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49ers Owner Jed York: Psychic or Psycho?

Kate Rooney |
October 13, 2010 | 3:45 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer
It’s been a crazy week of texting in the sports world. “Sexts” allegedly sent by Brett Favre in 2008 to a Jets game host became public. And in an even more questionable judgment call, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York texted the following to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

“We will win the division.”

That may not seem like such a strange thing for an owner to say. It’s not even the most questionable guarantee York has made (following the 2008 season, he guaranteed his players, “This will be the last time our season ends in December.”  The Niners finished 2009 in second place at 8-8).

The problem? San Francisco is 0-5 this season, matching their previous franchise-worst start in 1979. No 0-5 team has ever made the playoffs, let alone won the division. The closest any team has come is the ’92 Chargers, who rallied from an 0-4 start to capture their division title that year.

So why is Jed York so confident? Is it actually possible for the 49ers to take the division, or does York need to pay a visit to Ron Artest’s psychiatrist?

Reasons they can pull it off:

 -They play in the NFC West, a division that’s been synonymous with “sucking” since the Rams lost the Super Bowl in 2002.  Sure, there were a few brief bright spots -- such as the Cardinals’ 2008 championship appearance -- but overall the division is an embarrassment to the league. 

Arizona is currently on top at 3-2, those three Ws coming from more luck than skill. Seattle and St. Louis have each eked out two forgettable wins. No head coach has more than three years with his team and not one is a proven NFL winner at the position. The NFC West title is very much up for grabs. 

-Their schedule. The biggest challenge the Niners have ahead is the Chargers in Week 15, and San Diego has been anything but consistent this year.

-They have a plethora of talented players. It defies logic that a team so stacked should lose so often. Running back Frank Gore is a two-time Pro Bowler who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. Offensive tackle Joe Staley hasn’t allowed more than 8.5 sacks in any of his three years in the league. Linebacker Patrick Willis won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 and has had comparable stats every year since. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree led 2009 rookies in yards-per-catch at nearly 57, despite playing in just 11 games. And most of these guys probably haven’t even put up their best career numbers yet!

-Mike Singletary is a Hall-of-Fame player who wears a white turtleneck with a whistle and a giant wooden cross around his neck each week. You just want the man to win.

Reasons they might finish last instead:

 -Mike Singletary is a Hall-of-Fame player who wears a white turtleneck with a whistle and a giant wooden cross around his neck each week. That appears to be it. His fiery speeches and notoriously physical practice drills have yet to yield anything but hype. 

-Alex Smith. The list of great quarterbacks the Niners have passed on since drafting Smith is longer than Pacman Jones’ rap sheet. In related news, Aaron Rodgers looks like the second coming of Brett Favre in Green Bay. Ah, what could have been. 

-The offensive line. It’s been in trouble for years, and the Niners finally took steps to improve things by using first round picks on a pair of lineman in this year’s draft. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati both showed promise in the preseason, but they are the youngest in a very young line. So far this fall, it looks like all the O-line has to look forward to is continued rebuilding.

 -History. This is just one of those feats that, were it doable, probably would have happened already. When a team starts 0-5 it’s indicative of problems that run deeper than the players being their own biggest roadblock (as Singletary would have us believe).

So thanks for the positive energy, Jed, but you may want to save it for January when you’re looking for a new coach and a new QB, and the 49er Faithful are calling for your head on a flagpole at Candlestick Park.

To reach writer Kate Rooney, click here.

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