With their win over the Cardinals on Monday night, the 49ers are now just one game back of the Seahawks and Rams in the NFC West. But the victory came with a price.
Frank Gore suffered a fractured hip in the first half of the game and was placed on injured reserve on Monday. Gore reportedly did not receive X-rays when he first went to the locker room, but he felt pain after his first carry back. He was replaced by Brian Westbrook, who rushed for over 130 yards in his first full-time action since the 49ers signed him earlier in the season.
But can the combination of Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon save the Niners’ season? Gore has been a huge part of San Francisco’s success over the years, both in the running and passing games. Westbrook proved that he still has some life left in his legs, but it came against a brutal Arizona defense. Can he do it on a consistent basis?
The good news is that quarterback Troy Smith is starting to look more comfortable running the offense and should be able to grasp more as the season wears on. The Niners also have a couple of weapons in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis that will help take the some of the pressure off Westbrook, Smith and Dixon in the offense.
And hey, it’s not like the NFC West is a powerhouse division. Seven wins may be all that’s needed to claim a division crown.
According to latest NFL future odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com, the 49ers are 75/1 to win the 2011 Super Bowl after opening the year at 40/1. They’re also 35/1 to win the NFC after opening at 12/1.