The 49ers lost only their second game of the year on Thanksgiving, falling to the Baltimore Ravens 16-6. In no instance is a loss a good thing, but this is as close as you will get and is at least not nearly as bad as it initially seems. Here are 3 reasons why the loss may end up helping the 49ers in the long run and why there is no reason to panic.
The Ravens are a really good team
Baltimore is an above average team and were playing at home. They were able to overwhelm the 49ers offensive line, but at least a portion can be attributed to the fact that the 49ers did not have a lot of time to prepare for the game. There were also two plays that would have drastically changed the direction of the game if executed properly. A penalty taking away a Ted Ginn touchdown and a poorly thrown pass at the end of the half resulting in an interception were both instances in which San Francisco shot themselves in the foot. In a game in which points were hard to come by these two plays loom large.
When considering that the Ravens have been a few plays from the Superbowl this is exactly what was suppose to happen. The 49ers remained in the game until late and there were no new concerns resulting from the loss. The offense has not been completely in sync all year so when facing a quality defense they understandably struggled. The San Francisco defense continued their strong play matching the Ravens hit for hit. Although something must be addressed to answer the Baltimore pass rush the 49ers showed that they are on the same level and can play with the Ravens who are among the best in the AFC.
The Division is still 49ers to lose
The main goal of any team entering the season is to first when the division. Despite their recent setback the 49ers still have a 5 game with at least one game left with Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis, putting their destiny is in their own hands. As long as they play up to the level that they have performed at thus far this season then they will still win the division and accomplish the first of what is many goals this year. Home field advantage is obviously important and the 49ers are still in a great position to not only win the NFC West, but also hold onto their 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture.
The 49ers do not want to be the #1 seed
As illogical as it may seem the 49ers would be in a better position to knock off the Packers if they go to Green Bay and thus are in a better position as the 2 seed and not the 1. The Packers high powered offense would benefit from the better weather conditions that they would get by coming out west as opposed to playing in Green bay under adverse weather conditions. By losing to the Ravens the 49ers may only be increasing their chances of making a Superbowl run by giving them the best matchup they can hope for if they are able to make it that far.
The loss can serve as a wake up call
The majority of Superbowl winners can look back at their season and point to a loss that helped wake the team up and bring them closer together. The 49ers have been on a hot streak lately and the biggest concern was the team remaining focused. There is no way to know if the Thanksgiving game was due to a lack of focus, but there is now no way the team will lack focus to close out the year. Jim Harbaugh and the coaches can use this as an opportunity to propel the team forward. It will be interesting to see how the team responds against division rival St. Louis whom is coming off a close loss to the Arizona. If San Francisco can put forth an impressive effort then they can re-confirm themselves as the class of the NFC West and a threat to the rest of the league.