable teams.
posted by nadawi at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
--Vince Lombardi
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:29 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're doing great. My favorite quote about them lately is from Steve Young: "Niners are in top form as they head into going into the second half of the season. So tough. Man, I wish I'd had the opportunity to play with them."
posted by cog_nate at 12:29 PM on November 15, 2011


From what I can tell, all of San Francisco is talking about them! Except for my friend in the East Bay who's a Raiders fan.

I'm not much of a football fan, but enough of the people I hang out with are that I'd have to be blind and deaf (or a hermit with no friends) to not know the Niners are having a heck of a season. I also try to pay attention because that's the best time here to go to Costco - when the game has started, especially if it's a home game.
posted by rtha at 12:30 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who strongly dislikes Harbaugh? I hope he gets his ass handed to him in the playoffs.
posted by phaedon at 12:32 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do you dislike Harbaugh phaedon?
posted by Carillon at 12:37 PM on November 15, 2011


phaedon - jim schwartz and pete carroll agree with you at the very least.
posted by nadawi at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Grantland had a good article on how Harbaugh simplified the offense for Smith and that led to the QB's drastic improvement
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Least talked about????? There are two stories I can guarantee I will hear 24/7 this week when turning on sports radio:

Joe Paterno
Are the Niners for real?

How is that least talked about?
posted by spicynuts at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grantland had a good article on how Harbaugh simplified the offense for Smith and that led to the QB's drastic improvement

Still not sold on Alex Smith though.
posted by kgasmart at 12:48 PM on November 15, 2011


No one is paying it much attention because as noted, they play in the NFC West, where a group of friends and I, hell a group of Mefites could suit up and only be the second worst team in the division. Plus they don't get any national TV coverage which will change with next years schedules, when they should be back to their regularly scheduled sucking.

I, like all right thinking people hate the 49'ers, and it's more fun to hate when they are doing well.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:49 PM on November 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, they're not exactly under the radar, now, seeing as they have the second best record in the whole NFL and they've essentially clinched a playoff berth with half the season to go. People have indeed noticed, and some have a little irrational exuberance.

My son's only regret has been that he can't wear his Frank Gore jersey to school every day.
posted by zomg at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2011


Yeah, the 49ers are getting plenty of attention from the sports talking heads. Mostly of the "8-1? Who woulda think it???" kind.
posted by blucevalo at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2011


I think they are getting their due love. I think the big story this year is the Paytonless Colts.
posted by amazingstill at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2011


I dunno, maybe its being a die hard niners fan out in Chicago, but I barely hear about them at all. I heard and hear more about Lions/Buffalo and Saints/Falcons than even the Giants/49ers matchup.

Keith Talent - True but they've only played one divisional game. It's not like they are just slaughtering their own division right now.
posted by Carillon at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2011


And the bears of course.
posted by Carillon at 12:58 PM on November 15, 2011


No one is paying it much attention because as noted, they play in the NFC West, where a group of friends and I, hell a group of Mefites could suit up and only be the second worst team in the division.

Which would be a good point except that they've played exactly one game against the NFC West so far (the Giants have played four). They still have five games left against those guys, while having already beaten the Eagles, Bengals, and Lions on the road and the Giants at home. Baltimore and Pittsburgh loom as the real tests.
posted by nave at 12:59 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I will not really have any rooting interest in the NFL until such time as the Rams move back to LA.

I rooted FOR the Niners against Dallas, that game with The Catch, but I can't remember any other time.
posted by Danf at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2011


My favorite 49ers news was Montana selling his 9000 square feet Sonoma house in the Wall Street Journal. Goodness that is a lot of house. He said in the Wall Street Journal article he thinks they are working to rip off the taxpayers in Santa Clara for a new stadium.
posted by bukvich at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2011


No
posted by mrgrimm at 1:12 PM on November 15, 2011


You know what NFL team isn't getting talked about... The Jacksonville Jaguars.
posted by drezdn at 1:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who strongly dislikes Harbaugh?

