Crazy Promises, Barely Broken

Sep 21, 2010 at 6:19 PM


It was all too much.

The weight of our expectations. The attacks on his competence. Add a nice dose of his roiling intensity, and who would've failed to predict this result?

Before our eyes, Mike Singletary was losing it.

It wasn't out of the blue, of course. Let's not forget the Great Dropping of Trou. When you deal with tense moments by dropping your pants, I guess you're already on pretty thin ice. And that was BEFORE the real pressure was on. This year, it was time to win, and we couldn't have been any more unprepared. He had to expect a hostile response. When you lose, you get questions. When you're unable even to get to the line, you get HARD questions.

And that's when Singletary totally flipped.

Truth be told, Jason Cole's "dad-gum Yahoo commercial" wasn't that big a deal. Sure, it cast a bad light on our organization in general and Jimmy Raye in particular. But to anyone who watched the Seattle game, it was thoroughly unsurprising. I mean, really. Our systemic defects, on offense especially, were fairly self-evident. Cole might've dug up some juicy details, but his basic point was hardly news.

Yet Singletary went ballistic. He was pissed off at Cole, but not nearly as much as he was at Cole's source, whom he quickly ID'd as Rattus Norvegicus. When Raye spoke in his own defense, Singletary didn't "stand" by his man, so much as he "lay in the grass" by his man. And facing mere softballs on KPIX, he answered with venom so clearly misplaced that he seemed to be truly insane. He could've been played by that Letterman guy, and you well might've struggled to see any difference.

And, with that, we got back on the field. The Saints were the champs, the paragons of both organizational brains and offensive muscle. The Niners, by contrast, were imploding spectacularly.

The stage was set. Tonight the nation would witness the end.

The opening script was as you'd imagine. Frank Gore up the gut, Frank Gore up the gut, and a snap 10 feet over Alex Smith's head. (Okay, maybe not QUITE the way you'd imagine, but still.) The Saints go on a nice roll through our D, and that, you'd think, is pretty much that.

But that's when our wacky week got even weirder.

'Cause from that point on, Singletary's crazy promises were damn near proven true.

"We will not TRY to stop Drew Brees. We WILL stop Drew Brees."

Of course, no one REALLY stops Drew Brees, but with just enough pressure, and some surprising coverage from a thin and wounded secondary, we came pretty close. Brees had some fancy numbers, with a rating of 109, but he netted just 237 yards on just 6.2 per throw. And by stopping the run as we typically do (50 on 2.1), we held the Saints under 300 yards.

And THAT'S an effing achievement, kids.

"We will not TRY to move the ball against New Orleans' defense. We WILL move the ball and we will score."

On our first two drives, we ran six plays, and five of 'em were runs. Needless to say, we didn't move the ball or score. But once Smith connected with Josh Morgan for 15, everything just opened up. With huge assists from the offensive line, we passed and ran--in that order, mind you--for more than 400 yards, 9 per pass and 6 per run.

Move the ball? Check. Score? Well, we weren't shut out, if that's what you mean, but more on that later.

"Alex will be fine Monday night."

It started with rapidly sending the plays in. I guess I've gotta admit that Singletary DID "figure it out," though if all it took was a wristband, I don't understand why we ever had trouble. But what a difference it made for Smith, to be able to study the defense a bit. He prepared for the pressure and saw where to go. He was confident and assertive in going downfield, and by and large he was deadly accurate; his back-to-back passes to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, for a total of 73 yards, were awesome. And, of course, his two-minute drill, to tie the game late, was breathtaking.

By now we know better than to call this his "breakthrough"; he's had plenty of other such "breakthroughs" before. But he was fine, all right. Fine indeed.

When we went down nine-zip, we very easily could've just died. Instead we gave the Saints all they could handle. After all the chaos we'd faced all week, that was inspiring, and--you heard it here first--a tribute to Singletary.

And yet, don't forget, the result was the same. We lost.

