Vaseline covered hands
December 15, 2005 at 12:00 AM
San Francisco 49er rookie quarterback Alex Smith did what he is so accustomed to doing, and that is allowing the football to slip from his hands as if they were immersed in a jar of Vaseline. In fact it was a total of four separate episodes that put the coaching staff and ownership of this franchise on notice.
This defeat to the Seattle Seahawks (41-3) further illustrates to me how ravaged our team really is in every possible aspect. Let's look at the two separate incidents where the ball simply slipped right out of Alex Smith's hands as he prepared to deliver a strike.
No encouraging signs from your quarterback today Mr. Nolan? "Absolutely none," he replied. What does this mean for Alex Smith and what does it mean for the 49ers? They took out a mortgage on this guy in the form of a $24 million dollar bonus and Smith aligned himself in marriage with new head coach, Mike Nolan.
We all knew that we were doomed being on the road in Seattle didn't we? Las Vegas always has us pitted dead last in every statistical category and rating. It is easy money when betting against the San Francisco 49ers. We are on course to have the most miserable season in our storied history under this new regime.
Certainly it isn't all of Mike Nolan's doing. In fact it can all be pointed to the Terry Donahue era and the misery we incurred when Dennis Erickson was hired to right the ship after Steve Mariucci abandoned it.
But, 113 yards of total offense against the Seattle Seahawks is another story. How can we ever imagine being competitive within our own division again if we only generate these kinds of numbers and continue to kill ourselves with mistake after mistake after mistake? The answer is still a-fluttering somewhere out there for us to catch.
Dropping the Wilson football that was inflated and supplied by the Seattle Seahawks twice, without ever having a Seattle Seahawk touch him, is inexcusable in every context you can put it in. Just flat out dropping the ball hurt this football team not just once but on many different occasions.
It illustrated again what he did in the two drops he had against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 23rd, in his second start. Alex Smith of course chalks it up to being just a bad day. Is it really though?
"Certainly it didn't have a lot to do with the defense when he dropped the ball out of his hand," Nolan said. "But he's going to have good days and bad days, ups and downs. This was a down day, I guess you could say."
Alex Smith says he learns something from each and every game that he plays, but this one has to make you wonder as to what and if he can correct this reoccurring problem from happening again.
"Obviously my ball security, especially in the first half, was not good enough," Smith said.
The San Francisco 49ers were already 0-4 when the rookie quarterback started the game. Isn't that a reason to be concerned? I believe it is a real concern and Alex Smith will need to rectify this problem very soon if he's to have any kind of legitimacy as a quality quarterback in the NFL.
Being a first round draft pick there is a certain expectation that you have to uphold and be held accountable. So far, Alex Smith hasn't impressed me or even made me to feel that the position is really secure enough not to worry.
We have been outscored with Alex Smith at the helm by 93-20 in two road starts. Yes, there are other indicators to why this is. Most of them are attributed to injuries and a lack of available talent on the current roster. When you are playing second and third tier players in starting positions on a consistent basis every Sunday, bad things will come your way.
"We've got a young quarterback who's going to eventually be, in my mind, a good quarterback," running back Kevan Barlow said. "We're growing with him. We just have to grow a little faster."
So many bad things happened in this game I care not to reiterate any of them. We were soundly embarrassed by rival team the Seattle Seahawks, who I believe will go deep inside the playoffs.
The secondary played poorly with youth elements in both safety positions being a factor. Both Ben Emanuel and Keith Lewis were caught out of position several times, and neither of them were on the same page as the rest of the team.
Penalties for illegal men downfield destroyed the 49er's two longest plays of the day, which in part contributed to the 49er's seventh game this season without an offensive touchdown.
"Certainly, there's no way to win a game when you make as many mistakes as we did in the ballgame, whether it's the penalties, the turnovers, the missed assignments," Coach Mike Nolan said. "We didn't give ourselves a chance to win a game when we play like that."
Even the veterans on this team sustained lapses in production and execution. Or are they just plain giving up? Injuries and inexperience tell one story from afar, but is it reason and justifiable enough for us to roll over and play dead?
Some long-time 49er fans are being tested about their loyalties to this team like never before. Seats are being sold and left empty by season-ticket holders disgusted at how we are playing and supposedly developing.
We have real issues to contend with and Mike Nolan has his hands full. It is recommended he bring in a veteran consultant to confer with on football operations as mentioned in media reports before. I say it can't be soon enough if it will make a difference.
I still have faith in Mike Nolan and I believe he is the man with a plan. I know it looks grim and downright pitiful at times but sometimes we must go through hell to reach a higher plateau of righteousness. Players must continue to fight and want to win. Despite their record, I hope the San Francisco 49ers are not going to go away quietly to end this season. I hope that's what all of us want at this point.
This team and all of its fabric are being pulled in every direction. Fans are tired of the losing and want answers (as any normal fan would) in regards to following the emblem in crimson red and gold. Alex Smith is where it all starts and ultimately will end. The quarterback must be able to make the transition from college success to NFL preparation and development. He is stuck in the early stages of tough development, so our wills are being tested.
Let us surround him with talent and may the games begin anew next year. Until then, play hard Alex and learn from your mistakes. We need to find that shimmer of hope that defines you as at least one of the answers to our current afflictions.
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