The results of last week’s re-draft results are in. We had some problems with the link, so the turnout was not stellar. As a result, we went with an electoral college system. Did it work? Ask Gore.
Round 1, Pick 29th
Round 3, Pick 74
The 2009 Season
At the half, the 49ers were losing badly to the Houston Texans. The offense had failed to eclipse 100 yards, let alone score a touchdown, so Mike Singletary knew something had to be done. Recent history had proven that the 49ers knew their way around a losing streak. In 2007, the team lost eight straight; in 2008, it was six. In 2009, well, that would be up to Singletary. But, in the first 30 minutes of the game, it was apparent that another prolonged streak was imminent.
The previous week, the 49ers were embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons and by Dre Bly, who was guilty of “being Dre”—an offense even the best of us have committed, I’m sure. And though Bly had effectively suppressed all urges to be “Dre” through the first half of the Houston game, the 49ers found themselves in a similar position. They were scoreless, while the Texans were anything but—even Steve Slaton was in on the action, scoring the Texans’ first 2 touchdowns. Quarterback Shaun Hill managed to throw for only 45 yards, placing the offense’s hopes squarely on the shoulders of running back Frank Gore. Gore would respond by rushing for 7 yards on 5 carries.
The 49ers were completely flummoxed by the Texans. Singletary’s job required him (contractually) to lead them through situations like these, to provide them answers. And so, he thought, long and hard.
Singletary, unfortunately, lacked the expertise of scheme and any experience in strategy, so his rumination led only to variations of pants dropping and pathos-centered motivational ploys. Finding that his well of motivational tools had run dry, Singletary did the next best thing: he benched Hill for the embattled Alex Smith.
And you know what? It worked — kind of.
Smith would take the 49ers to within 4 points of victory, completing 15 of 22 passes for 206 and 3 touchdowns. Though the performance didn’t win the game, it did win Smith the starting job.
And so began the resurrection of Alex Smith.
The following week, Smith faced another former No. 1 overall pick in Peyton Manning. Smith and the 49ers would play surprisingly well, leading the Colts until the 4th quarter. Ultimately, though, they would be bested by the Colts, but not by Manning. Joseph Addai’s 22-yard pass to Reggie Wayne gave the Colts a lead they never relinquished.
These two games were epitomize the 49ers season. They could play brilliantly at times, and horribly in others. They’d run a spread offense in one game, and a power run scheme the next. They’d play reasonably well, and yet still find a way to lose.
In the end, they’d finish with an 8-8 record, which is exceedingly appropriate. At the end of the season, Singletary poignantly remarked: “We did not accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but we didn’t go backwards.”
The 49ers certainly didn’t go backwards, but they also didn’t go forwards. They were just flat.
The monotony of the season would be surpassed only by the off-season. The 49ers would make no attempt to upgrade a roster that was in desperate need of offensive linemen, pass rushers, and cornerbacks. In fact, things were so quiet around 4949 Centennial Blvd that most wondered if the organization still had a pulse.
It turns out they did. On March 22, something happened. General manager Scot McCloughan was either fired or resigned from his post. President Jed York called McCloughan’s departure a “mutual parting.” York refused to further comment, but did say that “You’d have to ask Scot” when asked why McCloughan wanted to leave the organization.
Yahoo’s Mike Silver, on the other hand, would call York’s decision “a ridiculous move made by a 28-year-old team president who, like his father, John, seems to believe he knows everything about everything.”
Silver would cite a source close to McCloughan, who claimed that the general manager was blindsided by the release, as reason for his harsh criticism. He would also quote a former 49er staffer who noted that, “The more Jed tries to act like his uncle, the more he ends up looking like his father.”
In short, it was a mess. It wouldn’t be until early July that fans would gain some sort of understanding as to what had led to to McCloughan’s departure.
In an interview with Albert Breer of the Boston Globe, McCloughan said that the job “was consuming [his] life.”
“I got spread so thin, I could never catch up,’’ McCloughan continued. ““I got almost numb. And I had no one to blame but myself. I was losing my family, and I sat back and had to think about that.’’
To replace McCloughan, York would tab Trent Baalke as interim general manager. Baalke and the fan base were perfect strangers, which meant that hopes of a prosperous draft — the 49ers only opportunity to improve the team — were dwindling.
I guess the jury is still out on this draft. Obviously, Taylor Mays was a solid pick, but as for the others, it is too early to tell. One point of interest: when Bowman declared, he was considered a lock for the 1st round. Todd McShay’s early projections showed Bowman as a mid-first rounder.
Ultimately, Singletary and Baalke followed the BPA approach: biggest players available. In the process, they passed up a number of Pro Bowlers. To see what could have been, click here.