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49ers vs. Buccaneers: The Question Of Offensive Play-Calling

The 49ers released their post game quotations late last night (posted after the jump) but the most intriguing one was not included. A quotation floating around Twitter from Vernon Davis (through other sources, not a Davis tweet) was this:

"I don't think we attacked them the way we should've," Davis said. "I think we should've thrown more balls downfield. We could've done a better job at that. But there are a lot of areas we could've done a better job of."

I did a quick review of the game tape up until the team went down 21-0 to see what the offense was doing over the course of the game. It wasn't a particularly detailed review, but rather I just scanned through the game looking at every offensive snap. In looking through the 49ers' offensive series, there did seem to be a pretty decent mix of deep looks. Without seeing the team's version of the tape (seriously, not meant as a crack on Singletary's own reviewing tape lines) it's hard to tell how much coverage there was on the receivers. However, there seemed to be numerous instances of Troy Smith looking down field for several seconds and seeing nothing open. He'd then either attempt to dump it off, take a sack, or try and scramble but usually get tackled rather quickly.

Of course, Davis was in the huddle hearing the plays, so it's entirely possible the play-calling was not really calling in plays that took greater advantage of the Bucs deep defense. So this is either a comment on the performance of Mike Johnson's play-calling or Troy Smith's quarterbacking. Who knows if we'll ever know the truth but the frustration certainly seems to be growing.

Of course there remains the issue of constantly trying to ram it down the Bucs throats with Frank Gore when the team was not having success. I understand the importance of establishing the run, but it seems like the 49ers needed to come up with some more creative ways of establishing it. Even if the team wasn't going to establish the run up the gut, then why not more sweeps outside or why not more screen passes just to keep the Bucs pass rush a little more off balance? I'm not saying every one of these ideas would work, but it did seem like the rushing offense was a little too one dimensional and did not adjust to what the Bucs defense was showing them.

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On how much the loss is a setback to the progress this season:

"Well obviously a big setback, something that we expected to come out here today and play well. Did not. But we'll just have to get back and watch the film and look at the things that we need to do and correct and go forward."

On whether they expected to run the ball and why they couldn't:

"You know, I have to look at the film on that. But yes, we did expect to run the ball. We tried early on, to see if we could run, and you know, it just didn't pan out. Why we didn't run? I'm not sure."

On assessing the quarterback situation today and moving forward:

"Well, once again, we have to look at the film. Obviously it's something that we have to address, something that we have to look at to see what was the miscommunication, the fan in the pocket, was it them, were they doing things to not allow him to get outside and try and make plays? We just have to look at it."

On whether they were too conservative to open the game:

"I won't say that we were too conservative. I just think that it was hard to get in the rhythm early on. We didn't make many first downs so there was no - it wasn't like it was an ongoing thing. You had a chance to get a rhythm going, and I think that's one of the problems in this game."

On whether it was a matter of time before defenses found a way to contain QB Troy Smith better:

"Well, you could say yes you know that defenses are going to try to do that, but at the same time, if you look at the film, you just have to - we know that there were plays there. We just have to look at it and try and figure it out where we can put him in better situations or try and not allow a defense to come in and dictate what we're doing."

On the discussions before the fourth down play at the beginning of the fourth quarter:

"The time when we decided to go for it? We just made the decision, after talking to the coordinators leading up to it, just made the decision to try and go for it and pick it out."

On what happened when it didn't look like TE Vernon Davis was looking for the ball on the incompletion:

"Miscommunication, obviously, between the quarterback and Vernon on that play. So once again, just have to look at it and see exactly what the heck happened."

On his thoughts during the play when they went for it on fourth down:

"I think at that time we felt like we had to play, that we could pick it up, and that's why we went for it, obviously."

On his thoughts during the punt when they were on the Tampa Bay 33 at fourth down:

"Obviously I guess we felt we wanted to pin them back, and maybe having a new kicker, the thought process was how about we just go ahead and try to put it on the defense."

