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49ers take major step backward against Bucs

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Nov. 22, 2010 @ 6:12 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Troy Smith should be careful what he asks for. 49ers head coach Mike Singletary said Monday afternoon that Smith will hang on to the starting QB job for at least another week even though he looked like a mere mortal in the Niners' totally listless 21-0 home loss to the Buccaneers in Week 11.

The Niners came crashing down to earth with a resounding thud from the two-game high Smith primarily provided with his impressive signalcalling in victories the previous two weeks over the Broncos and Rams. Against an inspired Tampa Bay defense, Smith was ineffective enough (51.5 passer rating with 148 passing yards and an interception that set up Tampa's final score) to create instant speculation that Singletary would consider giving the starting QB job back to Alex Smith, who is fully recovered from a non-throwing shoulder injury.

San Francisco's defense also had its share of problems, consistently getting overpowered at the point of attack by the Bucs' run-heavy ground game.

The PFW Spin

After the Niners' first shutout loss at Candlestick Park since Oct. 9, 1977, you could all but blow the candles out on a season that is looking more and more like the final one with Singletary as the head coach.

A month or so ago, before Troy Smith provided what turned out to be only a temporary spark, the word out of the Bay Area was that Singletary's troops would have to stage a "remarkable" comeback for him to keep his job. But after a remarkably bad effort against a Bucs team that outcoached the Niners in every way imaginable, it's hard to imagine the Niners not making a coaching change not long after the season comes to a merciful end.

Troy Smith wasn't helped at all by an offensive line that allowed six sacks (11 in the past two games) and was particularly vulnerable on the right side manned by OG Chilo Rachal and OT Anthony Davis. As for offensive coordinator's Mike Johnson's game plan, it was unbelievably weak, considering how creative it appeared to be in the previous two games.

So just how bad has it gotten? Just ask MLB Patrick Willis, who was asked whether it's hard to believe that his team has a 3-7 record and is seemingly going nowhere fast.

"Hard to believe? We know it is," said Willis, who was at least one Niners player who came to play against the Buccaneers with a pair of sacks to go with a team-leading 13 tackles. "You see the record every day. We're the ones that have to deal with it. Y'all write it, but we have to live it. We have to go through it.

"There's only one way to get through it and you've got to play, play to win, play for the best. Like I said, today we didn't do that. It's frustrating and it hurts. I'm not sure what happened to the other teams in the division. I guess we're no better off. We just have to go back to the drawing board and like I said, get ready for a division game (against Arizona) next week. This game is over for us, we lost and we'll go in and critique our mistakes and move on."

Niners Nation is hardly holding its breath in the hopes of a remarkable turnaround.

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