Too Much Too Soon
January 17 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
When the Packers officially ended the 49ers season, it was the first time in a long time that the team could look back on the season and say it was a success. Sure the loss hurt, they always do, and yes it was in the playoffs in a game, that they were capable of winning, but without a doubt the season was a success. At 12-4 in the regular season, the 49ers record resembled one of the glory years, when a season without at least ten wins was a shame on the organization.
Presently though, the 49ers should be very happy with the success they achieved this season. Clearly this was a team that was well built, and well coached, and ultimately that’s what made the difference in this season over the past two. The coaches have always been there, but until now, the skill simply wasn’t.
But with the loss to Green Bay I began to wonder if the 49ers were too far ahead of themselves. Every member of the 49ers organization is quite willing to admit that the team is ahead of schedule - the question is, is that really a good thing? In post game comments the legendary Bill Walsh expressed that the 49ers should be happy with ten wins next season. To most that would seem disappointing - being two losses more than this season.
And as fans, we like to see improvement in the team. We expect improvement in the team, and when it doesn’t happen we naturally wonder why. I personally side with Bill Walsh on this one. I think the 49ers rise back to the top was too sudden for us to expect that type of consistency year after year.
Teams will not overlook the 49ers on their schedule this coming season. That alone will make things more difficult. As will drafting from a lower position, and the possibility of losing players to free agency. All this time the 49ers have been building a team to make dynasty type runs - but one has to wonder, if over the past season the development may have hindered them from building such a team.
At this point it is too hard to tell, but I find it hard to believe that the 49ers will put up as many wins next season. The team may go further into the playoffs, that is certainly a possibility, but they will a much harder time winning now that the ‘surprise attack’ has been taken from them.
There are many positives to the season of 2001, the players experience and confidence building are likely the two greatest. But I still wonder, if the team had another opportunity to draft high, and bring in a few more top rookies (a task easier done from a high draft position), if that would have a better or worse effect on the coming 2002 season.