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Category:NFL
Posted on: November 30, 2009 12:03 pm
 

Week 12 vs. Jacksonville Breakdown

Summary

To tell the truth, I thought we would win this game easily so I am not really excited about that but one thing that I am excited the performance by Alex Smith.  Everything else, on the other hand, not so much.  The disappointments in particular were that we did not get our running game going at all, the return game, and this stupid prevent/bend but don't break defense.  I would advise my fellow 49er fans to not get too excited about this game because the Jaguars just are not very good.

Offense
QB:
Alex Smith was easily the most impressive player on this team yesterday.  He was extremely accurate on almost all of his throws and a good percentage of his incomplete passes came on well thrown balls that were just dropped, including a perfectly thrown pass that was dropped by Michael Crabtree in the endzone.  Not only was he on-target, he was going through his progression and making the right decision on every play.  Smith did not try and force anything that was not there.  He also avoided what little pressure there was very well.  It was definitely one of his better games as a pro.

RB:
No running back would have done well with the plays that were called for Frank Gore yesterday.  14 out of his 15 carries came in between the tackles and 11 of those were right up the middle behind the center and guards.  Jacksonville knew exactly what the 49ers were going to do on those runs and they brought a run blitz right up the middle to stop it.  Gore was met in the backfield by Jaguar defenders pretty much every play.  His highlight of the day was his touchdown catch when he did a good job getting open and making a play for Smith.

TE:
Vernon Davis' numbers ended up looking great once again but he had 3 key dropped passes that could have led to more points.  He dropped a pass that would have went for a first down on, another that would have put us inside Jacksonville's 10 yard line, and the last came in the flat when he had room to run.  Great tight ends do not drop 3 perfectly thrown balls in one game.  Delanie Walker was involved in the gameplan for pretty much the first time all season and he did not disappoint, catching 4 passes for 52 yards and adding an 11 yard rush.  With Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker on the field, there are match-up problems no matter who we play.

WR:
The spread offense that we ran really helped our receivers get open in the first half.  Josh Morgan seemed to be open almost every play and finished with a career-high 6 receptions.  Michael Crabtree was also getting open and showed some nice run after the catch ability whenever he got the ball.  As already mentioned, however, he also dropped a touchdown pass on a very well-thrown ball.  Jason Hill had a key drop on our first drive on 3rd down on which he slipped and did not recover in time to make the catch.

OL:
It was by far the best pass blocking performance by our offensive line all year but it came against the worst pass rush in the league so take it with a grain of salt.  Adam Snyder was beat in pass protection a couple of times but Smith was able to escape the pressure or get the ball away quickly enough.  He also failed to get out in front of Gore quickly enough on a screen, leading to a pass for 0 yards.  The run blocking, especially from Eric Heitmann and Chilo Rachal, should still be a huge concern for all of us.  Neither of them can get any push even when going one-on-one.  David Baas and Barry Sims were both solid in both facets of the game.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
I am going to back off of Jimmy Raye a little bit because he actually called a pretty good game in the first half.  He spread the Jaguars out and let Alex Smith do what he is best at, make quick reads and get the ball to the open man as soon as he becomes open.  It only took him 5 games to realize that is what we should do in the first half but he is old and likely senile so cut him some slack.  In the second half, his playcalling got very predictable and he played not to lose which allowed the Jaguars to come back.  All of his runs were right up the gut and the Jaguars knew that was what we are going to do so they have no trouble stopping it.

Defense

DL:
No one player on the defensive line really had a good game.  Late in the game, Justin Smith was dominating the left side of Jacksonville's offensive line but for the first 3 quarters he was not doing much.  Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga did not put any pressure on Garrard and were getting blown off of the line by Jacksonville's guard in the second half.  Kentwan Balmer made a good play when he forced Garrard to pull back when trying to throw a screen and Garrard threw it away for an intentional grounding, basically a sack for Balmer.

LB:
That strip-sack might have been the best pass rush that Manny Lawson has shown all year.  He literally ran right over Eugene Monroe but it is still kind of disappointing because he still has shown no pass rushing moves.  Parsys Haralson added a sack late but, like Lawson and most of our pass rush, was basically a none factor for the majority of the game.  Takeo Spikes had a good game but got ran over by MJD twice.  Patrick Willis is actually making a case for defensive player of the year, in my opinion.  He added 11 total tackles, half a sack, and a couple of QB pressures to his resume this year and ran down Garrard on 3rd down when Garrard had the angle towards the first down. 

DB:
It was not a good performance by our defensive backs but when they are playing 15 yards back in soft coverage with no pass rush I expected that.  The only thing that I can say about their performance is that at least none of them gave up any big plays, though Tarell Brown fell down on a 15 yarder by Mike Sims-Walker.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
Greg Manusky called a much worse game than Jimmy Raye did yesterday.  Manusky has not called many blitzes all year but yesterday it was ridiculous.  There were maybe 4 times when we brought more than 4 defenders and they usually came when the Jaguars ran play action plays.  The few blitzes he called were telegraphed like they have been all season long.  I am not asking him to blitz every play or anything but at least mix it up instead of just sending 4 down guys and hoping they get to the quarterback.  It might also be helpful if he let Tarell Brown and Shawntae Spencer play to their strengths, which are bump and run coverages, instead of playing them 15 yards off of the line of scrimmage.

