When on top of its game, there is absolutely no team in the league that can beat San Francisco. When struggling like we have seen four times this season, the 49ers are nothing more than a beatable team mired in mediocrity.
In what seems like a pattern more than a trend, San Francisco has struggled in every third game this season. Following their victories over the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to open the season, the 49ers laid an egg against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3.
After giving up only nine points to the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in its next two games, San Francisco seemed to forget that its game against St. Louis in Week 10 actually started at 1:25. The end result was a tie.
The 49ers then went out and played dominating football against the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints only to play one of their worst games in the Harbaugh era last week versus the Rams in St. Louis.
This is most definitely on the coaching staff. They need to get this talented team up to play every single week. It isn't acceptable to have a team with this amount of talent to play like it's Mike Tyson without his meds; erratic and bipolar. How else do you explain a 32-7 destruction of Chicago on Monday Night Football only to have a letdown like we saw on Sunday?
This doesn't mean that Harbaugh is overrated as a head coach. After all he has lost a total of six regular season games in 28 outings with San Francisco.
It just indicates that there is something going on with the team during the workweek prior to the game. Are the players too full of themselves? Maybe they're reading their own press clippings. Either way, Harbaugh and company need to nip this in the bud immediately.
If you expect Kaepernick to have a seamless transition from bench-warmer to starting quarterback for a Super Bowl-contending team, you really don't know a whole heck of a lot about football.
Young quarterbacks are going to struggle. The only reason why Kaepernick's struggles are so magnified is because he is taking over for a quarterback that led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game last season and still ranks among the league leaders in quarterback rating and completion percentage.
It's fine and dandy to question Harbaugh's decision to go with the second-year quarterback over Smith. It's a completely different thing to question whether Kaepernick can lead this team to the championship.
Even in what we can consider a marginal performance from the youngster, he still put up nearly 300 yards of total offense and played some darn good football at times last week. If this is the worst San Francisco is going to get from Kaepernick moving forward, it is in a pretty good position.
In reality this most recent letdown has less to do with the young quarterback and more to do with factors outside of his control. San Francisco's offensive line, Mike Iupati and Joe Staley specifically, was anemic at times. The play-calling was a complete disaster and penalties continued to hold back an offense that seemed to be getting in rhythm at times.
This doesn't even take into account David Akers' missed field goal in overtime or the blown safety call in the third quarter.
You can place blame for its recent performance on a struggling offensive line. Maybe the officiating was slanted towards the home-standing St. Louis Rams. Heck, it's even likely that the 49ers were outcoached by Jeff Fisher and company. You can look at the few mistakes that Colin Kaepernick made and come to the rushed conclusion that San Francisco should implant Alex Smith back into the starting lineup.
Or you could look at the game for what it was. San Francisco's third loss in 12 games and first since a mid-October beatdown by the New York Giants. There is always a rush to judgment locally as it relates to the 49ers because their decade of futility prior to the 2011 season.
Questions will arise about Greg Roman's actual performance as offensive coordinator. Lowell Cohn over atThe Press Democrat even went as far as to suggest the following:
I have a suspicion Jim Harbaugh will agree with what I'm about to write. I suspect Harbaugh believes Greg Roman is not good enough to be the 49ers' offensive coordinator.
Cohn later continued....
He has committed so many sins, he's staring at football purgatory. Let's start with Sunday's heresy against the Rams. Let's talk about a few plays. I can't go over the entire game because of space considerations.
This is the very same offensive coordinator that received interest and was a finalist for the head coaching vacancy at Penn State. He is the very same coach that will almost assuredly not be back with San Francisco in 2013 because he will be a head coach either in college or the NFL.
So, it definitely makes sense to drop the gauntlet and fire Roman, pulling an Andy Reid in the process. Give me a break! After all, the 49ers don't rank 11th in overall offense and 14th in scoring; oh wait, they do.
Of course it is the tendency of the media to jump the gun on a story in an attempt to make something out of nothing and find a hook for readers.
Did Roman call a bad game against the Rams? Yes. Is this the first time in his two-year tenure in San Francisco that he has struggled in this aspect of the game? Of course it's not. This doesn't mean that he isn't qualified to lead a Super Bowl-contending offense.
San Francisco is 8-3-1 through 13 weeks. It currently possesses the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC and has the inside track for a first-round playoff bye. If you were told this at the start of the season, I am pretty sure you would be OK with it.
While the 49ers have two extremely difficult games remaining on their schedule, they have proven that they can beat any team in the NFL. It's all about consistency level and managing the specific game in a given week.
Harbaugh has given you fans no reason to distrust what he is doing. He will have a scheme prepared on Sunday against Miami that gives Kaepernick and the offense their best chance at success.
This will still not end the parade of questions being directed at 4949 Centennial BLVD in Santa Clara. The media will attempt to make a controversy out of nothing, while individuals like Cohn continue to vie for page clicks in order to show they're still viable in this new digital media age.
Old dogs might be able to be taught new tricks, but if they're playing with only three legs and blinders on, that becomes nearly impossible. This is the way I view some of those out there who continue to kick the bucket on old ideals and worn out dogmas.
No matter what others might have you believe, San Francisco is happy where it's at right now. Not in terms of the level of play, but where it currently is in the standings.
A win against Miami this Sunday, which has quickly become a necessity, should quiet some of this rhetoric, but make no mistake about it, some of it just isn't going to go away.
From here on out it is all about consistency. If San Francisco is able to play the way it has in eight of its games this season, it will be punching a ticket for New Orleans in February. If not, this will become a disappointing season.
It really is that simple, and nothing written by perceived experts writing in a home office will change that.
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