There are two types of heart-breaking losses. There is the last second stunning end to a game, something Cardinals fans endured last season when Tully Banta-Cain pounced on a Kurt Warner end zone fumble. Then there's the slow Chinese water-torture type of death, as we saw today. The former is like ripping off a band-aid, the latter just eats you up for a good chunk of a game.
This game can be fully explained by two statistics: turnovers and time of possession. The 49ers had 4 fumbles and 1 interception. Arizona finished with 37:05 to the 49ers 22:55 in time of possession and held onto the ball for roughly 3/4 of the 2nd half. It got so bad that before the two under 2 minute drives in the 4th quarter, the 49ers had the ball for ONE DRIVE IN THE SECOND HALF!
One thing to keep in mind (not to poor salt on this) is that the final score actually could have been a lot worse. Twice the Cardinals ran the ball inside the five yard line, only to be moved back 15 yards due to personal fouls. Instead of 14 points on those two drives, they came away with 3 points.
While it's hard to talk about anything good, for these initial recaps I want to at least get the good, the bad and the ugly down so we have a more complete picture.
Frank Gore - When he was actually on the field he was making plays befitting a Mike Martz running back. He was a great escape valve for JTO and he looked lean and mean bouncing off tacklers. I expect a big year from him no matter how the 49ers do record-wise.
Parys Haralson/Justin Smith - Haralson finished the game with 2.5 sacks and was bringing pressure for the entire first half. Justin Smith had a half a sack but was getting in Warner's face the entire first half. However, the Cardinals adjusted in the second half bringing in more protection and the pass rush immediately died. I know you don't want to give up the big play, but an occasional corner and safety blitz might have kept the Cardinals more honest
Bryant Johnson - He didn't have a huge game, but he got himself open and held on to the ball. Considering how much time he missed in training camp, I think he performed quite well. His chemistry with O'Sullivan should only improve.
Vernon Davis - He made some solid catches, but equally important, he had some really nice blocks and no mental mistakes, a big problem for him the last two seasons.
J.T. O'Sullivan - I won't put him in the ugly category because he did make some things happen on offense. However, he had trouble when the pocket started to collapse. He made a few nice dump-offs but his three turnovers killed (even if pass protection caused one of them). He probably showed more bad than good considering the offense only managed 1 touchdown on a Gore run, but he did show some things that have me mildly optimistic.
Offensive line - At times they got a lot of push and opened up big holes for Frank Gore. However, 4 sacks and two quarterback fumbles are not good results. Joe Staley was pushed around for good chunks of the game and clearly is still learning the left tackle position. Hopefully we'll see some steady improvement in the coming weeks.
The Secondary - Even when the 49ers were getting some pass rush early in the second quarter, the secondary could not maintain coverage, particularly on Anquan Boldin who finished with 8 receptions for 82 yards all in the second half. There were several third and long situations where the 49ers simply couldn't make plays. You let a team convert multiple 3rd and long situations and you're definitely going to end up on the wrong side of the score.
Turnovers - Everything that could go wrong on offense in the early part of the game did. Throw in the later Takeo Spikes fumble on the short kick and it was a miserable day for the 49ers. You turn over the ball 5 times, you're probably not going to win the game. You turn it over 5 times and force 0 turnovers yourself and you're definitely NOT going to win the game.
Timeouts/Game Management - The one continuous complaint at this site (aside from QB play) is the time management issue. With 1:01 left in the first half and Arizona deep in their own territory, the 49ers made a stop on 3rd down to set up a 4th and 12 punt. Unfortunately, due to the lack of timeouts, Arizona ran the clock down to 10 seconds and the 49ers could do nothing to end the half. One of those timeouts was blown on a pretty stupid challenge. I'm not saying they would have scored with more time left, but they certainly would have had more of an opportunity.
Even though it's only week two, the 49ers face a huge showdown up in Seattle next week. Due to injuries and suspensions, the Seahawks could be struggling and the 49ers have to take advantage of that. I really hope the team is able to bounce back from this loss and not let it bog them down next week. It'll be tough to win on the road, but it would be a huge momentum builder and help in any eventual tiebreaks.
Thanks to everybody who took part in the discussion, even as the knife was being twisted in the second half. We had 34 users take part with our highest (besides me) being shlecko at 73 comments. Due to the length of the list, I'm posting it after the jump.
|Call It The Throw||52|
|lincypoo i wuv u||43|
|Bob On The Coast||38|