Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 9 - will the real Alex Smith please stand up?

Yesterday's 34-27 loss to the Titans (the f'ing Titans, for crying out loud!!!) was just plain ugly. U-G-L-Y. After playing quite well for 3 quarters, resulting in a 20-17 lead, a meltdown of Biblical magnitude resulted in a 34-20 deficit. A late garbage touchdown made the score respectable, but a loss is still a loss.

The prime architect of the meltdown was Alex Smith. He played quite well for 3 quarters. Then, in the fourth quarter when the Niners sorely needed him to display leadership, he became Interception Man.

The Titans scored a touchdown to make it 24-20. Smith throws an awful-looking interception (his second of the day; the first was a tipped ball). The defense stiffens and holds the Titans to a field goal, so the Niners can still drive down the field and tie the game. Then Smith throws an even worse interception, a Pick-6. It's 34-20 and all hope is lost. NOW Smith decides to start playing like an NFL quarterback, leading a nice drive for the garbage time touchdown.

His numbers were good if you throw out the 3 picks and a fumble: he was 29-45 for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. It's the four turnovers, particularly the final two, that killed us.

So who is Alex Smith? Is he the guy who led an awesome drive to put the Niners ahead 17-10 at the half? Or is he the choke machine who threw the two gawd-awful picks late?

Frank Gore had a nice game: 83 yards rushing, 75 yards receiving, and 1 touchdown. Vernon Davis was a monster: 10 catches for 102 yards. Jason Hill, who hadn't been getting a lot of playing time, caught two touchdown passes.

On defense, Patrick Willis (of course) played a monster game. Also playing quite well were Aubrayo Franklin and Parys Haralson, who had 2 tackles for a loss each. But the defense never really got any pressure on Vince Young without blitzing. It was a disappointing effort. And -- not that it's anything to be ashamed of, with him being the NFL's leading rusher and all -- the defense allowed Chris Johnson to rush for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I think it's safe to say that, at 3-5, the team's chances of making the playoffs are now on life support. Nonetheless, the schedule is kind the rest of the way; only Philadelphia and Arizona are playoff-caliber teams among the Niners' remaining games.

Four weeks ago I was ready to "crown their ass". Last night I was ready to throw in the towel. It's going to take a memorable coaching effort from Mike Singletary to turn around this 4 game losing streak and right the ship.