Things just keep going south for 49ers 

click to enlarge Colin Kaepernick
  • Elaine Thompson/2014 AP file photo
  • Since the offseason started, Colin Kaepernick (7) and the 49ers have had turnover and bad news, including the sudden retirements of linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.
It has to do with saints, and that’s not the New Orleans franchise, but the ones after whom the two cities were named.

The 49ers were fine when they played in the city of St. Francis. Six appearances in the Super Bowl, five victories. Everything’s come apart since they moved to the city of St. Clare, even though she’s, yes, the patron saint of television.

Better if she were the patron saint of trap plays.

Candlestick Park, in the words of a man who used to own the Niners, Eddie DeBartolo, was a pigsty. What took place on the field, however, could be elegant. And what took place off the field was at the least commendable.

Now the 49ers are a bewildering mess of confusion.

Now they have a head coach who is unproven and a group of players who are unrecognizable.

Now they are making headlines because a 24-year-old linebacker retires, not improperly worried about repetitive head trauma, instead of for the projected quality of their play.

Jim Harbaugh departs. Frank Gore departs — a thank-you note to Niner fans; man always had class — Patrick Willis departs, Michael Crabtree departs (all but officially), Mike Iupati departs.

The Niners head south to Levi’s Stadium, where the fans slip into hiding at halftime, and in effect the Niners go south.

They miss the playoffs. They end up with a general manager and owner who win a power struggle with Harbaugh and as a result don’t win enough games.

The man who runs the team, Jed York, tweets an apology after a loss to Seattle — at Santa Clara, the jinx city — that the team’s performance was unacceptable. The same game, general manager Trent Baalke’s daughter, Cassie, tweeted Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman, “Can take a hike.”

He’s done that. So have many others.

There’s always change in sport, the new taking over for the old. This, however, is deconstruction.

The Niners signed a frequently injured 30-year-old former USC Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush, to be one of their running backs. Nostalgia. In 1978, the Niners traded for a frequently injured 32-year-old former USC Heisman Trophy running back, O.J. Simpson.

We’re told the addition of Bush means the 49ers will use more screen passes. That’s on the assumption Colin Kaepernick has learned to throw them. Kap’s got great feet but it’s his arm that’s been a problem on short routes. Maybe the lessons from Kurt Warner will make a difference.

In the NFL, continuity is not to be underestimated. The Patriots have had the same coach, Bill Belichick, and the same quarterback, Tom Brady, for more than a decade. Some of the pieces are altered every season. Not most.

Harbaugh was a known entity. His replacement, Jim Tomsula, even though on the Harbaugh staff, is virtually a rumor. Is he going to be making the calls? Or will it be Baalke? Or York? It won’t be Greg Roman. Or Cassie Baalke.

The Santa Clara 49ers are a team of new faces and old worries in an NFL division they used to dominate, but that now belongs to the Seahawks.

The only advantage over last season is there won’t be any Harbaugh rumors. Not much, but without the city of St. Francis, one must be satisfied with small pleasures.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at
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