The 49ers are out of the playoff race, eliminated from contention for the NFC West division crown and haven't once been in the running for the wild card all season, with one game remaining on the schedule. On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals come to town, also eliminated from the playoff race, also playing for nothing more than pride. Maybe some folks there are playing for their jobs, but everyone in San Francisco probably can't do anything at this point to change their own fate.
Mike Singletary couldn't change his, and when all his appeals ran dry, he was relieved of his head coaching duties. It's been a rollercoaster of a season that featured the world's first thrill ride that actually dipped underground to the center of the Earth, because the 49ers spent an awful lot more time barreling down, down, down than they did going steadily up. Now the 49ers are hading in an entirely different direction, looking for a new general manager and better results next year.
But hold the phone, week 17 is still coming up, and the 49ers still have a game to play, against a hated division rival no less. Both teams have a plethora of questions and those question marks will continue to permeate every article regarding the team for the next few months, a final, meaningless game will not answer them.
Still, 49ers interim head coach Jim Tomsula insists that he is preparing to win a football game. He's on a one-week schedule, not looking beyond Sunday, not worried about his job security. All business, all determination, Tomsula wants to show the organization that he's a team player and can get things done. But how will he do it?
He'll need to start by picking a quarterback, and he's promised to not drag the process out. As soon as he knows, he assured everyone, he'll let us all know. A month ago, the 49ers beat the Cardinals 27-6 in Arizona, with Troy Smith under center. He didn't play all that well though, getting less than 150 yards, but he did have a nice scoring strike to Michael Crabtree.
The 49ers defense came up big in that game, and it's the only point of continuity for the 49ers. It'll be up to them to stop the Arizona Cardinals, led by ... John Skelton. More to follow in the coming days.