Special Teams

Our special teams was pretty much the same that it has been all year.  Joe Nedney is reliable on field goals and our coverage team is great on kickoffs and Andy Lee is one of the top punters in the league.  What was abnormal was the long punt return that Jacksonville had but that only happened because of a blatant hold on Marcus Hudson.  The punt return game was awful once again.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 23, 2009 10:14 am
 

Week 11 @ Green Bay Breakdown

Summary

I don't even know how to fill up space with a summary because what needs to be said can be said so simply.  We were completely outcoached, for the millionth time it seems, on both sides of the ball.  That is it.

Offense

QB:
Some 49er fans seem to think that Alex Smith played extremely poorly yesterday but that is just not true.  No quarterback would have been able to do anything in the first half yesterday.  Dom Capers seemed to know exactly what Jimmy Raye was thinking on every play, so he of course had something to stop it, the offensive line was awful, and the receivers did not create any separation.  That is a recipe for poor quarterback play and that is what happened.  When Smith actually had a chance to get rid of the ball once the 49ers switched to the shotgun, he played well.  Even then the receivers were still not getting open but Smith made some good throws, including the touchdown to Davis.  Even Smith's interception was clearly Davis' fault.  At first glance, I thought that Davis cut in and that is why the ball was intercepted but after watching it over and over I realized that even though he did cut inside, the ball was still catchable but he ducked it.

RB:
Why Frank Gore only got 10 touches, I will never know.  Even when the game was close, Raye thought it was smarter to run that stupid screen to Crabtree that has not worked at all this year.  Gore is our best player on offense, and it isn't even close, and yet you only give him 7 carries?  What the **** is wrong with Raye?

TE:
Vernon Davis was pretty much invisible for the entire first half, I seriously thought that he was not even on the field for it, but came out in the second half and played well.  He recorded his second 100-yard game this year and the route he caught his touchdown on seems to net a touchdown almost every play.  His one mistake was already mentioned and it was when he ducked the pass that Nick Collins intercepted.  I seriously do not know what he was thinking.

WR:
As much as I hate to say it, Michael Crabtree got away with a Randy Moss level push off on his touchdown.  I am actually surprised, and relieved, that it wasn't called.  None of our other receivers did anything because they were not open at all.  On every replay that was shown, Josh Morgan had a Packer all over him.  I know that the Packers have a good secondary but you have to create at least some separation. 

OL:
Another piss poor performance (say that 5 times fast) from the offensive line.  In the first half they were all completely awful.  I think that everyone of them allowed a pressure or sack in the first half, which is sad considering Smith only dropped back like 10 times.  In the second half they actually played a lot better, in that they were not getting beat as much as Raye was getting outschemed.  There were at least 6 times where a Packer player blitzed and a 49er player was not blocking anyone.  To me, that falls on Raye's shoulders.  He did not seem to notice that the Packers were sending corner blitzes, or maybe he felt like he did not need to make an adjustment.

Fire Jimmy Raye:
I am changing the name of this section for obvious reasons.  Raye does not know what he is doing.  He gives our best player on offense the ball only 10 times, his playbook consists of maybe 10 plays and even less routes for the receivers, he does not understand how to design a protection scheme, and he does not play to his player’s strengths.  All of these things were obvious yesterday, even more so than they have been all year.  I could be a better offensive coordinator than Raye at this point.

Defense
DL:
This was easily the worst performance that the defensive line has had all season.  Justin Smith and Aubrayo Franklin , who have both been great against the run this year, where being pushed out of the play 95% of the time and Isaac Sopoaga might as well not even have been there.  Smith has been especially disappointing since he started off the year so well.  He has not gotten any pressure on opposing QBs recently, and since he was the only one doing that before then there is no one doing it now.

LB:
It was hard for the linebackers to get much done, because as I mentioned the defensive linemen were not taking up blockers like they are supposed to in a 3-4.  Manny Lawson was probably our best linebacker yesterday, posting 5 tackles and a coverage sack.  He was at least quick off of the edge against the run.  Patrick Willis racked up his 8 total tackles but he could not make any big plays because he had blockers all over him.  You could definitely tell the defense missed Takeo Spikes and Parys Haralson added a meaningless coverage sack.  Matt Wilheim was solid but not Spikes.

DB:
When your 4 leading tacklers are your 4 defensive backs, you know you are not having a good game.  Michael Lewis (11 tackles) and Tarell Brown (9) both had solid games and most of their tackles came against the run or after short games but Greg Jennings was owning Shawntae Spencer all day long and Dashon Goldson in coverage is not something I want to see more of.  Considering how poorly the pass rush played, the secondary was not terrible but they were definitely not good either. 

