A Road Win – Leading the West ! ! !

Those are for Rob! Well, a highly herky-jerky offensive performance was rewarded with a road win for young coach Harbaugh. Harbaugh went to the air a lot more that the first two games (30 passes to 29 runs), and the results were all over the place. Smith ended up 20-30 for 201, but, as usual, he was sacked (5 times), hurried, and pressured all day. This is a recurring problem. He had at least 4 dropped passes. Crabs drop on a 3rd down was plain unnacceptable. The overturned TD looked like a bad call. Harbaugh should have challenged that. Crabs had a couple more drops. VD dropped a nice 20 yard out on the 9 yard line, plus he fumbled, but ended up with 114 yards on 8 catches. The drops are maddening. Smith was errant on a few passes, but Harbaugh must be really working with Smith on his tendency of throwing high balls, because most of his passes were low. Still and all, the Niners barely drove the ball past the 50, and the run game was again nowhere to be found. 68 yards is pretty bad. Gore had a costly fumble (lost) deep in Niner territory, Miller as well, although the Niners recovered that one. Miller looked good catching the ball out of the backfield, though. Without the fumble, he could have displaced Norriss. It still may happen. VD put the ball on the ground too. The highlight of the run game was Hunter’s 7 yard TD run in the 4th quarter to give the Niners the lead.

Defensively, the Niners started this game just like the Dallas game, where the opponent marched straight down the field to inside the 10, and forced a field goal (Dallas missed theirs).  The base pass rush continues to be very solid. Only one sack, though it was a jarring hit by Ahmad Brooks. Aldon Smith was in early, but did not see a lot of action However, Ginger shredded the defense on that 1st drive. The run defense was again solid, but some of that is a by-product of the Niner defense giving up a lot through the air. The DBs, though, did well for the most part. Rogers undercut the out route for a nice pick, and R Smith made a very nice diving pick on the errant deep ball by Dalton late in the game.

All in all, a decent effort. The main thing is, it is a win on the road. Those are hard to come by in the NFL. Especially for a rookie coach. Just ask Tony Romo. Harbaugh is still trying to find an identity for his offense, and the struggles were apparent yesterday. False start penalties, unneccesary time outs, and missed blocking assignments were many and varied. Mainly because the Niners were trying to throw more than they had in the previous two games. Yes, this looks a lot like last year, and the year before that, but the reality is, this coaching staff has had little time to install this new offense. They started out with the run and are now moving on to the pass. Kind of an extended training camp. The hope is that they get more cohesive and right the little mistakes before they become a bigger problem down the line. Strangely, Gore was pretty passive blocking yesterday. He’s usually solid at picking up blitzes, but yesterday not so much. Gore had a bad day yesterday, and he may be in danger of getting spelled more often by Hunter.

Philly is next, on the road, and they were embarrassed by the New York football Giants yesterday. E Manning torched the vaunted Philly secondary for 4 TDs in the air, and Bradshaw gained 86 yards on the ground. Philly is a bit demoralized, but a win in Philly would be very hard to come by. The Niners would need to bring the pressure even more, and slow down Philly’s WCO. They throw underneath a ton, and with Vick likely out, this would be even more likely with Franz Kafka in there. A metamorphosis into a punishing defense that can stop short passes is needed.

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About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers and SF Giants fan
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35 Responses to A Road Win – Leading the West ! ! !

  1. unca_chuck says:

    UPDATE: Vick’s hand is bruised, not broken. However, there’s still a lot of swelling in his right (non-throwing) hand, so his status is uncertain. I’d think he’ll play, but maybe they rest it to err on the side of caution (and they think they don;t need Vick to beat the Niners anyway).

  2. twinfan1 says:

    Vick has hardly been the guy he was last year anyway. Philly is not unbeatable with or without him. We HAVE to run the ball a little, though. Despite the poor competition, 2-1 is a frigging miracle with the unacceptable pass protection and non-existent running game…and forget the nonsense that they can’t run because teams are daring them to pass- they can’t run because Frank can’t run on the edges ( and/or Harbaugh refuses to try).

