The cruelest joke is hope. That's what the last 2 seasons have given us. These losses hurt so much more when the team is actually in contention.
I apologize in advance...this will be a long post.
1) Kap: Yup....the newest webzone whipping boy. I just have to start off with saying that there are times in this forum that I understand why people in other team forums and even other 49ER forums hate us. This is one of those times. INSANE overreaction.
"We'll have a new QB next year".
"Let's trade everything away for Bridgewater".
"Never should have traded Alex Smith".
"We need a new QB".
"Our QB sucks...he can't even throw for 200 yards".
You are embarrassing yourselves. Seriously. Even Seahawk fans think you're nuts...and they HATE Kap. Did Kap have a great game? No. Is he struggling? Yes. Is it all his fault? No. Is some of it his fault? Yes.
Look, I don't enjoy seeing the team struggle like that anymore than the rest of you. What you lack tho is PERSPECTIVE. From an experience perspective, Kap is still an extremely young player. Teams are giving him different looks and there is now a "book" on him. When that happens, a player is forced to adapt to what that defense is now doing to him. It doesn't happen overnight. We did tho see several plays yesterday where he was beginning to do so.
Point by point I'll go over the "reasons" for his struggles.
a) Inexperience: People love to say he's a third year QB and should be better. That's totally bogus. MOST QBs need to START for 3 full seasons before you have any idea what they might become. After 3 seasons in the NFL (2 as a starter), the "Breezus" Drew Brees had 28 TDs and 31 INTs. He averaged 199 yards per game and had a ratings in his 2 seasons of 79.9 and 67.5. I can only imagine what the chatter was in San Diego. This was a team with LaDainian Tomlinson having over 2100 yards from scrimmage in both years. San Diego thought he was so bad that they drafted Eli manning #1 overall and then traded him for Phillip Rivers. Look at Brees now. THAT is what experience CAN do. Years ago, QBs were NEVER expected to contribute as early as Colin has already. Bottom line, we were spoiled rotten last year. Is anyone but me old enough to remember how long it took Steve Young to play really well? That was with all kinds of weapons all over the field and possibly the finest offensive mind the game has ever seen. Steve had 10 TDs and 21 INTs in his 2 seasons with the Bucs. He didn't start a full NFL season with the 49ers until his SEVENTH year. Alex Smith? You know, the guy many say should never have been traded? His first season as a starter...1 TD, 11 INTs. His second season when he was improved? 10 TDs, 10 INTs. PERSPECTIVE.
b) Personnel: This one to me is huge. I've heard all the argument against it too..."He needs pro bowlers at every spot while other QBs do not". "The guys are getting open but he just isn't throwing it to them". "He's only looking to the first read and then he's screwed". There are varying levels of truth in all of those comments. I'll address this in more detail later
c) Scheme: Again, I'll address this more later. There is clearly a scheme issue at play here. Teams know what the 49ers are trying to do and they have found some things that the 49ers have trouble adapting to.
d) He simply can't play like an NFL QB: This one is funny to me. I see people say some asinine stuff, but this one takes the cake. People think players come into the NFL and are static...IE they will always be the same guy they were when they played the last game. Kap is struggling...no doubt, but if you separate yourself from the emotion just a little bit, you'd see that he actually made some strides yesterday. Where? I was impressed by the sideline throw to Baldwin. If Baldwin holds on, that's a TD. I was impressed by tall of the back-shoulder throws he was making to Boldin. We hadn't seen much of that thus far in his career. Perfectly placed and executed. Don't get me wrong...he made his fair share of mistakes, but I was seeing some improvement in his play even with the personnel they have out there right now. Let's also be real here....If McDonald catches that quick slant for the 1st that extends the drive. If Gore catches that pass (and that was a good play by Colin to press the LOS to bring up the defenders) he might score. If Baldwin isn't a total moron and never makes an attempt at the ball, the placement of the ball game him a shot to make a play on an all-out blitz. The physical tools are there. He's a smart kid. He WANTS to be great and is willing to put in the work. He's already show that he's capable of making all the throws (and I'm not just talking about arm strength…I'm talking about accuracy). If nothing else, this season will serve as a reminder to him that it ain't going to be easy.
e) Not fair to rest of team: This is another one that cracks me up. The concept that it isn't fair to the rest of the team, in particular the older guys, that the team is playing a young raw QB who can't get it done when they could have kept Alex and had a better chance. Really? The Niners were 5 yards from a Super Bowl win last year. I didn't hear that argument then. They are still 6-4 this year with a host of injuries and all of those aforementioned struggles.
f) He can't throw for 200 yards: uh....how many yards does he have if Gore catches it? How about if Baldwin makes that late catch? How about if drives are extended by Baldwin there...or if PI is called on Greer....or if McDonald converts the 3rd down. Or how about this...what if he played in an offense that didn't run the ball more than 50% of the time. I really hate this yardage arguement. Stafford threw for 10K yards the past two years and appeared in ONE playoff game.
Bottom Line on all of this….RELAX. He hasn't played as good as any of us would like. We all got the impression last year that he was better than he really was at that stage of his career and now he is nowhere near as bad as many of you think.
