For every one or two steps forward the 49ers have made this season they seem to take three steps back. We were sold by head coach Mike Singletary and GM Scot McCloughan that this year’s version of the Red and Gold would be different than the past. Having gone through seven years of futility and no winning records I bought into what Singletary was selling. Everything was there for the Niners to succeed but for every progress there has been regression. We had drafted a prolific wide receiver in Michael Crabtree. We know what ensued after that and have only had Crabtree for three games but he has contributed. Could you imagine what he would be doing now if he had been in training camp?
Shaun Hill was named the starter before the season and like his predecessor he lost his job. I thought Hill gave us the best chance to win especially with Alex Smith being out of football all of last year due to shoulder surgery and that fact that he had little or no confidence being a quarterback because of his ups and downs as a starter and the feud he had with former head coach Mike Nolan. I thought Smith was done as a starter in the NFL and labeled him the newest number one draft bust. Fast forward to week seven with Smith starting the second half against the Texans and looked as if we actually had that number one pick QB. Smith looked average against the Colts, not leading any scoring drives in the second half and against the Titans he had four turnovers and four sacks. But could you imagine what those three games could have turned out to be like had Hill been the starter? Hill hated being labeled a game manager but really that is what he was. Hand the ball off to Frank Gore, if you do drop back to pass release it after three seconds and don’t turnover the football! Hill accomplished all of this in the first four games with a 3-1 record. However even in those four games the offense was ugly and most importantly the offense did not need to come back from big deficits. Even though he has made mistakes and has not won any games this year for the Niners Smith is the starter for the rest of the season and maybe the future for the 49ers. A lot depends on how he does in the second half of the season. Could you imagine what Smith could have been doing if he was named the starter early in the season?
Singletary took his time hiring an offensive coordinator in the off season. He interviewed many and got rejected by one, Scott Linehan who is the Lions current play caller. The 49ers play the Lions in week 16 at home. Eventually Singletary settled on Jimmy Raye who is veteran of the NFL and has experience. Most importantly I think he was hired because of his age, 63. The 49ers need stability at offensive coordinator and hiring a well seasoned play caller in Raye provides that. I highly doubt he will be offered any other coaching jobs no matter how well he does because of his age. Singletary and Raye wanted to install a run heavy offense that worked at first but when it came to having the offense score two or more touchdowns the offense failed. Hill does not have a deep arm and with his lack of mobility and the poor play of the offensive line was reasons why much could not get done in the passing game. Now with Smith as the starter Raye is adapting to his skills and using more spread formations with both runs and passes. Smith has a deeper arm and great mobility, he just needs to be able to put it all together in one game. The Bears game on Thursday will be a good test. Could you imagine what the 49ers could have been like right now had Raye opened up the playbook earlier?
There is certainly a pattern to the 2009 49ers half through the season; they start off games well and get a flow going but they lack the ability to finish games in the second half. Certain decisions could have been made earlier like realizing that you don’t have a good offensive line so running the football all the time won’t work especially if Gore is not in the backfield. The defense has been scorched for big plays this season but has played well over all. The offense does no favors to the defense by constantly sending them back onto the field after three and outs. The 49ers are almost there and while everyone thought this was a playoff bound team it has become evident that more work, experience and gelling is needed.
The rest of the way the 49ers have four games at home and four games on the road. They have a good chance to end their losing streak at home against the Bears on Thursday but will have to travel to Green Bay in week 11. The Niners will be coming off of nine days rest so the potential for a winning streak is high. The next three weeks are the Jaguars, Seahawks and Cardinals whom the Niners are capable of all beating. But with the play of the Niners in the first half a loss or two will be bunched in between there. Most likely the Cardinals at the Stick in week 14 because they are undefeated playing on the road. The Eagles will poise an up hill battle and the Lions and Rams should be automatic wins.
The Niners will close in on the Cardinals in the NFC West but those early losses will prevent us from the playoffs. Final record 8-8.
Topics: 49ers, 49ers 2009 Season, 49ers Offensive Coordinator, 49ers QB, 49ers Quarterback, 49ers Training Camp, Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Greg Manusky, J.T. O'Sullivan, Jimmy Raye, Joe Staley, Josh Morgan, Kentwan Balmer, MCT, Michael Crab Holdout, Michael Crabtree, Midseason Niners Still Have Long Way To Go, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers, Scot McCloughan, Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis