The Houston Texans are in a free-fall.
In front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football, the obituary was written on the Texans' 2013 campaign by the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco walloped Houston 34-3, but with all due respect to the 49ers, the Texans dismantled themselves more than anything.
It starts with quarterback Matt Schaub, who has now thrown an interception that has been returned for a touchdown in four straight games.
Schaub was horrific against San Francisco, throwing for just 173 yards and three interceptions, including an opening-drive interception that was—this is easy to guess—returned for a touchdown:
At this point a quarterback change has to be considered, as Schaub threw the interception to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman last week that went back for a touchdown and allowed Seattle to come back from a 17-point deficit to win in overtime.
After throwing his 3rd INT of the night, #Texans QB Matt Schaub has been replaced by T.J. Yates— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 7, 2013
As bad as Schaub was against San Francisco, he was hardly the only one to blame. The defense, which entered the game ranked No. 1 against the pass, played well in that regard by limiting Colin Kaepernick to 113 passing yards.
However, the unit once again could not stop the run, allowing Frank Gore and Co. to dominate on their way up and down the field for 177 yards and two scores.
As a whole, this was a bit simple to see on the horizon for fans who have watched Houston this year. The team barely survived against San Diego in Week 1 and needed overtime in Week 2 to in order to move past Tennessee.
Long flight home for Texans. Long week coming for Kubiak on questions about Schaub.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) October 7, 2013
While those clubs are better than advertised this season, the next three games exposed the Texans for what they really are—pretenders.
Houston was embarrassed by Baltimore 30-9 (a team with plenty of its own struggles at 3-2) before last week's meltdown in overtime against Seattle.
The problem with a team like Houston stuck in meltdown mode is there is nowhere to turn. Plenty of talent resides on the roster, as it is largely the same one that made the playoffs the last two years, but the only remedy is to find a new quarterback.
Can Houston recover and make the postseason?
Backup T.J. Yates and rookie Case Keenum don't have enough to lift the quality of the starting offense, and the play-calling would prohibit it anyway—which brings us to another issue.
Under head coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans are entering the undesirable state of simply spinning the wheels. The roster is talented enough to make the postseason, but it's not getting any younger, and at some point Kubiak is going to wear out his welcome if he doesn't by the end of this season.
Perhaps that's what Houston ultimately needs, because clearly at 2-3 and third place in the AFC South with a major issue at the most important position of all, the Texans are anything but a contender.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling