Today is Jim Harbaugh’s 51st birthday, duly noted by Michigan, and Mark Davis, among others. What will he get from Jed for Christmas? A one-way bus ticket to Oakland? The freedom to take the Michigan job?
Whatever happens, this team will have a lot of questions going into the 2015 season. I mean beyond the head coach leaving, and the possibility he takes a bunch of coaches with him. Least of which is the status of the disappearing pass-catchers. VD played like a guy supremely dissatisfied with his contract. Crabs was kind of involved. Boldin was solid if unspectacular. Both Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson showed early promîse, but both faded down the stretch with nagging injuries.
Gore, despite the 158 he put up the other day, has been ignored/abandoned all year. Hyde looked great to start the season, but again, the 49ers went away from the run and he didn’t get much to do til he got hurt. Hunter of course was hurt in the preseason and LMJ was cut to leave the running corps in a bit of disarray. And that leafs out Marcus Lattimore’s ill-fated try to make the squad.
Does that mean we sign Gore? I’m sure the team will take a wait-and-see approach, but it’s within the realm of possibility that the Niners re-sign him. He still hits the hole hard, however his blocking has been sorely lacking this year after a career of being a stellar blocker. Speaking of blocking, this was probably the weakest unit on the team this year. Whether due to injuries, holdouts, or the ignominious presence of Jonathan Martin, the line play was the worst seen since the early days of Alex Smith.
The QB position also suffered a big regression. Gone was the confident swaggering QB who has recorded playoff road wins in tough environments the past couple years. Even up to the bye week, Kaepernick was having a solid if unspectacular season. After the bye, however, has been a different story. Indecisiveness, reluctance to run, locking onto WRs, waiting too long, taking sacks, throwing picks, fumbling, whatever, Kappy has suddenly come up small in these last few games.
The defense? Well, hot and cold. They overcame a ton of injuries, a ton of ridiculous penalties, and played as well as can be expected. The problems? Well, the disappearing pass rush. Some of that was due to the absence of Aldon Smith, but there were more than a few games (Bears, AZ, StL, Oak, Denver, SD off the top of my head) where the 49ers barely got a hand on the QB all game. More often than not you lose those games.
Going forward? No one knows at this point. Not even Jed. He may be itching to pull the trigger, but who knows who is on his coaching Christmas list.
Someone will be getting a lump of coal soon.