That was easily the best game the 49ers have played all year, outside of maybe against Detroit but the Lions barely count as an NFL team. To dominate an 8-4 that had beaten two playoff contenders on the road like that is just an amazing confidence booster. What's more is that the 49ers did it without their best player for the entire second half and with their second best defensive player for the entire game. A little more than a month ago this team was dead in the water with a lame-duck coach and a turnover prone quarterback and now they are playing with a fire and intensity we haven't seen in a long time. I know this is stupid because it is in the past but I am torn right now. Part of me wishes that Shaun Hill had been the starter since week 1 because if he had been we would probably be 8-5 and playoff bound right now but, on the other hand, Nolan wouldn't have been fired in that situation. But I guess when I think about it long term I am happier that O'Sullivan was the quarterback in the first half of the season because we were going nowhere with Nolan at the helm. With Singletary, however, we could go far.
- I admit I have been one of the loudest voices crying out against Mike Martz but I can't say anything at all about the game he called yesterday. Whenever the 49ers did something wrong on offense it was on the execution, not the play call. On the opening drive of the game we were moving right the field until the Robinson fumble and on our next possession we did it again except we didn't give the Jets the ball, though we did fumble. On those first two drives we totaled 131 yards and 7 first downs, had only one play go for negative yardage, converted 2/2 third downs, held the ball for over 9 minutes, and Shaun Hill only threw 1 incomplete pass. We really should have been up 14 nothing at the end of the 1st quarter. The best part of Martz's playcalling, however, was his third down playcalling which I consider to be the most important aspect in judging an offensive coordinator. On the third downs that the 49ers didn't convert the play calls were excellent but the team didn't execute. As much as I would like to I can't put that on Martz. Yesterday he called the screen passes, dump-offs, and quick slants that most of us have been calling and they worked to perfection, like we thought they would. If I had to grade him on yesterday's game it would obviously be an 'A'
- Shaun Hill has just been great for us since last year. Listen to these numbers. In 7 starts he is 5-2 with 215 passing yards per game, 15 touchdowns (2 rush), 5 interceptions, a 62% completion percentage, and a 95 passer rating. The two games he lost have been on the road against 8-5 teams and we should have won 1 of those. Yesterday was not the best game of the 7, statistically, but it was the best game if you ask me. He was extremely accurate, always found the open man, got rid of the ball on time, avoided the rush, and only made one mistake. Some of his passes were just fantastic and, maybe it is just me, it seems like his arm is getting stronger and stronger with every week. His only mistake was a bad one and I don't know what he was thinking but one mistake in 42 drop backs isn't a bad percentage. His numbers on third down were as follows; 10/13, 94 yards, 1 TD, 7 first downs passing, 8 rushing yards, 1 first down rushing. On two of the three third down completions that we didn't convert he got us within 1 yard of the first down marker and we went for it and converted.
- Before he got hurt Frank Gore was having a great game. I know 14 carries for 52 yards and 3 catches for 13 yards w/ a touchdown may not look like a great game on the stat sheet but he was able to gain yards even when there wasn't a hole. If you take away the two times he was tackled for a loss, both of which were completely the fault of the offensive line, he carried the ball 12 times for 56 yards, which averages out to 4.6 yards per carry, in basically a half of play. Considering how good the Jets run defense has played this season that is great. DeShaun Foster was considerably worse when he took over for Gore. I thought with extended play he might be able to get something going but he didn't. If Gore can't go next week, knock on wood, Thomas Clayton has to be promoted from the practice squad and take Foster's place. Michael Robinson should also get more carries. That fumble was inexcusable but he made a nice cut back on the 13 yard screen pass and blocked surprisingly well when he was asked to.
- Isaac Bruce has been a great signing for us. Not only is he clutch (5 third down catches, 4 conversions) but you can obviously see he is having a huge effect on the younger receivers, especially Jason Hill. Every time I see Hill catch a pass I think he is Bruce because of his smooth route-running and great hands. He has been almost as clutch as Bruce since he started seeing significant playing time. Bryant Johnson had a good game with 6 catches and a great touchdown catch but unless he steps it up in the last three weeks of the season he just hasn't done enough to deserve a new contract with Hill, Josh Morgan, and even Dominque Zeigler emerging and Bruce still having a year left on his contract. It was good to see Arnaz Battle back, because a lot of you know he is one of my favorite 49ers. I'm not sure if he played any offense, though, but I was just glad to see him in uniform.
