It actually was early when the crowd started grumbling.
Oh, not THAT early. Not when Ted Ginn took the opening kickoff back to midfield and Mike Johnson, riding yet another strong start by Alex Smith, delivered his second opening touchdown in a row. That was just fine.
It wasn't even when Kevin Kolb, the backup QB on a team that seemed to have backups throughout, answered by marching straight down the field, a reminder of just how beautiful the West Coast Offense is.
And it wasn't even when Frank Gore lost his first fumble, starting the avalanche of self-inflicted wounds that's come to define this sloppy bunch of masochists.
It actually was during our first drive of the second quarter. We were down just 10-7, and what got the crowd going was simply this: on first down, Gore up the gut. It got a bit louder on second down, which was--get this--Gore up the gut.
Across the airwaves, you could almost make out words: "Jimmy Raye was FIRED, right?" (As if the culprit was really Raye.)
As if in answer, Smith goes deep, but into coverage, adding to his mountain of picks. (More boos.) Later, Gore on second-and-10 and third-and-14. (MORE boos.) LeSean McCoy, and his broken rib, slice straight through the heart of our wildly overrated D. (Still MORE boos.) And when Joe Nedney misses an easy field goal at the end of the half, the Niners, though down only seven, are booed off the field.
So much for the notion of "wine-and-cheese" fans. Considering the expectations, this four-game start was the franchise's worst--ever. And after seven years of losing, this crowd was just a ticking bomb.
And in the second half, it would explode.
Gore's second fumble was just the appetizer. Early in the fourth, Smith was flushed to his left, and instead of just heaving the ball out of bounds, he turned to try to throw downfield. He was hit; he lost the ball; and the Eagles ran it all the way in.
Smith later said he was "just trying to do too much." Which is exactly what he'd said the week before. But the crowd knew better. Of all of Smith's countless, relentless mistakes--in a saga the Niners just will not let end--they'd just seen the one that was likely the worst.
The boos were deafening. And this team, which can't go a week without SOME kind of drama, showed the nation its worst dysfunction. Mike Singletary got into Smith's face on the sideline. In his next series, Smith went three-incompletions-and-out, the boos growing louder and louder with each. "We want Carr" went the chant--not that anyone seriously thought that Carr would do better--and Carr indeed was warming up. Singletary and Smith went at it some more--and more heatedly--with other players getting involved. Carr even made it out onto the field, before Smith convinced Singletary to let him stay in. So Smith stayed in and did what he does best: lead the thrilling comeback that comes up just short, with the offensive line forcing his fate-sealing pick, his league-leading ninth.
And Smith, THAT close to the ending at last, survived to see another week. When, you'd assume, he'll do it all again.
Now then. Let's say you're Jed York. Your team was the near-unanimous pick for the division title, which you were planning to parlay into financing for your new stadium. But you're oh-and-five, and a national audience just saw you self-destruct in front of thousands of fans who were screaming for blood.
You've gotta do something. But what?
The clearest choice, naturally, is to fire the coach. Obviously, no team with this much talent makes this many mistakes--throws away game after game after game--unless its coach is exceedingly bad. And though there's no clear interim coach on the staff, the season's almost certainly lost, and you'll make a point to those booing fans: you'll tell 'em, I hear you.
Sure, that's maybe what YOU'D do. But you're NOT Jed, of course. And Jed came up with a DIFFERENT choice.
In true York fashion, he chose to make a fool of himself.
When you're a public figure trying to garner the confidence of the community--such as when you're asking the community for the better part of a billion dollars--the first thing you DON'T do is make promises you can't keep. Jed's been down this road before, of course. He promised a playoff berth last year, and he didn't deliver, thanks largely to Singletary, who got off scot-free. You'd think this experience, combined with oh-and-five, might teach the guy a little restraint. But no. Facing a simple yes-or-no question--whether he'd fire Singletary--Jed answered with a promise that was even MORE reckless: start oh-and-five and win a division, we'll be the first team ever to do it.
