The 49ers are trying on a new costume this summer, and they sort of like the way it fits. After years of chasing the rest of the NFC West, the Niners go into the 2010 season as consensus favorites to win the division. The Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals have all had their days, and now, the prognosticators say, it’s time for San Francisco to ascend.
The reaction inside the locker room in Santa Clara seems to be: Bring it on.
“I feel like it’s a good thing,” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “In years past, they picked other teams to win it, and this year they have us to win it. That’s a good thing. They believe in us. And we got to believe in ourselves, too. So we welcome all the positive. There’s gonna be negative out there, too. … But I feel like we’ve really matured as a team and we can get it done.”
Defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga also relished the challenge of raised expectations.
“I welcome that and I respect it, too,” he said. “To me, I feel comfortable with that, because I know we can and we are. It’s not just to be bigheaded about it. But I believe in my good spirit that if we can do what we’ve been doing since the beginning of offseason program, minicamp – the way we’ve been doing things is just so perfectly textbook. I feel like we’re ready. We’re anxious to prove the world, to prove people.”
Last Tuesday, coach Mike Singletary told season-ticket holders that he didn’t want to hear a lot of talk about winning. He wanted to see it in action. But quiet confidence is another matter altogether, and right now the 49ers seem to have it in abundance.