In each of coach Jim Harbaugh’s three years with the 49ers, the team has made it to the NFC title game. This year, many think it’s time for the franchise to quit knocking on the door.
Count tackle Joe Staley among those who think the time is now to kick the thing in.
“There’s definitely urgency, we know that,” Staley told reporters in a conference call regarding his new contract. “The quality of players we have, the quality of coaches we have, we’re all very familiar with each other. There’s no ‘figuring it out.’ There’s no ‘we’ll see.’ We all know that we are a very talented football team and that we have very high expectations. And we set the expectations the highest and that’s the Super Bowl.”
So how will they get to where they have yet to go?
“We have to close out those games this year,” Staley said. “We have to find a way to win those close games and find a way to close it out. So, I think that’s something that we’re definitely going to be focusing on in training camp and just work with an extra sense of urgency. That’s probably the main focus at training camp.”
Each of the last three seasons ended with the 49ers failing to close out a close game. In 2011, the playoff run ended with an excruciating home loss in the NFC title game. The next year, a Super Bowl comeback for the ages ended when the offense couldn’t punch it in from the doorstep of the Baltimore end zone. In January, a throw from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to receiver Michael Crabtree was a few inches short of the mark, allowing Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to bat the ball into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith.
A separate sense of agency may or may not exist when it comes to getting more key figures signed to new contracts. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone skipped the offseason program, and both may not show up for the start of training camp. Likewise, coach Jim Harbaugh continues to march toward one of the rarest dynamics in pro football: coaching free agency.
Those unsettled business issues could make it harder for the 49ers to eventually finish their business in February.