I'm all for demanding results, as long as the demand comes with "or else." And I'm all for projecting confidence--even at the risk of filling your opponents' bulletin boards--as long as you're able to back it up. But Jed, in fact, did neither.
As he said before Philly, Singletary's job "is not on the line"; and as he said after, his faith in the guy is as strong as it's been. There's no reason to think that Singletary's failure to deliver on THIS promise will mean anything more than his failure the LAST time. Win, Mike, but if you don't, well, it certainly won't be YOUR fault.
But worse by a mile is the proof that Singletary and Jed share the same delusions. It's not that this promise is literally unattainable; after all, it IS a weak division. It's that Jed truly believes that all it'll take for this team to win it--to win at least 8 of its next 11--is to buy into Singletary's vacuous cheerleading. To Jed, as to Singletary, "we just need to relax, take it one practice at a time, one play at a time, one game at a time." To Jed, as to Singletary, "we [just] need to keep playing well and not shoot ourselves in the foot."
Singletary's greatest weakness is that he thinks it's all so simple. Why do guys like Andy Reid make it look so complicated, with all their charts and plans and tactics? Singletary knows better. To win, all you've gotta do is impose your will. Want it more. Oh, we're making mistakes? Just stop making 'em. There. Problem solved.
An insightful owner, who knows his stuff, would never accept this. He'd never see this as a plan for success, and he'd never be dumb enough to guarantee it, when all it's done so far is fail. No. An insightful owner would see through this crap, and save us. But Jed isn't, and so, even at oh-and-five, he doesn't.
And the worst part of all, I'm starting to doubt that he ever will.
Date: October 16, 2010 at 9:35 PM
Comment: Well written, I thought. This team seems to be directed by total incompetents, both on and off the field. What a disaster of a team. The Yorks haven't a clue how to put together an NFL organization.
Date: October 15, 2010 at 5:17 PM
Comment: Thanks for the advice brother! some would say there is no reason to come back to Amsterdam any time of the year, haha... home sweet home!... My question is this, whether it's your next article or if you have a minute: What do you really think is going to happen with the coaching next year? I know everyone would love to see chucky, as would I, it just seems like a perfect fit. honestly tho i have no idea if that is possible. it seems pretty obvious Sing will stick around till season's end only bcuz there is no one to replace him. Then where do we go from there? I know cowher is a winner but i don't know if i can stomach the thought of another defensive coach (i know that's irrational, but at this point I'm only human)....this cld be the next 5 years in the making.
Date: October 15, 2010 at 11:33 AM
Comment: Bend Over, Dan.
Date: October 14, 2010 at 8:43 PM
Comment: Hey Jeff, well i spent a couple weeks on Vaca in beautiful Cancun and the 9ers even managed to almost F that up! the only days that weren't perfect were sundays. This is incredibly bad. i never dreamed (nightmared?) the season wld start like this. 2-3 wldnt have shocked me but this? it is so painfully obvious that sing has no clue, i'm not sure how someone misses it. The O def looks better with Johnson but it still has Sing's prints on it, and they are ugly. 8 straight first down runs, 66% up the middle? no success. first downs when we pass, success. then the following runs, gore's biggest gains. I always said i wld love to be a coach but I'm not smart enough, well i cld do better with this team! Smith is obviously not the answer. the guy looks really good when he is pressed and does "cut it loose" but are we to believe that after 6 yrs in the NFL, overnight he turns into a gunslinger? I pray I'm wrong on this but after this long i'm gonna say it.... Alex is who we thought he was! (man i hope he proves me wrong) i really think we are gonna win this game against Oak, and I'm even one of the ppl in the mental asylum that thinks we will win the west but only if sing gets out of the way!!
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: October 14, 2010 at 3:19 PM
Comment: Actually Dan I didn't have the Raiders in mind at all, but Wow I am really impressed with your symbolism, never would've thought of it. What I was referring to in a tongue-in-cheek way as the dark side is the fans and media which you criticize for being concerned about the 49er organization's weaknesses. To put it another way, welcome to the party Dan. It's about time.
