Close, But No Cigar

What started out looking like a beat-down of a demoralized Cowboys team, and Tony Romo in particluar, turned out instead to be a gutty victory by Romo and the dreaded Cowboys. the game hinged on a couple plays. As the 1ast half was winding down, Dallas faced a 3rd and 9. romo missed on a deep ball, and apparently forced a punt. However, Brooks was lined up in the neutral zone for a penalty. On the subsequent 3rd and 4, Romo hit Austin on a short slant that Whitner just flat missed. So, after outplaying Dallas through the first 28:10 of the 1st half, the Niners caved in at the wrong time, and gave Dallas 7 to close the half. To make matters worse, the Niners got the ball with 1:48, but had no timeouts. Thus, the clock ran out on them.

The 2nd half seemed to devolve into a field possession battle for Harbaugh. After Kitna killed a Dallas drive by throwing a pick into the end zone, Smith returned the favor, and Kitna then drove Dallas downfield for the tying TD. The niners inexplicably then left DeMarcus Ware unblocked for a 7 yard sack on the ensuing possession. Punt. Kitna was again picked off on a tipped pass that Brock caught. Smith made a great read on singl;e coverage on Walker split out to the right, and hit him for a 30 yard score. The Niner D stiffened , and forced another Dallas punt on Romo’s return. After the punt and the penalty, the Niners had excellent field position. So, naturally, the Niners run up the middle a couple times, and Smith scrambled for 12. On the enuing 55 yard FG, Dallas was assessed a 15 yard penalty for leverage. Harbaugh said he trusted his defense with a 2 score lead at that point. Unfortunately, there were 11 mintues left . . .

The aggravating thing is, with the game in hand, the defense gave up a ton of short passes to Austin and Witten. The TD to Austin was a very good play, but the whole drive was pitch and catch. The pressure that was there all day evaporated. At that point, the D should have been fairly fresh, but after the subsequent 4 and out (they threw a slant!), the D was gassed. At least they kept Dallas out of the end zone.

The OT was more of the same. 7 yard run. 8 yard sack. 10 yard pass on 3rd and 11. It got overturned anyway after Harbaugh called a timeout, thus allowing the replay to happen in the 1st place. They should have just went ahead and gone for it. Dallas wasn’t going to challenge. Chalk that up to inexperience. These guys have to plan for contingencies like 4th and short, and how to  get a play off quick. Same thing with the illegal formation call. Harbaugh chewed the ref’s ear off while the play clock ran down and forced a time out.

Way too much Gore. Way too much Ginn. At some point soon, Harbaugh has to trust Smith and the O line with a game that is more committed to passing. After everyone screamed for more passing than the Seattle game, the Niners threw the ball 4 more times. Not exactly the offensive juggernaut most envisioned. Yes, it’s early. Yes, they are learning on the fly. Yes, this is the safe approach. The problem with playing it safe in the NFL is that usually bites you in the ass. Just ask Miami’s defensive coordinator, or Minnesota’s linebacker coach . . .



About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers and SF Giants fan
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58 Responses to Close, But No Cigar

  1. barleyfreak says:

    “Yes, this is the safe approach.”

    Well, you know what they say — Safety First. How about Danger First.

    Too much Gore (and Mt. Moran). I know our OL has some serious problems, but I still think they can scheme enough to open it up and pass the GD ball MUCH more than they are. First half, I thought they were getting this. But then as has been said ad nauseum, they played not to lose. The tried to hang on to a lead. Ahead by 7. With a full half to go. I’m sure if it wasn’t for the fact that this philosophy is what we have had to suffer through as fans for several years, it wouldn’t be so hard. We almost beat them. But there are only so many “almost beating them” games we can take when it is so arguably apparent that our own wussy approach is what holds us back. I want to see Smith throw the ball. A lot. If there are picks, so be it. Sink or swim. It’s a passing league.

  2. twinfan1 says:

    A big reason there was too much Ginn, they had VD blocking on Ware, So the three best receivers were not involved in the passing game as receivers ( Diva, Edwards, Davis). Ginn’s error on the 10 yard pass when they needed 11 was crucial. BTW, I’ll repeat this again, it is totally on the receiver to get to the marker, everyone knows that. The pass wasn’t “short”, the route was. Anyway- they need to figure out a way to block the top pass rushers without putting their best receiver on them..

    • unca_chuck says:

      That play was overturned, Twin. Because Harbaugh called a timeout. Dallas wasn’t going to challenge. It wasn’t until the TO that the refs took a look. They should have lined up and gone for it. Play for the win at home. Instead, they waffled, and called a timeout, and the play was overturned.

