Article Title: Slap of Cold Reality.
San Francisco 49er head coach Mike Nolan has pledged to make no real legitimate changes in personnel and or philosophy and scheme to rectify the avalanche of pure mediocrity that has resulted in three straight losses the latest a 40-26 defeat at home yet again in front of the 49er faithful at Candlestick Park. The San Francisco 49ers found yet another way to lose a game they had in hand once leading 26-17 in the third quarter.
Collectively everyone is responsible for the losing record, (2-4) on the 2008 NFL season thus far and looking up at a resurgent Arizona Cardinal franchise that is running on all cylinders after defeating America’s pride and joy in the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday. San Francisco 49er linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said it best in that every player on the roster needs to look at oneself in the mirror and ask why? Each and every player has the ability to pick-up the pieces and to go out and execute better, but it has to come from within.
But then you have to analyze the coaching part of this equation. Great coaching should equal some victories in the winning column all by itself. Yet we haven’t been seeing that under the Mike Nolan regime nor the Dennis Erickson era that was before that. Nolan is a calculated genius in shifting the blame and responsibility for the losing record of this franchise around to be the catalyst for something else. He almost has one believing that losing games like this are to be expected before we really do get better. But the better just never seems to come almost four years later?
The 49ers own a (2-4) record which is a (.333 win percentage). Mike Nolan’s official record now almost halfway through his fourth year as head coach is 18-36 (.333). Absolutely pathetic by all intents and purposes, when you look at the ups and downs and free agency and draft decisions that this franchise has done to try and reorganize and improve, it has all been for naught.
Both Denise DeBartolo and Dr. John York share equal blame and responsibility for their decision to retain Mike Nolan following the dismal 2007 NFL season of (5-11) following a promising (7-9) season back in 2006. Sugar coating it by elevating long-time friend and ally Scot McCloughan from personnel director to general manager so that he could conceivably reign in Mike was like watching a fire already out of control with but a sprinkler to put it back in control.
Dr. John York and his son Jed York effectively manage the team from an ownership standpoint. They seem to be utterly oblivious to what is being written and said via radio, television and face to face all around the Bay Area and as far as the east coast in that Mike Nolan is incapable of leading this team back to its winning identity it had under George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.
There is absolutely no question in my mind following this Philadelphia Eagles victory that it is imperative that a head coaching change take place sooner rather than later and that Dr. John York concede that he has made a major mistake yet again in hiring the right man for the job. 49er fans worldwide are screaming for change much like the consumers and investors are as they watch the New York Stock Exchange plummet from one day to the next.
This has been by far the worst decade in San Francisco 49er history with the change of ownership from Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to his sister Denise and husband Dr. John York, nothing has ever been remotely the same with this franchise as we continue to see the fan base shrink to epic smaller proportions and seats at Candlestick exceed the 10,000 mark empty week in and week out because nothing is worth seeing as a San Francisco 49er fan.
We are disillusioned to the brink of no-return in that we are at the very mercy of what these owners want to do. The voices of the 49er faithful use to mean something to the owner, we all knew it did with Eddie. But not now and it will only be heard by the most drastic of means in not attending the games to actually protesting outside of headquarters at the Santa Clara complex.
Mike Nolan was introduced back in 2005 as the next messiah for a winning dynasty to comeback and lay claim to its rightful destiny. He is anything but that, in that he has failed to win the hearts and minds of his collective players as evidenced out on the playing field and the discontent we still hear from far outside the locker room walls.
Mike Nolan is conceived as a dictator by his own means. He answers in his mind to no one, especially the subhuman race that is known as the 49er faithful. He manipulates and sidetracks his deficiencies so that his image remains pristine among his peers and those above him. He is very calculated and successful in procrastinating on an answer that should be known now into something that is asked yet again a week later.
Looking back on the Philadelphia Eagles game I have to say that as a collective team we were very competitive in meeting every onslaught with our very own right up and until the fourth quarter of play. In the first quarter I have to make mention of kick-return specialist extraordinaire Allen Rossum who fielded a punt and made a 45-yard return with some pleasant assistance by tight end Delanie Walker. A disappointing drop by wide receiver Josh Morgan led to a Joe Nedney field goal.
The Philadelphia Eagles were set-up nicely on a kick return by Quentin Demps for 63 total yards with Nedney having to force him out and injuring himself slightly. Correll Buckhalter would provide the one-yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Eagles. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis would help get us back for a Joe Nedney field goal to make it 7-6 Eagles. Although the Eagles were without veteran running back Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter went on to have 18 carries for 93 total yards averaging 5.2-yards per carry and had one touchdown.
He also was the Eagles leading receiver with seven receptions for 85 total yards and was everything if not more than what Westbrook would’ve provided. Eagle’s veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb was never sacked. He saw and avoided pressure but there was no 49er that got there arms or hands on him. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 278 total yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He ended the game with a quarterback rating of 94.4.
