This season has had more twists, flips and flops than a fish out of water but ultimately achieved the same result – The 49ers were pronounced dead on arrival against the Bucs, leaving behind only a stinking, lifeless performance. How have we come to this? Let’s look at the film…
First, we have GM Scot McCloughan mysteriously exit the niners right before the draft only to resurface as Personnel Exec with rival Seattle less than three months later – Psyche! Then two high draft pick players and the starting safety quit the team before the season starts! Next, Coach Sing throws his top two rookies to the wolves and starts them on the O-Line. Three games into the regular season we still can’t get a play called on time and the offense is predictably offensive. With fourth and nine the running game is placed on life support while Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye is surgically removed. For the next four weeks Singletary terrorizes the sidelines like a teenage girl with a false pregnancy while Alex Smith is punished behind an inexperienced and insecure offensive line. Despite all the rules to protect the quarterback, week seven finds Alex Smith on his back with a separated shoulder. Since no one in their right mind would place David Carr into their starting line-up Coach Sing benches his ’Number 2’ play-caller and inserts Troy Smith at QB.
‘A lack of leadership was the problem all along... I see that now.’
To my thinking, the 49ers offensive skill positions are all deep threats. This team is built for going vertical and going deep. Davis, Walker, Ginn, Crabtree and Morgan are all deep threats and should create nightmare match-ups for defensive coordinators. Moreover, Gore and Westbrook are outstanding receivers and proven playmakers that can stretch the linebacker zones. Against the Rams three TDs were called back and the niners didn’t convert a third down but they still won because Troy Smith’s feet and arm made the vertical passing game work.
Singletary’s romance with the running game has not worked and is not going to work with this scheme and this personnel grouping. Let's face it – If it was going to work, it would have worked by now. If you are going to compete in the NFL the skill positions need to get envolved early and often in every game and with this group that means dusting off the pigskin and throwing it downfield.
The way I see it, professional football is all about winning football games. The football philosophy and method you use to accomplish this is only a means to that end. Ideally, the strengths of your personnel match well with the method and philosophy you are going to deploy. When Bill Walsh came to the niners he developed his method around the players he had and the West Coast Offense and a winner was born.
Tragically, the problem with the niners is systemic. The owners stubbornness can’t see past their Hall Of Fame coach and Coach Singletary is obsessed with trying to recreate the 1985 Bears in San Francisco. Singletary has clearly lost his way and his job will follow. Take a full measure of unyielding stubbornness then sprinkle it with a smattering of bungling ineptitude and you’ll have the recipe for the 2010 San Francisco 49ers.