      • twinfan1 says:

        I know what fucking happened. The GD pernt was that three “go to” guys were not in the passing game. A receiver other than Ginn gets to the marker and catches the fucking ball,.

  3. unca_chuck says:

    I understand using VD for Ware. However, there were a couple times that Ware come in unblocked. Unfathomable you don’t account for him. much like Witten catching all those underneath passes. They NEED to rethink that underneath zone. At least with the TEs. Even WITH Lawson that shit didn’t work most of the time. The whole 4th quarter was underneath shit to Austin and Witten.

  4. unca_chuck says:

    Willaims has shown a lot in his very limited action. My hope is he gets 1st team reps all week, and they use him more. Ginn is Ginn. He’s not a very good WR.

  5. grumpyguy says:

    Maiocco claims that looking back at the game, VD was in blocking in pass pro about ten times.

    Obviously he ran patterns the rest of the time, and was just covered most of those times.

    Maybe the real key is that the O-line cannot block a real pass rusher. Even with help from a back. If so, it’s going to be a long year.

  6. Spitblood says:

    You guys are all splitting hairs and not seeing the bigger picture. There was huge improvement straight across the board yesterday from all areas of the team. Yes, Alex was sacked and he threw an INT. Yes, the Niners used more Gore than we’d like, and yes, our secondary still leaves a lot to be desired. But the Niners are now a competitive football team. When was the last time the Niners were in two games on consecutive weeks? I mean really in those games, all the way to the end…. and this week against a good team.

    Alex Smith played really well. I was rooting for the guy. He completed short passes, made some amazing deep throws, escaped the pocket and made plays. There were times when he could have been more athletic and escaped the pressure, but his play was a huge, huge improvement. His throws to Williams and Walker were money.

    Just look at the Gore runs as Harbaugh’s way to buy time. Harbaugh wants to win the time of possession game. He wants to keep the ball out of the oppositions hands so maybe Fangio and his dbs can figure out some things. Harbaugh wants to keep the ball and grind it out so next week he can install more offensive plays to build on. And run blocking helps a young offensive line get after the d line and wear them down. We all want to see ’em open it up wide and rev the engine to the bolts rattle loose, but it’s a process.

    The Niners played well. That was a good game, and Harbaugh’s quickly getting us into position to compete against anyone, and compete for the division. Running the ball with Frank is a large part of that. If he only runs for 40 yards, but the Niners have the lead and win the time of possession game, I’m okay with that. Harbaugh will learn how to keep it more aggressive in the second half – and how to make the right adjustments. They need time to learn how to play together.

    • grumpyguy says:

      Actually, Spit, we won the ToP in the first half, and LOST it in the second half when we running. It was actually about 2-1 in favor of the Cowgirls.

      The reason is simplicity itself: you CANNOT dominate Time of Possession if you do not get first downs. We got three the whole half, and I think that’s counting the first play TD to Walker.

      Take a closer look at Gore’s rushing for the year:

      Negative yardage: 7
      No gain: 4
      1 yard: 8 (one was a one-yard TD run)
      2 yards: 6
      3 yards: 7
      4 yards: 1
      5 yards: 2
      6 yards: 1
      7 yards: 3
      8 yards: 0
      9 yards: 1
      10 or more: 2

      The average for the year is 2.5. His long is 16. His median is 2.

      Now we all know his average will rise, as it always does. Frank breaks those long ones every few games.

      And that does not mean shit. And here is why.

      Suppose that 16-yard run was instead a 99-yard TD. Immediately, his average rises to a very respectable 4.5.

      His MEDIAN, however, is still only 2.

      Running Gore into the line is a recipe, far more often than not, for second and long, then third and long. Then 4th and punt.

      I don’t blame Frank for this as much as the way the 49ers continue to use him. Using Moron Norris as a lead blocker is a total failure. Running gore exclusively up the middle: failure.

      Spread the line, and use gore as a one-back in the spread. Or throw short to him.

      Change SOMETHING… because this shit ain’t working.

  7. unca_chuck says:

    So that means VD went out 14 times, and caught 2 passes out of those. You have to think he was doubled. With Dallas getting pressure from their base D, that leaves plenty of guys to cover our wideouts.

    Which leads back to trying to create mismatches by bringing in more WRs. I mean, why can’t we do what other teams do to us with regularity? Run 2 deep to open up the underneath passes to either the slot guy or a TE. It doesn’t have to be a 7 step dropm, and wait for the play to develop, just a 5 step, qucker pass. Like Dallas did all through the 4th quarter.

  8. unca_chuck says:

    Splitting hairs? Spit, look at last year. The Niners were in the NO game, the Atl game, the Philly game, and the Carol game. KC, GB, TB, and SD games were the only ones that got really out of hand early. Philly, NO, and Atl made the playoffs last year.

