A Cynic’s Rant: The 49ers are in Trouble


I’m not one to sugarcoat a story. I won’t wrap garbage in cellophane, slap fluorescent colors and a catchy label on it and peddle it as tasty candy. I’m a 90’s kid, and bluntly put, “that’s not how I roll.”

If you followed my metaphor and stuck around (thanks), then you know I’m referring to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners have been one of the best teams in football for the past three seasons. Jim Harbaugh annually guides his team to the NFC Championship game, sometimes further. Still, they were ‘always a bridesmaid, and never a bride.’

Something tells me this year’s wedding invitation will get lost in the mail.

It’s time we stop looking at what could happen, and focus on what has happened. It’s time to end the excuses. The 49ers are in trouble.

I won’t provide an out for the offensive line and use injuries to justify a ridiculous 14 sacks allowed in the past two games.

What really matters is this: Yesterday’s unit – barring injury, of course – will start the remaining eight games. Either get it together, or start saving for Colin Kaepernick‘s hospital bills.

I won’t follow along with Harbaugh’s claim of Michael Crabtree having the best hands in the NFL. Crab is second in the league in drops with seven.

Vernon Davis wants a pay raise? Yeah, not following that one either. Davis is on pace for 32 catches, 322 receiving yards, and four touchdowns this season. I will, however, support a pay decrease. Want the money? Prove you’re worth it.

And I also won’t allow Harbaugh and Greg Roman off-the-hook.

Trusting Marcus Martin – the 49ers’ rookie center who played in his first game as a professional yesterday (and a shaky one it was) – to hike the ball to your fumble-prone quarterback (Kaepernick has 19 career fumbles) for a goal line sneak with the game hanging in the balance was not a smart move.

I understand Harbaugh and Roman trusting their quarterback, but it was an obvious mistake.

Also, is Frank Gore a ghost? Give him the ball and win the game. 

“…The offense, which was supposed to be better with all the new passing tools, is worse, and the offensive line is, between injuries and holdouts, as porous as it has been since perhaps the Mike Nolan era”  —Matt Maiocco 

In a broader analysis, the entire offense is in disarray. The influx of talent in the off-season has made the 49ers worse, not better. Some of this falls on the players, but it’s the coaches job to piece together the puzzle.

And finally, does Trent Baalke deserve the praise he often receives? Scrap a successful 2011 draft, and he’s completely whiffed as the 49ers curator of talent.

Joe Looney is the only player that remains from the 2012 draft class. Instead of trading LaMichael James – a player that anybody privy to football knew wouldn’t gel with the Niners  – they let him walk. Say what you will, but I firmly believe there was a way to package James for immediate help or draft picks in lieu of an outright release.

The 2013 draft – one that looked great on paper – is turning into a small disaster. Has Eric Reid been on the field this season? He has just 19 tackles at the season’s halfway point, and has disappointed after a fantastic rookie campaign.

Marcus Lattimore is expected to retire; Quinton Patton doesn’t play; Tank Carradine is always a healthy scratch; Vance McDonald drops as many passes as he catches; Corey Lemonier – after a successful rookie season – has floundered and is now the subject of trade rumors; Nick Moody is a special-teams-only player who is often injured; Quinton Dial is stuck behind Ian Williams and Glenn DorseyB.J. Daniels is no longer on the roster. 

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In two ‘great drafts,’ the 49ers have yielded Reid, Looney, and Dial. I’m no fortune-teller, but that doesn’t bode well for the future.

The ra-ra types will read this article and scoff. I get it — positive thinking often yields results.

But is it not better to see beyond the veil and judge things for what they are?

Let’s put this season on a scale and see how it balances out:

The Good: The secondary; Aaron Lynch; Anquan Boldin; run defense; Vic Fangio.

The Bad: Offensive line; third-down defense; special teams (anybody see Andy Lee‘s 24-yard punt yesterday?!); play-calling; quarterback play in clutch moments; rushing attack; second-half adjustments; disgruntled players; rumblings of locker room discord; penalties.

All of this can change, but for now, the scale dips heavily in favor of The Bad.

The ship is not completely sunk at 4-4. The 49ers have the ability to catch fire and, with a little luck, reach 10-6 and give themselves a shot at a wild card berth.

But as a cynic, the glass looks half-empty.

Check back tomorrow as I offer the Optimist’s Rant. Thanks for reading.