What Were the 49ers Doing Last Night? Besides Trying to Lose?
With just over two-and-a-half minutes to play in the fourth quarter, down by five, the 49ers were driving for what looked to be an eventual game-winning score. And this is where the craziness begins.
Facing a third-and-three from the Arizona 18, quarterback Shaun Hill began to scramble as the pocket collapsed around him. At first, it looked like he was going to just tuck it and run for the first down, seeing as how he charged forward without his helmet earlier in the game. As he approached the line of scrimmage, he channeled his inner-Favre and decided to throw some sort of combination shovel-pass, under-handed pitch out into no-man's land where Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson made a lunging interception. Not exactly the best decision from Hill, who was fortunate to have two interceptions returned for touchdowns called back on Arizona penalties. No such luck this time.
At this point, Tony Kornheiser declares the game over.
The problem was, the 49ers still had a timeout at their disposal and the two-minute warning on their side. If they hold the Cardinals to a three-and-out, they'd have well over a minute to drive down the field and score. Difficult? Sure. Impossible? No way.
And that's exactly what happened. Following a three-and-out by the Cardinals, and a bad punt, the 49ers started first-and-10 on the Arizona 43-yard line with 1:15 remaining on the clock. No way is this game over. Kornheiser was apologizing up one side and down the other, while America threw things at the television.
A couple of Shaun Hill to Jason Hill pass plays got the 49ers inside the Arizona five-yard line with 56 seconds to play. Arizona fans were probably pooping themselves in horror, until they realized they are no longer the most inept team in the division.
With one yard to go, and 56 seconds on the clock, the 49ers should have been able to get three or four plays if they needed them. I don't buy that "don't score too quickly" argument, because when you're losing and time is winding down, you simply need to score.
On first down, from the one-yard line, Hill let 30 seconds run off the clock just so he can simply spike the football.
We're down to 20 seconds.
Second and goal, from the one, and no time outs. The 49ers call a running play to Frank Gore, who is ruled down-by-contact at the two-yard line. As he was losing his balance and falling to the ground, a Cardinals defender was just able to get a hand on him in the backfield.
The 49ers, however, catch a break as the officials wish to review the play, just to make sure the call was correct. This gives the 49ers what is, essentially, an extra time out to come up with one final play to get in the end zone. Surely Mike Martz, offensive genius, can come up with something.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but what happened next defied all logic, and frankly, there's no way Martz made this call. If he did, I'd not only be shocked, but I'd also still put the blame on Singletary as he, the head coach, ultimately has the final say on whether the play goes through.
The 49ers, on their final play, from the two-yard line, called a dive play to Michael Robinson, the backup running back, who barely made it to the line of scrimmage. Game over.
Not exactly a great national debut for Mike Singletary as head coach.