Still Waiting for Niners to Prove It

Aug 31, 2010 at 7:33 AM


Let's just back up a second, okay?

Let's stop quibbling about little things--debating the virtues of the head coach, the O.C., the quarterback--and let's take a longer, more important view. After all, that was our third preseason game. And even if you're one of those I-don't-buy-anything-in-the-preseason types, you'll still admit, in that third game, a team should show you something. Actually, not just something, but the most important thing of all.

A team should show you whether it's ready.

Don't nitpick about who's sitting out or how there's no real game-plan. Again, those are little things. What you wanna do for that third game--the one where most of the starters go into the second half--is look for answers to bigger questions. Does the team seem in sync? Does it work with precision? Does it seem confident, assertive, able to dictate the flow of the game?

Quite simply, is it ready?

For the Niners, these questions are serious stuff. As you might've heard, our last playoff appearance was eight years ago. Yet with our ballyhooed continuity, and our rivals in tatters, the division title's an absolute must. That's a whole lot of pressure for such a big step.

It would've helped matters, if in this third game, the Niners had shown that they're ready.

They sort of did, but they mostly didn't.

Oh, no doubt, Patrick Willis is ready; with another sack and three tackles for loss, the guy is just a machine. Frank Gore is ready; by all means, as long as he's picking up 30 a pop, let's run up the middle on ALL our first downs, not just the first three. Phillip Adams is ready; my word, I'd almost forgotten what a punt return looks like. And yeah, with another solid game (and a touchdown pass!), Alex Smith is ready, or at least as ready as he's gonna be.

But again, in the big picture, something still just doesn't seem right.

Offensively, I'll admit, the playcalling was better. (In the first half, after those first three first-down runs--and, notably, after Gore took a seat--we passed on six and ran on four.) Still, though Smith was efficient, the team seemed to drag. Too many passes were too horizontal, or short of the sticks; there just isn't that sense of potential explosion. Sure, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis are our two biggest playmakers, but their presence last year was only rarely explosive. And anyway, I thought Ted Ginn was our big-play guy. We haven't seen ANY of that, at least when the quarterback isn't Nate Davis (and apparently he doesn't play anymore).

And then, of course, that most basic of issues: getting the play, getting in line, and getting the snap. As Mike Singletary noted: false starts, delays of game, and "eating up timeouts like crazy." I know, the clock evidently was starting fast. To his credit, though, Singletary's weary of all the excuses. The Niners just didn't "play smart," he said. He's right, of course, but this is the same stuff we saw so much LAST year. With all this "continuity," shouldn't this team be in rhythm by now?

But no matter how choppy we looked on the O, that wasn't close to our biggest concern. In fact, for the first time in ages, the O was WAY ahead of our D.

And that, my friends, is NOT a good thing.

12 years. That's how long our pass defense has ranked in the league's lower half. That's a lot of receivers roaming free through our secondary. That's a lot of quarterbacks--usually unhurried--lofting balls over the heads of our well-beaten corners, our safeties nowhere in sight. In a passing league, that's a recipe for trouble, and one we've been cooking for 12 straight years.

If we're gonna contend, that streak must end. And you've gotta be wondering whether it will.

Of course, the best way to stop the pass is to rush the passer, and just last week I was marveling about Greg Manusky's ability to scheme a rush out of virtually nothing. I don't take it back, but the guy's just a coach; he's not a magician. He won't be rushing the pass every play, and though he often seems to give too much cushion, he can't really conjure up coverage with scheme. It's up to the players. They've gotta know where to be, and know where to go, and they've simply gotta make plays.

Peyton Manning didn't look bothered, but hey, he's Peyton Manning. Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski, however, are not. Yet in little more than a half, those two TORCHED our starting D for 236 passing yards, a-buck-57 on just 4 plays. The killer was just before halftime, when a Raider ran right by Reggie Smith, and was all alone on a 74-yard touchdown romp.

It was all so familiar. So terribly, painfully familiar.

You know I hate being negative--;)--but I think we might've forgotten something. We seem to have patched up those glaring holes, in the offensive line and the punt-return game. But in the secondary, not much has changed. At corner, Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer are solid but unspectacular; they're okay in coverage, but they just don't seem to make enough plays. Tarell Brown is similar, but with a troubling tendency to give up the bomb. And at safety, the coverage just isn't enough. Dashon Goldson's too much of a strong playing free, and Michael Lewis is slowing down fast. Taylor Mays was a sexy pick, but he hasn't yet shown he can cover. And Smith is just Mark Roman again.