On the decision to have S Reggie Smith play most of the game and not bring in S Taylor Mays until the end:

"I just think we - Reggie got in a rhythm, and he was playing pretty well, and just didn't want to disrupt that."

On whether the team was over-confident about their talent level and ability to win games:

"You know, I think talent level, I'm not mistaken on that. Leadership, I think sometimes when you have inconsistency at the quarterback position that that injury can cause you to have an issue. And what I mean by inconsistency, you get one, you get hurt, you get another one, you come in and play for a couple of weeks there, and he's doing pretty well, and at the same time you're trying to feed him the offense as fast as you can, so there's a lot going on. But I just think that right now we just have to - we're still in it, I think we just have to continue to fight it and work through where we are. As far as [QB] Troy [Smith] is concerned, I just think we have to continue to look at the things that he does well, things that he doesn't, and just have to stick with it."

On Tampa Bay RB LeGarrette Blount:

"LeGarrette had a pretty good day. I thought he was what I thought he was coming out of college, he's a big guy that can run the ball. And he just shoved it up in there, just pushing and shoving and moving the pot."

On whether it would have made a difference if T Joe Staley and T/G Adam Snyder were healthy and able to play today:

"It definitely would have made a difference, particularly Joe."

On the quarterback situation moving forward:

"I've got to look at the film. We understand right now, Troy is really trying to learn everything as quickly as he can. We understand that there's going to be some limitations that hopefully we felt that we can overcome them going forward. I think we just have to continue to look at it. And once we look at the film we'll be able to figure out how we want to do that."

On how much of the team's performance is on the head coach and coaching staff:

"Well you know what, it always starts with the head coach, always. So that's something that we're all in this together. It is not, put it on the team, put it on - it always starts with the head coach. I'm very much aware of that, and that's something I take into consideration and something that I always look at."

On the fourth down time out and whether that was because the decision was being made too late:

"Yes. It was made too late. We took a little too much time trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do, exactly if we should go for it, and once we decided to go for it, it took a little too much time to make the call in the huddle and get going."

49ers Quarterback Troy Smith
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On whether Tampa Bay made an effort to keep him in the pocket:

"I think Tampa Bay did some incredible things. Obviously, what they planned and set out to do was to pressure the quarterback and put us into situations that we weren't comfortable with and it just happened."

On how Tampa Bay was able to pressure the quarterback and stop the run:

"They were doing a lot of games, a lot of movement. The fronts and the looks that you'd see were not the fronts and the looks that you had initially seen. Obviously, they game planned extremely well. I'm not saying that we didn't. You just have to have an understanding that, in this game, sometimes you win and sometimes you don't."

On how difficult it was to have RB Frank Gore and the running game contained this game:

"The run compliments the pass, and the pass compliments the run. It's definitely a part of being a 49er - that's running the football. Not getting Frank going early, midway through and late definitely played a toll on the game. We just got to go back and watch the film and figure out exactly why certain things happened the way they did and keep moving forward."

On what happened on the fourth down when he could not connect with TE Vernon Davis:

"Better ball... Better placement of the ball. Definitely as a quarterback, I've talked about decision making before - where I'm going with my throws, how I'm throwing the ball. All of that was definitely a part of it. It rests solely on me as a quarterback. I have to put the ball into places where guys can make plays. It didn't happen there."

On whether he saw what Tampa Bay did on defense on the film before the game:

"Somewhat, somewhat. I mean, obviously, throughout the week of game planning, you're going to come up with a couple of wrinkles that the team that you're about to play hasn't seen. They did some good things. I've said it time and time again, you want to take away from the guys on the other side of the ball but obviously on Sundays you can't. Tremendous athletes all throughout the league... You know, this is exactly why we play the game of football."

