Niners working toward respectability

So, wait, just because these 49ers have found a starting quarterback everybody likes, all is forgiven?

The 49ers are 3-6, and in a big hole after losing at least four games thanks to either pathetic performances or unforgiveable errors. Now they have their fingers crossed that Troy Smith can save a season that’s been nothing short of a disaster.

And we have to remember that a story like Smith is what makes sports worth watching. The guy who waits years for a chance, gets it against all odds, and succeeds beyond everybody’s wildest dreams. Tom Brady may be the best from-out-of-nowhere story the NFL has, but Troy Smith is certainly writing a new chapter.
Hopefully for Niners fans, the Troy Smith story comes with a happy ending.

In the big picture, the emergence of Smith may be the first thing that’s gone right this season for coach Mike Singletary.

Fortunately for the 49ers, their latest drama ending badly may have been nothing more than their bad luck simply running out. Turning the offense over to Troy Smith was the only option Singletary had left.

And don’t shake off getting lucky. It’s this kind of luck that fell upon Bill Belichick many years ago when he found Brady ready to take over the Patriots for an injured Drew Bledsoe.

Up until the good fortune named Troy Smith, this 49ers season has a catastrophe made up of hurt feelings, uncomfortable moments and far too much cringing.

There’s no place in football for any of this, yet during this year of Niners’ underachievement they’ve been everywhere.

Let’s not name names, but remember the Sunday night team meeting after the first game for the coach to explain his postgame rant criticizing his team’s play? That just got the ball rolling.

How about the smelling of a “rat” after a Yahoo reporter reported on the difficulties the 49ers were having about getting play calls from the booth to their quarterback?

How about the lack of an explanation after losing a game even though the 49ers had the lead and ball in the closing minutes? Remember, a victory seemed inevitable after a late interception, only to see inevitability evaporate after the ball was knocked loose for a fumble.

A sideline shouting match between the coach and starting quarterback during one game. A forgotten postgame congratulatory handshake after another.

After all this, maybe it’s simply time something went the 49ers’ way.

Random thought
Give some credit to offensive coordinator Mike Johnson’s game plan, which played off the Rams’ certainty that the 49ers would depend on their running game, for the first genuine sign of ingenuity to come out of the Niners’ coaching staff this season. Unfortunately, that game is now on tape, and the Buccaneers are going to be that much wiser this afternoon.

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

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