Not long after the San Francisco 49ers' latest debacle
, embattled offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was fired
. Fans are left to ponder if his final exit from 49er headquarters was a predicable run up the middle, easily sniffed out by the defense. Sadly, Raye's firing was the first unpredictable play with his name attached to it.
A week before his departure, Raye was prematurely eulogized by 49ers coach Mike Singletary with the jaw-dropping line "Don't base a man's entire career on a dad-gum Yahoo commercial.
" Now he's dad-gum gone -- and, heading into next week's contest in Atlanta, the team will very quickly determine if it's a decent team playing badly or a bad team playing badly -- which is, after all, what bad teams do.
Raye was ostensibly brought in last year to run a "smashmouth," run-oriented offense to Singletary's liking -- a simple, meat-and-potatoes system that wouldn't expose undertalented quarterback Shaun Hill's athletic shortcomings and would rely upon overtalented running back Frank Gore's longcomings.
That didn't even work on paper. Defenses feasted on the team's one-dimensional attack and, by midseason, Hill was supplanted by Alex Smith -- perhaps the epitome of the old saying that great potential never won any games. Once again, a Jimmy Raye offense was one of the league's worst
Picking up the pieces, a disaster like this is the predictable outcome of hasty and rash decision-making. The team jettisoned established offensive guru Mike Martz last year. Whether that was because Martz was an egomaniac, his high-caliber offense didn't fit in with Singletary's "We will run the ball and we will score" mindset, or Martz had designs on the head coaching job is undetermined. But what is all too clear is, just as was the case with the abrupt departure of Steve Mariucci, the team did not have a Plan B in mind.
Scott Linehan -- a respected enough NFL coach, but not exactly Don Coryell
-- turned down the 49ers offensive coordinator position ... then took the identical job in Detroit
. One could see how that portended badly, as Linehan -- and others -- took a look at the situation here in San Francisco and decided they wanted no part of it. The team turned its eye toward Dan Reeves and, eventually, a couple of guys named Jagodzinski and Chudzinski, who may or may not have had a dancing bear act on the side. No dice. Enter Jimmy Raye.
So, in summation, make a hasty decision, cast about frantically for a solution, bring in someone with a record of mediocrity who wasn't your first, second, or third choice, give him a task and then abruptly change it within a few short weeks, mix, bake at 350 degrees, and -- failure.
The NFC West is such a superlatively weak division that even an 0-4 start wouldn't doom the 49ers. But for fans hoping to derive a little joy from the football season this year, we can only say this: It's a dad-gum shame.
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