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
A lot of people have been saying that Greg Manusky has been good this year but outside of one decent scheme against Indianapolis, he hasn't been.  His few blitzes are telegraphed and almost every coordinator could figure them out, many they work against Raye in practice so he thinks they work.  He had the corners playing 15 yards away from receivers and the linebackers playing 10 yards back like he did not mind giving the Packers the underneath and intermediate stuff, and they did.  Manusky can leave with Raye for all I care.

Special Teams

I have never seen one part of a teams special teams be so good and the other part suck so miserably.  On one hand, Andy Lee always pins opponents deep and Joe Nedney kickoffs are great and he is a reliable kicker but on the other, the return game is a joke.  A muffed punt by Reggie Smith brings the total up to like 8 for the year and Arnaz Battle cannot be the best option we have to return kicks.  Josh Morgan looked good so we might as well put him back there since he is doing nothing at receiver.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 13, 2009 2:38 pm
 

Week 10 vs. Chicago Breakdown

This game was very similar to week one against Arizona.  We played poor on offense but great on defense and squeaked out a win that some would argue we did not deserve.  I would not disagree with that sentiment 100%; when the amount of interceptions thrown by your opponent is greater than the score you win by, something is wrong; I think it is a little exaggerated.  Our defense played fantastic in almost all facets of the game and our offense did enough to win.

Offense

QB:
It was not a poor game for Alex Smith , he certainly played better than he did against Tennessee, but it was not good.  On the interception he threw, he had Josh Morgan open but instead tried to force the ball to Crabtree instead.  He also was responsible for one of the sacks when he held onto the ball for too long.  Other than those few plays I though he played well.  Smith escaped pressure to make plays and convert a few third downs and he managed the game well.

RB:
Even though that it is obvious that our offense was almost the worst it has been all season last night, with the performance against Atlanta being much worse, there is no denying that Frank Gore is just better with Smith in.  Teams may not think that Smith can beat them but they know that he can throw it deep.  These forces defenses to at least play some men off of the line of scrimmage and this allowed Gore to have a very good first half.  He slowed down in the second half because of Jimmy Raye.  It was good to see Michael Robinson a couple of touches as I have always liked him and he was very impressive in the preseason.  I hope he gets more involved from here on out.

TE:
Way to go, Vernon Davis .  Talk *** and then finish with 3 catches for 16 yards, killing my fantasy chances this week.  He had that one sweet catch early on when he completely trucked Nick Roach but after that he had as many false start penalties as he had catches.  That is not a good thing.

WR:
Another bad game for the 49er receivers but a lot of it was because of Jimmy Raye's playcalling.  We only took 4 shots downfield (10+) all game so it not like the receivers had much of a chance.  On Smith's interception the ball was definitely not perfectly thrown but it looked like Michael Crabtree slipped and that is why the corner made such an easy interception.  A #1 needs to help his QB out more than that.  Crabtree also dropped a pass on a slant that would have gotten us a 1st down inside the 10 on our first drive.  Morgan has a good run after the catch on his 11 yard catch and Jason Hill did as well, it looked like he got the first down but they did not give it to him.  Nothing much else to report about our wide receivers.

OL:
The whole offensive line improved a lot this week, though it is not like the Bears have been that good on defense.  Barry Sims , Eric Heitmann , and David Baas did not give up any QB pressures.  Baas got a lot of credit for his block on Gore's touchdown but Heitmann, Rachal, and Snyder all threw greats blocks as well.  Chilo Rachal gave up one pressure and Adam Snyder gave up 2 and a sack but both were okay in the running game.  That is actually a good game by Snyder's standards for this year.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
I called last week's gameplan and playcalling by Jimmy Raye his worst of the season but I stand corrected.  On their first three drives, the 49ers were moving effectively and mixing up the plays.  The Bears looked like they couldn't stop us.  Then Alex Smith makes one mistake and Raye almost completely abandons the pass.  After that pick, Raye called 15 runs between the tackles and only 1 pass was thrown more than 10 yards down the field.  Consequently, the offense failed miserably from that point onward.  I am officially on the fire Raye bandwagon.

Defense

DL:
I was one of the people who thought that Aubrayo Franklin had been good this year but certainly not great like some have made him out to be but last night he took his game to a whole new level.  He was pushing whoever was blocking him back into Jay Cutler or Matt Forte almost every play, even when he was double-teamed.  Justin Smith finished with a couple of pressures but that is disappointing for him and Isaac Sopoaga played just like he normally does, well against with a decent bull rush now and then.  Kentwan Balmer was playing with good leverage for the first time since we drafted him in his limited action. 

LB:
I don't know where the heck Matt Wilhelm came from but he looked great in relief of Takeo Spikes .  I am starting to believe that our defensive line is so good at eating up blockers that most decent linebackers will look good.  Patrick Willis had a lot of tackles down by the LoS (5 of <3 yards to be exact) and put some pressure on Cutler when he blitzed but he got shaken by Matt Forte on the Bears final drive.  Manny Lawson was looking really good early on, showing off his speed when he chased down Devin Hester and consistently pressuring Cutler, but trailed off late while Parys Haraslon was pretty much the opposite.  He was not doing much early but seemed to be saying hello to Cutler every play of the second half.

