I decided to give the game a few hours before taking a more thorough look back at today's game. When you lose a game the way the 49ers did today, there's plenty of mixed feelings. There's obviously disappoint, as with any loss. Of course the disappointment comes more from the fact that as bad as the team played they had chances to win this game. While it's good to know they can hang in there in ugly games, they need to pull these ones out more often. So let's get to the good, the bad and the ugly.
DeShaun Foster - Foster wasn't spectacular, but given the low expectations I think he more than exceeded most people's. After some early struggles he seemed to settle into a groove and brought the Frank Gore style of fighting for extra yards. He turned potential 2nd and 7 or 8 into 2nd and 4 or 5, which is always a bonus. I caught some of "The Point After" on Fox and they were talking about how the team missed Gore in the red zone. That's certainly possible, but I don't know if Gore really would have done any better than Foster. Do you?
Bryant Johnson - He wasn't spectacular, but quietly had another solid game, making a couple big catches for the team. I don't know if he'll be back next year, but I would like him back. He's finding his groove and if he can stay healthy through training camp next year, I think he could be a real impact player.
Aubrayo Franklin - Franklin continues to impress in the second half of the season. I still think the team needs to bring a big fat nose tackle for the 3-4, but for now Franklin is doing the trick. Do others see him as a long term answer, or more just a quality backup in the future?
Second Half Defense - After getting burned by Pennington and his tight ends, the defense stepped up in the second half and kept the 49ers in the game. The biggest stop may have been when they stopped Ronnie Brown for a loss of 2 yards on 3rd and 4. Dan Carpenter's field goal hit the corner of the upright and very well would have been good otherwise.
Isaac Bruce - Bruuuuuuuuce continues his late season resurgence with another solid game. It seemed like every catch he made was for a first down or close to one. He's really stepped up his game when the team has needed it most. At the same time...
Isaac Bruce - That illegal formation penalty was absolutely brutal. The 49ers had successfully converted a 2nd and 11, but instead were backed up to the 34. A sack and incompletion later and it was 4th and 23 at the Miami 41. If Bruce doesn't get that penalty, there's a good chance they at least get 3 points, which we all know would have been useful at the end of the game.
Late game offensive play-calling - This covers the lack of rushing on the second to last 49ers drive and the decision to spike the ball on the last drive. The running game had been solid to that point and with over seven minutes left to start that drive, there was plenty of time to run your normal offense. That probably falls on Martz. The spike falls on either Martz, Shaun Hill or Mike Singletary. I'd lean towards Hill because it was the second play in a row in the hurry up, following the two-minute warning. The spike occurred at 1:20 left in the 4th at the Miami 21. I understand you want to make sure things don't get out of hand, but there was plenty of time to run the normal hurry-up offense without absolutely rushing things. Maybe they never get that touchdown, but that play did not help matters (and neither did the jackass who ran on the field earlier).
Mark Roman - It's just about reached the point of concluding that Mark Roman should not be the starting free safety for the San Francisco 49ers. Ok, maybe it's more reaching it's zenith. I might try and give him a pass on that Martin touchdown, but he probably should not have been spun around on that. However, he looked really bad on the Ronnie Brown run late in the game when Brown just blew past him with ease. The good news for the 49ers is they've got Dashon Goldson waiting in the wings. The bad news is he's been banged up most of the year, which can't be helping his progress. However, if Singletary is coach next season, I fully expect Goldson to win the starting free safety spot. Roman benefited from being one of "Nolan's guys." That won't happen again.
Red Zone offense - The 49ers offense replicated the Bills offense from two weeks ago, minus the huge rushing performance of Marshawn Lynch. The offense moved the ball quite well between the 20s, but then crapped out in the red zone. I'm not wildly concerned about this because they've proven they can score in the red zone. I just hope they don't lose the confidence required to punch in the ball.
The 49ers head into St. Louis next week with the Rams in a dogfight for draft positioning. The good news, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that there's no way Jim Haslett doesn't do his best at getting his guys up for the game. He's coaching for a chance to be the full-time guy next season so the Rams shouldn't taking a dive.
The 49ers should expect to win this game. That's fine, as long as they don't go in expecting the Rams to roll over. I expect Mike Singletary to be fired up following this rather poor performance and have his guys fired up accordingly. I should take any kind of win possible, but I'm at a point where I think this team should be beating down a team like the Rams. Let's hope our boys bring their A-game next week.