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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Rationalizing and Irrationalizing the Seattle Loss

Jesse Dumas
Dec 5, 2014 at 8:17 PM


Man it's hard to write when you're angry.

It took me a long time to build up the nerve to revisit the game from Thanksgiving but I finally went to the DVR and reviewed all the footage I could. I promptly deleted all of that s**t soon thereafter.

Some specific footage in particular provided me what I needed to see and in my perception it means one of two things. Either the fix was in and the 49ers had no interest in winning that game, or this season is going to go from bad to worse in one hell of a hurry.

Not all of our readers have access to the Showtime Network's "Inside the NFL" but if you do, I suggest you catch their weekly recaps. You get some pretty fantastic NFL Films shots of the game and they have a lot of sideline action with audio. The imagery and sound are selected for mostly entertainment value, it's still a one hour show, but you get some pretty insightful shots of scenes from the game that can give you a glimpse into the mindset of the respective teams.

In this last week's case the highlight real was predictably short. However, two contrasting shots of coaches interacting with the players spoke volumes. As did the pregame speech which (now I could be corrected on this) Navorro Bowman delivered while in street clothes.

Bowman, implored his teammates to "get their minds right" and understand that this game meant their season. He stated this last point of fact as being obvious, which it was, and for them to acknowledge this fact and "act like it" meant this whole year could go down the drain. The team, all encircled around their wounded comrade, reacted accordingly.

Ominous words from the spiritual leader of this team. Even more ominous that he, not an active player and certainly not the quarterback, was deigned the one to deliver the most important speech of the year. It indicated he saw something missing in this group, that he knows players are detached from the goal, and that they weren't going to succeed without it. He was right.

Another shot of note, this time of Seattle Defensive Coach Ken Norton Jr. (remember him?) as he's coaching up his linebackers. They are focused on him and him only. He's preaching defensive scheme and giving his players the technique to stop the offense. At the end of his sentence, he holds his defensive players gaze a second longer and commands they confirm their understanding. They acknowledge him, and they obviously understood.

The last shot, now of Defensive Coach Jim Tomsula, shows him going through the similar process of coaching his defensive lineman. He's telling them the technique required to disrupt and gain access to Russell Wilson. Before he's finished his thought, the players are looking around and checking their equipment. Justin Smith and Tank Carradine seemed particularly interested in the camera right over their shoulders. The defense performed admirably in this game but ultimately folded.

The contrast of those last two scenes was significant. To me, it indicated that either these coaches have lost these players, or they never expected to win that game to begin with and gave the according level of effort.

Certainly, with all the turmoil between the coach and the front office, it would be understandable that the coaches could lose some control. If this is the case, shame on ownership for hamstringing their coach throughout this season. Jed's tweet came after the game, but it indicated that he'd been upset for some time. Throughout all this, the front office hasn't come out and slammed their coaches, but they sure haven't rushed to their defense either.

My other thought on this, and it really was borne of the two horrendous interceptions thrown by Kaepernick, was they're doing this on purpose. Either ownership is telling the players to sandbag and get Harbaugh out the door, or the NFL is involved and we're lining up for a 4 game win-streak, through Seattle, into the playoffs and on to Super Bowl history.

That last theory came from some pretty dark places and I'm not proud of my conspiracy-theory side, but dammit those throws were so bad they almost looked on purpose. That's armchair analysis right there, but when things are so bad they just don't make sense, you try to fill in the blanks.

No matter what, the team is still 7-5. It's too good a record to give up on for the year but just bad enough for us to almost cash it all in. Considering the trip to Seattle, nobody expects the team to win four more games. But this is a funny league.

We forget that Seattle is still just a divisional opponent. Divisional games are crazy. Anything can happen. Super Bowl champs can fall to last place teams, it happens all the time.

The good news is, we get to define this season really soon. Beating the Raiders is more or less presumed, but if they don't I think every fan will accept that this team was doomed from the start. Then, the game in Seattle is up next.

Conventional wisdom be damned, if the 49ers get to 8-5 and manage to win that game, we all know how jacked the whole team will be the rest of the way.

I believe in narratives and that nothing worth having can be appreciated without appropriate struggle. The greater the struggle, the greater the feeling of success is when it's finally attained.

The NFL has shown it cares nothing for justice and/or karma, but it rarely rewards the teams that cruise through the regular season with smooth sailing. If we're supposed to win this thing, it will have come on the heels of one of the hardest seasons any 49er fan has ever had to endure.
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.