Nope. Don't like either of them.
posted by yerfatma at 1:13 PM on November 15, 2011


I always enjoyed Mike Singletary, but I guess this is pretty strong evidence that he did not know what he was doing out there, right? I mean, it's essentially the same team and they are now getting better results than the "borderline playoff team" performance people had been expecting to see from them for several years now.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:22 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember Harbaugh! He disappointed the children of Chicagoland that were briefly excited about football for a few years in the eighties.
posted by ignignokt at 1:22 PM on November 15, 2011


What's honest and a little disturbing about the first link is it confirms that sports writers aren't really there to report the games, but the stories. Other than the infamous handhshake, there's really no story about the 49ers – no off-the-field scandals, no boastful coaches, no dirty players, no ego-centric receivers, no humiliating failures. And no big Fantasy Football statistics either.
posted by sharkitect at 1:25 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Congratulations to the 49ers for doing as well as they have been doing but since they handed my Lions their first loss of the season (from which they haven't really recovered) I am required to hate them forever.
posted by HostBryan at 1:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really looking forward to the Ravens/49ers game on Thanksviging. BATTLE OF THE HARBAUGHS! Mine will probably lose :(
posted by capnsue at 1:26 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Grantland article was illuminating. Still, I don't think and Niners fan in their right mind trusts Smith at this point, after the number of times he's burned us in the past.

They have some impressive wins thus far, although they are getting them in close, NY Jets-like fashion - and eventually in the playoffs you need your quarterback to win you some games rather than just not lose them. Yet, in a not too deep NFC, they could end up facing the Packers for all the marbles and anything can happen in one game.

Despite the glittering record, this is not the dominant 49ers team of the 90s, crushing teams en route to multiple Super Bowls. This will be a gritty, maybe if we're really lucky NFC Championship game team -- but hell, for long suffering Bay Area fans... WE'LL TAKE IT.
posted by rooftop secrets at 1:27 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Singletary: Great player, excellent speaker, good man, shitty coach.

I liked him too, as a man, just like I like Herm Edwards. I wouldn't want either of them to coach my team.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:28 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alex Smith is the definitive bye week QB. Go Panthers.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2011


Everything Chris Brown writes (the Grantland writer, Smart Football blog) is pretty much excellent.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason it seems so strange that they're doing well probably has most to do with the fact that the most visible player, the QB, has been there for seven mediocre years, and people still can't believe that Alex Smith could be QB of a successful team.
posted by JoeGoblin at 1:31 PM on November 15, 2011


After 7 offensive systems in 7 years or whatever turns out the system that allows Smith to flourish in San Fran is the WCO. Funny.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:32 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


no humiliating failures

the eagles no show this season is a pretty big story. i think it fits well into the story about the 49ers - getting all the press and a lot of the big story talent doesn't always equal good play.
posted by nadawi at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2011


Please note, they've only had one game out of nine thus far in the NFC West. The weakness of that division shouldn't have any bearing on what they've done thus far.
posted by bitdamaged at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2011


One of the better lessons to take from the Eagles this year is that you should probably pick defensive coordinators with experience coaching defense.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the impact of Fantasy games has more to do with the way American Football is reported now, and even the way fans view the sport. Everyone wants to know which players are getting the most yards, scores, points, or who is putting up disappointing numbers. Exactly who wins the games and why doesn't seem to matter as much anymore.
posted by sharkitect at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2011


I think sharkitect is far too right. Which is why I sometimes feel like a very lonely non-fantasy playing football fan.