On what he told the offensive line near the end of the game:

"I just told them, ‘I'm here for you.' I'm never going to shy away from what's going on whether it's the best of the best or the worst of the worst. We need to understand that it's a football game. There's much more to life than just one football game. We need not put all of our eggs in one basket and thinking and wanting to say that this loss is our whole season - it's not that. They came in here today, Tampa Bay, and did exactly what they set out to do. I've got an extreme amount of respect for whoever gets to play this game because I know what it takes and you've got to give them credit."

On whether he was confused by Tampa Bay's defense:

"No I'm not going to say that. Game-planning, you pretty much put yourself into all of the worst situations prior to the game and hoping that going through those tough situations when the game comes, it gets easy. Things are not going to happen the way that you want them to happen all the time. When you're game-planning, it's on the blackboard, and once you put an ‘x' on the blackboard, it doesn't move. But once you play a guy in real life, he spins, he moves, he's not going to stay in the same place. Tampa Bay was just that."

On what happened when he was intercepted:

"The coverage that they were playing there was a shell coverage. And when I say shell coverage, they had two high safeties. The route that we had was actually an alert on that side of the route to where the Tampa Two hole that could have been hit. [CB] Ronde Barber, who is obviously a seasoned and well, well, very known vet made the move to find the ball."

On how disappointing this loss is:

"It's rough, it's rough, because you set out to win every game. You set out to put your team in a position to remain dominant and continue to win. When it doesn't go your way, it's a reality check. You have to go back to the drawing board just as if we would win. Hopefully the guys and everybody else is taking it the same way, because I understand Monday that we have to work and we can't harp on this game today. It happened, we have to move forward and let's continue to play."

On what he thought he was going to get done today:


On what the offense set out to do today:

"We set out to pass the ball. We set out to run the ball. We set out to do all the things that 49ers do. It's not going to happen that way all of the time."

On whether anything the offense did frustrated him:

"I'm not going to be frustrated. As a quarterback, your teammates have to see an even keel guy all the time. I'm not going to put myself into a situation where I am putting everything we do all into one context. I won't do that. There's more than one attitude to managing a huddle. You have to keep it that way and they definitely can't see you blowing up so that what we're going to do."


CB Nate Clements
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On Buccaneers rookie running back LeGarrette Blount:

"Nothing surprising. I mean, it doesn't really matter whether you're a rookie or a veteran, you know, he's a pretty good player. He ran hard and they had some young guys on that side of the ball that stepped up today."

On the offensive struggles today:

"We all struggled today. We all struggled today and that was the bottom line; they made plays and we didn't."

RB Frank Gore
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On how hard it was to get anything moving against them:

"Well it was tough man. They played a great game. They came in and they had a good defensive game plan, so they played a great game."

On whether there was a point in the game where you realized that it was going to be a really tough battle:

"I knew it was because they know we're successful when we run the ball and there's a great chance that we can go crazy. They came in and they took it quick. They just played great defense."

On how big of a setback this is after the team was able to get out of the 0-5 hole:

"It's a little hump, you know we have to go back to the drawing board, go watch this film, try and clean up all the mistakes we did and see what happens."


LB Parys Haralson
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On whether you were gassed in the 4th quarter:

"I wouldn't say I was gassed. We play football, you know if you get gassed you get back-up in there. We come in and play. They made some plays, you know Tampa made plays, give them credit, but you can't blame being gassed or nothing like that, we just play football."

On what the mindset is now:

"We get a win next week. I mean you know we won last week, lost this week, go out there and think about football and you get another chance next week. We have Arizona next week, that's what we are looking forward to."

On whether it's frustrating to keep going through the peaks and valleys with as much talent as this roster has on it:

"I mean it's always frustrating when you're not winning, but you sign up for 16 weeks, we just have to play football and go out and try to get a win and do things better. We have to look at the film, do the things that we did wrong, do them better, get them corrected, and try to get a win."

On how important it was to try and beat a winning team and try and get within a game of the division lead:

"It would have made a statement, but like I said, whether they are a  losing team or a winning team you want to beat them."