    I see too much the same. Game mamagement. Not being the aggressor.

    Yeah. it’s early. But the Niners were supposed to unveil their passing attack THIS game. I know. We are limited by our sieve-like front 5.

    How about we try it vs a shitty team like Cincy? If we do the same-old same-old, I’m gonna be very disappointed. Unless we get like 240 rushing yards . . .

  9. Spitblood says:

    If it wasn’t for terrible free safety and secondary play in general, the Niners win this game. The Niners lost not because of play calling or Alex or Frank, but because of their terrible secondary that must be addressed this off season. I don’t think Goldson, Spencer or Reggie Smith can help. I think our secondary is just really, really bad.

    We were never in any of those games you mentioned last year. Why? Because I didn’t believe we could win. The Saints? Please. When a fan knows the team will lose, that team sucks. This year, right now, under Harbaugh, the Niners could win any game, and it’s likely they win the division. That’s the big picture. That’s what people should take from this game.

    Deion had a great line about Smith on the NFL Network – Harbaugh was getting Smith fired up by punching him before the game and Deion said some boxer (can’t remember his name) couldn’t wake Smith up. Players know…..

  10. unca_chuck says:

    This goes back to the play calling. In the 2nd half, it was bad. The Niners refuse to try and get teams out of packing the tackle box. This kills the run game AND the short passing game. Granted, this is because of the problems the Niners have in pass pro, but shit. Roll Smith out. Do more than have him stand like a statue behind the line. The 2nd half was all 2 yard run, 8 yard sack, 5 yard completion.

  11. unca_chuck says:

    Yer worse than Dennis, Spit. Deion? The humble holy man, or the biggest fucking self-promoter in human history? He’s a fucking tool of the highest order. How many more collage kids are going to take his ‘advice’? He’s up there with Reggie (burn in hell) White who asked God where he should sign when he was a free agent, and God told him, “Go for the money. Go to Green Bay.” He had the audacity to say he was going to help the disadvantaged youth of (hyuk) Green Bay,Wisconsin. You, know, that hotbed of urban strife and decay.

    • Spitblood says:

      I have no idea what you’re talking about here. None. I’m lost. Please provide me with some sort of summary or cliff notes.

  12. unca_chuck says:

    Deion = Satan . . .

  13. unca_chuck says:

    Meanwhile, back at 4949 Centennial Blvd. we get this from the HC:

    “We’re going to stick to our guns. I feel we’re on track.”

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. At least Harbaugh didn’t say “let me look at the tape . . .” Cincy, Philly, TB, and Deeetroit.

    Have to win on the road in Cincy. The others will be VERY tough. Only TB is at home.

    3-3 is possible, but a hard row to hoe.

  14. robd says:

    ” there was huge improvement straight across the board yesterday from all areas of the team ”
    “If it wasn’t for free safety play the Niners win this game.”
    god i thought i would ever say this but … SPITBLOOD is right !
    the most encouraging thing here is that we’ve managed to look like a real NFL team for … gasp… three weeks in a row (including preseason !)
    over the last ten years with erickson , nolan and sing we would ave fallen apart in this one and lost 30-17 !

  15. robd says:

    ” Alex Smith played really well. I was rooting for the guy.”

    ok , who kidnapped SPIT and is posting in his place ?

  16. robd says:

    We’re going to stick to our guns. I feel we’re on track.

  17. Spitblood says:

    I really don’t understand all the negativity I’m reading on the blogs and in the papers. I mean, it’s like everyone’s lost their minds and I’m the only sane person around. And seriously, that’s not good.

    The 49ers just took the Dallas Cowboys into overtime and really should have won that football game. Did anyone have the Cowboys as a win at the start of the season? I didn’t. At the beginning of the free agent period, when the Niners were cutting everyone, nobody thought the Niners would beat the Cowboys. Here Harbaugh is with what’s really been two months with his players and he has the team on track to win the division. They’ll be some surprises along the way – this year we’ll win some games we should lose, and lose some we should win, but the end result is that the Niners are a vastly improved team over the Nolan and SIngletary teams prior, and Harbaugh is learning on the job. What’s not to like so far? What’s to criticize? We all knew we’d have holes. I didn’t anticipate our secondary being this bad, but like we’ve all read, it’s a process to not only evaluate what we have, but also what we need.

    Give Harbaugh and his coaches some time. A complete turn around doesn’t happen over night.

    • robd says:

      ok skeebers and bullit … i know spit is a bit of a knucklehead , but go ahead and untie him and give him back his computer ! i mean enough is enough now guys !
      please don’t intimidate him any further !

