Article Title: All about the team.
Dennis Erickson couldnít stop it, Mike Nolan couldnít stop it and now Mike Singletary canít stop it. Consistently and with grave consequences the San Francisco 49ers have earned themselves the distinct reputation of being one of the bottom dwellers of the National Football League, in that the once honored and respected championship image we had is but a far away memory.
One thing I will say is that despite the doom and gloom of what has been for the San Francisco 49ers since the 2002 NFL season, and with what we are now staring at with a recent loss against the Seattle Seahawks 34-13, that made us (2-6) on the 2008 NFL season there remains hope.
The old school mentality of coaching has replaced the mega-ego sense of mentality that has existed within the framework of this organization. Erickson was and shouldíve never been brought back for a second chance within the NFL. Mike Nolan came in with great promises did some good things in rebuilding the inner works of the foundation but failed ultimately in winning the hearts and minds of each and every player.
Mike Singletary made his debut as head coach an impressive one despite what materialized out on the field. He managed the game almost from a stoic sense as he stood silent on the sidelines. When it was necessary to make a decision he did that with conviction, intensity and with a purpose.
As we were losing out on the field and getting our tails handed to us, I kept my eyes glued to what was happening on the sidelines as Mike Singletary gave every indication that the performance of today was not to be taken lightly. It was Mikeís personal conviction before the game started that they were ready for the Seattle Seahawks as the practice hours were put in.
But as the game spiraled out of control he soon realized that even though practice may have been intense, it was not being transferred out on the playing field during game day as it was to be expected. It taught him something about where this team is and what it will take to change it.
Mike Singletary is a brutally honest, take no prisoners type of head coach. He will tell you exactly what it is that is on his mind as indicated in his public speeches and his locker room candor. At the post game news conference he made very clear that whatever it takes to make the ship sail in the right direction he will get it right, even if it means throwing a few shipmates over board to get the job done right.
It is all about respect. He stated that on several occasions and acknowledged that it is crucial to developing and understanding each and every player. The sharing and exchanging of ideas is essential for team players to come together and solve particular situations as they strive to become better. He mentioned that liking someone is not a requirement for respecting someone as ones ability to produce and get results earns a particular person a certain degree of respect that must be recognized for what it is.
Iíve got to come out and say that I am thrilled that Mike Singletary is our new head coach. I believe he gives us the only real chance from a coaching standpoint to right a sinking a ship that has individuals lost in that their sense of direction and accountability has been compromised. Finding the winning formula that manufactures a winning sense of purpose will be at the insistence of Mike Singletary.
Losing to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday was our fifth consecutive loss on the season. This has been because of a lack of direction and execution of the team as a whole. Certainly last year was the offense, now this year it is a combination of both. Both coordinators in Mike Martz and Greg Manusky have a lot of work to do if they want to salvage any part of the second half of the season and even possibly their own jobs.
The eloquent speaking of Mike Singletary is to suggest that we still have a shot at the playoffs? Certainly at (2-6), this cannot be considered a realistic projection based upon what weíve seen thus far into the season.
I am hopeful that we can at least earn our way back to a respectable position within our division and at least reach the .500 mark. To me that would signal progress and endorse Mike Singletary as the head coach going into 2009 on a permanent basis; this would be one of the greatest turnarounds in 49er history if he could do that.
Looking at the offense in this game again fumbles, interception, penalties and sacks ruled the entire day. J.T. OíSullivan was simply atrocious in this game yet again in having any kind of pocket awareness and even having the slightest clue where the pass rush is coming from. Over and over again he fails to secure the ball when hesitating or attempting to move outside of the pocket.
The most frustrating moments as fans are the ridiculous errors made by the captain of the ship that being the (quarterback), who is the rock that we can all stand on when the chips are down. J.T. OíSullivan once thought to be the best quarterback for the job, looked pathetic yet again right out of the gate.
On the very first drive he is sacked and fumbles the ball on the 49er 21-yard line and like bumbling follies center Eric Heitmann manages to fall on it at the five-yard line. This provides Seattle good field position on the following punt and provides them with a field goal.
J.T. OíSullivan would yet again fumble the ball away on the very next offensive series after taking yet another sack that provides Seattle with yet another field goal. In the second quarter 49er tight end Delanie Walker fumbles the ball out of bounds and J.T. OíSullivan is sacked yet again killing a touchdown drive that must settle for a field goal.