It was often obscured by other things, but the secondary was weak last year. (Like I said, it's been weak for 12 years.) I'm starting to think that it still isn't fixed. And if it still isn't fixed, it means serious trouble.

"It's a work in progress." That's one of Singletary's signature phrases. He's applied it not just to the secondary, but to virtually every part of the team. A work in progress isn't so bad. But it's not the sign of a true contender. A true contender's DONE progressing. A true contender's arrived. A true contender is ready.

So close to the brink of a reckoning year, and still the Niners aren't there.
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.


31 Comments

  • Donte
    Superior thinking demonstrated above. Thanks!
    Jun 4, 2011 at 11:16 PM
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  • ragomez3
    Jeff Kaplan, I am one with myself in that I will never read one of your articles again because I am true to my word, and you are a negative son of a b**ch. You really need to lay your wife/gf, because that is the only thing that I think will release you from your negative, hate-filled rants about the 49ers. Hey A**hole, don't you realize that we don't care about any other NFL team other than the 49ers? Then BACK OFF THE 49ERS! We are not as bad as you think we are and certainly not as bad as you wish we were. :)
    Sep 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM
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  • JBreckel
    Even though briefly, what was the result or was it enough to evaluate?
    Sep 3, 2010 at 8:13 AM
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    Response: He saw only a handful of snaps, so we couldn't see whether he's really in game-shape, but there was one play in which he looked good and mobile in backside pursuit. Although I'm known as a worrier, I wouldn't worry about him.
  • JBreckel
    Hey I need some help here. Did Franklin play any last night? I looked up the game on the NFL website and forgot that all the times are EST and I am CST so I missed the whole 1st Quarter. I would hate to think if he is not ready that we are gonna play him anyway just because he is the incumbent. I have to admit shane that I do agree with the Crabs argument about last night, but that don't get it done for last week. How does the guy practice all week and then on gameday say that his neck is a little sore. I have to believe that this is the cause of the VD/MC argument. Ironic isn't it? VD gets thrown off the field by sing for lack of team passion and a couple of years later it is VD doing the straightening out??? Say what you will about sing as a head coach and his ability, but I love this guy. I have had enough coddling of players and this is just what we need. Too many times high draft picks are given their crown before they have proven anything. It is nice to see that there are still some real coaches out there that believe in accountability and won't bow down.
    Sep 3, 2010 at 7:43 AM
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    Response: Along with the rest of the first-string D, Franklin did play, albeit very briefly.
  • Shane
    JB: well put man! As we enter the "don't get hurt bowl" (great name) obviously the crab-davis blow-up is dominating, but there is one interesting point that i have yet to read. This is mostly on the 9ers (IMO). they have to scratch him if he says he is sore. i don't think anyone believes Crab should be missing the entire preseason and getting "vet's rest" at this point in his career. however, after 8 straight non-winning seasons you don't have a choice but to do this. It's not like we are the Colts or Pats or chargers, or Minn etc. we need every weapon that we have especially since we don't have another #1 WR. if crab was on the colts it's a different story, but in SF i know i don't wanna see him take one snap tonight, not one. what does it prove? let's just get to seattle with everyone ready to play and we can worry bout the rest after we build a winner. as of now i feel like the 49ers are a victim of their own 8yr mediocrity.
    Sep 2, 2010 at 3:02 PM
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  • charles
    the niners will prove it this year...it has been a long drought, but they will be a better team this year....let's have some niner faith.
    Sep 2, 2010 at 10:35 AM
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  • JBreckel
    Shane: I think we are running on the same track bro, even including the Baas bit as well. Balance is definitely the key. Nobody believes that our offense is potent, but if we can sustain enough drives to at least give the D some rest, then we will be miles ahead of last year. Score enough to give us a chance and let a rested defense take care of the rest. Too many times our D would come out strong, hand it to the O and flub.....out comes the D again. I don't care if you are the 85 Bears or the 2000 ravens, if the offense can't sustain a drive long enough to give the D some rest, even the best defenses will get beat. I don't have a pipe dream of a super bowl, but mediocrity is no longer acceptable. It is put up or shut up time!
    Sep 2, 2010 at 8:55 AM
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  • niner
    Prove that they're better than a .500 team? The way i read blogs we already won the SB and Alex Smith is MVP of the world. I think we need to be realistic, the good teams will get up on us quick and Smith is not what you want in the playoffs in that situation. The D is good with P Willis, but we aren't at the 85 bears or 2000 Ravens level by a long shot. But having said that i don't see why we can't contend in the pitiful West, since we have Solari, Rathman, Gore, VD and an OL of first and 2nd picks.