  18. robd says:

    don’t forget dallas has about the best front seven vs. the pass in the game ! we knew going in our youngsters like a.davis , iupati and rachal would struggle ! throw in a new center and staff/system and this game was a real challenge !
    to me the biggest bummer was that this game wasn’t later in the year after we had a little more time to get it together on offense !
    at least now that we don’t have vanilla nolan or singleminded singletary coaching , so solari can work a little of his magic with our 0-line (and will have us playing much much better imho !)

  19. grumpyguy says:

    The history of the last four years is, if you run Gore into the middle of the line behind Norris, you will have Three and Outs over half the time. You will lose the ToP battle. And you will lose the game.

    If you want to run with Gore, you need to be a little more creative in how you do it. Otherwise, you’re going to get the same results. Work in Hunter a little more too to take advantage of his speed to the edge.

    And, we have to start trusting Alex. Whether for better or worse, this team will only go as far as Alex takes us this year. Open up the offense with at least a hint of the spread, and let him do what he does better, if not best. Alex is your QB. Let him throw the ball when it is NOT Third and long.

    If we keep pounding square pegs into round holes, we might NOT win this division, regardless of how utterly crappy it is.

  20. unca_chuck says:

    Yesterday had some encouraging moments. The pass rush out of the base D is much better than last year. Until it wasn’t. The ‘boys started on UDFA and one 7th round guy. They kept our rush at bay for most of the game. The DBs played better than last year. Til they didn’t. The play calling was a little too vanilla. The outcome was a little too last year.

    I’m sorry. I wish that for one brief shining moment we stop trying to run up the middle with defenses doing nothing but putting 10 guys in the box. I know Harbaugh is hamstrung by the lousy protection, but THIS IS WHY we need to roll Smith out. Get him in space. Let his roll-out ability buy him a little time. Put 4 WRs in. I’m seeing the same goddamn formations I got sick of last year.

    I hate to keep saying ‘it’s early’ and I know it is, but there is not enough take-no-prisoners attitude for this offense. Cincy is a game these guys should win with ease, but they are going to play it close to the vest, and see where it gets them. Versus Seattle it served them well when Ginn scored two ST TDs. Yesterday it didn’t serve them well when the offense stagnated to nothing in the 2nd half.

  21. robd says:

    for a team with a new system and young 0-line vs. the dallas rush …
    IT’S EARLY !

  22. Flavor says:

    It’s refreshing to see Spit look at the game objectively and notice the obvious positive signs. I agree with you Chuck, I really have no idea why the don’t roll Smith out more often. He passes better when he’s moving. That 45 yard seed he threw in the 1q off the muffed snap was a pearl. Plus, it would allow him to take off running more often.
    God, I hate Dallas but we witnessed one of the most epic qb performance in years. He had a punctured lung, too? Insane. I still don’t understand why Fangio didn’t put crazy pressure on a qb who everyone knew was injured and a hit away from getting knocked out of the game.

  23. Spitblood says:

    I think we can take a few things away from this game –

    1.) The first thing that jumps to my mind is that our secondary isn’t very good. Reggie Smith and Williams need to be shown the door. I honestly hope Goldson can get it together. Goldson and Crabtree could be sitting on the sidelines over money. If they are, it won’t last long. Anyone see Carlos Rogers stop trying after Jason Witten caught that first pass? His hit on Romo made up for it. Whitner’s fine. Brock looks like a keeper. That means we have half a secondary. Again, though, for effect – Reggie Smith and Funky Cold Medina Williams need to be shown the door.

    2.) Kyle Williams is better than Micheal Crabtree. Maybe at some point Harbaugh will actually do what he said he would in the media – start players who are the best at their positions regardless of draft position, pay and politics. Harbaugh is a bold-faced liar when meeting with the press.

    3.) The same is true with Frank Gore. Kyle Williams should beat out Crabtree, and Hunter and Dixon should beat out Gore. Gore has clearly lost a step from all the beatings Singletary and Nolan put on him. Right now Hunter and Dixon are better. Dixon should be our short yardage back. I don’t think that’s Dixon’s only skill set, but it would force him to stop dancing so much.
    Maybe Gore is the main back because Harbaugh and Roman haven’t had enough time with Dixon and Hunter. Maybe it’s a lockout thing?

