ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP FILE PHOTO
Rather than breakdown the latest meltdown by our beloved team, I think an honest and frank look at the organization at this very moment just feels right. Look, I bleed Red and Gold like the rest of you. I've loved this organization for more than two decades and through the ups and downs I have given my honest support. The key word in that last sentence is my honest support and if I am being honest, I will simply say. This team just isn't really that good right now. If you are a tried and true fan, you should be able to take an honest look at the situation and understand that. There are so many layers to what is going on with the 49ers now that it cannot even be covered up with smoke and mirrors.
But instead of beating up on what is going wrong. How can the 49ers as an organization fix the problem? In the short term, the team could lean on its strengths and run the ball some more. The 49ers passed nearly forty times against the Rams on Sunday in a tight game where running the ball more would have been very acceptable. In the 49ers previous game against Denver they threw the ball 39 times more out of necessity, so any fan can give them a pass on that one. However, in the other previous losses against Chicago and Arizona, the passing attempts were 34 and 37 respectively. While I'm all for taking what a defense will give you in games, there is little argument against the 49ers needing to run the ball more. In the 49ers four wins this season, the team has had under 20 rushing attempts once, against the Rams on Monday Night Football, which saw Kaepernick have a near career night. In the 49ers four losses, they have rushed over 20 attempts just once, with 21 against the Bears in week two. While it might be easy to just quote stats and call them the truth, just the small sample says that good things happen when this teams runs the ball over 22 times a game. I'm not even going to harp on the fact that our offensive line is offensive at pass blocking, but excels at run blocking. I think that point has been harped on enough.
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In my article
after the Arizona game, I indicated that the 49ers were being out-coached by other teams. While I think that Harbaugh and Roman are some of the better offensive minds in the league at the moment, I do think that they are suffering from a serious case of stubbornness this season. The eye test seems to tell me that they are trying to prove that the investment in Kaepernick was worth it. While I still think Kaepernick is a fine player, I still think the 49ers should have waited a season to make the investment. With the franchise tag available to them, the 49ers could have made him prove he was worth it this season with an all-star receiving core. Generally, I don't think Kaepernick has played terrible, but to say he isn't part of the problem would be letting him off too easy. He has committed costly turnovers and the team has won a few games even in spite of him. Outside of the Dallas and first St. Louis game, Kaepernick hasn't played lights out. Trust me I know, I've started him one to many times this season on my fantasy football teams to know.
Luckily, all hope is not lost for our beloved 49ers. They seem to be getting healthier at the right time of the season. With Willis, Aldon Smith, Dorsey, and Bowman all slated to be back over the next few weeks, the over achieving defense will get some much needed reinforcements that should only help the team. If the teams (and fans) are lucky the aliens that have stolen Vernon Davis will return him to us and that weapon will begin to emerge.
Sadly, the 49ers are on a thin margin to make the playoffs. The odds of three teams coming out the NFC West are not good. Just a glance at the remaining schedule is daunting. With the team likely needing to go 8-0 or 7-1 over the last half of the season to have solid chance at the playoffs in 2014, the odds just seem a bit too much. With games against the always tough Saints, the explosive Chargers and three more tough divisional games against the Seahawks and Cardinals also on tap, this team has their work cut out for them.
And if I am being the honest fan I am, I think this team has the potential to beat the odds, even if I know honestly the odds are stacked against them. NFL teams go on hot streaks all the time, so why would it be any different for us? I just know that honestly, the 49ers have a lot to fix in the next five days to climb that first mountain against New Orleans.
By: Phil C
Date: November 5, 2014 at 6:44 PM
Comment: Problem is, the 49ers have attempted the last two seasons to make Kaepernick more of a focal point of the offense. While last year they decided to scrap that after Week 3 and make Gore the focal point, which led to their turnaround, this year they seem more intent on Kaepernick being the guy. Kaepernick's made gradual improvement, but he's still not at the point where you can really give him the keys to the car. Niners have to be more patient with the run; even if it doesn't work in the first half, stay with it and eventually the opposing defense will tire and leave some running room. "Grind the meat", as Harbaugh would say.
Date: November 5, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Comment: I believe that after the last 3 years, Harbaugh and Balke decided that in order to win it all they had to develop the passing game. They added very good receivers - possibly the best in the league. Unfortunately, they didn't count on all the injuries to the o line. They were also counting on improvement from Kap. And that has not happened. He is an absolute disaster when he feels pressure. He had 2 easy touchdown plays at the end of the game and he blew both of them. He has the ability to make those plays but the pressure gets to him. He may not have the mental make up to be a top QB.