    Sep 2, 2010 at 8:31 AM
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  • Shane
    JB: I'm willing to run with ya man, as long as it moves the chains. one thing i think everyone knows to be fundamental is our D is going to be much more efficient if it spends LESS time on the field which would be the effect of an efficient offense. and if that's what it takes for us to take a shot downfield from time to time, let's do it. I think the addition (if the guy can just stay healthy) of westbrook really increases the chances of that happening bcuz he comes from that style offense. It's funny, i feel like if you really break down what everyone is saying, we all want the same thing... BALANCE, and a mixed bag of tricks. (though i do stand firm this is a passing league) ... Quickly speaking of health, Jeff, how is Baas doing? all i hear is how good this guy has looked at center which is great but here we go again... hurt. This guy can't go a week and a half without tripping over his shoelace and stubbing his toe!! will he be ready for the regular season?... man i need to move to Cali.
    Sep 2, 2010 at 8:09 AM
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    Response: Barrows reported yesterday that Baas "practiced sparingly" this week and is unlikely to play tonight with that shoulder stinger. As far as I know, though, there's been no indication that he won't be ready for the season.
  • JBreckel
    Shane: You are absolutely right about some things in there. I have to admit that throwing for 5 yards on 3rd and 8 is beyond ridiculous. Especially when as the QB you see a LB closing in above the receiver. I also agree that over the course of the years it seems like the train of WRs that we brought in were always to "stretch the field," and that hasn't worked out.......yet, see Antonio Bryant, Ted Ginn, Bryant Johnson, etc, etc, etc. I think the key to success, and everyone might want to sit down for this, is baby steps. You can't go from a crawl to a run overnight. While I think occasionally putting one downfield is great, I think that going the reverse for our team might be more prudent. Use the run to bring the D in, short passes for those 5-7 yards to keep them close and use the deep pass to catch the D with their pants down. While I know we don't have Jerry Rice anymore, man I miss those days, I don't remember Jerry catching too many passes that flew over 40-50 yards in the air. Baby steps.....baby steps.
    Sep 2, 2010 at 7:11 AM
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  • Shane
    JB: I agree man, it's funny you put it that way cuz i mentioned a few posts back that there are teams like NE and philly that actually use the short passing game as a running game, and if we follow in that trend i would be fine with it. and yes 5 is better than 2. But like Jeff said my concern is we are still looking to run up a cloud of dust and then we throw for 5 yards on 3rd and 8. and would you agree it would be nice to see some play action gone deep or something? It's funny to me that we are supposed to be this running team and we nvr hear anything about play action. we sign jones to a big deal a couple years ago, we draft Jason Hill, trade for Ginn, we have VD, it's like we talk a big game about getting vertical and it doesn't translate. that was more the point. Stl Niner: there was this great saying "IF frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their ass when they hop" (wayne's world). simply put that's a lot of IFs. you're right, this is no longer the days of the complete team, and that gives us hope, but our biggest concern is at QB which is vital in these times. then we see the D play like that and for a team that hasn't seen the playoffs in 8 years you tend to get a bit nervous.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 7:17 PM
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  • Shane
    @ everyone, Jeff i leave town for work for one day and there is an explosion of comments on here. This has turned into quite the debate central, which honestly i think is a testament to your work. I told you before you write the best posts on this site (which is by far the best site on the net). Good writing will create conflict and debate, and you're doing one hell of a job. i LOVE that you tell it the way it is. I'm the kinda fan that just wants the truth, if i wanted sunshine blown up my ass i would go to 49ers.com. i also said once before i look forward to reading one of your articles when we actually have something real to hang our hat on. I love that you have regulars and we can get on here and talk 49er football. disagreement is awesome, but let's not take shots at each other. By all means let's go at it hard but let's keep it clean cuz this is awesome and at the end of the day we all want the same thing.... 49er wins and i don't give a shit if it's alex smith passing, frank gore running, or santa claus himself using Xmas magic to help us win, let's just WIN!! (ok that was my Sing speech for everyone)...seriously great job Jeff.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 7:03 PM
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    Response: Great speech, Shane. I feel ready to go out and tackle someone! And thanks as always for your loyal support.
  • AJ Bolino