- That was a great catch by Vernon Davis on the deep pass down the middle that Shaun Hill underthrew a little bit. In all honesty I am not sure I would ever see Davis go down and help his quarterback out like that but maybe that means he is becoming more of a team player. Even though he still isn't getting many passes thrown his way he is still contributing as a dominant blocker. Considering his small size compared to other tight ends I am surprised he is such a great blocker. Delanie Walker ran a great route on the touchdown that was called back but was still outplayed by Davis, one of the few times that has happened this season if you ask me.
- Pretty much every member of the offensive line had their best game of the season. Eric Heitmann held his own against the Pro Bowl bound Kris Jenkins and got more of a push on running plays then most of us expected, David Baas made a few mistakes in pass protection but was great at pulling on running plays, one of the two sacks allowed by the 49ers (the other was a coverage sack) was partly Chilo Rachal's fault but other than that a few other plays he looked good, Adam Snyder was getting no push when run blocking and allowed a defender to make a tackle for a loss twice but played better than he did against the Bills, and Joe Staley continues to dominate. Staley did commit a holding penalty that got a touchdown called back but other than that he was fantastic.
- As much as I have been against Martz I have probably been more against Manusky. I was just tired of him hoping our defensive line could put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks by themselves and giving them all day to throw because it wasn't working. Every time the QB would eventually find someone open. But yesterday that wasn't a problem for a couple of reasons. One was because the defensive line was actually getting pressure by themselves but the other was because he called a lot of blitzes and well designed blitzes at that. My theory is that Manusky was scared to secondary would get picked apart easily by Brett Favre without Nate Clements if Favre got time, maybe he got the idea by actually watching film of the 49ers this year, so he gambled and took pressure off of the secondary with a lot of blitzes. I know it seems like a stupid and kind of obvious thing to do but apparently Manusky didn't realize it until yesterday. Manusky also didn't have the linebackers playing 10 yards off the ball for most of the game, like he did against Buffalo. He needs to keep that gameplan for the rest of the season and then he might not get fired.
- Like I already said, the defensive line played great yesterday. Justin Smith was just manhandling D'Brickashaw Ferguson the entire game and the Jets noticed it. They didn't run the ball to the left one time all game and Smith only had one tackle, which was that late sack, but had a ton of QB pressures and forced Favre to step up into Parys Haralson a couple times. Aubrayo Franklin had by far his best game as a 49er. He actually pushed the pocket and held the point of attack for most of the game. Isaac Sopoaga got pushed out of the play a few times allowing big gains by Thomas Jones and Kentwan Balmer played poorly whenever I saw him in. He plays with almost no leverage. It seems like in college he got away with just overpowering opponents because he obviously has great strength but until he learns he can't do that in the NFL he won't do anything in the NFL.
- No high tackle numbers for Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes today but isn't that a good thing? Both made a few good tackles still. Willis stopped Leon Washington short of the first down on 3rd and 6 with a great open field tackle and then forced an incomplete pass with a vicious hit on Brad Smith that will probably draw a fine. Whenever I saw Manny Lawson he was shadowing Dustin Keller and he did a great job holding Keller to 2 catches for only 14 yards, his worst game since he became a starter by far. Parys Haralson and Roderick Green both had some success rushing the passer and Haralson also added a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage.
- I cannot believe how good the secondary played without Nate Clements. A lot of it has to do with the front seven actually putting pressure on Favre but even on quick and short passes everyone had good coverage. Tarell Brown and Donald Strickland both did a great job filling in for Nate Clements and Walt Harris shut down Lavernous Coles. Michael Lewis and Mark Roman didn't make any plays but they didn't need to because Favre was so off target with his deep passes.
- The special teams coverage was excellent outside of the Leo Washington touchdown that got called back. Washington had 3 punt returns for only 4 yards and averaged only 23 yards per kickoff return. After his first bad punt Andy Lee really "boomed" the other three allowing the coverage team to get down there. Delanie Walker wasn't great on either of his kick returns but he wasn't bad and Michael Robinson had that one long kickoff return to set up a field goal. I'd like to see MRob returning kicks more. Arnaz Battle muffed his first punt but was good on the other two returns.
Week 14 vs. New York Jets Positional Analysis
Posted on: December 8, 2008 1:30 pm