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Back to our normal resemblance of a team floundering on a beach like a fish taking its last breath. The 2007 San Francisco 49ers were defeated yet again in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina to a Panther team led by the aging 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde 31-14. We have successfully cemented five straight consecutive losing seasons as a franchise record in its 62-year history and there are just way too many people to turn to and blame.
Six turnovers and six sacks speak volumes about the ultimate outcome of this game against the Carolina Panthers clawing and scratching their way to not be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The 2007 San Francisco 49er offense was as bad as a pack of skunks rooting for grubs on the edge of a tree line somewhere in that they did everything so inconceivably wrong and stunk even more when it was a calculated risk.
With a season so full of expectations what is there anything left to play for? Mike Nolan is angry that we lost this game. He is by his own words beyond the frustration stage while towards the end of this regular season and he noted that everyone in the building including the 49er faithful are finally beyond that "frustration stage as well."
Anger he says is where he is at now but that is the greatest understatement if I ever heard one? I think the majority of the 49er faithful are enraged and are near inciting a riot outside Santa Clara headquarters of the San Francisco 49ers to make known their distinct hatred of what has been a devastating season turned obliterated following this loss against the Carolina Panthers.
What do we do? Where do we go? We are at the mercy of so many variables and everything must start with Denise DeBartolo York and Dr. John York as the owners of this franchise. They have to know that the fans are more than just angry as Mike Nolan so eloquently put forth in his post-game news conference. They have to know that this was a season full of promise and endorsed with enormous capital that just never seemed to offer any real dividends from the incredible investment that was made right at the very beginning of this calendar year.
Before this 2007 season took bloom we all had very high expectations as fans that we were finally on our way to stardom again that we had a legitimacy about us finally again within the framework of the NFL. Yet that all came crashing down on us and was put into vivid clarity following the first two games of the season within the first quarter of this 2007 calendar regular season. Coaches and Personnel underachieved and did not execute according to the game plan week in and week out.
The building of animosity and frustration became real and suddenly overwhelming at times. So much so that the end was in sight way before the beginning had ever started. We wanted to feed off the momentum that once was within the calendar year of 2006 where we were at (7-9) on the season and had successfully thwarted the Denver Broncos from making the post-season that year.
Yet here we stand (3-9) on a season overflowing with adverse inequity and multiple cases of psychological schizophrenia from both coaches and player personnel. We have utterly failed to identify ourselves as a legitimate football presence within the compounds of this great league we call the NFL. Now there has been mention of maybe eliminating Mike Nolan's personnel power as far as stripping him of general manager's type decisions.
If I were to guess that possibility might still be on the table following this season. However we don't have to look all that far back to remember the debacle that was Terry Donahue and how incompetent and irritable he was with two of the head coaches that he was directly involved with in Steve Mariucci and Dennis Erickson. We again have had many mistakes within the framework of this ownership, ones I'm sure since they have tried to rectify and are still learning from.
Mike Nolan is the trump card of responsibility here for this loss and eight others that go along with it. In fact he has won only 14 games total in his career with the 49ers as a head coach period. Only two of those wins have been by more than a touchdown as referenced by Mercury News sports columnist Ann Killion. That in itself is very disturbing when you are evaluating the positives of what Mike Nolan is contributing to the framework of this team?
We continue to make tragic and costly mistakes not just on the coaching end but also with personnel itself. We made a big one in drafting Alex Smith out of the University of Utah because Mike Nolan felt he was the right choice at that time. Aaron Rodgers was also in consideration for that draft but plummeted and was taken later on in the draft yet looks precise in his very brief appearances in replacement of Brett Favre in Green Bay. Alex Smith has failed miserably to define himself as the leader of this team since day one after he was drafted.
Of course that is only my opinion. But I feel compelled to say it because I feel it is based on facts and I refer you to all the statistical data that so far says he is merely a "bust," inside this league and has no chance of being one of the elite quarterback's in this league that the 49ers sorely need to help resurrect this team. His injuries in 2005 to his clean bill of health in 2006 in which he was still largely ineffective to his season ending injuries in 2007 towards the end of September tell the true story of what Alex Smith is now and will never be in the future.
