1. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye needs to be on the sidelines calling plays:
Ask quarterback Alex Smith the reason for the communication breakdown in the loss against the Seahawks and he blames it on the plays not being called fast enough. Ask Mike Singletary or Raye and they will say there were issues with the radio in Smith’s helmet. Singletary agreed with Smith that Raye should be on the sidelines so we will see if they implement the plan on Monday night against the Saints. Regardless of who/what is to blame for the communication breakdowns it caused the 49ers to lose a chance at a touchdown score in the second quarter with the Niners on the Seahawks 1-yard line on 4th-and-goal. Instead the Niners settled for a field goal and gave credence to the Seahawks fans in thinking they caused the delay of game penalty. The process for relaying plays goes from Raye up in the booth to quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson who radios the call to Smith’s helmet. Being up in the booth might be an advantage for Raye in that he can see how the defense is reacting to plays however when it costs you touchdowns, timeouts and confidence it makes sense to be on the sidelines.
2. Michael Crabtree should put in extra hours during the week:
You miss all of the preseason games because of neck strains and you go into the first game of the regular season thinking you are ready to be the star wide receiver. Enter reality. I am not sure if it is Crabtree’s cockiness or based on his 11-game stretch last season in which he played well with only two weeks of practice before he started his first NFL game that he thinks he can put in minimal work in the preseason and have a successful game in week one. This is what tight end Vernon Davis was so upset about with Crabtree. He could have played during the preseason with his neck strains but did not because he most likely viewed the games as unimportant. The games were important if only to get Smith and Crabtree in sync on passing routes. Instead it was no coincidence the two interceptions that Smith threw were targeted for Crabtree who was overthrown but it had more to do with the receiver not running the correct route and the QB/WR not being in sync.
3. The Specials Teams must become special:
Watching the Chargers vs. Chiefs on Monday night made me realize how bad the 49ers special teams unit still is this season. The addition of Ted Ginn Jr. will help with returns but the 49ers best blocker on special teams the last couple of seasons, Michael Robinson, is no longer on the team. How is it that the Chiefs can find two rookie returners in Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas who are so explosive and yet the 49ers return team seems to get worse each season? This is where having a legitimate and proven general manager helps which the 49ers lack. If you were watching the game on Monday night you saw how a kickoff and punt return can change the momentum of a game in a second. These are the type of game changing plays the 49ers lack in their arsenal. With the 49ers offense struggling they cannot rely on the special teams for an explosive play because of the lack of adequate returners and blocking.
4. Use running backs Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook:
I understand that Frank Gore is the running back workhorse and best player we have on offense but Dixon and Westbrook did not play one down on offense. Yes, Dixon is a rookie but he showed promise in the preseason and it would have been good to see if he could carry the production over to the regular season. Westbrook only played in seven games last season and had two carries in the preseason but if he is healthy why not have him in on a few plays. I think a change of pace with running backs could have been good for the 49ers. Grant it they were down by two scores shortly after the start of the second half and gave way to the passing game but for Gore to get all of the 17 rushing attempts does not make sense. Gore will only last so long as the lone workhorse at running back.
5. Don’t thank another head coach for “kicking our tails”:
After Sunday’s loss coach Singletary thanked Peter Carroll for “kicking our tails” and sending us a wakeup call. First, if you are the favorite to win your division and you lose to a divisional opponent that is expected to finish third in the NFC West you are not suppose to say the Seahawks beat us but we beat ourselves. Regardless of whether or not that is the truth a true division favorite would not give so much credit to another team. Singletary needed to channel Jets head coach Rex Ryan and be defiant saying something along the lines of, ‘it was a fluke, and we are the favorites to win the division and still are despite the defeat. We will be back to full force next week and will take down the Seahawks on December 12.’ Instead Singletary talked as if conceding that the Seahawks are the better team.