State of despair: 49ers

A quick look at a team that has not met expectations and is struggling:

What's gone wrong: Pull up a chair. This could take a minute. As I was saying, "The 49ers have dumped unhappy 2008 first-round draft choice Kentwan Balmer, watched their backup running back retire at age 23, negotiated a truce between offensive starters Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, called an emergency late-night meeting following the first game, fired their offensive coordinator, lost their starting quarterback, demoted their second-team quarterback and even pushed back plans for a long-awaited new stadium."

How to fix them: Teams tend to take on their head coach's personalities. That might explain why the 49ers seem wound so tight. They can't get out of their own way. They self-destruct at critical moments. They've beaten themselves week after week. It's a long shot, but the 49ers (1-6) have to hope new quarterback Troy Smith can become a transcendent figure. They have to hope Smith's personality frees them to begin realizing their potential. There's no magic solution, particularly with starting quarterback Alex Smith sidelined by injury.

Panic rating: Mayday! Mayday! You know it's bad when the head coach has gotten the dreaded vote of confidence from ownership.

Coach on hot seat? Absolutely. Mike Singletary has yet to show he has answers for the problems ailing this team.