In a loss we're always trying to figure out what went wrong. Sure, I watched the game, like you, and had my ideas about what was happening, but not every play is shown again, I can't stop and rewind, look at different angles, etc. But thanks to NFL Rewind and the All-22 coaches' angles, I can.
I decided to go back and just look at the offense (mostly) because the defense did it's job in my opinion. Holding a team to 10 total points, just seven through three-plus quarters, well that's about as much as you can ask. The could-have-been fumble recovery, etc. would have been gravy, in my eyes.
Most of us want to know what happened to the passing game, ie. why Colin Kaepernick seemed to throw into coverage, or not at all on some plays. There was pressure at times, but how much of a factor was that? I don't know that I can give you definitive answers here, but I can show you a few things that I saw and you can make your own determinations. Keep in mind that I didn't spend countless hours pouring over this, so there are probably missed blocks, wrong routes, etc. that I didn't notice.
With that being said, let's dive-in.
The offensive line seemed to have a combination of confusion on their blocking assignments, and rustiness from the two-weeks they had since the last game. On the first play of the game, Jonathan Goodwin turns to his left and sort of stands there as though he's walling-off the DT. The only problem is that Frank Gore is running to Goody's left, basically right into the defender who simply turns and disrupts the play. It's almost as if Goody thought Gore was going to his right, not his left. Otherwise he would have had to drive his guy, not just stand there and play patty-cake.
The next play was a play-action pass to Bruce Miller for a first-down. This was a timing play, fake the handoff, hit your drop, throw the ball, bang-bang. It was beautiful and just the right play for a young quarterback. I know it's simplistic, but the 49ers need to run plays like these a lot more often. You know what they always say, "The fullback is always open."
The third play was a fantastic job of being patient by Gore. He basically puts his hand on Miller's back and waits for him to locate a defender to block, then shoots past for 10 or so yards. It's vintage Frank Gore, and fun to watch.
The near-INT seems like mis-communication to me. Boldin kept running, Kap threw it like he thought AB was going to sit in a hole, only problem is that Captain Munnerlyn broke into that hole and had a can't-miss INT in his hands. If Kap throws that ball down the field, Boldin had a great shot at catching it in-stride.
Other than the few blemishes though, this first drive was beauty. Gore goes for another long run on a read-option play, then a tempo throw to Boldin on the left side, just shy of the first. The next play was the failed third-down, and I think Vance McDonald might have been confused on his assignment. He let's his man go at first, then lunges like he realized he neeeded to block him. Problem is, Bruce Miller seemingly also realized this dude needed blocking, and skips blocking the defender that Anthony Davis let's go. Davis is releasing to the second level, which looks like it was by design, but again, two unblocked defenders for Miller and Vance is blocking nobody.
See, McDonald let's his man go, or fails to get him, but A.Davis is leaving his guy for Miller, who can't block both http://t.co/ThIqkWSH8X— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
This wasn't the only time a 49er took a bad angle or guessed wrong on blocking in the run game. Alex Boone went wide left of Luke Kuechly on the next drive, and the latter made a play to help stuff the run.
Next drive, first play, Boone goes way left, past Kuechly, and then tries to recover...guess who makes the stop? http://t.co/B7GJWDm3tT— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
Then we see a 10-man box, but no audible. I remember watching this game wondering why there wasn't more play-action in these stacked boxes. It was maddening.
Oof. Look at this...why was this a run-play and not audibled, again??!? http://t.co/ajNAT8RIYF— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
On Kap's first sack, Vernon Davis completely whiffed on his man. He was staying-in to block and his guy had nearly a free-shot at Kap.
Early-on Kap was taking the underneath stuff to Gore, who was getting good yardage. Later in the game he seemed to start reading more deep-to-shallow and perhaps due to the pressure he'd already encountered, often wasn't hitting the check-down.
Here's a play where I thought Kap should have thrown over a few LBs and hit Davis who's coming open down the seam and has nobody closing on him. Make one guy miss and it might have been a touchdown. The other receivers aren't even looking for the ball yet and have less chance for YAC. Kap ended up throwing the out to Mario Manningham which fell incomplete.
Aye, VD comes wide open down the seam. Have to throw over a few guys, but think Kap missed this one http://t.co/THrHembyfb— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
If you're mad at Greg Roman, this next one won't help assuage that. This is a 3rd and long and Roman dials up a bunch of routes that are all short of the sticks. If I recall, they needed to get to the 15 or so for the first. All routes have broken at this point.
This is an awful 3rd down play design. Like they already gave-up for the FG. All the routes are short of the sticks. http://t.co/OvIae5i08d— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
This next one might be the most egregious one on Kap. He rolls right by design, then hits Davis short, who had no chance of scoring on the play. This is the play that was nearly a fumble (still not sure how it wasn't, but hard to overturn call on the field, I guess). You can see Boldin (and Manningham behind him) with nobody around him. There are two shots below. First is before he decided to throw to Davis, second was just as he threw it. No defenders near the throwing lane or Boldin in the end zone. The drive ended in a FG
I know hindsight is 20/20, but look at the play where VD fumbled/didn't fumble: http://t.co/0JCYOPTVKo— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
The play where Kendall Hunter fumbles, he got LIT-UP in the hole. No excuse for fumbling, but man the defender was there in a heartbeat.
This is the play Hunter fumbles. He get's BLOWN-UP in the hole http://t.co/9PpzVQNADI— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
Here you can see that Vance would have had the catch, but Kuechly just made a helluva play to get McDonald's arm and rip it backwards, forcing the drop.
Here's the play where Vance had the ball, Kuechly makes the play on his arm and breaks it up http://t.co/an5z74aBZK— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
This is the last image, and I want to stress something here that applies to them all: Just because a guy looks open in the still-shot, doesn't mean he is. The ball takes a few seconds to arrive, and the guys on the frozen image are not, in fact, frozen. Often times they're moving TOWARD the play, and it takes about a half a second for them to cover five yards. This play is a good example of that. It looks like the throw to Boldin is a good idea here, but the defenders close and break up the pass. Instead Kap probably would have been better-off throwing underneath to Vance, who had some chance for YAC.
last image. Don't know why Kap throws this to Boldin instead of underneath on 3rd down. Vance might get YAC http://t.co/07LDLPiFjJ— Tre Niner (@Tre9er) November 13, 2013
That's it for now. Again, some flaws by everyone involved. Kap needs to work on (or have coaches help him work on) going through his reads quickly. It seems like they scheme these plays to have a guy wide open, well when that doesn't happen Kap seems ill-prepared to find the next guy. Perhaps they work so well sometimes that he's in unfamiliar territory when they don't. I put that on the coaching staff to prepare him better, to get him to take the next step by teaching him how to read his progressions faster.
The O-Line definitely had it's share of miscues, but I didn't notice immediate pressure very often. Carolina seemed to be daring the 49ers to throw underneath, but as the game went on Kap wasn't seeing the short stuff. Maybe he was pressing, trying to do too much. I don't know. I just hope the coaching staff knows, and fixes it.