Shortly after the two-minute warning J.T. OíSullivan at the Seattle 29-yard line throws a crazy interception into a well covered Arnaz Battle that is returned for a 75-yard touchdown for the Seahawks. This compels Mike Singletary to pull OíSullivan from the game and in enters Shaun Hill amid a chorus of cheers from Candlestickís finest fans.
J.T. OíSullivan is a Mike Martz man. He is a gunslinger that likes to make the big throws and expects the explosive plays. He is more difficult to protect as he plays with happy feet inside the pocket. This forceful ideology carries with it a large percentage of real risk. This is not the greatest show on turf in Candlestick; Mike Martz was finally called on the carpet via Mike Singletary in understanding that.
J.T. OíSullivan completed 13-of-21 passes for 131 total yards was sacked three times for a loss of 29 total yards. He fumbled the ball like it was going out of style and threw a costly interception while ending the day with a 59.8 quarterback rating on top of that. What is the most anguishing aspect of J.T.OíSullivanís performance not only during this game but of many others, is his ignorance and inability to correct securing the football at all times.
The eruption of jubilation that J.T. OíSullivan was removed from the game was more like a celebration in that his ineffectiveness had finally been acknowledged by a coaching staff that should have suggested it earlier. Shaun Hillís presence was almost serene like as the offense settled down and tried to play mistake-free football.
Shaun Hill is the typical West-Coast type quarterback that secures the football on a consistent basis and takes what the defense will allow him to take. His most impressive performance in this particular game occurred during the fourth quarter when he moved the offense on 15-plays and 62 total yards to connect with wide receiver Jason Hill in the end zone.
Shaun Hill completed 15-of-23 passes for 173 total yards. He was sacked twice for a loss of 11-yards and had one touchdown. He ended the day with a 102.3 quarterback rating and might have been even more effective had the offensive line protected him and had he been able to convert on third downs.
Penalties again played a major role in our consistent demise. We are in a lot of ways resembling the characteristics of an undisciplined mob of players in the likeness of our hated rivals in the Oakland Raiders of old. Game killing penalties as we incurred seven of them for a loss of 65 total yards, the one most infamous being tight end Vernon Davisís unsportsmanlike conduct where he was eventually sent packing to the locker room via Mike Singletary. Never have I seen an instance where the head coach felt the need to banish a player to the locker room like this situation.
Penalties and turnovers have essentially beheaded every aspiring offensive drive we start off on. And if it isnít one of those two it is the pathetic and unforgivable ineptness of our offensive line to pass protect and identify the blitz as it is happening.
Offensive line coach George Warhop was sent packing along with Mike Nolan. It is my hope that Chris Foerster will present a better finished product out on the playing field. However it didnít present itself within this game as we surrendered five more sacks for a loss of 40 total yards. David Baas played in at left guard for Adam Snyder who had been struggling but was brought back into right tackle following Barry Simís injury.
Defensively we again gave up the big explosive plays we are so famous for allowing. Leonard Weaver a Seattle Seahawk fullback scorched our defensive front and secondary on a 43-yard scamper for a touchdown and then a 62-yard play that had him rumbling like we had a mini-Kentucky Derby right in the midst of Candlestick Park.
We held their running game in check with just 39 total yards and a 1.4-yard per carry average, however Leonard Weaver had four receptions for 116-yards and two touchdowns to illuminate the new perception that he is a playmaker. San Francisco 49er defensive end/linebacker Manny Lawson was the most effective with seven tackles and one sack on the day. Seattle Seahawk Seneca Wallace played with confidence at the bequest of his solid offensive line that allowed him to complete 15-of-25 passes for 222 total yards and two touchdowns. Again our pass rush was almost non-existent in this game.
Despite the fifth consecutive loss I remain hopeful and believe it or not energized at Mike Singletaryís outlook on the remainder of the season. His humbling apologies to our fellow fans before walking into the tunnel and into the locker rooms while exiting the field tells a lot of who we have in charge of this once proud franchise.
His unbridled passion to be successful bears the resemblance of a flamethrower consuming anything and everything that needs to be consumed. He will find those players that want to be of something special and those that donít. We deserve someone like Mike to raise the level of expectation within the framework of this franchise. He will need every resource at his disposal and time to rectify the cancers that are plaguing this team. The Yorkís need to assure him that they do indeed have his back.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.