Niners’ season on life support 

In my book, the air has been choked out of the 49ers’ balloon, which struggled to get off the ground the entire season.

While the 49ers are still mathmatically alive for the playoffs thanks to the dreadful NFC West, this team already appears all but done. Thanks to the Chargers for that.

This Niners team should be put out of their fans’ misery. Forget what the mathematicians say.

At this point, these 49ers should not have a chance. They have not played like a good football team, and not a single player on the roster has improved since this team first lined up back in September.

They’ve won five games, and made more mind-boggling mistakes than can be counted. Against the Chargers it was a key player being ejected. A touchdown wiped out by a penalty. A sure interception dropped. Par for the 2010 course.

The game the Niners had to win was simply the last letdown in a season of letdowns. A second-quarter fourth-and-inches that never had a chance. A game plan in which Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree combine for a single catch in the first half. Two through three quarters. Alex Smith running for his life.

Sadly, the effort was typical of 49ers football this season.

My head continues to swim from postgame comments last Sunday.

“Everyone did their jobs [against the Seahawks]. That’s the first time I’ve seen it like that this season, at least when I’ve been in there,” said Alex Smith.

They started practicing when? After minicamps, training camp began back in the summer. There were four preseason games, and it took these 49ers until the Week 14 of the season to get it right?

For me, Smith’s comment will serve as the book on the job done by coach Mike Singletary and his coaching staff in 2010.

And the game Thursday night against the Chargers was the exclamation point that comes after the phrase, “The End!”

 

Random thoughts

While everybody’s been celebrating the Giants’ World Series championship, Manager Bruce Bochy has quietly been fretting about the other end of the fun — the toll it took on his young pitchers.

Adding five weeks of starts in the postseason to their regular-season totals, the Giants’ main four starters could put in for overtime. Tim Lincecum (249¹?³ total innings), Matt Cain (244¹?³), Jonathan Sanchez (227¹?³) and rookie Madison Bumgarner (211 including minor-league totals) each logged career-highs for innings pitched.

That’s a lot of innings on those young arms. Fortunately, it was worth every one of them.

Maybe the pitcher who deserves the most overtime credit is Giants closer Brian Wilson, who totaled 80 appearances in all for 86¹?³ innings, an unheard of amount of work for such a stressful position.

Wilson ranked third among closers in innings pitched during the regular season, and wound up throwing more innings than any closer last season.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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