Date: October 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM
Comment: I don't agree with the part of your article about firing Singletary because players play the game and if you can run off Michael Lewis then you should bench Alex Smith, then you go after Gore for fumbling or the linemen for missing blocks. Everyone should know their jobs are on the line if they don't do them right.
Date: October 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM
Comment: C'mon now, this dark side you speak of, is obviously the Raiders. They dress in black, are ruthless in nature, and have you seen the creatures they keep in their "Black Hole"? Bill Walsh would be Obi-Wan, whose spirit fans still expect to appear and guide the last Jedi to victory over Darth Vader (not Mike Singletary, but for this weekend, the Raiders). I'm not clear on who is supposed to be Luke (Alex?) if so, this episode of Star Wars is going very wrong. So basically instead of saying Dark Side, let's just say I like to wait for a man to screw things up before I say, "that guy's a failure, he's going to screw things up." So now that Singletary has satisfied my definition of screwing up the beginning of the season, I can observe that the man screwed it up. Before the season started, I was hoping that there would be more emphasis on the passing game which there clearly has not been. My mistake for giving a guy the benefit of the doubt that he would do what is best for the team. I'm sure he did what he thought was best, but obviously to all of us, the passing has to be there or you won't have room to run. Too bad, now hopefully the coaches know what the problem is and they'll fix it.
Date: October 14, 2010 at 8:58 AM
Comment: A part of me also says lose all the rest of the games, but I know inside I don't mean it. Let's face it, we're all addicted to the 9ers, and will watch no matter what. For me, I say every week that i'm not gonna watch or listen, but always end up with some sort of false hope towards the end of the game. As for Singletary, I don't think he is head coach material, but what do you really expect him to do now? He knows he's a goner at the end of the year. He means well for the team, but just doesn't have the stuff! Let's all just chill because we have our opinions, but they mean nothing. Just ride out the storm, and hope for better days. Oh yeah, we do have the power to not watch or listen if we are disgusted in something. I'm not going to watch or listen till they get rolling again because it usually ruins my sunday and puts me in a bad mood, and that's not good.
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: October 14, 2010 at 5:57 AM
Comment: Dan says, "Believe me, no one thinks Singletary has done a good job this season. Most of us wonder how he is still around." WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE.
By: Terry B.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 6:05 PM
Comment: Ah, Dan, the eternal optimist. We'd have a top offense if only we had a QB, and a top 10 defense if only we had a speedy lockdown corner. And Glenn Beck would be a top notch political commentator if only he had a brain.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 3:43 PM
Comment: Absolutely Telecat, I am with you all the way. I will be rooting for the niners to lose every game this season until they get rid of dingleberry. And the great thing too, I know dingleberry will be thanking the Raiders for kicking his @ss after the game. Just like I will.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 2:00 PM
Comment: The Yorks are the problem and with Jed running the show, the 49ers will not return to glory. The Yorks inherited a dynasty and were able to completely dismantle it quite quickly. Let's face it, the 49ers are one of the worst organizations in football from top to bottom...No real President, no real GM, no real coach to speak of. The 49ers need to get a real football person into the operation and allow that person to build the team. It will take good money, but get some real in here. I'd take a Scott Pioli protege any day.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 1:44 PM
Comment: Not that long ago, I saw an interview with Dinglefarty. When asked what "plan B" was in case plan A was a failure, he stated simply: "There is no plan B." He is a stupid, stupid man. He is a liar, and he is a fool. He is not worthy to be in the NFL in any capacity. I won't be watching any more 49er games this season, and I hope they go 0-16 because I think that's the only thing that will motivate the Boy King to fire that SOB. Go Raiders! Go Panthers! Go Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams! Go Chargers, Go Broncos and Packers! Sometimes you have to take the long view.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 1:42 PM
Comment: There you go, stop watching the 49ers altogether if you don't like the owner. Why stop at not buying tickets, stop watching the broadcasts too. They'll stop broadcasting anyway if no one attends. That's good sense, actually. If you don't like the way the team is managed, coached, and run, stop watching. I doubt anyone posting here is willing to do that, I think you guys LOVE having something to bitch about. I for one haven't been to a game this season after seeing the fiasco in Seattle. I'm on the logic of Steve, why pay to see horrible football when you can watch it on TV in the comfort of your own home. It makes perfect sense. Economics will catch up to the Yorks if this continues, that's a certainty. I still maintain that this young team is not finished. Almost all the pieces for a good offense are there if we get a QB, and the defense is just a speedy lockdown corner short of top ten. Coaching issues aside I think we can all agree on that. So the question is: Does Jed want to make money? If so, he does what it takes to win. If not, save your money for Giants Tix.
