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Probably Time to Panic

It looks bleak. Like Portland weather in the middle of January bleak.
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The 49ers sit at 2-3 during their Week 6 bye. The offense is in complete disarray. The run game, which used to be a strength of the Kyle Shanahan system, is disjointed and inconsistent at best. Entire chapters of the playbook had to be removed with the loss of Raheem Mostert in the first game of the season. The entire right side of the offensive line is, in effect, a turnstile to this point. Promising wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has pulled a vanishing act the likes of David Copperfield with the Statue of Liberty. George Kittle is injured... again. 

Oh, by the way, so is Jimmy G. No one saw that coming. 

In fact, the two quarterback system that was intended to insulate the 49ers from another lost year, has been handled so poorly that it could take an entire regime off the tracks -- not just the season. An already thin cornerback room, decimated by the loss of their true shutdown corner, is now filled with journeyman vets off the street. The defensive front that was going to crash upon offenses with wave after wave has turned out to be a single wave followed by mostly calm waters and average play from the backups. The defensive unit led by new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has looked solid, but still can’t force a turnover to save its life.

Don’t worry. Next year looks better.

There are only 31 players currently under contract for 2022, and with that the 49ers are projected to be about $8.5 million over the cap (49erscap.com). Oh, and no first-round draft pick either.

Did I say better?

Probably should have said it looks bleak. Like Portland weather in the middle of January bleak.

What was sold to the fanbase as a “Revenge Tour 2.0” has turned into a bad horror film and, much like the Halloween movie franchise, it’s a film we’ve seen far too many times.

If you’re a bandwagon fan, it’s probably time to get off this train. Fair-weather folks have packed their bags and headed off to Cabo by now. Expectations should probably be adjusted at this point.

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The key word here is probably.

The Faithful still remain. The Faithful, who have suffered through more losing seasons than they care to admit over the past few decades, are steadfast.

The problems, while plentiful, seem fixable. The genius head coach has, in the past, shown the ability to dial up an offense that puts opponents on their heels. The rookie running backs show real talent, and Bobby Turner has proven time and time again he can coach up almost anyone. 

With the new wildcard format, the 49ers are only one game back. The team still has one of the more talented rosters in the league. Deebo Samuel might be on pace for a shot at the league MVP. Nick Bosa could set the NFL single season sack record. The injuries may be many, but for the most part are not season-ending. There will be reinforcements arriving. The rookie quarterback who looked inexperienced and ill-prepared, flashed incredible and undeniable talent. Of the 3 losses, the 49ers took the lead with 37 seconds in one game, and out-gained their opponents yards from scrimmage, 795 to 538, in the other two. These games were close, and that says something with how sloppy the 49ers have been.

This team has what it takes to win in the NFL. Talent, scheme, and coaching are all there in Santa Clara. But much like the 49ers on the field, to this point they haven’t been consistent.

Are the 49ers a Super Bowl caliber team? Probably not.

But that’s just it. This league changes with wild swings from week to week. A playoff system of one and done means that it’s not always the better team that advances. A small window of opportunity can blow open to a clear path forward to victory if only a few things start to go the 49ers’ way. If the next couple dominoes fall in a favorable direction, this season will turn from seemingly hopeless to winnable once again.

Like Sisyphus and his boulder, the 49ers’ task is difficult and there’s no obvious happy ending in sight. But this team might just have enough fight in it to make a difference, there may just be enough talent to turn the tide.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

Well, that’s all I need to remain Faithful. How about you?