The Jekyll and Hyde that is the Niners offense continues to keep faithful fans riveted. Despite that, there are things I saw starting the 2nd half that has me hopeful that we will contend this year.
Things that we need to continue to improve:
- Offensive line. Alex Smith was still sacked 3 times, pressured a lot, and lost a critical fumble. Its a work in progress and at times they do a good job and other times they just get beat.
- Senseless penalties. I know this is a given for any team. There were several senseless penalties that took away and/or killed the offensive momentum, particularly in the first half. We need to stop these, or else they can deter us from our new found offensive identity.
- keep getting VD involved, and the earlier the better. Its no surprise that in the first half VD was limited, and into the 2nd half VD was making his presence known and in turn the 49ers offense was rolling.
Things that I loved seeing because they worked:
- Alex Smith rolling and extending the play. Better pocket presence and 3/4 step drops and still making good decisions while hitting open WRs.
- Passing plays on 1st and 2nd downs. They are opening that playbook and keep defenses honest when they do this. Get the 4-6 yard completions on 1st and 2nd down and keep the defense from stacking the line and getting us out of bad 3rd downs. Use of the play action and getting those passes in. They need to do this early in the 1st quarter instead of waiting until the 2nd half. It worked wonders and was a very stark contrast to the first half that was a predictable run on 1st and 2nd downs that get them into bad 3rd and longs. Theres nothing wrong with running on 1st and 2nd down, just not every 1st and 2nd down. Keep them guessing.
- Utilizing Gore and Hunter together. Though this was more due to Gore's ankle injury. It works. RB by committee 1) keeps both players fresh 2) gives the running game a good change of pace 3) helps the passing game with a successful running game. Theres a reason why most teams in the nfl have RBs by committee, it works.
- Continuing the strong effort on defense. We occasionally give up big plays but we can make things happen.
- blitzing and putting the pressure. Our coverage was giving up the long passes but our blitz packages were working and so we kept throwing them at Vick. I think it worked and its good game planning/calling.
After watching the 3rd quarter and seeing how our offense was rolling, calling smart plays, and moving the chains. I thought to myself, I don't care if we lose this game (glad we didn't) because our offense is finally clicking on all cylinders. They are using passing plays in a very smart way, getting out of the difficult 3rd and longs, and fully taking advantage of the west coast strategy to move the chains. I will say this, if our offense does this consistently on all the games going on, the 49ers will make the playoffs and give the NFC a run for their money and I will even be as bold to say have a shot at the Superbowl. The offense's lack of a presence in games was the reason why they lost. However, by just being able to move the chains, spread the field, and get those crucial 5-10 yard passes along with some deep ball attempts, it makes the 49ers very, very dangerous.
We have the defense that can come up with big plays and if we have a capable offense that can put points on the board, then there is nothing that can stop us. Time will tell, especially with some big games coming up Ravens, Giants, Redskins, Steelers, and Bucs. But after last week's game and the previous games, I know the new 49ers are going to take that giant step towards reclaiming their place among the best teams in the league.