It seems silly, but a lot football fans and players in superstition. Especially us as fans, it is rather ridiculous. I probably do it more than anyone. For some reason, I feel if I wear any 49ers apparel, they will lose. But then again, they still lose when I don’t wear a jersey. Sometimes I feel they’ll lose if I don’t eat all the food on my plate. Yeah I know, it’s weird. Whether it’s the football gods, destiny, or plain ol’ lady luck, it seems the norm to say “it just wasn’t our day.” You know, one of those games where no matter what happens, the other team catches all the breaks.
After four games, we’ve seen destiny conspire against the San Francisco 49ers twice. It is very important to win the close games, and it really helps when the ball bounces your way. Take the Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints for example. Interim punt returner Phillip Adam muffs a punt (when is Ted Ginn coming back?), and the ball bounces straight into the air, teeters in the atmosphere next to the sideline, but falls into the hands of the Saints defender. Later in the game, Reggie Bush muffs a punt, and it falls right in front of him, and he’s able to recover it himself. Although he did break his fibula, I would trade Phillip Adams’ fibula and the recovered ball every time.
Today luck was not in the 49ers’ favor. I’m talking about the play that could have won the game, but it was not the play that lost the game. Quarterback Alex Smith has to take that responsibility. I’ve been one of the few Smith supporters, but he is making it really hard to keep sticking up for him. His play has to improve to say the least. I see many passes that are too low, or too high, or just not accurate at all. The intentional grounding call was highly questionable, but he still should have taken the sack. When Smith threw his second interception which looked like a good reception for the defensive back, that’s what cost them the game. They were in Atlanta territory, and could have kicked a field goal to make it a four point game.
Now the play that could have won the game. I have never seen the football gods shine upon a team like they did the Falcons today. Nate Clements picks off Matt Ryan and takes off running. Normally, the intercepting team creates a convoy around the ball-carrier and leads him to the end-zone. But the Falcons were destined to win the game so the ball pops out of Clements’ hands, and they easily recover the fumble. Going down the field 80 yards again? Easiest task in the world when luck dictates they win.
Yes I’m bitter, I know I sound like a sore loser. But when the losses start piling up, and two of those losses were orchestrated by fate, blaming unseen forces is pretty much all I have left.
What to do now? For the most part, the play-calling was better. Some will still complain about the Frank Gore up the middle calls, but they’re just giving him his touches, trying to see if he can break one for a long run. It was really nice not seeing a run for no gain, then two consecutive swing passes followed by a punt. I liked the tosses to him, and he ran well out of the shotgun. But the offensive line still has to improve in both its run blocking and pass blocking. A huge win for the game was the fact right tackle Anthony Davis didn’t get a false start penalty, nor get beat consistently off the edge. Maybe there’s hope for him after all. The offense has improved, but it is far from good. The firing of former offensive coordinator leaves the benching of Alex Smith wide open. Smith really has to cut down on his interceptions, and get rid of the ball faster to avoid the sacks, and near sacks that lead to bad decisions.
There’s no lying to ourselves, 0-4 is pretty bad. In any other division, we’d be looking forward to next season. But in the feeble NFC West, where everyone except San Francisco is 2-2, there is still a lot of football left to play. I can’t be mad at people for listing the 49ers as one of the worst teams in the NFL. Their record doesn’t prove otherwise. You can only hide behind potential for so long. While the bandwagon fans who hopped on after the hype have all jumped off, it’s up to the real fans to keep the faith. Maybe the football gods will reward us for believing in our team until the bitter end.