What to be thankful for...
November 26, 2008 at 1:21 AM
In approximately 24 hours from now, families across the United States and in many parts of the world will be gathering to celebrate a yearly tradition, giving thanks and showing gratitude toward issues that are deserving. Fabulous dinner spreads mixed with relatives and the like, huddled together in an attempt to stuff themselves into submission. This Thanksgiving however, fans of the San Francisco 49ers may be hard-pressed to be thankful for much of anything that has occured since early August.
The negatives are too glaring to ignore. Another "offensive" coordinator walks through the doors in Santa Clara, bringing the possibility of change and improvement. But like the five that preceded Mike Martz, there have been more questions produced than answers or results. Yet another quarterback snafu occurred the moment that John Thomas O'Sullivan was named the starting quarterback in the waning days leading up to the regular season. Nothing new, considering that the position in itself has become nearly as laughable as Oakland Raiders' owner Al Davis since the year 2003.
A vastly-underachieving defensive unit hasn't helped matters, with Nate Clements being labeled the poster boy for its struggles this season. Clements may very well be a walking billboard, since he and nearly the rest of the defense have been one in the same: An incredibly overrated piece to a puzzle that hasn't earned a dime of its salary this season.
And of course, there is Mike Nolan. Whether it be his cowardly decision making in critical times in a game, or his obsessively-compulsive mannerism to throw around his little red flag as if he were a matador, Nolan's ways of operation finally did him in close to the midway point of this season. Sure, Nolan and 49ers' General Manager Scot McGloughan have brought in some key players in a rebuilding effort that has been underway since 2005. But what they seem to have forgotten is that no matter how many tools you bring to the site, or how thorough your blueprint may be, you need a solid foundation to build upon. Otherwise, what is being built will eventually collapse.
Yet with all that being said, 49er fans have a few things to be thankful for and pay homage towards before digging into that first bite of Turducken.
Quarterback Shaun Hill: All Hill has done this season is show how incompetent the "Powers That Be" within the organization truly are. After sparking an inspiring rally late last season, Hill has stepped in since being named the starter for the 49ers' Week 10 game at Arizona. A seven-to-three touchdown/interception ratio, 906 yards and a 94.6 quarterback rating later, Hill has cemented himself as a fan favorite and consistent contributor on a weekly basis.
Tailback Frank Gore: I don't know how he does it. Terrible offensive line play and even worse coaching would doom any other runner in the National Football League, but not Gore. Gore has tallied 191 carries for 860 yards and six touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry this season. If an award were made to honor players that show the most heart, Gore's name would damn well be engraved on it.
Linebacker Patrick Willis: Sure, the Chuck Norris jokes and Patrick Willis puns may be a little old, but if I were the "Boogy Man", I would certainly be checking underneath my bed at night. Through 11 games, Willis has racked up 97 tackles, one interception and one defensive touchdown. The numbers may not end up like they did in 2007, but when you set the unofficial record for tackles in a season, you earn a little leeway. He embodies the spirit of the game, and is an extension of the final 49ers' employee that fans should be grateful to have on board.
Head Coach "Iron" Mike Singletary: Singletary may have been crowned as being the best source for post-game "insight", with the dropping of his pants and producing the now-infamous quote: "Can't win with 'em, can't do it." Well without the Hall Of Fame former player and interim head hancho, the team he commands may have been able to say that they couldn't have won without him. Singletary has brought a burning desire to this team, igniting a flame in a group that wasn't even good enough to be used as kindling. In meeting Singletary, you quickly realize that he will not accept losing, or the culture that losing produces. I spoke briefly with him during a practice during preseason, and let me tell you, I got the chills. I can't imagine one player on that team that is not willing to run through a brick wall for the 49ers' next appointed messiah.
Yeah, the team may be 3-8. The team may have been swept by the Arizona Cardinals in the season series. But with all the talk of Los Angeles seeking another NFL inhabitant, the "49er Faithful" better not take what they have for granted. On Thursday, throw on your Jerry Rice or Joe Montana jersey, and wear it proudly as you partake in the annual tradition of the neighborhood "Turkey Bowl" football game. Be proud to be a 49er fan on Thanksgiving Day.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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