Figuring out the “why” shouldn’t be important when it comes to Glen Coffee

San Francisco 49ers RB Glen Coffee is grabbed by Denver Broncos Kenny Peterson (90) in the first quarter of preseason football at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 14, 2009. UPI/Terry Schmitt Photo via Newscom

Many people enjoy movies that end by leaving something up to the imagination. They like it when the final scene ends and it makes them think.

Me, I hate that. I didn’t fork over $74.95 on a flick so I could draw my own conclusions at the end. I’m almost convinced that directors sometimes throw up their hands after they’re done writing a script and go, “F**k it, I don’t know how to end this sh*t, so I’ll just go with the ol’ leave-it-up-to-the-imagination bit.”

Finish the movie, Mr. Director. You tell me what to think – that’s what I’m paying you for.

But when it comes to the mysterious case of Glen Coffee and his decision to suddenly retire on Friday, I don’t need to be given the why. Why does it matter?

I get why people are interested: it was a shocking move. Most players would give their left ear to have a roster spot on a NFL team. Coffee wasn’t a starter, but he was a key backup on an up-and-coming team. He also showed enough promise last year to prove that he does have what it takes to sustain a career in a very fickle profession.

But obviously he wasn’t into football anymore. Whether he lost his passion at Alabama or lost it after getting pancaked by a linebacker at a recent 49ers’ practice, the key is that he did lose his passion. He didn’t want to play football anymore and that’s that.

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The curious case of Glen Coffee

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22: Glen Coffee #29 of the San Francisco 49ers runs against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game on August 22, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

A little over a year ago, Glen Coffee put together an eye-catching performance in preseason and some pundits believed that he could emerge as a solid complement to Frank Gore in the 49ers’ backfield.

That, of course, was before Coffee unexpectedly announced his retirement on Friday.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Coffee is calling it quits despite this being just his second year in the league. He was battling with rookie Anthony Dixon in camp, but head coach Mike Singletary noted that Dixon still had a long ways to go to leapfrog Coffee on the depth chart. Plus, Singletary has given Coffee high marks thus far, making his decision to retire/quit even stranger.

Singletary has developed a reputation over the last couple of years for running a tough camp, but that can’t be the only reason Coffee decided to pull the plug on his career this soon. After all, he got through Singletary’s camp as a rookie last year just fine.

That said, you never know what a person is going through until you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes. Maybe Coffee has lost the passion to play or maybe he’ll regret his decision in a day and return to the practice field. Many young players struggle with being away from their friends and family and maybe Coffee is just going through a rocky time right now. Relatively speaking, he’s still just a kid.

Whatever the reason, it’s certainly a surprising development. The 49ers are still in good shape at running back with Gore, Dixon and Michael Robinson, but that doesn’t mean make Coffee’s decision any less shocking.

Colts’ lose Freeney for two weeks – Niners lose Gore for three

According to Adam Schefter’s Twitter page, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is expected to miss 2-3 weeks due to a right quad injury and 49ers.com reports that Frank Gore will miss three weeks with a high right ankle and a right hind foot sprain.

I don’t know if “devastating” is the right word to describe these injuries, but they’re both significant.

The Colts defense has played excellent so far this year, partly because they’ve been able to generate pressure using only their front four. Freeney has been a one-man wrecking crew at times, especially last Sunday night in Arizona. With him out, Indy might not be able to create pressure solely from their front four and it could change the way they game plan.

If rookie Glen Coffee can pick up where he left off in preseason, then the Niners will stay afloat without Gore for a couple weeks. Coffee showed a surprising burst and quickness in preseason and will now have to become a full-time back in just his first year.

What will be interesting to watch unfold is if Coffee can’t be productive. That would put pressure on Shaun Hill to make more plays in the passing game and outside of his play at Minnesota on Sunday and the game-winning drive in Arizona in Week 1 he hasn’t done that.

If San Fran wants to stay atop the NFC West, it’s time for Hill to step up and give the Niners a balanced offensive attack while Gore is out.

49ers will learn from loss to Vikings

The 49ers’ loss in Minnesota on Sunday is the kind of defeat that can deflate a team. But with Mike Singletary in charge, I don’t foresee that happening.

San Francisco flat out blew a win yesterday. Had the Niners not been in a base defense when Greg Lewis got past coverage and Brett Favre found him in the back of the end zone with only seconds remaining, the 49ers would still be undefeated. (And with another win against the Rams coming in Week 4.)

While addressing the media following the loss, Singletary said: “There’s nothing to look at the floor for. We’re gonna get better. We will see them again in the playoffs.”

Singletary isn’t going to allow a good Niners team to dwell on this loss, especially when San Fran clearly has enough talent on its roster to make the playoffs. While losing running back Frank Gore to an injured ankle will hurt, the Niners did a nice job building depth this offseason when they drafted Glen Coffee.

The Niners had several positives come out of their game yesterday, including quarterback Shaun Hill proving that he can make plays in the passing game. The defense is already good enough to hang with most opponents on Sundays and in Singletary, San Fran has a head coach that has instilled hard work and focus into his team.

Ironically, the Niners are probably the class of a weak NFC West considering the Seahawks and Cardinals look vulnerable and the Rams are, well, the Rams. The division is there for the taking and something tells me that San Fran’s loss in Minnesota will only motivate them.

Breaking down the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie Year candidates

Around this time last year, I compiled a top 10 list of Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates and ranked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan No. 1. He went on to throw for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and led Atlanta to a remarkable playoff appearance, all while making me look like some kind of OROY-predicting genius.

Of course, I also listed Titans running back Chris Johnson at No. 7 behind less-productive names like Darren McFadden (No. 4), Kevin Smith (No. 5) and Rashard Mendenhall (No. 6), hence making me look like some kind of OROY-predicting moron.

To see my top 10 ranking from last year, click here. And for my top 10 ranking of the offensive rookie of the year candidates for this season, see below.

1. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
While the knee injury he suffered in Denver’s preseason opener is a concern, Moreno is expected to be ready for Week 1 and will be given every opportunity to shine in ’09. Granted, he’s stuck in a crowded backfield and could be eased into the season after hurting his knee, but he has the potential to be an every-down back at some point this year. He was the most complete back in April’s draft, has outstanding vision and should get plenty of opportunities to make plays in Josh McDaniels’ shotgun-heavy offense. He’ll also benefit from running behind the Broncos’ stellar O-line. Expecting him to put up rushing numbers similar to those of Chris Johnson (1,228 rushing yards) last year might be a little ambitious. But if Moreno stays healthy, a 400-plus yard receiving season in McDaniels’ system is certainly doable.

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