Due to the inability of our pass rush to get to McNabb our secondary was exposed for what it has been which is miserable; considering we have players that are much more talented and able-bodied to execute and make plays, which compels most of us to ask as to why we aren’t sitting the non-producers with those players that are producing.
Donovan McNabb drove the Eagles from his 22-yard line down to the 49er two-yard line where he found Hank Bassett for the touchdown making it 14-6 Eagles. The Eagles would add a field goal to make it 17-6 and the 49ers answered back on a Joe Nedney 53-yard field goal to make it 17-9, again opportunities were lost to convert a touchdown due to false start penalties that stalled the drive.
With just one second left to go in the half the Philadelphia Eagles attempted a 54-yard field goal attempt that backfired when 49er defensive end Ray McDonald blocked the attempt and it was picked up by 49er cornerback Donald Strickland and returned 41-yards for a touchdown to make it 17-16 Eagles and new optimism in the 49er locker room.
Mike Nolan’s first challenge in the second quarter regarding a DeSean Jackson catch along the sideline was a clear mistake. Whoever is assisting him in throwing the red flag needs to have their eyes checked as it was clear that it wouldn’t be reversed. As far as the first half was concerned we had better field position, time of possession and a blocked field goal that was a special team’s touchdown to boot.
However the Philadelphia Eagles had more first downs, third down efficiency and far more total yards 224-140 to prove their case in the overall point category. As the second half opened with a 21-yard completion to Isaac Bruce from the 49er 22-yard line, J.T. O’Sullivan moved the offense through the air and on Frank Gore’s legs with a 25-yard run down to the six-yard line where Gore crashed in for a touchdown to make it 23-17 49ers.
The 49ers would add to their booty with a 29-yard field goal to make it 26-17 and the best lead of the game with 2:52 left in the third quarter. 49er offensive line penalties crushed any hope of turning this drive into a touchdown. The Philadelphia Eagles under Donovan McNabb drove all the way to the 49er 15-yard line only to be intercepted by 49er linebacker Takeo Spikes that effectively ended the quarter.
Please remember that Frank Gore up and until now the fourth quarter had been a focal point of our offense. He had 19 carries for 101-yards and a 5.3-yard per carry ratio including a touchdown, yet he only touched the ball twice in the remaining quarter? On a bad punt the Philadelphia Eagles got the ball back on the 49er 38-yard line where Donovan McNabb found L.J. Smith for a touchdown to make it 26-24 49ers.
Again with great field position the Eagles moved the ball to the 49er 20-yard line where they attempted a field goal to make it 27-26 Eagles and the actual field goal was challenged by Mike Nolan even though the play was called a success by referees standing under the uprights. The complete absurdity of making a challenge like this was beyond absurdity making it relevant that Mike Nolan’s thought processes are subject to legitimate scrutiny.
On the next series 49er Delanie Walker would be snuffed out for a 10-yard loss and J.T. O’Sullivan intercepted that put the Eagles in field goal position to make it 30-26 Eagles. Again the Philadelphia Eagles defense turned up the heat and completely changed the momentum by pressuring and sacking J.T. O’Sullivan so that it caused a fumble to be lost and the Eagles added yet another field goal to make it 33-26 Eagles.
With just :48 seconds left to go in the game J.T. O’Sullivan threw a desperate pass intended for Arnaz Battle that was intercepted an returned 55-yards for a touchdown making it 40-26 Philadelphia Eagles. Seven interceptions in three games by J.T. O’Sullivan leads one to believe that he was a journeyman quarterback in this league for over six-years for a legitimate reason.
He ranks 37th in the NFL fourth quarter passing and he leads the league in fourth quarter interceptions as well. Guess who is second according to Ira Miller; Jon Kitna of the Detroit Lions a Mike Martz protégée that indicates that J.T. O’Sullivan lacks great field vision in due part because of our makeshift offensive line and the timing recognition he should have by now with all of his receivers. The interceptions have been far too numerous to allow us chances to get back into each game. He has to take responsibility for these and be more careful in his check-downs and get rid of the ball out of his hands quicker instead of throwing under great duress like he has had to.
For the first three quarters it was working. However the Philadelphia Eagles and their crafty defensive coordinator in Jim Johnson dialed-up some exclusive heat that pin-pointed what it was that rattled J.T. O’Sullivan the most. This was the time for our offensive line to step-up and again it failed miserably.
I am beside myself when Mike Nolan indicates that there will be no changes on personnel from a defensive standpoint? Our defense is as bad as our offense was under last year’s coordinator being Jim Hostler. Greg Manusky has to bear some of this burden and insist in changes on the secondary to stop the hemorrhaging of bleeding that is coming out of this once-thought talented group of athletes like Mark Roman and Walt Harris.
I like all of you believe that real change is necessary. At (2-4), our season is in real jeopardy. For all the talent we have on this roster it is grossly unacceptable. Players obviously aren’t buying into Mike Nolan’s concepts, philosophies and his vision of what should be for the future of this once proud franchise. Owners need to wake-up to the real brokers that pay for the seats that reside around Candlestick and collect their merchandise. Our say cannot be drowned out for much longer.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.