No football this weekend. Normally this is a drag, as this seems to interrupt whatever momentum the team may be rolling on, but this year is a different story. The 49ers are beaten and battered. They have 5 defensive starters down, and just lost lineman Daniel Kilgore Trout to a broken leg. VD has been dinged up (and suffering from the dropsies), and the offense is in a bit of a quandary as they figure out how to use their new WR weapons.
But, as we saw last weekend, even though our D is still 2nd ranked in total defense, they were toasted by Peyton Manning and Co. to the tune of 419 yards. The good news is Patrick Willis is ready for the November 2nd game vs the Rams, and there’s the possibility that Aldon Smith could get a couple games shaved off his suspension for good behavior.
The injured DB corps (Cook, Cox, Culliver, Ward) should all be good to go. And the biggest missing piece, Navorro Bowman, is said to be in stage 3 of his rehab. He has been running for a few weeks, and is now starting to cut. Best case for Bowman is 4 more weeks. NT Glen Dorsey is also about 4 weeks away from his return.
Given all that, it’s pretty hard to gauge how good this team is. Defensively they are doing pretty well, until they aren’t. The coaching to me has been curious at best. In the Ram game, the Niners showed a bunch of stunts and blitzes and played up close on the Ram WRs. One would think to confuse Austin Davis. Come the Denver game, we abandoned all that. Strange, because this was the exact way the Niners played Peyton tough back in 2009. I thought they’d go hard after Manning and press the coverage as they love to throw quick underneath passes. Instead, we played soft on the outside guys, and tried to simply rush our 4 guys with little stunting. It sort of worked until the killer pick by Kappy.
The other losses have been ugly affairs that the 49ers had pretty good leads, and they succumbed to dumb penalties and mistakes. I get that some of this is due to installing a new offense, and the defense is hurting, but the coaches haven’t done all they could to get things right as well.
Still and all, given the current state of the team, I’m pretty good with where they are at. The Niners had a pretty tough opening set of games, and have handed Dallas and Philly their only losses this season. Losing in AZ isn’t a crime although that game was ugly. The worst loss to me was the Bears game, as they had no business coming back and beating us. However, I think this team will healthy up and get themselves in synch in time for a strong run down the stretch and hit the playoffs. Even if it is as a wild card. As the SF Giants proved, once you reach the playoffs, it’s a brand new season. This team has proven it can win on the road, and that’s the path to travel from the WC spot.