By: Terry B.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 1:06 PM
Comment: Dan, I have just one question for you. If you can't complain when your team is 0-5, your owner is a joke, your coach is an idiot, your QB is a bust, your organization is in disarray, and your offensive playbook looks like 1940s high school football, when CAN you complain?
Date: October 13, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Comment: How about this! Stop going to the games, maybe the people can get their point across that way. No money coming in will really light a fire under York's butt. That's the only way we have any power in this situation as fans. I would not pay to go see horror when I can see it for free on tv. Just sayin!
Date: October 13, 2010 at 12:21 PM
Comment: Thanks for the hatemail everyone, I would expect nothing less from the 49er faithful. As soon as I post any positive statement of hope for the future I become your hate target. Let's all get together sometime, have some Whine, and call each other stupid idiots, haters, dingleberries, homers, and maybe throw in a ne'r-do-well or two for good repoire. MeanWhine we can bitch about our losing coach over a tall frothy glass of Whine and complain about our Whine-less season while we continue to sip our Whine. Then maybe we can reminisce about the good old days whine we used to whine every game by 40 points or more and whine aren't our coaches able to put together a single whine now? By the time we're done maybe we can pull our whiny heads out and get back to conversing about things as they could be, instead of just complaining about how they are. Believe me, no one thinks Singletary has done a good job this season. Most of us wonder how he is still around. Jed won't fire him in the middle of the season and that's a legitimate decision. Don't look for Jed at a Walmart too soon though because he's privileged, and privileged people don't have any business at Walmart unless they own Walmart.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 11:28 AM
Comment: Jed Dork is an idiot. I used to be a big fan and backer of Singletary but I have pretty much lost all hope on that. But as far as Jed goes, that guy needs to get into something that he knows (I would suggest a Walmart greeter) 'cause football is not it. I have plenty of Raider fans that are friends of mine. But I always tell them that I feel bad for them as fans of a pro football team. But I am beginning to think that Jed York is the second coming of Al Davis. Al Davis is the demise of that franchise and fan base and the same is going on with my beloved 49ers. Another thing is our whole QB issue. How many other teams will give an unproven QB 6 years to try and prove himself????? This is ridiculous!!! I mean I can't say it's all been on him due to the revolving doors of OCs that we have had. This once prized franchise is going down and going down quick. CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME HELP!!!!! The fans and players deserve it!!!
By: Terry B.
Date: October 13, 2010 at 7:35 AM
Comment: Dan, if you read through all of these comments, you'll see that you're the only one still denying reality. Just give in, accept the truth, and enjoy the sense of peace and calm that will wash over you. It's over, Dan. Accept it. Move on. I'll leave you with another Lowell Cohn quote to mull over while you ponder joining the rest of us: "Singletary is the worst 49ers head coach since anyone can remember. Dennis Erickson, who got run out of town, at least knew offense. He had been successful in college. Mike Nolan, a figure of ridicule, knows defense and is the defensive coordinator for the Dolphins. Singletary knows nothing, can coach nothing, has expertise in nothing. You can't name a worse 49er coach in decades."
