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Article Title: Lord hear our prayers
Article Date: December 21st 2004
By Sydney

The San Francisco 49ers need all of our prayers and so much more. I have never seen as a die-hard fan a state of absolute decimation as I see now in this once proud organization. Every aspect of our existence needs repair or a complete overhaul from ownership to management and from coaching to player personnel.

Can we honestly say that owner Dr. John York gives a damn from his high- rise office in Youngstown, Ohio? Even sports analysts such as legendary quarterback Terry Bradshaw from Fox Sports believes that this is the worse state he has ever seen the San Francisco 49ers in.

And his colleague Howie Long also agrees that owner Dr. John York cares nothing nor knows nothing about how to run a professional football franchise. In fact the best thing that the current owners could do right now is to sell the team to someone that will bring credibility back to this once prosperous dynasty.

Here you see Dr. John York allowing his head coach in Dennis Erickson to flirt with a coaching possibility with the University of Mississippi, but not too long ago when Steve Mariucci had offers from the college ranks and professional ranks he went into a tirade. Is it simply because the win loss record is different? Or is because he realizes he made a huge blunder in bringing back Dennis Erickson to the NFL with General Manager Terry Donahue doing the courting?

These are all probable answers you can probably put an answer to yourself. Some say that invisible owner Denise DeBartolo has expressed great dissatisfaction with Dennis Erickson and is pushing for a change and wants a complete turnaround. She is sidestepping the fact that it is her husband that is ultimately responsible for the state of the team and her anger should be directed towards him first.

Embarrassing is what I call it in terms of Denise DeBartolo. The name of her company is being dragged down along with the record the team now stands in at (2-12). Sports broadcast analysts in Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long expressed they believed General Manager Terry Donahue lacked the “vision” needed to help turn this team around that the 49ers needed a general manager that had more control from ownership and a bank account to sign players as well.

One would love to see Oracle chairman Larry Ellison buy the team outright and start plans to build a new stadium and start laying the framework to rebuild an organization decimated by inner incompetence and strife over the years. Certainly someone like Ellison has the buying power and dedication to infuse new aggressiveness into the franchise and bring the name of the 49ers back to respectability.

Looking back on last weeks defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins 26-16 again you can see the glaring weaknesses we exhibit on offense. Our defensive players kept us in this game almost throughout as they played their hearts out in front of their home crowd to allow opportunities for the offense to manufacture something. The only thing the offense mustered though was one frustrating turnover after another against the No. #2 ranked defense in the NFL.

“Time after time after time, they kept us in the game,” coach Dennis Erickson said in proud tones of a defensive unit that was expected to be a strength of the team this season and. More times than not, have been.

What I really liked about this game was the way the defense held the Redskins inside the 20-yard line the so- called red zone. Three times the Washington Redskins had to settle for field goals after their offensive drives were turned away at the 49ers seven-yard line, two-yard line and eight-yard line.

Ken Dorsey in for the frequently injured Tim Rattay took the controls but his performance on the field was so much like his earlier performances before last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals that we actually won in overtime. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 206-yards, with two touchdowns but four interceptions.

The crucial interception was in the first half when he threw a pass intended for wide receiver Cedrick Wilson but Redskin linebacker Antonio Pierce cut in front of Wilson. Pierce returned the ball 78-yards down the field for a touchdown that gave the Redskins (5-9) a 23-9 lead.

“Two costly decisions that’s how I would sum up the game right there,” said Dorsey. “These are the things that you have to learn from and make sure they never happen again.”

One observation again on the offense is that they couldn’t really generate much of anything. It constantly was in and off the field in fact on 13 49er offensive possessions eight of them ended without a first down or even worse an interception. And just to rub the salt in the wound even more was former 49er kicker Jeff Chandler who hit field goals of 49, 25, 20 and 26-yards each.

In all Ken Dorsey was a man under fire even though he was sacked but once he was under unbelievable pressure as the offensive line cracked under the relentless barrage that the Washington Redskins brought to bear. Ken Dorsey finished the game with a quarterback rating of just 46.5 and in third down situations out of 13 chances the 49ers only converted three of them.

One thing you do have to say is that this was not all of Ken Dorsey’s fault, simply because he was under such intense pressure and the 49er offensive line did not dominate well. Blitzes were not handled well as they haven’t been all season long and Ken’s internal clock on throwing with timing was obviously off when you consider that some of his throws were off-mark and short.

“We were in his face constantly today, and it’s hard to throw the ball accurately under that type of pressure,” linebacker Lemar Marshall said. “Dorsey’s a fine young quarterback, but he had to be feeling the heat.”

