In years’ past, if the San Francisco 49ers were to travel into Foxborough and take on the New England Patriots, play them tough but come away with a loss, it would be a relatively understandable loss.
This year, on a national stage on Sunday Night Football, it’s an entirely different story — the Niners won’t be satisfied with anything other than a win.
They’ve accelerated their development as a franchise under head coach Jim Harbaugh. In a series of developments that are part NFL parity, part personnel and part coaching, San Fransico has strung together some inspiring play over the past season-and-a-half. They even have what appears to be a legitimate franchise quarterback in Colin Kaepernick and a coach in Harbaugh that look to be staples for years to come.
It’s one game in the regular season, but the Patriots seem to always have a mystique about them that makes them a special team at home. If the 49ers can come in and take care of the Pats on their home turf, it would send a message that they are ready to win more big games. We know how good the Niners’ No. 1 ranked defense is and just how formidable New Englands’ potent offense can be. There’s no question that this game is a terrific matchup of one team’s strength vs. the other’s weakness.
The sports world is giving the edge to the Patriots for obvious reasons at home. But if the 49ers can come away with the win, it will prove once again that they are for real and belong in the conversation of best teams in the NFL.
That’s just the way it is for teams out west — they’ll always have to prove themselves.
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