If he is fortunate he will be a rouge back-up quarterback in this league much as is Ken Dorsey out of the University of Miami and Tim Ratty out of Louisiana Tech are now in the NFL today as former quarterback's for the San Francisco 49ers following the purging of veteran Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia. We've made nothing but tragic mistakes on this position one right after another. In fact Jeff Garcia was the last elite quarterback on this roster since Steve Young was forced to retire due to consecutive concussions.
Jeff Garcia was handpicked and recommended by none other than Bill Walsh himself in his waning days as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. No one since has been correct in evaluating this position. Only his initials remain on the helmets and sleeves of present 49er personnel now. We need someone that is objective and has a knack for identifying greatness in a player before they even know it themselves. No one did it better than Bill Walsh hands down.
Mike Nolan goofed on Alex Smith. Now we need to move on from that and recognize that. Trent Dilfer is a shell of his former self after being a Super Bowl type quarterback asked to do little at that time from the team he was leading in the Baltimore Ravens. The defense won that ring and gave it to him asking him not to make any mistakes and play turnover free football. He managed to do that on a wing and a prayer and has that ring because of them.
Trent went 14-for-29 for 171 total yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He was sacked six times for a loss of 35 total yards and ended the game with a quarterback rating of 50.3. Only 12 total first downs were made in this game by the 49ers and 195 total yards gained as a whole. The San Francisco 49er offense was pathetic at best with converting only three-out-of-eleven third down opportunities and generated only 59 total yards rushing on the ground as an offensive unit.
Trent Dilfer was under constant attack and pressure throughout the game. Some of it by his own doing in forcing last minute throws that proved costly, four times as a matter of fact and suffered immediate duress from a pass rush that splintered the ultra-weak offensive line that has been this season's greatest disappointment next to the quarterback.
The line has lost so much especially in being able to decipher and recognize blitz package formations and different schematic tendencies that are ever evolving from opposing defenses that know how to win in the trenches and defeat our line psychologically almost from the very first snap of the ball in every game. The line has been particularly weak between the center in Eric Heitmann and the left side in Larry Allen and Adam Snyder.
Opposing defenses have been successful in pressure, hurrying the quarterback and sacking the quarterback relentlessly. They have also confused and discouraged the passing game with knocking receivers off routes and have nailed Frank Gore behind or at the line of scrimmage because they are winning the battles in the trenches right upon contact each and every time.
Frank Gore had only 12 carries in this game for 58 total yards. We were forced to pass and pass often after the first quarter when we were down 17-0. Our defensive unit was forced to stay on the field for extended periods of time as we lost time of possession 21:38 compared to 38:22 for the Carolina Panthers. The turning point was punt return man Michael Lewis watching the 51-yard punt slip through his hands and out on to the field and the Panthers recovering it on the San Francisco 11-yard line.
We watched and accepted the fate that was presented to us as the entire team withered from that point on out. Trent Dilfer looked horrible and I was half-expecting to see Shaun Hill become a factor on the sideline and possibly come in and take a few snaps. But no instead we stuck with the status quo like we always do and saw more of the same from Trent Dilfer.
The season is lost. It is time to see what you have in Shaun Hill so start him and evaluate him much the way we did in Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett just a few years ago. I would even propose a Michael Robinson possibility, as he was a great collegiate quarterback out of Penn State University. The offensive play calling even with Ted Tollner there amounted to nothing but more heartaches and inefficiencies that continued to compound upon one another as the game wore on.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Hostler still calls the shots and is responsible for this teams inept performance on offense as are several players on a personnel standpoint that deserve disciplinary action and or benching. Hostler needs to step down and or be terminated immediately. Mike Nolan owes all of us something that he recognizes the clear accumulated facts of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. He has done nothing to quell the screaming from analysts and fans alike that there is something terribly deficient with this offense that he needs to take over control of now.
I am beyond angry Mike Nolan as are all San Francisco 49er faithful are now. We deserve to be heard and recognized and we appeal to the owners to recognize that there is a major problem here with control and stubbornness to establish change, especially when the nature of things clearly apparent warrant it to happen now rather than later.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.