The following play epitomizes how inept the 49ers' offense has become:
Eight minutes left in the second quarter against the Saints. Play No. 2 of drive No. 6 for the Niners. Colin Kaepernick lines up under center and waves his left arm to silently signal the third-string tight end, Derek Carrier, to shift to the slot. Carrier isn't looking.
Kaepernick yells, “Go.” Carrier can't hear him. The Superdome is deafening. Kaepernick leans over and screams as loud as he can at Carrier. Finally, Carrier scrambles to the slot with four seconds left on the play clock. Kaepernick turns to the official in disgust and calls timeout. The official just stares at him.
The 49ers don't have any more timeouts left in the first half. Jim Harbaugh already used all three of them. Kaepernick just called timeout No. 4.
After a moment, Kaepernick realizes what he has done. Then he actually shrugs his shoulders and raises his palms in futility, and then he wanders back under center as the play clock expires and the officials flag him for delay of game.
Otherwise, the 49ers were all set for that play.
The 49ers currently don't have a clue on offense. On the play I just described, the coaches made two grievous mistakes. One was putting Carrier on the field. He had never played in an NFL game before. The 49ers activated him from the practice squad the day before the game. He should have been on the bench.
Mistake No. 2: Someone on the 49ers' sideline – Jim Harbaugh, quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, the ball boy, anyone – should have reminded Kaepernick before the drive how many timeouts he had. It's easy to assign this task to someone and make sure this mistake never happens. Most teams do this.
But still, Kaepernick shouldn't need a reminder. He should have known how many timeouts he had. Every quarterback always should know that. Alex Smith would have known. That's junior-varsity stuff.
More junior-varsity stuff from Kaepernick against the Saints: He ran out of bounds on third down with 1:48 seconds left the fourth quarter, stopping the clock, giving the Saints time to get the ball, drive the field and win with a field goal. Had he stayed in bounds, the 49ers could have run another 40 seconds off the clock and almost surely forced overtime.