By: A Sane Fan
Date: October 13, 2010 at 1:27 AM
Comment: Dan - dude, you are truly delusional. Are you Jed York?? Jed - for a guy who gets advice from his uncle your actions show you're the polar opposite of him from the pocketbook (in regards to the HC & GM positions which Eddie D paid top dollar for...HELLO??!!??!!) to football managerial smarts. You seriously need to WAKE TF UP!!!!!!!!!!! You've made our once proud franchise the biggest laughingstock in the league. Where you've let our TALENTED team dissolve into is painfully SICKENING. Please, please, pleeeeeeasse bring in a proven HC (offensive-oriented preferably) & true legit premier GM in the building to PROFESSIONALLY run our team & don't become Dan Snyder #2 who ran his team like the amateur he was FOR YEARS until this season. I NEVER believed in your father & now if you don't straighten out this total disaster I will soon lose the faith I put in you when you took the reins as President & gave us a glimmer of light. C'mon Jed didn't you HEAR the fans Sunday night???? WAKE UP JED & RIGHT THIS SHIP ASAP. BRING IN A PROVEN HC, (OC,) & GM PLEASE.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 10:19 PM
Comment: Nice article, Jeff. I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. You know, I harken back to the days when Mooch rebuilt the Niners and we won a division title and a playoff game and he was promptly canned and we have been on a death spiral ever since. I have said this before and I will say it again: we're stuck with the curse of the Mooch. Mooch was a brilliant offensive mind who managed to add balance to our WCO by bringing in more of a power run game. Ever since we abandoned the offensive style that won us 5 superbowls (and started in SFO with Bill Walsh) we have been the laughingstock of the league. We really need to start over. I am really hopeful we can snag a disciple of the WCO (Gruden, Holmgren, to name a few) and reinstate the offensive schemes that put us on the map in the first place.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 8:57 PM
Comment: It's very important that those of us who saw this Titanic from the beginning don't fall into the trap of thinking hiring a new coach will solve the problem. THE problem is that Jed York is too frightened to hire a real GM and other senior, proven, NFL tested people who will want the proper authority to do what needs to be done. Think about it. Jed York has never hired anyone on the football side of his plaything. He just keeps promoting Nolan's people. He needs to grow up, sac up, and get out of the way.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 7:56 PM
Comment: My message to Jed York. I get it. You're too cheap to recruit a proven head coach. You're too cheap to fire Dingleberry and buy out his contract. I have a recommendation for you, fire the coach and just go without a head coach for the rest of the season. Dingleberry is that useless, trust me, you won't miss him. Let me explain how this will work, OC makes all offensive decisions, DC makes all defensive decisions, Special Teams coach is responsible for special teams. A three-headed monster and none of them you have to give a raise. Yes, this decision will make you look frugal, but that's ok. The guys in the clubhouse will love you, and niner fans will love you to death because I guarantee you this team will win afterward. Trust me Jed, niner fans will be happier when you acknowledge you are cost-conscious. What they won't forgive is an owner that is blind and ignorant. Make the Move! You are trying to get a new stadium, you should be able to see for yourself, if you cannot get your own house in order, no one is going to help you build another.
By: Coach Dingleberry
Date: October 12, 2010 at 7:37 PM
Comment: Hey Dan, Thanks for your support. You want a job as a defensive coordinator? Sounds like you're an idiot, come join the party!
Date: October 12, 2010 at 6:18 PM
Comment: I do have pride in this team, and I don't allow their failures to disrupt my life. I truly believe they can turn this around. I could care less if Singletary has the coaching skills you are looking for. I want to see these guys play the football I know they are capable of. I don't think any of these guys are stupid and I don't expect horrible play from them for the remainder of the year. As far as I can tell the 49ers already hit rock bottom and they should have no trouble bouncing back up to the top from here. If Singletary doesn't get it done this team should be able to attract an experienced coaching staff who can put it together next year. No reason to cry about the season, that'll get no one anywhere.
By: Dallas Niner fan
Date: October 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM
Comment: Hey Dan, All I have heard from you is complaining about everyone who is observing serious problems in the 49ers organization. Ok fair enough, but if you have problems with everyone's criticism then it would imply that you see positives. Well, what are they? Tell us why we are wrong. You've got the floor man.