DB:
With our front seven playing as good as they did, it is no surprise that the secondary looked good and finished with 4 interceptions.  Tarell Brown and Shawntae Spencer both had very good games and neither Dashon Goldson or Mark Roman gave up a big play, so that is good.  Michael Lewis gave blew a coverage on Greg Olsen 's early 20 yard catch.  Brown was talking trash and got called for a stupid personal foul that just gave the Bears 15 yards and a first down.  Dre Bly was called for an illegal contact on 4th and 10 late in the game but it was not really there.  He barely touched the receiver at 5.5 yards past the line of scrimmage.  It should not have been called.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
I can't for the life of me figure out Greg Manusky.  One week he calls an awful, awful game (like last week) and then the next he has a perfect gameplan.  What is up with that?  Anyway, he called a great game yesterday.  He confused the Bears offensive line with different formations and dialed up a lot of blitzes...until the last drive.  On the last drive he switched from what had been working to a prevent defense.  Like some have said, all a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning and we should know that as well as anyone (*cough* Brett Favre ).  He also could have done more to stop the screens to Forte that were killing us.

Special Teams

It was a pretty bad night for the special teams.  Joe Nedney missed a <40 yard field goal, Andy Lee 's punts sucked, and the punt return game was poor.  The last one isn't surprising at least.  The coverage teams were excellent, especially the kick coverage team, and props to Arnaz Battle on two nice returns.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 9, 2009 10:06 am
 

Week 9 vs. Tennessee Breakdown

A loss to a 1-6 team hurts and it hurts badly, especially considering the way that we lost.  We had chances to win this game so many times and played very well in all facets of the game but big plays by the Titans , our inability to make big plays, and awful coaching lost it. 

Offense

QB:
Alex Smith really did not play all that bad.  On all three of his interceptions he did stare down his receiver but the first two were just fantastic plays by Titans defenders while the third was an awful play by Josh Morgan combined with a good play by the Titans defender.  He dropped back to pass 51 times and only made 3 mistakes, which I think is not terrible considering that the offensive line could not block anyone.  Even when the Titans only brought 3 men, Smith was pressured.  He made a lot of good plays that none of the other QBs on our roster would have made; including the first touchdown to Jason Hill and the 40-yarder to Vernon Davis .  Overall, he had a solid game that I would grade at a 'C+'

RB:
This was easily Frank Gore 's best game of the season as it was the first time all season that he actually was consistently gaining 4-8 yards instead of 0-3 and then adding a big run to bring up his yards per carry.  He looked faster and stronger than he has all season and that is impressive because in earlier games he still looked great but there were just too many people in the backfield for him to do anything.  Gore also added 7 catches for 75 yards.  Considering how effective he was running the ball it is surprising that he only got 15 carries.  Indeed, Chris Johnson was much more ineffective throughout most of the game but the Titans kept feeding him the ball hoping he would break off a big run and he eventually did.

TE:
Hard to believe that, as good as he has been playing this year, yesterday was Vernon Davis' first career 100-yard game.  Congrats to him on that and while he did have a very good game both catching and blocking for most of the day, he also made a big mistake when he was beat easily in pass protection and allowed a sack/fumble resulting in a 21 yard loss.  That loss made it 3rd and 23 from our own 35 instead of 2nd and 2 from the Titans 47.  Other than that, he was good in pass protection and made a couple of key blocks in the running game.

WR:
All of our receivers had relatively subpar games.  Josh Morgan and Isaac Bruce were especially bad; Morgan had two dropped passes (one was tipped up for an interception) and Bruce slipped on a pass that would have resulted in a pretty big gain.  Michael Crabtree had lots of trouble getting separation for the first time all year and was double covered a lot.  Jason Hill came in after Bruce's mistake and played very well, catching 4 balls for 50 yards and two touchdowns.  I hope to see Crabtree, Hill, and Morgan as our starting receivers for the rest of the year but knowing our coaches we probably won't.

OL:
In terms of pass protection, this was the worst game the offensive line has had this year.  Adam Snyder had one of the worst games that I have ever seen from an NFL player and was getting beat almost every time we dropped back to pass.  Chilo Rachal , Eric Heitmann , David Baas , and Barry Sims were all beat at least a couple of times as well.  The run blocking was fairly good in comparison, especially from Rachal and Baas.  I would argue that this was Rachal's best game this year as he only gave up 1.5 pressures and did not allow anyone to run right past him to make a TFL like he has been all season.

Didn't contribute positively or negatively:
Glen Coffee , Moran Norris , Delanie Walker

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
Even though Jimmy Raye has been Jim Hostler bad all year, this was his worst called game yet.  In the first half of the game things seemed to be working but after halftime things just fell apart.  Raye decided that, even though we were winning the game and even though Gore was playing well, we should pass the ball for the rest of game.  Gore only receiver 7 carries in the second half and his last carry came with 13 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  Of those 7 carries, 5 were right up the middle and those 5 gained us 17 total yards while the 2 outside runs in the second half netted 18 yards.  This is the summary of Raye's ineptitude.

