By Jeremy Burnham
I’m not really sure why, but some people are very good college football coaches, but just can’t cut it in the NFL. San Francisco 49ers head coach Dennis Erickson is one of these coaches.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming this whole season on him. Last season? Yes, but not this season. The team was gutted. Jeff Garcia is gone. Terrell Owens also left. Tai Streets, Garrison Hearst? Gone and gone. So the GM brought a bunch of big talent in to replace them right? HA! That would be a no. Not all teams can care that much about winning. Who do you think we are talking about here, the San Francisco 49ers? Oh wait, that’s right, we are. One thing is for sure, these are not the same old Niners. The good old Eddie D days are LONG gone.But still, the 49ers had enough talent on the team to at least go between 6-10 and 8-8. There were some games they had no chance of winning, but also a few that were very close and the coaching was to blame for some sickeningly awful play calling. Not to mention the games where the 49ers opened up leads of 14 and 17 to nothing, only to end up falling behind and losing.
And now, you have Kevan Barlow whining about his blockers and how the Niners need to spend all their picks on a new O-Line. Whah whah whah. He then misses a game due to injury and his backup plays great. Erickson says he is unhappy with what Barlow said, and he ends up benching him. That was the right move. Now, one game later he pulls a John Kerry and flip flops. Barlow is back as the team’s starter. Great decisiveness huh?
Still though, like I said earlier, not EVERYTHING is his fault. Both the starting WRs are gone from last year. Who does Terry Donahue bring in to replace them? 280 year old Curtis Conway. Talk about bring in the big guns. Now if we could just get Y.A Tittle back at QB.
Now last year, I do place more of the blame on Erickson. He took over the very same team that old coach Steve (the Mooch) Mariucci took to a 10-6 NFC West winning season. Erickson takes over and leads the same team to a losing record.
I know this is a LONG ways to go back, but can you believe the 49ers got rid of the Mooch for this guy? I can’t. The 49ers had just won the West and won their first playoff game by pulling off the 2nd greatest comeback in NFL playoff history. After losing in the 2nd round, York says the Niners need to go in a different direction and fires the Mooch. At this time, no coach had been announced. There were a few names going around, even some good ones. Pretty much all of them were better than Erickson.
Now, humor me a little and go with here for a bit. Picture yourself as a child. It is your 10th birthday. That’s a big one. Double digits. This calls for a big birthday dinner. You hop in the car with your Mom and Dad. Dad tells you that you are going out for a big steak dinner. Woo Hoo. You look out the window as Dad pulls into one of the best steak houses in the city. You know that they have $35 steaks there to chow down on. Your mouth starts to water as you start to walk across the parking lot. Suddenly, Dad stops you. “Wait son”, he says. “These steaks are not good enough for you”. You are excited now as you get back in the car. If $35 steaks are not good enough for you, then you can only dream about what your Dad has planned. You start to wonder if he knows of a place with $50 steaks. Then, the car starts to slow and you pull into Taco Bell. “Come son, let’s go get you a yummy steak taco with some sour cream” your dad says. That is what the 49ers did by firing the Mooch and replacing him with Erickson. Mooch was the $35 steak that was not good enough. Erickson is Taco Bell.
Anyway, the very sad thing for the 49ers is that Erickson is not the worst thing on the team. No, that honor goes to Terry Donahue. The brain behind firing Mooch. The brain behind hiring Erickson. The brain behind letting the whole team leave and bringing in Curtis Conway to replace them. What really cracks me up is how he is now trying to deflect blame off of himself. He knows bad coaching is partly to blame, so he talks about firing the assistant coaches. He is the one who brought Erickson in, so if he blames Erickson, he is partly blaming himself. So he places the blame on the coaches whom he did not bring in. Good thinking T-Don, you fooled us all!
So, while firing Erickson would be a good first step, as long as T-Don is the GM here, the 49ers are never going to go anywhere.