I just wrote this.
With the San Francisco 49ers’ season officially over, the players will return to the team facilities for one last team meeting. Then, the players will pack up their belongings and head their separate ways for the offseason. Some will prepare for a trip to the Pro Bowl. Others will simply just head back home.
Under the cold, rainy January night sky, the 49ers played their heart out for their hopes of making it into the Super Bowl. The hangover from the loss will stick for a while. It wasn’t meant to be, but it certainly was not a failed season. And there certainly is more optimism and hope toward next season.
“I’m proud of the way our players played,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. “I’m proud of the way they prepared, they worked. They competed… But we’ll get over it. This team’s not defeated by any stretch of the imagination. A man can be destroyed, but he can’t be defeated as long as this team knows that there’s hope.”
Looking back at this season, the entire road to the playoffs was something not many expected. With the lockout, new head coach and a revamped roster, the 49ers reached the NFC title game. Seven wins, at most, was the averaged prediction for the 49ers this season. They doubled that and found themselves one more win away from the Super Bowl.
For a fan base that loves this team and had been craving for a return to the playoffs after nine long miserable years, the 49ers delivered. And they did it in memorable, inspiriring fashion.
It was a season full of thrills that can’t be considered a disappointment. From Ted Ginn’s opening day return touchdowns to the miracle comeback in Philadelphia, the 49ers excited the fans. The fantastic finish in Detroit followed by a division title clincher in front of the home crowd gave fans hope for the team’s future.
“From being 6-10 last season, it was a successful season,” nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois reflected. “We wish it would have never ended up this way. I wish it never ended but it ended.”
There is a lot to be proud of when looking back at this team. They grew together and became a unit similar to that of the successful teams of years past. They won 13 games in the regular season and thrilled the hometown crowd with a classic finish in the Divisional Round.
And more importantly, the 49ers finally became a team.
The 49ers bonded throughout the season and became a family. Watching these players nearly every day of the season, they became brothers for life. They supported each other and found themselves in a true football family. And they wouldn’t have wanted to go to battle with any other men.
With the new coaching staff, lost offseason, numerous challenges of a restored roster, the 49ers exceeded everybody’s expectations. And in the process, they gave the Bay Area a memorable season that they would never forget.
After Sunday’s loss, safety Donte Whitner revealed that the team still believed that they had something special. They gathered in the locker room and like all previous games, ended with their catchphrase “Who’s got it better than us?”
After nine years without a winning season, head coaching changes that buried the franchise, staffing changes, issues with the roster and years of broken dreams, the 49ers finally gave themselves and the Bay Area something to be proud of finally.
Looking back at this entire run, it was very clear that nobody had it better than the 49ers, the fans and the entire Bay Area.