For the third straight season the 49ers went into the Louisiana Superdome and walked away behind a rather embarrasing loss. We spent all week pondering Reggie Bush and how the 49ers defense would contain him. Of course, it appears that in concentrating on one player, the defense forgot about the rest of the offense. Thanks to a pass rush that give him all day long to pass, Drew Brees absolutely picked apart the secondary with deep bombs, while Deuce McAllister made some key plays in the ground game.
As awful as this game was, there were definitely some bright spots. Unfortunately they didn't do enough to overshadow the crap-tastic display of other parts.
Frank Gore - I remain baffled at the lack of touches for Gore considering how successful he was. Gore touched the ball 18 times for 113 yards but he clearly did not touch the ball enough. Whatever ratio they planned for Gore either wasn't enough or simply wasn't reached.
Arnaz Battle - Battle had his first career 100+ yard receiving day as he became the go-to guy for J.T. O'Sullivan. Of course, when Battle has been the team's leading receiver in the past, the team has been pretty bad. Just something to think about
Patrick Willis - Bamm Bamm was all over the field making plays and helping to contain Reggie Bush. When he was involved in the pass rush, his athleticism showed as he almost snagged a sack. I understand his role on the defense but sometimes it's interesting to see what he can do when he pins his ears back and goes for the QB
I'm skipping over the bad because really there was only ugly. Deuce had a decent day but in reality, the 49ers did an ok job in stopping the run, holding the Saints to 3.3 yards per carry. Of course when you're getting shredded through the air it really doesn't matter.
The pass defense - I was going to break this down between the secondary and the pass rush, but they were equally awful. The defense garnered no sacks and it never really seemed like Drew Brees was concerned about being sacked. Given this much time, it's no wonder the secondary got shredded on several deep balls. At the same time, the receivers seemed to have absolutely no trouble getting behind the secondary.
J.T. O'Sullivan - After looking sharp early on, things absolutely went in the crapper for JTO thanks to turnovers. The fumble was a clear case of holding onto the ball too long. The two interceptions in the red zone? Wel those will absolutely kill a team, which they did too the 49ers. Given the way the Saints were moving the ball I don't know if the 49ers necessarily would have won without the turnovers, but either way it doesn't really matter. I certainly am not giving up on O'Sullivan as I think his turnovers are based on correctable mistakes. He has a problem with staring down his receivers and holding onto the ball too long. Both of those can be fixed in practice. Of course he had a similar problem in week 1 and the first half of the Seahawks game, so maybe it takes a little more to fix that.
All in all, this was not a pretty game. As people said, it's especially disappointing because it was a winnable game before all the turnovers. The biggest issue, and one that I'll open up for discussion later in the week, is the pass rush. As bad as the secondary was, I think more of the blame rests on the shoulders of the pass rush.
This Saints game was the first in a long stretch of tough ball games coming up. The Patriots come to town next weekend looking to rebound from an ugly loss to the Dolphins last weekend. Matt Cassel may or may not be a good QB, but if the 49ers continue to struggle in developing a pass rush, they could very well make him look like Tom Brady. If the 49ers want to have any hope of a .500+ season, they likely need to split the next 4 games (vs. NE, vs. Philly, @ Giants, vs. Seattle). There are numerous mistakes to be corrected, so hopefully they can get a good week of practice in.
I missed out on the discussion today but had a chance to go through it just now. Thanks to everyone who took part as we finished with 554 comments from 32 people. And yes I think howtheyscored is in the running for most vitriol per comment. Of course, after a game like today the vitriol was quite high.
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