Defense

DL:
This was one of the worst games Justin Smith has had since he came to San Francisco.  He got absolutely zero pressure on Young despite being handled one-on-one for much of the game.  Aubrayo Franklin , on the other hand, had a great game.  He pushed the pocket back on passing plays and was in the backfield making tackles on running plays.  It was his best game of the season.  Isaac Sopoaga once again played solid, nothing bad and nothing spectacular.  I saw Kentwan Balmer in on a few plays and he seemed to be getting good penetration.  All told, the defensive line was stout in the middle but Johnson broke big runs of 26 and 41 when he bounced outside.

LB:
Patrick Willis saved like 3 Chris Johnson touchdowns, no joke.  Johnson was getting ready to turn the corner and accelerate all three times and Willis chased him down for a relatively minimal gain.  For someone so big to be able to move so fast is ridiculous.  The stats might not show it but he definitely had a great day.  Takeo Spikes had a solid day of mostly freeing things up for Willis, Manny Lawson was solid against the run but did not put pressure on Young.  Parys Haralson 's play was a mixed bag.  On one hand, he made two great tackles for a loss when he shot down the line but on the other hand Johnson's 41 yarder and the subsequent touchdown were both directly his fault.  On the touchdown he had Johnson 6 yards in the backfield but failed miserably and Johnson got around him.  Haralson didn't pressure Young at all either.

DB:
Both Shawntae Spencer and Tarell Brown had solid enough games but we sorely missed Nate Clements in run support because both missed a tackle close to the LoS that Clements would have made.  Spencer was beat for a 49 yard gain early on but played well for the rest of the game while Brown did not allow any catches for substantial yardage.  Dashon Goldson failed to get over the top on the aforementioned 49 yard reception but other than that did not give anything big up like he has been, though he did not make any plays either.  Michael Lewis and Dre Bly had Justin Gage covered pretty well on his 33 yard reception late in the game but Gage made a fantastic catch.  Other than that play, both were good all game.  Mark Roman made a terrible decision when he decided to go after Young on a 3rd down roll-out, despite having a teammate right next to him, and Young just lobbed it over their heads for an easy 1st down.

Defense coaching/playcalling:
Manusky was really almost as bad as Raye yesterday.  He rarely blitzed, even though the few times that we did something good happened, and Young had all day to throw.  Any QB with as much time as Young had yesterday is going to find the open receiver eventually.  One of his worst calls came when the Titans had a 3rd and 9 from our 19 right before they scored.  I knew, and I am sure most of you did as well, that they were going to throw a screen to Johnson and yet the defense looked completely unprepared when it happened.  To me that shows that the defensive coordinator thought the Titans were going to try something else and I don't know what Manusky was thinking they might do because it was pretty obvious that they were going to run a screen to me.

Special Teams

Andy Lee had 3 amazing punts.  On his first one the ball boomed 57 yards in the air and just stuck when it landed inside the Titans 5 yard line and the other two pinned them inside their 15.  Joe Nedney and the kickoff coverage team were good, allowing only 23 yards per return and an average starting field position of around the 24, and Michael Robinson is a decent enough kick returner.  We still need a decent punt returner because -1 yards on 3 returns is not gonna cut it, Brandon Jones .

Summary

Like I already said, we had this game won so this losss hurts.  Outside of two big runs, Johnson only gained 68 yards on 23 carries and Frank Gore had a good day with 160 total yards.  The 4 turnovers by Alex Smith and coaching are what killed us.  Now we have a short week and have to travel to Chicago having lost 4 straight.  I don't like our chances.  This season hinges on this week.

(P.S. Sorry that I did not write one of these up for the Colts game last week but I did not get to watch 3/4 of the game so I hardly though that I should talk out of by behind.)

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 25, 2009 10:48 pm
 

Week 7 @ Houston Breakdown

So what we have lost two in a row.  So what if our only wins are against teams in our division.  So what if the running game has been mediocre to bad thus far.  So what.  I can honestly take more positives away from this game than from any other game this year.  Want to know what they are?  Read on, then.

Offense

QB:
I don't know what to say about Shaun Hill.  On the one hand, it did seem like he was running for his life half of the time but on the other I saw him missing plenty of open receivers for the second straight game.  Anyone who reads my posts knows that I have been one of the most avid supporters of Hill for the past two seasons but he has just not played well in recent weeks.  Alex Smith played fantastic today, though.  His passes had a zip to them that we had not seen since his 2006 season and he had a decisiveness and leadership quality that we have never seen.  I can say with 100% honesty that he played better today than any 49ers quarterback since Jeff Garcia.  If he does not get the start against Indianapolis next week I would be surprised.

RB:
It is 100% not Frank Gore's fault that the running game is not playing well.  Teams are stacking the box almost every play to stop him and he seemingly has to break at least one tackle in the backfield every time he touches the ball.  Given the circumstances, he has been great this year.  His blitz pick-up is amongst the best in the league.

