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The 49ers Should be Embarrassed, but What Next?

The San Francisco 49ers put up one stinker of a performance against the division rival Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. It was an overall performance that can change the ground underneath the franchise itself.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was plagued by mistakes in decision making and a real alarming inability to show accuracy throughout the evening.

And even more than that, it really does appear that Seattle’s defense, led by Northern California’s public enemy No. 1 Richard Sherman, is in Kaepernick’s head.

Not to place all the blame for this performance solely on the shoulders of one guy, San Francisco’s offense as a whole is a hot mess.

So what’s plaguing this team, and can they get it righted in time to make the playoffs? If not, what does that mean for the key members of the organization, coaches and players alike, in the coming offseason?

We will look at that and more here.

Quarterback Play

Again, Kaepernick doesn’t deserve all the blame. But when the quarterback doesn’t play well, the team doesn’t stand a real good chance of winning. The young signal caller pretty much mirrored that statement following the game (via CSN Bay Area).

I should be,” Kaepernick said. “I didn’t play well tonight. If your quarterback doesn’t play well, it’s going to be hard for you to win games.

Taking responsibility is one thing. Actually performing better against top-notch teams is a completely different thing. And that’s simply something Kaepernick hasn’t done against the Seahawks throughout his career. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially considering that the former second-round pick has excelled against winning clubs this year. Heading into Thursday night’s matchup, Kaepernick had thrown seven touchdowns compared to two interceptions in five games against teams currently with a winning record.

There just seems to be something about going up against the Seahawks and cornerback Richard Sherman, who added this after the team’s 19-3 win on Thursday.

There was an opponent [Kaepernick] who said he would throw it to the open man,” Sherman said. “He didn’t care who was out there [in coverage]. I was the open man.

That’s the definition of a player and a defense being in the quarterback’s head. And if the 49ers are going to run off the four-game winning streak that’s likely needed to earn a trip to the postseason, Kaepernick needs to change this. There is absolutely no way he can go into Seattle and perform like this with the 49ers coming out on top in 17 days time.

Play-Calling

To call this aspect of the 49ers offense atrocious would be a major understatement. Simply put, coordinator Greg Roman is not putting the team in position to succeed offensively. You can’t call a variation of the same running play with Frank Gore up the middle on a consistent basis and expect to have success. This is only magnified against some of the best defenses in the NFL.

And to be honest, this hasn’t been a short-term issue for the 49ers. Roman, who has been in control of Harbaugh’s running game since Stanford, simply isn’t a good offensive coordinator. He struggles helping the 49ers get in rhythm throughout the game, and has at times been completely out-coached by opposing defensive coordinators.

This was magnified in a big way going up against one of the better defensive minds in the form of Dan Quinn on Thursday night. The bland play calling simply didn’t put San Francisco in position to have success. And it might have pretty much doomed Roman’s tenure in San Francisco.

Unfortunately for fans in San Francisco, this ineptitude will not be resolved unless/until Roman is relieved of his duties. Much like Harbaugh, he’s set in his own ways. With a long week before the 49ers Week 14 matchup against the Oakland Raiders, there remains a possibility that he will be removed as the team’s offensive coordinator. That may be the only way to get the ship righted.

Internal Strife

As I mentioned above, Jed York’s message toward the end of Thursday’s blowout loss was necessary. His team was embarrassed on national television and in front of its home crowd on Thanksgiving night. The entire organization should be embarrassed by this performance.

With that said, his comments may signify that some changes will be made moving forward this season and into the offseason. Whether that’s the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman or something larger, we don’t know.

But the reality of the situation is that the status quo isn’t working. Injuries aside, the 49ers are too talented to be two games over .500 heading into Week 14. And in order for this to change, something needs to be fixed moving forward this season. That’s something for either York to work out with Harbaugh or the 49ers coaching staff to work out by itself.

While I will stop short of saying that the reports earlier this season indicating Harbaugh isn’t well liked in the locker room are fact, one thing is for sure. There is definitely a different feel from previous seasons as it relates to the 49ers. That much cannot be denied.

Fixable? 

The 49ers may be what we think they are at this point. And it’s possible that they are too late in the season for any concrete changes. The larger issue at hand is what might happen in the offseason. Will Harbaugh be back? And if so, will he have the freedom to retain his own assistant coaches?

If San Francisco fails to make the playoffs, we can fully expect an offseason full of changes and drama. From decisions that will have to be made on veterans to the coaching staff itself, there is no reason to expect a seamless transition from the season to the offseason. That will only be brought to the forefront in a more obvious manner if San Francisco misses out on January football.

Photo: USA Today