By: Nikola Marjanovic
Date: November 5, 2014 at 1:46 PM
Comment: Why is Trent Baalke a genius? His 2011 draft was good, not great - I like A. Smith, but we could have drafted J.J. Watt. Instead of Culliver (Round 3, pick 80), we could have Sherman (Round 5, pick 154) or Byron Maxwell (Round 6, pick 173). Draft from 2012 is well documented disaster, but I have to mention a possibility to draft Alshon Jeferry (Round 2, pick 45) instead of Jenkins. Let us consider 2013 draft. I have to admit, every single pick was as if I have made it. But, I am a fan and Baalke is paid a great deal of money to do it. Reid is great pick. Second round, Caradine, at this moment, looks like a bust. V. McDonald (Round 2, pick 55) even more, and we trade up to get him! Instead of him, we could have drafted Travis Kelce (Round 3, pick 63), Larry Warford (Round 3, pick 65), Keenan Allen (Round 3, pick 76), Terrance Williams (Round 3, pick 74) or even Luke Wilson (Round 5, pick 158). Lemonier is already being considered for trade. Lattimore is considering a retirement, Patton doesn't even dress for games. Maybe Dial, but we shall see. Draft from 2014 seems to be good, but it is too early for evaluation. So, why is Baalke a genius?
Date: November 5, 2014 at 8:36 AM
Comment: We can't run the ball because we can't run block effectively versus 8 & 9 man fronts. So we pass, but we can't no pass effectively because we can't pass block effectively versus 4 5 and 6 rushers at a time. The offensive line has been offensive and its not just this year. Frank Gore has been making them look good for years and his underration is unbelievable really. The most over rated offensive line has finally had the curtains have been opened on them and they look very funny in the light.
Date: November 5, 2014 at 8:00 AM
Comment: Thanks Stewart, you are completely right, we all bleed Red and Gold. I look to be the Pats-Bronco game, they threw the ball combined 110 times. Maybe Coach sees that this is the future and he had better adjust now. The Cards are good because they stretch the field. The longer you hold onto the ball the more chances for mistakes.
Kap is another issue, from my perspective he lacks that intuitive recognition to react quickly. It's not something you teach, it can be hidden but in crunch time it shows up, witness all Kap's late season meltdowns. Should be an interesting off season.
By: Joe P
Date: November 5, 2014 at 6:59 AM
Comment: I couldn't agree more, they are a .500 football team right now, nothing more, nothing less. The injuries and off-field drama just became too much to overcome. I hope for a 10-6 finish and sneaking into the playoffs but they have their work cut out for them. The good news is we have a tie-breaker over Philly and Dallas for a potential wild card spot since we beat both teams this year (cuz we're not catching the Cards).
By: Gary Mialocq
Date: November 5, 2014 at 5:58 AM
Comment: As a loyal Niner fan since 1946, I am embarrassed for the team this season. I've been all for dumping Roman and still am, however, Brent Jones pointed out that the fans calling for Roman's head have to understand that no play reaches KAP without going through Harbaugh for approval. NONE.
He also said this team is TREMENDOUSLY DYSFUNCTIONAL, and said he is disgusted by what he has seen this season. He points out that this OL is built for a running team and that they ARE NOT CAPABLE of pass blocking 30 or more times a game. He further says that the team has not played one complete game this season and that it is RIDICULOUS.
Putting all this info together, Rice's statement that the offense should be dumped and replaced by the WCO, by Young who says the offensive players are complaining all the time and that there is a bad vibe, by Sanders and others a month ago, Staley speaking out about DUMB SCHEMES, and Gore being as frustrated as he ever has been in his career due to inconsistent playing time, and the fact that the front office tried to trade Harbaugh to Cleveland in February, and there is no chance he will be back.
Date: November 5, 2014 at 5:15 AM
Comment: you can't run the ball when you're blocking schemes are so predictable, that every defense has already countered them. The real problem is how this unit is being coached because they all have failed as a unit during this entire season coincidentally with the loss of Tim Drevno. What many forget is that Mike Solari managed this line during the terrible Nolan and Singleterry years despite having talent during that span. I am not surprised that the line has reverted back to its bad ways under Solari. So it's not just Roman it's not just the OL coach it's not just the WR coach, this offense is terrible at developing players.
Date: November 5, 2014 at 4:18 AM
Comment: It's ok to run or pass but when you only pass out of the spread and only run when there's a full back or tightends in the backfield, heck I can sit on my couch and know what's coming... Notice the success they had against the Rams when they threw a simple screen pass or rollout against those young defenders coming downhill all game long.
By: Nikola Marjanovic
Date: November 5, 2014 at 2:42 AM
Comment: I believe that I am an honest fan as well. And, a long time fan, since first year of J. Montana. For some reason, everybody is avoiding to mention the main reason for our downfall - wrong attitude. During the Rams game, among so many terrible moments (8 sacks, two costly fumbles, 25 yard punt, etc), the saddest moment for me was a picture of Vernon Davis at sideline laughing. His offense could not score and he was having a fun, enjoying his life! Before the season, he asked for even more money. When he didn't get it, it was like: "Oh, what a heck! They can never pay me as little, as little I can produce!" And he is dropping touchdowns, receiving 2 passes for 19 yards per game, even preventing other players (V. McDonald) from receiving a touchdown pass. Unfortunately, it does not end with Davis, there are others. Look at Boone, for example. same story - I am underpaid, I don't produce. Generally, complete offensive line is terrible. They did play excellent two previous years, they could not forget to play, they don't want to play! Attitude! Brooks came overweight - again, attitude! When A. Smith, Bowman and Willis return, it won't change much, unless we change this attitude.
