Let's talk reality. The 49ers, through no fault of their own, played a bunch of clowns on Monday. Some people say the Redskins should change their name. How about the Landover, Md., Clowns?

The Clowns could not contain the Niners' offense, totally containable lately. The Clowns especially could not contain quarterback Colin Kaepernick — more on the verbal-minimalist Niners QB in a moment.

First a word on the Clowns. Their coach Mike Shanahan used to be the best head coach in the NFL. It wasn't even a discussion. Now, he should retire.

Maybe he lost his energy. Or maybe the league passed him by. Who knows? But that Clowns team he presented the Niners was and is a disgrace. Washington could not defend the pass and it presented no discernible offense of its own.

The Clowns' over-hyped, faddish quarterback Robert Griffin III can't pass, can't read defenses, can't even run anymore. He's hurt — perhaps permanently damaged — and when he tried to run away from linebacker Ahmad Brooks, Brooks just ran him down.

All this means the Clowns offered zero opposition to the Niners. In boxing, you'd call them a punching bag. Or a tomato can. Or a bum.

After the game, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who wore glasses on the sideline and looked like a nuclear physicist, praised Kaepernick to reporters. "I did comment to him in the middle of the week that he was just being exactly perfect, leadership and demeanorwise."

A couple of things about the Harbaugh quote.

First Thing: Sure, Kaepernick was exactly perfect demeanorwise. He was prepping for the Clowns. They had so many holes in their pass defense, even Kaepernick, who rarely sees more than one receiver, could take advantage. Playing the Clowns is guaranteed to help a QBs' leadership and demeanor.

Second Thing: Where did Harbaugh come up with that word "demeanorwise?" It's the ugliest word in English, worse even than "sticktoitiveness," which is exactly what my Hebrew School teacher called my mother to say I didn't have.

Any coach who uses the "wise" construction — "He gave 150 percent effortwise" — should be fined a quarter. And any sports writer who quotes a coach using the wise construction should be fined a dollar.

We know for a fact Kaepernick achieved a career-high passer rating of 134.5.


They brought in the Clowns.

We also know Frank Gore rushed for just 31 yards and averaged about 2? yards a carry. Against those Clowns? Not a good sign.

And that leads to the larger point. By all means rejoice that the 49ers won a ballgame and regained possession of the sixth and final NFC playoff spot — even though it's a wild-card spot, and winning the division and getting a first-week bye in the playoffs are out of the question for the 49ers.

But, please, do not tell yourself — delude yourself — that the 49ers have solved all their problems, especially on offense. Falling into that trap would be the big mistake.

If you are the cautious type, you might say the Washington game proved nothing even though Anquan Boldin caught two touchdown passes. Good defenses have rendered him a virtual non-combatant.

It's entirely possible, even probable, that all the 49ers' offensive problems remain. They can't get off their plays on time. The coaches ask Kaepernick to decide too much at the line of scrimmage and sometimes the door of his brain slams shut and he stands there starry-eyed. He still throws to the wrong guy.

Or runs when he should throw. Or gets sacked.

In other words, all the problems we saw the two previous games against the Panthers and Saints merely were masked thanks to the largesse of the Clowns. This would be a safe stance to take until further notice.

And, please, don't be fooled with the imminent return of receiver Michael Crabtree, an elite receiver when he's ready to receive. You'd like to think he completes the 49ers' receiving corps. And maybe he will. It's just that he is returning early — too early? — from a torn Achilles. It takes a long time to return from one of those. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

The 49ers currently stand at 7-4, a reasonably good record. I assume they will lose to the Seahawks Dec. 8, and someone else will bump them off along the way.

Even the very best teams suffer a bump-off game. That means the Niners will finish the season at 10-6, probably good enough to make the playoffs, but not a guarantee.

In case you haven't noticed, it's late in the season, time to get specific recordwise.

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.