The 49ers' dim playoff hopes took a devastating hit Sunday night in a 27-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was supposed to be the game that turned the season around for the red and gold. A win was the first step to 4-4 and looking for more.
Instead, it was another frustrating, three-point heartbreaker, complete with story lines that have become all too familiar this season.
The real question now is, at 0-5, are the 49ers anywhere near playoff contention?
The defense looked about mediocre. Alex "Sybil" Smith looked as good—and as bad—as he ever has. Mike Singletary's staff, once again, looked out-coached. Even Frank Gore fumbled twice.
There is no longer any call for optimism.
Add in how the Arizona Cardinals beat the Saints to move to 3-2, and the panic button is looking nice and shiny right about now. The ball is moving in the wrong direction, much like Smith's fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Although they have played only one division game and have not been mathematically eliminated from the NFC West, the 49ers are drowning. The ship they were on during an undefeated preseason has completely sunk. They have not won a single regular-season game yet.
So how do they raise the Titanic?
Glass-is-half-full fans and pessimists alike are sure to offer plenty of variation in their "solutions," but I like mine the best.
Fire Greg Manusky
Mike Singletary, who has no coordinator experience, should take over for the under-achieving 49ers defense. A spark needs to be lit under their asses; they've allowed 26 points and 339 yards per game.
This move would give Singletary something to do. The head coach himself admits to needing to butt out of the offense.
Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was already fired earlier this year.
Pick a direction with Smith
Late in the game, the crowd began chanting in unison for David Carr; it was like a scene from Gladiator. Alex Smith was approached by Singletary and seemed headed for the bench. Smith, however, argued his case in a heated exchange. He then led the 49ers to within a field goal of evening up the score before throwing an interception to seal the loss.
Sooner than later, the 49ers must decide whether they will bench Smith or not. If they do it, it should be by halftime against the Raiders next Sunday in the Battle of the Bay.
If they do not, there is pretty much only one option left: the spread offense.
It's the only offense (other than Norv Turner's in 2006) that Smith has ever excelled in. It's still the offense that the 49ers personnel is best suited for.
If Mike Johnson (benching Smith should be his call, not Singletary's) decides to stay the course at quarterback, then this is the only way to maybe succeed.
Perhaps it should be called the "Smash-Mouth Spread" if for no other reason than to keep Singletary happy.
It starts with win No. 1
If, as Jed York texted ESPN's Adam Schefter Monday morning, the 49ers are "going to win the division," then they should probably start with one win—the season's first.
No more moral victories
There has been a little ray of sunshine taken from every game this season. Really though, it's pouring rain. There cannot be any more of these moral victories—only real wins count in the division standings.
The dumb luck that the 49ers are currently the worst team in the worst division gives strange room for hope. A 0-5 team has never turned around and made the postseason, but if it's at all possible, the 49ers are the team to do it.
Aside from their own weak division, the 49ers schedule has included and will include the AFC West and the NFC South.
They've played one of the better teams in the AFC West in Kansas City and probably the two best teams from the NFC South. But let's be real with it—nobody can say the schedule looks soft when it is actually the 49ers, sitting at 0-5, who look soft.
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