The San Francisco 49ers have lost three straight games, and we have seen some angry in-game reactions. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith in particular have not been pleased with the struggles of the offense. The day or two after they are generally back on the same page, but there is visible frustration.
Eric Branch recently chatted with some veterans on the team about the issues of anger and frustration. Phil Dawson did not see any issue in the locker room, and talked about the value of anger over apathy:
"I think it's a good sign," he said. "If guys are smiling and playing games over there, I think we have a whole new set of problems. And those are probably the ones you can't fix. The fact that guys are frustrated, the fact that guys are angry, I think that's healthy. It may not win any PR battles, but guys are competitive and want to perform. I don't see any problem with that at all."
Branch talked with Alex Boone, Anquan Boldin and others for this article. He referenced a "forceful" post-game locker room speech by Antoine Bethea after the loss to the Packers.
I agree that anger is better than apathy, but I also think there is a balancing act to consider with the anger. There is anger showing basic fire to get things right, and there is anger that can destroy a season from within. The 49ers season is not exactly on the right track, but more losses could turn things uglier in a hurry. If the season ends up a lost cause, it won't be pretty.
If things continue south, one has to wonder if the team starts trying to deal away some of the veterans. For example, Anquan Boldin is in the final year of his contract, and seems to still be a very capable receiver. If the team struggles, is there any reason to keep him around? I don't think his anger would sink the team, but why not move him somewhere he can contribute this season? He's just one example, but he's certainly the most visible example.
A win tonight against the Giants will make this a moot point for now. However, until we see this team win some games, and show improvement on offense, this is an issue that will hang over things all season.