Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports



Have you heard the news lately
Leaders stepping down greatly
Shock, has come to pass
All the treasonous lying
And the thoughtless dying
Earth, is crumbling fast
Hackney, Bobby. (1975). Where Do We Go From Here??? [Recorded by Death]. On ...For the Whole World to See. Detroit, Michigan. Drag City.

Witnessing a shift from the old guard to the new guard on a sports team is strange. Sometimes, it happens slowly allowing fans to get used to new players and faces. Other times, like in politics, a change hits like a ten-ton fist to the jaw.

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"Brick by Brick," said the 49ers' marketing campaign. Fans nodded, bought a trowel, and quick-dry cement to help the team build a path to its sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Over the last week, the San Francisco 49ers traded in a slow, gradual change for a wrecking ball. General manager John Lynch released eight-year veteran and All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman last Friday afternoon.

While playing Washington, head coach and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had seen enough of quarterback Brian Hoyer run the offense and sent in rookie C.J. Beathard to provide a long overdue spark.

Following the game, Shanahan commented that Beathard would be the 49ers' starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. Apparently, he was tired of the team resembling a balsa-wood shed that is destroyed when Great America's roller coaster jet wash reaches Levi's Stadium.

The 49ers are out of bricks for a Week 7 match-up against the hated Dallas Cowboys. Instead, we have playroom floor scattered with a 2,000-piece Lego model, a plastic screwdriver, and instructions written in Sanskrit.

Once again, the 49ers find themselves in a rebuilding mode, but this time it's nearly midway through the 2017 season.

Like you, I'm frustrated at the lack of success this season. In fact, following last Sunday's loss, I took a week off from football-related news and highlights. Whether the 49ers' faltering season is due to poor coaching, a roster sparsely sprinkled with skill, or just plain bad luck is unknown. We can all argue the points of failure – trust me, your view as to why this team is winless is probably accurate.

Fan reaction, at least what I've seen on social media during press conferences, is a mix of white-hot fire and unmoving blind faith. At 0-6, there's even talk about tanking to get the first pick in the draft.

Quick point: Obtaining the first pick in the draft has no guarantee of a winning season. If you need proof, please see the Cleveland Browns.

Today, brick by brick takes on a new meaning: the 49ers need to reconstruct the foundation this season and start building for tomorrow.

End the Penalties


You've already seen the horrifying numbers: The 49ers' offense has 56 penalties for 425 yards, and the defense isn't too far behind with 43 penalties for 348 yards. You'd think the coaching staff would have nipped this in the bud back in the preseason, but the penalties that started in August have infected the regular season.

The coaching staff is at fault for being unable to find a cure for the penalty disease, and it also falls on sub-par players who can't hone the right technique to play clean football.

I have no problem with the occasional hold or pass interference penalties; no team ends the game clean. But the 49ers continue to punch holes in the bottom of the boat and wonder why they can't win close games.

Part of it is executing plays and remaining consistent. The other part is not racking up 773 yards of penalties through six games. Shanahan needs to start treating habitual offenders like Pop Warner players: bench a player for a series if he commits a drive-killing foul.

It'll Hurt, But Keep Flushing the Roster


Fans were shocked at the offseason roster flushing and then marveled at the free agent signings and draft day trades to land rookies Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster – all brilliant and necessary moves by general manager John Lynch.

Last week's move with Bowman was a head scratcher, and probably was the chief contributor to my football malaise. It didn't help that the team lost to Washington, with little help from Brock Coyle and Ray-Ray Armstrong, the new era of 49ers linebackers.

Legends can't be legendary forever; they fade like any great thing in life. It's one thing for the player to come to grips with such a heavy fact; it's an entirely different feeling when the general manager and coaching staff make that decision for the player.

Either way, it must feel like Bowman lost a bit of his identity.

The 49ers may not win more than three games this year, and looking at the situation under that light, I'd like to see tackle Joe Staley play with a great team and win a hunk of precious metal littered diamonds. He's put up with enough nonsense during his time here, and if anyone deserves a ring, it's him. Safety Eric Reid could also draw some value, along with running back Carlos Hyde.

Readers will not favor these suggestions, and I can already feel the dislike steaming from the comment section. However, trading one of these players could put the 49ers in a Herschel Walker-type situation, where the team exchanges a few good players and yields seven or eight picks in future drafts.

Spend Money in the Offseason


Usually, I think it's absurd to talk about the offseason while we're smack in the middle of real football. However, with no hope, we might as well start planning for 2018. Whatever the organization's aversion is to spending money on high-quality players has to end.
Lynch needs to approach the free agent market next year with the mentality that everyone is for sale at a high enough dollar amount.

I get it: contract restrictions prohibit teams from contacting players about trades. But I was once able to buy a pair of cufflinks at a blackjack table in Las Vegas at 1 A.M. I don't believe for a second that Lynch can't call a team and offer the right price for a star athlete.

As jagged as these pills are to swallow – relying on a team full of rookies to win games or trading fan-favorites – it's refreshing to see the organization put forth some effort to win a game and build for the future. I hope, one day in a parking lot lit by the reflective glow of a Super Bowl trophy, we can look back and say, "None of this was easy, but we made it… and it was worth it."