TE:
Now for the best part of our offense this year, Vernon Davis.  Wow.  I can't believe that I just said that.  I have never been a fan of Davis and I wrote him off as a bust this preseason but he has sure showed me.  Davis' 3 receiving touchdowns today give him 6 on the year.  Those 6 touchdowns do not only lead all tight ends but all players.  His route-running has drastically improved since last year and his hands have as well, though he dropped a catchable ball today.
WR:
Michael Crabtree is the greatest wide receiver of all-time... :).  Okay, that might be an exaggeration but when is the last time a rookie receiver had this good of a first game?  I bet that receiver didn't miss training camp and the first 5 weeks of the season.  Crabtree caught everything that he had a chance to catch, finishing with 5 catches for 56, and was opening things up by drawing the Texans attention.  This attention allowed Josh Morgan to have a good game (4 catches for 62 yards), and I am personally convinced that these two should be our starting receivers with Isaac Bruce at #3.  Who cares about Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, and Brandon Jones.

OL:
The first sack of the game was all on Hill, if you ask me.  He had a chance to get rid of the ball but did not because of his indecisiveness.  The second one was just plain awful blocking by Chilo Rachal.  Other than the sacks there was a little bit of pressure on Hill but not nearly as much as some fans are making it out to be.  Rachal got beat a couple of more times, and so did Tony Pashos, but Hill was able to step forward on those plays.  Smith also took some pressure but was able to avoid the rush much better than Hill.  Eric Heitmann, David Baas, and Joe Staley all had solid games.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
At this point, I feel there is very little for me to say about Jimmy Raye and his offensive "strategies" that I have not already said, but I will anyway.  His offense is far too conservative, he calls way too many runs up the middle, and he plays not to lose instead of playing to win.  After being down 21-0 at halftime, and with the stronger-armed Smith in, he changed up the gameplan a lot but we need that kind of mentality in the 1st quarter when he game is close, hot in the 4th when it is all but out of reach.

Offensive players not mentioned at all due to lack of contributions on offense:
Arnaz Battle, Michael Spurlock, Brandon Jones, Glen Coffee, Moran Norris, Delanie Walker, Jason Hill, Michael Robinson

Defense

DL:
Justin Smith had a particularly good game, putting two pressures on Matt Schaub and finishing with 8 total tackles (3 for <=0 yards).  Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga once again held up the point of attack very well, other than the 33 yard run by Slaton where they were pushed way off of the ball, but got very little pressure on Schaub.  Demetric Evans had his best game as a 49ers, racking up a couple of pressures on Schaub, but Kentwan Balmer played poorly and could not get off even one-on-one blocks.

LB:
Manny Lawson may never develop into a dominant pass rusher but if he plays like he did today he doesn't have to rack up the sacks in my eyes.  ManLaw had 5 total tackles; coming for 0, 0, -9, -1, and 2 yards; one sack, and a QB pressure.  That is a great game by any standard, even though I'll admit the sack was partly a coverage sack.  Patrick Willis also had another great game, knocking away 2 passes, pressuring Schaub once, and racking up 10 total tackles.  Takeo Spikes left the game early and Scoot McKillop had a solid game in relief.  Parys Haralson pressured Schaub once early on but was otherwise almost non-existent while Ahmad Brooks made his presence known with a big sack.  Brooks has played very well as a situational pass rusher and I think it is time we gave him a shot at Haralson's spot.

DB:
Nate Clements shut all the naysayers up.  He blanketed Andre Johnson every time he was on him and I'm fairly certain that he did not allow a catch in man coverage, though he gave the inside to Daniels for a 9 yard gain in zone coverage once.  He also missed a tackle on Slaton's touchdown catch that might have allowed us to hold the Texans to a field goal.   Shawntae Spencer had another lights-out game, not allowing a single catch in man, and Dre Bly did not make any mistakes.  Mark Roman was relatively solid by his standards but both he and Spencer had a chance to knock away Andre Johnson's big reception.  Dashon Goldson had an awful game, being was out of position on the Daniels touchdown and the other long gain by Daniels as well as a couple of other mid-range gains.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
I gotta hand it to Manusky this week because his defense successfully took one of the best receivers in the league out of the game.  I do think that was more due to the player’s high levels of play than his schemes but the end result is the same.  He dialed up a few blitzes, though not as many as I would like, as well.  Overall, he called one of his better games of the season.

Special Teams

Arnaz Battle's muffed punt might have cost us the game but other than that, there is not much to say here.  Andy Lee and Joe Nedney were both really booming their kicks and the coverage teams were excellent, and Michael Robinson looked pretty good on kickoff returns.  Once we find someone who cans at least fair catch a punt, we will be fine here.

Summary

For some reason I feel like I am forgetting something, so if I am someone please tell me.  Since I don't really feel like writing a summary, I will just list the best players of the game.


+ Alex Smith
+ Vernon Davis
+ Michael Crabtree
+ Patrick Willis
+ Manny Lawson

And this is comforting to me seeing as every one of them is 25 or younger.

