2010 49ers Game-by-Game Review: Week Two, VS. New Orleans Saints

On Monday I covered the 1st San Francisco 49ers regular season game of 2010. It was a 31-6 whitewash of our 49ers at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. In that post I attached a poll that asked "who was the 49ers goat of the game?" 45% of those polled said that it was Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree came in 2nd at 33%.

This post will concentrate on the 49ers week two game against the defending Super Bowl Champion, New Orleans Saints. The backdrop of the game came in the form of the 49ers 2010 home opener against a far superior team. This, a week after the 49ers were embarrassed against Seattle.

After the jump I will give you a brief rundown of the game, analyze what happened and post the most important statistics of the game.

This game pitted the New Orleans Saints (1-0) against the San Francisco 49ers (0-1). Both teams were coming off of lackluster performances. New Orleans had just barely beat the Minnesota Vikings14-9, a game that saw only two New Orleans TDs. San Francisco on the other hand were completely amiss by their own mistakes and lack of execution in a 31-6 loss to the Seahawks.

Well this game couldn't have started out worse than it did. Delanie Walker had returned the opening kickoff 51 yards, to the Saints 48. However, the play was called back because of a holding penalty on Moran Norris, setting the 49ers up at their own 10. Three plays later back up center, David Baas, snapped the ball over the hands of Alex Smith resulting in a safety. Just like that the 49ers were down against the defending Super Bowl Champions, only 1:36 into the game. (2-0 N.O)

After an Andy Lee free kick New Orleans started at the 49ers 46 yard line. Drew Brees hit Pierre Thomas for a first down on 2nd and 3, after a short Reggie Bush run. A couple plays later Brees hit Heath Evans on a short pass, Evans continued the play after intitial 49er contact and took it for 18 yards, setting up 1st and goal. After a short Thomas run, Brees hit Bush for 6 yards and a TD. The 49ers were now in an unenviable position of falling down 9-0 early in the 1st quarter (9-0 N.O)

The first quarter ended with the Saints up 9-0, but momentum looked to be going the 49ers way. Right before the end of the quarter Ahmad Brooks sacked Drew Brees on 3rd down, forcing a punt. Then Alex Smith hit Josh Morgan for 13 (most of the yardage was a Morgan run after the catch). The quarter ended with the 49ers in possession of the ball

The 49ers offense got on a roll as the 2nd quarter started. Alex Smith hit Nate Byham for 6 yards, and Frank Gore the 49ers a 1st down with a nice 4 yard run. A couple plays later, running straight up the middle, Gore broke off tackles and gained 7 yards inside New Orleans 40. The 49ers wouldn't see another 3rd down, until they had 7 yards to go from New Orleans 12. Alex Smith hit Frank Gore on a delayed screen, and Gore did the rest scoring a TD. The blocking was nice, but the play call was better, as New Orleans was caught completely off guard. (9-7 N.O)

After New Orleans stumbled on their next posession, momentum was clearly turning the 49ers way. But, as what would be indicative of the rest of the season, a long 49ers drive ended in a turnover. San Francisco drove down 76 yards on 9 drives, converting on two 3rd down attempts (more than they did the entire week one matchupagainst Seattle). This is when it turned bad; Alex Smith completed a pass to Delanie Walker down to New Orleans 4 yard line. Jonathan Vilma stripped the ball from Walker andit was recovered by Michael Jenkins. The half ended with New Orleans up 9-7, but control of the game clearly on the 49ers side. San Francisco had outgained New Orleans 186-109 in the 1st half.

New Orleans drove down to the 49ers San Francisco's 44 yard line, but was forced to punt opening up the 2nd half, after a Patrick Willissack of Brees. A Thomas Moorstead punt was downed by the Saints at the 49ers14, San Francisco began their initial drive of the half. Alex Smith then hit Michael Crabtree on a slant to the left, in which Crabs made some nice moves, bringing it to midfield. The very next play saw Smith hit  Vernon Davis for 41 yards, down to the Saints 9. After Gore ran for five yards up the middle, AnthonyDixon scored his first NFL TD with a two yard run. All of a sudden the 49ers were up by five and in control.  (14-9 SF)

The lead wouldn't last long. On the first play of the Saints Drive, Parys Haralson would be called for a roughing the passer penalty, setting New Orleans up inside the 49ers 40. A couple plays later on 2nd and 5, an Ahmad Brooks off-side penalty gave the Saints a 1st down. On 3rd and goal from the 3, the Saints would have a free play because of Manny Lawson being off-side, however, it wouldn't matter as Brees hit Dave Thomas for a TD. (16-14 N.O)

New Orleans would immediately force a 49ers 3 and out. The Andy Lee punt was then returned by Reggie Bush for 43 yards down inside the 49ers 40. This is where the 3rd quarter would end with New Orleans clearly regaining momentum

The 49ers would do a great job in not allowing a Saints 1st down. The main play of the drive was nice coverage by Reggie Smith on Marques Colston forcing a N.O. FG attempt. Hartley would hit it from 46, putting the Saints up by more than a FG (19-14 N.O)

The 49ers next drive started at their own 20 after a touchback. Immediately they went to the ground with Frank Gore, who broke off two consecutive 1st downs (10 yards each), one running to the right, andthe other up the middle. After a Smith incomplete pass to Michael Crabtree, he would hit Frank Gore (recovered own fumble) for 9 yards, setting up 3rd and short. Alex Smith would then look up the seam to Vernon Davis, but the pass fell incomplete. However, Roman Harper was all over Davis and was called for a PI penalty. It was now 1st down from just outside NO's20 yard line. On the very next play Tracey Porter would intercept a Alex Smith pass that was intended for Crabtree. The pass was batted up in the air right past the line of scrimmage, and Crabtree had no chance to make the play.

