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The week before the bye, the Atlanta Falcons absolutely destroyed the 49ers in the red zone. The Falcons went 4 for 5 in the red zone with Michael Turner rushing in for three touchdowns. The only "unsuccessful" red zone trip was the drive where Dre Bly intercepted the pass and fumbled it away on the return (leading to 3 Falcons points). Not exactly a fun day in the red zone for a 49ers defense that was run absolutely ragged all day long.
The week after the bye, the Houston Texans were not in the red zone as often, but they did take advantage of their opportunities with two Steve Slaton touchdowns from inside the ten on three trips into the red zone. The 49ers hung in much better, but it was still not a pretty result.
Then we get to the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. The Colts got into the red zone four times and were unsuccessful all four times in their attempts to get touchdowns, having to settle for field goals. The points were certainly important in the end, but that's still a very impressive showing against a high octane offense. This is a team with a solid running back option in Addai and plenty of passing options with Manning and company. They've got a big time tight end in Dallas Clark, and yet the 49ers defense, when they had their backs to the wall, were able to contain the offense.
So what was the difference? How did this bend but don't break defense step up in such a huge game? And furthermore, which team can we expect in the coming weeks? The Titans aren't exactly a feared offensive power like these past three teams. However, this is still a team with Chris Johnson (and a bit of LenDale White) coming out of the backfield, alongside the always dangerous-on-his-feet Vince Young.
We'll have a post directly related to Chris Johnson in a couple hours, but in terms of general red zone performance, what can the 49ers take away from their performance against the Colts and build upon this week and beyond?