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Article Title: Giant Hang-over
Article Date: November 10th 2005
By Sydney


So here we are again my fellow 49er fans. Another dramatic loss that has sucked us from ground zero like a tornado and cast us into a sea of misery like a drunk staggering out of a Friday night bar somewhere wondering where he is and will end up at.

We hear the promises of head coach Mike Nolan repeating it that this loss at the hands of Eli Manning and the New York Giants 24-6 is unacceptable and will not stand. We hear the same philosophies about how it is a maturing process and a developing time for a very young team that is evolving through constant transition.

Injuries have virtually self-destructed this team on both sides of the ball and the youth that has replaced them and has been forced to step-up isn’t.

San Francisco 49er fans inside Monster Park and through the television airwaves saw the same things that I witnessed on this past Sunday afternoon. A team struggling to even executes the most basic fundamentals of professional football.

Penalty flags flew like confetti falling after a Super Bowl party in this game to the extent that we registered 12 for a loss of 80 total yards!

High School football teams have far less than this on their worse days. What is happening to this football team folks? Under the Mike Nolan regime and his new line breed of coaches we all expect better execution than this. Veteran players are frustrated to witness these types of mistakes and to be a part of a team that is so careless and inefficient out on the field.

Frankly as a die-hard fan I am appalled at the way this game was lost at the hands of ourselves opening one door to another for these New York Giants to walk through. We have failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fifth time in our first eight games.

The San Francisco 49er offense is a mockery of what it used to be. We continue to spin the carousel of quarterbacks as fourth string starter Cody Pickett was called into the line of duty for this game. And under the intense circumstances did a fairly decent job with so many errors being committed all around him.

He completed 12-of-21 passes for 102-yards and had one interception. In fact this was the most yards passing for a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay threw for 126 yards against the Arizona Cardinals back on Oct.2.

In fact the 49ers offense failed to even get a first down in seven of its 11 possessions, which sabotaged Cody Pickett from becoming an unsung hero for this football team.

The very long stretch that killed me was late in the second quarter when the San Francisco 49ers actually had made it to the New York Giants 30-yard line with Cody Pickett leading the charge. With just two minutes left running back Kevan Barlow was effectively dropped for a three-yard loss.

But that was not all as on second and long Cody Pickett reared back and connected with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for a spectacular one handed grab at the two-yard line, only to have it comeback because of a holding penalty on left tackle you guessed it Anthony Clement.

This guy has got to be the worse left tackle I have ever seen inside the league. I can’t understand why it is we allow ourselves to self-destruct by putting a below-average player out on the field like this in a very critical position as left tackle.

His ability to pass protect is atrocious and his ability to block and defend a laughing stock. After losing our greatest off-season investment in Jonas Jennings to start the year out because of an injury to his right shoulder where he tore his labrum Sept. 25 against Dallas, we haven’t been able to protect our quarterback period.

We went out and signed Jonas Jennings against popular belief that he was injury prone. There were verifications to this matter with the Buffalo Bills and he carried this with him when we signed him. We signed this gut to a seven-year, $36 million dollar contract and what have you done for me lately?

Back to the play I was describing and Anthony Clements holding penalty, Cody Pickett then fails to complete a pass to Arnaz Battle. From here we are backed up from the two-yard line all the way to the 43-yard line.

Then come the penalty flags one right after another on two false starts by our friends in Anthony Clement and right tackle Kwame Harris.

Backed up all the way to the New York Giants 47-yard line Cody Pickett is desperate to make any kind of offensive progress and throws a pass intended for Arnaz Battle that he forces and is intercepted by Brent Alexander, who then laterals it to Will Allen who returns it to the 49er 41-yard line.

With just four-plays later under quarterback extraordinaire Eli Manning the New York Giants hit elite tight end Eli Manning for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 10-0 New York Giants.

“You definitely beat yourself up after this one,” 49ers safety Tony Parrish said. “This is one of those games where you’re going to have different plays going through your mind that cut your sleep short at night.”

In fact this offense would’ve been punch less altogether if not for kicker Joe Nedney making field goals of 48 and 52 yards in the third quarter. The offensive line was called for five false-start penalties and two holding calls (not including the one that was declined), which effectively forced Cody Pickett into long-yardage situations on both second and third downs.

This same offensive line which was fired up and emotional in a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reverted right back to where they have been all season long, as being one of the worse in the entire NFL.

