If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a HUGE 49ers fan! (Huge=excited, passionate, loyal…not necessarily tied to one’s weight)
This past weekend, I witnessed one of the best 49ers games I’ve seen in quite awhile. The 49ers #1 defense against the unstoppable offense of the New Orleans Saints. Let’s just say that the game lived up to the hype.
The biggest thing I took away from the game was the sense of belief that was evident in the entire 49ers team. They played so well and so hard. Behind every ferocious hit there seemed to be an exclamation mark of belief.
The mantra throughout the entire season under new head coach, Jim Harbaugh, has been: Who has it better than us? No one!
And they believed it.
Perhaps the greatest evidence of the power of belief was seen in the performance of 49er quarterback, Alex Smith. Smith has been on the receiving end of years of ridicule and question marks. He has never seemed to get comfortable in his role as quarterback for the 49ers. Of course, there are all kinds of reasons we can offer: leadership changes within the franchise on a consistent basis, a new offensive scheme each season, or an overall culture that never seemed to buy in to him as the starting quarterback.
After the game on Saturday, Vernon Davis (who has lived under much of the same scrutiny, often self-inflicted) painted a clear picture of what it’s been like for Smith:
“Along the way, there has been a lot of stress, doubt and criticism,” Davis said. “Especially for Alex. But when I look at that kid, I look at him as a warrior. You can just imagine a little kid standing there and getting picked on in grade school. Rocks thrown at him, spit on. Alex has been there. I just wish him all the best.”
So what changed this year?
From before DAY ONE of assuming the role as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh reached out to Smith. He even went out and played catch with him! All along the way, Harbaugh kept saying things like, “You’re our guy!” “You’re our starting quarterback.” “It’s you that I want Alex!”
And along the way I think Alex started to believe. It definitely looked that way on Saturday. Smith appeared to “out-Brees” Brees.
I loved Harbaugh’s statement after the game: “It might be time to give Alex some credit, huh?”
You bet coach. It just goes to show how powerful belief can be. Belief in others. Belief in yourself.
I think we all need someone like Jim Harbaugh in our lives, telling us that he (or she) believes in us. Perhaps you can be that person in the life of someone else. It’s amazing how much a little belief can change things around.