A wise man once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." Anyone who has watched the first 6 games of the 49ers' 2008 campaign with the aforementioned in mind must wonder, "Are the 49ers crazy?" Looking at the organization from top to bottom these days, it isn't difficult to justify the assumption. For the most part, the 49ers are doing exactly what they've done for the past 3 years, all the while expecting a winning season. As any hardened fan will tell you, it isn't working. That stated, let's look at the key pieces of the 2008 49ers, and what each has contributed to the team's dismal record thus far.

In the years since he took the reins of the 49ers organization, Dr. John York has attempted to run the team like a business, carefully managing the bottom line while churning out a product just good enough to sell. Though he has scraped together some cash for free agency in the offseason for the past two years, the disastrous decisions made on his watch in the 2002 and 2003 off-seasons set the stage for the last five nightmarish years of 49er football. The unceremonious dumping of Steve Mariucci at the behest of Terry Donahue, the subsequent hiring of Dennis Erickson, the roster purge of Jeff Garcia and Garrison Hearst, and some of the worst re-signings in NFL history (remember Ahmed Plummer?) landed the 49ers under a mountain of "dead money", and left the roster utterly devoid of talent. While all the blame cannot be placed squarely at the feet of Dr. York, his failure to accept responsibility for the poor decisions made early in his tenure as owner reflect poorly on his ability to lead this franchise.

Talk to any Niner fan long enough, and eventually you'll hear the same thing...Mike Nolan should be fired. Since his decision to draft Alex Smith in the first round of the 2005 draft, it seems that Coach Nolan's ability to carry out the everyday duties of an NFL Head Coach has gotten worse and is limited, at best. His grasp on football reality seems to slip a little more each week. For proof, all one needs to do is listen to a post game presser. Following each of the Niners' last three losses, Coach Nolan has placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his players, saying, "We need to play better", or "play calling is fine, but execution is lacking". In and of itself, this is a poor reflection of leadership. Nolan's blatant refusal to accept the blame for foolish use of the clock, ill-advised challenges, questionable use of personnel (why are we running a 3-4 defense?), failure to make necessary adjustments at halftime, inability to communicate with his team, and seeming inability to manage a game through four consecutive quarters are an indictment of his ability to coach in the NFL. Great coaches find ways to win...Nolan seems better at finding ways to lose.

Though ownership is sketchy, and the coaching pedestrian, some of what's wrong with this team can be tied to the roster itself. Before delivering criticism, it should be noted that this team is light years ahead of where it was last year. Even so, the team's ability to move the ball hasn't translated to better results on the field. Why? The answer is fairly simple: what ails the team on the field can be traced directly to both the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line has given up more sacks than any unit in the NFL. Specific weak points have been reserve tackle Barry Sims, guard Adam Snyder and guard Tony Wragge. Simply stated, these men have been unable to play consistently. While some may say blame lies with the quarterback for the team's offensive struggles, the truth is undeniable: our offensive line is incapable of providing consistent pass protection, even with the help of a tight end and a blocking back. Without protection, a solid starter might struggle...a first time starter is guaranteed to struggle. The defensive line has not fared much better. Even with the impressive play of Ray McDonald and Justin Smith (at every position in the front 7), the fact remains that players like Aubrayo Franklin, Ron Fields and Isaac Sopoaga are too slow to pursue in space, and too weak to anchor the defense in a 3-4 alignment. Without the help of additional rushers on a regular basis, this group is not good enough to generate the kind of pressure necessary to allow the secondary any kind of success. Until both the offensive and defensive lines find ways to succeed with the talent they have, or find players capable of delivering at a high level for four straight quarters, the team will struggle to score, and fail to generate stops in the clutch.

So...are the 49ers' crazy? If the organization expects to win with sketchy leadership from a questionable owner, subpar coaching and uninspiring line play (the same formula that the team has come up with for the past 5 seasons), the answer is "yes". Fortunately, this brand of insanity is curable. The first step to recovery for this team is to address what is correctable. Since Dr. York can't be traded for a seventh rounder, and the likelihood of finding 3 solid offensive or defensive linemen in the middle of the season is near-nigh impossible, the first step should be the immediate replacement of Mike Nolan. Many NFL pundits state that replacing a coach in mid season usually spells doom for a team's chance of winning. They say that switching coaches at this point will cause confusion, and translate negatively on the field. Evidently, none of these pundits have seen the 49ers play a game this year.