Horace Rumpole: ""There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
--Vince Lombardi
"

Finally, somebody recognizes that my one man show in which I play both Lombardi and Oscar Wilde might have an audience.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


i don't play fantasy football, but i love weird stats and records, so i don't mind the shift of reporting.
posted by nadawi at 1:52 PM on November 15, 2011


I avoid playing fantasy football for that reason, don't want to end up rooting for bizarre shit like the niners to drive into FG range but stall cause I have Akers on my team or something. Shit is lame.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:52 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, the other lesson of the Eagles is to not put too much faith in a half seasons worth of resurgence from a historically mediocre QB.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:53 PM on November 15, 2011


And don't sign a $50 million dollar press-man corner who excels at using the sideline and stick him in the slot playing zone.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2011


Last year I swore I would never play Fantasy Football, but this year I joined an amateur league (i.e. no betting). I don't follow the stats religiously at all, but I can see the value in these games-within-games. It keeps people interested in the sport if your own team is playing poorly, and generates interest in many games in different markets. Why else would people in Florida watch a Sunday night game between Minnesota and Carolina?
posted by sharkitect at 1:56 PM on November 15, 2011


Plus fantasy gives you a silver lining if your team loses to a team you have a player on. Sure you lost, but hey 30 points!
posted by Carillon at 2:05 PM on November 15, 2011


They've beat two teams with a winning record so far this year, and they haven't even gotten to the NFC West heavy rotation yet?

Maybe that's why people aren't particularly impressed with the 8-1 start.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2011


How come no one is talking about the 9-0 Green Bay Packers(in this thread). hahahah It's good to be from the land o'cheese! 49ers are looking good though, I must admit!
posted by Capricorn13 at 2:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 9-0 Packers are about to feel the weight of the "can they go undefeated" hype. In 2-3 weeks when teams are mathematically eliminated they're still going to play their asses off against the Pack trying to get credit for knocking off the 800lb gorilla. Trust me, I'm a Pats fan.

They're still the class of the NFL, obviously.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Capricorn13, Packers and Niners are winning games consistently and have basically locked up playoff spots. This time of year, the big stories are usually the teams fighting it out for the playoffs, usually with big division rivalries. Expect more stories about Giants/Cowboys, Saints/Falcons, Bears/Lions, Ravens/Steelers etc.
posted by sharkitect at 2:18 PM on November 15, 2011


nathancaswell - true... I'm pretty sure teams are already trying to do it. I know Detroit/Packers on Thanksgiving is sure to be a battle... I expected more of one last night with the division rivalry but I ain't complaining! Pressure to go undefeated is definitely mounting but I hope that's useful as a motivator and teams upping their game against the Pack will hopefully make them an even better team by the playoffs...

sharkitect- I was being facetious, I know it's hard to talk about a team that keeps on winning. I'm really just glad the Packer defence finally seemed to bring it 100%. Life is good! But I'm treating every game a s a potential loss and I think the Packers thus far have done the same to their credit...
posted by Capricorn13 at 2:26 PM on November 15, 2011


last night's game was just plain sad. it made me wonder what second string could beat another team's first string in the NFL
posted by nadawi at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also glad we AREN'T talking about Brett Farve anymore... I wonder if the Bills and Lions can turn it around after such hot starts.
posted by Capricorn13 at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2011


Baltimore and Pittsburgh loom as the real tests. They were tested already, with the Lions and Giants.

It's great to leap and kick one's heels with joy again.

And it's nice that the niners don't have any assholes like Terrell Owens on the team.
posted by uraniumwilly at 2:29 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"What the hell's goin' on out there? Grab, grab, grab! Nobody's tacklin' out there!" —Oscar Wilde
posted by stargell at 2:29 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


i'm so sad for the texans - losing their QB for the season will mess up what was looking like a pretty promising show of it.

as for the chief's - man, things are just going wrong over there. cassel's injury is just kicking someone while they're down.
posted by nadawi at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also glad we AREN'T talking about Brett Farve anymore...

Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) is already jawing about how the Texans should call up He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but I'm pretty sure it's just clickbait comment trolling.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:35 PM on November 15, 2011


They've beat two teams with a winning record so far this year

Three teams (Bengals, Lions, Giants) and two of those on the road.
posted by nave at 2:38 PM on November 15, 2011


I think story of the year is Carson Palmer's resuscitated corpse throwing bombs to Oakland's suddenly decent looking WR corps, The Charger's and Chief's foibles and (yeah, I said it) Tebow running the option in the somehow still winnable AFC West.