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 12, 2009 11:45 am
Edited on: October 13, 2009 7:13 am
 

Week 5 vs. Atlanta Breakdown

Were they even trying?  I mean, in all seriousness, did the 49ers want to win this game? Because from what I saw it seemed like they were more interested in helping the Falcons. If we had been playing hard but just getting outplayed then I wouldn't feel the need to mock the players but, with the exception of a few players, they were not. Even so, I am going to try and convince myself that this was not that bad of a loss by grasping at every little positive I could find.

Offense

QB:
This was by far the worst game of Shaun Hill's career and it proved that he cannot win a shootout. I still think that he is not just a game manager and can win games, just not high scoring ones. His receivers were not giving him much help, to be honest, but he was missing open receivers, making the wrong reads, and just playing awful all-around.

RB:
Glen Coffee might have cost us this game when he thought Josh Morgan scored and forced us to call a timeout. If we had that timeout, we could have challenged the Delanie Walker "fumble" and had the ball in good field position down 21-10 but instead we go down 28-10 and at that point is was over. Coffee was also very bad in blitz pick-up and was not hitting holes that were there in the running game. I thought he could stand-in well for Frank Gore but these last two games, he has definitely proven me wrong. When Shaun Hill is your leading rusher at 53 yards, your running back played poorly.

FB:
To be honest, I was not playing much attention after the first quarter. I don't think Moran Norris was in very much and I don't know if he had a good or bad game.

TE:
Vernon Davis ended up with 5 catches for 51 yards, not a bad game statistically, but a lot of that came when the game was out of reach. There were 3 plays when he ran the wrong route and the ball came his way when he wasn't looking. He did not have a good game. Delanie Walker did not play poorly on offense but he did on special teams, which I will talk about later.

WR:
I hope Michael Crabtree is everything he is supposed to be because we need a spark at receiver. Like Davis, Josh Morgan had a decent statistical game (4 catches for 78 yards) but 61 of those came on the catch when he slowed up and was caught from behind, forcing us to burn a timeout. Isaac Bruce was thrown to 4 times and dropped 2 of them and he just looks old and slow.

OL:
I don't know why some people are acting like the offensive line was worse yesterday than it has been all season. I have a theory, though. The pass protection was actually solid for most of the game but the reason people think it was bad is because they gave up pressure and sacks at the most inopportune times. Tony Pashos and Chilo Rachal both got beat to allow a sack that pushed us out of field goal range with a chance to make the score 14-13. Joe Staley got beat by John Abraham before the half but I have no idea why Hill didn't dump it off to Coffee, who had plenty of room to run. Chilo Rachal then got dominated late in the game but that was a garbage time sack. Other than those 3 plays, and a couple more when Rachal or Pashos gave up a QB pressure, the pass protection was actually pretty good. The run blocking was also good. There were holes but Coffee was not running through them. this was the first game of the season where we weren't tackled in the backfield at all.

Offensive playcalling:
I can't really blame Jimmy Raye for this loss. Things got out of hand on a couple of plays that were out of his control and then we had to come from behind, which isn't what our offense is suited for. He called screens, tosses, deep passes, and mixed things up. It is not his fault that the players did not execute.

Defense

DL:
Justin Smith was double-teamed almost every play and that pretty much took him out of the game in terms of pass rushing but even against double-teams, he wasn't getting pushed back. Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga, on the other hand, were getting pushed back. It is not like they were getting blown off of the line or anything but the Falcons offensive line was just knocking them back enough to allow Michael Turner to squeeze through for a few yards very often. Still, other than the 33 yards run when Turner made a fantastic cutback, they weren't beaten much (39 carries for 115 yards).

LB:
Don't blame this loss on Patrick Willis, Manny Lawson, or Takeo Spikes. None of them played a great game but all were good. Patrick Willis had two forced fumbles, one that it looked like the 49ers did not care to recover, and 12 total tackles; Spikes was taking out blockers to free up things for Willis and made a bunch of plays down by the LoS; and Manny Lawson was regularly in the Falcons backfield. Parys Haralson did nothing for the 4th straight week.

DB:
I do not blame Nate Clements for Roddy White's 90 yard TD. He was playing hard and trying to make a play to keep us in the game. Mark Roman was the one that was clearly out of position and then took a terrible angle allowing White to run right past him. Still, Clements was getting beat for 10-15 yard gains by White on quick curl routes very often. Both Michael Lewis and especially Dashon Goldson had very bad games. Goldson was out of position on pretty much every other play and I honestly have no idea what he was doing on White's first touchdown. Dre Bly might have made the dumbest play of the year after his interception. You are down 35-10 and you celebrate an interception only to fumble the ball while celebrating? Come on! Shawntae Spencer had a relatively good game in man coverage.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
Just like for the offense, most of the blame for the terrible defensive performance is on the execution and not the playcalling. Unlike the offense, however, a bigger portion of the blame goes to Greg Manusky for calling a subpar game. He was not calling many blitzes and when he did we were playing zone coverage, allowing Ryan to quickly find an open receiver. His few blitzes were telegraphed like they have been all season.

