The 49ers were supposed to walk through the weak NFC West and make the playoffs. At the very least, they were supposed to secure their first winning season since 2002. Instead, they finished at 6-10 and in 3rd place in the NFC West. An 0-5 start doomed them, and though they had a chance to make good on owner Jed York’s promise after their 0-5 start that they’d win the division, a terrible performance in St. Louis against the Rams week 16 eliminated them.
In the loss, Mike Singletary rebenched Troy Smith for what seemed like the 20th time for Alex Smith. Smith wasn’t too happy about and he got into a confrontation with Mike Singletary which Ted Ginn tried to break up by waving a towel in Smith’s face. Don’t ask me why Ginn did that, but that incident led to the firing of Mike Singletary (though there were other reasons why he was fired).
Singletary is a tremendous motivator who I feel would succeed if he had a team with an established quarterback and offense in place, but lacked discipline (Houston?), but he doesn’t know how to build an offense. You can’t switch quarterbacks that many times in a season. Alex Smith started week 15 and had a strong performance in a loss in San Diego, going 19-29 for 165 yards and a pick, amid harsh pressure from the San Diego defense. He was rewarded by being benched for Troy Smith, who was benched again midgame for Alex Smith.
All in all, Alex started 10 games and Troy started 6. Alex was hurt week 7 and replaced with David Carr, who promptly blew a lead against a winless Carolina team and was never heard from again. Troy Smith took over week 8 and led the team to back-to-back victories. He was 3-2 as starter, as opposed to Alex Smith’s 1-6, but was benched for Alex before week 14.
Alex started weeks 14 and 15 and played well, going 36 for 56 for 420 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick, but was benched again before week 16 for Troy. Troy went 7 for 19 against St. Louis and was benched for Alex Smith who couldn’t reverse the damages in a 25-17 season ending loss. Smith played well week 17 under interim coach Jim Tomsula.
Overall, the quarterback saga ruined what should have been a promising season. Frank Gore ran well before he got hurt and even the ancient Brian Westbrook ran well after Gore got hurt, behind this massive young line. The line struggled in pass protection, with 44 sacks allowed, but with 2 raw rookies on the line, that was to be expected. They will get better in the future.
The defense ranked 13th in fewest yards allowed, and 16th in fewest points allowed. With talented players like Justin Smith and Patrick Willis, this defense is playoff caliber. Now they just need new Coach Jim Harbaugh to fix the offense, no easy challenge.