Let’s face it the San Francisco 49ers are broken, and there really isn't any hope for the rest of the 2011 season. Sunday's game was a perfect example of uninspired play that lacked any sense of urgency you would expect from a team that could have been one game back if they won. Other teams that are completely out of the playoff picture still put up an effort (see Buffalo, Detroit, and Dallas), however, our San Francisco 49ers, still in the playoff race, failed to even score a single point. In fact, they completely shat all over themselves. I am sorry for the use of some vulgar language, but it has to be expected following that stinker that was Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. I have prided myself in watching every game from start to finish, not giving up on my team, and following it through to the bitter end. However, if they are giving up; why shouldn't we?
I understand that we are only two games out in the joke that is the NFC West, but do any of us even have dreams of this team winning the division in 2010? I don't! Actually, i think scoring a single point is a pre-requisite for winning a game. Can someone clarify that for me?
So now how can we fix it?
1. Changing the coaching staff: I have been a major proponent of keeping Singletary beyond the 2010 season, however, yesterday's game changed my mind. You cannot have a team give up, and expect the coaches’ job to be safe (See Dallas and Minnesota). I don't think our situation is any different. All three teams were either predicted to win their division, or compete for a playoff spot. And now the three teams are a combined 9-21. Why is Singletary the only one that remains a head coach in the NFL? I think the answer is two pronged. First, Dallas had Jason Garrett and Minnesota had Leslie Frazier waiting in the wings. Who do we have? And secondly, the 49ers are still only two games back in their division while Minnesota and Dallas are four back with six left. So why Singletary should be rewarded for the tragedy that is the NFC West? He shouldn't be. I guarantee you that if the 49ers were completely out of the playoff race; Mike Singletary wouldn't be our coach tonight. Whether Singletary if fired in the next couple weeks, or during the off-season; he shouldn't be the 49ers head coach in 2011.
Candidates: Dom Capers (Defensive Coordinator, Green Bay Packers), Ivan Fears(RBs Coach, and Assistant Head Coach, New England Patriots), Mike Mularkey (Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons), Charlie Weis (Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs), Perry Fewell (Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants), Herm Edwards (Former Coach, New York Jets, and Kansas City), Marvin Lewis (Head Coach, Cincinnati Bengals), Bill Cowher (Former Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers), Jim Haslett (Former Head Coach, New Orleans Saints), Jim Harbrough (Stanford Head Coach), Jeff Tedford (California Head Coach), Chris Peterson (Head Coach, Boise State)
Now i understand that this would have to be an extremely preliminary list, but i do believe there are some viable options here. Some are less "sexy" of candidates as others, some really won't choose the 49ers. However, the list i compiled has some intriguing options. It goes without saying that i would love Jim Harbrough, but we all know how college coaches has translated to the NFL as of late, but he does run a pro style team over in Palo Alto, and would be a good choice. Additionally, some may question why i have Charlie Weis on this list, but the dude has transformed the Kansas City Chiefs offense, and did run a pro-style offense at Notre Dame, having some success with it. Marvin Lewis is likely to be fired by Cincinnati, and he has had some good seasons with that team. However, i think the two best options outside of the obvious would be Dom Capers, and Perry Fewell, both of whom have led defensive resurgences in the 2010 season.
The Quarterback Situation: As much as we were intrigued by the play of Troy Smith during his first two starts, he just isn't the answer at QB. This coupled with the fact that Alex Smith and David Carr will not be on the 49ers in 2011, means that we need to add a couple QBs. That said, where is the market? And how can we manipulate it to benefit us this off-season?
NFL Options: Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia Eagles), Vince Young (Tennessee Titans), Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), Brady Quinn (Denver Broncos), Kyle Orton (Denver Broncos), Jon Kitna (Dallas Cowboys), Tavares Jackson (Minnesota Vikings), Chad Henne (Miami Dolphins), Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals), Bruce Gradkowski (Oakland Raiders), Josh Johnson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Shaun Hill (Detroit Lions), Donovan Mcnabb (Washington Redskins)
College Options: Andrew Luck (Stanford), Jake Locker (Washington), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Nick Foles (Arizona), Christian Ponder (Florida State),
Conclusion: After looking at my list of possible QBs the 49ers could acquire this off-season it would seem unlimited right? Wrong! I just listed players that "could" be on the market, but some most likely won't make it that far. For example, Michael Vick will not be an unrestricted free agent because Philadelphia will either re-sign him before the end of the season, or place the dreaded "franchise tag" on him. So instead of dreaming, i am going to give a few more realistic options. Vince Young? It is an intriguing possibility, but this dude has way too much of a track record of flipping out, yesterday’s game a perfect example of that. I think of the NFL options Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, Chad Henne, and yes even Carson Palmer remain our best chance of upgrading the position this off-season. Before you attack me for having Palmer on the list, it has to be said that the Bengals are not happy with his play the last two seasons, and he has underperformed since coming back from the knee injury. This would be a nice opportunity for the 49ers to come in and offer multiple picks for the former Pro Bowl performer. Additionally, i would inquire on the availability of Kevin Kolb. With Vick apparently Philly's new "franchise" QB, Kolb could be had for a couple mid round picks. The other QBs thrown out on the list really wouldn't solve the problem. I am not a huge fan of the NFL QB prospects for the upcoming draft. However, it must be noted that Andrew Luck will be a great NFL QB, and if we can either draft him, or trade up for him, that must be considered.
Change the Atmosphere: The 49ers played with absolutely no sense of urgency yesterday. Furthermore, they lacked any intensity or passion. I think this might have as much to do with veteran leadership as it do with coaching. Maybe it is time to clean house in this regard? I would consider letting Moran Norris, Ted Ginn, Aubrayo Franklin, Isaac Sopoaga, Takeo Spikes, Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Nate Clements, Dashon Goldson, and Joe Nedney go the way of the dinosaurs. It isn't that some of these players haven't performed (most haven't), it is more about veteran leadership. This of course with the exception of Spikes, who i believe has been great for us this season. It just might be time to get some new blood at the ILB position opposite Willis. I am sure we could get some mid round picks for Lawson, Franklin and Goldson depending how we work it. Franchise one, tag another, and trade both for lesser than would be required if someone signed them a tender.
Trade Frank Gore: I know that this sounds crazy, but i think it might be time to cut ties with probably the best RB in the history of this organization. A couple reasons why i come to this conclusion; first, if we do have a rookie QB next season i don't think it would be fair to put Gore in the situation of having to carry the ball 400+ times at this point in his career, he deserves better than that. Secondly, we do have a legit up and coming runner in Anthony Dixon. As i noted in another thread Marshall Faulk, and Emmitt Smith had their best seasons after hitting the 1300 rush attempt mark that Gore is at right now. He does have the value to bring in a 1st and mid round pick. Or some combination of players and picks. Additionally, there are teams like Indianapolis, New England, New York Jets, Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay that would love to have him, and would give up a lot to get him.
I know that these are not all the answers, but it is a start. Additionally, i understand that some of my ideas might be "pipe" dreams, but keep in mind that i am not a professional writer, rather i am a 49ers fan and an amateur blogger. I did research in regards to the ideas that i listed above, and believe that many of them are plausible.
What would your ideal off-season look like? How would you handle the coaching situation? Would you clear the team of these veterans i listed above? What QB would you want? And, what about Frank Gore? I think this will be an interesting topic.
A Quick Look at What Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk Did After Compiling 1,300 Rush Attempts.
Marshall Faulk: 11,000+ Total Yards, four 1,000 Yard Seasons, 85 TDs, and 1,378 AVG Total Yards