It's tough to watch. The inept play of Alex Smith, the defense that has been shredded through four weeks of play, and the inept play of Alex Smith...Did I mention that one twice? I think it bears mentioning twice.
What the hell happened? Going into the 2010-11 season, the 49ers were the talk of the town.
They were in one of the weakest divisions in the history of weak divisions, their defense was stout, enraged, and hungry for the flesh of the opposing QB, and coach Mike Singletary could successfully motivate a fat kid to give up In-N-Out burgers for lent. He would do that by making the kid cry and beating the crap out of the kid's father, but... You get my point.
And then the Seattle game happened, followed closely by the Saints loss, multiplied by the Kansas City debacle, and finished up by the Atlanta heart breaker. They are 0-4 in what had previously been described as a terrible division. A synchronized swimming team might actually be 2-2 in this division, yet the 49ers are against the barrel of the gun after only four games.
Yes, they played three of the four away. Yes, three of the four teams were pretty good and two of the losses were by less than three and two points, respectively. But this wasn't how it was supposed to go for a team many thought would run through opponents en route to a NFC playoff berth.
I don't know what haunts my dreams most. The nine-yard pass from Alex Smith, followed by a four-yard pass, followed by a four-yard run, followed by an interception. Three TDs, seven interceptions, and two fumbles are not quite cutting it. Personally, I would bring back Brett Favre...What, he's still playing?
Don't get me wrong, I still wear my Alex Smith jersey to sleep every night. It comforts me in these tough economic times as I search for a real job. And it keeps me warm on these cold Winter nights. But it doesn't excuse the fact that this was not how this season was supposed to pan out for the Niner faithful.
Had the team been aware of what they were supposed to be doing, the defense would've kept the other team from scoring, allowing maybe ten to fourteen points per game depending on the strength of schedule. This would've allowed Smith and Frank Gore to monopolize the rhythm of the game, accentuating Smith's skill in the short yardage game.
Crabtree would come into his own, Gore would be the beast he always has been, and Smith would minimize mistakes while still moving the ball down the field. If this scenario had played out, they would've needed one touchdown a game from Smith (and less than five interceptions also) and clock management for the rest.
Every game would've been exciting and close, gut-wrenching excitement played out in front of 70,000 screaming fans.
Instead, what we've got are thirty one, twenty five, thirty one again, and sixteen points given up to opposing teams. This won't work with Alex Smith at QB—this might not even work with Peyton Manning at QB.
But...Taking out of the equation future games against Green Bay and San Diego, these first four games (excluding the Seahawks) were the toughest on the Niners' schedule. They have a cakewalk ahead of them—Philly without Michael Vick and maybe minus running back LeSean McCoy, followed by Oakland, Carolina, and Denver. Added to this, five of the next six games are played in front of the fired-up home crowd.
Follow that up with mainly divisional games after the bye week against Arizona, St. Louis, and Seattle and things may not be looking so bleak. Plus, the top three teams are only 2-2 in their division and don't inspire much confidence in surpassing eight wins apiece.
So what's wrong? And can it be fixed in time?
What if the defense shored up some the myriad of holes they've failed to plug in the first quarter of games? What if Alex Smith was visited by God and told how to play the game of football? What if Frank Gore was able to raise his rushing yards up to the standard he's set this year for receiving? What if God also visited Michael Crabtree and told him what the secret to playing with Alex Smith was?
What if the 49ers actually came out against the Vick-less Eagles on Sunday and played like the team they were supposed to be this year? What if? Would that be too much to ask?
With the imminent return of center Eric Heitmann and wide receiver and kick returner extraordinaire Ted Ginn, can we say the worst is behind them? Or is this repeated Sunday failure just what to expect from our underachieving San Francisco team?
Personally, I think it could tip either way, resulting in either the worst season in recent memory or a comeback of epic proportions. Come to think of it, my Alex Smith jersey might actually be worth more than five cents if he leads the team into the playoffs after an 0-4 start.
I wouldn't put it past Singletary to ignite the fires underneath his troops, re-energize the defense in order to help regain their 2009 luster, or impart in Alex Smith the fact that he can throw longer than nine yards at a time. Smith's killed people in the stands before and that's why he won't throw longer than ten yards, max.
Also, maybe it might help to realize they aren't going to be playing very good teams most weeks—scrubs mostly—and that according to theories in Physics and Newton's Law of Motion, they shouldn't be losing to these teams.
So while I and the rest of you wait for this to happen (patiently) I will put on my Alex Smith jersey and I will ask God..."God? Please help my team out. They're in dire straits. We need something. Anything. A spark. A realization that we can indeed play defense. A faster maturation process for Alex Smith. Maybe a whole new team. You mind?"
And he will respond he's busy with the Raiders.
And so I will cry myself to sleep ever so slowly in my over-sized Alex Smith jersey, hoping, praying for the day when I can turn on Fox 40 and see a team that reminds me of the olden days, a glimmer of greatness that what once was.
Wouldn't that be nice?