The once-proud 49ers franchise hasn’t been three games over .500 since 2002. They have a chance to return to those relatively lofty heights this weekend.
To do so, they’ll have to go through a wall of purple and a Silver Fox (thank Jared Allen for that cringe-worthy moniker) in Minnesota. This is the weekend’s only matchup of 2-0 teams.
Most presumed the Vikings would be at this point (especially after opening with Cleveland and Detroit). Fewer were feeling the Niners. But the momentum with which they closed 2008 under Mike Singletary has carried over. They’re 6-1 in their last seven dating back to last year.
Asked about the “change of culture” the Niners have gone through under him, Singletary said Wednesday, ”I think it’s a mixture of a couple of things. I think, No. 1, some guys are growing up.I think some guys realize that they really can take it to another level. I think guys realize that if we work together and we stay together and we work hard and we study . . . we have a chance to be special as a team.”
The Niners could have allowed things like the Michael Crabtree holdout or the Alex Smith-Shaun Hill quarterback battle to become distractions. Lesser things have distracted lesser teams. But it’s to their credit — and Singletary’s — that, (1) the Crabtree situation is utterly off their radar and (2) the “loser” in the quarterback battle, Alex Smith, dealt with it maturely.
When it comes to the NFC West, there’s no question these Niners deserve to be taken seriously. For the NFC as a whole? They can make a case for that Sunday in Minnesota.