By Danny Cox
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers had a hot start to the 2014 season, but they’ve had to deal with a number of injuries and some really hard losses. Now, they’re in a fight for their playoff lives and desperately need to win their final two games to even have a chance at the post season. Many are beginning to wonder if Rivers will ever be among the NFL’s elite and be able to lead the Chargers to a championship.
The San Francisco 49ers are in a much different boat. This has been a season of much confusion, lackluster play and even betrayal. Jim Harbaugh has coached them to three consecutive NFC Championship appearances, including one Super Bowl berth. Now, he may not even be their head coach next season. And what’s happened to Colin Kaepernick? CBS Sports’ Steve Beuerlein weighs in on this Saturday’s game and how much is at stake for both teams.
What has been the main fault of the 49ers’ poor play this season?
Steve Beuerlein: “There are a bunch of different ways you can go with that. The (Jim) Harbaugh distraction has been huge. Then, you look at Colin Kaepernick and how his overall performance has affected the team. They’ve had some big injury issues, especially with losing NaVarro Bowman, and the defense has not been the same this year. They’ve been a lot different than they’ve been the last few years.
I think the key is really Kaepernick. As with any team, it always starts with the quarterback. He’s the guy that has kind of lost his swagger a little bit. I think he really believes that he had it all figured out. What happens to people in this league when they think they have it all figured out is that they get knocked back down real quick. It happens all the time.
You can think of all kinds of examples in the league right now…RG3, Cam Newton…when they first break into the NFL and they’re kissing their biceps and doing the Superman stuff. They get all the endorsement deals. The money starts coming in. They get the contract. They think they have it all figured out. It takes 100 percent commitment, year-in and year-out, to be as good as you can be to be a successful quarterback. The moment you think you have it figured out, it comes back to bite you in the butt.
Guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and other guys you could mention, the reason it never happens to them is because they never take anything for granted. They still practice hard. Their overall professional approach to the game is second to none.”
Philip Rivers simply can’t seem to get the Chargers into the elite of the NFL; do you think he can ever get them there?
SB: “In all honesty, I’m a huge Philip Rivers fan. The problem is that I believe their best years are in the past. I think he can still play physically, but if he could play at a high enough level and he has the supporting cast, then I think he could do it. He’s getting up there, but their opportunity was under Norv Turner. He gave them their best opportunity as they had LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) and Antonio Gates and all these different guys in their prime, but they underachieved. They flopped.
Now, a lot of these guys are getting up there. Vincent Jackson is gone. LT is done. Antonio Gates…who knows if he will be back for another year. My point is that their best opportunities are in the past. Mike McCoy is a good friend of mine and he will get the Chargers in the thick of it at some point, but I don’t think they will get it done in the next year or two.”
In your personal opinion, do you think San Francisco will be looking for a new coach in the offseason?
SB: “Oh, it’s a given. It’s already been decided. There is no doubt about it as there has been too much damage done. The only question now is: What are they going to get for him and where is Harbaugh going to go? No doubt it’s going to happen.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.