Article Title: Bears and Mother Nature
The Chicago Bears at Soldier Field evidently held a nightlong vigil in praying for adverse weather conditions from Mother Nature as we opened this game last Sunday.
The wind was a definite factor blowing between 45-50 miles an hour across the field and then back again almost always favoring the Chicago Bears in a long day that left the San Francisco 49ers guessing as to what could happen next?
Have you ever watched a nature documentary show where you watch a bear expert tell you what to do in case of a bear attack? Stop drop and lay still like you were dead right?
Well the San Francisco 49ers did just that but didn’t lay still, they rolled around like a lifeless dead corpse being repeatedly mauled by an agitated bear. Never have I seen such incompetence and lack of execution on the part of our team other than the loss we suffered at the hands of the New York Giants.
We are the recipients of being the most penalized team in the NFL hands down. I can remember when across the Bay the Oakland Raiders held this distinct honor for many years past, but now the San Francisco 49ers can be assumed to be the new bungling malcontents of the NFL.
If there was ever a case in this game to be upset the play after the third muffed punt by Chicago Bear punt return specialist Bobby Wade recovered by 49er linebacker Jim Maxwell is that case in point.
The 49ers were trailing 14-6 after Adrian Peterson’s 7-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and guess what we were now in a position to tie that score. After the recovery by linebacker Jim Maxwell the San Francisco 49er offense stood poised at the 2-yard line smelling the air for their first touchdown after three consecutive games in a row.
Kevan Barlow was trounced for no gain and the erratic Cody Pickett made a sprint that net gained only 1-yard. Then all of a sudden a series of yellow flags began to fly through the air like a laughing stock the offensive line crumbled before the mighty Chicago Bear defense without even trying to break a sweat.
First we were flagged for having too many men on the field. Then we incurred a delay of game on top of that pushing us out to the 11-yard line. Then on third and long and desperate to make amends for the offensive lines mistakes Cody Pickett threw the ball just before Brandon Lloyd completed running his route and watched the pass flutter out of bounds and incomplete.
This then called for kicker Joe Nedney to kick a field goal that pulled us within 14-9 and would be the only points scored on the part of this pathetic offense.
What was even far worse was Joe Nedney’s field goal attempt right before the end of the first half of 52-yards that was on its way as if it would make the goal posts and then wham out of the blue the ball was shot like a duck being shot at by 100 duck hunters and spiraled down and into the waiting hands of Chicago Bear Nathan Vasher.
Nathan Vasher returned the ball 108-yards in and around a sea of San Francisco 49ers in utter shock that this was actually happening right before their eyes and led the game at that point 7-3 in rather quick fashion with Mike Nolan shaking his collective head in disgust.
This game that was played on the wind-swept shores of Lake Michigan has to be the lowest point in our very long 2005 NFL season. We have not scored an offensive touchdown since the waning last seconds of the 52-17 defeat we suffered at the hands of the Washington Redskins On Oct 23.
And that was only scored because of defensive indifference with the game already handily won on the heels of Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis. Our offensive juggernaut long known throughout the NFL as being one of the most lethal, with superstars such as Tittle to Owens and Montana to Rice and Young to Owens now embraces you with a Cody Pickett for one pass to Brandon Lloyd for 28-yards in the entire game.
What has happened to our beloved team? Will we ever be able to hold our collective heads up again and be proud again of this offense that was not too long ago? Obviously we can look at a variety of reasons and or excuses to why it is where we are at this point in the season.
Injuries are definitely one of the reasons we are where we are. Injuries to the line in Jeremy Newberry and Jonas Jennings being one and injuries to our wide receivers and tight ends that have virtually crippled our ability to move the ball down the field.
But penalties and lack of enthusiasm and execution seem to be main areas of concern as well. We are employing the wrong types of athletes or should I say the cheap alternatives that accomplish nothing but maintain the current course we have already set ourselves up to arrive at.
You can blame weather conditions like this game we played out on Soldier Field, or you can blame the superior play of a Chicago Bear defense that held us to a net total 161-yards of offense and just 28 in passing. Bottom line the San Francisco 49er organization is the one to blame themselves for the predicament they are in right now.
There literally may not be a team in NFL history that has put worse offensive personnel on the playing surface then this one. We can’t score and we have little chance of ever scoring with the offensive personnel now employed by this organization.
We as fans have all seen low points in this team as it turned to Dennis Erickson under the Terry Donahue era and left behind a successful Steve Mariucci era after brawling over power with owner Dr. John York.
And now after realizing mistakes from the past he has now turned to Scot McCloughan and Mike Nolan to turn around a franchise embittered with controversy and wavering in committing financially.
