Short-attention-span reading, and writing ...

Just about three weeks ago, the 49ers were tired, they were 1-2, and they were about to be without Aldon Smith indefinitely and Patrick Willis temporarily.

Two long playoff runs -- and the emotions of a lost Super Bowl -- had taken some toll on the 49ers up and down the rank and file, leading to a meek home loss to Indianapolis on Sept. 22.

And there was a Thursday game in St. Louis coming up almost immediately.

So, what could Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke do about it?

  • In the hours after the Colts loss, I'm told, the coach and general manager decided that the 49ers were possibly showing signs of mental and physical fatigue, and Harbaugh agreed to ease up on the practice workload.

    San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore (21) celebrates his touchdown against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco,
    San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore (21) celebrates his touchdown against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

    But first, the 49ers had to get past St. Louis -- that was the ultimate early season gut check. And the 49ers won it.

    Then they could take a breath, relax, let everybody get refreshed, and try to run the table.

    Now, three weeks later, the 49ers are 4-2 with some very winnable games and the early November bye up ahead.

  • That Rams victory and Harbaugh's practice ease-up are two keys to the team's resurgence.

    It's all part of the ebbs and flows to any NFL season, and up next the 49ers have a trip to Tennessee this weekend, then play Jacksonville in London, the bye week and then a cushy home date against Carolina.


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    Nothing is guaranteed, but that all points to a possible 7-2 record, before the 49ers' next dangerous game: At New Orleans on Nov. 17. And a little later, of course, comes the Dec. 8 home game against rival Seattle.

    But if Harbaugh and Baalke hadn't taken measure of the team's mood and energy level back in late September, things could look a lot different right now.

  • The 49ers will assuredly explore a lot of things before the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline (two days after their London game), and they have a lot of future draft picks Baalke could use for a move.

    But an NFL source indicated recently that the 49ers almost certainly won't be offering any prime picks for Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon, who has had off-field issues.

  • Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor won't have to deal with Arrowhead Stadium's chaos again this year and he'll presumably have healthier and better blockers the rest of the way, too.

    However, Pryor will probably continue to face defenses aiming to repeat the Chiefs' mission -- funnel him back to the pocket, or to his left.

  • It's the Raiders' bye week, so now it's up to Pryor and the Raiders coaches to figure out how to re-calibrate the Pryor Offense.

    With defenses stacked to his right, there will be open space for him and plays to be made; he'll just have to do it in a different way than he did early this season, and usually in a different direction.

  • Stanford coach David Shaw wasn't going to do any second-guessing on the three failed pass-play attempts at the goal line that essentially ended the Cardinal's hopes in Utah last Saturday.

    What he didn't say: Those calls put the load on quarterback Kevin Hogan, and Shaw remains confident in his QB and those plays.

    It's similar to the 49ers leaning on Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree at the end of the Super Bowl; you go with the guys you think will win you the matchups and the game.

    Neither Hogan nor Kaepernick pulled off the game-winning plays in these instances, but if Shaw and Harbaugh are right about their QBs, they'll make those plays in the near future. (And both QBs have made them in other games.)

    No shock: I know Shaw and Harbaugh won't blink over putting their QBs in those situations once again.

  • So David, all indications are that Stanford employee Condoleezza Rice and former Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham will both be named to the new college football playoff selection committee Wednesday.

    Is Stanford trying to pack the jury here?

    "If I was going to pack the jury, I wouldn't pick them," Shaw said with a smile. "Because they're going to be unbelievably unbiased. I would love to have some biased people on there."

    Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.