Losses have personalities. The Seattle loss was disgusting. The Saints loss was encouraging. The Chiefs loss was shocking. This Falcons loss was just depressing. Really, really depressing … with a sprinkling of rage. The kind of loss that makes you want to curse God. The kind that makes you physically, sick to your stomach ill.
Last Friday’s column described this game so perfectly it hurts. Games like this make it hard to get up and face life the next morning. Before I started this site, I would react to a loss like this by not reading a single story about the game for at least three days. Maybe a whole week. Denial. I do not want to talk about it. Go away. Leave me alone.
This 49ers team has become a world champion at finding ways to lose a game. Just when you think you’ve seen all the ways a team can blow a game, they come up with another one. Losses like this make it tempting to quit watching football. Give up following sports entirely. Throw in the towel. It’s hopeless. Too much pain.
Sitting on the 49ers bench yesterday was Brian Westbrook. On December 16, 2007 this intelligent football player broke free on a run against the Cowboys and instead of waltzing into the end zone, he stopped and sat down at the one yard line. This stunning bit of awareness assured his team of victory, albeit one less TD on his NFL resume.
But he’s on the 49ers now and yesterday he got to watch Nate Clements have absolutely no awareness of anything about the game, the team’s desperate need for a victory, nothing but himself and the possibility of Nate Goes All The Way. While the entire universe of 49er fans were screaming “Get on the ground!!!!” this clown was oblivious. No awareness of protecting the ball even. Just plain zero upstairs. Lost in Nate’s Universe. Ten years in the league and a hundred plus warnings to get on the ground if you intercept in the final moments and none of those warnings even came to his mind for a second.
Two years ago against the Rams, then rookie Tarell Brown made a last minute interception and sat on the ground.
Normally, I would find some way to empathize with the agony Clements must be going through. But screw it. Eff you Nate. You’re a bum. In fact, he probably won’t suffer as much this morning as I do. He’ll shrug it off. The loss that resulted won’t bug him nearly as much as the TD he didn’t get. Rats, I almost had another one. Oh well, it’s business, another game next week, maybe I’ll get one then.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are 0-4 and laughably only two games behind everyone else in the NFC West. The offense did not score much in Atlanta, but it looked like an offense at least. One that realized Michael Crabtree was on the team. Mike Johnson produced an opening drive TD, something Jimmy Raye never accomplished. The collapsing empire personified by the quitting last week of Michael Lewis went poof as Taylor Mays took over at safety and merely led the team in tackles and made a sensational play in the end zone for a TD.
But, with the game on the line, the 49ers again proved up to the task of losing it. With chances to put the game away, once again, they didn’t. Giving one of our players, in this case Clements, a chance to be a goat in the fourth quarter. Next week is a home game against the Eagles and the Will We Ever Win A Game death watch resumes.
Sigh. Sometime this year, if it’s not asking too much, perhaps the 49ers will give us a Monday morning where we can all discuss the personality of a win.