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Here is a link to my Tuesday column about the 49ers. The full text appears below:

The Seattle Seahawks exploded the San Francisco 49ers’ football program. Set back the franchise for who knows how long.

If you are a 49ers’ fan, if you think my statements are strong, harsh, you are ignoring reality. You are indulging yourself. Funny how one damp gray afternoon in the Pacific Northwest can inflict major harm.

The people who run the 49ers from Jed York on down must ask themselves who they are. Must ask where they are. Nothing less. We are talking deep existential questioning.

Start with this. The 49ers team that just exited the playoffs is loaded. It could be the most talented squad in the NFL, but it’s not getting any better. Understand that. Jim Harbaugh could not win with this team. So, is he going to do better next season when Frank Gore (14 yards rushing Sunday) is 31, when Justin Smith is 35, when NaVorro Bowman (horrible knee injury) may no longer be NaVorro Bowman, when Mike Iupati is recovering from a busted leg or maybe isn’t even a 49er anymore? When Anquan Boldin may leave as a free agent?

You tell me. This was the Niners’ shot — this season, last Sunday. For this group, the shot may be gone forever.

You want more?

What happened in Seattle must make York and general manager Trent Baalke question the coaches. It should. And that means question Jim Harbaugh. At the end of the game with everything still possible, the coaches blew it. The loss was on the coaches. Sure, Colin Kaepernick threw that miserable interception. No need to go over that again.

But Harbaugh and his overrated offensive coordinator Greg Roman (17 points against Seattle) made a mess of the clock like they always do when coaches need calm and forethought and presence, need that special coaching demeanor. These guys just freaked. You could see them freak.

The Niners had first down at the Seahawks’ 18 with 30 seconds left in the game. Why they let the clock wind down to 30 seconds is still anyone’s guess. But they still had two timeouts. Those they had. Pure gold.

What you do then is obvious. You call timeout. You take a deep breath. You gather yourself. You think about your playbook and you call the best play for that moment with the entire season on the line. Not some warmed-over loser from the previous Super Bowl, a play that flopped three times in a row. A proven loser. And you don’t have the gall to go up against the best cornerback in the league. You use your brains.

But the 49ers’ coaches lost control of the game when they most needed control of the game. They rushed in a play and attacked the wrong defender and, naturally, Kaepernick — “Kaeper-pick” — loused it up. Hello, postseason.

I’m going to invoke Bill Walsh. Bear with me. He would have scored from the 18 with either Joe Montana or Steve Young.

He would have won on Sunday. He would have managed the clock and he would have taught his quarterback to read the receivers and he would have called the right play. He would have kept his poise when Harbaugh lost his. FYI, he would have won last season’s Super Bowl, because he would have known which play to call at the Ravens’ goal line.

How do I know Walsh would have won these games? Because he won three Super Bowls with worse talent than Harbaugh has. He won his first Super Bowl his third season. Harbaugh just completed his third season.

Not long ago, Harbaugh was the hottest coach on Earth. The Texas job opened up and people said he could have been a Longhorn for a cool 10 million a year. There’s been talk of York giving him an extension?

Why? Based on what?

York would pay a fortune to a winner. Is Harbaugh a winner? Not really. He is what you call a semi-winner. Look at his record. Just look at the data. Twice, he’s flopped in the NFC title game, once in the Super Bowl. He is a high-level loser, a man who gets close but can’t close the deal. It’s possible he’s taken this team as far as he can.

Possible. People in power need to consider this. We’re talking explosion.

Then there’s the case of Kaepernick. Another high-level loser. He can’t win in Seattle. He choked on Sunday, not the first time. He threw a crummy pass to Michael Crabtree, that awful pick that ended the game. He never looked at other receivers — two others existed at that moment. He went into the play telling himself he would throw to Crabtree no matter what. Just awful.

So, is he the franchise quarterback, this not-so-young-anymore — he turns 27 next season — who reserves all his worst mistakes for the fourth quarter when the game is on the line and he needs to be cool? He looks cool wearing his headphones. He’s not cool on the field.

Exposed.