2) Brooks: I've kinda graduated on this one from outrage at a bad call to outrage at a bad rule. After reading the actual rule I think it was probably correctly called, but the rule itself is horrible. There was no intent to injure. There was no blow the head. There was no contact with the helmet. What's sad is that the guy had himself a great game. Sucks that it had to end like that.
3) WRs: OK…as I mentioned before, I think people have a false impression of what the absence of Crabtree, Walker, Moss, Manningham, and even Ginn has meant. It isn't a question of whether those guys are good players. It has to do with what the specific skillset of those players were and how they altered the way defenses responded to them. Boldin has been a great player in his career. What he has NOT been tho at ANY point in his career is fast. He's never stretched the field. In Arizona, they also had Fitz. In Baltimore, they also had Torrey Smith. In SF they've had….yeah. Vernon is that #2 guy. The problem is that he's missed time and that he's often lines up at the end of a line so doesn't always get a clean release. Walker, Moss, Manningham, and Ginn forced defenses to account for them. That creates space. It eliminated double teams. Moreover…if you have a guy pulling over a safety, it forces you to put one man on Crabtree who showed last year an ability to beat man to man coverage and create separation via his route running. Boldin is less able to do so. Is personnel the only reason Kap is struggling? No. Is it a HUGE piece of it? Yes. Is it all simply because Crabtree has been out? No. It's the loss of a number of players on offense and one reason why I'm not all that confident it can be fixed this season. Manningham is showing some signs of life tho. I think WR will be a HUGE focal point this offseason and resigning Crab may have just become priority #1.
4) Roman: As many have explained in great detail, defenses have no found a way to create problems for his system. It's also Harbaughs system, but it's clear that NFL defenses have adapted. It's on him to adapt back to what they are doing and we saw some of that yesterday. They moved to much more of an "Alex Smith" offense and were throwing much shorter passes than I've seen since Colin took over. I saw Colin check down a few times just as Alex did. It's not who Colin is right now as a QB so he's not going to be as adept at it, but I did see him do so. It's still a work in progress. The failure of the offense is entirely on his shoulders to resolve, but I again am not as down on Roman as most in on this forum. I think he's got quite a challenge and he's adapting…just not as quickly as we all would like.
5) Defense: They had themselves a great day. Given how often the offense wasn't able to help them, they held down one of the top 2 best offenses in the NFL. They played more than well enough to win.
6) CB: Ouch. Losing Brown would hurt bad. Still tho…while he did get beat a few times yesterday, I was encouraged by Wright. You have to expect some rust, but he was moving around pretty damn well. Rogers tho…he is just looking old and slow. Pretty sure this is his final year in SF. CB another position they need to look at seriously in the offseason.
7) Losses to good teams: I don't like seeing the Niners lose any more than the rest of you. It does bear mentioning tho that the Niners are losing to really, really good teams. Seattle is 10-1 for a reason. The Colts beat Seattle, Denver and SF. The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now with a damned good defense. The Saints are 8-2 and we played them in NO. It should also be noted that while early in the year the scores became lopsided late, the 49ers lost the last 2 games by a combined 4 points to 2 teams with a combined 14-5 record. Yes, you need to beat the good teams on your schedule. Yes, you'll be playing nothing but good teams in the playoffs. My point here tho is that despite all of the injuries, struggles, and losses of personnel….they are still in this thing. They are still fighting to the end against a powerhouse in their building. They are still getting the best their opponent has to offer every week. This ain't over.
8) O-Line: Really disappointed here. In particular with Anthony Davis. I thought he's really become a player this year. So far, he's struggling badly is pass protection. Losing Iupati…ouch. I can't believe I'm saying this tho…but I wonder if Snyder might actually be better in pass protection (wishful thinking?). Iupati is a mauler of a guard but he has never been a stellar pass protector. Still tho…I obviously hope Iupatis injury isn't serious.
9) TE: I love Vernon. I like McDonald. They need another TE. This offseason they need to look long and hard at how to find a guy with some of the physical attributes of Delanie Walker. This offense works best when they have TEs who can block AND challenge you vertically. McDonald is not that guy right now. I don't know that he ever will be. He can be a very good NFL TE, but he is not going to do for you what Delanie did.
10) Playoffs?: It's a real question now. Not only is the NFC West all but lost, but now they have lost to teams they needed a tiebreaker against in the Wildcard. It doesn't matter who wins the NFC South because the loser will likely fall only to the 5th seed because the Niners have lost to both of them. Who cares how Seattle finishes…it would require a colossal collapse for them to not win it. Our biggest rivals now? Lions, Chicago, Dallas, Philly, and Arizona. Two of those teams will likely win their division. One spot for grabs for us and the remaining three. Just get in. You never know what could happen once you're in the tournament. The story has been written over and over of teams getting hot at the right time. Super Bowl Champs don't always get the first week off.
The final chapter of the 2013 season has yet to be written.
[ Edited by Marvin49 on Nov 18, 2013 at 7:40 PM ]