Ken Dorsey was constantly on his back and even suffered a chest contusion and a smashed ring finger on his left hand. The later injury was thought to keep him out of the game but it only affected his handoffs to running back Maurice Hicks (11 carries, 37 yards) and seldom-used backup Kevan Barlow (six carries, 18 yards). Barlow did do well in picking up blitzes and allowing Ken Dorsey more time to throw the ball, mostly because of his weight advantage next to Maurice Hicks who is much lighter.

The stands at Monster Park emptied midway through the third quarter something that former 49er left guard veteran Ray Brown noticed after playing for the 49ers for six years and are now a Washington Redskin. It was a familiar spectacle that is becoming more and more frequent as the season has progressed and the team has regressed.

“I was shocked by that,” said Brown, a former 49er who helped the Washington Redskins beat his former team 26-16. “Hopefully, the guys won’t get discouraged. And the fans will be back. You just have to win.”

I must say this about Ray Brown is that he in my opinion is one of the best offensive linemen to ever play the game. He dominates at the line of scrimmage and almost never loses his grip on his opponent even at age 41 he continues to work as if he was only 30-years old. It was a shame for us to let him go when we did just before the 2002 season as he has contributed on several teams now and has been a steady anchor.

In fact defensive end John Engelberger was effectively neutralized all day long when you saw Ray Brown make contact with him and steer him away from the box where Patrick Ramsey was set to throw. I have such tremendous respect for a veteran like this that is so sorely needed on a team like ours to help institute cohesiveness and promote better execution.

Ray Brown like so many other veterans thought to be too old and having little left in his tank, continues to play at a high level and simply dominates his opponent like no other. Veterans like center Jeremy Newberry and right tackle Scott Gragg will tell you the very same thing I am now. This offensive line has not been nearly the same as the one of old in every statistic you can think of.

“I absolutely love it out here and I loved my time with the 49ers,” said Brown, who has started 42 games for Detroit and Washington in the three years since he was let go by the 49ers. “This is a fabulous place to play, an outstanding organization. You just don’t want to see it fall off the map. I think it will bounce back. You just have to go through cycles.”

“You just have to take your hat off to the guy to be able to play at that level he has played for so many years,” said 49ers linebacker Derek Smith.

“He’s a great player who’s excelled over a long period of time,” added 49ers fullback Fred Beasley. “And even though it’s been a couple years since he left, it was still strange seeing him in another uniform. That was tough, seeing a veteran like him go. He’s got a lot of game left in him.”

And to that note I second that Fred. I can’t tell you just how much this has hurt this team in the long run. Veterans like this that probably could’ve spelled more success on the line and generated more scoring opportunities and victories. But when your back is up against the wall like ours was with salary cap constraints hanging on every thread, we seemed to have little choice but to dump the success I just identified in the waste bucket.

“When you get Jeff Garcia out of here, you get Terrell Owens out of here, you’re talking about guys who offensively are a big part of what you do,” Brown said. “Maybe that was a foreshadowing of what was going to happen.”

And without a doubt it has happened, in every conceivable way we have failed on so many fronts. But with signing some of our younger talent already and taking our lumps now rather than later maybe just maybe we can look forward to what we’ll have next year.

There is a lot to be evaluated in my opinion. We need to identify which quarterback gives us the best chance to win next year, either Tim Rattay or Ken Dorsey. Or should we take a premier quarterback with our first round draft pick and start developing him as the future. Is there any future in either one of these quarterbacks? I think it’s way too hard to tell at this time, considering the performance of the offensive line and the durability questions of both athletes.

Should we draft more offensive linemen instead? And do we need a new running back considering the failures of this season’s Kevan Barlow and what he was supposed to bring to the table. Does it start with a new coaching staff, which needs to be revamped considerably or dumped just all together, and start with a clean fresh slate? These are questions as the season winds down that all of us need to answer and find solutions to.

I know we are all sick and tired of losing, because the stands at Monster Park reflect that and fans living far away are growing weary of accepting a team so near death and on life support to keep its collective head above water from drowning.

Lord hear our prayers as the 49er faithful lift their voices to you on this holiday season. We want to be enriched again and prosperous as a team and be able to hold our heads up high when our mere name is mentioned. We want to be respected and appreciated by our peers and we want nothing but the best for our players so that they can get the job done.

We pray for some real substance that we can hold on to rather it be coaching changes, free agent acquisitions, healthy salary cap news, multiple draft picks, new owners, new management or even more victories next season. We the fans all want this for our very own Christmas gift, one we can all appreciate and share together for many years to come.