Monday, December 15, 2014

Fold Up The Tents

Analyze the way the season broke out for the 49ers, and it probably isn't too surprising that this ended up being as much of a mess as it turned out to be. Never mind the constant controversy surrounding Jim Harbaugh and the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go-and-if-he-goes-where soap opera. That's the least of it. There's the in-fighting between the Owner John York, the GM Trent Baalke and Harbaugh. There was the preseason holdouts by Vernon Davis and Alex Boone. There was the Aldon Smith suspension. There was the ongoing rehab of NaVorro Bowman, who this week was placed on IR, ending his season without him ever setting foot on the field. There were a constant stream of injuries, to key players like Patrick Willis, Glenn Dorsey and Daniel Kilgore. There were the other injuries to players like Anthony Davis, Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock and Stevie Johnson, which kept each of them off the field at one time or another and left the 49ers shorthanded. There were the issues with Colin Kaepernick and his general regression from a dynamic running and passing weapon into a confused mess who held on to the ball too long while pockets crashed around him. There was the general abandonment of a running game that had long been the strength of the team for no particular reason. There were too many questions that were getting answered with "We'll address it in the offseason..."

Add it all together and I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that the 49ers 2014 season, which had tenuously remained on the fringes of the NFC playoff picture, officially met its end Sunday, fittingly at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks 17-7 victory earned them a season sweep of their rivals, their 3rd straight victory over the 49ers overall and their 4th straight victory over the 49ers in Seattle, a place that has become a house of horrors for the 49ers in recent years.

This game wasn't quite the washout the Thanksgiving Debacle was for the 49ers, but that's not to say it was much better. The 49ers, this time, managed to hang around for most of the game and actually led 7-3 at halftime, but two Seahawks Touchdowns in the second half, the first, not surprisingly, by Marshawn Lynch, and the second on the heels of an egregious roughing the passer penalty that probably shouldn't have been called but almost always is, put the game away. Colin Kaepernick, whose numbers, 11 of 19 for 141 yards and 6 sacks, seem reflective of the way he's played all season, couldn't lead the 49ers back, couldn't get them out of their own way, and the Seahawks basically outwilled the 49ers the rest of the way and kicked them out the door and into the offseason.

Not only did the Seahawks bash the 49ers on the scoreboard, they did so on the Field. We already know what happened to the 49ers the last time they visited Layne Staley Windows8 Adderall The Shermandome Clink Field, and this game brought about similar carnage. Frank Gore, who started the game strong, left with a concussion in the 1st half. Carlos Hyde also left with an injury. Chris Borland hurt his ankle on the last play of the 1st half and didn't return. Not that any of these players would have made much of a difference on a day like this, but perhaps they might have. Who knows. At this point, it's too late to get too worked up about this particular game, because it seems like the team has been heading down this path all season long.

Consider that the 49ers, after 3 games this season, had managed 3 points in the second half of games in total. They've been outscored in the 3rd Quarter of games by something ungodly like 183-48, and they're last in the NFL in 4th Quarter scoring by a significant margin. This is a team that has always struggled with a general inability to play complete games, for all 60 minutes. They peaked last season late in the year and hit a stride, but even then they had some bad moments. This year, it seems like they never peaked. They never got going. The wins were all more of a battle than they needed to be, and teams that have those kinds of struggles ultimately can't maintain. The 49ers didn't maintain, they ended up collapsing, and after having enough of their games televised here in New York, I can't say I was too surprised to see it unfold that way. I already said I DVRed the Thanksgiving Night game and ended up deleting it unwatched. After being out most of the afternoon on Sunday with the DVR running, and coming home to see the waning minutes of the game come crashing down, I have a feeling this game may see a similar fate. Why subject myself to this when I already know how it turns out, and it doesn't turn out well?

Whether I watch the game or not doesn't matter. What matters is that for the first time since Jim Harbaugh took over as coach of the team entering the 2011 season, the 49ers will not appear in an NFC Championship Game. They won't be appearing in January at all. With their record now at 7-7 and nothing meaningful left to play for, the final two games of this season are now more about seeing if what's done can somehow be undone, if there's some pieces here that can distinguish themselves, and, of course. if there's any pride left for this team to play for. The way they've looked the last few weeks, limp and sluggish, it makes you wonder what they can muster up.

No comments: