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49ers butt-whuppin: Stepping back from the ledge

Courtesy of Coach Mike Singletary (various post-game comments):

"I want to tell Pete Carroll, 'Thank you very much for kicking our tails.' It was good medicine and we're going to take it. And we'll go from there."

The question for the 49ers is where will they go and how will they get there? Yesterday's game was about as abysmal a showing as I could have expected. The 49ers started out as well as could be expected and seemed on their way to a potential blowout victory. Next thing you know the offense is stalling out multiple times inside the Seahawks ten yard line, the Seahawks are putting points on the board, and it's practically game, set, and match Seahawks.

We've had a mix of emotions on the site ranging from declaring the season lost to those willing to take a step back, breathe, and look at this as hopefully a one-game anomaly. I'd imagine I'm somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I was severely disappointed with the 49ers performance and saw numerous holes that may or may not be capable of being patched up in the near future. At the same time, I also know that this is a team that has a good deal of talent and is better than what we saw yesterday.

As we look ahead to New Orleans this coming Monday, the question marks that need to be resolved in some form or fashion are fairly numerous. I won't hit on them all but I wanted to point out a few of the highlights.

Mike Singletary
Well, it's safe to say Coach Singletary did not have a good start to the 2010 regular season. The team failed to make various adjustments and he was generally out-coached from the second quarter on by Seahawks HC Pete Carroll. More importantly in my mind was the lack of discipline displayed by the 49ers as the game wore on. Some of it came from frustration, but generally the team just seemed to not give a crap. I'm sure they did in fact give a crap, but the appearance was not that of a disciplined, drilled unit. While the players are the ones that have to execute on Sunday (or Monday), Coach Singletary has been attempting to impose a philosophy of discipline and attitude. The wrong attitude and no discipline were present yesterday.

49ers Defense
If there was one area where Pete Carroll really snookered the 49ers, it was in the pass defense. Matt Hasselbeck didn't have a monster game, but the 49ers cornerbacks were getting torched by the receivers at key moments in the game. I forget where I read it but apparently with the 49ers corners pressing up, the Seahawks OC began calling more double moves, which allowed them to take advantage of an aggressive 49ers defense. My question is where was the counter-adjustment?

Given the kind of offense coming to town next Monday, this defense has to be up to snuff. They managed one sack and very little pressure beyond that against Hasselbeck, which was the MO of the 49ers offense in losses last season. I realize the 49ers offense didn't do them a lot of favors at times, but the defense still has to step up better than they did yesterday.

Alex Smith
Initially I was planning a Smith-only post, but most of the points have been made at this point. And if you really want to get into the Smith discussion, we've got our official FanPost. Smith looked very solid through the first quarter and a half, and then completely fell apart the rest of the game. Although, I will say that the 49ers offense always seems to look a little better in the no-huddle offense. They don't need to always go spread out in that no-huddle, but given the apparent struggles in communicating plays to the field, why not go more no-huddle at times?

Coach Singletary said after the game that Alex Smith was his guy and he never thought of replacing him during the game. It might have been worthwhile late in the game, but that's neither here nor there. So, for the people wanting to bench and/or unload Smith in some manner, it's just not going to happen right now. If Smith bombs out we could see a change midway through the season, but I'm fairly convinced he's going to get every opportunity early in the season.

The biggest concern for me today was the issue of accuracy. It's been a common complaint about Smith and it seemed to rear its head for 2+ quarters of play. Of course, depending on who you ask, some of the plays might not have been Alex's fault. Seeing as I'm not on the coaching staff and I have not seen the playbook, I can't really say one way or the other what's true.

What I can say with certainty is that Smith is not going anywhere in the immediate future. You don't have to like it, but you're kinda gonna have to live with it for now. We'll keep a FanPost available for complaining when Smith struggles because people need their outlet. At the same time, it might be worth trying to find some positives out of this guy for now since he is in fact going to be the quarterback of the present. I continue to see talent there but I don't see necessary consistency. I see regression at times to some of the plays of his first couple years. I would like to hope the offense's sync issues will improve. Maybe they won't, but I guess I'm just going to pray that they do. That's not exactly confidence inspiring, but to quote virtually every athlete out there: It is what it is.

Michael Crabtree
Going hand in hand with Alex Smith's accuracy problems is getting Michael Crabtree's act together. There is a lot going on with his relationship with the franchise that we simply don't know enough about, and probably will never fully understand. But something is just not right. I don't know what it is, but there seems to be some kind of disconnect. I realize this is mostly just speculation, but I just don't know what's what at this point.

There's not a lot I can say with this, other than to hope this "family" clears up any issues and gets things straightened out on the field. Michael Crabtree is one of the most talented players on the field week in and week out. I've seen comments about benching Crabtree or trading him or doing whatever with him. I think that comes out of frustration because at this point in his career you do not trade a Michael Crabtree. I also don't think you bench him, although if there is concern about his performance, a benching might shake things up a bit and show him he has to earn what he gets.

Whatever the case, this team needs Michael Crabtree producing at a high level if they want to move forward and become a playoff contender. They've got a lot of weapons that need to perform and Michael Crabtree is near the top of that list.

Obviously we can't make any sound conclusions after week 1....not that it will stop anybody from attempting to make conclusions. What I do know is the 49ers walked into Seattle apparently thinking that was enough to be crowned NFC West champions. This team received a ton of press in the preseason as the team to beat in the NFC West and apparently the press got in their heads.

In reality, this is a team that has done absolutely nothing. They are a squad that went 8-8 a year ago. They added some talent in the offseason but haven't won anything yet. While they may have a lot of talent on paper, football games are not won on paper. They are won in TV sets (credit Kenny Mayne for that one). The 49ers could very easily drop to 0-2 after a tough MNF game against the Saints next Monday. However, they are also in a position to prove yesterday was a fluke. Maybe they do, maybe they don't.

For now I'm willing to reserve judgment. If the 49ers play next Monday like they did yesterday they're going to get destroyed and embarrassed on national television. If they play like we thought they were capable of as of two days ago, they could get back on track. Let's certainly hope for the latter.