By: Terry B.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 2:01 PM
Comment: Honestly, Dan, what complete piffle you're allowing yourself today. What is the point of anything you just wrote? Is this what you're left with when you ill-advisedly vow to be happy and proud "no matter what happens"? You do realize, don't you, that you're the last man on the Titanic? Check out Lowell Cohn's column today. You can link to it on Webzone's front page. For a sample: "The Least Worst Award goes to Singletary. I shudder to write that because he is the most horrible coach in the NFL — Tom Cable is Vince Lombardi compared to him. Singletary is a hobbyist and the 49ers need a professional. He can't manage the clock and he can't teach and he knows no offense and he's always talking about how he likes his team. Someone has to like it. I am most lenient with Singletary because the 49ers stuck him into a job he was not prepared for — never was and never will be. Sure, Singletary took the job in the fullness of his pride — lots of pride with this man — and has seemed delusional about his abilities. And he didn't have the smarts to get a good backup quarterback. He got David Carr, whom he doesn't believe in. But Singletary tries hard and means well and he gets a few points for that, although he's a joke coach."
Date: October 12, 2010 at 1:44 PM
Comment: Yeah, Singletary LIKES losing games. I would argue that you guys, who are Singletary's greatest fans, also like to watch the 49ers fail under Singletary/York. Everyone likes it when the 49ers lose, right? The 49ers are STUPID, they don't know how to play football. The coaches run the ball too much, the cornerbacks are too slow, the draft wasn't what I wanted, the defense gives up too many points, the quarterback SUCKS. You guys are the standard-bearers of the 49ers dynasty. I'm sure the team could not go on without you guys watching their backs. Keep up the good work.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Comment: I was at the game sunday night and just wanted to let the fans know what I heard Sing yelling to Alex Smith on the sidelines. "Thanks for kicking my A$$, Thanks for kicking my A$$, Alex! I really needed that." I just wanted to let the fans know Alex was never coming out of the game. Coach Sing loves losing games, he is proud that his team is a model of his stupidity.
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: October 12, 2010 at 12:18 PM
Comment: Great article Jeff. As usual you hit the nail right on the head. A couple of thoughts. First, you're absolutely right, Jed York has no clue. He is a kid with a chip on his shoulder who wants to prove that he can do it his way without anyone with hard-core NFL experience on his staff. He's got something to prove and he has never run anything nor has he ever had to make a payroll in his life. Second, the main problem with the Niners is that they are making so many mistakes. What I find amazing is that when Sing and his players are asked as to why they are making so many mistakes they answer by saying that they don't know. They don't know???? Of course they know. If they don't know, who does? For a coach to say he does not know shows that that coach is a bad coach. Does Sing or any other coach for that matter get paid to know? How about if we start at holding players accountable, making them pay attention to detail. Bad mistakes means bad coaching, simple as that. If you have a coach who does not know, you will never solve the problem. I will say it again, those players and coaches know why they're making the mistakes, they just don't want to admit it.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM
Comment: I would feel bad for you Jeff that Singletary isn't getting fired. I know it's what keeps you going, just waiting for the game that finally prompts his departure. It looks like the boss is committed to Singletary for at least the rest of the season. Maybe Jed York just doesn't like YOU. I wouldn't blame him, you've been pretty harsh on him here. Look at the bright side, your side job/favorite pastime of ranting against Singletary and the Niners is safe for the rest of the season. You still are going to have three months' worth, at least, of things to rant, moan, and complain about. So instead of consoling you I would like to offer you congratulations. Congratulations Jeff on a season's worth of negativity, ranting, and disregard. I guess it would still be appropriate to take a victory lap here, even if you're going to have to save that bottle of champagne you have saved for when Singletary gets fired for another day.
By: Terry B.
Date: October 12, 2010 at 9:29 AM
Comment: I just have one thing to say to all of those homers who kept insisting that Singletary was a good coach: I TOLD YOU SO!!!
Date: October 12, 2010 at 7:35 AM
Comment: Thank you Jeff for stating the obvious - something that no other commentators are willing to say. the 49ers have become a complete embarrassment and all because the Yorks - and I do mean all of them - do not have a clue how to win, nor do they seem to care. they just want to own a football team and watch its value increase. Boy do I miss Eddie D. We are the laughingstock of the NFL.