Alert! Alert! Panic button activated!
After one week of absolutely atrocious play by the San Francisco 49ers, it is very easy to worry about the chances they have to win the division. Three drives with great field position and they can only score six points is not really confidence inspiring. It’s just one game right? Well, that depends on how you look at it.
It was just one horrible game, in one of the most difficult places to play, but not only was the offense bad, but the defense couldn’t stop Mike Williams. Yes, the same Mike Williams who hasn’t played football since 2007. I’m talking about the same Mike Williams who couldn’t cut it as a receiver on the Oakland Raiders or Tennessee Titans. Seattle’s notorious twelfth man induced multiple Anthony Davis false-starts. Though even without the crowd noise, Davis would still have had a bad game. He consistently got beat by the pass rushers and showed what a young player he is.
I admit, I fell victim to the panic. Visions of NFC West champions vanished and I couldn’t even imagine them winning a game. The finger pointing started and like all bad losses, the quarterback received the brunt of the blame. He deserved blame. Even with a linebacker diverting his throw, Alex Smith should hit a wide open Moran Norris. Then a report surfaces that Smith was not receiving the plays in time, which explains the early time-outs and numerous false starts. I think the 49ers had a tough decision to make this offseason with offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. On one hand, his play-calling had come under question many times last season. But on the other, if they didn’t keep him, the offense would have had six coordinators in the past six seasons. They chose stability over change and now must find a way to make it work. It’s unfair to really judge Smith’s performance when he wasn’t given proper time to execute the plays. He is still responsible for the team’s success and failure because that’s what comes with being a quarterback.
The biggest problem last week was the apparent lack of focus the team had. It appeared as though the 49ers bought into their own hype and thought the division was going to be handed to them. It’s still theirs for the taking, but they have to win it. They have to work harder and execute better if they want to be the division champions.
After seven days to chew on the loss, I’m over the initial panic. There is a chance they can beat the New Orleans Saints. They may be the Super Bowl champs, but they will not win 16 games. The game is at Candlestick and not the Superdome. The defense held Peyton Manning without a touchdown last season. If the communication problems are fixed, the offense might score some points. All hope is not lost. After the spirit crushing lost last week, I’d be satisfied with a competitive loss. At least then I’d have reason to believe they can beat the Kansas City Chiefs in two weeks, although Arrowhead is another tough venue to play in.
As 49er fans, we’ve endured a lot of losing and pain in the past eight years. The team is too close to regaining its glory to give up on. The Saints aren’t unbeatable and this is a good opportunity to prove they are Super Bowl contenders. It’s too early to lose optimism.