By: Michael Klein
Date: November 4, 2014 at 10:26 PM
Comment: Well said. My thoughts exactly. Go Niners.
By: tee perez
Date: November 4, 2014 at 9:38 PM
Comment: I read your article and thought you pointed out some great points but the way I see it, greg roman has made some bad play calls in the fourth quarter, such as having kaep try n punch it in rather then let frank gore or carlos hyde have a try at it, plus they had one time out if he didnt get it, nor did he try to get back to what kaep originally got known for and run the option.... I think roman needs to be better in those situations and make the right calls to better use the weapons he has....
By: Chris Schirmer
Date: November 4, 2014 at 9:27 PM
Comment: I like an HONEST opinion of Niner Nation.. I share a lot of the same thoughts you have and I'm an optimistic person, always trying to look on the bright side, even after losses..
A few of my own opinions on a few important 49er topics...
First.. are we going to make the playoffs? In all honestly, probably not. Can we? Absolutely.
I LOVE Trent Baalke. Genius mind, knows what he's doing.. Greg Roman, im really getting tired of him. He has his moments that make you go WOW.. But too many moments that make you go WTF??
Jim Harbaugh.. I am REALLY tired of all this nonsense with him. He is a GREAT NFL head coach.. Look at what we've been through since George Seifert.. Now, even my most favorite Niner of all time is speculating he's gonna be gone, Jerry Rice.. I REALLY wish they would settle this NOW, even at midseason and sign him to a long term deal.. And if he REALLY does wanna go back to college, then players who are talking in the locker room need to shut up and JUST PLAY football..
If it's REALLY starting to become a distraction, something needs to be done asap or things are only going to get worse...
Lol limited amount of characters. Guess im done.. nice story
Date: November 4, 2014 at 7:52 PM
Comment: Very well written and well said!
By: Val Venus
Date: November 4, 2014 at 7:11 PM
Comment: Let me clarify the D has been great for the position it has been put into at times
By: Val Venus
Date: November 4, 2014 at 7:08 PM
Comment: I agree with the stubbornness part. Dating back to the super bowl, Seattle last year and now Sunday. Just run the damn ball inside the 5 at least once with GORE!! The only reason we beat Seattle last year was because Gore broke off that run, the D is and has been great.
By: Lucky Phil
Date: November 4, 2014 at 6:33 PM
Comment: Lets be honest. We are not getting healthier at the right time of the season. Half the season is over, winning the west depends on Arizona losing. Our fate is no longer in our hands. Winning the wildcard depends on Dallas, Green Bay and Seattle, two of those three need to open the door before we can walk in. Every year we hear when we get this guy or that guy back we will make a run. Last year it was Craps, this year it is Bowman and A. Smith. But lets be Honest, Here's our problem THE OFFENSE. And we have EVERYONE HEALTHY on offense (except Kilgore). We are losing games because of our offense and there are no re-enforcements on the way. Lets be honest, This team is playing like @#%$ and no one has the answer. I don't want to hear anyone say when we get healthy we will make a run. The teams that are well coached win and overcome injuries. Cardinals lost C. Palmer for two weeks, they still won. Vic Fangio is one of the best coaches in the NFL and this defense is the strength of the team. Figure that out JH and Roman why is our defense playing so well with half its starters on the bench and our offense is playing like @#$%?
Date: November 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Comment: I agree with your assessment that the o-line excels at run blocking but only if we are talking the past. The Rams have one of the worst if not the worst run defense yet the 49ers O-line got no push on them. The offensive line for whatever reason looks nothing like the O-line of the past few years. I personally think that the league has figured out the shifts and tricky formations that used to be the teams bread and butter making the 49ers even less than one dimensional on offense. On a side-note, Harbaugh appears less enthusiastic and a little disinterested. Could be spilling over to the team. As much as I loved when they brought him in, I hate to say , that his time may be running out here.
Date: November 4, 2014 at 5:37 PM
Comment: I think this article is "spot on." There is a lot going on within the organization. The crazy offseason headlines. Stubbornness of Blake, harbaugh, and yes, he's York. I think the 9ers can pull this one out ! It reminds me of the last Super Bowl the giants had ? It wa around this time they went on that lights out winning streak.
I bleed red and gold! And most importantly, I'll always remain faithful !
Love my 9ers
Let's get to the post season and take it all the way !