His head coach is teetering like a fatally wounded Goliath. His error-prone starting quarterback has thrown a league-high nine interceptions. But 49ers owner Jed York still thinks the 49ers will make the playoffs. He texted ESPN's Adam Schefter as much this morning, writing, "We're going to win the division." (Gee, I wonder who leaked the Jimmy Raye/Michael Lewis/Takeo Spikes items last Monday morning).
York is no stranger to bold statements. At the end of the 2008 season, when he made Mike Singletary the permanent head coach, he vowed that it would be the last time the 49ers season ends in December. Boy was he wrong.
York might be correct in thinking that A.) The 49ers have been close to winning three of their first five games and B.) The team's schedule becomes favorable from this point forward. I handicapped the remaining games yesterday.
But winning the division presupposes that the 49ers will somehow solve their fatal flaw. There seems to be a sense in the organization, from York down to the players, that all the 49ers need to do to turn the season around, indeed to become one of the top teams in the league, is to stop making mistakes. "I think the best team that we've played so far is the San Francisco 49ers," Mike Singletary said after last night's game.
Singletary and York both believe that the 49ers are a strong team with a correctable problem. What they're not acknowledging is that strong teams don't make mistakes the 49ers have made. Weak ones do. Errors have become systemic with the 49ers. Instead of eliminating them, which the 49ers vow to do every week, they seem to grow more catastrophic with every game. A week after Nate Clements coughs up a win in Atlanta, Smith is sacked, fumbles and the ball is returned 51 yards for a touchdown.
Mistakes are in the 49ers bloodstream, they are multiplying, and so far the 49ers have no cure.
-- Matt Barrows