Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
This was it. This was the 'statement' game for the Jim Tomsula regime. Good and great teams dominate bad ones. Teams that are on the corner of becoming relevant again beat the bad ones.
A team takes on the identity of its coaching staff. I truly believe that, especially having played myself. I remember what it was like to have a coach who had you completely prepared for your opponent, who had you fired up and made you want to drop the hammer on anyone who got in your way. I also remember the coaches who were utilizing the 'fake it til you make it' methodology, and had you taking the play call in the huddle and changing it. Bottom line – I think you know which I think Jim Tomsula's 49ers represent.
The 49ers were coming off a dramatic road win against the Chicago Bears. They were now facing a Cleveland Browns team that was, at least on paper, the NFL's worst team. In spite of myself, I really believed that this would be the 49ers' most dominant performance of the season. The problem is, the 49ers believed that too. They figured they would run all over the league's worst run defense. They assumed that they would stuff the league's worst running offense and tee off on Johnny 'Football' Manziel. They dreamt of outcoaching a Browns staff that is likely gone after the season and celebrate in the York's back yard.
This was an abomination of football. The 49ers were outclassed, outperformed and outcoached in every phase of the game. Blaine Gabbert looked more like his Jacksonville persona than the gutsy, new and improved version we have seen in previous weeks. He completed 18-28 for 194 and a score – but 75 of those yards and the score came on the teams final drive, at which point the game was over. Stats don't always tell the whole story. Gabbert didn't force anything – as reflected by multiple check down reads on 3rd down. Gabbert needed to push the ball down the field, but there was one big problem – no one on the offensive line seemed willing to help. The wide receivers seemed to disappear altogether from this game. When they were there, they were running the wrong routes or dropping the football. At least tight end Blake Bell looks like he might have a future.
Giving up nine sacks to a team that hadn't put up those kinds of numbers since their head coach was some guy named Bill Belicheck (1993) was a damning indictment. I'm sure Tomsula will say something coach-like such as 'we didn't execute like we should' or words to that affect – which is true. However, what really happened is that they were unprepared, ill-equipped and unmotivated. I say again – out-coached. And a running game? Forget it. Despite facing the worst run defense, the 49ers called three straight passes to open the game, couldn't get any traction and couldn't get a consistent ground game going to take even a little of the pressure off the passing game. Shaun Draughn was even touted as a sleeper fantasy pick up this week – no joke.
If you were hoping the defense was going to carry the team to victory, you were in for a letdown. Once again, the team couldn't tackle, left holes in the secondary big enough to fit a Death Star through, and even when they got it right and forced the Browns into conceding a potentially game changing safety, it was undone by an untimely facemask penalty. The pass rush was so laughingly inconsistent that, at times, Manziel was standing flatfooted in the pocket. I honestly can't recall ever seeing that. If that is his technique, that's one thing. No one should ever feel that comfortable in the pocket. Arik Armstead had some good pressure and got himself a sack, and if I didn't know who was coaching the team I would be shaking my head as to why he doesn't play more. I am not shocked that he doesn't play more.
In what has become a trend this season, what was last week's Achilles heel was this week's bright spot. The special team's coverage was generally good and the blocked field goal was outstanding. There were some nice gains in the return game as well. That said, this constant inability to get the team on the same page in all 3 phases of the game has become par for the course for Tomsula and his staff. Good and great teams play great in all three phases – consistently. This team is a Galaxy far, far away from being a mediocre
team, let alone a good one.
Last week, I wrote a piece that talked about whether or not this coaching staff deserved another chance
, especially considering the hand that they had been dealt. I feel I should clarify that I was playing the devil's advocate and that I don't think they should have another chance. However, I am not Jed York. This is his handpicked choice for head coach. I truly doubt that Jed will have the stomach to admit his mistake and pull the plug after one year. He may very well believe that with all that happened during the offseason, he wants to see what Tomsula can do with a clean slate. Without agreeing with it or condoning it, I see his point. Some would even say that he needs to keep Jim Tomsula for one more year just to preserve the appearance that this is not a franchise that has no clue. Truth be told, that secret is out already.