  3. twinfan1 says:

    A big diff between this team and Singletary’s- I don’t think this group buys into the moral victory crap- Mike was selling that shit when they were 0-5 and they were buying it.

  4. unca_chuck says:

    The biggest problem with Philly is slowing down their underrneath passing game. Dallas ate the Niners alive doing this in the 4th quarter, and Cincy did on their 1st drive as well. The Niners played the rest of those games pretty well, but Dallas gained a ton of yards through the air going against our underneath zone. This is one thing that is similar to the Nolanuskytary defense of the past few years. Deep man coverage, underneath zone. Bowman is by no means as good at coverage as Lawson was, so Goldson is going to have to cheat up some to break up these plays.

    The problem there is now they are susceptible to the deep balls. Yeah, I understand Philly isn’t unbeatable, but they will surely put more than 8 points on the board. Philly has it in them to light up a scoreboard, so if this turns into a track meet, I don’t really know if the Niners are prepared to handle that.

  5. barleyfreak says:

    I think we lose, and I think we lose big. Here’s why:

    Our offensive line really does suck. I don’t think it is just a matter of learning a new system — they are getting beat, pushed back, handled, manhandled, mano y mano. Not one, but all. I think we’ve made some poor draft choices. Rachal should have been gone last year. Staley has regressed — but he wasn’t exactly LOT of the year material before. Iupati and Davis are only in their 2nd year BUT — I can’t tell much in the way of improvement. Goodwin — maybe his best years are behind. They are getting manhandled.

    Biggest laugh of the game:

    “False start, offense. The entire offensive line.”

    • grumpyguy says:

      Who is going to block Trent Cole? They’re likely in for a long day. I’m guessing VD stays in to help block a lot, whether we like it or not.

  6. grumpyguy says:

    Let’s hope Kafka does not turn us into a bunch of cockroaches. Too late for Crabs, I suppose.

  7. unca_chuck says:

    Well, guys are missing assignments some of the time as well. SOME of this can be corrected with practice. Miller and Davis went for the same guy while the ILB came free on one of the sacks. It’s this kind of confusion that can be fixed. It was also much more apparent because the Niners threw more this game than in the previous two.

    The run blocking, their supposed strength, isn’t very effective mainly because of the reasons it hasn’t been effective in the past. Teams put 8 up close8 on 6 doesn’t work much. Especially when there’s little push up front. For this reason, the Niners need to establish an effective passing game. But the passes need to be quick. And Smith needs to read his progressions faster for this to work. The Niners were using more multi WR formations yesterday, and while this should help in stacking the line, Smith needs to get to his 2nd and 3rd reads quickly. There were a couple instances where he had some time, yet didn’t throw. We are back to the future now. Establish the pass to set up the run. They have to be more than the smoke routes, and 5 yard passes though. Slants would be a welcome addition to the arsenal. They tried one, but it was covered, and Smith took the sack IIRC.

  8. unca_chuck says:

    That should read ‘unstacking the line’

  9. barleyfreak says:

    I also have to lay some of the blame for sacks on the QB. Not once but TWICE (2nd and 11 and 2nd and 10), I could see blitz coming and Smith did not audible out and proceeded to drop back, PLAY FAKE, and by the time his head turned he was dust. He should have audibled into a hot read at the line — the play fake was doomed, both times.

  10. unca_chuck says:

    Apparently this was a historical game . . .

    http://sports.yahoo.com/sportsminute

    As in no game has ever ended up 13-8 . . .

  11. twinfan1 says:

    There’s usually SOME blame on the QB for sacks, never as much as imagined here, however. If you look at last years numbers, you’d see that Smith is actually very good at avoiding them .Last year he was sacked 25 times in 11 games, 6 in just one of them. He’s been sacked 11 times in just three games this year.
    I’d imagine reading the blitz is more comfy from the couch. Anyway, it’s pretty fucking clear that the OL has been a sieve. Smith’s turnover numbers are miraculous. And yes, I am defending him. He’s been the best offensive player thus far, it’s not even close.
    If they can get Hunter on the edges and get all 3 tight ends in the action, they have a real shot.

