September 26, 2013
With week three of the National Football League in the books, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves with a less than stellar record of 1-2 after two consecutive blowout losses. However, 49er fans should not press the panic button just yet.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed the past two Sundays, the 49ers’ playoff chances are still alive.
Many problems have plagued the 49ers to begin the season, most notably, injuries. Standout wide receiver Michael Crabtree, one of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s favorite targets, is still sidelined due to a torn Achilles, and Mario Manningham is still recovering from a knee injury. Furthermore, tight end Vernon Davis was out for the Indianapolis game because of an injured hamstring.
Fortunately, most injuries nowadays are fixable with time. Crabtree and Manningham are expected to be back by the latter half of the season while Davis and Patrick Willis, who sustained a groin injury against the Colts, should be back within the next few weeks. When all four players make their anticipated returns, the 49ers will gain several veteran weapons to help on both sides of the ball.
The veteran leadership will help a team that has suffered from uncharacteristic penalties both on and off the playing field. In the past two weeks, the 49ers have committed 18 penalties that cost them 169 yards, a statistic that simply does not amount to winning football.
Along with these on-field blunders, the 49ers’ star defensive end Aldon Smith finds himself in a world of hurt off the field. After Sunday’s defeat, Smith announced that he will be taking a leave of absence after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Fortunately for the team, the defensive unit is stocked with reliable backups that have demonstrated their talent in the preseason and on special teams.
Along with injuries, the personal discipline issues can be combated through precise execution. The San Francisco squad is loaded with veteran talent and knowledgeable coaches that should be able to win the mental aspect of each game.
Despite the disastrous start to the season, the 49ers still have Jim Harbaugh, one of the great coaching minds in the game, Kaepernick, a quarterback that can torch the opposition with his arm and legs, and a physical defense that has the talent to shut down opposing offenses. The next three games will provide the 49ers with an opportunity to get back into the win column as they face only one team with a winning record.
Not even a quarter of the season has been completed yet, which is no time at all to write off the team that was one reception away from winning the Super Bowl last February.
Brendan Weber is a sophomore communication major and editor of the Sports section.