Seasons in the Abyss: 49ers Lose to Seattle
Close your eyes
And forget your name
Step outside yourself
And let your thoughts drain
As you go insane... go insane
Tom Araya. 'Seasons in the Abyss.'
This year's San Francisco 49ers are a God-awful mess. Sure, there's always a silver lining in even a tire fire. For example, my orange chicken sliders for the 49ers/Raiders/Broncos crew at the R-Bar turned out very well. I also reached my 10,000 steps today while washing dishes. Victory!
It's not worth continuing to beat up Blaine Gabbert. This game wasn't all on him, but if for some reason you're still believing he's good (such as a beat writer for the 49ers), I'd really like to hear why. Chalk up another below average performance from a below average quarterback.
The bigger question is why the offensive game plan does not stretch the field vertically, nor does it use any real element of surprise. We're three games in and it's predictable. All you need is this handy guide from Niners Nation writer David Neumann and you'll be ready to amaze your friends at the bar. You too can call the 49ers offense, beer in hand and orange chicken slider on your plate.
What's puzzling is why the 49ers under Harbaugh, Tomsula and now Kelly, can't seem to figure out how to prepare for Seattle's defense. Are they watching the wrong film? Is the defense really confusing? Is it fear? Whatever it is, not one of these coaches brings it against Seattle. Too often, we see overly conservative play calling that puts the offense in a tough spot to gain enough yards to move the ball downfield. Or, we continue to see passing routes called well short of the first down marker. (However, this Frank Gore run on December 8, 2013 against Seattle was a brilliant pin-and-pull call.)
I remember the NFL Films video of Super Bowl XVI, and the narrator telling a number of times about Bill Walsh digging into his playbook to keep the Bengals on their heels. That's why 49ers fans long for these days of Bill Walsh and a true West Coast Offense.
But, we can't live in 1988. So, be honest: When is the last time you saw the 49ers, under Harbaugh, Tomsula or Kelly, reach into a playbook and find something that took the opposition by complete surprise? The only play I can think of is Kaepernick's run against Green Bay during the 2013 Divisional playoff game.
Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins have called two very poor games in a row. It's beyond time to get past page 20 of the playbook and start digging deeper to win games. Stretch the field vertically, put stress on the secondary and by all means, do something other than that inside run.
Let's see what else went wrong... Oh... right. The defense. This past offseason, the brilliant 49ers front office hired Jim O'Neil as our defensive coordinator. O'Neil was the defensive coordinator at Cleveland during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. His defense allowed a total of 769 points during those two years. In 2014, O'Neil's defense ranked dead last in rush yard allowed (2265 yards allowed), tenth highest in total yards allowed (5857 yards) and fourth highest in first downs allowed (348).
Last year, O'Neil's brilliance took them to even higher places: sixth highest in total yards allowed (6067 yards), third highest in yards allowed per play (6.1 yards), fourth highest in total points allowed (432 points) and third highest rush yards allowed (2055 yards).
Need a job, Jim? Great! Come to San Francisco. You're our guy to bring back that defense we remember from a few years ago!
Gentle Reader and Fellow Faithful fan: This is what you get when you hire someone from the Rex Ryan coaching tree who then worked for the Browns. Put aside the fact Cleveland's a desolate wasteland for talent, (and the fact that NOBODY on the 49ers defensive staff can figure out that Russell Wilson predominantly rolls right) you're not going to find quality coaches from Cleveland anymore. But a better question: Why did Trent Baalke and others think O'Neil was the guy to rebuild the defense?
As odd as this is to type, it's even weirder to say out loud: O'Neil's defensive mind faces a challenge next weekend from Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Hopefully, O'Neil can outwit a rookie quarterback.
So, let's close our eyes and take a breath. Maybe we'll get lucky and the Fox broadcast will accidentally run the 1981 NFC Championship game next Sunday.