There's still hope

The 49ers are 0-2 for just the 12th time in the team's 59-year history, but that isn't necessarily reason for despair. There still is hope for the Niners to get their season back on track, and - as recent NFL history suggests - even make a playoff run.

Since 1990, 17 NFL teams have started 0-2 and still qualified for the postseason. Two of those teams - the 1993 Dallas Cowboys and the 2001 New England Patriots - went on to win the Super Bowl.

Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles started 0-2 and went on to post the best record in the NFC (12-4) and reached their third consecutive NFC Championship Game.

Nobody's confusing this year's Niners with some of those teams, but not a lot was expected of the Atlanta Falcons in 2002, either, who were coming off a 7-9 season just like this year's 49ers and were replacing several starters. That Atlanta team started 0-2 but rallied to make the playoffs and shocked NFC North champion Green Bay 27-7 in a wild-card game - ending the Packers' mythic playoff winning streak at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers, however, have never started 0-2 and made the playoffs. In fact, they've never even finished with a winning record after starting 0-2.

Of the previous 11 San Francisco teams to start 0-2, the best finish the Niners could muster was a 6-8 record by coach Red Hickey's 1962 squad. The Niners twice finished 5-9 after starting 0-2 in the mid-1970s, and they finished 6-10 four seasons ago after starting 0-2 under coach Steve Mariucci. That team transformed into a 12-4 contender the next season, with several key players on that squad still leading the way on the 2004 49ers.

The Niners, big underdogs Sunday in Seattle, also will be trying to prevent becoming the seventh San Francisco team to start 0-3 - and just the second to stumble out of the gate in that fashion in the past 25 years.

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