Niners’ fans are angry at Seattle’s Richard Sherman. Disgusted. It wasn’t enough he tipped that final pass to Malcolm Smith for the game-ending pick. He had the nerve to mouth off afterward, called Crabtree “mediocre” and “sorry.” How rude of the man. No class.

Well, here’s the deal. You win, you can say whatever you want. On Monday, Sherman apologized for his words but didn’t take them back. Don’t complain about Sherman’s mouth, as Crabtree did in tweets. How weak. Stand up and take it. Or better yet, shut up Sherman the right way.

Catch the pass. Win the game. Don’t explode the franchise.

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 lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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Comments

47 Comments

  1. Dave Edlund

    That was BOTH Barrels! :)

    January 20th, 2014 11:53 pm

  2. Footballlove

    Honestly I don’t understand you.

    January 21st, 2014 12:11 am

  3. GooseLosGatos

    I give Harbaugh more credit than that. Considering where the franchise was before he got here, I believe he has played a significant role in its newfound relevancy.

    You’re right on Kapernick. We don’t know what kind of player he will become. He’s an average QB at best at this stage of his career and it’s not just me saying it, scouts say it too.

    January 21st, 2014 12:19 am

  4. Brady

    Oh Lowell. You are as bad at logic as you are good at writing. As is sadly often the case, you are ignoring everything that goes against your point, while exaggerating everything that proves your point. Where to begin?

    First off, not getting better? You’re right with everything you say….it’s what you omit that’s sad. The Niners played this year with their backup NT . . . next year Ian Williams will be back. One of their safeties was a rookie . . . he’ll be better. Chris Culliver probably would have started this year . . . he’ll be back.

    Gore getting older? He may not even be on the team. Marcus Lattimore will be the starting RB. Kaepernick will start next season with more than 10 starts under his belt. Mike Iupati will be back. Michael Crabtree will have a training camp. If they retain Anquan Boldin, they will have a more talented roster in 2014.

    Next, I’m not sure how you put this on Harbaugh. It’s actually kind of mind boggling. Kap threw a football about 120 feet. If he threw it 121 feet, Niners win. If Kyle Williams doesn’t fumble 2 years ago, Niners win. The fact that Harbaugh has taken the team as far as he has is a testament to the fact that he is clearly the best coach in the game not named Belichick. At some point, odds take over and you cannot control the outcome.

    Finally, what in the world does Bill Walsh have to do with this? Why does everything about Harbaugh have to involve Walsh? Yes, Walsh was incredible…. a top-3 coach all-time. There’s no shame in falling slightly short of that.

    Give me a break. The odds of making the championship game three years running is 1 in 320.

    This article reeks of trying to rile up a fanbase. And since that’s the case, I’ll applaud you…you win. you riled me up.

    January 21st, 2014 12:26 am

  5. Johnc

    I agree.
    I came to the conclusion early this season that Harbaugh does not know offense. He used to be a quarterback but he thinks like a linebacker. His attitude is that if you are tough you will win. It helps but in the NFL you have to be smarter and design schemes that work. Get rid of Roman please and get a real OC who knows how to maximize the talent of this team.

    January 21st, 2014 12:32 am

  6. mbabco

    “We are talking deep existential questioning.” Lowell, I think you’re going a bit too far. What the 49ers have proven is that their formula almost works: they were 1 catch away from a second consecutive Super Bowl. With improvement at one position – QB – they would have had that second trip. Let’s also put it in perspective: they lost to the #1 defense in the NFL in a stadium where that team is 16-1 over he last two years. They were a couple of close games for both them and Seattle from hosting the NFC championship – sure might have been a different outcome then.

    Yes. There are things that need to be addressed. Kaepernick first of all. Remember, this was his first full season. Can he make the corrections he needs to? You know, it is possible that he can correct his footwork and learn to be more of a complete QB. How many years did it take Steve Young to do that? More than 2. I don’t really like Kaepernick too much: too brash for me. He spends a little too much time celebrating things before he’s got what he really wants to celebrate. I’m open to him changing and growing. By all accounts he is extremely motivated and a hard worker. It’s a little harsh to write him off as a high-level loser. It’s a bit too early to give him such a label. (And didn’t he win the NFC title game last year? Shouldn’t that be 1 flop?)

