There’s a lot of blame to be passed around on that awful, awful loss to Seattle on Sunday. Blaine Gabbert stands at the forefront of it, throwing horizontal passes with defenders only steps away to smother the receiver, balls into traffic that his receivers have no business even catching at certain points in the game, or just failing to realize where the 1st down marker is at the most crucial of moments.
No, he isn’t going to be the answer. He can get better, but he’s not going to get better where the scores can be flipped.
Then there’s the playcalling, both offensively and defensively. Letting Russell Wilson throw those deep balls on 3rd and long, let alone jump balls, and succeed is unacceptable, period. Running Carlos Hyde up the gut continually when there was some (minor) success in dinking and dunking reminds us of a recently departed coach who I’m not even going to mention.
But really, a lot of this wasn’t a product of a continual bad scheming (though some is). It’s a continual product of bad talent. There’s only so much you can do with the roster the 49ers have.
This game is on Trent Baalke.
Gabbert did what we saw him do last year. His ceiling, his floor, and his capabilities were on full-show last season. It’s unfortunately not the same situation of Alex Smith: a quarterback victim to bad coaching. Blaine’s pros and cons were right there, in Baalke’s face for two years. Before that, Jim Harbaugh had both Blaine and Kaepernick on the roster and Kaepernick started anyways. If Blaine was that much better a player, you would think he’d yank the starting job sooner.
Did Baalke even look at drafting a quarterback like Dak Prescott? No—he took Jeff Driskal in the 6th round and didn’t even bother ‘wasting’ a roster spot for him (later to be claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals). Did he realize the wide receivers as a whole are talented, but need a consistent No. 1? No. Instead he snagged DeForest Buckner (who was a decent, but obvious pick) and Joshua Garnett with a trade-up. He later grabbed two other good wide receivers in a trade, but nothing that could take the brunt of the work. The two people to even consider in that role, Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, are gone. Garnett has yet to see the field and given what we gave up to get him makes you wonder.
And this one’s good. Did he know the secondary needed to be overhauled? Well, yes. Every year. But of the massive slew of cornerbacks, we see Jimmie Ward as a converted corner, and Tramaine Brock remains. As is Keith Reaser and Dontae Johnson. Out of all those picks, there isn’t a rookie really making a statement that he was a good pick. Maybe Rashard Robinson, but while he hasn’t been targeted, we haven’t seen him when he is targeted, which is all the difference.
What about outside linebacker? Ahmad Brooks was a beast a few years back. Later, he proved he was more of a head case and not the player he was. Enter Eli Harold, Corey Lemonier, and now Tank Carradine.
Brooks still starts. Though, to be fair, he’s having a decent first three games.
What you see before you is the product envisioned by one Trent John Baalke, general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Aside from the Bill Parcells connection in a town that wished it kept tradition of the west coast offense, Baalke likes to run the ball. A lot. His teams can’t run. Baalke likes to predicate things on a strong defense. A lot. The Seattle Seahawks had trouble scoring a single touchdown against the Dolphins and the Rams, but had no problem doing it against the 49ers in two minutes.
Whatever Baalke likes, certainly doesn’t resonate on the field. And it isn’t just an incompetence to scout players:
That’s roughly how much salary cap space the 49ers have. Trent Baalke used that to sign Zane Beadles.
Just this last offseason, Josh Norman was looked at, but went to Washington. Anquan Boldin left for the Detroit Lions.
Before bringing up Chip Kelly’s scheme as a counterpoint, all that needs to be said is this: he scores points. Yes, in Philadelphia, and with better players. So far the talent pool in San Francisco is much more lacking, but that’s not Chip Kelly’s fault, that’s Trent Baalke’s fault for handing him this. This is a team that he himself built, that has one quarterback who can’t throw it past 5 yards and another Baalke seemingly doesn’t want getting hurt because of the injury clause in that quarterback’s contract.
Blaine Gabbert is what Blaine Gabbert will be, Chip Kelly has a system that is stuttering with the players he has. And that’s because the players he has were drafted by one man: Trent Baalke. The 49ers GM is signed through the 2018 season, but his seat is getting hotter by the week.