    Just a few quick comments: 1) The Niners aren't a contender...yet. How this team handles its first three games will speak volumes about whether they'll contend for anything. 2) Alex will be fine. Throw the stat sheet out the window and look at what he's doing. No wasted movement in his footwork. A much quicker delivery than we've seen from him in the past. Sensing the rush and using his feet to extend plays. Playing with purpose. If he continues to display the aforementioned with any consistency, he'll definitely become a serviceable starter. Not a world beater...but not a miscast backup, either. 3) The D will be fine. Smith's gaffe on the Murphy TD was a miscommunication on a disguised coverage. He got caught looking at the qb instead of rolling deep middle (it appeared to be a man look disguising a cover 3). That play was less about ability and more about communication...and that is why we play preseason football. In any case, the Niners will show us 10-6 this season...and that should be enough to earn a playoff berth.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 4:53 PM
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    Response: You're always welcome here, AJ.
  • overthemiddle
    Jeff now you're talking. I completely agree with your assessment of the current defense. There are some rough spots for sure. I do believe that an offense that can score some points and stop having three and outs will help the defense quite a bit. There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and as you have stated many times it is up to Singletary to make it work. Like I have said before I will give (like I have a choice) Singletary and Smith this year to prove to me and the rest of the fan base that they can do the job. I am not impressed with any of the preseason victories as we didn't dominate on either side of the ball. If this team can't reach the NFC championship game then I will have to finally agree with you. There is enough talent on the team to do it.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 2:10 PM
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  • STL Niner Fan
    Oh for God's sake, can we stop this already? One word.....BORING....how about Jeff send each of you the other's e-mail address and you can continue this off the site. Back to point - from my perspective, and despite Jeff's attempt to sensationalize every potential negative aspect of this team and organization, I think we have a real shot at finally ending our playoff drought and even possibly going deep in the playoffs. If Alex plays well this year, if our OLine rookies can progress quickly, and if our D can play at the level it did last year I think it will be a great season to watch. Do we have weak areas? Yes, just like every other team in this league. As I've already stated, every team in this league is flawed in more than one area. The key will be - as it always is - to play well enough in other areas to mask the weak ones. That's pretty much all it comes down to. Quite frankly, if you look back on almost every SB winner of this decade each of those teams were flawed. But they put it together well enough in other areas throughout the season to outlast their opponents. Will it happen for us this year? Who knows, probably not, but I think we have a shot.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM
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  • Terry B.
    Dan, first of all, I don't "hate" you. Since I don't know you or anything about you, it would be impossible for me to either like you or hate you. The words "hate" and "hater" are bandied about indiscriminately and incorrectly on message boards. Fans who love their teams but acknowledge their flaws are not "haters." As for dropping personal attacks, I have no problem doing that because I don't believe I was doing it in the first place. What have I said that was not a substantive critique of your points? I also deny being an "instigator." Rather, from where I sit, it appears that you and others get all bent out of shape and start throwing out the term "hater" when anyone tries to offer an honest critique of where the 49ers are as an organization. It's very difficult to have an honest debate about the team if any critique is immediately dismissed as "hate." If you will stop calling others haters and not take it as a personal insult when someone criticizes a 49er coach, then I likely won't have much to say. It's no fun if we all agree on everything, but we all have to be able to accept criticism if we're going to offer it.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 1:28 PM
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  • Dan
    @ Terry continued: To end this pointless argument, I would like to extend some sort of truce between people who share an interest. Let's just watch the season the way we like to watch the game. If my gut is right we will all have a team to be proud of this season. I will drop the past and stop all personal comments, attacks, insults, jabs, etc., if you can do the same. I'll just present my point of view without making it personal, as will you. I think it would just be better and way less petty that way. I was wrong to take it there, I think you were wrong to take it there, so let's discontinue this dysfunctional bickering and get back to enjoying the game.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 12:08 PM
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  • Terry B.
    I rest my case.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM
