I’ve been a 49ers fan since the late ’80s. The Niners fanbase is generally regarded as pretty spoiled, and with some good reason—after all, we had Joe Montana and then Steve Young, who combined for two solid decades of dominant football. But we Niners fans have seen the other side of the equation. We lived through the Erickson/Nolan/Singletary era. Those were some bad teams that had a lot of bad losses—but I don’t think anything we saw back then compares with what happened last weekend. That was the worst game I’ve ever seen a Niners team play, and it’s time to admit that we might be looking at the worst squad in San Francisco history. Let’s broke out the marshmallows and roast them over the burning husk of this football team.
The Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted Award (Best Nervous Breakdown): Colin Kaepernick
I watched the game this weekend at a sports bar in Brooklyn. I walked in just after 4 p.m. and asked the bartender to switch one of the TVs to the Niners game. Not ten seconds later, Colin Kaepernick made a dying quail of a throw out toward the sideline from his own goal line. As soon as the turd of a throw left his hand, I knew it was a pick-six.
When the inevitable happened, I put my head down on the bar, and everyone around me started laughing.
Just a couple of minutes later, on the Niners’ next possession, Kaep made an even worse throw, a sidearm fling off his back foot, again toward the sideline. Once again, I knew it was a pick-six the moment the ball left his hand.
If anything, the second throw was worse than the first, and as Tyrann Mathieu strolled toward the end zone, I was the one who laughed—the maniacal, hopeless laughter of someone who was watching his house burn down with all his worldly possessions inside. Six minutes into the first quarter, with the score 14-0, the game was over.
I’ve long been a Colin Kaepernick supporter. You can ask any of my friends. When Harbaugh replaced Smith with Kaep, I thought it was the right move. When people doubted Kaep while he struggled at times during the 2013 season, I defended him, saying that I’d rather have him than any of his contemporaries except for Andrew Luck. Even last year, as he was falling apart, I thought he still might be salvageable.
Now? Nope. I know I’m not supposed to overreact to one game, and I know that even the Bradys and Mannings of the world have afwul games from time to time, but I am not exaggerating when I say that say that that was the worst game I’ve ever seen an NFL quarterback play. He threw four picks, and none of them were unlucky. Each one was terrible in its own beautiful, tragic, Yeatsean way. Kaepernick’s incompetence was so perfect, it verged on poetry. A terrible beauty is born, indeed.
Some numbers, for perspective: At one point early in the third quarter, Kaepernick had completed five passes to members of his own team and four passes to members of the Cardinals. He finished the game 9-for-19 for 67 yards. His QBR was 3.2.
And the worst thing isn’t even the performance; it’s the way he and the team reacted to it. Down 21-0 in the second quarter, they called 13 straight running plays. SF clearly lost any faith in Kaep’s ability to throw the ball. And even when he threw, it wasn’t exactly a high-concept offense.
The Honey Badger didn’t give a shit—nor should he have. Kaepernick was not an NFL quarterback in this game. He wasn’t even a high school quarterback. He was a mental patient huddled on the ground crying, like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted.
Colin Kaepernick is already dead. And so is this season.
The Roof Is on Fire Award (Self-explanatory): The Entire Niners Defense
With the way Kaepernick and the offense played on Sunday, the Niners could have run out the ’85 Bears defense and still gotten stomped. But let’s be clear: This defense is pretty fucking far from the Monsters of the Midway. We knew the secondary was trouble after what the Steelers did to them last week, but this outing was just as bad. Let me put it this way: Who were Arizona’s three major offensive stars of this game? Carson Palmer, who at this point in his career is held together with staples and duct tape; Chris Johnson who was last good two teams and three seasons ago but was stiff-arming tacklers like peak T.O.; and Larry Fitzgerald, who is apparently invisible to defensive backs. The combined age of these three? 847 (give or take).
The old dudes on the Cardinals threw a Molotov cocktail on the 49ers’ roof. We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn.
The Ray McDonald Award (Person That Makes Me Hate Football): Jed York
Ah, Jed York. The legacy owner who inherited the once-proud San Francisco 49ers. The guy who gave multiple felons multiple chances to keep coming back and playing for said team. The guy who moved said team to the suckpit of Santa Clara County to vacuum up that sweet Silicon Valley cash. The guy who waged a backbiting whisper campaign against one of the five best coaches in the NFL and then canned him because he said he wanted to “win with class.” The guy who took this team, poured gasoline all over it, and then lit a match. Actually, let’s give Jed his own special one-off award:
The Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale Award (Person Who Burned This Thing to the Ground): Jed York
Yeah, that’s about right. Cozy up to those flames. Warm, aren’t they? Satisfying, no? You see that car, Jed? That’s your franchise now.
The Joe Starkey Award (Best Words About the Game): My Favorite bartender, Annie
Allow me to digress for a moment. I moved to New York City in the fall of 2010. Upon arriving, I went looking for a sports bar where I could watch the Niners, and I came across Finnerty’s in the East Village. It wasn’t a great time to be a Niners fan—that was the last Singletary season—but my timing was still pretty good, as less than two months after I landed in the Big Apple, the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco. I watched every game of that epic run at Finns (I even wore the same shirt every night), and became good friends with Annie, the bartender who had made it a Bay Area expat sports bar.
Anyway, as I said, I watched the game in Brooklyn, this week, not at Finns, and Annie’s not even a bartender there anymore, but we’re still suffering together. Early in the third quarter when we were down by, I dunno, a billion points, she messaged me: “I am assuming you’re going to have alcohol poisoning after this Niner game…”
Annie knows me pretty well, but in this case, she was wrong. How many Anchors did I have during this game?
Overall Rating For This Game (On a scale of Zero to Twelve Anchors, in honor of San Francisco’s favorite beverage): 0 Anchors
That’s right, zero Anchors. Because I didn’t get drunk during the game. Because it was over before I could order a single beer. You know things are bad when I can’t even come up with an excuse to get drunk.
At this point, you might be asking, “How fucked are we?” Well, you saw what the Cardinals did to us, right? Okay, you know who we’re playing this weekend? Only Aaron Fucking Rodgers. The best quarterback in the NFL, who’s making a claim at being the best quarterback ever, who this past Monday night torched the Kansas City Chiefs with five touchdown passes. Who was playing QB for the Chiefs? None other than Alex Smith, of course—who the Niners chose over Rodgers in the 2005 draft. I will never, ever stop being bitter about that—and neither will Rodgers. Here’s my best guess at what he’s going to do to our defense next Sunday.
I’m never gonna get tired of using that video, and it’s a good thing, because holy shit, have you seen what our schedule looks like? After the Packers, the next seven games are at N.Y. Giants, Ravens, Seahawks, at Rams, Falcons, at Seahawks, Cardinals. Do you honestly believe the Niners can win any of those games? MAYBE at the Rams, but just thinking about Kaepernick against Aaron Donald and that Rams D-line makes me want to curl up in a ball. There’s a very real chance that the Niners will be 1-10 by the time they get to another winnable game, and even then, our December games against the Bears and Browns are both on the road. This is it, folks. Abandon all hope. We’re fucking toast.