After a flat-out ugly showing in Kansas City Sunday, which brought the team their third straight loss to start a season in which expectations where extremely high, the 49ers fired Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye.
Replacing Raye, who was in his 2nd season as Niners OC, will be quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson, who supposedly is known for his patience and communication abilities. One area which Raye struggled in, and an area which was just now recently brought to the forefront, was his communication and "old school" football terminology which was starting to become a problem. Whether it was communication issues, or not though, the Niners offense looked downright pathetic on Sunday, and not all of that was attributed to a much improving Kansas City defense. The 49er offense has only scored 38 points through the 3 games so far, and for an offense that sports some pro-bowl level talent (Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Brian Westbrook), that's just not acceptable. The Niners offense has looked out of synch all year long. Outside of that final drive against New Orleans last Monday night, there hasn't been one time this year in which I had confident in the 49ers offensive attack. They have been a model of inconsistency, and I really like the move to switch things up now rather than waiting until things spiral way out of control. There is still a ton of football left to be played, and the 49ers don't have the most daunting schedule out there, so they'll have more than enough opportunity to get themselves back on track.
As far as Alex Smith, he once again failed to take this game in his hands and carry the 49er offense. Now, I can't place the blame squarely on Smith's back. The offensive line did not play well, committing numerous false-start penalties, and allowing the Chiefs to get to Smith for 5 sacks. The also failed to give Frank Gore much running room throughout the day, as the Pro-Bowl running back gained just 43 yards on 15 carries. He was much more active in the passing game though, hauling in 9 passes for 102 yards, leading Niners' receivers in both categories. The 2 prime targets of Alex Smith though, Davis and Crabtree, have yet to really have their 2010 breakout games thus far. Crabtree and Smith have looked completely out of sync on more than one occasion, and it's kept the 2nd year wideout with 1,000 yard aspirations to just 81 measly yards through 3 weeks. Vernon Davis has been better than Crabtree yardage wise, but after reeling in 13 TD passes in '09, he's yet to find paydirt in 2010. I'm not one to necessarily pin a whole teams misfortunes onto one single individual, but I think it's safe to say that the Niners needed some kind of "change of pace" offensively, and whether or not letting Raye go will be the answer remains to be seen, but I do like the proactive approach. This season is far from over, and the Niners still have time to catch up with those lofty expectations they had coming in, but their margin for error has disintegrated.
Raiders Miss Win In AZ: The Raiders just missed out on a chance to move to 2-1 for the first time in years as Sebastien Janikowski shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt in the waning seconds of their game with the Cardinals. The Raiders got another 100-yard effort out of the emerging Darren McFadden and another solid, 250 yard, 1TD-1 INT performance out of newly named starter Bruce Gradkowski. The Raiders actually outplayed Arizona throughout the day, but Janikowski's 3 missed field goals, as well as a special teams break down on kick-off coverage early in the game is what ultimately did them in. They held Arizona to just 227 yards of total offense and racked up about 375 yards of their own. If they had played sound on their kickoff coverage, and Janikowski hit's at least of 1 of those 3 that he missed, the Raiders would be a surprise 2-1 football team. Even though they aren't, I think they've still opened some eyes and have sent out the message that they're no longer an off-week for opposing teams.