Sunday Night Quarterbacking

November 22

Alright. Let’s get this straight. Alex Smith was not going to take the 49ers to the promised land, but he at least deserved a shot. The problem is, even his own coaches aren’t giving him a shot.

Why? They got scared. They saw Smith’s four-turnover performance against the Titans, probably the 49ers most critical loss of the year, and were determined not to let that happen again.

It hasn’t. And now Mike Singletary, Jimmy Raye and company are determined to grind out wins, because they don’t feel they have the talent to get into a track meet. In the process, they’re keeping Smith from doing what he does best — run the spread offense — until they fall behind and have no choice.

Now, they have no choice but to run the spread the entire game. They’re two games out of the wild card, three games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West. So now I say throw caution to the wind, even if it’s Smith’s last stand.

The 49ers will probably have another starting quarterback next year, but until they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and as long as they are starting Smith, put him in the spread and let him go. Nothing to lose at this point.

It’s intriguing to think what would have happened if Jimmy Raye had installed the spread for Smith in training camp and let him get settled in. Of course, there’s one problem with that theory — Raye would rather have a cement enema than install a wide-open offense. Now there’s really no other option.

Worried about not controlling the ball enough? I respectfully direct your attention to the first half in Green Bay, when the grind-it-out 49ers had minus-7 yards passing, 3 points, and a 20 point deficit. Then they opened things up in the second half with 230 yards-plus passing.

What worked? The Spread. A good coach doesn’t try to shove his theories down a team’s throat, he looks for ways in which his talent can best succeed.

Unless Raye makes the switch now, and unless Mike Singletary signs off on the change, the 49ers are done. Their playoff chances are very slim now, but if they’re going to keep hope alive, this is what they must do. The change doesn’t guarantee success but it improves the odds.

This is not Raye’s style but it’s time to either change or fade away. Singletary has stuck with his man, his boat anchor, but unless the boat anchor learns to float, Raye will drag Singletary down into Davey Jones’ Locker. Raye’s track record is checkered at best, but in his last weeks as offensive coordinator, he can at least go down fighting.

Aggressive is the word now. On offense, and on defense. Lack of aggressiveness cost the 49ers D as well today. They failed to get after Aaron Rodgers. They failed to disrupt the pass routes of Packer receivers in the West Coast Offense, which depends on timing.

That’s Aggressive, coach Singletary. With an A. Maybe you don’t think you have the horses to run that race, but your options are dwindling. That’s the NFL today.

***

While hosting Sportsphone 680 last Friday I gave producer Dave Feldhouse a ration of bat guano for his plans this weekend. An inveterate Cleveland fan, he planned to travel to Ford Field to watch the Browns visit the Lions. I asked him whether they were paying him, but he actually shelled out 75-bucks a pop.

I advised him to call the Better Business Bureau. I wholeheartedly approved blacking out this game, and that’s what happened. I called it the Battle of the Butterknives.

Well, well … my apologies to Mr. Feldhouse, the NFL, the Browns, Lions, the family of Wayne Fontes, and anyone else I might have offended. Browns @ Lions was not only the best game of the day, but perhaps the best of the season. 51 points by halftime, several lead changes, and a touchdown on an untimed play at the end of the game, the 5th TD pass for Matthew Stafford.

This after pass interference was called against the Browns on a Hail-Mary, something that never happens. This after Stafford injured his left shoulder. It wasn’t his throwing shoulder, though, and he threw a one yard TD to win it with no time left. Unbelievable.

I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I was there. At Ford Field. Not Detroit.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering Raiders and 49ers, Stafford is what a #1 pick looks like. Five touchdown passes against anyone, even the Browns, is very impressive. Especially the way he did it.

***

Ahhh, the Raiders. Bruce Gradkowski to Louis Murphy, tie game with :30 left. Kickoff return, fumble, Raiders recover. Seabass Field Goal, Merry Christmas, thank you very much Bengals. The Gradkowski Era has begun.

Congratulations AFC North. You went 0-for-Sunday.

***

I finally got a chance to see the Red Zone channel today. I’m in. It was the only way you could see the Raiders incredible last-minute win.

Let’s go Double Box !

***

The Raiders comeback was my third favorite moment of Sunday, the Browns-Lions finish my second. My #1 moment … drumroll …

Tom Brady going for bomb to Randy Moss with :25 left and the Patriots leading the Jets, 31-14! I am one of the few people on earth who gets a chuckle out of Bill Belichick. When it comes to the Jets, he will never turn the page.

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