Shu's Blog: 49ers look like Pop Warner team
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Man was I surprised at the outcome of the 49ers game in Seattle on Sunday. I was touting this team as the NFC West Champions this season, but they looked more like a Pop Warner team than one representing the NFL.
Granted it's only the first game of the season, and the Niners always struggle in Seattle, but they better get things straightened out soon or this could be a long season with their schedule.
Let's take a look back. The offense struggled in the red zone in the first half with three opportunities inside Seattle's 10-yard line and only came up with six points. Alex Smith missed Josh Morgan and Moran Norris for easy touchdown passes, and then he started forcing the issue and as a result threw two interceptions that lead to Seattle touchdowns.
Alex was 26-45 passing for 225 yards, but he didn't seem comfortable once he threw the two picks. This has been his history as a 49er quarterback; he looks good until something goes wrong and then it all seems to fall apart. I have been on this kid's bandwagon for his entire career and thought this was going to be his breakout season. I'm still not giving up after just one game, but I'm seeing some of the same issues with him that has me worried.
The 49er offense will struggle until the two rookie lineman, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, get a feel for what it takes at this level to be successful. Both struggled in this game and as a result the run game was non-existent. Frank Gore was held in check rushing for only 38 yards on 17 carries. Even though the NFL has become a passing league, you still have to be able to run the ball to slow down the pass rush. I think offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is torn between throwing a full plate of Frank Gore at opponents or opening up the airwaves with receivers Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Vernon Davis and Ted Ginn.
Crabtree was a non-factor which shows that you do need to play pre-season games and practice your trade to be successful. You can't just show up when the regular season begins and turn it on. He had two drops and made a weak effort on the interception to make the tackle. He has some maturing to do before he becomes the player everyone thinks he's capable of becoming and this is probably part of the reason team captain Vernon Davis went off on Crabtree in practice a few weeks back.
You cannot put all the pressure on Smith for this team to be successful, as he is feeling enough pressure trying to become the quarterback everyone thought he was going to be when he was drafted six years ago. The offense dominated in the first half with time of possession, but could only muster two field goals. That will not win in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the 49er defense played just well enough to lose. They picked off Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselback on the first play from scrimmage and held him to 170 yards passing, but he still threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. Hasselback is what you need at the quarterback position these days since he doesn't turn the ball over, he gets it to his playmakers, and let them make the difference. He doesn't panic, has all the throws, and you can see that his teammates believe in him. Not that the 49ers don't believe in Smith, but he has to play better for his own confidence and then his teammates will follow his lead.
Head Coach Mike Singletary has to be as baffled as I am, but he's in a position that he has to explain this beat down to 49er fans. He is starting to sound a bit like his predecessor, Mike Nolan, whose words started to ring shallow when the team did not respond and started losing. Singletary knows what it takes to win in this league, but it has changed since he was a Hall of Fame player, and he has to figure out how to adjust. Modern day players will only listen to their head coach for so long without victories before they give up on him. I'm not saying the 49er locker room is close to a mutiny, but with the Saints coming to Candlestick Monday night -- followed by two road games in Kansas City and Atlanta -- this team could easily be 0-4, if they don't get it together.
It is tough winning on the road, as home teams were 11-3 on Sunday. However, an NFL post season dream can be over before you know it, and the 49ers better get busy if they want to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
I'm just sayin'.
mike singletary, san francisco 49ers, nfl, mike shumann
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