Go ahead. Admit it.

It's not your fault. After all, EVERYTHING was pointing our way. The Niners were on the rise; the Seahawks were rebuilding. The Niners were expecting a division title; the Seahawks were expecting another high draft-pick. And when we grabbed an interception on Seattle's first play, you couldn't help but think we were ready. You couldn't help but think, despite all these years of phony starts and broken vows: this time, it's real.

Go ahead. Admit it.

Once again, you believed.

Slowly but surely, the lie was exposed. Our first play indeed was Frank Gore up the middle, proving how much our O had "evolved." And then, after Alex Smith had thrown for a first down, when our momentum now was just kicking in, I thought I heard it. I sat up, totally certain I must've heard wrong. But no, there it was, a cancer in my ears....

Timeout, 49ers.

My jaw dropped. You might remember: last December, on this field, our first timeout came just six seconds in. After the opening kickoff, of all things. This time, at least, we made it through 1:21.

I guess you could say we're improving. But it's then that I knew.

We weren't ready. This wouldn't end well.

And this was BEFORE a series of red-zone follies so thoroughly awful it toyed with absurd. First drive: on third-and-goal at the six, Smith bails out to Gore for a gain of one, and we're forced to settle for three. Second drive (after our D forces a three-and-out): Gore gets stuffed on third-and-ONE at the six, and though Mike Singletary does right to go for it--and PASS for it--Smith botches the throw to a wide-open man. Third drive (after our D forces ANOTHER three-and-out): on third-and-goal at the two, we send Moran Norris up the middle, a play with literally no chance of success. And then, though Singletary again wants to go for it, the players aren't lined up in time, and having wasted all THREE of our timeouts by now, we're forced to accept the penalty and the field goal.

A competent team is up 21-zip. We're up six.

Couldn't you clearly see what was coming?

From there the collapse was swift. The D earns itself a THIRD three-and-out, but a bad call on Nate Clements keeps the drive going. Four plays later, Clements gambles (as he does) and loses (as he does), and one play later the 'Hawks have the lead. On our next drive, Smith throws high to Michael Crabtree, who's utterly lost in space. One play after the interception, Tarell Brown makes the same gamble that Clements made--with the same result--and just like that it's 14-6. On our first drive after halftime, Smith again throws high at Crabtree, and this time the pick goes all the way back.

And, from there, we simply quit.

The defeat was total, and totally humiliating. After an efficient (though dinky) start, Smith faced constant pressure and reverted to his panicky roots, posting a rating of 53. With nowhere to go, Gore rushed for only 38 yards, and afterward he glumly observed, "It looked like they came in to stop the run." (Better get used to THAT, Frank.) Despite a makeshift Seattle line, our front seven barely touched Matt Hasselbeck, who posted a rating of over a hundred. And we've already discussed the reckless coverage.

The players, of course, were awful. Smith raised all the old questions, Crabtree could be serious trouble, the offensive line was as bad as last year's, and Drew Brees can't wait to go after our D. But c'mon. We're more talented than Seattle, and everyone knows it. And in the opening game of a crucial year, we simply weren't ready to play.

And only one man is to blame for that.

Though the game itself was embarrassing, it had nothing on Singletary's comments after. If he were anything like the character he plays, he'd never, ever offer excuses. But given the pressure he's under this year, his performance in this game was clearly his worst. And even though he's got Jed in his pocket, he's got no interest in facing the heat.

So there he was, thanking the Seahawks for giving his players some much-needed "medicine." There he was, blaming his players for being overconfident and overwhelmed. And worst of all, there he was, blaming Smith's HELMET for our clock-management issues, bewildered why this technical difficulty "just happens to us."

Nothing, you see, was the head coach's fault.

And that's why, though the Niners indeed were truly pathetic, Singletary himself was so much worse. The Great Motivator, exposed as a fraud. The master of accountability, exposed as a hypocrite.

The great and powerful Oz, finally exposed.

Back at home, he tried to save face. In a meeting with his players, he tried to "clear the air" about throwing 'em under the bus; it's unknown whether he took any blame. He also admitted--after Smith boldly debunked the helmet theory--the plays were going in too slow, and he vowed to "figure it out and nip it in the bud."

Understand this. A defect in the most basic aspect of coaching. An inability to consistently do what any HIGH SCHOOL team can do. He had this problem last season. He had it this preseason.

And until this week, he didn't know he had it at all.

But don't worry. Now that he's on it--and now that, you know, this crucial season's underway--NOW he'll "figure it out." (Of course, if the plays are lame or the players can't run 'em, it hardly matters how fast they're called.) These players and coaches--sniping already--will "stay together," and they'll find some way to be "a very good football team."

You know what, Coach? I don't believe you. I don't believe a word you say. I don't believe you've got a clue what you're doing.

And that's the bottom line, the end result of this fiasco. By all means, prove me wrong. Show me you can pick up the pieces, in time for the champs on Monday night. Give me even a kernel of truth.

'Cause one game in, it's all in flames, and I do not believe.