This was supposed to be the year. The stars were perfectly aligned. A passionate, new coach in his first full year. A year removed from the team’s first non-losing season since 2002. A weak division. The excitement was there and the bandwagon was full. Expectations were unreasonably high. Fans were even starting to say things like, “Hey, come on. Alex Smith isn’t THAT bad. We just need him to manage the game…” Right.
The San Francisco 49ers — the favorites to win the NFC West — are now 0-4.
San Francisco is having an identity crisis. Like a confused freshman stumbling around searching for “Del Playa,” the Niners appear lost. They have no football identity.
With the defensive-minded Mike Singletary at the helm, the Niners were supposed to be a smashmouth football team that would beat you up with a power running game and tough defense.
Through the first four games of the season, the 49ers have attempted 151 passes and 83 runs. With Frank Gore, who has posted four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons as your running back, and Alex freaking Smith as your quarterback, those numbers should be reversed.
In a quarterback-driven league, Smith, who has three touchdowns and seven interceptions, just doesn’t cut it. Because the Niners have a few offensive weapons like tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, they believe they can be a versatile offensive team. But nobody can perform if Smith doesn’t step it up. Davis has slowed down considerably after his breakout campaign last year, and Crabtree, who was vastly overvalued heading into this year’s fantasy drafts, has as many touchdowns as Chancellor Yang this season.
The Singletary train seems to be slowing down considerably. Sure, Singletary was an amazing player and is a master motivator, but his talents as a coach are yet to be seen. Penalties have hindered San Francisco repeatedly this year, and a more structured, schematic coach may fit the squad better. To come back in the division and make a playoff push, Singletary is going to need to motivate and coach.
It could be that the 49ers are just losing on purpose to get a shot at drafting Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Surely they wouldn’t fuck up again by passing on the local hero, as they did in 2005 when they drafted Smith #1 overall over Cal’s Aaron Rodgers. Ouch. I feel bad for Niner fans just writing that.
There are few positives for the NFL franchise with the second most Super Bowl victories of all time. We all know linebacker Patrick Willis is an absolute beast. All over the field on every play, Willis looks like he is becoming the next Ray Lewis. Additionally, safety Taylor Mays has been making the most out of his playing time, and is looking like he can be the game-changing athlete he was at USC. That duo could be staples of a solid defense for years to come.
The best thing going for SF is their weak division. The NFC West is BY FAR the worst division in football. With the non-convincing Arizona, St. Louis and Seattle squads all at 2-2, San Francisco could still easily come back and win the division.
So to all you 49ers fans in I.V. out there: HAHA. Just kidding. At least the only way to go from here is up…