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Article Title: Soft as Charmin.
Article Date: October 19th, 2006
By Sydney


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It doesnít matter where the 2006 San Francisco 49ers play either at home or on the road they are in serious need of a defensive overhaul to the extent that heads should roll, following the ultimate fiasco we all witnessed this past Sunday as we were defeated by the San Diego Chargers 48-19.

San Diego came into Monster Park with the No.#1 ranked defense and a high-potent offense that racked up 421 yards in total offense with 334 just through the air, revealing once again this season the Charmin-like pass defense that we all have hanging inside our bathrooms.

Now this picture may sound too graphic and it may infuriate you to think of it the way I do, but the real jest of what I am trying to target is that our pass defense is only as good as our coaches and players allow it to be.

We need desperate measures taken and immediate changes to take place. Blame was being laid by sports reporters at the Monday news conference held by head coach Mike Nolan on the defensive side of the ball, and calls for Mike Nolan to assume more defensive play-calling and overall planning seemed to fall on semi-deaf ears.

Mike Nolan claims he didnít take the top job with the San Francisco 49ers to be relegated to being its defensive coordinator, but to be the one that starts the rebuilding process and tailor it to be the once proud dynasty it once was back in the days of his father.

In order to do that he must now see where the state of the union is for this San Francisco 49er defense. It is in a virtual free fall to where there is no bottom for it to land. In our four losses so far into this season, the 49ers have given up, in order, 34, 38, 41 and 48 points.

In one of our more so-called ugly wins, we gave up 20 points to the bumbling and fumbling Oakland Raiders considered the worst team in the NFL this season.

As fans we understand that we werenít destined to be a playoff contender this season, but by only a freak thing of circumstances. But we expect our team to be competitive and sound in its overall format in execution and simple one-on-one tackling.

There was nothing to be proud of in this game from a defensive standpoint, absolutely nothing. We all know that the high-flying San Diego Chargers are a better football team at this point in their development than us, and we knew it would be an uphill-battle against a team so balanced on either side of the ball.

But we werenít prepared to see another natural disaster that equaled that of the Kansas City Chief stomping we took on the chin with a score of 41-0, only to get beaten to a pulp again by a score of 48-19 due to basic and fundamental errors that are supposed to be simple measures of execution for better teams such as demonstrated by the San Diego Chargers.

On third down alone the San Diego Chargers converted 12-out-of-15 times, compared to our 4-out-of 11 times. The San Diego Chargers converted 30 first downs in this game compared to 15 for the 49ers.

Through the air in his fifth consecutive game as a starting quarterback San Diego Charger Philip Rivers completed 29-of-39 pass attempts for 334 total yards with zero sacks. Rivers had virtually all day long to identify the prime real estate that lie in front of him and throw accurately to almost any target and connect with ease.

He took complete advantage of mismatches, missed tackles; poor pass coverage and utterly atrocious defensive counter measures to rip the defense into shreds of statistics on paper as we are revealing those truths to be right now.

Philip Rivers threw for two touchdowns and had an accurate connection on the first series of the game to tight end Antonio Gates who sprinted for 57 total yards all the way into the end zone on a disgustingly blown defensive call from our sideline where he was lined up in one on one coverage with a special teams player linebacker T.J. Slaughter.

Rivers was almost Super Bowl like in his appearance as a quarterback in this game. Calm cool and collected he picked apart a secondary that was missing veteran cornerback Walt Harris due to an injury and veteran safety Tony Parrish who was benched in favor of Mark Roman, because of his inability to improve the pass defense on this unit in a nut shell.

Rivers went on to compile a 116.8 passer rating and in just the first half of this game was able to convert every single third down 6-of-6 for 100% efficiency.

The pass rush was non-existent except on just one play in the game where 49er defensive tackle Ronald Fields managed to pressure Philip Rivers into throwing the ball for intentional grounding that later was ruled as a safety. Big play after big play happened in Philip Rivers favor mainly due to the non-existent pass rush and our inability to stop him on third downs period.

I believe decisions have to be made regarding our role as a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defense. We cannot continue to implement one or the other multiple times throughout multiple games to experiment what is best. We have to stick to a philosophy that best suits our defense and provides them the best chance at being competitive from one week to the next.

The endless charade of switching from one alignment to the next doesnít allow our players continuity, and reveals apparent inconsistencies because nothing is etched in stone as of yet as to what base defense we are truly playing, relegating players to be expected to play at a high level despite their limited time on the field according to the base setting.

Defensive coordinator Billy Davis is on the hot seat rather Mike Nolan wants to discuss it or not, the relative care of thinking on all our parts is that immediate action is needed to turn this unit around.

I believe as the reporters indirectly pointed out that, Nolan must assume more accountability on the part of the defensive play-calling and even planning based upon the clear-cut errors we are witnessing out on the field.

