The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2013-14 season with the best offensive line in football. Through 10 games, there have been no lineup changes, but the line can no longer be considered the best. Perhaps it's the most talented line in the game, or has the most potential of any offensive line in the league, but they are not playing up to par.
I've noticed some things on film in recent weeks and I plan on expanding on this in a much longer post, but a lot of it has to do with scheme. Obviously, we have Anthony Davis struggling with the bullrush on the outside, but more than that, I find the interior linemen looking completely lost and confused by opposing defenses.
Both Mike Iupati and Alex Boone have struggled, and the blocking from running back Frank Gore and fullback Bruce Miller has left something to be desired, as well. The 49ers seem to be falling for not-so-disguised overloads, delayed blitzes and secondary blitzes with stunning regularity. Guys are going unblocked more often than naught and working double teams has never seemed so out of sync.
That's without even getting into the run game. We'll explore all of that further in the coming days, but for now, we have three sack to look at from Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. That's an improvement over the six sacks allowed by the Carolina Panthers, but like that game, all of these sacks were at terrible times, including one given up near the end of the game at a crucial point.
My breakdowns are going to be quick this time around, so let's get to it.
Second Quarter: 1st and 10 at SF 20, Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 19 for -1 yards (A. Hicks)
First: some of what I talked about above is shown on this place. Anthony Davis is supposed to be helping out someone. I mean, he at least is backing up to prevent Adam Snyder from losing his man on the edge, but there's far too much going on for him to just be totally inactive. Not to mention he half-heartedly attempts to stop the guy after he gets around Snyder, the extra blocker on the play.
Joe Staley gets his man blocked off very well, Mike Iupati and Jonathan Goodwin double team someone, and Alex Boone has his guy .. kind of. It's Boone's man that gets the sack, when Frank Gore comes in to chip him. It almost looks like Gore blocks Boone's guy without really trying to, and Boone lets him go. By then, Kaepernick is already running ... from what, I'm not sure, because he doesn't see Davis' guy loose or anything. I think he may have panicked.
Second Quarter: 2nd and 10 at SF 32, Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 30 for -2 yards (C. Jordan)
This play clearly needed time to develop, and Kaepernick didn't get that time. That play probably would have been Kaepernick running it regardless, but the issue here is that Davis gets flat-out beat by his man. Boone holds the linebacker properly, Goodwin struggles but holds his man and Gore kind of chips somebody though he didn't really need to. Pretty cut and dry.
Fourth Quarter: 1st and 10 at SF 20, Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 11 for -9 yards (J. Galette)
It's shotgun, a close game, and with two minutes to go. So of course, the 49ers give up a bad sack. There's nothing particularly sneaky about this play or anything like that. Just like last week, four players went into the backfield and got a sack. By that point, Snyder was in place of Iupati. Snyder and Staley are mixed up by the defensive players shifting spots, causing them to double team one guy who still gets past them in the end. The other one makes it through untouched, while Davis struggles on the outside and one guy gets between Boone and Goodwin, making them both look silly.
Yes, every offensive lineman on this play made a pretty sizable and obvious mistake. Good thing the game wasn't on the line or anything ...