On Thursday Night, most of you saw the Chargers thoroughly beat the San Francisco 49ers. Apparently, the 25, and 21-point losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs were not enough. The Chargers beat us by 27, and quite honestly, it was not even that close. The team just had no fight in them. They were never prepared. Now, even though we are sitting on a 5-9 record, there is still hope for the playoffs, as crazy as it sounds. As long as both the Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams are not victorious this weekend, we still have a shot.
The fact that we still have a shot brings me to this point; should we even make the playoffs? To start off, I don’t think the NFL would want a 7-9 team in the playoffs. The competition committee is already looking for ways to prevent future possible division winners with losing records to host playoff games. Secondly, as a fan of the Niners, I do not want the dubious honor of being the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record. Many of you who will disagree will point out that once the playoffs start, it is a whole new season. That is entirely true, but let’s not kid ourselves here. If any fan genuinely believes the Niners will make some noise in the playoffs, I assure you that they have been watching DVD’s of the team from the 80’s and early 90’s, and not this season’s Niners. In my opinion, the Niners have reached an all-time low. I haven’t watched this team since its inception, but I firmly believe this team is one of the worst in Niners history. I probably feel this way because the expectations before the season were so high. I mean, big things were supposed to happen for us this year. The goal was to win the division, get to the playoffs, and make some noise. We were the trendy pick to come out and surprise the whole nation. Merely halfway into the season, we realized that we were fooling ourselves. Record-wise, the team has already regressed from last season. If we make the playoffs, it will be a shame to our division and to the NFL. Moreover, I have great fear that if we do reach the playoffs, Singletary will use that to his advantage and influence Jed York into bringing back both he and Alex.
Mike Singletary’s plan to insert Alex Smith at quarterback has fired back in just two games. In his first game back, Smith had arguably his best game in his six years in the NFL. But, Thursday against the Chargers, we saw the same ol’ Alex. I saw the move as a failed desperate attempt by Singletary to prove to management that both he and Alex have what it takes to reach the playoffs. It is becoming increasingly clear that neither Smith nor Singletary has what it takes to take San Francisco to the promised land, let alone the playoffs. The Yorks-mainly Jed- will have plenty of work to do in the offseason because both Smith and Singletary must be gone. If either of the two keep their roles for next season, this team will never go anywhere unless someone else purchases it and overhauls it.
I am curious to see who Jed would bring in for interviews when the head-coaching position opens up. Over the past couple months, the names of Jon Gruden, Jim Harbaugh have surfaced as possible replacements for Singletary. The search will have to be more exhaustive. The Niners cannot just interview the two and hire one of them. Who knows if management is even interested in those guys. The Rooney Rule will require them to interview a minority candidate, and perhaps, such candidate may be our next head coach. I, for one, am waiting for the season to play out-even though it is basically done for us-before I start speculating on who the Niners should bring in for interviews. First, I think the Niners will have to bring in an established General Manager before they hire a head coach. Maybe someone in the mold of Bill Parcells or Mike Holmgren; proven guys in the NFL. I am not suggesting that it should be either of them, but someone of such pedigree. Take a quick look at the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs. Not long ago, they were down-and-out franchises, but there owners brought in respected guys around the league. The Falcons hired Thomas Dimitroff from the Patriots, while the Chiefs picked up Scott Pioli, also from the Patriots. Both of them have been instrumental in the success of their teams this season. They have created a system in which they will work. They both made good coaching hires. The coaches they hired were not exactly splash hires either. Neither Mike Smith (Falcons) nor Todd Haley (Chiefs) had previous head coaching experience in the NFL. But, they have quickly rebuilt by drafting players that fit their systems. They both have made superb trades to help their team; the Falcons trading for Tony Gonzalez, and the Chiefs trading for Matt Cassel. That being said, the Niners are not too far away from being one of the NFL’s better teams. This offseason, they don’t have to go for a big-name General Manager. They simply have to do their homework and bring in someone with good pedigree.
So, it is obvious that things can certainly get better for the Niners. And, they can get better really fast. It is not as if we are short on talent. In fact, I know that we are more talented than many of the teams ahead of us. I will argue to the death of me that we are more talented than the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, and the St. Louis Rams which would all be in the playoffs if the postseason started today. It all starts from the top, from the owner to the front office staff to the coaching staff and ultimately to the players. There has to be a structure that flows from the top to the bottom. In my eyes, this is what the Niners are lacking. And quite frankly, I do not know if the people that are in such position have what it takes to implement changes drastic enough to reverse the direction of this team. Then again, I am no expert and maybe all of this I just said is a complete load of nonsense.
Don’t get me wrong, making the playoffs is always good. It brings a sense of pride and it rejuvenates all kinds of people, both within the team and all over the world. There are other benefits to reaching postseason. It would bring in some cash to the team and city, and free agents would not look at the team with a black eye. But, for the 2010 Niners, again, I see no substantial benefit in making the playoffs. On the surface, it would appear that maybe things have changed or will change, however things would remain the same. If making the playoffs means that this coaching staff remains, we would be back to square one next season. During the postgame press conference after Singletary’s first game as a coach, he said “I WANT WINNERS”. Singletary has not been a winner in his time as a head coach. By missing the playoffs, Jed York will realize that enough is enough and Singletary is not the answer. So far, he has not had the guts to let Singletary go, but missing the playoffs would make it clear that neither Singletary nor Smith (Alex) will ever give the Niners a fighting chance in the NFL.