When you give away your secrets like Tic Tacs, bad things usually happen. A hacker dug deep inside the BASG fortress last week, and wreaked havoc. I still don’t understand how the hacker(s) got behind BASG’s o-line, but out of nowhere links that should have led to fake Al Davis press releases and pictures of Buster Posey looking like Napoleon Dynamite were sending people to some spam page selling kids’ toys and other unmentionables.
As of last night, the hacker’s offensive code seems to have been stripped from the site’s underbelly, meaning from this morning on it’s business as usual here at BASG.
The Niners, on the other hand, have suffered a security breach far more severe. Thanks to a general state of confusion and a team full of former 49ers on the other sideline, they proved for the umpteenth time that preseason records have as much to do with a team’s fortunes as which logo they decide to go with before the season.
Mike Singletary had to color this pathetic 31-6 defeat in some sort of positive way — since that’s what coaches must do in order to avoid the image of losing complete control — so he went with “we were arrogant.” I’d have to go with, “We were hacked.” Not “getting fouled by Charles Oakley” hacked, but hacked like BASG was hacked. It was an inside job.
We all laughed at Scot McCloughan, didn’t we? I know I did. “Personal problems” we weren’t mature enough to hear about apparently, following a tenure full of slip-ups, unrealized potential and excuses, led all 49ers observers to whisper “good riddance” as he slinked off to Seattle to help that collegiate criminal, Pete Carroll.
The prevailing wisdom was, “Boy, McCloughan is really stubborn, isn’t he?” Did he really think guys like Kentwan Balmer or Brandon Jones just needed a change of scenery? Or that Michael Robinson had anything left in the tank?
Robinson probably isn’t all that useful for a team as offensively inept as the 49ers, even though he had a nice 13-yard reception while the Seahawks were piling on. But he can certainly offer an idea of what to expect from the Niners’ offense, just as Seattle assistant coach Jeff Ulbrich knows his former squad’s tendencies on defense (which yesterday consisted of “bite on everything”).
Well coached, well prepared, this team was not. Stupid penalties, deflected or simply poorly-thrown passes, missed coverages and blocking assignments, they were all there in abundance. Singletary and his staff got called out by Alex Smith (who, despite terrible line play, only had himself to blame for horrendous throws to Moran Norris and Ted Ginn that could/should have led to touchdowns) for taking too long to get the plays and substitutions figured out in key situations.
(In effect, Smith alluded to Singletary being like that guy in your fantasy league who waits until there’s less than 10 seconds left to make a pick in every round of your online draft.)
With the hindsight goggles on, it’s hard to figure out how we were hoodwinked in such a manner. Sure, Carroll was the epitome of a .500 coach in his prior NFL stops, but how can we turn our noses up at that around here after watching the Niners and the equally horrible Raiders over the last 5+ years? And besides some glowing reports about Taylor Mays playing special teams and Smith showing “leadership” during some practice 99.999% of us never saw, what about this 49ers training camp was positive other than their preseason record?
They started off by losing Eric Heitmann, only their most dependable offensive lineman. Glen Coffee retired. Alex Smith looked less than mediocre in the preseason opener, completing 3-of-9 passes in his first game and getting lathered with praise the rest of the way by an increasingly dodgy Singletary, who used his media platform as a way to create a diversion in the form of Nate Davis (and if Davis had paid enough attention in his first couple years to be considered a useful source on the intracacies of the 49ers’ offense, McCloughan probably would have claimed him, too). Add in the extremely strange way Michael Crabtree seems to go about every phase of his life, and you have the recipe for a team that can’t possibly meet expectations, regardless of the division they’re in.
The Saints don’t have 49er-envy or any reason to worry about them at all, really, so they won’t go into Monday night’s game with any more insight on the 49ers than they do on the Broncos, the Eagles or the San Jose State Spartans. And at home, after what should be a spirited week of practice and a healthy dose of desperation, the 49ers should perform better against a Saints team that could very well be feeling quite arrogant themselves lately. At least they have a reason to, unlike the lethargic, information-leaking 49ers.
— Was that Singletary yesterday, or the guy who plays him on Letterman? It’s been getting harder and harder to tell since training camp started.
— You could see it when Smith brushed past a frustrated Singletary on his way back to the sidelines after his first interception, and then when Smith blamed the coaches for poor communication (while Singletary curiously blamed the technology). Then Matt Maiocco added more evidence of that when he reported that a source said Singletary aired out Smith, Crabtree and the offensive line after the game. Add it all up and it’s clear: Smith and Singletary aren’t enjoying their working relationship too much.
— After today’s performance it’s fair to wonder whether Smith’s failures are in part due to the fact that he’s played for two head coaches who aren’t cut out to call plays in pressure situations, but it doesn’t matter at this point. He’s had over five years and he’s still never thrown a pass in a game that looked as good as multiple throws Sam Bradford made for the Rams yesterday while losing to the Cardinals. Sure, some interceptions were involved in Bradford’s debut, but Bradford is already a better passer than Smith, and he’ll probably be a better quarterback by practice on Wednesday.
— If the season goes on like this, neither Smith nor Singletary will be back. Not with the stadium business to take care of. It may sound crazy, but the prospect of Jim Harbaugh coaching the team next year with Andrew Luck as the team’s new franchise quarterback doesn’t sound nearly as far-fetched as it did 48 hours ago. Because it doesn’t matter how weak your schedule supposedly is; if you lose 31-6 to a Seahawks team that doesn’t have a superstar on offense or defense, finishing 3-13 isn’t out of the realm.
— Put it this way: if you think the 49ers are guaranteed to sweep the Rams this season, you better make sure your bookie doesn’t know where you live.
— Still, there was Patrick Willis, flying all over the field and cleaning up as many messes as he could. And there was Travis La Boy, acting like a boy and celebrating after a sack when the scoreboard said his team was down by multiple touchdowns. Nice look, La Travis.
— The scary thing about Crabtree was that he didn’t look fast, strong, tough or smart yesterday. Last year he looked polished, dependable and fast enough. And we all know it’s pretty easy for poor work habits to take down formerly dominant receivers from the Big 12 (Roy Williams, hello!). And for 49ers fans, listening to Chris Myers report on Jerry Rice speaking to the Seahawks as a favor to his buddy Pete Carroll during training camp was a punch to the solar plexus.
— It once again brings about the question: why have the 49ers stubbornly refused to bring the old heroes back in any capacity? Steve Young has pretty much said he’s waiting for a phone call that doesn’t seem likely to come anytime soon. Ronnie Lott only comes around when the 49ers draft USC defensive backs. Rice could be leading Crabtree up steep hills, instead he’s teaching Mike Williams how to run slant patterns (at least it seemed like it yesterday). For a franchise and fanbase who’ve witnessed a method of running a team that leads to success, it’s getting awful tiresome to watch these methods from other times and places (late ’90’s Baltimore; mid-’80’s Chicago) fail time and again.
— But hey, at least BASG is back up and running like Rice in his prime, and the Giants and their fans suddenly own Petco Park. More on that later. You knew the negative had to come first.