Article Title: Our backs against a wall.
Before a nationally televised stage on Monday Night Football on ESPN, the 2010 San Francisco 49ers looked almost surreal like from the 1980’s in their almost complete dominance over their division rival Arizona Cardinals on the road at that defeating them 27-6 to stay alive in a desperate bid for the playoffs. Now we find ourselves one game back from the would you believe St. Louis Rams with their number one drafted rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford.
The National Football Conference’s Western Division has become a subject of ridicule and conjecture as it was talked about on Monday Night Football between announcers and analysts Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. It was mentioned that no team within this division should be allowed to enter the playoffs unless they achieve a record of at least .500 or (8-8) and even that is too pathetic to talk about. Jon Gruden was adamant in his vivid description and reasoning on this and from what he said I would wholeheartedly agree with him that any team finishing with a record of (7-9) should not be allowed to enter the playoffs over a team that is scratching at the door in their own division with an improved record.
Starting our season out of the gate at (0-5) abolished any sort of real hope that we would be a contending team in anything this season. The blame is everywhere as you look for definitions and answers as to why with all of us as fans having our own versions on what went wrong starting with the belief that what we had at quarterback in Alex Smith was our best viable option to assist us in making the playoffs to begin with.
Mike Singletary’s undying loyalty to stay with a quarterback that was inadequate, inconsistent and absent of any real leadership capabilities became blatantly more and more apparent as we went from one loss to yet another. Outside of his injury to his shoulder we would’ve stayed the course even longer making any possibility of salvaging some dignity a mere thought. The Alex Smith project from day one of his drafting out of the University of Utah courtesy of then Vice President of Personnel Scot McCloughan and then head coach Mike Nolan was then and is still now a grave error on this organization’s part to its fans all around the world.
We strayed fro our ideological principles that propelled us to glory under the legendary icons of former San Francisco 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., President Carmen Policy, head coach and general manager Bill Walsh and all his former lieutenants that followed under him as coaches and players in his enormous family tree inside the NFL. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski said it best that this was the birthplace of the West Coast Offense and that was abolished following the departure of the last head coach anointed by Bill Walsh himself in Steve Mariucci. Then General Manager Terry Donahue carelessly picked Dennis Erickson to take the reins and everything from that point on was like a bubonic plague to the San Francisco 49ers.
We are mere relics of what we were back then under Steve Mariucci, George Seifert and the creator of it all Bill Walsh. The West Coast Offense was our trademark we created it and super-sized it into excellence to the point that everyone wanted to copy it or make hybrids out of it. Mike Nolan destroyed it and now Mike Singeltary continues that tradition by not embracing what made us become great from the very beginning. Alex Smith is not and will never be the quarterback we should’ve drafted in 2005 and that is the very quarterback we will face this up and coming Sunday in Aaron Rodgers.
As you compare the two, now there are no comparisons. The Green Bay Packers are a powerful playoff contender with Rodgers at their helm as both he and his head coach in Mike McCarthy are West Coast Offense bred disciples of Bill Walsh’s dynamic philosophies. 49ers tight end extraordinaire Vernon Davis gave an inspirational speech to all his teammates right before the game commenced against the Arizona Cardinals this past Monday Night, so much that tears welled up and watered his cheeks. With our entire season on the line he felt the air of desperation that the team was forced to suddenly deal with. The defining moment was and still is very real. Had we been defeated our 2010 season was over, now we wait and live to tell another day. Still the odds are stacked very heavily against us especially as we take to the road to visit Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
We haven’t won a game on the road against the Green Bay Packers since 1990. And now we have to do it without the centerpiece of our offense in Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore out for the season with a fractured hip. We have to somehow win this game without his dynamic running and blocking abilities and lean on Brian Westbrook and the arm of our newly anointed quarterback in former Ohio State Buckeye Troy Smith who looked more composed and accurate behind an offensive line that wasn’t at all there for him in our home loss trouncing 21-0 shutout to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both rookie offensive linemen came out big this night in right tackle Anthony Davis manhandling Pro Bowl defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and left guard Mike Iupati providing extra-wide running lanes for Brian Westbrook to run through for a total of 136 yards on 23 carries averaging 5.9-yards per carry with a touchdown to boot.
If given the proper time again Troy Smith has shown that he can make plays happen with pinpoint accuracy. In this game he didn’t get to shine so much in passing yards because we churned up the running game to a tune of 261 total yards. Time of possession was completely tilted in our favor as the Arizona Cardinal Offense with Derek Anderson at quarterback was woefully powerless in being able to convert but 2-out-of-11 third downs. Since the retirement of All Pro Super Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner from the Arizona Franchise they have gone from first to worst.
In a quarterback do or die league, having a stallion for a quarterback is now more than ever absolutely necessary to be successful within this league. We can relate knowing from the ever game day inefficiencies we have witnessed in sticking with a number one draft pick that was immersed into a bad supporting cast to begin with and then just continued to self-destruct with never being able to take account of oneself and command of the huddle like he should’ve been able to solidify earlier in his career.
I can appreciate Mike Singletary’s vision of being a great running team and this was highlighted in this game as to how you can take complete control of a game with time of possession and simply dominate in the trenches and exhaust the enemy line that is forced to stay out there on the field with you. But at the same time I think we have to get the ball into our play-makers hands by way of reception and some risk, 129 total yards in passing saw little of that with our talented group of receivers. Running the ball relentlessly and having that set-up the play action pass is not the West Coast Offense that we need to help propel us into prosperity. We need our opponents to fear both and not fill the box anticipating just one. Mike Johnson and Mike Singletary need to examine this for the remainder of what is left on this season.
This type of play calling will not be successful against Green Bay nor against the Seattle Seahawks. Troy Smith has to become more of a factor in games but not the entire factor. Great talents in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker need to be taken advantage of, yet we fail to see the explosion of our offense from happening because of the continued conservatism. Time is running out for us on this season and a definite on the post-season. We need to take the remainder of this time to know that Troy Smith is or will be our quarterback looking forward. Alex Smith has already earned his walking papers by his on camera sideline indignation he shows all of us as the camera is zoomed in on him. Let us reward those that are making it now and are fighting for a new day tomorrow.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.