There is plenty of blame to go around for the San Francisco 49ers embarrassing defeat to the Cleveland Browns. We saw horrible execution, awful game-planning, and a team that generally just did not seem sufficiently prepared for a bad Browns team.
Blame will be spread far and wide, but at some point, the buck has to stop somewhere. And after yesterday's game, the time has come to dump this coaching staff. Jed York and Trent Baalke will probably justify keeping them into 2016 by pointing to all the roster turnover from retirements, free agency departures, and releases. What the 49ers went through this offseason is difficult for any franchise to overcome.
And yet, it was a couple comments from veterans that make this situation entirely inexcusable.
#49ers Ahmad Brooks: "By us getting a win last week, maybe we got a little big-headed ... and thought that things were just going to happen.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) December 13, 2015
#49ers Joe Staley: "We can’t take anyone lightly. We’re not in a position to take anyone lightly."— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) December 13, 2015
I generally try and avoid overreactions. I prefer to keep things steady and give folks the benefit of the doubt. And yet, those two comments provide insight into a team that was not remotely prepared for this game. The players deserve plenty of blame for a piss-poor performance, but how can the coaching staff possibly not prepare the team any better than this? This was a 4-8 team, coming off a win over a bad Chicago Bears team. The Bears were coming off a big Thanksgiving road win over the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers win came thanks primarily to awful Bears execution late in the game. The 49ers made some big plays, but if Robbie Gould doesn't miss a fairly short field goal, the 49ers would have walked away with a loss.
The point being, it's on the coaching staff for not having this team better prepared. The Xs and Os were a huge problem, but it goes to just basic mental preparation. It is entirely possible the 49ers coaches did warn the players against a letdown. We don't know for certain, but it is worth noting this staff has generally been viewed as a bit more cushy to the players than the last coaching staff. It is not entirely surprising this team was not mentally prepared for the Browns, even as the 49ers came into the game a team that is just not even really mediocre. Bad football teams that take anyone lightly have serious problems.
4-8 football teams have no business coming into a game big-headed, or taking anyone lightly. A team that completely unprepared for a game has no business on the football field. Getting rid of the coaching staff is not meant to excuse anybody else for this debacle. And this is not going to guarantee improvement because who knows a) who will actually want to coach this mess, and b) who York and Baalke could find to fit into their model of control but still be an effective coach. But I know one thing, this coaching staff has to go.