San Francisco 49ers: Are They the Biggest Disappointment in the NFL This Season?

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2010

San Francisco 49ers: Are They the Biggest Disappointment in the NFL This Season?

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    The San Francisco 49ers hired Mike Singletary with the hopes of restoring stability to one of the proudest franchises in the NFL.

    With his team stumbling to three losses out of the blocks, Singletary suddenly finds himself looking for answers and faces the possibility of dropping to 0-4 after Sunday's game against the Falcons in Atlanta.

    The 49ers aren't the only NFL team off to a painfully slow start this season.

    Dallas and Minnesota finally recorded their first wins in Week 3, while Detroit and Cleveland continue to be mired in futility.

    Here's a look at the 10 most disappointing teams in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions

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    Record: 0-3

    The Lions have certainly gotten an "A" for effort, but in the end it hasn't mattered as Detroit has suffered three losses to start the season.

    With Matthew Stafford shelved again, the development of the young Lions has been put on hold yet again.

    Rookie Jahvid Best has gotten off to a fantastic start and the offense hasn't been awful with Shaun Hill running the show.

    Unless the defense improves, the Lions could be headed for another three- or four-win campaign in 2010.

No. 10: Cleveland Browns

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    Record: 0-3

    The Browns have been competitive in all three losses this season, which gives them a place near the very bottom of the list.

    Despite dealing with key injuries on the offensive side of the ball, the Browns been outscored by just 12 points combined this season.

    As long as the defense continues to play well, Peyton Hillis and the offense should eventually find a way to win a few games.

No. 9: Buffalo Bills

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    Record: 0-3

    The Ryan Fitzpatrick era has begun in Buffalo.

    The Bills had high hopes for this season, and believed they had surrounded Trent Edwards with enough weapons to be effective in Chan Gailey's offense.

    Just three weeks into the season, the Bills have benched then released Edwards, providing a reminder of the organization's instability.

    Meanwhile, the Bills running game has been a non-factor despite three solid running backs (C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson) who should be able to get the job done.

    Spiller, the heralded rookie from Clemson, finally got involved in Sunday's loss to the Patriots and has enough ability to help Buffalo ease the pain of the 0-3 start.

No. 8: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Record: 1-2

    Despite winning the opener against Denver, the Jaguars have been outscored by a whopping 43 points this season.

    The last two losses at the hands of San Diego and Philadelphia have been nothing short of pathetic.

    Maurice Jones-Drew hasn't made much of an impact and doesn't look healthy, and David Garrard looks lost despite finally having a decent amount of targets at his disposal.

    The futility has fueled dwindling attendance and has the Jaguars' franchise in need of a turnaround.

No. 7: Dallas Cowboys

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    Record: 1-2

    A horrendous offensive line and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's obsession with throwing the football has made life difficult for the Cowboys early in the season.

    In the first two losses, Dallas looked like a team unable to handle the pressure. 

    Untimely penalties, bad turnovers, and red zone failures sent the Cowboys stumbling out of the blocks.

    Sunday's impressive win in Houston has restored a fair amount of optimism.  Ultimately, the Cowboys won't go anywhere this season unless they develop a running game.

    That means you, Felix Jones.

No. 6: Minnesota Vikings

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    Record: 1-2

    Brett Favre spent much of his introductory press conference saying he didn't expect to play at the high level of last season, in 2010.

    After three games—it's clear his suspicions were correct.

    The aged one has thrown just two touchdowns against six interceptions in the first three games of the season, and the Vikings rank 24th in the NFL in passing yards.

    Assuming Sidney Rice returns and is able to make an impact—things should get better for Favre.

    Until then, Brad Childress will be forced to lean on Adrian Peterson and hope he stays healthy.

No. 5: Oakland Raiders

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    Record: 1-2

    At least the Raiders managed to beat the Rams at home in Week 2.

    Aside from that small ray of hope, it appears Oakland is heading for another season filled with turmoil and difficult losses.

    Raiders coach Tom Cable banished Al Davis' prized acquisition less than two games into the season, shelving Jason Campbell for veteran Bruce Gradkowski.

    Sebastian Janikowski cost the Raiders a golden opportunity to pull off a rare road win in Arizona Sunday by missing three field goals.

    Despite the drastic improvement of Darren McFadden—things aren't looking up quite yet in Oakland.

No. 4: New York Giants

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    Record: 1-2

    After two consecutive losses, the wheels appear to be falling off the Tom Coughlin express in New York.

    Sunday's 29-10 loss to Tennessee at the New Meadowlands featured 11 penalties, an incredible left-handed push-pass at the goal line by Eli Manning that was intercepted and a handful of drops by the receiving corps.

    Meanwhile, the running game still hasn't produced and the secondary hasn't show any signs of improvement.

    It's looking like the Giants will wind up at the bottom of the NFC East this season.

No. 3: Carolina Panthers

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    Record: 0-3

    John Fox inserted Jimmy Clausen as the starting quarterback against the Bengals in Week 3 in hopes of sparking what has been the worst offense in the NFL this season.

    Not surprisingly, the move didn't work.

    Clausen finished his first-career NFL start 16-of-33 for 188 yards and an interception, and the Panthers scored just a single touchdown in the home loss.

    Unless Carolina's offensive line manages to create holes the three talented running backs on the roster, a long season of losing will be in store.

    John Fox could soon find himself looking for work.

No. 2: San Diego Chargers

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    Record: 1-2

    Norv Turner's coaching career has been characterized by starting slow and struggling in the postseason.

    History could be repeating itself this season.

    San Diego invented ways to lose in Sunday's loss to Seattle, allowing two devastating kickoff returns to Leon Washington and letting Philip Rivers' 455-yard performance go to waste.

    The Chargers have looked like a team lacking direction early in the season.

    Meanwhile, Kansas City just keeps right on winning.

No. 1: San Francisco 49ers

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    Record: 0-3

    The 49ers are playing the blame game after three losses.

    Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was canned after Sunday's horrible loss to the Chiefs, and Alex Smith could be on a short leash if the offense doesn't begin to produce.

    San Francisco has played horribly in two games they were expected to win, but played fairly well in Monday night's loss to the Super Bowl champions in Week 2.

    Having become accustomed to being the underdog, the 49ers might just not be ready to handle the pressure of increased expectations quite yet.   

    There is still a small glimmer of hope in the Bay Area.

    The NFC West is the worst division in football, and the 49ers are still capable of turning things around and catching Arizona and Seattle.

    Despite the horrendous early returns, it might be too early to write the 'Niners off just yet.