Beating up on the Rams doesn't make you a good team. I know that it sounds very pessimistic but I know that most of you have to agree with me. The Rams are easily the worst team in the league this year, maybe even worse than the Lions of last season, and they have been shut out twice in four games. We came out playing like we didn't care about winning and if the Rams had been a half-way decent team then we more than likely would have lost or maybe won a close one. Sure, there were some good things to take away from this game but there were many more bad things, which is a surprising thing to say after a 35-0 win.
Through 4 weeks, Shaun Hill is definitely the 49ers offensive MVP. After tossing 2 touchdowns yesterday, should have been 3 but Josh Morgan dropped one, he has 5 TDs on the season to only 1 interception. He has a passer rating of 93.3 and is doing exactly what he was expected to do, manage games by taking care of the ball and making a few plays here and there. In all honestly, his numbers should be even better. There were 3 or 4 dropped passes yesterday, not to mention that there have been a few in every other game as well. If Jimmy Raye were smart, which will be discussed later, then he would let Hill pass more when the running game isn't working. The only problem I had with his play yesterday was that 3 of the 4 sacks the 49ers allowed were mostly his fault and he also might have been able to avoid the 4th.
As bad as the offensive line and Raye's coaching have been, Glen Coffee really has not been doing much better. There were at least 5 or 6 times yesterday when there was a huge hole right next to where Coffee was heading but instead he decided to run into the back of the offensive linemen. Frank Gore would have cut those back and gained big yardage. Coffee also needs to work on catching the ball out of the backfield. He had 2 dropped passes yesterday, both of which were on third down. His blitz pick-up was good and he had a couple of nice runs after the catch on screen passes but it is pretty clear that he is nowhere near Frank Gore in any aspect of the game.
Moran Norris was opening up holes with his lead blocking but, like I said, Coffee was not running through them. I am very glad we have Norris back because I am starting to think that he is a better receiver and runner than Zak Keasey, which is why we kept Keasey over him last year.
First the bad for Vernon Davis; he got beat for a sack, he dropped one pass on 3rd down that he should have caught, and he was called for a holding penalty. Other than those 3 plays, he was solid both blocking and receiving. Davis' 3 receiving touchdowns leads all tight ends and he is 7th amongst tight ends in receiving yards. Delanie Walker had a nice run on an end-around and I did not see much else out of him.
I still cannot believe that Josh Morgan dropped that touchdown pass as it was right in his hands. Still, his game yesterday was better than it was in the previous three weeks because at least he was getting open. Morgan's downfield blocking remains fantastic. Isaac Bruce has dropped more catchable passes already this year than he did all of last season. I expected him to be reliable this year but if he keeps this up I would rather see someone else take his spot. The other receivers that I saw on offense for at least one play yesterday were Arnaz Battle and Brandon Jones and neither of them did anything. All of our receivers have been somewhat disappointing this year.
The interior offensive line, especially David Baas and Chilo Rachal at the guard positions, had a really bad game. Neither of them could get any push in the running game and they were both getting beat in pass protection regularly. Eric Heitmann did not get a push either but he wasn't pushed back at least. Tony Pashos and Adam Snyder split time at right tackle again and neither played poorly but I would give the slight edge to Snyder, though it is not liked he played great. Joe Staley gave up a QB pressure to Chris Long but other than that played another good game. Seeing as our offensive line is one of the biggest in the league, it is surprising how little push we are getting in the run game but I do think a lot of that is on the offensive strategy.
Jimmy Raye finally decided to call a few screen passes but that does not excuse him for another poorly coached game. His offensive playcalling is far too predictable and conservative. Our opponents know that we are going to run up the middle so they attack the middle with blitzes and instead of answering that by running outside, we run up the middle again. I said yesterday that his coaching for the offensive line consists of "run forward until to find someone to hit" and it doesn't work. Defenders just run around our offensive linemen and record tackles after runs of 2 yards or less, which I believe we lead the league in. If Raye calls a game like this next week then we have no chance to beat Atlanta.
There is nothing to say about our defensive line that has not been said before. Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, and especially Aubrayo Franklin are all fantastic against the run because of their great strength but Smith is the only one that can put pressure on opposing QBs. Smith had 2 QB pressures yesterday, putting him up to around 20 on the year. I saw Kentwan Balmer in on a few plays and he was getting off of blocks and playing with better leverage than he ever did last year. Ray McDonald had a good game, including returning that fumble for a touchdown. With those 5, and a little Demetric Evans thrown in once in a while, I think our defensive line is the best against the run in the league amongst 3-4 defenses.
Talk about a bounce back game for Patrick Willis. Having having a sub-par game last week and getting beat in coverage by Chester Taylor, Willis blanketed his man whenever he dropped back into coverage. He also had an interception return for a touchdown, 2.5 sacks that were great plays on his part, and knocked the crap out of Steven Jackson on a screen past. His first sack and the blowing up of that screen were especially great plays; on the sack he was doing his best Ahmad Brooks jumping over an offensive lineman for a sack impersonation and he just shot through the offensive line before anyone knew what was going on and on the screen he ran right between two offensive linemen and destroyed Jackson. Speaking of Ahmad Brooks, I would like to see him take over for Parys Haralson. Brooks looks fast off of the edge while Haralson has been disappointing since week one to say the least. Takeo Spikes and Manny Lawson both had great games that were almost as good as Willis'. Spikes had 8 tackles, all around the LoS, and a sack and Lawson was regularly meeting Boller and Jackson in the backfield and basically forced the fumble on the McDonald touchdown.
Nate Clements is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. He has been nothing short of amazing against the run and his coverage has been every bit as good as when he was young and with Buffalo. If he keeps this up and doesn't make the Pro Bowl then I will lose all faith in the voting system. Shawntae Spencer and Dre Bly both had good games, pretty much shutting down their men in coverage. Michael Lewis recorded a bunch of tackles and was good in run support but he cannot cover anyone one-on-one. Dashon Goldson came up of nowhere to record a sack and was also good against the run, that seems to be a theme with our defensive backs.
It is hard to judge how well Greg Manusky called this game. He seemed to be mixing it up in blitzes and was confusing the Rams offensive line but the Rams offensive line, and everyone on their offense not named Steven Jackson, sucks. I hope he keeps up this style of playcalling next week.
Joe Nedney missed a field goal, just let that sink in for a moment. Still surprised? So am I. The weird part was in looked like it was going to make it but it just curved at the last second so I guess it might of been the wind. He made up for it by being great on kickoffs, as the Rams average starting field position was around the 20. Andy Lee is having another Pro Bowl caliber year but it is worrying that he has the most punts in the league at 30. I said last week that I wanted to see Allen Rossum out because he kept on muffing kicks but Arnaz Battle wasn't any better, muffing two himself.
The title of the post says it all. I am extremely happy that we got our first shut out in like 7 years and at how well the defense played but it is the Rams. They have been shut out twice in four games. If we play flat and conservative like this against Atlanta, we are going to lose.
Week 4 vs. St. Louis Breakdown
Posted on: October 5, 2009 9:48 am
Edited on: October 5, 2009 3:46 pm