I marvel at the job Mike Singletary has done with the 49ers. I think that team is what the Rams should strive to be in 2010--a moderately talented team that wins by playing hard-nosed, mistake-free, smart football. That's exactly the kind of team Steve Spagnuolo wants. How soon he can do it is the issue.
The 49ers are a Brett Favre miracle finish away from being 3-0. And that's with a castoff quarterback and a wide receiving corps that lacks star power. The 49ers do have a franchise linebacker in Patrick Willis and a Pro Bowl level cornerback in Nate Clements. But they are not the most talented team in the NFL, not by a long shot.
Singletary has the players buying into what he believes. And the good news in these parts is that Spagnuolo and Singletary are similar in their old school values. Singletary is more expressive and demonstrative than Spags, who has a quiet toughness about him, but both want football teams that are fundamentally sound rather than flashy.
The 49ers are at least a good year ahead of the Rams at this point. On Sunday, we'll see if the Rams can close that gap. And injuries won't be an acceptable excuse. Yes, it hurts to lose Laurent Robinson for the season but the 49ers will likely be without Frank Gore. It's time the Rams make like the Bengals and Broncos and (gasp) Lions and just find a way to win. The Rams may lack playmakers but there are plenty of guys on the roster who are capable of playing better football. That's where the 49ers were a year ago. And now they look like viable NFC West contenders.