    Yes, they do need to be concerned about their aging and possible free agent losses. This year, though, they’ve overcome a lot of injured players. Marcus Lattimore could be an answer for Gore. So they need to find some more players. It’s possible they can do that. They were very good about filling gaps this year: it IS possible they can do it again. There will be challenges with how much to pay Crabtree & Kaepernick ahead.

    Yes, Harbaugh and staff need to improve at game management. That’s possible, too, though they ARE in a rather bad rut of ending their season with close games they could have and perhaps should have won.

    I see challenges for the franchise. I’m not ready to write off the last 3 years as losses. No, they didn’t win the Super Bowl. But there are a large number of NFL franchises out there that would be very happy to have had the last three seasons the 49ers had. I don’t think they’re quite ready to explode.

    January 21st, 2014 2:46 am

  7. 31sal

    Lowell,
    Are you aware that Frank played the majority of the game with a broken hand? Admirable.

    January 21st, 2014 7:41 am

  8. Dennis

    That was so full of hot air I got to go turn on the air conditioner – and it is winter! Nothing you said, except maybe the very last sentence about Sherman, was based in a single fact or reality. How many road playoff victories does Bill Walsh have to his credit? It is just as likely Bill Walsh would have lost that game. Please, let’s keep it real.

    January 21st, 2014 7:47 am

  9. Cindy

    Well, that’s a depressing way to start the day. Just curious what you would do if you were Jed York?

    January 21st, 2014 7:53 am

  10. Richard

    Hi Lowell,

    It was so saddening to see those injuries, especially to Bowman. Did you also think the number of replays that Fox showed was excessive?

    Huge offseason coming up. One positive (although not guarantee) is that the team essentially red-shirted two players last year in Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore. That should help alleviate some of the issues re: team aging.

    Also, this upcoming draft and free agency is going to be especially critical for the team. Is is too soon for mock drafts and potential draft targets? Even though that was such a deflating loss, all we can do is move forward.

    Love the articles, Lowell!

    Cheers,
    Richard

    January 21st, 2014 7:59 am

  11. Gopal

    My immediate thoughts on Harbaugh are that he’s being treated like he’s Marty Schottenheimer with the KC Chiefs and then the SD Chargers.

    Marty could always get his team to the doorstep, but never through the door.

    For that, they ran him out of both towns, and seemingly doomed both of those teams for the better part of a decade.

    Was there a more talented Chargers team than the one that Norv Turner inherited with Rivers, Tomlinson, Seau, Gates, etc?

    I doubt it.

    Were they better off with Schottenheimer, who got them into the playoffs and within a few big plays of winning, or with Turner, who probably squandered the best years of two of the better players of the past decade?

    You tell me…

    January 21st, 2014 8:18 am

  12. Steve the cat rescuer

    Telling it like it is! Thanks Lowell.

    January 21st, 2014 9:01 am

  13. CohnZohn

    31sal, Did Gore have a broken foot?

    January 21st, 2014 9:07 am

  14. John

    The window is closing. Kaep makes poor decisions. The time management was questionable. The competition in the West is getting tougher. However saying “exploded” is an exaggerated headline. If Crabtree was healthy earlier in the year they probably have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and if the Saints game didn’t have a weak call they would have had homefield. With homefield they would have been to super bowl. The big question is can kaep improve because if he doesn’t gore doesn’t have too many years left and there’s going to be a falling back to mediocrity. Its tough to get over the top which is what makes this all so frustrating. Bill Walsh and Montana (26 for 30 in a championship game) aren’t coming back so the comparison is invalid.

    January 21st, 2014 9:09 am

  15. Streetglide

    It will be a far different team next year if they want to win. OL needs a complete overhaul. The need to draft another high-level QB to give CK a run for his money. DBs need to be reworked. Patrick Willis is gone, Frank should retire.

    The coaching staff needs a bunch of help on the offensive side. I like Jim but he needs to be a coach, not the players’ friend. Bowman is done. No more drafting kids with issues. It’s also time to stop stocking up on low-end draft picks.