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  • Dan
    @ Terry, I like to watch football being played well. I don't sit here and call the 49ers losers because they couldn't keep up with Manning on a few plays in a practice game. I also don't think the difference between our team and ANY other team in the NFL is as wide as you would make it out to be. The Saints are doing very well right now, but you won't hear me gush about their coaches and rip our team and coaches for not building that success in a year and a half. You are right about one thing, I did go a little overboard with the "next time you see Drew Brees" comment. I'm not saying you were completely innocent of provoking that comment but that wasn't my best comeback. I would apologize but I don't see the point since you are just an instigator. You think you are good with words but you aren't. You think you can prove something by skewing the perspective but it doesn't work. The fact is, I never said I enjoyed watching the defense get shredded. I said I like to watch Payton do what he does. I like to watch good football. I don't think our defense was bad for those drives. There are just times when he can't be stopped. That doesn't mean we lost a game so I'm OK with it. I know why you hate me, I don't blame you. I don't like you either. You say I deny things but I say you add meaning that isn't there. You say I change the subject, I say your subject was lame anyway. I'll talk about what I want to. You say I make gay jokes, I say it's just a cut on you and not really a good one. Don't take it too seriously. You say I set up a straw man, I say you called me a hypocrite for liking Peyton Manning when I ripped you for over-idolizing Drew Brees. That means the conversation was my esteem for Manning over Drew Brees, therefore mentioning Manning does not equal a straw man. As for the hypocrite part I suppose you can tie a loose connection between my enjoyment of a part of a game that we were not winning and my dislike of fans who whine about the 49ers every time they get outplayed, overreact and call the coaches incompetent and point out the players' shortcomings/mistakes, then write off the rest of the season. Or a connection that I criticized your hard-on for Drew Brees and then revealed I in fact like to watch excellent quarterback play. You can take it however you want, but take it in context.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 11:42 AM
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  • Terry B.
    Dan, please bear with me, because this will take a long post. I'm hoping we can come to some sort of understanding as to where the real problem lies. You claim that I twist and misrepresent what you say. The real problem, as I see it, is that when confronted with things that you've written, you refuse to own up to them, even when they're published on the internet for the whole world to see. When confronted with something you've said you either (1) change the subject; (2) deny that you said it; (3) make gay jokes; or (4) knock down a straw man (e.g., "Peyton Manning is better than Drew Brees." Umm, yeah, but they're both vastly superior to Alex Smith.) As for name calling, I don't engage in the silly, unsupported name calling that you do, like calling other fans "haters." Rather, I simply use appropriate language. If you criticize other people for something and then do the same thing yourself, I call you a hypocrite. Isn't that the correct word? If not, please let me know a better word to use. Now I'll go through my alleged misrepresentations, and then you can enlighten me on where the problem lies. (1) As for your misrepresentation of Jeff's column, I've already supplied you with exact quotes, so I won't repeat those here; (2) as for whether you enjoyed watching Peyton Manning shred our D, immediately after that game you wrote "I thought it was great watching Payton [sic] out there doing what he does, he's awesome." Manning was shredding our D, and you thought it was great watching it and that Manning is "awesome." So you loved watching Manning shred our D. What else could your words possibly mean? Was Manning doing something else that I missed?; (3) as for your hypocritical stance on appreciating Brees's and Manning's respective talents, see your comments to Jeff's article "Jed's New Structure Just Isn't Safe"; (4) as for whether complimenting another team's QB is indicative of homosexuality, you wrote: "Next time you see D.B. and your mouth isn't full, tell him bring [sic] it." (For your sake, I hope you never meet Peyton Manning.) Where the twisting and misrepresenting comes in, I have no idea.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 7:57 AM
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  • JBreckel
    Jeff, Love the article man, but I have to say that Shane talking about alex smith not throwing over 10 yards very much is not so disheartening. If he throws for 5 yards each time as long as the WR/TE/RB makes the catch wouldn't that be an improvement? It seemed too many times last year that the "force feeding" of the run game left us in 3rd and 8 or more too many times to count. I can't remember how many times I wanted to pull my hair out when it was run on first, run on second, pray on third. I was a little happy to see them throw some on first down. Call it what you will, but 2nd and 5 is a lot better than 2nd and 10.......or worse. As far as the D. I just think that treading water is all we can really expect this year. With marginal CB/S's the pressure is on the LB's to generate pressure, that will be the only way that we can mask the secondary issues. Did anyone really expect Mays to come in and start right away? The coverage issues are the same ones that we outlined in the draft. I don't think that when teams cut rosters down there is going to be anything better than what we have already. Just hang onto the life preserver and hope the sharks don't eat us alive I say.
