What Will It Take for the San Francisco 49ers to Return to Champions? Part II

Keith EmmittContributor IJune 4, 2010

IRVING, TX - NOVEMBER 23:  Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys makes a touchdown pass reception against Nate Clements #22 of the San Francisco 49ers at Texas Stadium on November 23, 2008 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

"I'm the best corner back in the NFL. I'm not just blowing smoke…film doesn't lie." A quote made by Nate Clements in 2005 to news reporter Jon Robinson. (See link below)

It is never good to see a corner back in a photo where he is looking at the back of the opposing wide receiver. The photo for the article shows just that. This scene from Nate Clements has become all too common place.

Clements gave up 207 receiving yards to Terrell Owens two years ago at the old Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Texas.

I sat in the stands with 30 other Dallas Cowboy fans screaming at me from all sides. All I could do was cringe and grimace as the $80 million man was roasted for the second time in the afternoon.

Clements equals the second part of this discussion of what it is going to take for the 49ers to return to champions. Clements is a large part of the equation due to the fact that 49ers pass defense ranked 21st overall in the NFL in 2009.

The 49ers pass defense allowed an average of 229 yards per game last year. This stat is largely due to Clements not being who he said he was. Lock down corner is a title reserved for the Deion Sanders and Darrell Greens of the world.

Clements, a former member of "The Ohio State Buckeyes," has been torched by Lance Moore, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Roddy White, to name a few. This is unacceptable from a seasoned Pro-Bowl veteran.

The huge hopes the 49ers had for Clements when he came to the 49ers via free agency from the Buffalo Bills have been diminished due to Nate's erratic play the last couple of seasons.

The loyal faithful thought they were getting a Ronnie Lott-type to secure the corner position for years to come. What we have received is a corner back with huge untapped physical ability who lacks the mental ability to read and react properly to the play in front of him.

Watching Nate is like a watching a roller coaster ride. On one play he will look like a superstar, and on the next play look like a rookie who forgot the play book. Nate was replaced in the line up in 2009 with unproven third year veteran Tarrell Brown. The results of the change were mixed, but one thing is for sure, no 200-yard days by a receiver were reported.

Nate has had some highlights for the 49ers, with two field goal blocks recovered for touchdowns. He has had some big interceptions in his 49er career as well. The one thing that hasn't been recorded is consistent play.

Nate has the athleticism and speed to stay with any receiver in the game. He, like Alex Smith, has mental issues to overcome. Except Nate’s mental issue is one of overconfidence. Nate has let a small amount of success breed complacency in his game. Lott never took plays off to wave to his folks in the stand.

Clements has to make a concerted effort this year to be more of a team player and less of a guessing gambler. Tarrell Brown did his best to keep all plays in front of him. Clements would do well to try this same approach.

Nate’s shoulder should be healed in 2010. It is my hope that his ego has been as well. Confidence is a great thing, but overconfidence in a humans personality breeds trouble.

Ronnie Lott never allowed a wide out to get 200 yards in a game. Ronnie Lott remained a stellar player throughout his career with the 49ers. Clements at this point is at best an overpaid corner back with an inflated ego.

It is not fair to judge any man against a Ronnie Lott-type player. However, it is also unfair for a man to represent himself as a lock down corner back when the pictures don’t lie.

Nate’s best performance will be needed in 2010 in order for this team to return to champions!


(To be continued…..Outside Linebacker: Manny Lawson)