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Monday, September 27, 2010
Around the NFC West: 49ers reeling

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says it's time for the 49ers to change offensive coordinators after a 31-10 defeat to Kansas City in Week 3. Cohn to 49ers coach Mike Singletary: "The pity of it, Mike, is you have more offensive talent than Kansas City. Anyone can see that. Vernon Davis is a mismatch against every defensive player he encounters. But Raye doesn’t know how to use him or any of your players. He’s color-blind in a Technicolor world. Replace him while you still have a job." The play calling was curious at times.  I suspect the 49ers revert to the instincts of their head coach and coordinator during tough times. That was the case against New Orleans, when the 49ers went with a power running game and more heavy personnel groupings than usual. They got results in that game, but when it didn't work against Kansas City, the 49ers didn't seem to have answers. Raye was the coordinator when Vernon Davis was catching 13 touchdown passes last season. Those touchdowns aren't doing much good this season, however.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers were bad in too many areas to single out any one of them as decisive. Branch: "Singletary also said he would have to 'look at the film' on six occasions in the course of a seven-minute meeting with the media. In the locker room, (Alex) Smith, tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore also said they would have to 'look at the film' to see what went wrong. The steady drumbeat gave the impression that the 49ers, from the head coach on down, were so baffled by their collapse that figuring it out would require them to watch this nightmare on an endless loop." The 49ers appear to lack maturity and that makes things difficult on the road. This is where the schedule isn't doing San Francisco any favors. They would have been much better off this season playing a schedule like the one Arizona has ridden to a 2-1 record despite its obvious problems. The question now is how well the 49ers can weather what could quickly become an 0-4 start.

Also from Branch: The 49ers' play selection on offense invited criticism.

More from Branch: a 49ers report card with "F" grades for the offensive line and coaching/overall.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks the 49ers are running into the limitations of their head coach. Kawakami: "You can only go so far in the NFL if your coach doesn’t really believe in gameplans or match-ups or schemes, and doesn’t know how to gameplan or scheme. You can only go so far if your coach fervently believes that willpower and muscle alone are the sole ingredients you need to win football games."

Also from Kawakami: a subdued Singletary addressed reporters after the game.

More from Kawakami: Was this defeat the beginning of the end for Singletary?

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers this quote from linebacker Takeo Spikes: "I live by faith, and I truly believe this is a team of destiny. But we are what we are right now. Am I OK with that? No, but that's what I have to deal with. That's what we have to deal with. Do I feel like we can come out of this? Absolutely."

Also from Brown: an "F" grade in the coaching department for San Francisco.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis accused the Chiefs' Shaun Smith of touching him inappropriately during the game. Davis: "He tried to feel me. That's weird, right?" Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack made similar allegations about Smith a week earlier.

Also from Maiocco: Singletary says he won't change offensive coordinators this season. Maiocco: "The 49ers have managed just one touchdown in two embarrassing road defeats. Their touchdown Sunday came on the final play of the game when quarterback Alex Smith hit Josh Morgan on a 12-yard scoring pass. Morgan sustained a knee injury on the play, and Smith's frustrations boiled to the surface after the window-dressing score. Smith said he was not reacting to anything in particular."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers postgame notes, including this observation: "Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree have a dangerous streak going -- botched pass attempts that lead to costly interceptions. It happened again Sunday when a third-and-four pass intended for Crabtree was instead picked off by Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers. Hearing them explain the play afterward, it's clear that quarterback and receiver still aren't on the same wavelength." Smith and Crabtree appeared to be on the same page without working together last season. How can they be less effective after spending an offseason together? I realize Crabtree missed much of training camp and the exhibition season, but he and Smith spent all offseason at team headquarters.

Also from Barrows: The 49ers tried to run their way out of a 21-point hole. Barrows: "Even after falling behind by three touchdowns, the 49ers sent in fullback Moran Norris and tried to pound their way back in the game. Smith settled for short dump-offs and five-yard outs throughout the afternoon. His longest pass play was 41 yards. But even that was a short pass to Frank Gore in the waning moments, and Gore picked up the bulk of the yardage after the catch."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' problem could simply be that the team is not very good.

Also from White: Crabtree says he was merely doing his job and did not run the wrong route on a pass that was intercepted. Crabtree: "All I can do is my job. I can't really worry about what Alex is doing. Even though that's my quarterback, and I'll always have his back, whoever the quarterback is, I'm just doing my job." That does not appear to be a quote born of maturity. It looks like more evidence Crabtree and Smith aren't in sync.

More from White: postgame notes, including one about how rookie returner Kyle Williams recovered his own fumble.