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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Poor Performance in Chicago Offers Little to Evaluate

Anwar Jamison
Dec 5, 2016 at 11:25 AM


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With the possibility of a winning season way, way back in the rear-view mirror, evaluating the entire 49ers organization has been the priority for the team for a better part of a couple of months now. What a difference a week makes. Last week, the 49ers were the most optimistic 1-10 team I can ever remember seeing. After constant improvement with the passing game and run defense the past few weeks, players spoke openly about finishing this season strong and setting the tone for a more successful campaign next year. This week, the optimism came crashing to a halt.

First off, the hours leading up to the game saw the leaking, or publication if you'd prefer, of two pieces of important news regarding the 49ers: the fact that quarterback Colin Kaepernick will apparently opt out of his contract at the end of the season to test free agency, and the fact that Chip Kelly will apparently be retained as head coach regardless of what happens the remainder of this season. I use "apparently" only because these reports came through the usual channels of anonymous sources.

In the case of the apparent retention of Kelly as head coach, there's only one person who can definitively make the statement that Chip Kelly will definitely be back next year at this point: owner Jed York. It would have been so much more refreshing to see York call a press conference, or just a single reporter and put his name on the statement if he wanted to let everyone know Kelly will be back next year.

As far as Kaepernick, many assumed he would opt out his contract just as a matter of business practice to avoid playing on a one-year deal next year. Opting out of his contract has no bearing on whether or not he will be on the team next year. If he opts out, and there's mutual interest between Kaepernick and the team, they'll sign a new deal. The team can cut him even if he doesn't opt out, so it seems strange that this story broke all of a sudden right before the game when Kaepernick's stock was at the highest it had been since the beginning of the 2014 season.

Despite all of that, the team went into Chicago and played a more horrible game than anyone could have imagined. With the snow falling continuously throughout the contest, the team looked about like you'd stereotypically expect a California team to look playing in a snowstorm. I can't speak to the selection of cleats, but I know there are many different choices and philosophies regarding what type of cleats to wear in different conditions. Unless it was just my imagination, it seemed that overall the Bears' players were much steadier on their feet than the 49ers on both sides of the ball. At times, they seemed to be running while the Niners looked like beginning ice skaters tiptoeing and trying not to fall. Perhaps the Bears training staff was able to provide an advantage in footing based on having to deal with it several times a year.

That's not to excuse the loss, and of course, there were many more factors at play. The main storyline is simply that the Bears outplayed the 49ers, but I think it's a bit misguided to dismiss all of the progress that the team was so optimistic about the past few weeks, on both sides of the ball, because of one game that was played in adverse weather conditions.

So, what should we take from that performance for future evaluation? Nothing.

When is Chip Kelly ever going to begin a game by calling 27 running plays compared to 13 passing plays as he did when Kaepernick was in the game? When is Colin Kaepernick going to complete 1-5 passes for 4 yards, while getting sacked five times in three quarters of action again? When is the secondary ever going to get torched that badly again while slipping and sliding around like victims of a Macauley Caulkin booby trap in Home Alone? I don't think either of those things is likely to happen again too soon.

This is certainly not to suggest that somehow everything is well with the team. If I suggested that, then that would suggest that everything is not well with me. It is more so to suggest that the debacle in Chicago didn't reveal any new issues that we did not already know about. Emotions tend to swing so wildly from one extreme to the other based on the last image ingrained in our minds. It would probably be wise to take a step back, look at the first 12 games as a whole, and reserve making any concrete judgments until the final four games play out. By then, everyone, including all of the coaches, and every player on the roster, will have put enough visual evidence on tape to be properly evaluated for next season.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • RishikeshA
    Thanks Anwar, the QB couldn't grip the ball and the cleats were an issue. Those are two things that were apparent. The drama with Kap and where (and If) he can find a team to play for next season seems to be more of an issue than the game itself. Does ownership need to put up with this beyond this year, or even this week? The Yorks appear more clueless as the weeks pass.
    Dec 10, 2016 at 2:35 PM
    0
  • mbniner
    It is clear that the Niners laid down and quit on their QB and, probably, the coaches. Why? Maybe it's the constant controversy that Kaep brings. Maybe it's the, as you pointed , unsubstantiated rumor that he is opting out and is a lame duck QB. On top of this, selling his Bay Area house gives credibility to the rumor. A telling comment from Kelly was when a reporter asked him why the Bears QB could throw the ball in the poor weather but ours couldn't and Kelly answered "Good question". I think that Kaep must be released and the sooner the better. The long and painful experiment is over. Take a look at Ponder in the last 4 games and determine whether he or Gabbert can be our backup QB or a bridge to a drafted QB. The team's morale is shot. A couple of the vets like Staley and Brooks are trying to rally the team but a change must be made, either to the roster or the organization or to both.
    Dec 5, 2016 at 3:51 PM
    4
  • Scott
    Ok sounds like the equipment manager forgot they were traveling to Chicago after they left Florida from what I am hearing. If that is indeed what happened, who hired that guy ? I think we all know that answer. Like everyone continues to say they need to demo this organization and start at the top and work their way down.
    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:00 PM
    1


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