    Sep 1, 2010 at 7:49 AM
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    Response: Good comment, JB. No doubt, a five-yard pass on first down is WORLDS better than a zero-yard run; not only does it gain more yards, but it also shows more imagination and makes us less predictable. But I think what Shane and I were discussing was the O's general lack of explosiveness; we all know the importance of stretching the field (if even just to open the run), and it seems like even when we do have third-and-long we're still throwing short. So though I share your relief at seeing more passing, even our passing needs to think bigger.
  • Dan
    Nope not a hypocrite, just not impressed with Drew Brees enough to want to entertain your ridiculous scenario. Manning > Brees anyway, not that it is relevant to discussion about the 9ers who have Alex Smith. I hope to see him shine this year. Still calling names I see. Nice to see you here twisting my words as usual. Also I'm glad to see the defense get to practice against the best. Even if the best tore them apart. It's just practice so no harm to our season standings fortunately. Hopefully the D took something useful away from that one. Nice talking to you, looking forward to another misrepresentational attack on my written words.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 10:31 PM
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  • Terry B.
    Dan, you're still the same old hypocrite you always were. Do you remember how you criticized me no end for acknowledging the elite status of Drew Brees? You even took your commentary to the absurd end of saying that you would not trade Alex Smith for Drew Brees. According to you, complimenting another team's QB not only was beyond the pale, it was even indicative of homosexuality. (And, yes, I am stating your point of view on this correctly. Go back and look it up if you don't believe me.) Check out John Clayton's latest column for a neutral assessment of the relative merits of Brees and Smith. You may be the only person on the planet who would not make that deal. But now, you are not only complimenting Peyton Manning, you are enjoying watching him pick apart our D. How are you not the biggest hypocrite on webzone? (Oh, and I noticed you did not apologize for completely mischaracterizing Jeff's column, which mischaracterization I proved with the quotations you so desire.)
    Aug 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM
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  • Dan B.
    By far you're my favorite sports writer Jeff. But ass kissing aside I have to say that sometimes I wish you were wrong. But....I know you're not. I know like you do that this team will be no better than one and done in the playoffs with our current situation. Unfortunately our ceiling is approaching fast...and I am pained. I love this team as much as you apparently do and.....just....shit. sigh. I'm at a loss. What do you think about trading for Revis?
    Aug 31, 2010 at 4:00 PM
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    Response: Thanks again for all your praise, Dan. I truly appreciate it. And you know I don't mean to drag you down; I just can't help but call 'em like I see 'em. And damn it all, I just don't see enough. Oh, and trading for Revis? Of course I'd do it. But can you imagine this organization being bold enough for a move like that?
  • Dan
    @Terry B: I love the way you re-state my comments. I do love watching Manning play, he's the best there is. I would rather watch our defense shut him down. I also love the way you come to Jeff's defense so loyally and at the drop of a dime. Jeff can defend himself man. And he does. At any rate so many people are criticizing the coaches for wanting to run the ball. I think, if you have a beast on the field at running back by all means use him. Our passing game has improved for sure however, it would be hard not to improve that. Our defense is still the same guys basically, so it's still going to stuff teams in the redzone and likely get burned once in a while. It happens to the best. All I'm saying is, I'm not worried about the poor performance of the defense last Saturday. Usually it's the offense giving up points so I am more than happy to give the defense the benefit of the doubt they will not play that poorly again. Thank you for noticing my point of view Terry, just try to get it right when you repeat it back to me.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 3:11 PM
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  • Terry B.
    Dan, is it too much to ask that you actually read Jeff's columns before you post a comment? Jeff wrote: "Frank Gore is ready; by all means, as long as he's picking up 30 a pop, let's run up the middle on ALL our first downs, not just the first three." In response you wrote, "But you all want to criticize [sic] the coaches for putting the ball in [Gore's] hands." What column are you responding to? And you should be very concerned about our pass D. I know you mentioned in a previous comment that you enjoyed sitting back and watching Peyton Manning shred our D, but I can assure you that the rest of us did not. This is a passing league, and until we do a better job stopping the pass, we're just treading water.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 12:38 PM