Despite better playcalling and better play, the big mistake just haunts this team. Our follies in the red-zone--or at least inside the 30--continued, in all their wretched glory. For all of Smith's highlights, his two interceptions (both tipped, but with one throw high) were killers, dropping his rating to a blah 82. Throw in Delanie Walker's fumble, and points were left all over the field. Add the two on the safety, and the three we gave up on Phillip Adams' muffed punt--hurry back, Ted and Kyle--and it's somewhat amazing we stayed in the game.

Same thing defensively. I don't blame Smith for leaving time on the clock; if the two-pointer had failed, we'd have needed that time for the onside kick. But it was up to the D to make the last stop. And though solid 'til then, it just couldn't make it.

So yeah, we stood toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl champs, and it's great to see some signs of hope. (Certainly, in THIS division, anything's possible.)

But.

We're past the point of moral victories. Past taking pride in close defeats. We saw enough of those LAST year. And like I said: THIS year, it's time to win.

We're oh-and-two, and Singletary must turn it around. Can he do it?

Hey. Crazier things have happened.
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.


10 Comments

  • Zarya
    You're the greatest! JMHO
    Jul 16, 2011 at 5:30 PM
    0
  • Breckelj
    While mistakes are mistakes, I think some evaluation is due here. There were vast differences from week 1 to week 2. Dan said that we dominated the clock.....we didn't. Against seattle we held the ball for almost 22 minutes of the first half. Week 2 it was a split. Week 1 the corners didn't adjust their plan after a terrific opening-drive pick, and then got burned when a veteran quarterback abused them for making the same move. Were expectations low going into week 2, of course they were. But I think where the real concern lies is our ability to play well on the road this year. I think this is the real key to success. All three of our close losses to playoff contenders last year (MIN, GB, and IND) were on the road. We have always played well at home, unfortunately 2 bad picks and 2 bonehead plays cost us dearly in a game that could have gone the other way. 2-6 on the road last year is unacceptable. Let's see if the "brilliant" play of the OC carries over this week before we hit the panic button. If things revert back to the way they were in week one, heads are gonna roll and I don't think one will be Alex Smith.
    Sep 23, 2010 at 8:45 AM
    0
  • Dan
    Yes Jeff you're right. Maybe the mistakes are a part of the growth process for this young team. Playing it safe isn't always the best move just as taking too many risks can tank you. It actually makes sense that Alex will have to learn a balance before he succeeds. I hope that's the case because it's the only scenario that ends up with him being a winner.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 11:21 PM
    0
  • Bill
    If the Niners can play as consistently well as they played Monday night against the Super Bowl Chumps -- we're going to win far more than we lose this year. We'll make the playoffs too.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM
    0
  • STL Niner Fan
    Oh what a rollercoaster ride we've already been on this season and it's only through 2 weeks. Week one we play one of the worst games I've seen under Singletary and week 2 we play one of the best games I've seen under Singletary. So what did we learn last Monday? That if we get our heads out of our asses we can compete on the highest level - at least within the NFC. But on the flipside we are still a very immature team who can't help but stumble over our own toes at times. We sure like to make things hard on ourselves at times. What really worries me, is that this team still IMO has a very fragile psyche and I wonder if we will be able to recover from this heartbreak within a week's time. And make no mistake - this one was truly painful. As much as week one but for entirely different reasons. Last year we lost a heartbreaker at MIN and it took 5-6 weeks to get out of our funk. That will be unacceptable this year. If we lose at KC this week, all the positive vibes we generated Monday night will be forgotten. Singletary better have his troops ready to play this weekend. That stadium is just as challenging as SEA's. Sigh...I don't think we can do it. Please prove me wrong.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 11:39 AM
    0
  • bret
    "We're past the point of moral victories. Past taking pride in close defeats. We saw enough of those LAST year. And like I said: THIS year, it's time to win." That pretty much sums it up! The only positive I take out of this game is that I now know that Alex Smith can be a real NFL quarterback. That's something none of us have known for the previous 5 years. Your question "can he do it?" won't be answered right away, and the fact that the coach loses his poise under pressure does not bode well for a team that hasn't yet learned how to win. But to their credit, they didn't quit on Monday, when it would have been easy to do so.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 10:07 AM