20 Comments

  • Casey sparks
    I don't see how you get rid of a coach that came in and first year turned out team around and made them one of the best teams in these NFL. We have been loaded with injuries, gone away from what has been winning us games for 3 years and we aren't allowing kap to just go out there and play. People already saying he's not the answer I kind of find a little crazy. He is young and learning and is loaded with talent and upside. His problem is when his number 1 option isn't there he immediately get jumpy and looks you run or get out of the pocket. He will learn to read defenses and get more comfortable in the pocket and when he does he will be one hell of a qb to deal with. For Christ sakes, give the guy some time. I don't believe he's a complete idiot and won't get it figured out. He will be fine. This stuff doesn't happen over night. Another thing, we are playing in the hardest division in football and we need to add a little more talent on offense and use the talent we already have. Fully healthy our defense is beastly and deep so we are good there. Let kap grow and get a little more talent on offense, mostly speaking of legitimate receivers and we will be fine.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 11:54 PM
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  • Durin
    Kap can improve I believe he has the skill set and hopefully they can get him some help improving his accuracy, Tannahill has Marino helping him and its showed. However I think Crabtree has never been a great receiver his best plays come from breaking tackles. I rather see Stevie get his game reps. Vernon has been a no show absolutely horrible that's not on Kap that their only true deep threat never showed. I hope the o line injuries are not overlooked and Gore who I love is going down easier than I've seen ever before. Plus constant dropped passes and badly timed penalties. Letting Harbaugh go would be a mistake remember Jimmy and Jerry cowboys worst mistake ever. I hope they can pull things together but receives don't get any seperation. I'll continue believing in my team I'm sick of the whining about this season considering. The injuries the rumors which Balkee and Crabtree you know constantly leak.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 5:49 PM
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  • mbniner
    I'm not into conspiracy theories and NFL "fixes". The problem was created at the beginning of the off-season with the decision to go to a wide-open offense. Talent was provided by Baalke at WR, we had (we thought) an all-pro TE and a great RB combination. The mistake was that we put into the hands of Greg Roman to formulate the attack. He has NEVER shown any skill in designing passing offenses. He also has shown over his career a complete lack of the ability to make adjustments based on on-field situations. Couple that with some injuries (and Boone's asinine hold-out) and a bizarre refusal to stick with what IS working in a game and you see the results. We talk about a confused and underachieving Kaep because he is the most visible. But Just look at the OL play with missed assignments, WRs not getting open, etc. This will not be fixed until next season, if we're lucky.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 5:06 PM
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  • Michele
    I turned off the PC (I got GamePass) immediately after the first INT, as it was clear to me that the game would have been unbereable to watch. I was right. This team is mentally exausted after 3 straight NFCCG and either can't wait to get rid of Harbaugh (which is a control freak, we know that) or just watch the PO from the couch.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 2:07 PM
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  • Lucky Phil
    I get tired of all the talk about fans giving up on Kap. Their needs to accountability from everyone in this organization. However, the only person that needs to lose their job is Roman. Red Zone offense has been shit for four yrs. We are almost dead last this year. Where is the improvement? Why is there not improvement? This team has no answers that is the problem. The man that needs to answer the Red Zone question is Roman! One Question. If I was JH, that's the only question I ask. If you can't answer that question and address the problem before the end of the year, you will be replaced. It's honest and more than fair to let Roman know where he stands. Blind Faith is Ignorant Stupidity.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM
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    Response: Kap deserves some blame. Not all of it, but his happy feet, his sour attitude with the press, and his awful decision making/throwing accuracy certainly have not helped things. There's heaps of talent on that offense, but he just cant get them out of 2nd gear.
  • Eavalerio
    I read all these comments and your story Jesse and it's sad where this season has gone. It has been awful, I fear worst days are coming, will lose 2 of the next 4 games, Harbaugh will get fired, probably sign vangio or tomsula but they are going need to be more aggressive offensively to succeed.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 9:16 AM
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    Response: I'm still of the mindset with Harbaugh that I'll believe it when I see it. The lack of a clear backup play for coach or any kind of obvious next steps make me think that nobody would be so stupid to repeat what happened with Mooch over a decade ago. Jed wants to be Eddie sooooooo bad, he knows rolling the dice on this roster and this GM is risky without the right man to captain the ship.
  • Edd