    4.) Fangio is learning as well. Even though Harbaugh is taking the heat for a conservative game and a subsequent loss, Fangio, in my mind, didn’t do the Niners any favors. It’s hard to be an aggressive play caller on D when you secondary can’t run with anyone, but Fangio needed to bring the house at Romo the second Romo came back into the game. It’s hindsight, blah, blah, blah, but I guarantee you, if I was the DC and I saw Romo wincing on the sidelines and then come back it, I’d blitz 13 and take the penalty for too many men on the field. You don’t take your foot off the gas, ever. There was blood in the water and Fangio swam away. I’m not going to be too critical of the coaching staff this early on, but if there’s a pattern that develops with Fangio, I won’t be pleased about it. I want an aggressive blitzer as a DC. It’s rumored that Fangio, Baalke and Harbaugh wanted Patrick Peterson. If that’s the case, I can see why. Peterson would allow Fangio to blitz more. If Fangio has to play conservative to cover the deep ball or the longer pass, so be it, but they’d better address our secondary in the draft next off season because keeping the wraps on blitzes and aggressive defensive play calling isn’t much fun. Just think, we could have Earl Thomas instead of Mike Iupati. That would have been cool. Fuck Mike Singletary.

  24. twinfan1 says:

    Based on his history, this is the best Fangio defense we’ll ever see. He’s turned every defense he’s headed into the very bottom of the barrel.

  25. NJ49er says:

    Spit the 1 thing I think Goldson is better at is covering the TE. He sucks at playing over the top.

    What it looks like to me is that these guys are still not seeing things with the ‘same eyes’.
    Biting on ball fakes is both too aggressive and too elementary when the premise is to protect over the top.
    I lobbied for Whitner because he’s a Field General with an attitude but, as we saw, he gambles, A LOT.
    He’ll find his comfort zone with the right partners around him.

    What Whitner does well is what Goldson doesn’t do, take proper angles and tackle.

    I’m onboard with your assessments, I see the upside because I know Harbaugh isn’t looking for instant gratification or media approval. He sees this as many of us do, a work in progress.

    You teach the infant to crawl, hold hands to walk, get balance and, learn to be independent.

    Goodwin is the OL commander, he’s raw in this unit, we have plenty of work to do so, we keep all sorts of extra help there until the unit thinks for themselves.

    It’s about taking little chunks and digesting the philosophy before you roll it onto the runway to see if it flies.

  26. grumpyguy says:

    I think Goldson is a good backup to Whitner. Reggie Smith is a hard worker who doesn’t have the wheels. Williams just never got over the injury. So, basically, we HAVE no free safeties. Nobody like Mert doing the Chicken Dance and playing centerfield. You can’t ask Whitner to play centerfield because as we saw, he’ll cheat up and bite on play action – he is a tackler above all else.

    The roster still has holes. Not much we can do about it until next spring.

  27. unca_chuck says:

    I think Goldson gets the start this weekend. Williams was late and/or missing on too many plays.

  28. Spitblood says:

    I’ll tell you one thing about our safeties, Reggie Smith and Media Williams are terrible. If you look at most of our blown coverages in the last two games, the you’ll a number 30 somewhere, totally lost. From time to time we hear about players, “playing in space.” Reggie Smith can’t play in space. And that hit on Miles Austin (or wiff), where Austin then used a hand to keep his knee from touching down while diving into the endzone? That was the worst angle / hit ever. What was Media Williams doing? No wonder Leslie Frazer dumped the guy. Whitner’s okay if he has a true safety playing center field behind him – actually he’s better than ok – he’s good. Goldson is slow, but he better go from shit talking chump to turning it the fuck on because the Niners need free safety play right now worse than ever. If Goldson can’t play, Fangio can’t blitz.

    The Niners need an Eric Berry, Earl Thomas type in their backfield to take control and dominate back there. Goldson could still do it, but we need the Nerd Squad to go into his office and do a clean / swipe on his brain. Last year I was telling everyone Earl Thomas would be better than Eric Berry. Berry’s injured, but still, how do you like me now?

    • Del Mar Dennis says:

      My feelings haven’t changed.

      What did I tell you about Whitner — very good vs the run. The pass?
      You’ve seen it for yourself now. This defense is so much like last year’s, it’s frightening. Very good stopping the run; DBs couldn’t cover a receiver in a phone booth.

      And this continued shit goes much further than our new coaches and their philosophy. Who brought in this shit talent? I’m sure glad Jed conducted that nation-wide search for a new GM.

  29. unca_chuck says:

    Well, hell. Goldson doesn’t thrill me either, but Jesus H. Christ. SOMEONE has to be able to play FS. I’d start looking at other teams taxi squads. There is NO WAY a FS should get burned like Williams did against the 3rd and 4 to end the 1st half, and the pass over the middle in OT. 2 plays, 150 yards. Awful.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but did the Niners stop blitzing in the 2nd half? Dallas was strictly shotgun. We needed to put more pressure on an obviously injured Romo.
    The more I go over this, the more I realize the coaches let this one get away.