    I doubt if we will be in any kind of big game for a few years. The current iteration is burnt out and a bit over the hill. And tell Colin to ditch that stupid hat and earphones. He wins the SB he can wear that stuff but in the meantime grow up…

    January 21st, 2014 9:09 am

  16. Jim Bancroft

    I agree with a lot of this, not all of it. The play calling and clock management at the end were quite bad. No reason not to take a timeout and get everyone on the same page.

    Forcing a pass to Crabtree without looking at Boldin or Davis was not-so-smart either, not that Kaepernick hasn’t pulled that before. Will he ever stop pulling it? I wonder.

    What makes it worse is that a better pass to Crabtree would have led to a touchdown. It was underthrown, giving Sherman his chance. All credit to Sherman for seizing it. If Sherman wants to talk after, that’s his right. He said some dumb things but that’s life.

    Where I disagree with Lowell is the ‘explosion’ talk. Harbaugh is not a good game manager but he does almost everything else well. I don’t care for his personality and am glad I don’t have to attend his moody press conferences, but he is a smart coach and runs a tight locker room. His teams have made it to 3 NFC championship games, which is excellent.

    Would we rather have that or the Erickson/Nolan/Singletary era again? We’ll probably be 10-6 or 9-7 next year as a rebuild, but that’s fine compared with where we’ve been before. Let’s count our blessings.

    January 21st, 2014 9:31 am

  17. Vijay

    Lowell,

    I am a Raiders fan and so couldn’t care less about the Niners. But I enjoy reading your columns. I do have to say your column is a bit overblown on the Niners. They still have the talent and coaching staff to compete for the Super Bowl the next few years. I agree that Gore and Justin Smith are getting older. But they just drafted Carradine and Lattimore this year and who can be potential starters next year.

    Definitely they could have used the timeout before the last play. But the other way of looking at it is the timeout could have helped Seattle regroup as well given they just let the Niners march down the field.

    While Walsh had lesser talent when he won first, i would think he had better talent when he won in 1984 and 1988.

    ~Vijay

    January 21st, 2014 9:54 am

  18. Tom T Thompson III, PhD

    Impossible to say how Walsh would have done on Sunday. Maybe he would have gotten blown out like he did against the Giants in 86.

    Some coaches take a while to break through and finally win the big one. Tom Landry and John Madden come to mind. Some quarterback do, as well. John Elway. Steve Young. The Niners are in good shape at head coach and quarterback, in my opinion.

    January 21st, 2014 10:02 am

  19. Dennis

    It seems like a lot of people here think they should have called a time out before running the first down play with 30 seconds left. I disagree completely with that. I thought they managed that just right. My complaint would be that Kaep went for the TD with 30 seconds left. I think they should have thrown underneath, got inside the 10 and see if Kaep could run it in, then call a time out. Our secondary was too porous to give Seattle that much time, if the Niners made the TD, to come back and kick a field goal. Contrary to a lot of people I thought they did a very good job with clock management. Certainly better than Seattle. I just didn’t think they should try for the TD until there was 15 seconds left on the clock with 2 timeouts.

    January 21st, 2014 10:45 am

  20. Neal

    Lowell,

    A high level loser. I guess Nolan and the Rev are bottom dweller losers. You can say what you want, however I would give this dynamic dual a couple more years before you call them losers. I believe Kaep and Harbaugh will improve. I bet you are a lot better now, then after 3 years of being a columnist. Also Sean Payton and John Harbaugh would probably make the right calls. Also Boldin a Super Bowl here last year, should of gotten the damn ball, he is the best red zone receiver we have.

    January 21st, 2014 11:19 am

  21. Neal

    I meant hero instead of here.

    January 21st, 2014 11:21 am

  22. Mark M

    Yeeeeeesh, still feeling hung over from that loss. Amazing how small the distance between winning and losing can be in the NFL. I read stuff like this and it appears as though we are garbage in need a full makeover, maybe even coaching staff. But if a tipped pass or a bad call somehow goes the other way, we are golden and on our way to the Super Bowl.