    0
  • Dan
    Look this is pretty much the exact same result we had last week. For a majority of the game the 49ers were in control of both sides of the ball. At the end of the game we lost. I don't think there is much difference. #1 we lost. #2 Alex Smith threw more game-losing interceptions. #3 the 49ers' defense gave up over 250 yards and over 20 points. The Saints played the bend-but-don't-break defense against us and it worked. You gotta hate that. Another thing they did was they ran screens after every sack or near-sack and on almost every third down. The fact that those kept working concerns me. Finally I am most concerned about our new improved special teams. The coverage on kickoffs and punts is inconsistent as is our punt return. I get the feeling you were more satisfied with that game than I was, and I'm going to guess it's because of lower expectations. I know this team is better than their performance has been, so I'm still expecting more. I read comments that reporters wrote down from Frank Gore and I think he, and the rest of the team, needs to think about if consistently good play and mistake-free football can be a part of whooping another team's @$$.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM
    0
    Response: I think you're right about the difference in our expectations, Dan. You were expecting "consistently good play and mistake-free football," so you were disappointed. I was expecting us to just lie down and die, so I was pleasantly surprised. But I certainly wasn't "satisfied" with the outcome. Like I said here, we're past the point of being satisfied with losses. For once, Dan, you and I agree: we need to stop growing and start winning. Now.
  • Breckelj
    Disappointingly optimistic. That is the best way to explain it. Of course I still think that we can win the West. But here is a thought to ponder. I have been reading most of the blogs and pretty much everyone dislikes the way Raye is running the offense. Got it, understand, I don't like it either. But here is the double-edge of that sword. If we win the west do you really think the 9ers are gonna cut Raye loose? No way! That would be one step forward to take two back. That would put A. Smith right back where he spent the first 5 years of his career. I really don't know what the answer is, because there seems to be no sense of urgency until we get behind and then it becomes time to throw the ball. Maybe the wristband is the answer to getting the plays in, but until the offense moves to Alex's strength, the spread, I think we all better stop complaining about Raye's offense because you're not gonna get your cake and eat it too. It is either fail this year, lose Raye and Alex, or be successful and they both stay. Which to choose??????
    Sep 22, 2010 at 8:00 AM
    0
    Response: I've been there, Breck. We're Niner fans, so it's hard to see 'em lose, but when we'd like regime-change, in a way it's hard to see 'em win. My advice, do what I do. Root for the Niners to win and assume that if they win it'll be because the regime has gotten its collective head out of its collective backside and doesn't need to be changed. Trust me, I see the problem: in a division like this, the regime could be just as stubborn and end up winning anyway. And yeah, it'd be hard to see 'em rewarded for that. But unless we're willing to root for the Niners to lose--and deep down I know we're not--that's a chance we'll just have to take.
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    On the Saints game. Bottom line: good teams find a way to win, bad teams don't. It's as simple as that.
    Sep 22, 2010 at 6:20 AM
    0
    Response: To his credit, Dallas, even Singletary agrees with you: "when we stop defeating ourselves, when we stop putting the ball on the ground, when we stop doing things to hurt ourselves, we are going to be a good football team." That is, we're not good yet. It's up to Singletary to see that we get there, of course, but the good news is that this game, unlike the Seattle game, showed that we might--MIGHT--have the pieces in place.
  • Terry B.
    Once again, the team started having success the second it stopped playing Singletary-ball. We saw Singletary's plan for this game on the first two drives: run, run, run, run, run. Going down 9-0 almost proved to be a godsend, as we were forced to start passing. And isn't it amazing how much bigger those running lanes are once you establish the pass? The league has now seen us open two straight games by pounding Gore up the middle. Here's an idea: let's try something different next game. Let's not be the most predictable team in the league. Singletary is at a crossroads. The team is 0-2 and the obvious answer is staring him in the face: pass to set up the run. The season hinges on the stubborn Singletary learning the proper lesson from this game.
    Sep 21, 2010 at 7:22 PM
    0

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