The Niners and their knack for not making plays

Geez, I spent nearly 1,000 words trying to describe the 49ers’ performance and my non-writer, NFL-mad friend captured it perfectly in a concise in-game e-mail.

His message: Puke.

Evidently RB DeShawn Wynn wasn’t the only one with an upset tummy after the Niners’ 34-7 faceplant against San Diego:


• The Niners have a unique ability to not make plays.

It’s hard to imagine a fantasy scenario in which they would have beaten San Diego, but what if:

* TE Delanie Walker doesn’t drop a deep pass — about a 30-yarder — near
midfield on the first play of their second drive. Two plays later …
punt.

* A botched blocking assignment doesn’t allow Chargers linebacker
Brandon Siler to level RB Anthony Dixon for a one-yard loss on
fourth-and-goal at the inch-yard line with the Niners trailing 7-0 in
the second quarter.

* Not a play per se, but what if 10-year veteran Justin Smith doesn’t
shove an official and earn a personal-foul penalty and an ejection?
Smith’s push was a short-term (second-and-15 turned into first-and-10)
and long-term (Ray McDonald and Demetric Evans aren’t Justin Smith)
killer.

* Trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, LB Ahmad Brooks doesn’t drop (bat
down? punch?) an interception that might have resulted in a touchdown.

* Trailing 17-0, Moran Norris doesn’t pull a facemask as Ted Ginn races 85 yards for a TD with the second-half kickoff.

Funny, the Chargers didn’t appear to have these same problems.

• There is an unmistakable Groundhog Day element to watching the 49ers this season.

In fact, not much has changed since the Week 1 loss to Seattle when,
like Thursday, they played well for a quarter, faced some adversity,
caved in, lost by more than three touchdowns and, in the aftermath, Mike
Singletary was asked: Did you consider replacing Alex Smith?.

Even the postgame chatter is eerily familiar nine losses into the season:

CB Nate Clements: “It’s very disappointing,” It’s been up and down. I can’t put a finger on the reason.”

TE Vernon Davis: “It’s right there. We just have to go get it.”

LB Takeo Spikes: “It was like a snowball effect. One bad thing would happen and it would lead to another.”

Singletary: “Once again, I want to get back and look at the film.”

• Regarding Alex Smith, his so-so numbers (19 of 29, 165 yards, INT) belied a below-average performance.

He didn’t have the greatest supporting cast (six sacks, Walker’s drop on
a perfect, high-degree-of-difficulty pass), but he also had 70 passing
yards with the Chargers leading 31-0 in the fourth quarter.

On the Niners’ first drive, the Chargers were all over a third-and-2
screen to Walker, but, still, Smith airmailed the routine throw for an
incompletion. His accuracy remains an issue. I can’t say with certainty
what opportunities he had downfield, but he took few chances even when
faced with a big deficit.

Singletary said he considered inserting Troy Smith, but thought it
wouldn’t be fair to throw him to the Chargers given his inexperience and
lack of first-team reps in practice.

“It’s a different thing going from Troy to Alex,” Singletary said. “I think it’s a horrific thing to go from Alex to Troy.”

Horrific? Wow. I suppose that’s one word to use when discussing the quarterback situation.

• The whole NFL-player-as-warrior stuff is a bit overdone, but, really,
how else to describe linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, whose
broken right hands were covered with black casts the size of Oceanside?

After spending four quarters tackling the likes of 243-pound RB Mike
Tolbert, Willis and Spikes, with their casts removed, couldn’t perform
the most basic tasks in the postgame locker room.

A member of the Niners staff helped Spikes remove his shoulder pads and
socks. Willis also required assistance after a pin was inserted during
surgery Monday to reattach a bone.

Willis played with a broken hand for eight games as a rookie and played
with a broken middle finger that required eight screws at Ole Miss.

“It’s not the same,” Willis said. “You’re not able to shed guys or push
them like you want to. In the second half, it got really tender again to
the point where (I) couldn’t use it as much. I had to make do with what
I had. I took a good hit on it in the third quarter. If I’m out there,
no excuses, I have to get the job done.”

Spikes, who had never played with a similar injury, said it took about a
quarter-and-a-half to get used to running with the mammoth cast.

“It was fine,” Spikes said. “It’s hard to tackle and fight off blocks, but I thought I did a good job once I got adjusted.”

Spikes had a team-high 12 tackles. Willis was second with eight.

• WR Josh Morgan had a career-high 106 yards and matched a career-best
with seven catches. Morgan was the only Niner with a reception longer
than nine yards.

• WR Michael Crabtree has 18 receiving yards — and four catches — in the past 11 quarters.

• If not for RB Brian Westbrook’s meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown
run, the Chargers would have become the first team in 25 years to post
back-to-back shutout wins of 30 points or more.

The 1985 Chicago Bears, which included Singletary and Chargers defensive
coordinator Ron Rivera, was the last team to accomplish the feat.

• Chargers WR Vincent Jackson scored more touchdowns (3) than San
Francisco has managed in its last three games against non-division
opponents. The 49ers have been outscored 89-23, scoring two touchdowns,
in their past three games outside the NFC West.

• A fan, presumably under the influence of something stronger than Capri
Sun, ran on the field in the fourth quarter, juked a few security
guards and then made an unwise beeline for the bench of the team
trailing 31-0.

Chargers tight end Kris Wilson, not Samurai Mike, was the one who nearly decked the sweatshirt-waving fan.

“At first I thought about tackling him, just instinct taking over,”
Wilson told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I probably got about 10 yards
from him. The closer I got to him, though, I kept thinking about one
thing: You’re gonna get sued! You’re gonna get sued! Don’t do it.”

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