    We are close, but it’s another season and many things change. For us to keep up and get better, we really need to scrap Roman’s offense. For all of the praise he gets for that intricate, complicated running game from various sets we’ve incorporated, it has failed us rather dramatically in the post season. Then there is our lack of red zone success showing up AGAIN in this game. Plus we waited way too long to throw to our WRs which might have opened things up for Gore and others. It’s frustrating to see the weapons we have not being used properly. The offense broke down again, and we were left with Kap running around like a mad man, at least generating some offense with his legs. This man needs help! I feel this loss is on our coaching staff for not balancing the offense properly. Kap is fine and the reason we were close at all.

    January 21st, 2014 11:33 am

  23. Stan

    You can add how the FIRST half ended also Lowell. Almost identical to the end…about half a minute,two timeouts..and the 49ers TOOK A KNEE??..at their own (I forget exactly) That’s two passes~ to a field goal
    Just bizarre..both halves end like that. And the failed fade pass to Crabtree two years in a row is insane.

    The 49ers looked beautiful on that last drive..it was classic 49er. And then…the worst call they could have made.

    January 21st, 2014 11:38 am

  24. PhD

    Well Lowell I have to agree about botching the calls at the end of the game and the Superbowl. Dejavu all over again. I think Harbaugh can get better though so you might be coming down a little too harsh on him. Your swings for and against the team seem a little excessive. Last week you were a fan and this was the best team in the league, this week it’s in ruins. Yea they got beat up badly in Seattle, so your buddy Baalke needs to make a list and start improving the team. Gore is not explosive enough anymore. Coaching and game management MUST improve or Roman must go. Kaep needs to get better or he should be replaced too. Some BIG physical Megatron type receivers and DBs would be good to add to the team. All that having been said, this SHOULD have been the year and we SHOULD have won the Superbowl last year. Baalke needs to ask WHY we didn’t and look at game management very closely.

    January 21st, 2014 11:41 am

  25. MRO

    As an Oakland sports fan who will never root for SF teams, I nevertheless had great respect for Bill Walsh. How could you not?

    Among the smart things he routinely did, two stand out to me:

    1) Consistently getting rid of players too early vs. too late. Brilliant.

    2) Talking up the opposing team, regardless of how awful they were,
    like they were world beaters. Walsh was the anti-Sherman in
    that he would say nothing to rile up his opponent.

    I’m still struck by all the ruckus Richard Sherman has caused around here. Some of these crazed Niners fans don’t realize that if you put him in a red and gold uni with an SF on the helmet they would LOVE him! That’s the way it works.

    January 21st, 2014 11:52 am

  26. htwaits

    These guys nailed it from different angles: Brady, mbabco, Jim Bancroft, and Vijay.

    Lowell sounds like a broken hearted fan lashing out in anger. One might say he exploded. Sad. Maybe next year.

    January 21st, 2014 12:15 pm

  27. Nikki Fleming

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I think you are from L.A. Your attitude toward the Niners and Giants is so predictable. Go write for LA please.

    January 21st, 2014 1:05 pm

  28. Jimmy

    Lowell, you provided much of the content for your buddy Damon Bruce’s show today.

    January 21st, 2014 1:18 pm

  29. CohnZohn

    Jimmy, Damon Bruce my buddy??

    January 21st, 2014 2:05 pm

  30. ben

    Late in the Super Bowl, Kaepernick told Crabtree “I owe you one. I owe you one.” On the final drive, he audibled to the fourth down pass to Crabtree. I suspect that most of the failed end-of-game passes to Crabtree against the Ravens and the Seahawks were not called by the coaching staff, but were due to Kaepernick’s agenda or his comfort zone.

    January 21st, 2014 2:47 pm

  31. Jason

    I thought the time management was right on. If they take a timeout at one minute and then score with 40-50 seconds remaining, probability is with the Seahawks to drive into 49ers territory and kick a game winning field goal. (Especially if you take the previous kick return by Baldwin into consideration). I thought it was perfect the way they were letting it play out as to get the winning score and squeeze any life out of a Seattle comeback attempt at the same time.

