Here is a link to my Monday column about the 49ers’ stinker in Arizona. The full text runs below:
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The 49ers will fold.
A week ago, they folded in the second half against the Chicago Bears, gave up a big lead. Folded. On Sunday, they folded against the Arizona Cardinals. Let the roof fall in. Lost to a backup quarterback — 23-14.
Advice to all 49ers’ opponents: Don’t fret if the 49ers sprint to a big lead in the first half. If you can hang with the Niners, you can beat them. Why?
Because the current 49ers lack heart or the killer instinct or football intelligence — see their army of penalties at all the wrong times — or the ability to close out a game. This team lacks something.
The Cardinals beat them after trailing 14-6 at the half. Trailing at the half? Don’t sweat it. The Niners lose “it” — whatever it is — in the second half. They lost it against Dallas in the season opener but held on to win the game like a boxer getting whacked in the corner who’s saved by the bell.
The 49ers scored no points in the second half against Arizona. In three second halves, the 49ers have scored a gargantuan three points. That’s three points in 90 minutes of play.
I’m talking to the Eagles and Chiefs and Seahawks. I’m talking to every team on the 49ers’ schedule. Stay close to the 49ers. Don’t strain yourselves because it doesn’t have to be THAT close. Believe me, they will give you the game.
The offense will go dead and the defense won’t get pressure on the quarterback and the coaches will get out-coached. That last one is astounding. The Niners sprint to a nice lead, but the coaches of the other team — the Bears and Cardinals — figure out the Niners in the locker room. And the Niners coaches stand there scratching their heads.
I want to give representative examples so you’ll see what gives with this team. Anquan Boldin is a representative example. He helped lose the game.
Late in the third quarter, the Niners now trailing 20-14, now actively caving in, drove down the field and got to the Cardinals’ 12-yard line. A touchdown and extra point would give the 49ers the lead. Boldin caught a pass for 6 yards. Tony Jefferson leaned hard on Boldin as he, Jefferson, got up. And Boldin smacked Jefferson on the helmet.
An official called unnecessary roughness on Boldin and moved the 49ers out of the red zone. The drive fell to pieces after Jonathan Martin got called for clipping — how undisciplined these 49ers are — and then the Niners had a field goal blocked.
After his unnecessary roughness call, Boldin spoke to Harbaugh on the sideline. Harbaugh later referred to Boldin’s penalty as a “getting in people’s faces” penalty. “(Boldin) was expressing his frustration,” Harbaugh said. “I was listening to it, but it was already over. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping our composure while the play is going on.” Boldin was frustrated with what he considered rough play by the opponent.
Someone asked Boldin about his “exchange” with Harbaugh. “It wasn’t no exchange,” Boldin said. “He asked me a question. I answered the question. It was after my personal foul. He said, ‘Could you come to me or come to the ref?’ I said, ‘Coach, I’ve gone to the ref on three different occasions. That’s not helping at all.”
Let’s go slowly here. Boldin felt he was getting a raw deal and took matters into his own hands. Call it frontier justice. That made Boldin feel good but it compromised the drive. Clearly, Harbaugh did not like it.
In football, frontier justice isn’t allowed. It may make the player — Boldin— feel good, but it’s selfish and hurts the team. Boldin is a veteran and should know better. He had no right to do what he did.
That’s one reason the Niners are losing. They are out of control.
Boldin had more to say: “For me,” he said, “it’s been obvious the last two weeks, the amount of calls against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten hasn’t been close. And then every week it’s the same thing. You send the tape in and the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake,’ and at the same time, the crap costs another game. But as soon as we do something, wow, they see it.”
So, it’s the refs’ fault the 49ers lost two in a row. Sounds like whining and excuse making. Shame on Anquan Boldin.
Then there’s the case of Colin Kaepernick. He played exceptionally well, was the 49ers’ entire offense. But, he’s another reason the 49ers go into the Big Sleep in the second half. He has led exactly zero touchdown drives in the second half this season.
He had his shot on Sunday. The 49ers got the ball with almost seven minutes left in the game. A touchdown and extra point would have given the Niners the lead with little time left. But Kaepernick is allergic to leading the glorious fourth-quarter drive that results in the winning TD.
On this drive, he led the 49ers nowhere, overthrew Brandon Lloyd on third down by a mile. After that, the Cardinals closed out the game.
Afterward, Kaepernick came to the interview room. He wore sunglasses indoors, looked like a refugee from Hollywood or a suspect.
I asked why the offense doesn’t play as well in the second half.
“It’s execution,” Kaepernick said.
“Execution” is his default answer, allows him not to think or take the question seriously.
“Does that mean you execute better in the first half than the second half?” I asked.
“We have so far.”
“Do you understand why? Do you lose your concentration? Do you get tired?”
“So you don’t know why.”
“I do know why. Execution.”
Meaningless answer. A team doesn’t lose execution in the locker room. Kaepernick better think more seriously about his play, his role, his attitude.
For a voice of reason, I went to Ahmad Brooks. I asked why the team tanks in the second half. He stared at me.
“I don’t know, man,” he said thoughtfully. “I have no idea. I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Do you stand on the sideline amazed, thinking, ‘Here we go again’ ”
He stared at me. “It’s unbelievable, you know what I’m saying. Because what happened today was similar to what happened last week. They were calling a lot of penalties. If you want to blame the penalties, you can. But there were things we could have done to help us win. We started off last year 1-2. We were in the same position we are in right now. Hopefully we’ll continue to get better.”
Most teams look to the future. The 49ers must look to the past. Last season, they lost two of their first three games. Harbaugh grabbed the team, shook it, made it right. If he shakes, is this team good enough to get well?
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.