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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Proximate and Distal Causes of Niner Woes

Philosophers, theorists, and scientists often draw a distinction between proximate and ultimate (distal) causes. A proximate cause is what is immediately responsible for causing a particular phenomenon whereas the ultimate cause is what is believed to be the real reason it occurred. For instance, a severe rain storm may cause flooding and would be considered the flooding's proximate cause. However, some might argue that climate change is what lies behind the rain storm's severity in the first place and thus the flooding's ultimate cause.

Niner owner and general manager, Jed York and Trent Baalke, would like us to think that Colin Kaepernick is the cause of the Niners' woes this season. And to be sure, Kap's season has been anything but stellar. After throwing four picks against the Arizona Cardinals, his passing has been tentative and remarkably inaccurate. However, Kap is at best the proximate cause of the Niners' problems, but he isn't the reason why the Niner's offensive line is terrible or why so many players bolted the team (either by retiring or signing with another team) after York and Baalke forced the "mutual parting" of Jim Harbaugh.

No, the ultimate cause of the Niner's woes lies squarely with York and Baalke, but it's unlikely they'll take responsibility for their ineptitude. And since it is unlikely that Kap will be back, you can only wonder whose "fault" it will be next year: Jim Tomsula? Carlos Hyde? Jarryd Hayne (oh that's right, the Niners released their only feel-good story this season yesterday)?

I think the Niners are in a similar state that the Golden State Warriors were in when Chris Cohan owned the team. They had a lot of talented players over the years but only reached the playoffs twice. Unfortunately, I think it's unlikely that the Yorks will sell the team, which could mean several years Niner mediocrity. I suppose there is a small chance that York will wake up one day, realize that he knows next to nothing about football and that his sidekick, Trent Baalke, doesn't know a whole lot more, and hire someone who does. A fan can dream.

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