Granted, no team should expect to win against a mediocre or better team, if the kicker misses two field goals, and the offense/ST gives the opponents the ball in (or close to) field goal range four times. Considering that, keeping the Giants to two touchdowns and four field goals is not a bad defensive performance.
I still trust the team to make the SB, but this game showed some weaknesses on the defensive side as well.
Now, my observations and thoughts on this game, and previous ones:
- Nothing worked on the offense, if the drive went anywhere, it was called back on penalties, ended up in a missed FG, or was turned over.
- If your swing tackle is a guard, then losing a starting tackle means you lose two starters and replace them with worse players.
- Having six running backs on the roster is a luxury when two of them are inactive, your rotational FB is a D-lineman, and there are no quality backups on the defense that Vic Fangio trusts.
- Last year's coverage unit was outstanding. This spring six ST players left the team. C. Jones, R. Smith, M. Williams, S. Spencer, B. Swain, B. Costanzo, plus Culliver who plays much less on ST this year.
- Brock, Spillman and Gooden remained, and the latter two have regressed. Cox and McBath arrived but they have played no football last year at all. Robinson is kept inactive.
- the backups that are playing on ST are keep missing tackles and being outrun.
- Ginn, as he is playing, does not worth to get activated, or even a roster spot, but that might be the fault of the coverage unit.
- the ST most probably got slower with all the big bodies on the field
- the ST might need to get a boost, probably by activating Robinson instead of Tukuafu. It would at least give some options. Sopoaga can play Jumbo fullback if necessary.
- In general, there are no quality backups for the front seven/six. If there were, they would have been rotated into the game regularly.
- Except that there are about three quality backups at NT. The D spends most time in nickel, so it is a moot point.
- The team is reluctant to swap Smith or McDonald out for RJF/Dobbs/Tukuafu unless the game is over. By the end of the third quarter, they are tired, and it shows.
- The Grant that played at a starter level last year keeps missing tackles when he is in (garbage time or ST)
- I think the team did not plan to play Aldon Smith at every snap. But with Haralson out, they need to play #99 all the time. So he is not fresh to rush the passer, nor are there anyone to bring in.
- We might see Haggans to get play time against the run-happy NFCW, so #99 would be able to rest. Except some improvement in pass rush.
- There are only replacement and emergency-level backups at safety. At least the team is as good at CB as it can be expected.
- The FO used the free agency and the draft to get a great depth on offensive skill positions. They backup WRs and RBs are seeing some playtime. The OL depth is questionable, but not for the lack of effort (they drafted two guards, and got one FA, after all). Given that, a second-round RB right now seems to be a luxury pick.
- The FO tried to address the dept issues on defense. DL was OK, they drafted two OLBs, a safety, plus got two FA DBs. The apparent depth at linebacker positions evaporated by two season-ending injuries, and Grant has regressed from last season.