  30. unca_chuck says:

    Dennis, they can only do so much so fast. They turned over some of the personnel, they need to do more. This was a fucked-up offseason. It severely limited what they could and couldn’t do.

  31. Kevin says:

    this is from a Sac Bee article. does not look like we the Fans will be seeing a lot of passing once Harbaugh establishes his offense.

    In 2009, for example, when Stanford had an accomplished running back in Toby Gerhart and a redshirt freshman quarterback in Andrew Luck, the Cardinal rushed 536 times and attempted 313 passes. A year later, when Gerhart was in the NFL and Luck was the toast of college football, that ratio shrank a bit. But Stanford still ran 535 times vs. 379 pass attempts.

    With a short offseason for the 49ers to learn a new playbook, Harbaugh again is likely to lean on his running game while the passing attack finds its footing.

    “We are in a process,” Harbaugh said. “I know everybody wants to solve the debt today, but that is something that is a process.”

    Read more:

  32. Spitblood says:

    Think about it, for whatever reason, this team has no secondary, no proven qb and a really young and pretty bad offensive line. And people want to open up our offense? I don’t blame Jim Harbaugh for one minute keeping it conservative. He got the lead in both games. In one game Ted Ginn saved his bacon, in another Fangio must have gone to the bathroom during the 4th quarter and then fell in. But no excuses.

    The Niners wanted Patrick Peterson, but they got the next best thing in Aldon Smith. Either defend against the pass by attacking the qb, or get a good cover corner. Our secondary is shit, but our pass rush is getting there, and Chris Culliver is waiting in the wings.

    If I was this team’s GM next year, in the first round I’d take a FS, and in the second round I’d take CB. Our offensive is terrible, but like Bill Walsh always said, “The offense knows where the ball’s going therefore they don’t need to be as gifted so draft defensive players early.” For my money, next year I go safety and cornerback with my first two picks, then I use picks 3-7 on wide receivers, linemen and tight ends. We don’t need another qb, not right now. We have Kaep and Tolzien and both could be ready next year. Now if there’s a guy you believe could be a hall of fame qb out there, like I did this year with Jake Locker, then by all means, grab him. But only if you think he’s a potential hall of famer. Otherwise we have enough project qbs on the team.

  33. unca_chuck says:

    Spit, the problem I have is that the Niners seemed to be the ones that sabotaged themselves in the 2nd half. Dallas didn’t change much defensively. They didn’t blitz more, they didn’t radically alter their approach. The Niners however, seemed more than determined to run the ball. Why? To burn clock? They stopped throwing on 3rd down. And the defense went into slumberland in the 4th quarter. Did the Niners D wear down? I guess a claim could be made for that. But the Niners didn’t try to change things up on D, or get more pressure on Romo when it was obvious that Dallas was going shotgun the ENTIRE 4th quarter. We let him pick us apart. God forbid we give up on the (ineffective) run, and try to move the ball in the air.
    The Niners played as good a 1st haf as they could have, and it feels like we let Dallas off the hook by going conservative on both sides of the ball.

  34. Spitblood says:

    Learning to play with a lead isn’t easy. You have to be able to bleed the clock but then pickup crucial first downs. In normal football you have three chances to get the first, but when you play with the lead in the fourth you slam the running back into the line against eight in the box the first two plays, conceding you aren’t getting any yardage. Then on 3rd down you have to throw for at least ten yards. It’s hard to do. The good teams can put the game away either by going 3 ‘n out, punting and then having their defense stuff ’em, or by converting 3rd downs. Right now, because the Niners’ secondary is so terrible and our qb / offensive line is bad, we can’t ice games the normal way. So Harbaugh needs to learn how to ice games with THIS team. Not his Stanford teams or his San Diego St teams or his Baltimore Colts teams with Ted Marchibroda – this team. Icing games is a formula, and I don’t have the answer yet – and clearly neither does Harbaugh and neither does anyone else for that matter.

    You can say seven step drop, spread ’em out, go for the gusto, but ask Mike Martz about how affective that can be down the stretch. You clearly can’t go in the tank and hand off all day long, but you certainly can’t punt and leave it to this secondary. No chance. So what the fuck do you do? I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t think I go seven step drops, though. I don’t think I expose the Niners to having Alex Smith fight against a pass rush and complete balls down field. I think the answer could be 4th quarter trickeration, but you need speed for that – like Ted Ginn. Maybe some trickeration with Ginn and Kyle Williams. I don’t know. How the 49ers learn to ice games in the fourth quarter against teams that can stop Gore will be interesting. I think 4th quarter trickeration with Williams and Ginn is something I’d at least try when attempting to ice a game.

