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.

The mistakes were: A Niners punt which the Saints botched and the botch led to a San Francisco TD.

A pick by the Saints which the picker fumbled through the end zone for a touchback. No seven points for the Saints. The 49ers got back the ball and scored a field goal.

An interception by Ahmad Brooks which led to a San Francisco touchdown.

You get the picture. Lots of gifts by the generous Saints.

So we come to San Francisco's football sins. They were leading by a meager three points in the fourth when Brooks sacked Drew Brees and took the ball away from him. Hallelujah! It's just that the officials blew the whistle and called Brooks for unnecessary roughness and the Saints got back the ball and scored the tying field goal.

Totally sinful on Brooks' part.

Afterward, Brooks swore on a stack of bibles he didn't unnecessarily rough anyone. He didn't actually have a stack of bibles, really. I threw them in as a scene enhancer.

"It was B.S.," Brooks said at his locker, sweat pouring down his chest. "It was a B.S. call to me. I didn't hit him with my helmet. I didn't hit him with my hand. I simply hit him with my chest and caused a fumble and NaVorro (Bowman) recovered it. That was the game, basically."

I am not here to say Brooks is wrong. At his locker, he seemed like an honest man. And he believed what he said. It's just that calls go against teams all the time. Brooks had to be careful not to rough up Brees of all people in New Orleans of all places. If you don't like the phrase "rough up," try "muss up," alarm," "cause to feel dismay."

Anyway, it was a sin. The Saints kept the ball and scored the tying field goal. If you think the 49ers got jobbed, remember this. They already had three gifts and still couldn't win. How many gifts did they need? It's clear they had run out of gifts.

The next 49ers' sin is actually a series of sins you can pin on the offense and the offensive play callers.

With the score tied at 20, the 49ers got back the ball with 2:06 to play. Plenty of time to win the game. If Joe Montana or Steve Young were the quarterback and if Bill Walsh or George Seifert were the coach, you would bet the mortgage the 49ers would score and win a thriller and everyone would fly home drinking a nice Sonoma County Chardonnay. But none of those icons is involved with the current group and, alas, no Chardonnay for the Niners.

On the first play from scrimmage, the Saints sacked Kaepernick for a 9-yard loss.


All game long, Kaepernick had done well rolling out, throwing on the run. On this play, offensive coordinator Greg Roman dropped him straight back so the Saints' defenders could get a good look at him. Roman should have drawn a bull's-eye on Kapernick's chest.

On the next play, Roman had Kaepernick drop straight back again — sinful — and this time the Saints almost got him for a safety. Instead, it was a mere incomplete pass. And the Niners faced third-and-19. Not a place they wanted to be. Kaepernick got the ball and ran left, did his run thing. He looked very stylish until he made the most unusual decision. He ran out of bounds. Didn't get the first down and ran out of bounds.

Why was running out of bounds a sin?

Because it stopped the clock for the Saints, gave them time to get the ball and drive down the field and kick the winning field goal which, of course, they did. Asked why he ran out of bounds, Kaepernick said, "I was trying to turn the corner and get the first down."

To which we say, "Dude, then you needed to make the first down. Instead, you committed yet another football sin.

I wish that was the end of the sins, but the Niners weren't done yet. I mean, these guys are in dire need of the confessional.

With the scored tied and a minute and change remaining in a tie game, the 49ers kicked off to the Saints. Darren Sproles called for the fair catch — no run back, the safe play. The Saints would have started at their own 25, a long ways from field-goal heaven. Except — and this is a major except — Kassim Osgood of the 49ers hit the fair catcher. And that's just not fair.

Whistle, 15-yard penalty, the Saints now start their drive at the 40, nifty drive, field goal, checkmate. Cardinal sin.

Where does this analysis lead?

It leads to a statement. The statement: In case you haven't noticed, this is not the 49ers' year. They won't win their division. They will be lucky to get a wild-card berth. They are rapidly falling out of contention. It's not long before we write them off — or better yet, consign them to football purgatory.

<i>For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.</i>