MINNEAPOLIS -- Perhaps you were one of those people who believed the words of your Facebook friend.
You know, the 49ers fan who used Sourdough Sam as his avatar.
You know, the one who posted last week that the 49ers were the NFL's greatest team of all time after they'd played just two games this season and won them convincingly.
If you did believe this, I am sorry. I can't help you. The truth is, no team in the NFL is the greatest team of all time after just two weeks. And no team in this era goes undefeated, either.
As the 49ers proved Sunday conclusively, in Week 3.
The surprise, really, was in the exact way the 49ers decided to go non-undefeated. Simply put, they showed up here at the Mall of America Field and decided to go shopping at Flatness R Us.
That sort of flatness has happened so seldom under coach Jim Harbaugh, it was rather stunning. The 49ers lost by a score of 24-13, to a Minnesota Vikings team that won only three games last year but showed up better prepared to play professional high-level football.
"We weren't embarrassed today," said 49ers safety Donte Whitner. "We were beaten."
Harbaugh himself was occasionally at a loss for words, as when someone asked him why running back Frank Gore, who appeared to be running well, was not given the ball more often.
"I don't have an answer for you," Harbaugh said.
More likely, he just wanted to put the game behind him and move on. Couldn't blame him. The 49ers had not been this sloppy and fitful since the first half of last season's narrow victory at Philadelphia. In the 49ers' three defeats since then, their dial still was turned up to the max and it just wasn't good enough. But not this time.
So what happened? Was it just a lack of focus and concentration? Was it too much hubris after being ranked as the NFL's best team by some? Was it the circus clown officiating that seems to be getting worse each week? Was it the 10 a.m. Pacific kickoff time that created some lethargy? Was it Minnesota being amped and more physically dominant?
Yes. To all of the above.
"It's not like us to go out and lose like that," said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who argued against history and logic that yes, an NFL team can indeed sustain the same intensity and quality his own team showed in its first two games.
"We can do that," Davis said. "We can play at a high level every week. That's what football is about. That is how you win games. But you have to keep your focus. That's one thing we always talk about around here -- keeping our focus and not getting caught up in the hype."
Is that what happened Sunday?
"No, I don't think so," Davis said. "As a team, we made too many mistakes."
In fact, they made even more mistakes than the officiating crew. Which is saying something.
The game began with referee Ken Roan assessing the 49ers a penalty for a rule that does not exist -- an illegal block in the back by the kickoff team. Harbaugh quickly hit parboil and shouted at Roan, who after a brief discussion negated the call. Later, the crew gave Harbaugh a break by awarding him an extra timeout after a confusing replay challenge.
It was all quite ridiculous, even though the officiating is not principally what caused the 49ers to lose. Their own stumbles did it, along with Minnesota's tougher and better approach. The Vikings did not appear to be doing anything exotic or special, strategically. They appeared to be playing better football. Meanwhile, for the 49ers, there was a dropped potential interception, a blocked field goal and dropped pass after dropped pass.
And there was quarterback Alex Smith, who had his worst game in perhaps a year. You knew things weren't right when Smith had a chance early in the game to throw away the ball because he was outside the pocket and instead chose to absorb a vicious hit. That, again, set the tone.
Later on, Smith soared balls too high, made strange choices, and while he did manage a touchdown pass to Davis, also threw his first interception since the Paleolithic Age.
"We've got to get better," said Smith. "There's a lot to get better on."
"It was a bad day," said Harbaugh. "We won't sulk about it."
No, instead the 49ers will go on to Ohio for a week of practice en route to their next game in New York against the Jets. The 49ers will look at the film and see how rotten they looked. If they are a good team, they will fix the errors and do better next Sunday. They will go on to win 11 or 12 games this season while losing four or five.
Fans always want easy, angry answers after a loss. They don't want to accept the truism that some weeks in the NFL, a team might not be as collectively into a particular game as much as on other Sundays. The 49ers have been so consistent that it was a little stunning to see that truism happen to them. But on Sunday, they were like any other NFL team.
For one week, that's tolerable. Next week, they can't afford to be.
Contact Mark Purdy at email@example.com or 408-920-5092.