Let me say I'm not trying to ruin anyone's thanksgiving, and I'm not looking to be a Debbie downer, or to beat the pessimistic drum just for the sake of it. But you had a couple of days to enjoy the victory, and now it's time to get to back to the business of facing reality. But I first want to say I was real happy with the win, and the way the defense played, and I've been pleasantly surprised with LMJ's play. Because I was real worried about him taking over punt duties, because it isn't an easy job, and we can't afford to have a drop in play in any phase of the game.
But let's talk about CK7's performance. Let me start by posing a question; how many of CK7 completions were NOT to his primary receiver? Dilfer and Jaworski concluded one completion went to a receiver that was not the primary target. Now in and of itself that is not a bad thing. If they are open, then throw it, but why this should give you pause, is because CK7 has not shown any improvement in going through his progression tree, and recognizing when to throw underneath.
In fact what CK7's critics (and I'm referring to the dilfers, Jaworskis, youngs etc) have been saying is, if Roman can either scheme Boldin and or Davis open for easy first read completions, or if either of those players simply win their matchup they can hide CK7's flaws in the passing game. Having a good running game helps hide them, having a great defense can hide them, having a special teams that is winning the field position battle week in and week out can hide them. And yes you can win a super bowl with this formula if everything falls into place.
But what you cannot be is the, 80's 49ers, or for you young bucks out there, 2000's Patriots. What you will be if you are lucky is the Ravens or perhaps and more likely, Gruden's Bucs. I don't want this coaching staff or our owner to settle for that. I much rather dare to be great than to settle out of fear.
Now back to the Washington game. What did we see on CK7's roughly 10 incompletions? I would argue what the dilfers, Jaworskis, and youngs have already concluded from this game and the previous 10: when CK7 is kept from throwing to his 1st read he does one of the following:
1. Keeps his eyes locked onto that receiver for too long making him susceptible to the rush and keeping him from seeing other open targets, and or running lanes that present themselves.
2. He try's to force the ball by the coverage. (CK7 would have 3 pick 6's if not for 2 drops and one fumble: he would also have 2 other Ints if not for drops. That would give him 11 ints on the year and 3 for TD's. He.....no we have been very fortunate.)
3. He loses confidence over time in a game and becomes more and more indecisive about what he sees. Therefore he is not only battling the opposing defense, but his own lack of confidence in what he sees. This affects his pre snap routine efficiency and leads to bad play call selection, poor time out usage, 3rd down ineptitude, and a lot of 3 and outs.
In the Washington game, what you saw was a hot and cold CK7, that was totally dictated by whether the redskins could force CK7 off of his 1st read. But those issues were masked by overall excellent field position, turnovers, great defensive play, and our offense's ability to have our primary targets win their battles. But against better teams, or just less fortunate circumstances that won't be the case. And this has already come to pass in close losses to the saints and panthers.
We've also have gotten to see CK7's inability to pull himself out of the funk a quality defense can put him in. And that's primarily because there hasn't been any significant improvement on these issues week to week. It's either feast or famine and it's all dictated by Romans ability to scheme for CK7's current flaws or Boldin and Davis's ability to beat whatever coverage they are facing.
Ok, so some of you might be asking what is the point of this post and the previous one. Am I here to bash CK7 while pretending to be fair minded? Why don't I just call for the guys benching already and get it over with already.
Because that isn't the point of this post. Let me try to really explain myself; perception matters, but truth matters more, and whenever possible truth and perception should mirror one another. I believe if they do in the minds of our coaching staff, front office and our fan base we will give ourselves it's best shot of returning to its day's of glory: I'm talking dynasty. Some of you might believe fans play no impact in where a NFL franchise goes. But I think there is plenty of evidence that says you are wrong.
Many of the decisions made in organizations that have to in some degree answer to the public, are made because of public perception, and that organizations belief, that in the end that perception will affect their bottom line. Take a look at what is happening in Washington. Whashington is not only losing they are losing the battle of public perception that may cause them to make poor football decisions this off season. It is hard to say if we are doing much better because frankly we are a playoff contender.
But you better hear me when I say this, if we miss the playoffs, that is when the real public perception game begins. And no one is safe forever. A player or coach will get the benefit of the doubt based on how much credit they have built up. We as an organization cannot allow ourselves to fall victim to that. We need to be making football decision based on credible on field analysis, and not media and public perception which is usually not driven by credible analysis.
After reading all of this you may be asking what does any of this have to do with next weeks game, or this years post season. The point of this post has nothing to do with any of that. This current 49er team if it continues to play as it has been playing will find it difficult to make the playoffs, and even more difficult to win a road playoff game.
This post is an effort by me to prepare you "The Fan" for the emotional fallout of having a season that falls very short of expectations. It's about not allowing emotions to dictate how we react to a difficult season, because it can have an effect on how the 49er organization deals with these issues. We don't want to give up on CK7, he is essentially a first year starter who has been playing all year without his top wideouts. But we also don't want to ignore development issues and hand him a contract extension that dooms this coaching staff and team for years to come.
We also don't want to fire Greg Roman and blame him unnecessarily for issues CK7 is having. We need to recognize that he isn't working with a veteran, he also feels the effect of Crabtree and maninghams absence, but despite that he has been able to scheme a top rushing attack and an adequate though not always consistent passing attack. And he has done this with two different QB's over two years. Ask yourself how many other teams go to two NFC title games and a super bowl with Alex smith and CK7? And like most of you tell me, we are still in the hunt this year.
I just like to end by saying, let's go and dominate those Rams this Sunday, so we can all come together as one, flaws and all, for the game we have all been waiting for.
PS - welcome back Crabtree........hope to see you breaking tackles and taking it the distance very soon.