Just as quickly as I jump on Alex Smith for the first play of the preseason, I'm going to reverse course here when looking at the team's performance on a more macro level. The 49ers 24-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints left most of us with an ugly taste in our mouth. Although there were some positives to take from the game, overall the team looked sloppy and disjointed. While it would have been nice to see the 49ers come out look sharp and ready to go, can anybody really be all that surprised by this particular team's poor performance following the NFL Lockout?
I do realize that every other team had to deal with the lockout, and plenty of other teams went through coaching or scheme changes, much like the 49ers. For the purposes of this site however, I'm not particularly concerned about those other teams' week one performances. Rather, I'm simply looking at a 49ers team that is drastically changing their offensive system and making some important adjustments to the defense and has only been allowed to work together for about three weeks now.
This is not to completely excuse the poor performance we saw on Friday. However, it seems to me that more time working together in practice and in preseason games will ideally lead to more cohesive units. That's probably a statement of the obvious, but it's worth noting amidst the outrage over the team's performance on Friday.
I see this idea potentially being applied primarily to the offensive line and special teams units. After practice yesterday, Adam Snyder indicated the offensive line's biggest problem on Friday was a lack of communication. There were some instances where two guys would go to pick up the same player, thus leaving a blitzer wide open to fly in for the big hit. If there is no communication, those types of miscues are not remotely surprising.
As for special teams, when dealing with a mixed bag of players that are conducting a fairly limited number of plays, it takes some time to get everybody on the same page whether it be getting in their lanes, making tackles, or otherwise just not screwing up.
Do you think the 49ers first game problems were due to a complete lack of official offseason activities? I suppose some people think this team is destined to struggle in 2011 no matter what. However, when you remove all those months of offseason activities and have a host of new players joining the team at the last possible minute, maybe there's something to the lockout effect.