- As much as I would like to blame the playcalling for the offense's poor performance, because I hope Martz is gone next year, I can't. Martz called a pretty good game. He gave the ball to Gore a lot even though the running game wasn't really working and he only got "pass-happy" once, early in the third quarter. I am still waiting for screen passes to Gore, Davis, and Delanie Walker because teams continue to bring tons of pressure against us and stack the box. That is really the only criticism I have of Martz today. I could go after his third down playcalling, because we only converted 3/11 after that first great drive, but a lot of those failed conversions were on execution, not the play call.
- Shaun Hill once again played an efficient game and made plays when he needed to. 161 yards passing may not seem good but 7 yards per attempt is and there were also a few dropped passes. He didn't turn the ball over at all and even though he fumbled twice he fell on them. Of the three times he was sacked none of them were his fault and he used his legs to avoid a few more would be sacks.
- Looking at the box score one might think that Frank Gore had a bad game but in actuality he played okay but not great. He was hit in the backfield on at least half of his 24 carries and it was pretty amazing he got the yards he did because the Bills were stacking the box every play to stop him. Those two fumbles that he had were both just stupid. On the first one he just dropped the ball and fell on it instantly as he was going down so it didn't even mean anything and the second one was just a bad break. I really want to see Michael Robinson get more touches because he can make plays but I don't think it will happen anytime soon.
- We still don't really have a #1 receiver that teams respect and slide coverage to most of the game but Jason Hill and Isaac Bruce are both playing well. Bruce's route-running is still phenomenal and he completely schooled that corner on his touchdown and Jason Hill just has a knack for getting open. When Josh Morgan comes back those 3 will be a decent set of starters. Bryant Johnson continues to disappoint, though. Dominique Zeigler saw more passes thrown his way than he has all season but had a couple of drops.
- For the life of me I can't see the pass interference on Vernon Davis' long touchdown catch. At first, at full speed, it looked like there might have been but on the replays I don't see anything. Oh well I guess. I said earlier that I want to see more screen passes thrown Davis' way but that isn't Davis' fault. He is such a good blocker we could probably move him to right tackle and get better play out of him than we do out of our current right tackle but that will be addressed in the next paragraph.
- The trade we did last year to get Joe Staley is paying dividends. Since Hill took over at quarterback he has been lights out and hasn't only not allowed a sack but he given up almost no QB pressures. I think part of his play is because Hill gets rid of the ball on time, unlike O'Sullivan, but most of it is his development into a dominant franchise left tackle. On the flip side the right tackle, Adam Snyder, was pretty bad. It's kind of sad because he has been playing well since he took over for Jonas Jennings/Barry Sims but he just played awful today. All three of the sacks the 49ers allowed were on him, in my opinion, and he gave up a few more pressures to go along with his poor run blocking. Chilo Rachal is already developing into a very good right guard, especially in pass protection which a lot of people didn't expect. Considering his size, David Baas hasn't really been the run blocker he is supposed to be. I believe his contract only runs through this season and unless he picks it up I don't think he will be resigned. Eric Heitmann is a very good pass blocker but probably the worst run blocker on our offensive line.
- The defensive strategy and playcalling were pretty much the main reasons why the defense gave up so many yards, along with the lack of a pass rush. For some reason that I will never know Manusky had the linebackers playing almost 10 yards off the LoS on almost every play and only blitzed a handful of times, if that. Most of the time Lynch was 5 yards downfield before a defender even had a chance at him and under those circumstances of course he is going to do well. Manusky needs to go after the season.
- I can't really blame the defensive line for Lynch's great game or the lack of pressure on Edwards and Losman because I already know that they are not good enough to put pressure on opposing QBs with 4 guys and you can't expect 4 guys to get past 5 offensive linemen and make a tackle. I have to acknowledge how well they did late in the game, though. They, especially Justin Smith, were relentless and came through in the clutch. It was good to see Ray McDonald making some plays after disappearing after having such a great preseason but he isn't a capable starter. Smith and Isaac Sopoaga are the only players we have that are capable of starting on the defensive line. The announcer kept on saying Aubrayo Franklin was having a good game but I must have been watching something else because I saw him getting blown off of the ball.
- Patrick Willis is easily a top 3 middle linebacker in the league. 14 total tackles, a forced fumble, a knocked down pass, and a couple of quarterback pressures on the day. Takeo Spikes had a great game as well and if Willis wasn't on this team he would get some Pro Bowl recognition. Manny Lawson was on the field for most of the game but Manusky had him playing farther back than even the other linebackers and he was in coverage a lot so it is hard to tell whether or not he had a good game.
- Nate Clements really made up for getting burned [b]once[/b] by Owens and didn't let Lee Evans beat him deep once and only gave him a few short passes, the 22 yarder was when Walt Harris was on him. Speaking of Walt Harris, he isn't very good anymore. Both Tarell Brown and Donald Strickland outplayed him today in my opinion. Our free safeties, Mark Roman and Keith Lewis, still suck. Roman can't cover or tackle which lead me to want to ask why he is even on the field and Lewis just doesn't have a free safety mentality. He wants to hit someone and doesn't think about coverage or assignments. Michael Lewis had a solid game. He wasn't beat deep but he didn't help in run defense much either.
- The return game really suffered with Allen Rossum out and we need him back but the coverage teams were great. That might have been because Andy Lee and Joe Nedney were both on top of their game and booming kicks even in the inclement weather. Lee was instrumental in this win, pinning them back deep quite a few times.
All in all, while I am not happy about how ugly the game was, I am happy we won. We are the first west coast team to come east and win so that has to mean something and beating a playoff caliber team on the road is impressive. I don't want to hear that Edwards leaving the game is why the Bills lost either because Losman played better than Edwards did in the first half.
Week 13 @Buffalo Thoughts and Observations
Posted on: November 30, 2008 7:01 pm