The Niners go from 2 games in 5 days to one game in 24 days. Due to the vagaries of the NFL schedulers, the Niners have an 11 game break between the Seattle and AZ games, and a 13 day break before the Rams come to visit on 11/11/12. As of now, the Niners have a one game lead over AZ and Sea, and 2 games over StL. A win over AZ on Monday night would set this team up for an easier way to the division title, put some distance between us and AZ, and give the Niners a 2-0 division record as they reach the halfway point and their bye week.
So, what do the Niners need to work on during this down time? The Niners worked on their deep passing game, and it was very effective vs Buffalo, somewhat effective vs the Jets, and non-existent vs the Giants and Seattle. They looked great vs Green Bay and Deetroit, and flat and lost vs the Vikes and Giants. The run game is tops in the NFL at a 175 yard clip.Gore is still busting tackles and getting through the holes to the 2nd level effectively. The passing game has been a bit hit-or-miss. After the first 5 weeks, Smith had 8 TDs and 1 pick. Since then, however, Smith has 1 TD and 4 picks. Mainly from the Giants game and the 3 ints in that one. The defense has been all over the place as well. They couldn’t stop the underneath passing game of the Giants and Minn. Statistically they haven’t given up as many big plays as last year, but sacks and turnovers are down. The run D isn’t as stout as usual either.
This is as good a time for a break as any. Gore needs some rest for his sore ribs, and providing he plays and survives the AZ game, will get more rest. Manningham as well with his sore shoulder. Brandon Jacobs, after skwalking to the media about being healthy and not playing, will maybe actually get on the field and play some. His tenure so far resembles Brian Westbrook and his minuscule paying time here.
The coaching staff needs to do a couple things. Offensively, they need to shitcan the Cappy plays. They’ve done nothing but stall drives after being effective the first couple weeks. Keep the focus on the run, but keep the routes deeper to keep the checkdowns clear for decent yards. Smith needs to trust his instincts. He looked very tentative yet again vs the Giants and the Hawks. he seems to never trust his WRs to get open on passes that are fairly well defended. I’m not advocating throwing onto double coverage, but he rarely pulls the trigger and lets his WRs make plays. As long as teams don;t put 8 in the box, the run game should remain solid. Defensively the Niners need to get more pressure. Aldon Smith isn’t getting through as clean as he was last year. Soap appears dinged up, and needs a break. J Smith is still playing well, but the LBs aren’t getting to the QB as much, and the run D isn’t doing the job. Dial up some better-disguised blitzes, and get the D linemen healthy for the 2nd half push.