It is long overdue for Jed to take a good, long look at the state of this franchise. The team entered this game still mathematically in the running for the playoffs. The coaching staff should have been pushing the team with that goal in mind, no matter how remote, until someone tells them they have been eliminated. They were playing the worst team in the NFL, at least by record. All of their supposed weaknesses should have tied directly into the strengths of the 49ers. The coaching staff should have had this team prepared to go out and dominate.
Instead, what we saw was a team woefully unprepared, undisciplined, and if reports from the locker room are to be believed, a team that truly underestimated their opponent. All of this in the backyard of the York family. That had to be embarrassing and this ownership has demonstrated on numerous occasions that appearances matter.
This team was more than capable of winning this game, like many others this season. But they did everything they could to make sure they didn't. That is what Jim Tomsula and his staff brings to the table. Sure, they were dealt a poor hand. The best coaches and the championship caliber coaches take those hands and find a way to win. This game should have proved, even to Jed, that these are anything but the best coaches.
Date: December 15, 2015 at 4:47 AM
Comment: I can't listen to Tomsula's press conferences or interviews. I'm sure he's a genuinely nice guy and "lunch pale" kind of guy but there's not a single shred of HC persona he gives off. He literally gives off an aura of a guy who was cleaning up the locker room after a game and was suddenly offered a NFL HC job. This staff's level of incompetence makes the Harbaugh years seem like a mirage and a dream. The worst part is that Baalke will take the high draft pick...trade away for more picks and then blow that draft where we'll be left with an average QB, again, with no line.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 5:50 PM
Comment: Sure looks like Kap was definitely the problem, we don't have those issues now do we?
By: AJ Dembroski
Date: December 14, 2015 at 12:29 PM
Comment: Not that it's here nor there, the 49ers had already been eliminated from the playoffs. Though they were still technically capable of a 6th seed record, there was no possible combination of game results in which they'd have won the slot. At best, they'd have lost a tie breaker.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 8:32 AM
Comment: This is an absolute embarrassment period. Why fix that wasn't broken? Harbaugh was our coach for the future. Who is Tomsula anyway? Certainly not a coach of any kind. Baakle & York missed the football recruiting 101 class and therefore this mockery of a season has proven to be costly for them. I'm a fan and my faith has been exhausted.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 7:52 AM
Comment: Open letter to the 49ers:
The lack of motivation and effort was appalling. It's not even ultimately about your losing - but the way you are (not) playing. If you lose with heart but lack talent, I can wait through that. But having us fans spend our valuable time and money to watch most of you players seemingly care less about winning than we the fans do? This is your career - your livelihood. And you're paid buku bucks for the privilege to wear the 49ers' uniform and play at the NFL level. Until your "heart" returns and you consistently play with character, passion, and smarts, I (and many other fans) will find better things to do with our time and money on a Sunday afternoon than waste it on this "entertainment product" performed by low-character men.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 5:45 AM
Comment: OL was suffocated and DB left big gaps. Passes were dropped and kickoff returns tentative. DL pushed out of the way. This effort very much reminded me of the Seahawks game after Dorsey was injured. This team did not look "fired-up" - with the exception of a few players. Fans deserve better.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 5:15 AM
Comment: Good star wars references especially for this week! Completely agree with all you said. Hopefully baalke and tomsula and staff are gone. If tomsula stays and fires chryst who the hell is going to want to be associated with our offense and players. It will be miserable. Like 10x worse than this year if tomsula is back. The players have given up now. Next season will be like this Cle game all season w tomsula back.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 4:49 AM
Comment: I 100% agree with you. I belived the team had gained some confidence and the coaching staff was starting to understand how to best use this group of players. We then go out and get outclassed in all aspects of the game. I'm a die hard 49ers fan And always have faith but this is the first time I can remember that I have NO faith in this coaching staff. Our O line is terrible ...9 sacks!!!
Date: December 14, 2015 at 4:44 AM
Comment: Great points and analysis, I agree with you tom is not a head coach, he doesn't know how to prepare for game situations and you can tell. Jed needs to make the change in January to a coach that has atleast has a clue how to prepare a team. Like you I don't know he will do that. Great read.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 4:37 AM
Comment: Very good article, I think it's also worth remembering that but for missed field goals, we'd have lost to the Bears and the Ravens, and the Falcons coach made some bad decisions (the FG from inside our 10 yard line) that cost them the game as well.
