Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dear America: Don’t Ignore the Niners


There’s much noise or certitude in the air from the contrived framework, just a renaissance era to focus on, surprisingly as the San Francisco 49ers own the spotlight in the NFC West.

More impressively, after a hard-fought 27-20 win over the Giants in the Bay Area to complete a late Sunday afternoon meeting, the Niners improved to 8-1 and control their own destiny.

It’s evident enough that the Niners, favored to clinch a playoff berth when they eventually will win the NFC West, could be on the verge of possibly flourishing as Super Bowl contenders like how the flowers bloom at Golden Gate Park – the haven of sculptures and bridges.

Hey, you. Yes, you. The Niners are real, as scary as it gets.

There’s no overkill in romanticizing the Niners. As of now, the Niners are more impressive than visiting Lombard Street, which is one of America’s crookedest streets with a steep, hilly street of sharp curves. But nothing is sharper than the Niners themselves, the hottest team in the league, hotter than the slew of women walking the pier to sight-see, dine and shop.

And, then again, maybe Pier 39 is not as crowded with much activity, at least on Sundays when the Niners have been the talk of the town, the social attribute of a town that prides itself on football given the many legends and mystique. This fascinating view comes from the recent success that the Niners have shown amid the emergence of reinstalling the good flashbacks of history, defining the nature of an adroit franchise.

It’s not in the Niners’ best interest to miss the playoffs, not unless a fatal collapse occur weeks from now, haunting them, leading to the craziest debacle in sports -- how the Niners could be attacked harshly from criticism. Just so you know, as of now – with emphasis on the resurgence of this team – it’s not a mirage if the Niners test wills and advance in history with an improbable Super Bowl appearance, all of the sudden bound to reach a crescendo on the national stage very soon.

It would be a surprise, for those who only glance at teams on paper and not legitimately, if the Niners shimmer on the biggest stage — on America’s national holiday — win it all and celebrate in glee. This means, if we examine this team closely, the Niners are not the underdogs or sleepers but maybe a Super Bowl contender.

But, really, no more are the Niners a pushover or the flukiest team, returning to the old times when San Francisco would purely dominate the NFC West, if not the league with the plentitude of weapons from offense to defense. There’s no need for excuses, no need to dwell too much on the fiascoes in the past, now that the post-Singletary era is behind them, relieving themselves of misfortunes for a once flawless franchise that spiraled out of control under former head coach Mike Singletary.

His successor, Jim Harbaugh, has embraced his role since his arrival in San Francisco for this season. He’s hardly an underachieving coach with traits that benefits his team’s effort and growth this season under his tenure.

It’s been a while since the Niners have had a coach with a fiery and fervid demeanor, and even though he’s slightly cocky or self-indulgent, Harbaugh is installing motivation and intimidation. That being said, his players are bullying and putting fear on team’s minds, unafraid to alienate and neutralize opponents as we’ve seen Sunday when the Niners squarely defeated the Giants, who entered the game with the NFC’s third best record.

For it turned out to be no fluke, but a game where San Francisco validated its league’s place rising into a championship-caliber unit each week. Never before have the Niners been so fantastically hungry, forceful and sentimental in pursuit of greatness – and so wonderfully delivering near-perfection. It’s good to know Harbaugh’s hiring, not only produced a quality of wins but also revitalized the culture, persuading folks now to think largely of the Niners and the hurried resurrection.

Their fairy tale ended in a blink, a hallucination that no longer exists, justifiably identified as one of the deepest, if not the favorable contenders in the meantime come playoffs.

The Niners, however, are fully aware of this, building a potent passing game around the much-improved Alex Smith, who had driven his team in a comeback after Giants quarterback Eli Manning tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham late in the third quarter.

Though he is not always consistent, his opportunity to validate years of doubts ended and Smith had completed at least three passes to four different receivers, not having trouble with ball security or ill-advised throws for turnovers.

He has remarkably matured, which is not so surprising in a way, knowing he was sent to the showers early by his former coach for his defiance. That alone, with his stellar size and speed, has turned Vernon Davis into, by far, one of the elite tight ends in the game today.

That’s very true. It was his goal, at the very least, to become a dependable tight end. He is, however, fun to watch and dances through the defense of his young career, catching three passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Giants. He was targeted, the first of which he emerged into the go-to receiver directly contributing to his team’s restoration this season, and amazingly leaped over safety Kenny Phillips into the end zone to finish a 31-yard touchdown catch that gave the Niners an early fourth quarter lead.

Can anyone stop the Niners?

It doesn’t seem that way.

This time, in another celebration, Harbaugh was polite in his postgame handshake, and then stared into the crowd pointing and waving to his cheerful fans while leaving for the exit at Candlestick Park.

On a sunny afternoon, on a day when it wasn’t gloomy or overcast, it was just perfect for football. Near the end, as the clock trickled, Justin Smith swatted down Manning’s pass, and only moments later, he excitedly pumped his fist after his game-saving play defensively. If indeed the Niners can hold on to a five-game cushion in the division, for what it seems now, then San Francisco could actually be the team to beat, particularly if they possess Frank Gore, one of the finest running backs in the league with a franchise record streak of five consecutive games with 100 yards rushing that ended.

Looking like a speedster, faster than the Road Runner utters his obnoxious “beep, beep,” he has had a singular season – accomplishments like no other but he sustained a knee injury and his first game of his outstanding career with minus yards. This time around, Kendall Hunter ran the ball for a 27-yarder in the fourth, feeding on the opportunity from Carlos Rogers’ momentum booster when he caught an intercepted pass and danced afterwards. So, it would be about place kicker David Akers, for who booted four field goals that kept the Niners in the game.

“It was a big win for us. As we continue to win we’re getting on a bigger stage, and that’s exactly what we want, we want to continue to climb and get on bigger stages,” Smith said. “That’s it. You’re as good as your record, and you’re as good as your last game. And we beat a really good football team.”

Yes sir. But realize it would be unwise to underestimate the Niners.

It is getting to be nice, if you like the Niners.