Both New Orleans and San Francisco would go three and out, setting up a must stop defensive stand for the 49ers with 5:27 remaining in the game

San Francisco's defense would make the stand and force a New Orleans punt, however, Phillip Adams would muff the punt on the left side near the out of bounds line. Courney Roby would recover the muff and pretty much set the Saints up for the kill. New Orleans would have two plays from the 49ers one yard line andwas not able to get in. San Francisco's defense would stand up once again and force a Garrett Hartley 19 Yard FG. New Orleans would  (22-14 N.O)

The 49ers began what was then the game deciding drive at their own 18 with 2:36 remaining in regulation. And, wow did this 49ers offense look good running the hurry up offense in a spread formation. Alex Smith would Hit Vernon Davis up the middle for 16 yards to the 34, Davis took it the final 6 yards showing pure strength. After the two minute warning Alex Smith would show his athleticism and run for 12 yards and a first down to the 46. Running the no huddle, Smith would Hit Josh Morgan for 15 yards, who would go out of bounds setting the 49ers up at the Saints 39. After a Smith incomplete pass he would pass it short to Frank Gore, who in turn gained 21 yards after the catch to New Orleans 21; that play was ALL Gore. Once Again, Alex Smith would show off his legs and gain 12 yards giving the 49ers first and goal. Two plays later Gore would take the ball from Smith out of the shotgun and run 7 yards for the TD, 2 point conversion to come (22-20 N.O)

This was the game right here. Who would be the hero? Well, Smith would drop back and hit Vernon Davis at the goaline on the right seam, however, the referees call stated that VD didn't make it past the pile on, two point unsuccessful. Considering there was less than two minutes remaining in regulation, any review would have to come from the booth; and it did. After what seemed like an eternity, the play was overturned and Davis was ruled in the end zone, 2 point conversion good (22-22 Tie)

Now this is where a teams heart is made of. 1:22 remaining in a tie game going up against the defending Super Bowl Champions. Would the 49ers be able to steal one here? Not exactly, although Manusky and Co. didn't apply the dredded prevent defense, they did play soft coverage against the Saints. Drew Brees would take full advantage and hit 4 of 6 passes for 46 yards, setting up a possible GW FG attempt. Hartley would set up for the GW attempt of 37 yards. Why not make it interesting right? Hartley hit a knuckle ball that barely made it.  (25-22 SF)

 

Post Game Quotes from the Niner Community

"My mindset is when we stop defeating ourselves, when we stop putting the ball on the ground and we stop doing things to hurt ourselves, we're going to be a good football team. How good, that remains to be seen. That is my feeling after this game."  (Mike Singletary, 9/20/10)

"We know what we can do. We know what type of character we got. We just have to stop beating ourselves. We whooped their behind up anddown the field. They can't standup withus. We beat ourselves for the second week in a row. That has to change."  (Frank Gore, 9/20/10)

"Better question for [G/C] Dave [Baas]. We were in the gun. I think just an adjustment he was making. I don't know if it slipped or what. Obviously, ask him. Obviously, he's pretty upset about it, but you've got to move on."

(Alex Smith on the David Baas snap over his head resulting in a safety, 9/20/10)

the reason I’m excited about his performance is because of the way he willed the team to succeed on that last offensive drive. I honestly felt like I was seeing him grow up as a quarter back then.

That drive is what’ssticking with me right now.  (Smileyman, 9/20/10)

 

Analysis

What a difference a week makes right? What started with the worse possible scenario, down 9-0 with just less than 10:00 left in the 1st, ended up being a really exciting game. For a while there I felt like the 49ers were back where they should be, in the spotlight on an important Monday Night. This game had pretty much everything, good and bad. However, it was our mistakes that led to the downfall. The 49ers pretty much gave New Orleans 12 points. Two on the safety, seven on the ensuing free kick and return, and three more on Phillip Adams muff punt. As a 49ers fan, I felt much better following this game than the week one embarrassment against Seattle.

The Good: San Francisco outgained New Orleans 417-287 and put up 24 first downs. Additionally, the 49ers 5-9 on 3rd downs. The 49ers defense put pressure on Drew Brees all game long, getting 2 sacks and another 4 QB hits. Also, I have to say that I like the fact that the 49ers defense didn't go into full prevent mode on the Saints final drive. However, the soft coverage bothered me a lot. The 49ers looked like the better team this night, but their mistakes absolutely killed them.