    As far as the last play, I would have liked to see Kaepernick use the middle of the field and have the ability to take advantage of those timeouts. He did what he did and they just didn’t execute. Sherman made a great play on a slightly under-thrown ball.

    Great season … tough loss. Looking forward to the off-season and getting healthy and upgrading the roster. Another off-season for Kap and he should improve for another deep run next year.

    2 NFC Championship games and 1 Superbowl in 3 years … not bad. Not bad at all. Not turning my back on this squad. Been following since the days of “The Catch”, followed through the glory years and the “not so glory years”; the days of Mooch, Erickson, Nolan and Singletary. Been a proud niner fan my whole life and no matter how heartbreaking being so close to Lombardy #6 over the last two years has been, I will rejoice with my faithful brothers and sisters when a new era begins next year in Santa Clara.

    January 21st, 2014 3:11 pm

  32. Brett

    In my mind they (Kap and Jim) still have room to grow. The NFL is a different animal than College ball. However I do agree that they have missed a window concerning the last three years. That worries me. I will also say I am getting a little sick of Kaps ear phones and the hat that he wears like a wanna be gangsta. Freakin grow up!

    January 21st, 2014 3:57 pm

  33. htwaits

    I don’t know of any reason to think you are Damon Bruce’s buddy, but he clearly admires, and tries to emulate some of your more emotional work.

    January 21st, 2014 4:04 pm

  34. Phil

    Lowell falls off the deep end…

    It’s good you don’t cover The Vikings or Jags.

    January 21st, 2014 4:11 pm

  35. tkh

    I think without a doubt there was poor clock management. Having said that the ball was on the 18 with 30 seconds left. Plenty of time with two time outs left. From the beat writer accounts Vernon Davis and Quentin Patton were both open on the play. So if you call a play that gets 2 out of 3 of your receivers open I would say that’s a pretty good play call. I recall similar discussions last year after the loss….49ers were done, etc. As to Kaepernick it remains to be seen whether he can develop and deliver the ball from the pocket under pressure to his third option…the good ones do. The fact that he is already 27 means less than his actual experience running an offense other than the pistol. while there needs to be some changes I think the biggest fear is that Greg Roman is unable to come up with a game plan to defeat the Seahwaks. There is no indication next year will be any different. It will be interesting to see if the Seahawks are one of those one and done defense based teams like the 1985 Bears or if they have the staying power the 49ers have demonstrated the last three years

    January 21st, 2014 4:14 pm

  36. Mighty Joe

    How many years did Walsh win the Super Bowl? How many hall of fame players did he have? How many road playoff games did he win? How did he assemble such a colossus of a team- I’ll give you a hint on this one: it has something to do with the salary cap.

    Broadening the view, because honestly if you’re expecting Walsh like success, you’re delusional. How many years did it take Peyton Manning to win a Super Bowl? How many teams haven’t sniffed a conference championship game in the last three years?

    Now getting more specific: how much did you get paid to write this? We as fans should be celebrating what Harbaugh has accomplished. We should be excited about the the potential of Kaepernick. We should thank York and Baalke for assembling this team. We should look at the other 28 teams that would be happy to be where we are today.

    If you expect more than what this team has done you’re crazy. Of course we hope for more. But getting this far is a major accomplishment.

    January 21st, 2014 4:16 pm

  37. Randy

    I don’t think any of us are really qualified to know what the right call was at the end of the game, but Greg Cossell, who spends his life watching game tapes for NFL films say the 49ers do not have a sophisticated passing game. Running game yes, but passing game no, and that hurts when you get in the red zone. The 49ers only scored 14 or more points against teams with winning records twice the entire season. The Seahawks proved that if you take away Frank Gore, this team has a tough time scoring more than 20 points. The other scary thing is that Harbaugh and Kap think the last play call was the right call, despite the context of time left, field position, timeouts, and who was the defender. Why target Sherman when you haven’t all day? Crabtree is not even fully back from his injury and lacks a full burst of speed. Couldn’t Kap have at least looked at his other receivers before throwing. If the Coach and QB truly believe that was the right call, history will just keep repeating itself, much like it has the last two years.

