Throughout the beginning of the 2019 season, the national media had not been treating the San Francisco 49ers as contenders despite their undefeated record. After Monday night’s domination of the Cleveland Browns, the national media is finally giving the Niners respect.
The 4-0 San Francisco 49ers have been red-hot this NFL season, and are currently the only undefeated team left in the NFL besides the New England Patriots. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch’s squad has finally come together. They are dominating on both sides of the ball with an unstoppable run game and ferocious defensive line.
For the first time since former head coach Jim Harbaugh left, Niners fans have that priceless thing all sports fans dream of: hope for a championship.
However, despite the 49ers’ success, the national media had largely been writing them off. Many said the Niners had only played bad teams, their record was misleading and they were simply beating up on bad teams.
This showed up in various national media pieces. In Bleacher Report’s Week 4 power rankings, the 49ers were ranked 12th despite being one of only six undefeated teams at the time. In ESPN’s Week 5 power rankings, the Niners were only ranked eighth, despite being one of only three undefeated teams then.
The media just could not seem to bring itself to recognize the 49ers as contenders. I myself was not immune to this. I wrote a piece last week about how the 49ers still had a lot to prove.
Well, after Monday night’s 31-3 one-sided win over the Cleveland Browns, that is all over. The media is finally recognizing the Niners as the contender they are. Personally, I am currently trying to decide where to get my Super Bowl LIV tattoo.
While for me, the recognition is showing up in planned bodily modifications, the rest of the media is showing its newfound respect for the Niners in various pieces praising them as NFC contenders. The Ringer’s Danny Heifetz published a piece about how it’s time to get excited about the 49ers. Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon put out an article saying San Francisco has silenced its skeptics and proven to be contenders.
This respect is showing up in various power rankings as well. In Bleacher Report’s newest power rankings, the Niners are ranked fifth. Still a little low for an undefeated team, but I’ll take it.The Athletic has the Niners at fifth as well. NFL.com has the 49ers as fourth, and ESPN has them at sixth.
An absolute joke from ESPN, but that’s fine. Niner Noise’s own Peter Panacy has them at fifth.
All of these pieces show the national media is finally coming to view the undefeated Niners as a true NFL contender.
And here’s the best part: the players don’t care. They’ve always known they are contenders, they never needed the media to tell them. Cornerback Richard Sherman summed up this feeling in the video below (courtesy of Fangirl Network’s Tracy Sandler), in which he called the media “idiots” and told them to “stick to the predictions they made before the season,” he doesn’t care:
Man, do I love Sherman. I don’t think I’ve ever experience such extremes of emotion with a player, going from absolutely despising him when he was with the Seattle Seahawks to endowing his jersey with “Lucky Jersey” status this season.
The point is the Niners are true contenders this season, and it should be fun to watch the media continue to pivot from earlier takes about this team.
Make sure to keep an eye on @oldtakesexposed to get a front-row seat to media members’ embarrassment, as the 49ers continue their success this season.