Special Teams

I am not going to fault Joe Nedney for missing a 48 yard field goal because that is not an easy task my any means, and his kick out of bounds did not cost us much because the defense held the Falcons easily on that drive. Andy Lee had a great day punting, pinning the Falcons deep often but it didn't matter because the defense was playing so bad. The return game is still awful. Replacing Allen Rossum with the combination of Arnaz Battle and Delanie Walker hasn't done anything. Walker had a dreadful day returning kicks but he should not be blamed for that "fumble" because, even at full speed, it was clear that he hit the ground first. The refs made a mistake and Coffee/Morgan had cost us the timeout we needed to rectify it, not Walker's fault.

Summary

What does one say after a game like this? I cannot say that they tried their best and just lost to a better team, because that is not what happened. I cannot say that one mental mistake cost us the game, because there was definitely more than one big mistake from the 49ers. All I can say is that it is a good thing we are going into a bye week because this team played like they were completely unfocused and/or did not care. Hopefully the bye will give them time to regroup and give Singletary time to motivate them. Getting Frank Gore back and adding Michael Crabtree after the bye will definitely help this team exponentially.

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 5, 2009 9:48 am
Edited on: October 5, 2009 3:46 pm
 

Week 4 vs. St. Louis Breakdown

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.

Offense

QB:
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.

RB:
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.  

FB:
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.

TE:
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.

WR:
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.

OL:
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.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
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.

Defense

DL:
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.

LB:
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.

DB:
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.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
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.

Special Teams

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.

Conclusion

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.


Category: NFL
Posted on: September 29, 2009 1:09 pm
 

Week 3 Power Rankings

1. Baltimore Ravens (3-0) – Joe Flacco looked fantastic, albeit against a terrible Cleveland team.

2. New York Giants (3-0) – They beat up on Tampa Bay better than I expected them to.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-0) – Drew Brees has an off day? It doesn’t matter, the Saints played great defense and ran all over Buffalo.

4. Indianapolis Colts (3-0) – Peyton Manning is unstoppable and on pace for his 4th MVP award.

5. New York Jets (3-0) – They got a little lucky on special teams but I bumped them up because their win over New England looks more impressive now.

6. Minnesota Vikings (3-0) – Great throw by Favre to win the game but they were lucky Dre Bly dropped an easy pick-6.

7. New England Patriots (2-1) – The defense really stepped up against a good Falcons offense and Tom Brady looked good.

8. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) – Basically did everything but win at a good Minnesota team without their best offensive player.

9. Atlanta Falcons (2-1) – Their wins are not looking that impressive right about now so I am hesitant to put them this high.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) – I never thought I would have them in the top 10 but beating the Packers and Steelers, and losing on a fluke to the Broncos, earned by respect.

11. Green Bay Packers (2-1) – The offense finally looked good but I wouldn’t get too excited yet, it was against the Rams.

12. San Diego Chargers (2-1) – Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback and their defense is solid but they need to get a running game going.

13. Chicago Bears (2-1) – After an awful week one, Jay Cutler has 5 TDs to 1 pick, 240 yards per game, and is completing over 70% of his passes.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) – Beating up on the Chiefs, even without McNabb, does not prove anything in by book.

15. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – Looked good against two bad teams but they need to do it against someone halfway decent.

16. Pittsburgh (1-2) – I refuse to drop them out of the top half even though they barely beat an 0-3 team and lost to the two good teams they faced, they were close games.

17. Denver Broncos (3-0) – I would be surprised if they win even 1 game in the next 5 weeks but they are undefeated right now.

18. Houston Texans (1-2) – The Jags had a few lucky breaks and one big play which allowed them to squeeze out a victory, the Texans outplayed them.

19. Arizona Cardinals (1-2) – A week after looking so good they played like crap and couldn’t even run on a soft Colt’s run defense.

20. Miami Dolphins (0-3) – I think their winless record is more because of the quality of their opponents than anything else.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) – The running game kind of got going against Houston but their pass defense is still a joke.

22. Buffalo Bills (1-2) – Their defense shut down Brees but got gnashed in the running game and their offense did nothing.

23. Tennessee Titans (0-3) – I feel like they would have beaten the Jets if their returners could hold onto the ball but they didn’t.

24. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) – If Hasselbeck was healthy then they might have beaten the Bears on Sunday.

25. Carolina Panthers (0-3) – They really have too much talent, especially on offense, to be this low. Delhomme needs to step it up.

26. Detroit Lions (1-2) – lolskins

27. Washington Redkins (1-2) – See above.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-2) – JaMarcus Russell is completing 40% of his passes with 1 TD to 4 interceptions.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – It looks like paying Matt Cassell that much money was a good idea.

30. St. Louis Rams (0-3) – They actually put up a fight this week and Steven Jackson is playing well.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-3) – Awful, awful offense supported by an awful defense. Not a good combo.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) – These bottom three are interchangeable, really.

Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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