Here is a link to my Monday column about the 49ers’ second loss in a row. Below is the full text of the column.
SAN FRANCISCO – Jim Harbaugh sold out the class and integrity of the 49ers by playing Aldon Smith against the Colts on Sunday. He played Smith, arrested Friday for driving dead drunk into a tree, because, according to Harbaugh, “It was a decision we made.”
He didn’t say who “we” are or who made the decision or why. It doesn’t matter. It was a horrible decision, an unacceptable decision by a desperate man. Harbaugh sold out the team, sold out the glorious history of this legendary franchise because he was desperate to win a game. And he didn’t win it, anyway. If he cared about Smith — he says he does — he should have put him in treatment on Friday.
This is the low point of Harbaugh’s coaching career in San Francisco, getting murdered by the Colts 27-7. After only three games, you wonder, “How low can Harbaugh go?”
The last time Harbaugh had a losing record as a coach was 2008 — he went 5-8 at Stanford with a rebuilding team — these 49ers hardly are a rebuilding team. He has a losing record now, a paltry 1-2 and the 49ers are tied for last place in the NFC West.
He now has lost two games in a row, the first time he’s accomplished that as the Niners’ coach since he took over with such fanfare and promise. In the past two games, his offense, regarded as the standard of the NFL just a few weeks ago, has scored 10 points. That’s an average of five points a game.
Just about everybody assumed the 49ers would beat the Colts. It’s not that the Niners are a better team. They clearly are not. Lots of teams may be better than the Niners at this point. People ceded this game to the 49ers because of Harbaugh, because he’s supposed to be special, although his specialness in the NFL was based on a limited sample size.
The 49ers would win because Harbaugh never loses two in a row and, get this, he knows how to motivate a team for darn sure. He always gets his team ready because they are blue collar and they work harder than everyone else. Harbaugh is God’s gift to motivators. Well, that’s a myth.
How good was Harbaugh’s motivation on Sunday?
Aldon Smith prepped for the game by getting drunk. Harbaugh didn’t seem to motivate Smith. Harbaugh didn’t seem to reach Smith in the least. And Harbaugh certainly didn’t motivate his offense, currently among the worst in the NFL.
This may seem harsh, but answer this. Just what is Harbaugh bringing to the 49ers these days?
He sure hasn’t provided the offense with adequate receivers. Go ahead and say tight end Vernon Davis didn’t play and that’s why the Niners lost. Please.
Harbaugh, who respects certain parts of the football code, refused to cop the injury excuse after the game. Praise him for that.
Here’s the hard truth and it’s not about injuries. Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke were deficient in getting receivers when they had the chance. Aside from Anquan Boldin and Davis, when he plays, the 49ers do not have a single pass catcher who frightens the league. The 49ers had no weapons to beat the Colts, a fairly good team.
Just how out of touch were Harbaugh and Baalke as this season hove into view?
You could say running back Frank Gore, who looked half dead against the Seahawks, had a reasonably good game against the Colts — 82 rushing yards. You could say Gore gives hope for the future. Not so fast.
Gore’s rushing was problematic. He ran well when quarterback Colin Kaepernick lined up under center. You know — his hands under Jonathan Goodwin’s tush. Gore is an old-style back who likes the traditional formation.
But Kaepernick plays best from the pistol formation. Ladies and gentlemen, the 49ers have a problem, and I hope Harbaugh reads this. He might learn something. Kaepernick passes better from the pistol, but the pistol compromises Gore. Gore runs well from the traditional set, but that set compromises Kaepernick.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is supposed to be a genius, not to mention a poet and an all-around Renaissance man, but he’s put his offense in a pickle. Is there a way out?
After the game, Kaepernick, virtually nonverbal, said, “We have to get better. I have to get better.” He swore the league has not caught up with him.
But it has. It took the league a while to dope out Kaepernick’s read-option razzle-dazzle. But dope it out the league has. Kaepernick, who used to run like the wind, looks like he’s locked in the utility closet. He seems scared to run and scared to throw. His passer rating was a miserable 49.9, actually an improvement from his embarrassing 20.1 in Seattle. Last week, he threw three picks and lost one fumble. Against the Colts he threw one pick and lost a fumble.
This is the next Joe Montana?
Kaepernick wasn’t as good as the Colts’ Andrew Luck, who’s very good. Right now, Kaepernick is not the equal of that other guy, what’s his name, Alex Smith.
In a few days, the 49ers travel to St. Louis to play the Rams, a mediocre team, although the 49ers have the same mediocre record as the mediocre Rams. It’s just that Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher has Harbaugh’s number, seems to take residence in Harbaugh’s brain during games. Harbaugh did not beat Fisher last season. The formerly elite 49ers better beat the mediocre Rams to avoid a 1-3 start.
A few weeks ago, the question I’m about to ask would have been impertinent. Not anymore. Can the 49ers, a team without an offense, defeat the Rams?
If you answered yes — why?
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.