Dear San Francisco 49er Fans,
In 2011, we watched you brutalize the Saints with football that was far too physical for them to keep up, only to have your Super Bowl dreams dashed by some special teams mistakes that sent the Giants on to win it all. Then in 2012, you gave the Packers an encore to your week one performance and sent them packing into the offseason. You also showed the Falcons that beating the Seahawks doesn’t mean that you know how to rumble in the NFC West and showed them the playoff door. Then when you arrived in Super Bowl XLVII where you had to claw back from a 22 point deficit. With a valiant second half it was five points and five yards away from putting yourself in great position to do just that. Now in 2013 another great season and another playoff appearance, and another victory at Green Bay’s expense which was followed up with showing Carolina that they had a lot to learn when it comes to trying to match intensity. So it was all set, another trip to Seattle where you have had poor luck these past two years, and what do you do, you fight through the Seahawks, you shrug off the loudest stadium in the NFL, you battle through the refs. And with 30 seconds and less than 20 yards away from a meeting with the Denver Broncos a tip became a pick which will become a sour taste in your mouth and a sour memory for years to come.
I’ve run down your past, and three playoff appearances are hard to swallow with nothing to show for it, I agree. But let me take you back to 2008. The Ravens played second fiddle only to the division winning Steelers with an 11-5 record. They were the number five seed and solidly put the Dolphins out and squeaked by the Titans who caught fire with an early season run and carried that into the playoffs. And it was one game from the Super Bowl where the Ravens fell to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. 2009, The Ravens were a wildcard selection again, they went into New England and upset the Patriots but fell short in Indianapolis who wound up representing the AFC that year but lost to New Orleans. 2010, The Ravens tie the Steelers with a 12-4 record but are forced to go into the playoffs a wildcard due to tiebreakers. Kansas City is a shocker and wins the West and looks like a real contender until Baltimore goes in to Arrowhead and shows them to be pretenders. Then the rivalry is on when Baltimore makes another trip to Heinz Field but are plagued by dropped passes and turnovers, are eliminated from the playoffs for the third time in as many years. 2011, Baltimore is through screwing around and takes the division with the North sending the Steelers and the Bengals as well. They made it all the way to the Conference championship and visit New England for the right to represent the AFC, only to watch the wide receivers drop the ball again, and watch a tying opportunity go wide left making the dry spell four straight years. Which brings us to 2013, and you know all too well how that story ends.
So why have we taken a stroll down memory lane? My point is this. The Ravens didn’t get the Lombardi trophy on their first try, or on their second try. It took the Ravens five attempts in five years. You have a talented organization and the leadership is in place on the field. With an excellent coaching staff to boot, I can see the Niners in the post season for a long time to come. You come from a battle-tested division who it can be argued is the strongest in the NFL. Keep your head up.