Okay. Now I'm mad.

What, wasn't he watching? Last week in Houston? We put in Alex Smith, we stretched the field, we threw every down, and out of the blue our offense exploded. The turn was so quick, so complete, and so effective, I actually had the gall to assume this was it. Singletary might love to run, but now he'd realize that running just isn't our game. Now he'd see that a coach's job is to coach to the strengths of his players, and like it or not, his players' strengths are to pass. Now he'd understand that winning's more important than a stubborn adherence to a dated philosophy.

I just assumed he'd get it.

Sure, Jimmy Raye said that there wouldn't be changes, but I didn't buy it; he said that just to distract the Colts. He knew the difference between Smith and Shaun Hill. He saw what Smith could do in that spread. And he also sorta gave himself away, when he said the words we'd longed to hear: "We're not going to be stubborn and try to jam a square peg into a round hole."

We knew what that meant. We'd been trying to jam in that peg all season. No more. Now we're gonna do what we're built for. We're gonna open it up and let it fly.

And the Colts are in for a surprise.

Opening series. First down, Frank Gore up the middle. Second down, Frank Gore up the middle. Third down, incomplete pass. Fourth down, punt.


After a Gore home-run on the next series (that's three on the season, his only three half-decent runs of the year), it was back to reality. Third series, Gore up the middle on second and 13, on the way to a three-and-out. Fourth series, a bunch of passing, but nothing out of the spread, and see? An interception! So, fifth series: run, run, pass, punt; ah, that's the stuff. Sixth series, a run up the middle on second and 20, guaranteeing yet another three-and-out. Seventh series, another run on first down, still another three-and-out.

No changes indeed.

But oh, that eighth series. Less than two minutes left in the half, so now we whip out the offense that works. We spread 'em out, put Smith in the gun. And wouldn't ya know it, even without Joe Staley, we march down the field. Michael Crabtree for 27. Isaac Bruce for 12. Vernon Davis for 10. Gore for 15 and 4, and Davis for the touchdown.

I'm not trying to sound like a smartass. But I seriously think that a five-year-old would've gotten the message. This is our offense. This is the offense that works.

A five-year-old, maybe. But not Mike Singletary.

Needless to say, we didn't see that offense again. And by sheer coincidence, we didn't score again either. And perhaps most tragically, we wasted a truly magnificent defense. I don't know if Peyton Manning's ever been so frustrated. We sacked him more than he'd been sacked all year. For the first time this season, he didn't throw a touchdown pass. And in their building, we held the Colts to 18 points. You have no business expecting more from your defense than that.

But Singletary just kept asking more. He had his 14 points, and he sat on 'em and sat on 'em until they weren't enough. And by then we couldn't recover.

Granted, we had a couple of decent second-half drives, one killed by a fumble and the other a sack. And yeah, we passed 32 times and ran only 18, so it wasn't how much we ran that hurt us. It was when. On three drives, we ran on both first and second downs. And twice when we tried to pass on first downs, we ran on second and 13 and second and 20. All of these were drive-killers. All of these set up obvious passing third-downs, the hardest plays of all to convert.

Understand this. We ran only 18 times, but we still used the run to set up the pass. And because we couldn't run (2.9 yards per rush other than Gore's bomb), we couldn't convert those obvious passes.

And we did all this while sitting on a pass-first offense that seems to work whenever we use it. It works whenever we use it, and except for one drive, we simply kept it on ice.

I don't think Singletary's dumb, but I don't have another word for what he's doing. It's almost halfway through the season. Aside from Gore's three homers, we're gaining only three yards per rush, worse than any other team in the league. Yet we continue to run ourselves into third downs, which we convert better than only three other teams. And we continue to do it to control the ball, but with all the three-and-outs, our time-of-possession rank is 19th.

And yeah, I blame Singletary, not Raye. As I've written before, Raye's as much a Zampese disciple as Norv Turner and Mike Martz. He's proven he can run a pass-first offense when it suits his personnel. But Singletary fired Martz for running a pass-first offense, and he scared off a half-dozen candidates who couldn't stomach his run-first philosophy. Raye's here for one reason, and one reason only: he's willing to do what Singletary tells him, even though Singletary's got no offensive pedigree at all.

So is it any wonder that Singletary came off the field in Indy and declared that his offense "looked sharp"? Does it surprise you that he said he supports what Raye's doing, "150 percent"? Of course he did. This is his team, and this is his offense. And if he's not gonna run his offense, then why should this be his team?

Maybe it shouldn't. In case you haven't heard, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, and Jon Gruden are out of work. (Monday Night Football doesn't count.) All three are offensive wizards, all three with roots in 49er glory. When I think about the prospect of letting all three go to other teams, while we're stuck here with this, I feel literally sick.

If Singletary's too ignorant to recognize his players' strengths, too arrogant to give the team's success a higher priority than his own identity, too stubborn to admit that he's got no business involved in an offense...

...I trust that Jed'll bring one of those three kings home.