  12. grumpyguy says:

    One thing I’m actually curious about – how much freedom does Alex have to call audibles? I would not expect Harbaugh to go Mad Martz and not let him call any, but I haven’t seen anything on this from our fearless and irrelevant press corps.

    Gore is probably still a better blocker, but Hunter probably has more speed to get out when he releases. Not sure I like the TE-heavy offense. I’d rather see more wideouts myself. Though Delanie is a bit of both. My preferred formation would be Braylon and Morgan, VD, Miller and Hunter alternating with Gore, with K. Williams replacing Miller on clear passing downs.

  13. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah, I’m of a mind to spread the formations. 3-4 wideouts, roll Smith out, and at least try to slow down the relentless pass rush they regularly face. The Niners did that a lot more in the 2nd half, and it was good to see. That being said, they cannot run that misdirection throw across the field pass to VD again. That only works once every 3 years. That thing floats and floats out there like a woulded quail.

  14. twinfan1 says:

    Edwards is out, isn’t he? If we had wideouts who could first get open and then catch it when they do, I’d be all for it. But Ginn and Crabs can’t catch the ball, and Williams can’t get open. So it’s Morgan and the big guys,IMO.

  15. unca_chuck says:

    Williams would be fine, given the opportunity. Use the TEs as wideouts then. Like VD in the slot. Walker coming out of the backfield. There are ways to get guys in space. Flood the secondary. Hope there’s enough time to get the ball out. The point being, the short passing game will be stuffed by most good defenses. And without a running game to speak of, these guys need to come up with some new wrinkles. Or they will add to mine . . .

  16. twinfan1 says:

    “Use the TEs as wideouts then. Like VD in the slot. Walker coming out of the backfield. There are ways to get guys in space” That’s what I said, Point is, our two best receivers are TEs. I know they’ll use Crabtree aand Ginn often, but I love the TE screens, and, of course, VD in the seam. Miller can block and handle those 4 yarders that Frank can’t get on the ground. Morgan is a decent possession receiver. They’re not going to get the protection to be throwing deep often anyway, use those big boys.

  17. Flavor says:

    Snarkk noted something I’m surprised I hadn’t noticed but should have. Espn shows every team in the league with long passes and YAC and whatnot. I know those are just highlights but we fucking NEVER get plays like that. The misdirection pass play to VD (which set up our td) was brilliant. Call more shit like that. I’d like to see more quick slant passes and less screen dump offs. Anyone can run a slant if he can get off the line unmolested. And right now, Alex has about a second and a half to get rid of the ball so thats a pass he could probably make.

  18. grumpyguy says:

    VD is so damned awkward when he catches the ball, its hard for him to stay in stride. He is fast as hell, but almost never really looks natural trying to run and catch at the same time.

    A lot of our patterns seem to not give the WRs a chance to keep running. They’re either at the sideline, or come-back routes.

    At times Alex has been erratic in where he places the ball. Without starting WW3 all over again, I’m reminded of how Walsh drilled Montana and Young to deliver the ball, within tolerances of a tenth of a second, and in the receivers’ hands in stride. Alex has never had that kind of coaching or offense, even if has the ability.

  19. unca_chuck says:

    Grump’s right, Flav. A lot of the routes that these guys run are outs and comeback routes. Or the dreaded smoke route. Rare is a deep crossing route, or even a go route. VD caught one sideline route yesterday. They tried to throw one slant that resulted in a sack because it was covered. They haven’t thrown any deep seam routes like they used to either. I think they are still coming up with more and varied plays as the season wears on.

    Ginn isn’t very good. Williams I hope gets more playing time. Morgan, as has been true for a while, is a solid 3. Edwards is good but who knows when he comes back.

  20. unca_chuck says:

    Crabs is really not very special.He’s a 2. For all the hoopla and drama around him, he’s likely traded this offseason for a song.

