Wow. Optimism is a cruel mistress, no? Here I thought that we were turning the slightest of corners as I watched the first half of the game. Red zone defense was stout, a missed field goal helped...answering one touchdown with another of our own on the long pass play to Vernon Davis. But there was a bad omen on display when I looked on, puzzled, as Troy Smith calmly huddled up and sauntered to the line of scrimmage on the final possession of the first half.
We're not going to try to get in field goal range even?!? We're calling plays, not kneeling down, but taking our time and running the ball?!? Oh, I see...close game...play not to lose. Be cautious...you know, cause that's been working all year long, right?!?
It's not like Green Bay is getting the ball to start the second half, right? Oh, wait...they are.
It's not like we're on the road, in cold weather, with about 99% of the crowd fans of the opposition, right? Oh, what's that you say?
For more, jump with me (not off a bridge...believe it or not I think hell is worse than being a 49ers fan).
It started out looking like a tough, close game. We were getting 3-4 yards on some of our rushes, which is something I key on to keep us out of 3rd and longs. Our defense looked to be bending-but-not-breaking and we had some field goals that put a few points up at least. Still, I knew it would come down to touchdowns eventually.
I was ecstatic that we had a chance to get a lead going into the half, knowing that Green Bay would get the ball to start the third quarter. Then, as I mentioned, I saw typical Singletary-ball continue (I mean, c'mon...the settling for FG's and playing the bend defense was already Sing-ball).
I had a bad feeling about things during half-time.
Still I was hoping the game would keep going like it had in the first half and we'd get a break or two...have a chance to pull it out. We were getting to Rodgers some, but not enough, and leaving him some lanes to step up and run. We've had an issue all season with "near sacks" that never were. That was irritating.
Then I started to count the offside penalties. "This?! Again?!? Really?!?"
I was telling everyone at the bar how this was complete crap. We'd already had a game (several) where the penalties killed us and offsides penalties had been the bane of the defense lately. I couldn't believe it was happening again.
Close games against good teams do not allow for many mistakes. We made plenty.
Then the tackling issues resurfaced. Our DB's are horrible tacklers. Clements is decent at it but only if he's against smaller opponents or if he's successful in the cut tackle (taking out the legs, usually as a projectile). The screen pass TD was a killer to morale.
Troy Smith looked equally inept and I'm starting to sour on him. Let's not make the same mistakes we made with Alex Smith by giving Troy infinite excuses, ok? Yeah, he doesn't know the whole playbook, his receivers don't always catch the ball...ok. He also made some downright bad throws and held on to the ball WAY too long several times.
The O-Line played well in pass protection, really. The run blocking was crap, again. Why is it always one or the other with this unit? We shut down Clay Matthews and gave up mostly sacks after the three-second timer would have gone off. But we can't run block with our OL that's built for it?!?
Brian Westbrook can't really run with power and Anthony Dixon had footing problems which, I haven't watched the tape yet, but I'd bet has a lot to do with his feet taking short steps rather than striding into the hole (like Gore would have). See, when Frank Gore can't gain yards it's because he'll still hit the hole, even if it's not there or not gaping. He does the same thing when the hole is there, or is late to open up, and turns them into 10+ yard gains. I really thought they could beat this into Dixon's head now that Gore was out. I guess old habits die hard.
Don't even get me started on the secondary. They looked completely lost, especially Dashon Goldson. He missed two tackles on one play. Every time I saw a safety helping on a completion guess where they were coming from?!?
How are we consistently allowing receivers behind our safeties? I watched Goldson jump a few routes and give up the middle of the field for an easy long completion. The guy hasn't had much of a positive impact on the field at all this year. How in the world can he think he's worth top Safety money? Maybe a lot of it is coaching...maybe he will go become a star somewhere else. Come to think of it...maybe we should fire Johnnie Lynn and Vance Joseph today.
Part of me wouldn't be completely surprised to see Singletary fired today, even though we know there aren't suitable interim replacements and mid-season firings rarely...blah, blah, blah. The team played uninspired, looked poorly coached, played without discipline, technique, and by the end of the game it was just depressing. I have no where else to point the finger right now than coaching.
He already made his two big plays to save himself...firing Jimmy Raye and starting Troy Smith. Neither of those moves have equated to enough wins and every other area of the team (except both lines and linebackers) is in disarray. The team lets games slip away and doesn't get beat...it beats itself.
We're the team that's just a few players away, but yet we're worse than teams that need a few years to redevelop. If I was a coaching candidate I'd want the job in San Francisco, easily. The world will see you as savior to a franchise that went 6-10 (projected) and was in utter chaos. In reality all you have to be able to do is take a team that should be on the verge and clean it up a bit...polish the dirty diamond and make it shine.
Some complain that Gruden did just that in Tampa Bay. I say, so what. So worst case he takes us to a Superbowl but then can't maintain it? Hmmm...that, or this...is it really a hard decision?