Preseason finale gives San Francisco 49ers a reason for hope 

click to enlarge AP file photo - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • AP file photo

At least for the 49ers, there’s a glimmer of hope.

It took until the final opening quarter of the preseason for the 49ers to provide the first piece of evidence that could be parlayed into a possible recipe for success in 2011.

Unfortunately, a single quarter against a group of half-hearted San Diego Chargers does little more than edge the 49ers from no-shots into long shots.

Let’s be honest, 49ers fans needed something, anything to keep them from being convinced this season was headed toward an unmitigated disaster. Chalk up Thursday night’s first quarter as the first positive of the Jim Harbaugh era, reversing what had been up until Thursday night, an unqualified disaster of a dress rehearsal.

Until those two scoring drives — quarterbacked by Alex Smith no less — these 49ers ranked somewhere between a toothache and a migraine. They looked hopeless, like the front-runners by a wide margin for the opportunity to select Andrew Luck with the first pick of the 2012 NFL draft.

It was beginning to look like David Baas knew something.

Like he’d looked over the 49ers’ roster of offensive linemen and knew the group couldn’t protect the quarterback from a band of determined Boy Scouts, not to mention angry, 300- to 350-pound athletes posing as defensive linemen bent on squashing him.

Like he knew that no matter how good Harbaugh is going to be as the 49ers’ coach, the 49ers’ quarterback of 2011 was going to spend 16 games running for his life.

And Baas grabbed the first ticket out of town, courtesy of the New York Giants.

There are very few absolutes in professional football. One, however, states unequivocally that a quarterback with no time has no chance. And his team has no chance, too.

While 49ers fans may have been suffering through all this, Bay Area sports fans had to recognize the 49ers’ offense this preseason. It looks just like the Giants’ offense, which has for the past month convinced fans that runs were no longer coming.

When the 49ers have taken the field this preseason, it’s felt like the end zone was 300 yards away. Uphill. Over a river. Through an obstacle course. That changed a little bit Thursday night.

Sure, there’s a lot of football to be played, but the 49ers needed to take some small step in their preseason finale for their fans. They had to restore hope for the faithful. And on Thursday night, they did that. At least a little.

OK, Frank Gore has been out. So has Michael Crabtree. So there are some straws still left to stir these 49ers.

Unfortunately, grasping at straws describes precisely how the 49ers stand with another season upon them.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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