Here is a link to my Monday column about the 49ers. The full text runs below:
SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are not a good football team.
They lost to the St. Louis Rams, a terrible team that came into Sunday’s game with two wins. Total. The 49ers beat the Rams a few weeks ago in St. Louis, but the Niners couldn’t beat the Rams in Levi’s Stadium. You’d call losing to the Rams 13-10 — or by any score — disgraceful verging on shameful.
You couldn’t come right out and say the 49ers stink — although, as they get worse every week, that low level of performance may arise in their future. But they are mediocre, uninspired and uninteresting. They don’t create their own opportunities and they don’t take advantage of opportunities given to them.
And they are very badly coached — especially on offense.
The 49ers were coming off a bye week. The 49ers had two whole weeks to prepare for the losers from the Midwest. What did the Niners’ coaches do? Maybe Jim Harbaugh took a mini-vacation at Sea Ranch where he drank fine Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, waded into the Pacific and had deep, thoughtful conversations with the dolphins and whales.
And maybe offensive coordinator Greg Roman . . . oh, who cares what Roman, the most overrated offensive coordinator in the NFL, did? His offense was dead on arrival Sunday. It tends to do that.
This is for sure. The 49ers players were unprepared because their coaches did not prepare them. The 49ers should have been rested, efficient and crisp. Instead they played down to the level of a bad team. Never — and I mean never — have we seen a Jim Harbaugh team this ragged, this sloppy. Eight Colin Kaepernick sacks is enough to cause collective nausea over all of Northern California.
The 49ers are now 4-4. They are miles behind some teams in the National Football Conference. They still have to play the Saints next Sunday in New Orleans, and the Seahawks twice, and the Cardinals once. That’s a lot of tough games. Losses loom in those games. The 49ers have to win their remaining eight games to finish with the record they had last season — 12-4. That won’t happen. The 49ers are no lock to make the playoffs this season. Face the facts.
But wait. Hold the phone. Stop the Earth from spinning.
If you’re reading this article, it’s a good guess you’re a 49ers fan or, at least, you are 49ers interested. And it offends your sensibilities that this writer — me — is so insensitive to the local heroes who, truth be told, aren’t exactly local anymore.
The stalwart, well-meaning, hardworking 49ers deserve a boost, not heaps of criticism. Because, let’s face it, they have excuses galore. It’s possible they got ripped off by the officials. Screwed.
Maybe Kaepernick — Sack Boy — scored on that plunge to the end zone when he was juggling the ball at the end of the game. Maybe that one Rams player should have been called for a safety. Maybe Michael Crabtree scored a touchdown on a pass from the Sack Master that wasn’t called a TD.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
Maybes count for nothing. Counted for nothing. The 49ers and their fans never should say the breaks did not go their way. It’s embarrassing and demeaning to the team. Kaepernick himself made an appeal to bad breaks. He swore he scored at the end — implied the officials loused up the call.
Please. When you play a crummy team, you don’t need breaks and you don’t count on breaks and you sure don’t whine when you don’t get the breaks. You win. You take the game away from the officials. You own the game. The Niners didn’t do any of that.
And most of all, if you are a good team, you win the games you’re supposed to win. The Niners didn’t do that, either.
After the game, the 49ers’ locker room was as quiet as a library. No. That image is too polite, too refined. It was as quiet as the morgue. There is no sound like the sound of a losing locker room. It is the pure absence of sound. Patrick Willis, who didn’t play — hurt big toe — got the hell out of there fast. So did Ahmad Brooks. They were fleeing their personal football tragedy. They could not flee how the team played. They could not flee the 49ers’ two-game losing streak.
Harbaugh came to the big auditorium. His fight was gone. He seemed defeated. He said as little as possible. Because, really, what was there to say? He has lost games and pride and standing among his peers.
I said his team is usually playing well this time of year. Why are things different?
“We have to play good football to win in this league,” he replied. “There’s no question about it.”
It was a meaningless answer because: 1) It didn’t relate to my question. I had asked why the Niners are playing poorly. And, 2) Everyone, including kindergartners with lunchboxes, know teams have to play well to win. It shows Harbaugh had run out of things to say.
Kaepernick came to the auditorium after Harbaugh. A long time after. He pouted and his mouth curved down and he did not look at people. He seemed sick at heart. He seemed morally offended by the loss and by himself.
I asked why the offense is not performing well.
“Execution,” he said. “We have to play better.”
“You, generally, answer with ‘execution,’ ” I said, “so let me follow up. How do you get to execute better?”
“Does that mean you’re not practicing well enough?”
“No.” He shook his head, his face so sad. He meant the team is not practicing well enough. And that’s on the coaches and that’s on the players and that’s on him.
I want to end with something Harbaugh said after the game. Someone asked if he’s surprised his team could not beat the Rams. Again, Harbaugh did not answer the question, but he said something revealing, anyway. “Got to play at the highest level to win football games in this league.”
No. Press the buzzer. Wrong answer.
The 49ers did not have to play at the highest level to beat the Rams. They had to play at a decent level, at an OK level, at a mediocre level. The 49ers couldn’t even do that.
The 49ers are not a good football team.
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.