It's been over 48 hours since it happened and most 49ers fans are still debating this issue: who is at fault for the 49ers loss to the Cowboys last Sunday at Cowboys Stadium, ahem, Candlestick Park? At this point, I selfishly commend myself for mostly staying out of said discussions as I tried to come to grips with my own theory for the debate, and now that I seem to have settled on an answer I've come here to share it with you all.

* I blame the offensive line: for multiple reasons --> for following up on their poor run blocking effort from last week vs the Seahawks. Matt Barrows reported yesterday that starting center Jonathan Goodwin stated the 49ers should be able to get four yards per carry no matter what the defensive front is. I agree. Frank Gore, however, is averaging 2.5 yards/carry. (Eric Branch gives us a more detailed, yet painful breakdown of Gore's carries this season). I know there are many of you out there bashing Gore as well, and maybe with good reason, but think about this: Vernon Davis is one of the best blocking tight ends in the game, we have a another tight end whose sole purpose is to block, and Moran Norris can still get it done as a run blocker as well, yet the 49ers have to bring in two extra linemen to run the ball on heavy formations, and they still can't consistently open holes to run through. Call me crazy, but that's a problem.

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--> and I'm not done blaming the offensive line, you know what else is crazy? Leaving DeMarcus Ware, the league's sack leader last season, absolutely unblocked at any point in the game, let alone a play-action call during what could have possibly been the last drive of the game as the 49ers tried to run out the clock. After not allowing any sacks last week vs the Seahawks, the 49ers gave up six yesterday, four in the second half, one in overtime. For the love of Kwame Harris, get your act together!

* I blame Tramaine Brock: bless his soul I'm sure he didn't mean to fall down on the Cowboys last drive of the first half, as the home, ahem, visiting team desperately looked for a break in a game the 49ers were all but dominating. Nonetheless, his fall let Miles Austin wide open down the middle of the field for Tony Romo to find him for the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game. Momentum = Gone. Sure, Brock did come up with an interception later on in the game off a tipped pass by Aldon Smith (in coverage, may I add), and Alex Smith did hit Delanie Walker for a sweet-looking 29-yard touchdown pass in the very next play, but the impact of the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game was much greater than the 49ers retaking the lead. I'm sure you didn't mean to fall down Tramaine, but I still blame you.

* I blame Tarrell Brown: for constantly getting abused up and down the field by Cowboys' wide receivers, whether their last names were Austin or not. Good grief, I used to think he would turn out to be an excellent contributor to this secondary, yet he contributes more to opposing teams' passing games than he does to this defense.

* I blame Alex Smith: for that ill-advised throw to Alan Ball for an interception where he absolutely read him wrong. The 49ers were in position to retake a two-score lead if they could put a drive together early in the third quarter, instead Dallas tied the game at 14 five plays later.

* I blame Jim Harbaugh: yes, for his decision to take the points: did he have David Akers on his fantasy team?. Look, I've been back on forth on this since it happened, and I understand hindsight is 20/20, but getting the ball at the the opponent's 22 yard line with a first down? He has to take that, he takes more time off the clock, he can even have Alex Smith take three consecutive knees if he is so scared of a turnover, then he can kick a shorter field goal with a 13-year kicker who has an 82% success rate on field goals. Less fantasy points, sure, but it probably gets this team a win: the Cowboys needed just about every second left on the clock to tie the game.


Look, if you haven't figured it out by now, I blame the whole team. There aren't many sports in the world that define team the way football does: each and everyone of the 49ers I'm "blaming" on here could have changed the outcome of this game if they had just avoided that one mistake, if they had just made that one play in favor of the team instead of against them. I can't really blame any one of them specifically, they played/coached their hearts out and almost came away with a victory that most people outside of San Francisco, and many in the city, didn't expect them to get; but that's football, it happens, you win some and you lose some. There's no way to solely place this loss on one specific individual, just like there's no way to credit one specific Cowboys player for the win they earned. The last time I can remember being able to blame a single player for the 49ers losing a game, it would be Nate Clementswhen the 49ers played at Atlanta on October 3rd, 2010.

So although this loss hurt, just move on to the next game - the season is young, and whether the 49ers can finally get back into the playoffs it's totally up to them, because if there's something we learned on Sunday is that this team CAN compete against playoff-caliber opponents this season, and that bodes well for this team so early in the season.

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