Article Title: It is what it is.
Eight straight losses on record now for the 2007 San Francisco 49ers that were predicted to win the Western Division in the National Football Conference because of key additions via free agency and a top-heavy draft that yielded some incredible talent to go along with the veterans. What we witnessed on Bill Walsh Field inside Monster Park in San Francisco was just more of the same, this time against the worst team in the NFL that we now resemble in the St. Louis Rams.
Being Alumni day inside Monster Park many of the legends that made the San Francisco 49ers what they are today stood by and shared the anguish and grief we have all had as die-hard 49er fans promised so much and yet we walk away from each game with a migraine of disgust and rage that cannot be compared to anything like we’ve ever felt before in a very long time.
The throwback colors of yesterday that the 49ers adorned on that day did nothing to recapture the glorious past. Trent Dilfer trotted out to command this incomprehensible and pathetic offense directed by an offensive coordinator that has clearly lost any validation that he’ll make a rebound anytime soon. We were defeated at the St. Louis Rams 21-yard line when Trent Dilfer attempted to connect with butterfingers Darrell Jackson with three seconds remaining and was intercepted by St. Louis Ram Oshiomogho Atogwe to end the game following some controversial decisions to go for a field goal with 1:55 left in the game down 13-6 and a chance from the Rams 28-yard line to go for it on fourth-and-ten.
What has been so familiar to us in any such game was again in blue sky clarity here on this day with wide receivers and tight ends dropping balls and an offensive line being beaten in the trenches to surrender three sacks and relegate running back Frank Gore to being a complete non-factor in this game by limiting the 49ers to 32 total yards on the ground. Again it centers in on the line not being able to win the key match-ups along the line and to block effectively with proper angles and shifts that allow Frank some room to breath on his way into the open field that is his destiny.
Every single member on this offensive unit is responsible to the predicament that we are in. From the offensive line where it starts to the offensive coaching staff where it ends. And everyone in between including a franchise quarterback that once again stares from a sideline and cannot play due to a nagging shoulder injury that claimed his starting position at the end of September of this year.
Even if Alex Smith were completely healthy like he had been back in September prior to his devastating injury would it have been any more different? Absolutely not in my opinion and so many other fans that have come to the realization that he’ll never be what we thought he would be, and that is a quarterback that is emotional on the field and is resilient enough to turn bad situations into small miracles of faith. Three seasons later we are no further ahead with him as our leader on offense. In fact we are light years behind the rest of the league in developing a quarterback that commands fear and respect and has that compelling and tenacious ability to create positive change on the whim of his arm and feet all together.
We have utterly lost our very offensive identity in so many ways that it is time to contact the FBI and ask them to assist us in finding it again. Mike Nolan’s insistence that offensive coordinator Jim Hostler is doing a fine job continues to echo sickness in my mind every single time I hear him say the words. He has done nothing to prove or even to resemble any positive spark that we can hold up and recognize as a starting point to develop on throughout the entirety of this 2007 season. Nothing he has done has made us conceivably better then our competition.
In fact he has maintained and worsened our statistical ranking in every single offensive category that is registered here within the NFL. We are the absolute worst in everything a football team can do on offense hands down. We are a dream to any defensive coordinator coming into San Francisco and or as we visit them. The game plan is always very simple and to the point: Stop Frank Gore and make them throw the ball. Apply intense pressure and they will surely fall. These are the ingredients that we have sent via first class mail to every defensive coordinator in the NFL.
Mike Nolan’s post game news conference was nothing but the same as the media questioned him in length on the state of the team. He acknowledged for the first time that 49er fans are upset and rightfully so. At the very least was a fine acknowledgement that I will finally grant him one. His arrogant and ignorant stance on not holding someone or anyone accountable within the organization for the offensive woes of this team continue to irritate us to no end.
Yes the inefficiencies of this offense are a collective effort. Yes there is more then just one person to blame? We all know that? But let it start with Nolan himself and work its way down where he at least makes a concerted effort to make change a recognizable option that is coming sooner rather than staying the course time and time again.
13 first downs later and converting 3-out-of-14 third down opportunities is not nearly enough offense to defeat anyone as we all witnessed this past Sunday. We made no headway in dropped balls, rushing yardage, protection of the quarterback and or delivering in crunch time situations. I will say that Trent Dilfer did move the offense better than he has ever done and was more accurate than I anticipated him to be as he proved that he did learn from his costly appearances before during Alex Smith’s shoulder injury.
The San Francisco 49er defense put up a valiant effort. There is no doubt about that in this game as they stopped the St. Louis offensive machine and presented our offense multiple opportunities to go out and manufacture something. They held the Rams to 207 net yards with 102 on the ground and 105 through the air. It was yet again one of the best efforts I’ve seen from this defense totally maligned by an offense that ridicules them with one three-and-out effort after another that sends their sorry carcasses back out on the field to defend something they have had to more times than words can say.