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  • Dan
    Still waiting? After all these preseason games? It must be a huge imposition on you to be forced into such a deep negativity. I'm sure the coach is bummed the offensive line outperformed the defense. Oh yeah, I forgot the coach has no credibility here. Frank Gore might make a case why he should get to run the ball, A LOT. We are just going to get more yards, flat out, whenever he's carrying it. But you all want to criticize the coaches for putting the ball in his hands. To be honest, the Raiders did look better than I've seen them in years. I'm not going to sit here trembling in fear however, Oct. 17 is another number in the win column for us. The 49ers just have too much talent to sit here and cry about a poor defensive performance. I personally don't have any concerns about our defense, which manages to stop most teams from scoring points.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 11:42 AM
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  • Nick S.
    Reggie Smith has a solid preseason and misses ONE coverage assignment, and now he's Mark Roman? Good Lord, I hope your knees don't need surgery because that's a knee-jerk assessment if I've ever heard one.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM
    0
    Response: That's a fair point, Nick. But my GOD, did he get flayed. Let's hope he makes me eat my ugly metaphor.
  • Shane
    Hey Jeff, being that i live in NY i don't get to see preseason games so i have to go on highlights and every single 49er article i can get my eyes on (i read every article on here, thank God for this site). I didn't really understand the quick clock thing. Was the clock literally moving fast, or starting early? If so was it not doing it for Oak? What was the deal with that? As far as our secondary, U hit the nail on the head. we have slow corners and a small LB and a head hunter as our safeties... NOT good. I think for our D to take that next step to being elite we do have to get within the top 16 in pass D. However i don't think it has to be top ten really. It was mentioned N.O. won the superbowl w. an avg D but let's be honest our O isn't even close. But i think we can be well rounded enough to be for real. BUT, what the hell is with the pass rush? Where is Haralson?? i thought maybe he was hurt! And Lawson? seems like he is playing the run nice but come on. Leboy is our best pass rusher and he isn't even a lock for the team? again, NOT good. Lastly, our O is still troubling. I read a stat: alex smith threw 3 balls past 10 yards? is there a reason all our passes are 5 yards or less (Raye)?
    Aug 31, 2010 at 11:26 AM
    0
    Response: The clock was starting early, but yeah, it was that way for Oakland too; that's why it wasn't a viable excuse even if Singletary was looking for one (which he wasn't). And yeah, Haralson and Lawson just haven't developed as pass-rushers; like I said last week, with those guys' limitations, it's amazing that Manusky generates the rush that he does, but of course it won't be so consistent that we can get away with a porous secondary. And nice stat on Smith; I hadn't seen that one, but it certainly doesn't surprise me. I do think that's mostly on Singletary and Raye, for emphasizing short and safe; but I'd suspect that's fine with Smith, who's probably had enough of the calls for his head with each interception. And to close the loop, if our O isn't gonna make big plays (like the Saints), then we'll be in some trouble if our D gives 'em up.
  • fireandice51
    I couldn't agree more with the article, Jeff! Our secondary was TORCHED! Projected 500+ yards thru the air from the Raiders is scary, and Peyton looked like he was playing a high school team. This is a team that may win the West, but has a long way to go. And of course, the niners have some major contracts coming up long before the draft and the maturity of those draft picks can make the difference that this team needs. Can you say "one and out" in the playoffs?
    Aug 31, 2010 at 8:55 AM
    0
  • STL Niner Fan
    Yeah if you had to pick one weak area of our team the secondary would have to be it (other than maybe our O Line - but at least there is promise there). They don't match up well against speedy WR's. We'll probably get burned a few times this year by that type of a receiver unless our pass rush can mask the weakness in those games. However, we do actually match up well against big, tall, slower WR's. We match up very well against AZ's WR's. Keep this in mind too. We allowed the 4th fewest points in the league last year with that same secondary. Whine all you want to about our pass defense ranking over the last 12 years but I care way more about how many points are scored against my D than how many fantasy points we give opposing QB's. And to say we aren't contenders because of one weak area is a bit short-sighted. There is no 100% complete team in the NFL. That's the nature of the beast in today's league. N.O. won the SB last year by masking an average D with an exceptional amount of turnovers and scoring a crap load of points. Honestly, the new era of the NFL doesn't have a "complete" team anymore such as you witnessed with SF's great teams of the 80's or 90's.
    Aug 31, 2010 at 8:09 AM
    0

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