New Look Niners Look Better, But Still Need Some Help

Kevin O'BrienCorrespondent INovember 10, 2008

The 49ers 29-24 loss really shouldn't have disappointed me. It was to be an expected loss that was to catapult the Cardinals into the stratosphere of NFC contenders. I prepared for the L to follow the Niners in the Box score along with a record of 2-7.

Yet it was how it happened that was so disappointing. The 49ers had everything going for them. They had two interceptions for touchdowns called back. They made key stops and forced key punts and field goals when the Cardinals should have scored touchdowns.

And the most surprising aspect of the game was that the 49ers were more physical than the Cardinals. Singletary and his players sent a message that they weren't going to be pushed around like they were two weeks ago against the Seahawks. They made the bigger hits, made the bigger plays and got America's attention that the 49ers were going to be different.

This game may have secured Singletary's job for at least next season. The team looked about as prepared and as ready as they have in any game this season. Not even in their two wins did the 49ers look as good as they did tonight. Singletary after two weeks finally has control of this team and they are obviously playing inspired football under him.

Sure, moral losses don't mean much in the NFL, but in all honesty this was a vast improvement from the 23-13 loss at home in San Francisco against Arizona to begin the season. In that game they played from behind the entire way, and never were really in it.

This contest was their game to win until the very end and some bad coaching decisions hurt them. But that's to be expected from Singletary. He's a young coach. He'll learn from this and this blunder will undoubtedly help them down the road.

Singletary may be the 49ers answer for next year at least, but the team is far from help. Here are some things that need to happen:

  • Shaun Hill is not the answer: Hill is a decent quarterback but tonight proved that he is not the one to lead this team. I commend him from his effort but this team can't afford guys making bad decisions. Hill's stat line looked okay today, but if looked closer, without two costly Arizona penalties, fans may have been crying for O'Sullivan back in at the end of the game.
  • Mike Martz needs to go: I hate to say it because it would give the 49ers six coordinators in six years, but Martz and Singletary are obviously on different levels.
  • In the first half, Singletary ingrained his plan into Martz's offense and the team succeeded offensively. In the second half they went to Martz's bad habits and the team stagnated on offense with the exception of the end drive. The Niners need a coordinator that preaches a physical running attack, especially with a feature back like Gore in the backfield.
  • They need a defensive formation switch: I hate to say it but the 49ers defense is in need of a change. The aggressiveness is there, the playmakers are there, but they don't have the right guys in the right positions. Justin Smith played inspired football tonight, but he as well as the other lineman simply aren't putting pressure on the quarterback
  • Case in point, the 49ers had zero sacks tonight. A switch to a new formation such as the 4-3 would be refreshing and more beneficial. Willis can handle being the middle backer and it would put less pressure on the linebacker to be rushers, which they are obviously not good at.

Overall, tonight's effort from the 49ers was good but a loss is still a loss. The 49ers still have a chance to finish the season strong, but it's safe to say that their focus really is on next season.