    Why the Niners don’t run slants, deep crossing routes, or go routes is up for debate, Some is definitely due to the nonexistent pass pro.

  21. NJ49er says:

    The Philly game is about using a ton of underneath and edge/bubble-type plays to negate their aggressive pass rush.

    I’d utilize Peelle and Boone in 2 TE alignment and motion Vernon to the weak side.

    Crabtree and Williams underneath, Ginn and Morgan deep. Kendall and Frank on the edges.

    Philly is going to be a track meet game. Ball control is essential for us to even have a sniff of success.

    I’m more concerned about DeSean than Vick. Willis and Bowman can run down Vick if we spy him and corral him. With any luck, we not see Maclin.

  22. NJ49er says:

    If we can continue to very our personnel packages and get a little creative, we can survive this game.

    I believe our Defense is good enough to shut down Shady McCoy and Celek. Our OL and theirs are both pretty terrible.

    We have more ability to change personnel and, I’d look for our TEs and RBs to see if we can exploit their LBs.

    Still comes down to this OL giving Alex some time to make reads however, Story of our Team I guess. OL needs to show up one of these days and show some stones.

  23. NJ49er says:

    That should have read – ‘VARY’ our personnel pkgs.

  24. twinfan1 says:

    How ’bout that keeker !!??

  25. unca_chuck says:

    Shit, Dallas might not be bad this year. As shitty as they are playing, they are winning.

    Ugly.

    How many bad snaps can you have?

  26. unca_chuck says:

    NJ, The Niners should take a play from the Eagles old playbook and go deep on play 1.

    If the Niners can’t hit quick passes, they will get beat bad. Smoke routes and screens won’t work. They are going to pack things tight like everyone else does.

    • NJ49er says:

      Chuck, the NYG worked the edges with these guys.
      I’m all for throwing anything out there they haven’t seen us do yet.
      Stretch it with Ginn and Williams, drag others underneath.
      Run all 3 RBs at them all day too for that matter.

      We have nothing to lose Man, go for it.

  27. NJ49er says:

    Chuck if we roll the pocket away from pressure and show some Offensive creativity as we did with the TE throwback in Cincy, anything can work. Philly has lost 2 in a row and Vick is whining already. Believe me, if we manage to hand them another loss, the Philly Faithful will be calling for Andy Reids’ Head on a platter.

    If they can’t pound their chests in victory, they’ll look to take a pound of flesh from Andy. Can’t tell you how many times they crucify the guy. He gets them to the Playoffs consistantly but, they can’t stand him. Ran McNabb out of town, then they go after Andy.

    Damn comical if you ask me.
    I work with one of their own. He’s already planning to be in attendance at the Phillies victory parade. ‘No one can beat our pitching rotation’. To which I always ask, ‘Why aren’t you 162-0’?
    There are no words for how obnoxious Philly Fans are.
    A 9er win would suit me just fine.
    He guaranteed the NYG wouldn’t stand a chance against their Dream Team Secondary too.

    Arrogance is Bliss in Philly.

  28. NJ49er says:

    Quote of the Decade perhaps –
    “I know one thing about these guys, they’re not going to stop quitting,” Chad Henne said.

    http://tinyurl.com/3rvt8cp

    • phil fan says:

      Funny. Dolphins sound far worse than us; maybe us last year. No wonder they tried to steal Harbaugh, putzes.

      “Yeah no one quits like these guys” Ouch

  29. phil fan says:

    Hopefully Rachal sits and the OL finds a way to pass pro so the passing game can get rolling. Alex will need time and protection from blitzs or he may not be standing by the break. How often did we use the spread in the last 2 games? Design some rollouts and move the pocket where Alex’s strengths can be a factor and he has a chance to survive for a few more games. He goes down we’re fucked.

    We beat Philly it’s a miracle but as a Catholic I believe in ’em. Niners please play better than my fantasy team!

  30. unca_chuck says:

    NEW POST

    NEW POST

    NEW POST

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