  35. grumpyguy says:

    I vote for, throw on first down – throw short, but get at least five yards. After that, you can run or throw on the other downs without a big fat target on the QB’s chest.

  36. unca_chuck says:

    Spit, it isn’t run run pass punt, or throw three bombs punt.

    They need to do what they were doing in the FIRST HALF. Dallas didn’t change shit much defensively. WE did. Quick passes. They threw ONE slant and it gained 14 yards. Did we try it again? No. It was one of the few times in the 2nd half that we actually lined up 3 WRs. Hit the slot guy for a slant. Throw on 1st down. Try to get VD in a position to get open. We went into Singletary mode, and it was very depressing. the Niners went away from what worked in the 1st half. On both sides of the ball.

  37. Spitblood says:

    I totally disagree that they, “need to do what they were doing in the FIRST HALF.” There are half time adjustments and situations that change what you can do and how you can do it. Like Fangio recently said, each game is different and you never know what a team is going to give you or try and take away from you. But teams adjust and situational football is just as important from a coach’s perspective as it is in baseball. Unfortunately, fans aren’t as aware of situational football because you can’t see the entire secondary. Either way, it’s clearly not as easy to say, “just do what you did in the first half.” Can’t do that after the halftime adjustments are made.

    I like Grump’s idea of throw on first, but Smith’s quick slants are inaccurate lasers. We’ve all seen them go for six the other way. Maybe Harbaugh can get Smith throwing outs to the sidelines where only the wr can get the ball. But then again, that would take consistent accuracy and good wide receiver play.

    The Niners are going to get another taste of “how to ice a game,” in Cinci this week on the road. Our teams sucks on the road because, well, it sucks period. But I think Harbaugh will have the Niners ready to play on the road. I think the Niners beat the Bengals, but I don’t think they’ll learn much about how to ice the game because I think the Niners will be successful running Gore down their throats late in the 4th.

  38. unca_chuck says:

    Dallas didn’t ratchet up the blitzing in the 2nd half. Their base D was doing fine in getting pressure. They rushed the same guys. Dallas didn’t switch things up. No, you can’t see teh coverages, but there isn’t a hell of a lot different you can do coverage-wise. For the most part, the passing game was nullified in the 2nd half by the fact that we’d run for nothing on 1st down, and then try to pass and get sacked. We had a lot of 3rd and longs in the 2nd half. Maybe the Niners just got worn down. The pass pro wasn’t all that good anyway. But the run blocking was worse.

  39. Spitblood says:

    That’s a good point. At 28 I could kick the shit out of any 21 year old, ever. Harbaugh’s got some young bucks on his O line who do wear down in the second half. I never thought of that. Maybe that’s also why Adam Snyder relieves Rachal in the second half?

    If you build off that thinking the Niners can’t ground and pound to ice the game with Rachal, Davis and Iupati (even Staley is lite in the ass), then what a clusterfuck of a predicament for Harbaugh – he can’t kill the clock running late in games because of young offensive linemen, he can’t throw because of Alex Smith lack of touch and accuracy, and he can’t turn it over to the defense because of our secondary. In my opinion, it’s all about out patterns and trickeration. But even out patterns kill the clock. Maybe Solari needs more liberal substitutions along the offensive line during the second half? Fuck, I don’t know. Kilgore wasn’t even suited up the last two games.

    Another problem is, you don’t even know if you can trust Hunter and Dixon to hold the ball late in games. Only one way to find out. Whatever the case maybe, the formula ain’t there yet. I’m almost certain the Niners lose to Seattle if it wasn’t for Ted Ginn. Seattle had serious momentum. They obviously lost to Dallas in the 4th quarter. I hope we see some creativity from Harbaugh and his coaching staff late in games so it shows he is addressing the issue.

  40. unca_chuck says:

    That;s been my point. They need to change things up and so things different. Whether by putting in 4 WRs and running a few spread plays, or trying a dreaded screen (or hey, more than 1 slant?), roll Smith out, anything but the vanilla crap.

    • phil fan says:

      It actually worked for 5 yards too as I recall. Gotta learn to crawl before you can walk, never mind run. Problem is us fans have seen all that running up the middle, basic offense ad nauseum . It’s hard to be patient while the handicapped team deals with learning the basics.