Standout Performance(s): Well, it all starts with Frank Gore in this game, 168 total yards on 27 touches; the dude was an absolute beast in this game. Josh Morgan was thrown to 8 times and made 6 receptions for 70 yards, he was our #1 receiver in this game. Really? Could Patrick Willis have played any better? 9 tackles, 8 solo and a huge sack on Drew Brees that stopped a drive at midfield. Could I actually put the enigma that is Alex Smith on this list? My answer is yes. Simply because of the last drive, he absolutely stood up and was amazing towards the end. If it wasn't the two runs that got important 1st downs, or the passes that were on target; Alex Smithamazed on that final drive. He has to be here because of it. Alex Smith wasn't sacked a single time, so kudos have to go out to the 49ers two rookie offensive linemen, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.  

The Bad: Not as much as the Seahawks game, but still plenty. When you are -4 in the turnover battle in the NFL you are not going to win a lot of games; especially against a team like the Saints. The 49ers had the ball on the Saints side of the field 6 different times, andcame away with 22 points. So, in two game the 49ers had the ball inside the 50 yard line 11 times andcame away with a total of 28 points. San Francisco also got off to an extremely slow start, 25 total yards on their first three possessions. Michael Lewis missed a total of four tackles by my account, but I could be bias because I don't like how he quit on the 49ers.

The Ugly Performance(s): I touched on Michael Lewis earlier, and it needs to be mentioned again. It could be said that he quit on the 49ers in this game, and wasn't the same afterwards; he was pathetic in every possible way. Michael Crabtree had that great play in the 3rd quarter, but besides that he wasn't a factor. He had three passes thrown that way, andfrom looking at the game again, he didn't get separation on the routes. It wasn't Smith's inability to find him when open, it was his inability to get open. Rookie or not, the Phillip Adams muffed punt was indefensible. You are in the NFL, you cannot make mistakes like that; this could have well cost us the game.

Game Changing Plays(s):  The 49ers were driving towards the endof the 1st half, it was a nice time consuming drive. Alex Smith hit Delanie Walker, who proceeded to take it to the 4 yard line before fumbling. Instead of going up 10-9 or 14-9, the 49ers went into the half down by two. Phillip Adams muffed a punt when the 49ers were in position to possible take the lead, it was a rediculous mistake, even for a rookie. This led to a Saints FG, and was a huge difference maker. However, the biggest game changing play took place within the first three minutes of the game. David Baas, the back up center, snapped the ball over Alex Smith's head and immediately put the Saints up 2-0 and gave them great field position which led to a TD and a 9-0 lead.

Conclusion: Mistake after mistake led to a tough 49ers loss. However, even though the 49erslost I came out of this game with a positive attitude. I was at the game, and it was an absolutely amazing atmosphere. I felt like the 49ers were back, that we were about to take the next step. Well, it didn't happen. Mistakes destroyed our opportunity of defeating the defending Super Bowl champions, and the teams response over the coming weeks seales Mike Singletary's fate.

Scoring Plays

David Baas snap over the head of Alex Smith results in a safety (2-0 N.O, 13:28 1st), Drew Brees6 Yards to Reggie Bush (9-0 N.O, 9:33 1st), Alex Smith 12 Yards to Frank Gore (9-7 N.O, 9:52 2nd), Anthony Dixon 2 Yard TD Run (14-9 SF, 6:51 2nd), Drew Brees to David Thomas 3 Yards (16-14 N.O, 1:43 3rd), Garrett Hartley 46 Yard FG (19-14 N.O, 13:31 4th), Garrett Hartley 19 Yard FG (22-14 N.O, 2:12 4th), Frank Gore 7 Yard TD Run (22-20 N.O, 1:19 4th), Alex Smith to Vernon Davis 2PT Good (22-22 Tie, 1:19 4th), Garrett Hartley 37 Yard FG (25-22 N.O, 0:00 4th)

Stats

Alex Smith: 23/32- 275 Yards- 1 TD- 2 INT- 0 Sacks (82.2 Rating)

Frank Gore: 20 Rushes, 112 Yards, 5.6 AVG, 7 Receptions, 56 Yards, 2 Total TD

Vernon Davis: 4 Receptions, 78 Yards                 Josh Morgan: 6 Receptions, 70 Yards

Drew Brees: 28/38- 254 Yards- 2 TD- 0 INT- 2 Sacks (108.9 Rating)

Pierre Thomas: 18 Rushes- 46 Yards- 2.6 AVG

Marques Colston: 5 Receptions- 67 Yards

Pierre Thomas: 8 Receptions- 57 Yards

Boxscore

1st Downs 17 24
Passing 1st downs
14 12
Rushing 1st downs
1 10
1st downs from Penalties
2 2
3rd down efficiency
6-14 5-9
4th down efficiency
0-0 0-0
Total Plays 64 58
Total Yards 287 417
Passing 237 275
Comp-Att
28-38 23-32
Yards per pass
6.2 8.6
Rushing 50 142
Rushing Attempts
24 26
Yards per rush
2.1 5.5
Red Zone (Made-Att) 2-4 3-4
Penalties 5-54 5-40
Turnovers 0 4
Fumbles lost
0 2
Interceptions thrown
0 2
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 32:40 27:20

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