49ers 17 - Rams 16: Mike Singletary's Formula for Success

So, apparently there is a 6th factor in Mike Singletary's Formula for Success.  Maiocco mentioned it a few days ago.  It's HEART.  Accordingly, we'll add heart to the formula evaluation.  It's probably good timing because I'd say it played just a little part in yesterday's fantastic finish.

1. Total Ball Security
2. Execute
3. Dominate the trenches
4. Create great field position
5. Finish
6. Heart

Total Ball Security
Just a piss-poor performance all around as Shaun Hill threw a pair of interceptions and Vernon Davis fumbled away a big gain.  The one plus was getting a take-away at the most important time of the game, Tarell Brown's interception of Marc Bulger to close it out.  I'll give them a D, simply because they managed to force a turnover to win the game.

Execute
This is a hard category to grade because of the Jekkyl and Hyde performance.  They won, so that should certainly be sufficient.  But for 3+ quarters I think it's safe to say the only thing they executed was a field goal and some punts.  This was on pace to be truly one of the worst offensive performances I've ever seen.  However, they did step up in the fourth quarter on offense with pair of scintillating drives.  On the power of those drives, I'll give them a B.  While it might be harsh given the victory, it's better than the F- they were on pace for midway through four quarters.

While the defense wasn't stellar, at least they showed up for most of the game.  They got burned on the Kennan Burton touchdown, but other than that they stiffened up, holding the Rams to mere field goals.  They did give up 108 yards to Steven Jackson, but it was on 32 carries so he clearly had to work for it.  The secondary certainly wasn't spectacular, nor was the pass rush, but they did enough to keep the team in the game for when the offense finally did show up.  I'd say B performance.

Once again, special teams took care of its business.  Joe Nedney had his one field goal, as well as some booming kicks.  Andy Lee rocked a 54.8-yard gross average on his punts.  I'm guessing he was letting out the frustration of missing the Pro Bowl this year.  The return of Allen Rossum did not ignite the return game, but given what Dominique Zeigler gave us last week, it was an improvement.  They get an B+ for the game.

Dominate the Trenches
The 49ers offensive line was actually rather solid this week, in spite of giving up 4 sacks.  They picked up blitzes fairly well, and Hill actually had a fair amount of time to get rid of the ball.  Hill struggled to take advantage of that, but I won't blame the o-line entirely.  Barry Sims remains a bain on the existence of 49ers fans, but we just have to live with it.  Hopefully Adam Snyder will be healthy enough to go next week.

The defensive line had a mixed bag of a game.  They struggled with offsides issues early on and were not able to get to Bulger early in the game.  The goods news though is that they did get the pressure when it counted late in the game.  Justin Smith and Parys Haralson each had big first down sacks that forced the Rams into second and long situations with which they struggled.  All in all, the overall effort warrants a B-.  For many other teams the results probably would lead to a lower grade, but the 49ers set the bar low early.

Create good field position
They didn't do much of that yesterday.  When they had the Rams punting from deep in their own territory, punter Donnie Jones booted some beauties that forced Rossum to backpedal.  Rossum could never really get going.  While field position was better than last week, it wasn't what we got used to when Rossum was at his peak earlier this season.  Throw in a lack of turnovers for most of the game and the 49ers had to work with a lot of field.  I'd say C- for creating good field position.

Finish
As bad as they played for most of the game, when it came time to finish this ball game, they absolutely took care of business. They finished on the offensive end, getting a pair of touchdowns when they desperately needed them.  This is a team that has really struggled at times to get the ball into the end zone.  However, they scored when they needed to yesterday.

On defense, they really did finish strong.  The Rams got the ball with 1:16 left and were moving the ball, striking fear in most of our hearts.  Fortunately the defense stopped them just short with a monstrous interception by Tarell Brown.  I'd call that finishing.  It may have been ugly for the most part, but finish the way they did and you get an A.

Heart
Yea, I'd say the 49ers showed heart in winning this game.  Up until the first touchdown I would have said they pulled a Tony Bennett (ok that's pretty cheesy).  But when it mattered most, this team stepped up in every conceivable fashion.  Over the last few years the 49ers lost many games like this.  Wins like we saw yesterday are confidence-builders and team-builders.  Mike Singletary has brought something to this team that did not exist under Mike Nolan.  They most definitely get an A for heart this week.

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