I just watched the Broncos / Chiefs game on NFL replay and it's hilarious. They'd run until they got to between the 40s, Tebow would try a bomb off play action, it would fall incomplete, then they'd run some more. Triple option! Not just that zone read stuff from last week, but full on triple option. The only way it could be any better is if they lined up in the Flexbone.

That Jets game is going to be entertaining one way or another.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:50 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) is already jawing about how the Texans should call up He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but I'm pretty sure it's just clickbait comment trolling."

I don't know what it's called when the shape of specific letters next to each other makes it look like one word is another -- but whatever that is made me think you said "dickbait" there -- which, given Farve as topic made my day. Like I'm still laughing about it.

sorry to be so deadspin-y, but it's been a long day....seriously, I'm still grinning a bit though
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:09 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why isn't anyone talking about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers? 432 points for, 432 points against, but they still managed to clinch the Eastern Division. Bizarre.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:11 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a Bills fan, I love it when Niners fans paint themselves as 'long-suffering...'
posted by sfts2 at 3:13 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


432 points for, 432 points against

and every single one of them scored via rouge.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why isn't anyone talking about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers?

3-7 from the Labour Day weekend, and they still won the East. CFL stands for Crazy Football League.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:01 PM on November 15, 2011


Between fantasy football and the NFL RedZone channel, I watch football in a completely different way than I used to.
posted by box at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2011


Having grown up in the Bay Area during the 49ers glory years, I can't imagine having been any more spoiled by a sports franchise. In the first decade that I followed the NFL, the 49ers won the Super Bowl nearly 50% of the time, making my expectations ridiculously high. I don't know how far the 49ers can go this year (it's hard to imagine much of anyone having a chance against the Packers at this point), but nice to see them having something other than a soul-crushing season for the first time in awhile.

I always enjoyed Mike Singletary, but I guess this is pretty strong evidence that he did not know what he was doing out there, right?

It was suggested during the broadcast of the 49ers-Giants game on Sunday that this is the first time in Alex Smith's tenure that he's had an offensive-minded coach (Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary being defensive specialists), which would help to explain at least his improved performance.
posted by The Gooch at 4:58 PM on November 15, 2011


This is my first year playing fantasy football, and I've got to say, it is great. It doesn't detract from your regular football fan experience, it just adds a little layer of spice on top of it. How else could I have a burning hatred of DeAngelo Williams and an inordinate love of DeMarco Murray?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:58 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite story of this year in football is that when the Madden cover vote came down to Aaron Rodgers vs. Peyton Hillis, Packer fans actively voted for Peyton Hillis to avoid "the curse."
posted by drezdn at 7:39 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why isn't anyone talking about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers?
Gee, I don't know.
And up here in the North, I have heard plenty about the 49'ers and there almost Green Bay-like record.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:00 PM on November 15, 2011


Ah, the CFL. They used to have two teams (out of eight!) named Roughriders.

last night's game was just plain sad. it made me wonder what second string could beat another team's first string in the NFL

Most teams' second string > the Vikings.
/Vikings fan
posted by kirkaracha at 9:20 PM on November 15, 2011


I think the big story this year is the Paytonless Colts.
This.
If there was ever a case-study for why a well-run program should have viable back-ups for their key players, this year's Colts are it. It's unbelievable that they simply didn't bother to have a Will Ryker to Payton's Picard. If your team is completely built around a single player, you damn-well better have a second in-command to step-in seamlessly in case the unthinkable happens.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on November 16, 2011


They used to have two teams (out of eight!) named Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. the Ottawa Rough Riders. Hardly the same!
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:29 AM on November 16, 2011


Aaron Rodgers makes little girls cry.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:50 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


if she wants this crop of vikings to succeed over anyone, especially this crop of packers, she has a lot of tears in her future.
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sounded exactly like that after Super Bowl XX.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2011


Actually now that I think about it I sounded like that after Super Bowl XLII as well.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:11 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aaron Rodgers makes little girls cry.

A package just arrived for her.
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on November 17, 2011


Aaron Rodgers photobombs.
posted by drezdn at 5:54 AM on November 18, 2011


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