Several weeks ago, another fan (Effage) commented on a post and mentioned that the 49ers have no "winners" on their team. Many people took offense to that and replied that the 49ers had alot of talented players and insisted he was wrong in his observation. The simple truth is, he was 100% right. Thursday night's game vs. San Diego proved him to be right if there was any doubt.
I consider Joe Montana and Tom Brady to be the best examples of "winners" in NFL history. Neither Joe nor Tom had the strongest arm, they weren't the most mobile, neither was a first round pick with high expectations, they aren't the biggest or strongest but if you had to choose one Quarterback to go into a big game with, you would be insane not to choose Joe Montana or Tom Brady. Why? Because with the pressure on in a big game situation, they got better. Their passes were even more accurate, their decisions even more sound, they didn't allow the pressure of the situation affect them negatively.
In watching Thursday nights game it became very clear that Effage was right, there are no "winners" on this football team. That game was a big a game as the 49ers have played in a long time. A victory, due to the tie-breaker situations, would have put them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot and a chance to finish the season at .500 and from the opening kick off the 49ers wet themselves on national television. Winners don't drop passes in a crucial game that are perfectly placed in their hands as we saw with Delanie Walker. Winners don't drop interceptions that are thrown right to them like Ahmad Brooks. Winners certainly don't shove referees and get thrown out of a crucial game against the top ranked offense in the league when your defense needs all the help it can get. These are examples of players who allowed the pressure and the spot light to affect their performance. These are players who couldn't handle the pressure to perform when their season was on the brink. Alex Smith was the worst of all. While his offensive line was atrocious and his receivers weren't getting open consistently, Alex just unbuckled his chin strap after every 3 and out and calmly walked back to the sidelines. Go watch a Patriots game, there isn't a single mistake that is made without Tom Brady chewing someone's ass out and letting them know that mistakes will not be tolerated. Steve Young would have called everyone together and gone up and down each one of their asses until something changed. Not Alex, he was content to allow everything to fall apart around him while he looked on.
The argument here is not that the 49ers don't have talented players. In fact I believe they have some VERY talented players. Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore are top 10 players at their positions. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Dashon Goldson, Justin Smith, and Nate Clements are all very talented players but none of them have ever won at this level. Even the veteran influences on this team come from losing cultures. Takeo Spikes (Cincy and Buffalo) has never been to the playoffs in his 13 year career. Nate Clements (Buffalo) and Just Smith (Cincinatti) both came from perennial losers. How can players who come from losing cultures possibly be asked to foster the attitude of winning in a young locker room? The answer is they can't and that is one major reason why this team continues to fail. The culture on this team needs to change. Losing has been accepted for too long. Excuses are made for losing at the highest levels. Jed York continues to spout off that they are going to the playoffs, Singeltary continues to spout that nonsense as well when he isn't claiming he needs to "look at the tape". When losing is accepted and rationalized through a series of excuses, your team is doomed. This team needs a complete overhaul in this offseason. This goes far deeper than the players' talent, this is an organizational culture that NEEDS to change NOW or it will many more years before we see another playoff game. I just hope Jed York is smart enough to realize this.