Ahhh, the heady days of the bye week. Manningham was coming back, the defense was shoring up with needed D line help from the rookies, and Eric Wright was on his way. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs. Not to rehash the obvious, but the offense went into hibernation, and the blogwaves erupted with the millions of problems plauging the Niners, and thousands of solutions to fix those problems. Far be it (Roman) from me to (Roman) point fingers at the (Roman) sudden ineptitide of an offense that (Roman) never recovers from 2nd half(Roman) adjustments by our opponents, but the play calling appears to be the leading indicator. Wichi is under the purview of Greg Roman.
I don’t have the stats handy, but most every game, the offense completely fall apart by the 4th quarter, and cannot get a 1st down to save their lives. I know that in all the losses, the defense was forced to stay on the field at somewhere like a 2:1 ratio, as the offense goes 3 and out 2 or 3 or 4 consecutive times. I know in the Indy and Seattle games, while the score was still close, Roman gave up on the run at the cost of re-establishing control of the line. He’d pass too much. SInce the blocking is shakey, and the WRs invisible, this often didn’t work. This leads to the whole mentality of every player overthinking their role and trying to do too much. As in Kassim Osgood tackling a fair catching punt returner, or LMJ returning a KO 8 yards deep in the end zone, only to get tackled on the 9 yard line. The college football mentality. Throw in a borderline hit on Drew Brees, and there you have our second 2-game losing streak.
Beyond that clusterf**k, we have an extra day .5 to talk, bloggolisciously of course. At this point of the season we are pretty much at DEFCON 5. Lose on Monday Night, and we coould be passed by the Cards and the Bears and tied with the Iggles. In the grand scheme of things, it’s good to be fighting for a playoff spot, as opposed to playing out the string like preseason hopefulls like Atlanta Washington. The reality though, is that the Niners were poised to make a strong push to the #1 seed but fell flat on their faces.
Speaking of face-plants, our next opponents, the Washington Redskins are performing their own death-spiral. I thought Shanny rushed his star QB back into games way too fast, and RG III-VII started out pretty slugglishly by losing his first 3 games. It hasn’t gotten much better for them. RG III has recently come to taking potshots at his defense, various players, and his head coach and OC.
In reality, though, the Skins are the 6th best offense in the league, and cannot be taken lightly, even with the infighting. They have the 11th best passing attack and the best run game. For all their losses, RG III is in the top ten QBs, Alfred Morris is 3rd in the league with 918 yards rushing, and Pierre Garcon is 3rd in the league with 67 catches. Take these guys lightly, and they can light up the scoreboard in a hurry.
Defense is a different story. Washington is 30th in points allowed, and 28th in total defense. They are in the minus in turnovers (-2), and in the bottom third in sacks with 25. If the Niners can get on top of these guys early, it should be smooth sailing. Keep this one close, as we’ve done in all our losses, and we just may play ourselves right out of the playoff hunt. This losing streak has shown a glaring problem in that these guys can’t close out a game very well. Regardless the hit last week, we are not pressuring the QB near enough. 21 sacks isn’t getting it done.
Has Aldon Smith lost his fire? Is he merely getting back into game shape? I don’t know, but Brees, and Cam before him faced little sustained pressure. A sure-fire way to lose in the NFL.