The 49ers are coming off their second straight victory and appear to have some serious momentum as they close out the season. One interesting note, in each of Mike Nolan's three Decembers with the 49ers, the team finished the season 2-2 in some way. MM made a point about how Nolan's teams seemed to finish with momentum in that regard. And yet, this feels different somehow, aside from the fact that it's a different head coach.
Anyways, as I said last week, after each game we'll look at Mike Singletary's Formula for Success and how the 49ers performed in each category the day before.
1. Total Ball Security
3. Dominate the trenches
4. Create great field position
Total Ball Security
Needless to say, ball security was a major issue for the 49ers. The bad news was that there 5 fumbles and 1 interception. The good news is that they only lost one of those fumbles. It's especially interesting considering most of the fumbles were not easy recoveries. I think only one bounced right to one of our guys, while the rest touched at least one Jet before being recovered by the 49ers. The 49ers dodged several major bullets. Had Joe Staley not fallen on Jason Hill's fumble, that could have been a momentum crusher. For the fumbles, I simply have to give the team an F. Even though only one was lost, they're not going to get this lucky every week. Throw in only one forced turnover by the defense and there was anything but total ball security...which almost makes the win a little more enjoyable.
This remains a mysterious term, but I'd argue the team executed quite well. On offense, the game plan seemed to be slightly altered with a greater mix of power running, screens and quick passes. Although turnovers would certainly hurt in the execution department, the rest of the time they were taking care of business. On offense I'd probably go with an A. The rushing attack struggles had me considering an A-, but Gore and Foster got the first downs when necessary and helped the 49ers dominate the time of possession. As someone also mentioned in the game thread, there was a very West Coast feel in the offense and so those quick passes acted like extended handoffs.
I'd give the defense an A+ for their performance. After bending quite a bit last week they stepped up big and kept the Jets in check for the most part. Thomas Jones was able to find lanes, but aside from his rushing touchdown, he was held in check when needed. And Brett Favre? Well he was not a factor as the 49ers shut down the passing game even without Nate Clements.
I'm willing to give special teams an A- as well. Lee and Nedney continue to be fine. This is more about the return game. While not spectacular, it's to be expected without Allen Rossum. However, Robinson and Battle did enough to give the 49ers offense some decent field position.
Dominate the Trenches
So someone said Kris Jenkins was a beast. Eric Heitmann would like to have a word with you. Mike Martz hyped up Heitmann this week in his press conference and the center did not let him down. Throw in a little Chilo Rachal and the Jets big nose tackle was helpless. Hill took a couple of sacks, but otherwise had all the time in the world to pick apart the Jets secondary.
On the defensive side of the ball, the line didn't pressure Favre until late in the game. However, Aubrayo Franklin was a force against the run, particularly when it would get whipped out to the edges. He and Justin Smith were terrors against the o-line as a whole. I'd say all in all the 49ers were the dominant force in the trenches, A.
Create Great Field Position
Although the great punt and kick returns of Rossum are missing, the defense stepped up today and forced Jets punts deep in their own territory. A look at the drive charts shows the 49ers at one point started four consecutive drives at their own 34, 39, 49 and 50. At a time when the team is without their dynamic KR/PR, the defense has made its own contribution to the field position battle. A.
This team most definitely finished this game. On offense, with a 17-14 lead, the offense could have stiffened up and only gotten a field goal on their last scoring drive. Instead they were able to get into the end zone and take the key 2 possession lead. Their ten second half points came on a combined 22 plays over 12 minutes and 15 seconds.
On defense, the three sacks came late in the game after taking the final 10 point lead. The defense was hustling and that showed their ability to go for the throat and finish the Jets off. Often times in that situation you see a defense go into a prevent and yet Manusky had his boys playing aggressive football. Offensively and defensively this team finished the game strong. That's certainly worthy of an A+.