I don't think this team is worth even the 4-9 record.
Date: December 14, 2015 at 2:26 AM
Comment: Tomsula should've never been hired, his inability to prepare his team and make adjustments shows week in and week out. To lose to Browns the way the did is utterly pathetic and the way this team plays is a reflection of this awful coaching staff!
Date: December 13, 2015 at 11:20 PM
Comment: I had this penciled in as an automatic W. Johnny football looked "cool and calm" in the pocket. And outside the pocket he found the short to mid crossing receivers for easy completions. He hasn't taken a snap in 5 weeks and got blackout drunk during his bye week instead of watching film.
I can't believe I dropped the ball on Isaiah Crowell in draft kings this week. Browns rushing last 5 games, 88 rushing attempts for 254 yards/2.89 ypc. Today's game, 41 rushing attempts for 230 yards/5.61 ypc. Teams have forced the Browns to be a one dimensional pass team over the last 5 weeks, during which, they have attempted 40.8 passing attempts per game. Of course we couldn't copy what other teams have successfully done to the Browns. I think we forgot to watch the film.
Over their last 5 games the Browns have given up an average of 33 ppg. I expected a big day from Gabbert, Draughns, and Boldin, but the offensive line play was beyond pitiful.
This one is on the coaches. The team lacked energy, focus, and direction. My Jim Tomsula HC tank is running close to empty. I don't think I can handle another pit stop with this crew.
Good article. Keep up the good work.
By: ant Chon
Date: December 13, 2015 at 9:55 PM
Comment: I am spending more time typing then watching games. This is the exact rerun of the Dork show from 2004-2011. We have seen all this before. Gabbert's chances of success are grim. Steve Young had Bill Walsh and Garcia had Steve Mariucci, good/great coaches. Alex Smith finally had Harbs and we all saw how things changed for Alex. This is not rocket science, the owners of this team think the game of football is here for them. They probably not the only owners that think this but I don't think Seattle fans have to worry about what is happening with their team's front office any time soon. From 1980 to 2000 neither did SF.
York- do you now know the difference between a good coach and someone who you will be firing soon??. Have you figured it out yet. Your father got away with this because he didn't know any better but you fu*king do . We have seen the movie and know the ending. Blain Gabber = Shawn Hill. Tomsula = Singeltary and Nolan. Balke should admit that he is missing Harb's big time right about now. Balke is badly exposed with out Harbs around. Scott M had drafted many of the players that were the core of Harbs team.
F*ck you Yorks
Date: December 13, 2015 at 9:55 PM
Comment: You give the Yorks too much credit. They couldn't care less what happens on the field....see any not acceptable tweets today? No it is acceptable as he lol to his bank in Ohio, having saved millions on coaching staff and p,ayes salaries, a new stadium and a fortune coming in from tv. He saw a team of pro bowlers become a mismatched group of players taken off the streets, because the gm can't draft and maybe even worse at drafting. No one can believe York is not complicit in that. The fans , winning and football are irrelevant to the Yorks goal in milking the family cash cow. They did it once, and this time without McLaughlin losing will be longer than a mere decade.
Date: December 13, 2015 at 8:20 PM
Comment: Good read,I believe you hit the nail right on the head
Date: December 13, 2015 at 8:18 PM
Comment: 49ers are the worst team in the league. Why? Probably the worst coaching staff in the league. They have a 1960's offense. You would think we play the 2001 Ravens every game. Average 14 pts a game? Just pathetic. The defense has lost a lot of talent I get it. But they are so soft. Soft in the pass coverages they call. Soft in stopping the run. Soft in how they hit and tackle. Harbaugh wasn't the perfect coach but you could never call his teams soft. Former QB but tough as nails. Tomsula was a D line coach. How have we become so soft under his tenure? Front off please don't delay the inevitable. Don't bring this coaching staff back. They aren't the answer today and they won't be two years from now.