    Jessie, two things I wanted to comment on: I've watched Inside the NFL for about twenty years, but the current boring cast, which includes Cris "I hate the 49ers" Collinsworth, they almost never show 49ers footage or even comment on them or their games. So that is a poor source for 49ers film. Second, you touched on Kaepernick and his complete lack of team leadership. This has really bothered me. This guy has all the physical tools to be great, but he cant even form a complete sentence. On the sideline, he is either visibly moping, or cracking jokes "with the guys". Perhaps he should be firing up the troops or at least studying the schemes. Dont even get me going about press conferences, he comes across as an immature kid, not the face of professional sports team. The 49ers DO have leadership issues right now, and that is a possible reason why they are under-performing.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 7:39 AM
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    Response: I agree wholeheartedly. The talking heads on that show are definitely not the reason for watching. Boomer Esaison is a doofus, Collinsworth is grating, Simms is losing his grip on reality, and James Brown is...well James is always solid. But it degenerates into a bunch of dorky laughing. As for the Kap thing, I'm not sure who he's emulating as a leader, but it sure isn't impressing me much. People hate Kawakami, but he made a valid point in comparing him to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and pointing out those guys availability and affability certainly haven't inhibited their success over the years. Playing coy and toying with the media is one thing when you're winning and successful, but when you're not doing so hot, you just look like an asshole.
  • Dave
    Kap is not ready for what offense the coaching staff wants him to run. Defense has done its job! We got to a Superbowl with the Pistol - read option and dropped it the next year after all the experts said "defenses will figure it out and put a stop to it and the QB will get hurt" We pulled the Pistol before anyone ever stopped it and as for QB getting hurt, thats what back up QB's are for - there are lots of Option QB's out there we can insert, but I don't see Kap going down that easy. Bring back the Pistol and make the defenses prove they can stop Gore coming full speed towards the line vs. Kap keeping it vs. a throw across the middle to Crab who is wide open because the defense is all to hell worried about the who has the ball. Kaps college coach had to invent the Pistol to compete with and ultimately beat Boise State.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 6:24 AM
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    Response: No doubt about it, they're trying to make Peyton Manning out of Kap. He's no Manning, but he's got things that compensate for the pieces of his game that are missing.
  • Stuart
    I think your comments make a lot of sense an raise more questions than ever. As a Canadian life long 49ers fan I watch every game I can as we don't get a lot of 49ers games up here. I love the team but really found myself channel surfing during the Seattle game. The team has played Seattle so hard over the past few years and this was more like a college game where the d of the lesser ranked team does all they can to hold the team in and the offence just gives the ball back. It was disgusting. If I was a player in the offender I would walk over to Kap and say " are you going to earn any of that $100 million dollar contract or are you going to let Roman turn you into a joke? Your supposed to be the damn leader now go win te game you know how!" In truth I don't think he does know because he simply cannot read defensive schemes at all and his accuracy sucks. I think Romans play calling has always been suspect and with Kaps inefficiencies this year it proves it. Gore cannot run and Davis is no where to be found and Crabtree wants out! We have so many weapons but nobody wants to pull the damn trigger and unleash them. We can run the table but take the strings off!! Go 49ers
    Dec 6, 2014 at 5:59 AM
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    Response: Rest assured, any tricks left in the bag should be coming out now. They have to know another loss means missing the postseason. And the firing of the coach.
  • Steve
    I don't think the difference between the coaching of the defence is all that different. Ken Norton was always very emotional and was the heart of our LB corps in the 90's (I remember how his play dropped off when he accidentally broke BY's leg in 98), e was visibly shaken by it, never played the same again. Tomsula has coached these guys for years now, they know what's expected of them, he doesn't need to get them fired up, our DL is one of the best in the league. This loss was on the offence, and that lies with Harbaugh, Roman and Kap. We have reached the point in the season, where it looks like the second half of the SB two years ago. We need to let Kap off his leash, get Stevie Johnson involved more, use some misdirection and bring back the read option. The option opens the offence up, it takes a LB out of the game, or lets Kap run all over the defence. In two games against Green Bay; the first being the play-off win in 2013 Kap ran all over the place because the mis-direction killed the Packers. To open the 2013 season, the Packers were so scared about the option that they pretty much took Matthews out of the game as a pass rusher to spy Kap, he and Boldin had a field day.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 2:27 AM
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    Response: It seems like the 49ers are just trying to play straight-up poker, no bluffing, no subterfuge. They need to force the defenses into guessing who will be the ball carrier instead of just knowing.
  • jeremy
    Wanna shut everyonr up? Only one thing left they can do. Win the Whole. F*cking. Thing.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 1:29 AM
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    Response: Sounds easy to me!
  • 49 aura
    I think Harbaugh has talent with his methods but eventually players need tough love like Singletary was implementing. Unfortunately the politics of the nfl demanded someone softer and more popular. The momentum Mike created has ran slow and my team is simply a dam joke. As far as quarterback issues. ..physicality surpasses Kaps football I by great leaps...no decision-making skills and easily influenced instead of being a leader....Yes I'm mad..Go niners..!
