Should 49ers fans expect playoff appearance?

Quarterback Alex Smith and rookie receiver Michael Crabtree spent extra time together after practice Wednesday. Crabtree said there were some timing issues on the interception in the game against the Titans. Smith admitted to throwing the ball late to Crabtree at the sideline. The pass was tipped and intercepted. “We talked about it and hopefully we’re getting better on that,” Crabtree said.

Here’s a portion of Crabtree’s group interview session Wednesday:


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In the above podcast, Crabtree says . . .

–He’s ready to play against the Bears. (It’s probably the first Thursday night game of his life.) He said he feels as if he’s getting better and better every week. He said he started out slow, and now he’s getting up to NFL speed.

“The more games I play, the more I know, and I get the feel of where I’m supposed to be,” he said.

–When asked by another media member about Vernon Davis’ comments, Crabtree had no idea what was being asked of him.

–He said he’s working extra with Smith to help gain “that timing and trust.” He said he worked countless hours on the side with former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell to develop their on-field rapport.

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There have been a lot of words of promise and optimism spoken around the 49ers this year. The past several days have been particularly impressive for hyperbole.

Coach to media. Media to coach. Player to opposition.

And, of course, none of it means a darn thing. It just increases the entertainment value of the product.

After all, not one syllable uttered will probably have any bearing on tonight’s score. But I have a larger question to the fans of the 49ers: Does it matter that the 49ers have promised a playoff appearance?

Then-coach Mike Nolan received criticism when he came in from Day 1 and hung a banner in 2005 that read, “Win the West.” That was the team’s stated goal. But nobody in those days made any promises. Everybody spoke about the goal of going to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl.

This year, the rhetoric has been off the charts.

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This is the last time our season ends in December” – team president Jed York, Dec. 28, 2008, after the 49ers announce Mike Singletary has been hired as head coach.

“No doubt in my mind – none. I don’t even blink at that. No doubt in my mind”Singletary when asked June 16, at the end of organized team activities, if the 49ers have what it takes to be a division winner and possibly go deep in the playoffs.

I don’t want to see you looking at the floor! You didn’t steal nothing! You didn’t do anything wrong! We will see them again! In the playoffs! Hold your heads up! Don’t you look down at the floor for nobody! You have nothing to be looking down at the floor about! Pick your heads up, put your shoulders back and let’s rock!” – Singletary to his team, in front of the media, in the locker room after the 49ers’ last-second loss to the Vikings on Sept. 27.

The last thing that I want to say is this – I’m not going to apologize to the fans again, but the one thing that I want you to know after a game like yesterday it’s a situation in where you kind of sit back and go, ‘Wow, I didn’t really know that could happen again.’ And the thing I will say is this, this team will be a special team, this year will be a special year. It’s unfortunate as to what happened yesterday. As a staff, we did not do a good job preparing for a team (coming off) a bye week. But going forward, we will come back and we will get better and we will be a team for our fans to be proud of” – Singletary’s closing remarks to the media on Oct. 12, the day after the 49ers’ 45-10 loss to the Falcons.

I am excited about tomorrow night. We will be ready to go. I am excited about the game, excited about the challenge and excited that the country will have a chance to see the 49ers – the young 49ers – come of age in the second half of the season. I am excited about that” – Singletary in his opening comments yesterday.

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The 49ers might make the playoffs this season. But the club is 3-5 with four consecutive losses. The schedule gets easier in the second half, but the Cardinals have an easier road, too. The 49ers must make up a game on the Cardinals at some point AND defeat the defending NFC champs when they come to Candlestick Park on Dec. 14.

It’s doable. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

So my question to the readers of this blog – and please no name-calling or insulting comments – do those playoff promises mean anything to you? Certainly, if the 49ers overtake the Cardinals to make the playoffs, everybody is happy. But what if they don’t qualify for the playoffs this season? Who should be held accountable? Should anybody be held accountable?

Or do you just take it as a coach saying the kinds of things that a coach should say about his team?

I’m just curious.

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Remember, if you’re going to the game this evening, plan on leaving early.

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