We've heard plenty about how the 49ers are not playing for moral victories. They're going on the field to get notches in the actual win column and to make the playoffs. At this point though, they've notched up just as many "moral victories" if you will, as they have actual victories. If you don't believe in moral victories that's not the case, but if you do, one might argue they've got 3 real victories and 3 "moral" victories (Minnesota, Houston, Indianapolis).
I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of moral victories. We're still a game away from the halfway point, but given the flood of recent close, tough losses, I thought now was as good a time for this discussion as any. There are an assortment of questions and thoughts, so rather than order this in any particular way, I'll just starting firing away.
Is this team good enough to expect them to get past these moral victories and turn them into real victories. When I was watching the Colts game, even as the 49ers were clinging to their lead, I felt like it was inevitable that Manning and company would turn it on and pull the game out. Once the Colts took the lead, I was expecting at least one more TD from them. And yet the defense stood tall and gave the 49ers offense just about every chance to come back in this game. Should this team be able to pull those games out at this point?
The 49rs got through a rough stretch of the schedule, but they still have tough games left. They host Chicago in two weeks, they head into Green Bay in three weeks, and they get to go to Philly in seven weeks. Obviously Arizona and at Seattle will also be tough games, but I want to stick with those non-division games. Are we going to be staring at more "moral victories?"
After the jump we look at general ways to turn moral victories into actual victories...
I guess in the end, the question is what this team needs to improve upon to start turning those moral Ws into real Ws. There are several ways things can turn around either this year, or simply "in the future":
1. Personnel - This argument would point to not being able to scheme out of a bad offensive line, or simply lacking an "elite" pass rusher. Often times scheming simply cannot overcome that. This argument would go towards adding players via free agency and the draft in 2010. One might argue this is the easiest "fix" of all these. You add enough talented players and maybe even the worst coordinators could look good.
2. Execution - This argument would point to simply not executing on the plays being called. Maybe the players aren't fantastic, but they're making mistakes in execution that simply require understanding things better. One could also argue this is really a problem in personnel and/or coaching. So maybe it's that "gray area."
3. Coaching - This is for the anti-Jimmy Raye crowd. This argument might be that the players may not be fantastic, but the scheming is just all wrong. The coaches are not game-planning to the strengths of their players and the team is suffering accordingly.
In the end it's likely a combination of things because nothing in life is ever so black and white. It also depends in part on each unit of the team. Some units just need better plays called, while others, like the offensive line, could use an infusion of new talent.
So, part of this would involve more of a long term look at getting better, but for the short term, what can the 49ers do to avoid hanging up "moral victories" in Green Bay and Philly? Or is 2009 going to be the year of the moral victory no matter what they do?