    January 21st, 2014 5:26 pm

  38. Michael

    Seriously? People are utterly stupid if they think what happened this year was a bad thing. While I agree we had a ton of talent, we also had a ton of injuries and we also played on the road against a tough team that also had the benefit of some very questionable calls. While I would have loved for the team to win a title this year, it just wasn’t in the cards. After injuries to Gore, Bowman and Mike in the middle of the game, it doesn’t look like we would have been in a great spot in the SB this week. It’s almost as if the writer doesn’t realize how crappy our team was for years. Now we have gone back to back to back to at least the NFC title game with Harbs, that’s as far as he can go? What kind of retarded logic is that? Do you realize how tough it is to get coaches as good as Harbaugh? Hell look at what Bill Belicheck has done the last 3 years, the EXACT same thing as Harbaugh, 3 title game appearances, 1 SB appearance and a SB loss. Is Belicheck being run out of town for that? Neither should Harbs. Now if we won 5 games this year with our roster, yes our coach should be fired, but when a coach wins 14 out of 19 games with a really tough schedule a tough amount of serious injuries, he should be REWARDED, not asked to leave. I’m glad the writer ISN’T our GM or owner. The writer should be fired for how STUPID his post is.

    January 21st, 2014 5:43 pm

  39. Dr. Feelgood

    Lowell likes to talk about Bill Walsh; who doesn’t? JH has been very successful, but not ultimately successful- three straight great chances at a title only to come away empty. In boxing, that’s a “contender” and in horse racing, that’s an “also-ran”. All are quickly forgotten.
    Walsh will not be forgotten. Lombardi, Halas, Landry, Belichick, et al, not likely to be forgotten. Harbaugh? On a path to “oh yeah, I remember him, he was pretty good”.
    The Niners have serious soul searching to do this off-season. The team is not getting any younger, especially the starters outside of Kaepernick. This will be Vernon Davis’ NINTH year- man, how time flies. The bench is crowded with younger men with no playing time experience and unfulfilled potential. The clock may have hit midnight for this crew, their window for a title has been slammed closed be a new team on the uptick, a team with younger, better players and superior coordinators,
    Do we kid ourselves? The great O-Line can open no holes against the really good defenses. The D-Backs are serviceable, but not top-shelf. The WR core is thin,thin, thin and an injury away from being no factor at all. The QB is full of potential but still raw. The play calling at the ultimate critical moments of the biggest games is, (take your pick) predictable/pedestrian/delay-of-game inducing/ or just, seeming, dumb. Is there a worse team in the league at clock management?
    Back to Bill Walsh. After a season-ending game like this, he would begin critiquing his staff and making changes. He would be ruthless and unemotional in evaluating the players, and he would not bring Frank Gore back (Frank wouldn’t be on this years team either). And therein lies the clues as to the vitality of this team going forward. If Gore opens the season as starter(at anything other than a ceremonial appearance), and if there is not a significant infusion of younger talent, and if there is not a shake-up in Offensive Coordinator, then the team is only prolonging a slide toward mediocrity.
    Walsh would never let that happen.

    January 21st, 2014 5:51 pm

  40. mendozaline

    After reading both Saturday’s and today’s columns, I’m reminded of a Woody Allen line from Annie Hall:

    ” I thought of that old joke, y’know, the, this… this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.”

    Sometimes your columns seem crazy, but I need the eggs.

    January 21st, 2014 9:39 pm

  41. Dave

    Lowell

    If you knew that Harbaugh wasn’t a top-notch coach, and that Crabtree wasn’t that good, and the play-calling was bad, etc., etc., then why did you pick the 49ers to win in Sunday’s newspaper column? If the 49er talent is so good does that mean you think Gore is better than Lynch at this point? Kaeperpick better than Wilson? Brown or Rogers better than Smith?

    If the 49ers should blow up this team, who should blow up your job at the Press Demo?

