Eight games have passed with eight more to go. Are you feeling hopeful? My guess is probably not.
The 49ers are down to their number three quarterback Shaun Hill. Alex Smith proved in the preseason he is made of porcelain by getting injured without being hit and J.T. O’ Sullivan has shown why he has been a journey man back-up and not a starter before coming to the 49ers. The Mike Martz system for all of its high powered potential only works if you have the talent to execute the game plan. The 49ers have no reliable QB, their offensive line have given up 32 sacks (some can be attributed to O’ Sullivan holding onto the ball too long and the Martz System) and the leading receiver is Isaac Bruce with 23 receptions, 399 yards, and 4 TD’s. Not too impressive especially in a Martz offense. The 49ers have no deep threats which is another reason why they have given up so many sacks. If they had drafted DeSean Jackson as I wanted them to in the first round we would have a deep threat teams would have to account for freeing up Bruce and the rest of the receiving core along with Frank Gore on the short passes. Free agent Bryant Johnson (16 receptions, 208 yards, 1 TD) has been a bust so far and has proven why he was a number three receiver in Arizona. Gore (629 rushing yards, 4 rushing TD’s, 32 receptions, 311 receiving yards, 1 TD) has been the only reliable offensive threat the 49ers have had in recent years and he is showing that again this year. He leads the 49ers in receptions. That is not a good stat. And then there is Vernon Davis. Another Mike Nolan bust pick in the first round. Enough said.
This was supposed to be the 49ers heart and soul of the team. They have regressed however from the advancement they made last year. The D on average gives up 28.8 points per game and 329.6 yards per game. The defense is staked with play making veterans but the unit as a whole play like rookies. The offense has not helped in giving up way too many turnovers and not controlling the football putting the D in tough situations. But this is what makes a D unit great. When they are put in tough situations they prevail not giving up deep passing plays and unable to get the opponents offense off the field. See the Patriots and Eagles games. The secondary and the defensive line are the biggest culprits for allowing so many yards and points. The secondary have let quick receivers slip by them and the D-line are not pressuring the QB nor getting enough sacks. Free agent Justin Smith and Nate Clements need to show leadership and step up their game play tremendously. Opposing defensive coaches know now that all they have to do is stop LB Patrick Willis from making plays and they can run over the rest of the D.
Again the Special Teams are the most productive squad on the team. Not a good stat. Joe Nedney (Field Goals: 17 of 19) has done what the 49ers have asked and that is to make field goals for the lack of the offense being able to score. His shining moment was the week 2 game winning field goal in overtime against the Seahawks after he missed an opportunity in the closing seconds of regulation to win the game. Andy Lee is showing why is was a Pro Bowl punter last year although this again is due to the 49ers having to constantly use him. Two blocked field goals have been returned for touchdowns and main return man Allen Rossum is averaging 26 return yards on kickoffs and 20.8 return yards on punts. I would like to see at least one TD from Rossum before the season ends.
Sigh… Nolan is gone which should have been done in the off-season but the Joke Family are clueless when it comes to running an NFL team so no surprise there. In my season preview I said Nolan could possibly be gone by the bye week due to the 49ers tough schedule in the first half. But great coaches, which Nolan is obviously not, implement a game plan to beat any team no matter how good or bad. Nolan’s lack of game management lead to his demise with the last straw being against the Eagles when he threw the red flag to challenge a made field goal only to ask “can I challenge that” to which he was denied. Timeout wasted. Martz is doing what he can with the talent or lack thereof he has and has done a decent job. One of his mistakes was believing O’ Sullivan could be an effective starting QB. Greg Manusky needs to find a way to get more sacks through blitzes so the secondary are not overworked with their lack of being able to cover receivers. Mike Singletary has an opportunity in the second half of the season to show why he should remain the head coach. His first game as head coach did not go well but we will see his true coaching skills with having two weeks to prepare for a division rival who is in first place. If the 49ers get blown out again and the offense putters out all the inspiration and motivation in the world will not save this 49ers team.
Next Eight Games:
Five of the next eight games will be on the road. Only three of the games have opponents with losing records, Rams twice and the Jets at 3-4. They have tough road games against the Cardinals, Cowboys, Bills, Dolphins and finish the season at home against the Redskins. It does not look good for Singletary and the 49ers. As long as they stay close in the games and do not get blown out like many of the losses this year the 49ers can go into the off-season with some dignity as they figure out where this team is headed in terms of the head coach and their quarterback. The 49ers need to find their identity as a football team and that starts in week 10.