San Francisco 49ers Rebound: Five Ways Team Can Get on Track, Make the Playoffs
It's not hard to see, the San Francisco 49ers have been quite "interesting" this season, but for all the wrong reasons.
The ground game has been ineffective, Alex Smith has turned the ball over, Michael Crabtree hasn't been on the same page as anyone on the offense, and the defense has been mediocre at best.
This team may seem done, but I'm here to show you just a few changes this team can make to get it back on the right track.
I mean who wants to... live in a van down by the river?
Either way, these 49ers have sleeper potential, so be ready.
Run the Ball with Frank Gore
We all know Frank Gore is the focal point of the 49ers, but why haven't we seen it that way?
Frank Gore has only received 17, 20, and 15 carries in his first three games this season, which is pathetic for a player who is as much of a gamechanger as Gore is.
I would implement a huge increase in carries for Gore and make him even more the focal point of this offense.
If he is able to get into a rhythm, that only allows the passing game to open up even more and could bring another dimension to this football team. A dimension it has been lacking all season.
Allow Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith To Be on the Same Page
Yet again, we know that Crabtree has Pro Bowl talent, it's just a matter of whether or not we will ever see that on gameday.
Crabtree has been linked to "not participating" as much as he should in practice and has been "slacking off" when it matters most.
Mike Singletary has had luck with players with bad attitudes, as is the case with Vernon Davis last season, but can Mikey work his magic with Crabtree?
I sure hope so.
If Singletary is able to get Crabtree on track then he could have a potentially dangerous receiving corps with Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., and Davis.
Help Alex Smith Get the Downfield Passing Game on Track
This is contingent on the 49ers getting a steady running game going with Gore, but I do believe it is time for the training wheels to come off of Smith and for the deep shots downfield to start coming out.
Crabtree is a burner along with Ted Ginn Jr., so with legitimate speed threats downfield the 49ers should consider taking advantage of these assets instead of settling for four-yard pass plays to Delanie Walker.
I do believe with the firing of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye that the Niners will begin to access the vertical passing game more than usual.
Improve and Assist the Pass Defense
Now up front, it's not that the team's pass defense has been atrocious, it's just that it could turn into a weakness later in the season.
The Niners are ranked 16th overall in pass defense giving up 217.3 yards per game, but with Nate Clements (among others) getting older in age, a second-half drop off could be in their future.
Not to be a defensive coordinator, because I'm not by any means, but utilizing zone coverages and zone blitzes would be in the 49ers' best interest.
This would only keep Nate Clements and an aging secondary healthier when it matters later in the season.
Coach Singletary Needs to Put a Huge Emphasis on Improving Team Morale
Team Morale for the Niners is at an all-time low...I mean like the Tim Rattay days, and no one wants to revisit those haunting annals of history.
But although the morale is low, there's only room to grow from here and if Singletary can rally his troops and get momentum rolling (possibly this weekend in Atlanta?) then the snowball effect could be intact and the Niners could roll off some solid Ws.
San Francisco draws Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, Carolina, Denver, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Arizona in their next seven weeks, and could just as easily be sitting at 7-3 two months from now.
The favorable schedule is there, it's just about execution and whether or not Singletary can get this team fired up.
If he can, watch out NFC, the Niners are coming.
Agree or disagree with a point? Feel free to comment below and give me your feedback.
Gage Arnold is a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and is a writing intern for Bleacher Report.