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Lowell Cohn: Face it, this isn't 49ers' year

  • New Orelans Saints' Drew Brees tries to get out of the clutches of San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith during an NFL game on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. (Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS -- There is a short form and a long form to answer to the key question concerning the 49ers. First the short form.

Question: Why did the 49ers lose 23-20 to the Saints?

Answer: The Saints tried hard to give the 49ers the game, but the 49ers didn't know how to take it.

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints


Here is the long-form answer. The 49ers were not and are not good enough to beat the Saints. The 49ers were not and are not good enough to beat the Seahawks, Colts, Panthers and Saints. The 49ers are riding — sliding down? — a two-game losing streak. After their latest two losses, the 49ers — the former 49ers — are just another 6-4 team like the Arizona Cardinals, the lowly Cardinals, whom the Niners still must face in Arizona.

Before losing to the Saints, people said the 49ers had a one-dimensional offense. They could run the ball but they couldn't throw the ball. Now we have additional knowledge. The 49ers currently are a no-dimensional offense. They can't run and they can't throw. I'm sure you'll agree that running and throwing are important dimensions in Dimensionville.

After the game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick said the 49ers' four losses are regrettable but no big deal in the larger scheme of things. “We can still finish this season 12-4.”

Don't bet on it, Colin.

Let's talk specifics. We are talking about the 49ers' football sins. Believe me they sinned plenty against the Saints.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Niners clung to a 20-17 lead against New Orleans. They clung like an exhausted man hanging by his fingertips from a mountain peak, the pebbles and sand cascading past his weary hands to the floor thousands of feet below. The 49ers clung. They were lucky even to be in the game but the Saints had gifted the 49ers with three colossal mistakes that led to 49ers scores.

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