First let me just say that was the worst officiating sustained through an entire game that I have ever seen in my life. The officials were throwing flags on penalties that weren't there (i.e. the offensive pass interference called on Anquan Boldin), picking them back up, changing their minds (the pass interference on Bryant Johnson on the "tipped ball" play), and missing obvious penalties (like the facemask on Michael Robinson on the last play. The 49ers didn't do themselves any favors with terrible clock management and stupid penalties that actually happened but with proper officiating they still would have won that game.
- As a whole the offense was much better than it had been with J.T. O'Sullivan. Looking at the penalties and turnovers an uneducated observer might not think so but it was. We converted 50% of our third downs for the first time all season and Martz's playcalling wasn't stupid. He ran Gore 23 times and tried to throw it to him a few more. There were only a few long-developing, 7 step drops and quite a few quick slants. I just can't excuse the clock management at the end of the game, though. There were 45 seconds left when Jason Hill got down to the one yard line and we took 25 seconds to spike the ball. That is inexcusable. Then we should have spiked the ball with 4 seconds left and gotten a new play in. The refs messed up those last few plays but the 49ers messed up more.
- Just as the whole offense was better than in was with O'Sullivan so was Shaun Hill. He was the reason we converted so many of our third downs. When he ran for the first down late in the first half and lost his helmet I think we all saw shades of Steve Young. His three turnovers were bad but they didn't cost us the game and all of them have simple explanations. On the fumble he just never got the ball cleanly from Heitmann, which is probably because hasn't practiced with him enough, on the first interception
- Every time I do these game write-ups I have to type something about Frank Gore but I really don't know what to say anymore. The only bad game he has had this season is @ the Giants but other than that he has been great an Monday night was no exception. He was popping off 4 yards or more on almost every one of his carries even when there was no hole to run through. Gore did drop a couple of passes, including a swing pass on 3rd down that would have been a big play, but when you judge a player and he has one bad play for every 25 good ones I think that means he is a great player. Gore was also great in blitz pick-up. It was good to see Michael Robinson get involved but I would like to see more of it, and not on the game deciding play. I like MRob but he shouldn't be carrying it in that situation. Does DeShaun Foster even suit up anymore and if he doesn't then why not bring Thoma Clayton up from the practice squad and get him some carries. A running back rotation with Gore running 22 times and Robinson/Clayton splitting 15 carries to go along with 20-25 passes a game from Hill would greatly improve our offense.
- I have been saying for a while that Jason Hill impressed me more in the preseason than Josh Morgan but for some reason he hasn't been getting playing time. In the past two games he has gotten his chance and made the most of it. Ten catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in two games is good for anyone but it is especially impressive how good some of the catches and runs afterwards have been. If not for two great moves by Hill on our last drive we wouldn't have even been in position to win the game. Even though Hill was better Josh Morgan was still good himself. Those two look like they could be our #1 and #2 receivers of the future. Dominique Zeigler, who was as good as those two in the preseason as well, had a good catch and ran on that late 3rd and 25 and I saw him open a few other times when he was him. Maybe he can be our #3 down the road. Neither Isaac Bruce nor Bryant Johnson did anything Monday night and unless his performance picks up there is a very small chance that Johnson will be in San Francisco next season.
- After Vernon Davis caught that touchdown before the half I was estatic but then he committed a typical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and I hated him again. Then he pulled up when he could have caught another touchdown and I hated him even more. I want him to do well for the rest of the season and build on that next year but if he keeps up the pace he is going at right now I don't know if he will be around next season. Davis is a great blocker, though. At this point he has probably even surpassed Billy Bajema as a blocker. Delanie Walker did nothing but I would like to see him, as well as Davis and Gore, get more screen passes thrown their way so they can run after the catch.
- The offensive line was definitely better than it had been all season. Adam Snyder was much better at right tackle than Barry Sims had been and David Baas was better at left guard than Snyder was. Baas did have some pass protection issues, as did both Eric Heitmann at center and Tony Wragge at right guard. The Cardinals seemed to be attacking the middle with blitzes all night long. At left tackle Joe Staley was only beat once but on the play he pushed his man back enough to allow Shaun Hill to step up into the pocket and complete the pass. Chilo Rachal got in for a sometimes and made some great blocks, one on Gore’s long sweep to the right and the other when he pushed his man 7 yards downfield on Morgan’s touchdown. I guess what the scouting reports said about him, that once he locked up it was over, were true. It seems like every week I say we should have a different offensive line configuration but this time I think I have it. Staley-Wragge-Baas/Heitmann-Rachal-
Snyder. We still need an upgrade at right tackle and left guard but right now that gives us the best line, I think.
- I am going to take some heat for this but I am going to say again that the defense played better than the offense again Monday night. Sure they allowed 29 points and were cut up but Kurt Warner but they made plays when it mattered the most and completely shut down Tim Hightower. They held Arizona to 30% on third down, forced field goals for most of the game, stopped the Cardinals from going up by 7 points by stopping he two point conversion, and gave the offense the ball back with great field position with a chance to win the game. The problem that allowed Warner to carve us up was the same problem as usual, no pass rush. I'm now conviced that Manusky is, and was under Nolan, running the defense because we have the same vanilla gameplan, don't blitz at all and hope the front four gets pressure on the opposing QB. It isn't working and yet we still continue to do it.
- The defensive line played great against the run, which when you look at them is really what they are built for. None of them are really pass rushers. On the positive (?) side, our defensive line has pretty much been the most consistent part of our team all year. Justin Smith holds up against the run and sometimes pressures the passer, Isaac Sopoaga holds the point of attack but rarely pushes anyone back and takes up double teams, when Kentwan Balmer plays he holds the point of attack admirably, Ray McDonald will sometimes beat a weak right tackle off the edge, and Parsy Haralson and Roderick Green are both good situational pass rushers. Yep, pretty easy to predict how our defensive line will play.
- With every week that passes I love the Takeo Spikes signing more and more. He is just playing lights out football, especially against the run. It seems like every time we stop a back close to the line of scrimmage Spikes is in on the tackle, along with Patrick Willis of course. Willis has been playing even better than Spikes and at least as good as he did last season, if not better. P-Willy is definitely Pro Bowl bound. (I didn't see Manny Lawson in at all, did he play? After such a great game against Seattle I would have thought he would be in on every play)
- It is officially time for Walt Harris to be replaced as Anquan Boldin abused him all night long. Tarell Brown played well and he should probably be promoted to the #2 corner. Nate Clements proved that he doesn't need any help covering a team's #1 receiver. He was in man coverage with Larry Fitzgerald for pretty much the whole game and didn't let him catch anything except short 4-6 yard gains. Nate's 5 yard bumps were more like Fitzgerald running into a wall. Mark Roman is pretty much the worst free safety in the league at this point. He can't cover one-on-one, he can't play zone coverage, and he can't make tackles. Michael Lewis wasn't much better, at least this week. He got embarrassed on a pump fake multiple times and missed a few tackles himself which is very unlike him.
- The special teams was one of the main reasons we were in the game at the end. Allen Rossum had a couple of good returns, including the last punt return, that set us up with great field position. Then there was obviously the kickoff return for a touchdown during which MRob made not one but two great blocks. Joe Nedney's kickoff from the 15 right before halftime was a thing of beauty and so were the rest of his kicks. The coverage teams just have not played up to the level they are capable of this season but still, they haven't really allowed any returns that cost us the game.
Week 10 @Arizona Thoughts and Observations
Posted on: November 12, 2008 2:31 pm