    January 21st, 2014 9:48 pm

  42. Nancy R

    If Harbaugh and his coaches keep losing in the final moments during the most crucial games why do we think anything will change? Three years of “almost.” I agree with Lowell. There is an art to getting over the finish line and if Harbaugh is defending everything he is doing (which he is) then he is not open to doing things differently. Nor is Kaepernick. You can work your butt off but the key here is to figure out the finesse. It is also a question of humility which neither Harbaugh nor Kaep seem to have a surplus of. I think Niners could find themselves doing the exact same thing next year if Harbaugh and Kaep don’t recognize where their blind spots are.

    January 22nd, 2014 2:17 pm

  43. Johnc

    @Dr. Feelgood… nice piece of writing. I especially like the reference to Walsh evaluating and being ruthless and unemotional for the health of the team. After reading the transcript of Harbaugh’s final press conference you get the impression that nothing needs to or will change and that he is satisfied with the “competing” effort by players and coaches.. Baloney!!.he needs a wake up call starting with replacing the OC.
    I am sure Lowell is not done with this discussion..It is only beginning as it should.

    January 22nd, 2014 3:47 pm

  44. Phil

    Niners are at a crossroads. They can stay where they are, which is relying on the defense to keep them afloat and play “Conservoball”, or take a risk by throwing in new schemes that will open up the offense and possibly make it more explosive. Too many times the Niners have had chances to put teams away, but by trying to conserve leads instead of extending them, they let teams they should destroy back in it.
    It’s like telling LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat to start running the Princeton offense. Such a waste of talent.

    January 22nd, 2014 7:30 pm

  45. Phil

    Like you wrote, the Niners need to take a good, hard look at themselves as a franchise. While all the wins, the deep playoff runs and the unveiling of a new stadium is all gravy now, there are still chinks in the armor that must be addressed. Some tough decisions have to be made in regards to not just the coaching staff (Roman) but the entire philosophy, especially on offense. We can’t play “Conservoball”. Teams like Wisconsin and Georgetown struggle in the NCAA tournament because their conservative offensive systems keep weaker teams in the game, and eventually those teams gain confidence and are able to pull off upsets. Niners should seek to not just merely get by but crush their opponents. I felt like the team that beat Miami in the Super Bowl had that mentality of total domination.

    January 22nd, 2014 7:33 pm

  46. Tom Fresso

    Every team deals with change every year, which is the nature of the league. I’ll put my money on this winning franchise to continue to make the correct adjustments. I won’t ever doubt the most competitive person on the planet and am thankful he is our head coach.

    January 23rd, 2014 8:48 am

  47. Lou

    “NFL, but it’s not getting any better. ”
    Says who? Did you look into your crystal ball and see something….

    “Understand that. Jim Harbaugh could not win with this team”
    Right…I guess another 12-4 season and two road playoff wins (and final play loss from the superbowl) isn’t winning.

    “So, is he going to do better next season when Frank Gore (14 yards rushing Sunday) is 31, when Justin Smith is 35, when NaVorro Bowman (horrible knee injury) may no longer be NaVorro Bowman, when Mike Iupati is recovering from a busted leg or maybe isn’t even a 49er anymore? When Anquan Boldin may leave as a free agent?

    -Ummm…ok…You clearly didn’t take any liberties making reckless assumptions without any facts behind them (horrible knee injury is really astounding reporting) ….Where do you get these ideas? From Seahawks forums?

    How about the return over Chris Culliver & a full season with a healthy Crabtree? How about the addition of Marcus Lattimore….How about Kaepernick getting BETTER (do you know that he can actually get better…and leave you with even less to write about).

    How about Boldin saying he plans to return to the 49ers.

    How about Iupati being ready for week 1 next season.

    Why can’t Novarro Bowman be the same guy if Michael Crabtree can return and look better from his ACL tear? Guess what….They have made some vast improvements in bone and tissue repair since you were watching high school football in the 1920′s.

    Oh, yea….they also have what, another 10 draft picks next year….Of course no way Harbaugh Balkee finds more talent (such as pro bowler talents; Eric Reid, Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, & Terrell Brown) …No way that happens….cause he has no history of winning in the draft….

    Where do they find cynical bloggers like yourself? I’m guessing you’re not a 49ers fan.

    February 1st, 2014 4:38 pm

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