  41. Spitblood says:

    This is a good article by Scott Skinner? Skinner? He almost nailed it, too. Niner fans have been too good to Jed York, and for the first time in a long time I’m actually happy with the direction this team is headed. But what Skinner missed is that Jed York deserves to see all Cowboy fans at the Stick. You don’t lie to your fan base talking about “Nation wide search,” then hire within only to draft Colin Kaepernick with Jake Locker and Andy Dalton available. You don’t draft Crabtree with Oher available. You don’t let your dim-witted head coach with rocks in his brain fire the GM a week before the draft, then usurp Baalke on draft day and allow Singletary to pass up Earl Thomas in favor of Anthony Davis. You do enough of this bullshit and the fans will leave you in the dust. What Skinner missed is that Jed York deserves to see Candlestick a ghost town. Why? ‘Cause you can’t spin silence.

  42. barleyfreak says:

    “Only one way to find out.”

    I say go in, and out, swinging. Not sure, considering nobody in their right mind thinks we’re going to see a SB anytime soon, what we have to lose. At the very least, running out of a run formation into an 8-9 man box on first down is ten different kinds of fail. I don’t get the “confidence building” mantra. I don’t think this “confidence” gained is ultimately worth a damn. What exactly, is there to lose THIS season? Play the young guys, take some chances, let them build some confidence taking some chances. I have no idea what the players think, but I seriously doubt they want their “confidence” built up. They want to take a swing, I’ll wager. Let em.

    • Spitblood says:

      I completely agree, but the more heat Harbaugh takes, whether it’s right or wrong, the end result will be Harbaugh playing like his team is in contention for Super Bowls. The media just sucks, all there is to it. They need to relax (won’t happen) and stop caring about wins this year. This year is for evaluating and teaching players how to preform. Kyle Williams should be starting, Hunter and Dixon should get expanded roles, the O line should be shuffled to insure fresh legs in the 4th, and the D should blitz early and often. What difference does it make? Play “balls to the wall” football with no regard for wins and losses. Do that and you’ll shape the team for tomorrow in an aggressive manner. Don’t do that and it’s because the media has effected the lens which Harbaugh views this season. Harbaugh’s been strong enough to stand up against the media, and I’m sure he’s justified his actions because the team is getting better. But Harbaugh needs that little voice inside his head that says, “Fuck it – we aren’t competing this year.”

      • grumpyguy says:

        It’s that other evil little voice in his head, the one that sounds like Tattoo, saying, “Jeem… Jeem… our deeveesion sucks goreela balls… even our sheety teem can ween it…”

        I hate that little fucker, myself.

        Seriously. We need to figure out what the hell kind of team we are this year. We are AT LEAST a year (i.e., draft) and probably two from competing legitimately with anyone outside our utter crap division.

      • barleyfreak says:

        Regardless of what you think of Phil Simms, this quote is relevant.

        “What we’ve got right now is flag football, baby…The coaches, you’ve got to give them credit. I give them credit. They’re spreading the field, and they’re taking advantage of the rules and what’s going on, and it’s truly making defenses useless. If you’re not an offense that’s going out there and just trying to go for it every single series, you’re a team that really probably has no chance of winning the Super Bowl.”

        A bit overstated (EVERY single series?), but trying to slow things down when passes (and TD’s) are flying past you ain’t gonna cut it.

  43. NJ49er says:

    Jed has Harbaugh for 5 years Spit, he needs his Stadium right now. The article about the Cowpattie Fans in attendance is pretty poignant but, Jed still got people in the seats.

    For a long distance fan like myself, I would like to tailgate at the Stick at least once, but by all accounts, it seems that experience is drying up anyway.
    The NFL is going Corporate.
    No more everyday Joes soon. We’re too poor and, too rowdy.
    They want to sell you the beer and food inside, it’s about the profit margins and brand recognition. Hate Jerry J.O. all you want but, he’s selling merchandise.

    Jed seems to be hell bent on turning Santa Clara into 49er Fun Land. It’s a new time in the NFL.

    Loyal as I am, it’s almost laughable at times to see how Sports is Marketed and spun.

    • Spitblood says:

      Yeah, Jed got Cowboy butts in the seats because they drive him nuts and there are a lot Cowboy fans nationwide. But what happens with the Browns come to Candlestick? I foresee Jed buying a lot of tickets.

  44. unca_chuck says:

    NJ, as of last year, it was pretty much same-as-it-ever-was. It was the Seattle game, and while the playoffs were still relatively in reach, it was nothing like the Dallas game with thouesands of their fans here. The stadium was about 3/4 full. Then again it was the Seahawks. I took my 13 year old son, and we cooked up some burgers, and threw the ball around, and dad had a couple coldies. I don’t think they are going to change things that much regarding the tailgating thing. At least at the current site.

    Plus,. I think you have time to get out here. Whatever happens won’t happen til 2016 . . .

  45. unca_chuck says:




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