Although the 49ers pulled out the win, there were certainly plenty of issues coming out of the Lions game, most noticeably on offense. One that arose has been an issue for several weeks now: the batted down passes. It seems like every week we see Alex Smith passes getting batted down left and right by the defensive line. Two weeks ago, Darnell Dockett snatched his deflection for an interception. That's the only one that's been picked, but that certainly doesn't make the problem any better.
My question is what has been the cause of this problem, and what possible solutions there are to the problem (although these two things might not be mutually exclusive). Coach Singletary was asked about the issue in his post-game press conference and he said:
We just have to clear guys out of the way. I think sometimes you play teams defensive, that they go, ‘1,001. 1,002. 1,003. Get your hands up and bat down the ball.' And when the defense does that, if they're not getting the kind of pressure that they want, it happens, unless the offensive line starts cutting the guys. So, that's normally the way that works.
So, according to this it would seem to fall on the offensive line. At the same time, I recall somebody mentioning in the comments that one of the deflections occurred when Smith threw the ball after a defender had his hands in the air. If that's the case, that kind of deflection would seem to fall on Smith. One would think he would need to either throw to one side of the defender, or take a step in the pocket and then make the throw around the defender.
Those critical of the line would say they need to keep these defenders from getting in the air. Those critical of Smith would say he needs to move around more in the pocket. Or, of course, it could be a combination of both. Given how frequently the deflections seem to be happening, this would seem to be an important issue to address. Alex Smith completed 64% of his passes yesterday (even if some of them were check-offs), but even still he could have been so much more productive if he could avoid these deflections along the line.