Please, somebody. I beg you.

This is supposed to be FUN, a pleasant diversion to spiff up my weekends. It's not supposed to be like THIS. A neverending roller coaster of brain-crushing madness. A locked-down prison of torture and pain.

Please, somebody. Tell me.

Tell me this is all a dream.

At last, Alex was gone for good. He'd had his last chance, and he'd blown it. He'd gone one-and-six--ONE-AND-SIX--while making a ton of the stupid mistakes that'd come to define his star-crossed career. Sure, Mike Singletary couldn't bench him, having gone out of his way to avoid a Plan B. But then we got lucky, INCREDIBLY lucky. Alex got hurt, Singletary went out on a limb with Troy, and all of a sudden the world opened up.

In his first two starts, Troy delivered two stirring wins, making plays and putting up numbers that Alex had only sniffed in six years. But Singletary just couldn't stay away. After he'd canned Jimmy Raye for having the gall to implement Singletary's run-first philosophy, Singletary had said he'd go with any philosophy that would get us some wins. This one did. But...well, did we really need to PASS so much?

So Singletary put the reins on Troy, who promptly started laying eggs. He was dazed and confused against Tampa, and he was just a handoff machine in the desert. And, after vowing that our O would be "not any more creative," despite the loss of bell-cow Frank Gore--that's Singletary for you, blithely uncreative--off we went to Packerland, where a thorough beatdown surely awaited.

Beaten we WERE, of course. But the funny thing was, Troy looked almost like his old self.

Somehow, Troy threw off his shackles and came out throwing deep. He hit with one, a 40-yarder to Michael Crabtree, and just like that we were up on the board. And, indeed, a big pass-play (to Vernon Davis) was key to each of three more scoring drives: a 20-yarder, a 25-yarder, a 66-yarder. That biggie went for a touchdown (and Davis later dropped what would've been a 73-yarder). The trouble, of course, was that everything else was a lowly three.

Where creativity--not to mention preparation and execution--really shows is down by the goal line, so it's not a shock that we struggle there. If you're good, you score TDs when you're inside the 10, especially when you've got the various options of our newfound "Thunder and Lightning." (Please, try not to laugh.) Thunder, you'd think, would pound up the gut, and Lightning would go to the edges. So, naturally, on first-and-goal at the two, we send Anthony Dixon (Thunder) off left tackle, for nothing, and then we try to pass--from the TWO--and Troy gets sacked. And, later, on second-and-goal at the five, we send Brian Westbrook (Lightning) up the middle, again for nothing, and then Troy misses Crabtree.

All told, Thunder and Lightning combine for 18 rushes and 64 yards. This just in: the Packers are better than Arizona.

They're particularly good at exposing your fraud of a defense.

Early on, Aaron Rodgers was clearly frustrated. On his opening drive, he dinked and dunked his way down the field, but after the missed field goal we harassed him into two three-and-outs, sacking him on each first down. But then he hit his first big play, a 57-yard touchdown pass on one of our countless offsides penalties. And, from there, as Takeo Spikes said, "it felt like the wheels fell off." A screen, which always seems to do us harm, went for 37. A soul-draining 60-yard catch-and-run where we must've missed a dozen tackles. And a 48-yarder deep down the middle. But the worst, of course, was at the end, when the D just couldn't get off the field. Starting at the 20, the Packers ran 17 plays for 74 yards, taking 8:35 off the fourth-quarter clock and essentially icing the game.

Rodgers finished with 10 yards per attempt and a rating of 135. A beleaguered running game racked up 136 yards and 11 first downs. The Packers gained more than 400 yards in 37 minutes. As Spikes put it, "To have a team pretty much impose their will, move the ball when they want to, it's embarrassing."

Still waiting. STILL WAITING, for this D to be good.

The point is, Troy didn't lose this game. Indeed, who knows? If our rushers had gotten into the end zone, and if Davis had caught that bomb he dropped--which, by the way, would've raised Troy's rating from 64 to 93--he might've found a way to win.

No doubt. Troy was still our greatest shot.

But Singletary once again just couldn't stay away.

For a guy who famously said he didn't think the position was particularly important, Singletary sure spends a lot of time pondering it. "The thing that I've said all along," he declared, "is I want to go with the quarterback that I feel gives us the best chance to win." Can someone please explain how that quarterback is Alex? Don't get me wrong; we're starting to learn of Troy's limitations, especially with his play from the pocket. But he's got two things that are maddeningly rare in a Niner QB: a winning record, and an explosive penchant for making plays. Certainly, Alex has neither. By now we know who Alex is.

He's one-and-six, a turnover machine. Who somehow gives us "the best chance to win." Who once again is back from the dead. Who like his coach just won't stay away.

The good news, I guess, is it just doesn't matter. Did you notice? We're four-and-eight. Eight. In all this ludicrous playoff talk, don't overlook what we've already clinched.

A non-winning season. Our EIGHTH STRAIGHT.

Eight straight non-winning years, and our QB still is Alex Smith.

Please, somebody. Tell me this is all a dream.