The 49ers have not lived up to expectations through the first six weeks of the 2021 season, sitting 2-3 after a bye with the Indianapolis Colts coming into Levi's Stadium on Sunday night. NBC's Cris Collinsworth will be on the call for "Sunday Night Football," and spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco about what has led to the team's struggles so far.
"They're close, that's the only way you can say it," Collinsworth told Maiocco when asked about whether the 49ers are close. "There's some teams that you look at them and you go 'OK, they're definitely not making the playoffs.' The 49ers have to hang in there, they're in a tough division. The hardest thing they have to do is those six games in that division they've got to play every year, so that's going to be a tough spot. Can they recover from it? Yeah, they can recover from it, but it has to start now.
"This is a power football team when they are at their best, their offensive and defensive lines, and you just get the feeling it's still getting there."
We haven't seen shades of that power football since 2019, when the 49ers rode the running game to the Super Bowl and a near-victory over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers will get a first-hand look at one of the former staples of their dominant defensive line in DeForest Buckner. The All-Pro was traded to Indianapolis after the 2019 season for a first-round draft pick, which eventually was used by the 49ers to select interior defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw.
Injuries once again have befallen the 49ers' roster, but that is the reality of the NFL. Depth is critical in this league, and the 49ers simply have not been able to weather the storm and compete in the fierce NFC West over the past two seasons.
Hope still is in the air for now, but the 49ers will need to start stacking wins in order to keep that playoff window open.