G Mike Iupati
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On how hard the loss to Tampa Bay is to take:

"I mean it's very tough. We needed this win and things just didn't go our way, so."

On what the problems were on offense:

"I mean, not really. We executed our plays and went forward. We had a good game plan, we just need to execute what we need to execute, so."

On the Buccaneers defense getting to QB Troy Smith:

"Yeah, I mean, if you're down by 21 points you already know they were pass rushing so that makes it difficult for us. So, you know what I mean?"

On the lack of deep passing plays in the game plan:

"We just got to go. When the big man calls the plays we have to execute. That's playing football, plain and simple."

WR Josh Morgan
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On whether he imagined at any point in the season that the 49ers would be 3-7:

"I mean, no. You play every game to win. Of course you always want to go undefeated but, I mean, you just got to roll with the punches you get. [Inaudible sentence] It's tough when we do that every game and come out with a win, but that's why you just keep practicing and just keep fighting and get better. The season's not over so, I mean, we're just going to get better. We still could win the division; we still could do whatever we got to do to get in the playoffs and that's what we want to do."

On whether the loss is disappointing because the 49ers were on a two-game winning streak:

"I mean, it was a disappointment because we knew we shouldn't have played like that. We know we could have played a lot better, but, like I said, we made a lot of mistakes. I know I started off the game making a lot of mistakes. I mean, we just got to be better the next week."

On whether winning the NFC West and making the playoffs is still the goal:

"Most definitely. That's all we're worried about. That's it; that's our only focus."

On whether he feels the team can still make the playoffs:

"Most definitely."

On QB Troy Smith:

"I think [49ers QB] Troy [Smith] did a good job. I mean, with what he had out there, I think Troy did a good job. You know what I mean, everybody's going to make a turnover; everybody's going throw a pick every now and then. But like I said, we just got to watch the film and get better at what we do."

On whether today's game creates any doubt in his mind about who the "real" 49ers were over the last three weeks:

"No. We know who we are. You know, we're not going to let one game psyche us out or make us second guess ourselves. We know we're starting to regroup and we know who we are. So we're just going to keep getting better."

TE Delanie Walker
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On the aggressiveness of the offense:

"We came out aggressive, but the momentum like I said before, we just lost it. We had our game plan set, the coaches told us what was going to happen. They did it and we just didn't pick it up like we should have and like I told you, we weren't on the same page as an offense."

On how stunned he would have been if someone told him they wouldn't score a point:

"I would have been very stunned. I can't believe it. Just with the playmakers we've got and the ability we have on offense, I can't believe we didn't even get close. We didn't even get inside the 20, I just can't believe that."

On QB Troy Smith and whether the Buccaneers were able to confuse him and the offense:

"Every week, every defense we play, they switch it up. They did a great job switching it up and disguising their blitzes and coverage's. You can't downplay Tampa, they did a great job and they just beat our butt this weekend. Just have to give it to them."

LB Patrick Willis
Post-Game Quotes - November 21, 2010
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On Buccaneers rookies RB LeGarrette Blount and the running game:

"A rookie, a vet, it doesn't matter it's football. Today, he came in and he ran the ball on us. That's something we pride ourselves on is being excellent in the run and today we didn't come through. It's hurts, but like I said, it's football, it's any given Sunday and today they made plays and we didn't."

On whether it's hard to believe the team is 3-7:

"Hard to believe? We know it is. You see the record every day. We're the ones that have to deal with it. Y'all write it, but we have to live it. We have to go through it. There's only one way to get through it and you've got to play, play to win, play for the best. Like I said, today we didn't do that. It's frustrating and it hurts. I'm not sure what happened to the other teams in the division. I guess we're no better off. We just have to go back to the drawing boards and like I said, get ready for a division game next week. This game is over us, we lost and we'll go in and critique our mistakes and move on."