Rather Mike Singletary plays a more dominant role in that play calling or not is yet to be seen. But we must as agreed by all of us do something. He was asked if the defense needed to be scraped and start over and he responded in a manner that signals changes that are up and coming.

We have to be able to generate a pass rush and we have to stop opposing teams from converting on third down. Our secondary is a mess, starting with Shawntae Spencer whom we just signed to a long-term contract and for what? Certainly not the kind of corner we want that played this past Sunday?

He was burned, exposed and lit-up virtually on every single play and looked rookie-like all day long. It was utterly disgusting to watch his soft coverage and see him take it so charismatically. This is the corner supposedly of the future for this franchise, yet we saw an athlete that reminded me of the Mike Rumph we ejected a while ago.

Rookie cornerback Marcus Hudson was another bright spot we thought would be a shining start that came into the game for an injured Sammy Davis and was scorched instantly for a 33-yard touchdown.

Not all was abysmal for the 49er defense though considering that we held the Chargers on the ground to 2.9 yards a carry with superstar veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson only being able to put 71 yards on the ground. Tomlinson contributed handsomely though on the other side of the ball by running or high-jumping at the goal line for four total touchdowns though.

LaDainian Tomlinson is such a phenomenal athlete in that he makes a defense go literally crazy trying to figure him out, because he is so lethal and unpredictable. He runs the ball with complete authority and catches the ball like a seasoned veteran superstar wide receiver.

He had 71 yards on the ground for a 3.4 yard average a carry with four touchdowns, but even more importantly he caught seven passes for 64 total yards all on top of that as well.

He contributed a big chunk of what the San Diego Chargers were able to do to us offensively and helped them convert 12-of-15 of their third downs to hold time of possession at 35:48 compared to our 24:12.

Players on defense starting with veteran Pro-Bowler defensive tackle Bryant Young are starting to show utter frustration as to why the team is wallowing in mediocrity. Most of the players are afraid to say what is truly on their minds fearing discipline, isolation or retribution.

But Mike Nolan has to realize what is going on. And hopefully through talking with some of the teams captains he can get a better hold on to how and where this team needs to be addressed. Everyone on the defense is responsible collectively he says, which includes the coaching staff all the way down.

To fix it we all need to be a part of the solution, to complain about it you are an addition to the problem in his words. I believe in those words and I am on Mikeís side to get the corrections needed for us to move forward. I am though like so many of us gravely concerned that if we donít fix the defense we will spiral out of control for the rest of the season.

On the offensive side of the ball, positives continue to spring up all over the place. Alex Smith continues to get the job done by completing 20-out-of-31 passes for 214 yards with two touchdowns and one interception from a tipped pass. He was sacked though for a total of five times and pressured relentlessly as the line buckled in the second half.

Frank Gore had another nice day with 10 carries for 55 yards averaging 5.5 yards a carry and caught five passes for 35 yards on top of all that as well. Maurice Hicks continued to shine on special teams by way of kickoff returns for nine carries for 195 yards averaging 21.7 yards a carry.

Again as in almost every game I was appalled at the officiating in this game. We are like a pincushion voodoo doll or something in that many calls this year have been either suspect or apologized back to us at a later date by the head of officiating after further review.

On the Chargers fourth scoring drive as Philip Rivers went deep to Vincent Jackson, 49er Sammy Davis had the inside position with Mark Roman on the outside, yet the 49ers were flagged for pass interference even though it revealed Jackson yanking Sammy Davis back by his shoulder.

In the second quarter, Shawntae Spencer had his hands on a potential interception on what looked to be like offensive interference. On the next play, officials originally ruled Riverís intentional grounding pass down at the one. But it took them looking at the replay and seeing Rivers clearly in the end zone before making the correct call.

Right tackle Kwame Harris should be benched. He was absolutely abysmal yet again in another critical game for us to win. He contributed to Alex Smith getting sacked five times for a loss of 32 total yards and for countless penalties nine total for 116 yards.

Harris all on his own drew three penalties and allowed a sack this past Sunday. He continues to be a very erratic player and from the discussions at this past news conference, Adam Snyder is sitting in the driverís seat ready to take the position should he get the nod from Mike Nolan.

I couldnít think of a better player that deserves to start than Adam Snyder who has played admirably all along the line as Jonas Jennings and Larry Allen have succumbed to injuries. To get both Allen and Jennings back will be a blessing and I believe we need to start hearing from David Baas in the background.

All in all it was miserable to watch our defense. Corrections are being made and the results of that will be on display at Soldier Field against probably the best team in the NFL, the Chicago Bears.

The bye week couldnít have come at a better timing then now, letís use it to our advantage and letís hold those individuals on defense accountable and instill a sense of urgency into every individual player to make the darn play and bring the receiver or runner down to the ground.