You know things are not going very well for your football team when Al Michaels starts making excuses for your pitiful performance. The well known veteran NFL television announcer and San Francisco 49ers fanatic insinuated that the Niners were burned out during a thorough beat down Sunday night in Seattle. The 49ers had played the previous Sunday night on the East Coast against the New England Patriots and had barely survived a furious QB Tom Brady led second half comeback.
Since that dreadful second half in the Beantown suburb, the 49ers have been hammered in the last five and one half quarters 73-23. In addition to being physically drained, it appears that dreadful second half also did quite a number on the psyche of a team which was once seen as one of the gold standards to play for the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans LA.
Of course, it did not help that the Niners had to go up against a red hot undefeated home team which had become only one of three teams to score 50 points in two consecutive games. After the drubbing, the Seahawks gave notice that they are for real, again becoming only one of three teams to score at least 150 points in three consecutive games.
Another interesting side note to the story was Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh honking at and waving at the Seahawks team bus after an earlier Niners 13-6 victory over Seattle in October. Seattle Seahawks DB Richard Sherman had approached coach Pete Carroll late in last night’s game and suggested revenge piling on the score by going for another touchdown and a subsequent two point conversion to attempt to score 50 points for a third consecutive game. Reportedly, Carroll responded to Sherman’s idea by stating, “We have more class than that.”
That was quite a strange response from a coach who the previous week against the Buffalo Bills ran a fake punt early in the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks were leading by 30 points. Carroll was also accused of running up the score by passing when winning big two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals. Certainly, the Classy Carroll/Honky Harbaugh hatefest goes back to their NCAA days when Harbaugh’s Stanford squad ran it up on Carroll’s USC outfit.
Regardless of the personal jabs, right now it is Harbaugh and the Niners who are reeling and in a semi-free-fall. Of course, the wheels have not come off yet, but the concussion injury to TE Vernon Davis and the defensive collapses in the past game and a half are cause to be alarmed. And add to that, QB Colin Kaepernick and his failures in the red zone against the Seahawks (three points in three visits), and you have a team which has a few more issues than just being fatigued.
Harbaugh took a major risk earlier in the season by sitting down QB Alex Smith after he fully recovered from his concussion injury. If Kaepernick and the suddenly shell-shocked 49ers defense fail to get their game together and deliver in the playoffs, Harbaugh will lose quite a bit of street cred for benching Smith, who was having his best season. It is highly unlikely that Harbaugh can backtrack on his prospecting ways now by re-inserting Smith, since it would be admitting he was digging for gold in the wrong place.
If the Niners fail to recover from their mini-tailspin, all the excuses in the world from an astute football analyst such as Al Michaels will not be enough to save Harbaugh from his honky tonk behavior.