    Dec 6, 2014 at 1:20 AM
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    Response: Wait, are you saying the last 3 years were Singletary momentum? I'm not sure I agree with you there. But I will admit, it certainly seems like the days of the workshirts and blue-collar mentality are well behind them now.
  • Al
    That was one of the worst games I have ever watched. The offense was completely ineffective; it's like the 49ers were relaying all their playcalls to Seattle. They aren't using what they have this year like previous years. Last season the 49ers feasted on opposing defenses by presenting a balanced attack, including Vernon Davis. Remember that guy? He's non-existent this year. The defense sees these guys on the other side of the ball performing like a bad college team; why bother? Kaepernick needs to be allowed to run more; it's what made him great in his first year. Use Vernon Davis more as an option up the middle, especially when you know Boldin/Crabtree are getting all the attention. Make opposing defenses respect the threat. Right now there is no threat. SF's D has performed well this year despite key injuries. If the guys on offense could actually give them some reason to keep playing hard, 2 or 3 wins to finish the season would not be out of the question. What I saw last week showed me that this team will be lucky to win 9 games, let alone consider the playoffs.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 1:12 AM
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    Response: Agreed. With the offensive output, this team doesn't belong in the playoffs. I agree Kap should be running more and with the season basically on the line, who the hell cares about preserving his health at this point. I want more play action roll outs, move the pocket, and let him play a little baseball out there.
  • matt
    You took the words right out if my mouth. Is the NFL fixed. Makes sense. Why has there been a pattern with wining and loosing the past 3 years that starts in pre season. Look how we lost our games. Some would call that BS. Is the NFL turning into the WWE.
    Dec 6, 2014 at 1:03 AM
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    Response: My conspiracy theories are more so amusing than they are well-thought out. It's a money machine, so is College Football. There is no doubt in my mind College Football is as corrupt as any sport going right now and it's not that hard to imagine the NFL not being the incorruptible entity they purport themselves to be.
  • 9ers 4 Eva
    Perhaps the problem is that Jim Harbaugh isn't the QB whisperer we thought he was, and the veteran players are a little pissed the staff gave the guy who threw away their Super Bowl a huge raise?
    Dec 5, 2014 at 11:58 PM
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    Response: Trying to predict all the human elements here is going to be near impossible. Kap got the huge raise, but everybody knows that contract isn't as big as it looks.
  • Concord 9er
    Might it be that the Niners' D felt prepared? I might point out that you are hammering the defense, which kept the Sea Chickens to 19 points. Perhaps going after the offense is in order. As for whether or not we win out or not, I'd go for it. As for me, my theory about the poor play of the offense is this: they've been trying to make Kap into a pocket passer and are seeing how he does. So far, he is so-so. They might let him go that way against the Raiders abs set him loose in Seattle. My nit angry theory.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:04 PM
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    Response: Yeah the defense played well. Just not much urgency there. Alarmingly so.
  • Harold Ketchum Jr.
    Very well put! Either the Niners will rise to the occasion or lose to the Raiders and the Empire will fall for all Niner fans! Dammit this just pisses me off because we are a good team just dysfunctional!!!! Let's make that run for the playoffs and see what happens.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:00 PM
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    Response: In 2 weeks we'll see for sure, but it could be sooner.
  • emmersonbiggins
    Either we need a new quarterback, or we need a new offensive cordinator. and you don't give up on a quarterback if you can help it!!
    Dec 5, 2014 at 9:47 PM
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    Response: Steve Young kinda sucked until his 30s. But he wasn't starting for much of his late 20s. Do you wait on this guy? He needs real competition in camp or something.
  • Monsterniner
    We lost because we were outcoached and outplayed by a better team with way smarter OC and QB. Plain and simple. Their coach isn´t in the middle of a storm and they really wanna win it all again. Their QB knows exactly what to do and how to do it and doesn´t wanna be the hero on every play throwing 25 yards deep to covered receivers. His OC knows what his QB can and cannot do and he designs the gameplan around that. We lost because Seattle is a better team with smarter coaches and players. That´s it.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 8:54 PM
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    Response: I agree.
  • RishikeshA
    Jesse, I don't buy into your conspiracy theory, maybe it's looking for answers. I couldn't bring myself to watch the game either, but I finally did. It wasn't as bad as the nightmare I thought it would be. Our QB made no plays and their QB made something out of nothing. They put the ball on the ground 3 times and we can't find the ball. I came away with two things from the game, first, Lynch is going to be something special, and second, the thought is starting to enter my mind that Kap is not the guy.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 8:33 PM
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    Response: I don't really buy into it either. The missed opportunities on fumbles were huge. Kap really does seem like he's just not getting it.

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