This team cannot return to championship form just by compiling more draft picks each and every year and qualifying for the first round draft pick in every draft. It must be committed to paying large salaries and signing premier talent.
The big signing of left tackle Jonas Jennings turned out to be a joke because look at what we are getting on our return. He was signed under the pretext that he was injury-prone all on top of this.
We needed to sign more than just one premier player but maybe two or three a year until we can stand up and become competitive again. Veteran presence is needed on this football team when you look at all the inexperience and lack of discipline out on the field.
Coaching has to be a main factor as well and regardless of what Mike Nolan thinks or not regarding his offensive coaches he has to be dissatisfied if not overly disappointed at what have been the results.
If he isn’t at least the two mentioned then we have a distinct problem. Someone needs to be held accountable for being at (2-7) and not scoring an offensive touchdown in three consecutive games and for the 10 penalties registered in this one game alone for 80 total yards.
Why not the coaches? And certainly the personnel out on the field need to be held accountable for the lack of execution. This is what they are paid handsomely to do each and every week.
The same players are flagged each and every week and an example is not made of them as I have mentioned countless times in articles I have written. Left tackle Anthony Clement is one and right tackle Kwame Harris another, yet they are permitted to play at a low level each and every game and cost this offense opportunities galore.
I would like to point out the interception by cornerback Shawntae Spencer in the third quarter off Muhsin Muhammad was exceptional and I believe he is turning into one of the better cornerbacks in this league.
And the defensive pass interference he was flagged for towards the end of the third quarter was absolutely ridiculous as it was a play that was just good bump and run coverage.
Cody Pickett in my opinion looked far worse then his last game against the New York Giants. He was grossly ineffective incurring delay of game penalties being off center and target in conjunction with the wind being a factor. But he completed just one of 13 passes and 28 total yards in this game with a passer rating of 7.5%!
Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton completed 8-of-13 for 67 yards despite the wind and put his team in a position to score more times than not. The San Francisco 49er defense again out on the field for too long allowed 172-yards of rushing offense from the Chicago Bears between Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson.
The rushing attack by the Bears established a 4.3-yards per carry and the Bears defense limited our rushing attack to 133-yards and 2.9-yards a carry due to the high velocity winds and our over cautiousness to throw the ball.
“It’s an extension of some other issues we have,” coach Mike Nolan said of his team’s touchdown drought. “Saying you can’t score a touchdown is like saying you can’t win a 100-yard dash because you’re slower than the other guy.”
And 49er teammates aghast at what transpired on the play of Nathan Vasher for a 108-yard touchdown still were biting at the lip about how it happened and why it happened in the first place.
“It was definitely long enough and then it caught that gulf stream or whatever kind of wind they have in Chicago and all of a sudden we were running after him,” center Eric Heitmann said. “That’s what happens when you have 300-pound guys chasing a 200-pound guy.”
“By far, that was the worst wind I’ve ever kicked in,” said 49ers kicker Joe Nedney. “Not even in practicing under some of the wind conditions at our facility, and I’m sure the winds at Candlestick can get going that good, but I haven’t seen anything like that.”
“Joe was 2/2 before that,” explained Nolan. “Joe’s the strength of our football team and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. Joe felt he had the distance but at the time, he came up short. But, he is the strength of our football team and I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to use that strength. It was unfortunate what came about.”
I have to say Joe Nedney is a great kicker and probably one of the best we’ve had in a long time. But at the same time when you have your head coach describing the kicker as the strength of the football team you have to be a little worried don’t you?
I mean it is nice that we have a strong kicker don’t get me wrong, but not to say that we have a Terrell Owens or a Garrison Hearst and or a Steve Young is really the point I’m trying to make. We have absolutely no playmakers on this offense and it doesn’t look like we will have for many years to come at the rate we are going.
To say that the only playmaker you have is the kicker is absolutely absurd. I would give anything to have just some consistency and execution to this offense. Less penalties and more crossovers into the end zone either by our so-called two headed monster in Barlow and Gore or by Battle, Lloyd or a rejuvenated Morton.
What was even more devastating was the season-ending injury to Safety Tony Parrish fracturing his fibula on the first series of the game. His 121-game consecutive starting steak started at Soldier Field in 1998 and ended there last Sunday. He was the captain on this 49er defense and his absence was and will be sorely missed the rest of the season.
The San Francisco 49ers have a lot to digest and think about. It is a season of futility literally my friends we will be in for more headaches and heartaches as well. Mike Nolan must take the offensive ineptness seriously more so than he does now.
Accountability must take hold and find a place. If he does it with his players like he did with Jamie Winborn and Tim Rattay he should do the same with his coaches.