Going into this season, the San Francisco 49ers were pegged as division favorites. All seemed well. Quarterback Alex Smith finally showed evidence he’s capable of leading an offense. Tight end Vernon Davis stepped up as a leader as well as one of the best at his position. The defense looked dominant at times, and with a young squad, had no where to go but up. Then, something happened. General Manager Scot McCloughan abruptly left the team due to “personal issues” days before the draft. Kentwan Balmer went AWOL. Now, back-up running back Glen Coffee decides he’s had enough and quits.
What is going on within the organization? Everything seemed to be falling into place for this once glorious franchise to turn the corner from its eight year absence from the playoffs. Yet, in the middle of training camp, at the beginning of the pre-season, two players call it quits. Maybe Coach Singletary is working them too hard and the young players feel overwhelmed. That would be a terrible excuse as they’re getting paid a fortune to endure that type of hassle. Here’s what Coffee had to say:
“This has been a tough decision for me to make, but at this time in my life I feel it is best for me that I move on from football. I appreciate what the 49ers, my teammates and coaches have done for me, and I wish them a blessed season and all the best in the future.”
I can imagine Coffee, in the middle of practice, getting chewed out by running backs coach Tom Rathman, then storms out like a Jet Blue flight attendant. Singletary reportedly did not try to change his mind, and said he appreciated the second year running back up and quitting, instead of “going through the motions.” I suppose that’s the least a team can ask from their players, a decision. Are you with us or not? Although Coffee would not have been able to pull off the shenanigans Brett Favre gets away with.
Fortunately, the two players that don’t want to get paid for playing a game, were not starters. It’s a disgrace to even call Kentwan Balmer a second stringer. But with Coffee’s departure, the running back depth is not ideal. Behind Frank Gore, there’s only Michael Robinson, and 6th round draft pick Anthony Dixon. Look for the 49ers brass to look for another veteran presence. Brian Westbrook is a name that comes to mind, but I’m not completely sure that would be a good idea. I think he’d be too expensive for the amount of work he’d be required to do. Also, he’s more injury prone than Gore.
I hope the walkouts stop here. It would be devastating if one of our stars got the quitter-bug and ruined the chances for an NFC West division crown. I’m still optimistic about the upcoming season. The loss of these players is inconvenient, but nothing that will destroy the team. The team is better off without guys who aren’t motivated.