Right tackle Kwame Harris was identified as being the offender on three false-start penalties, but in hindsight it looked as if he was the guilty party on two others as well. He was even called for holding as well making me believe that this product from Stanford is self-destructing as we speak.

“Those are things you expect out of a Pop Warner player,” Harris said. “You don’t expect it out of a pro player.”

Until Mike Nolan understands that it is the offensive line that wins football games I don’t think we’ll ever get out of the hole we are in. He has to know this at some point in the season as it unfolds. The line is not protecting anybody regardless of who you put in at quarterback and they cannot even execute a basic play without drawing a stupid penalty.

No one on the offensive line has played up to standard except for right guard Eric Heitmann in my opinion. Even center Jeremy Newberry who is as brave and courageous as he is has not played like he is accustomed to based upon his multiple injuries; which are ankle, knee and shoulder injuries all in one.

The offensive line allowed three sacks in this game against Cody Pickett for a loss of 16 total yards as well and the pressure that was exerted upon Cody Pickett with little to know practice repetitions through training camp was unrelenting.

The frustration as indicated by veteran players on offense is unraveling throughout the ranks and file of the playmakers in general. Offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy has got to find simplified ways of getting this offense back up on its feet again. He has to make the quarterback feel safe while he’s in the pocket trying to secure a target to throw to.

“It’s very frustrating,” wide receiver Johnnie Morton, said. “It’s really embarrassing. We should be scoring a lot because this is professional football, not high school. Even in high school they score a lot of points. I don’t know what we need to do, but we need to get into the end zone. It’s not like we need to score one touchdown and celebrate. We need to score a lot of touchdowns. The defense is keeping us in games and we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.”

Boy do I miss tight end Eric Johnson. Did you see the perfect lob throw by Cody Pickett to tight end Trent Smith for what would’ve been well over 30-yards long? Yet he cannot hold on to the ball and squashes yet another bright ray of hope that was registered on this offense.

And then the San Francisco 49ers on defense weigh in at having only 10 players out on the field with the very first play of the game in which Eli Manning found tight end Jeremy Shockey for a 28-yard completion. This eventually led to the New York Giants marching down the field and having kicker Jay Feely connect with a 22-yard field goal.

“It is a lack of focus and concentration,” 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. “Emotion is a huge part of the game, and you can’t let emotions get the better of you when it comes to executing what your responsibility is. There’s not a tremendous amount of noise at home. Today was inexcusable.”

The San Francisco 49er defense continues to improve despite giving up some big plays here and there. The evidence was again apparent in this game when Eli Manning hooked up with big tall wide receiver Plaxico Burress who managed to make a one-handed grab that pulled the ball and trapped it between his arms and the back of 49er cornerback Bruce Thornton’s helmet.

After a few plays, from this one New York Giants Brandon Jacobs punched it in for a one-yard touchdown to make it a New York Giants lead 17-6. The entire defense overall played brilliantly for the most part right up and until the fourth quarter where the New York Giants took over.

“That’s the one thing we talked about,” said linebacker Andre Carter of the Plaxico Burress catch. “Big plays kill us. Whether it’s one, two or three, those big plays add up. Those big and explosive plays are just unacceptable.”

The New York Giants rushing attack led by running back Tiki Barber was effectively neutralized though all day with a combined 93-yards of rushing offense registered. Our solid defensive front was able to make it a tough go for the established running back of record in Tiki Barber.

To be positive with what we are seeing is very difficult. I know I may have sounded negative on Mike Nolan but the absence of consistency and the foolish mistakes we registered blatantly inside this particular game have got to be real concerns.

I am still a Mike Nolan fan and will continue to support his ideology and practices out on the field and inside the locker room where he’s most effective. I am wondering though if maybe Mike McCarthy is the right man for the job at the helm of the offense.

I have a hard time with accepting an offensive line that has done almost nothing year to date after the mid-point in this season. One has to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later on this as the defense plays their hearts out each and every game.

We need an offensive line that can weather the storm and move the chains. We need a line that will provide maximum pass protection to its young quarterbacks and help spawn gaping holes and lanes in which are running backs can sprint through.

Bob McKittrick where are you my friend please shine down from heaven and give this line your blessings. We need a miracle healing in the worse way and we must address this festering problem in both the draft and in free agency for next year.

Until that happens we will have to win football games with our defense. A practice that is grossly unfair and unbalanced. It is a time where offensive players either put up or shut up so to speak and all of them need to be called out and show execution.