You promised, Coach. You promised to end this.

Four years ago, the Niners had thrown a game away, in an avalanche of what Mike Singletary called, poetically, "dumb stuff." And this, I argued, was precisely how Singletary had severed the ties to our glorious past. Sure, the Niners were losing, of course. But worse was that the Niners were dumb, and if one thing marked the Niners of old, it was the absence of even a trace of dumbness.

"Walsh's teams were disarmingly intelligent and curious," a writer remarked when the great coach died, "from Hall of Famers such as Young and Lott to lesser-knowns such as guard Guy McIntyre and tight end Jamie Williams. The Niners surely had a dope here and knucklehead there, but they were obscured by the scores of players who reflected their coach's intellect and reason. Intelligence characterized every single thing the 49ers did, especially on offense, to the point that it was intimidating."

And that's why, as a nine-year-old lad, I fell in love with Walsh's Niners. As I've said, they were the ultimate melding of mind and muscle. "Genius, which will kick your ass."

When Jim Harbaugh arrived, he promised to restore the West Coast Offense, and surely he knew what that promise meant. It meant more than restoring Walsh's schemes. It also meant restoring his genius. And Harbaugh, as Walsh's final protégé, seemed perfectly suited to do just that.

We're still waiting.

After his very first game, he sounded not like Walsh but like Singletary, praising his offense's "blue-collar" style: "running the ball, not forcing the throw, playing field position." Almost exactly three years later, he again sang the virtues of playing it safe, professing not to understand what it meant to keep your foot on the gas.

But today we're not talking about offensive aggression. No doubt, aggression was a crucial component of Walsh's offense, the one that Harbaugh promised to restore. But as I said, it had another component. And Harbaugh was showing more than a lack of aggression; he was also showing a lack of smarts.

And on Sunday, he was just plain dumb.

As you might know, the primary tactic of the West Coast Offense—which, again, Harbaugh promised to restore—is a short, quick passing-game. Those short, quick passes essentially are higher-percentage runs; instead of handing off to a running back who must navigate the annoying congestion at the line of scrimmage, the QB "hands off" to a receiver who's one move away from wide-open space. But they're also higher-percentage passes; they're easier to complete, and here's something else: because they're quick, they greatly reduce the chances for sacks.

On Sunday, Harbaugh watched the Rams sack Colin Kaepernick six times in the first half, eight times overall. The situation practically begged for the West Coast Offense: those quick hitters, the slants, outs, and screens. And we never saw it. With rare exceptions, Kaepernick continued to drop back, only to be overwhelmed, and drive after drive continued to stall.

Harbaugh promised the West Coast Offense. By now, I'm not sure he knows what it is.

Nevertheless, on their last drive, the Niners still had a chance to win. And if indeed this is Harbaugh's last stand, this last drive might've been his Alamo.

Finally in a rhythm, the Niners moved from their own 12 to the Rams' 5, first down. The setup looked like the end of that Super Bowl, right down to the officiating crew. With highly questionable playcalling, which had subjected themselves to highly questionable officiating, the Niners had squandered that opportunity. And as we've discussed, the Niners don't learn.

They don't learn, because they're dumb.

During that Super Bowl, the Niners didn't use their creative running-game; instead, Kaepernick tried to force the ball to Michael Crabtree. So, on Sunday, even after a penalty gave them first down at the two, the Niners didn't use their creative running-game; instead, Kaepernick tried to force the ball to Michael Crabtree. Crabtree gained a yard (though he might've scored; who on earth knows at this point). On second down, at the one, Kaepernick looked to throw again, and ended up throwing the ball away. And on third down, with the Rams' entire D stacked up, and with the Niners' offensive line having failed at everything all day, the Niners finally ran Kaepernick—not on an end-around after a fake to Frank Gore, a play that would work every time down here—but straight into that mass of humanity. Kaepernick didn't score (though he might've scored; who on earth knows at this point), and, worse, he didn't preserve a shot at the tying field-goal. Instead he fumbled the game away, along with much of what's left of the season.

And there you have it, a perfect capsule of Harbaugh's Niners. Tantalizingly close, but always undone by the same mistakes: over and over and over again.

Afterward, predictably, Harbaugh stood by his offensive coordinator. He's nothing if not loyal. And I'd theorized, in seasons past, that Harbaugh's only fault was his loyalty: that his Walshian genius was being thwarted by his refusal to lower the boom on his less-capable assistants. A nice story, and one that I'd willed myself to believe.

No more, though. If Harbaugh were truly Walsh's heir, he'd see to it that his assistants and players "reflected their coach's intellect and reason." He'd see to it that "intelligence characterized every single thing the 49ers did, especially on offense."

Instead, Harbaugh's merely Singletary's heir. Singletary's failure was a torrent of "dumb stuff." And how best to describe the Niners today? "We've been doing dumb stuff," one player said. "Dumb blocks, dumb techniques, and dumb schemes."

You promised, Coach. You promised to end this.

As everything crumbles, we're still waiting.