Six sacks on St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger was exemplified by the new emergence of Parys Haralson and Roderick Green. Super Bowl veteran Bryant Young cruised to 2.5 sacks on Bulger and displayed the tenacity of what we have lost in inner spirit and integrity from many seasons gone past. Enormous pressure was coming from all angles on Marc Bulger but please remember that their offensive line is simply a shell of its former self due to injuries.
Alex Smith has gone to get a second opinion on his shoulder that already has indicated that there is more damage there than anticipated. Maybe forcing him to play despite the team’s medical staff’s indicated clearance of him to play despite his visual discomfort and his horrendous individual performance was a mistake on Mike Nolan’s part?
I would say clearly it was now looking back and actually seeing it for myself as every single throw was as if he was throwing his last grimacing in pain and discomfort on a magnitude of another earthquake occurring from his shoulder blade all the way down to is forearm and back again. He should’ve never been allowed to come back so soon and start; yet the communication breakdown between Nolan and Smith was yet another strong indication that management is not being sincere with anyone and is unaccountable for the results that have happened thus far.
The clear decline of the offensive line despite being the exact line that sprang Frank Gore to life last season is totally unacceptable. Despite the injuries to Jonas Jennings and Justin Smiley the alternatives often executed and played better. I find no solace in ridiculing the offensive line I so admired last season and what they did for Frank Gore and even the protection they somehow showed improvement just a season ago. But the facts are what they are and it starts with the center in Eric Heitmann all the way down both sides of the line and an aging worn out Larry Allen on the left side to boot.
Our wide receivers are again below the radar screen in production due in large part because of the routes they run and the balls they continue to drop. Even the tight ends have been largely a disappointment in all of these categories all though they do show more heart in making the concerted effort look real. Darrell Jackson is a bust and Ashley Lelie hasn’t been given enough opportunities to provide real answers to what he brings to the table.
The season is a loss especially at the quarterback position where I believe it would be prudent to find out what is in the melting pot that we can evaluate for next season in Shaun Hill if he can get healthy and even Michael Robinson who was a collegiate superstar quarterback back in Penn State and has amazing versatility in everything he does. Alex Smith should not see any playing time until outside medical people clear him to do so and there is distinct evidence he can play with zero pain and discomfort.
The San Francisco 49ers have finally brought in an offensive assistant in Ted Tollner our very offensive coordinator back in 2004 following the exodus and release of veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia. He served as a quarterback’s coach two seasons prior to that before getting the nod to head the offense. His success rate with us was severely limited and I question the credentials he brings to the table in assisting rookie Jim Hostler in running this anemic offense.
In my opinion I welcome the help finally but is it credible and decisive enough to make any sort of intelligent difference on this offense? I don’t know we’ll have to wait and see. Obviously anyone and anything has to be help in diagnosing and evaluating where this offense is and where it should be going? I am pleasantly surprised about this but pessimistic to the point that it is “too little too late.” It shouldn’t have taken eight straight losses for the teams management to see this should’ve been in place almost from the very beginning once Norv Turner was out the door.
Any rookie offensive coordinator needs direction, guidance and suggestion. Hard to do when your head coach is nothing but a defensive genius and offers little in the way of intelligent assistance. We haven’t had a real offensive coordinator outside of Norv Turner since Greg Knapp. In fact it is what it is because we have thrown away many of the fundamentals and principles of the West Coast Offense orchestrated by the late great legacy of Bill Walsh.
This offense would be in better position and have a statistical chance to improve itself should we revert back exclusively to the West Coast Offense that defined our legacy as a feared franchise. Yes you have to have the personnel in place to do this and unfortunately we don’t have that because the playbook has been greatly revised to alter what once was under Mike Nolan and his staff. Alex Smith has been more so a shotgun type of quarterback rather than the quarterback that should rely more on rollouts and bootlegs that cater to his strengths. Still his future here should be reevaluated.
Again we have a real identity crisis. The offense needs a major facelift and it has to start with the coaching staff on down to the personnel that is on the field. Nothing should be left unturned and I am finally relieved that Denise DeBartolo is now taking a concerned interest in what is transpiring in San Francisco and is listening to the frenzied frustrations of the people that care for and honor this team on a daily basis.
The weather forecast for this team has been nothing to smile about. I have a hard time wearing my San Francisco 49er authentic jerseys on game day as regular football fans question me as to “what happened to the 49ers this year?” I’ve had to cough up litigating circumstances for “it is what it is,” time and time again. Yet I hold on to the hope and prayer that we will recover from this long sickness somehow and someway.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.