I suppose with the 49ers currently in freefall I’d better give my take on the situation as a long time fan who hoped that the grim days of the 2000s were long gone. As everyone knows the team is currently in a state of crisis only 2 years after reaching their 3rd consecutive Conference Championship game with players leaving and retiring, losing Jim Harbaugh and a front office that doesn’t seem to have a clue.
Lets just have a look at where the team has gone since the 2013 NFC championship game (aka The One Where We’re Not Allowed To Talk About Richard Sherman). Colin Kaepernick has regressed that much that Jim Tomsula (in an unenviable position having to replace JH) has benched him for Blaine Gabbert (a QB with a record of 5 wins and 22 losses in his entire career), Frank Gore is now a Colt, Michael Crabtree has crossed the Bay and gone to the Raiders, Kendall Hunter is still with the team but hasn’t actually played a game since as he’s now on his 2nd full season on injured reserve, Vernon Davis was traded to the Broncos last night and even Andy Lee (just about the best punter in the league over the last few seasons) has been shipped out to Cleveland of all places. On the other side of the ball Navarro Bowman missed the entire 2014 season from the injury sustained in the game and is now only just starting to find his feet again, Patrick Willis has retired, Aldon Smith has had some well publicised off-field issues and was cut and picked up by the Raiders, Ray McDonald also had one or 2 problems and is also gone (probably never to be seen again), That’s some amount of talent to lose.
Where did it all go wrong then? There was rumours of a power struggle last season between Jim Harbaugh & GM Trent Baalke right at the start of the year and these proved to be true and instead of trying to smooth things over between them, the ownership appeared to let things play out which lead to losing the best coach that the team has had in years since Steve Mariucci (I mean Mike Singletary anyone? C’mon man). How did the ownership allow things to get this bad? I guess we’ll never know as Jed York has been described by Sports Illustrated as having “created a culture that encourages selfishness, weakness and back-stabbing.” Harsh words, but that was proved with the way that members of the organisation have been treated over the last few years. It can’t be long before his parents, who parachuted him into the job as “owner” and should hang their heads in shame for what he’s doing to their team, must do something about this to halt the slide. Nobody in the Bay Area seems to have a good word for the guy, in fact the San Francisco examiner summed things up perfectly this season when they said “Unless the objective is to run this franchise into the ground – er, into the shredding sod – Jed York should not be CEO of the 49ers. As hastily as Mom and Dad appointed him to run the family football shop, they should remove him with the same urgency and locate a crisis manager who’ll apply a tourniquet to this profusely bleeding debacle. It should be obvious by now that everything Jed touches turns not to metallic gold, but to an unspeakable substance.”
So the rot is pretty deep then and things are falling apart from the top down, but is there a way out of it? Personally I think benching Kap is the best thing the team could have done, he’s gone from one pass away from a Superbowl win to Bambi On Ice in less than 3 years and nobody has taken time to take him aside and work on the reasons behind this. Having a backup that is, let’s face it, one of the biggest first round busts to ever take the field in multiple seasons and still manage to have some form of football career hasn’t helped matters because nobody can be worse than that can they? Well it now seems as though Kap is and all 49ers fans will be watching this week’s game against The Falcons in the same way that children used to watch Doctor Who, from behind the sofa in a state of panic. I think I’d rather the team took a chance the recently unemployed Ryan Mallet. Then there’s the running game, Hayne gets cut for not progressing enough but the following day we lose Reggie Bush (another victim of the most embarrassing show on concrete on the St Louis sideline) and Mike Davis (who?) so we go and sign someone who’s on his 8th team in 5 years and has less than 300 total career yards (Shaun Draughn). This doesn’t go a long way to filling the 9er Faithful with any degree of confidence either.
I could go on and I probably will on the next podcast (as if my 8 minute State of the Nation rant a couple of weeks ago wasn’t enough). But I can’t find the actual will to do so as everything coming out of the Santa Clara at the moment is leaving me both spechless and ranty at the same time. Welcome to the new Cleveland…