Translation: Emotion and ballyhoo can take you only so far. Execution, soundness of game plan and the poise that comes from experience in big games are the true deciders. So much for glorious upstarts.
Last year San Francisco entered the playoffs with a conqueror's swagger. This time the Niners will be hungry. "I'd rather come into the playoffs like this," said Cross on Sunday, "fighting through these games tooth and nail, then having a week off to rest up. Last year we lost a bit of the edge. You've got to stay mad. That's what worked for the Giants and Bears when they won Super Bowls. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance."
It would seem that too much has happened to the 49ers in this strange season for them to cross that line.