Hello Niners Nation. I don't normally do fan posts very often usually just commenting in the other threads but I have some major concerns with this team that I thought might be a little bit much for the comments. Everything is awesome right now for our Niners as we have just pushed our record to an incredible 6-1. Before the season I would have been happy if we had 8 wins for the entire year. With a whopping 9 games left we are only 2 victories away from that mark and with 5 remaining games against the abysmal teams behind us in the division 8 victories would be a major disappointment.
All that being said, I have some issues that I think could hurt this team as the season moves along. Head after the jump to read what I have to say.My first issue is with our QB. Yes I can year you all right now "DEAD HORSE!", "Another freaking Alex Smith critique?". And no I don't care if you've heard it before because everyone is entitled to their opinion and here is mine. I actually think Alex has done a great job this year of giving guys oppurtunities to make plays. He has 2 INT's on the year and 9 TD's. That is by far his best TD/INT ratio of his career and one of the tops in the NFL this season.
But it is his accuracy that is making me insane and more specifically his deep accuracy. The past two games he has had at least 3 shots to make a deep connection with our WR's but he hasn't been able to hit. In fact when he throws the ball more than 30 yards in the air to anyone not named Vernon Davis he isn't even close. This offense has only one big play threat right now and that is Frank Gore. We've seen Gore gash defenses regularly and Kendall Hunter has contributed as a big play guy as well. But the pass game doesn't have any big play threat. Don't get me wrong, we have the receivers capable of getting downfield and making plays but Alex just hasn't been able to connect with them.
This is something he has to work on if we are going to make some noise in the playoffs. When things are going nowhere like the second half yesterday, one big pass play can spark the offense and loosen up the opposing defense. I won't compare Alex with the big name QB's that can throw deep accurately because our offense is different and our players are different. But if Alex can work on this issue and get better at it then things will really open up for the entire offense.
My next issue is one with the absolute strength of the entire team. The defensive line. I don't have any concern about the performance at all. Everyone on the line including J Smith, Brooks, Soap, McDonald, A Smith (he's been exceptional for a rookie), and even RJF have been outstanding thus far. The issue I have is the depth and lack of any kind of discernible rotation on the line. Sure everything is hunky dory right now with the run D being tops in the league and sacks coming left and right. But there are only 4 linemen that get any playing time and just 3 OLB's on the roster. The season is 16 games and will be more for us this year. That is a hell of a lot of hitting and tackling and physical play for a person to go through. Justin Smith has proven that he can probably handle playing a game everyday for 365 days. But the rest of our guys are unproven in regard to their endurance over such a long season. Does anyone else think there might be a drop off in performance once we get to the 14-16 game range or beyond? The amount of time our guys spend on the field has me thinking they might be worn out by the time we reach the NFC championship game. Is this an issue for anyone else or am I just making something out of nothing?
P.S. What happened to McDonald? I left the room yesterday for 5 minutes and he is on the bench in street clothes. What's the word on his injury?
My last issue is one that has been a problem with this team for the last few years. Although this unit has played much better this season there is still some holes that have been exploited. I'm talking about the secondary. Specifically the right side of the defense with Brown and Goldson in coverage. Goldson is playing light years better than he did last season but he still needs to improve his deep responsibilities. Yes he did have an interception yesterday but he also gave up the TD to Cribbs. It was not Brown's fault(although he didn't help at all) because Goldson should have had over the top coverage. The play would have been difficult for him to make but there are the Packers, Saints, improved Eagles and Falcons in the NFC that have more than one good receiver to deal with. Goldson needs to get better at denying the deep ball to go along with his awesome big hits and run support to make that next step to being a great safety.
Brown is the other guy that worries me in the secondary. He has had to step up and be the starter due to Spencer, who by the way is only slightly better than Brown IMO, and he's played decent. But teams teams are picking on Brown rather than taking shots at Rogers and who can blame them? Brown is not a good press guy as I've seen him get beat off the line numerous times. It seems he's always one step too late to break up the pass and he doesn't quite have the awareness in zone to lockdown his side of the field.
The other option is starting Culliver over Brown which I would be all for except that our defense uses the nickel a lot and Brown would still be on the field anyways. I love that Rogers moves into the slot when we have 3 CB's on the field much like how Clements did. Culliver is proving to be a star in the making and I think all he needs is more game experience and continued coaching from Donatell to become a great #2 and potentially a #1 guy. He's got all the physical tools you can ask for with size and speed so it's just a matter of can he put it all together. But back to Brown. For lack of a better option he is going to continue starting and I don't see any reason why teams won't continue to have success against him. My fear is that teams with 2 and 3 good WR's like the ones I mentioned earlier are going to have just enough success that we won't be able to hang with them.
So thanks for reading and if you think I'm completely insane then that's ok because maybe I am a little. Hell, if you had a 1 year old and a 2 year old and they were both girls you would be a little insane too.