Another Sunday, Another Loss
October 27, 2008 at 11:21 AM • 0 comments
By AJ Bolino
The 49ers had lost their previous four games coming into Sunday's contest against Seattle. By the time the final gun sounded on Sunday afternoon, the 49ers had made it five straight losses...this time by a score of 34-13, against an injury depleted Seahawks team.
From the stands, it was clear J.T. O'Sullivan was in over his head. On the 49ers first offensive series he failed to sense pressure from Patrick Kearney, who forced a fumble which turned 2nd and 9 into 3rd and 25, effectively killing any chance of a conversion. His second drive wasn't much better. After Delanie Walker took a short pass 53 yards to set the 49ers up at the Seattle 21-yard line, Frank Gore bulled the 49ers to within six yards of the end zone. Then the bottom fell out. Julian Peterson sacked J.T. O'Sullivan for a 9-yard loss. O'Sullivan fumbled on the play and Patrick Kearny scooped up the loose ball, taking it back to the San Francisco 27-yard line. Four plays later, the Seahawks would stretch their lead to 6-0 on Olindo Mare's 42-yard kick. Before the half was over, O'Sullivan would turn the ball over again, this time throwing an interception on 4th and 4 to second year nickel back Josh Wilson, who returned it 75 yards for a Seahawks touchdown, giving them a 20-6 halftime lead. O'Sullivan was benched thereafter. After his performance Sunday, one can only hope that his benching is permanent.
The defense fared just as poorly. What many thought was the 49ers strongest unit coming in to the season has rapidly become cause for concern. On the Seahawks' first touchdown of the day, fans saw much of what they had for the first part of the season: a soft zone pass defense that was more interested in the tackle after the catch than playing aggressively, a toothless defensive line that could not stop the run when it mattered, and no pass rush. Seneca Wallace did what he had to; often completing short and intermediate passes in front of defenders who were too far off the ball to be effective. When the Seahawks decided to run, they did so poorly, averaging 1.4 yards per carry. But that didn't stop TJ Duckett from getting into the end zone over perennial punching bags Aubrayo Franklin and Ronald Fields. Though hardly a threat in the air, Seneca Wallace put up 222 passing yards, 116 of which went to his fullback, Leonard Weaver. He was sacked once on the day (by Manny Lawson), but was largely unpressured throughout the game.
Though the statistically superior when it came to time of possession, first downs, total yards gained and gain per offensive play, they 49ers still found a way to lose. How? It was quite simple, really. Their formula this Sunday was a mix of turnovers, blown coverage, poor pass blocking, and a total lack of discipline. O'Sullivan's turnovers directly contributed to one Seattle score, and set them up for two others. The 49er defense pitched in by allowing Leonard Weaver to roll up 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns on two blown assignments by the left side of the 49er linebacking corps, Parys Haralson and Takeo Spikes (looking at the plays from the stands, it looked as though Takeo Spikes was guilty in both instances). The offensive front surrendered five sacks, and allowed DE Patrick Kearney, OLB Julian Peterson and DT Rocky Benard to wreak havoc in the 49er backfield. The 49ers were penalized 7 times for 65 yards. At the end of the day, the 49ers took a game that they could have won, and gave it away with poor execution, mental miscues, and absolutely inexcusable mistakes.
Can the team turn things around? It would be almost fantasy to believe so. There are things that can be done over the bye week that might change what we see on the field in the team's next game, a Monday Night showdown with the division leading Arizona Cardinals, however. First, this team is in need of a kick in the pants. Winners do not hang their heads. Professional athletes should not need to be reminded of this. The 49ers need to believe that they are in the game before kickoff, and play like they're in the game after kickoff. Second, the 49ers need to take care of the football. Turnovers are not part of a winning strategy, and they have got to be eliminated for this team to have success. Finally, this team needs to play with discipline. Emotion is a wonderful attribute in an athlete...if it can be properly harnessed. However, allowing emotion to control the flow of one's actions is a recipe for disaster, as we witnessed during Vernon Davis' personal foul and subsequent ejection by Coach Singletary.
Coach Singletary stated point blank in his postgame address that he wants winners. He wants players that want to win. He wants the team to hit, not give away the game, and execute. He wants to find his team's formula for winning. Hopefully Sunday's game was his wakeup call. He has two weeks to evaluate what he's got, make the changes he needs to, and do his best to put a competitive team on the field Nov. 10th. I admire his passion, and I wish him luck. He's going to need it.
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