It's objective fact that the San Francisco 49ers offense is absolutely terrible. It's one of the league's worst units, but there's varying theories on why that is. I think it's generally accepted that the offensive line is under-performing, Colin Kaepernick is making very basic, fundamental mistakes that are most definitely his own, the play-calling from offensive coordinator Greg Roman is poor and the offense simply doesn't adjust.
Regardless of the defense they're going up against, we don't ever hear about the 49ers potentially exploiting matchups or attacking weak spots. We've seen the opposite in most cases -- top-flight cornerbacks thrown to (Richard Sherman) and the run totally abandoned when the 49ers are playing poor run defenses. I think Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders was pitiful for obvious reasons (the Raiders suck), but I think the failure to adapt and adjust was the most glaring issue.
If there was one game you could watch to totally sap all hope you'd ever have for this offense and the people orchestrating it, Sunday's game against Oakland is it.
The inability to make adjustments was on full display Sunday. Re-watching the game, I noticed a few tendencies on the defensive side of the ball, tendencies that the 49ers coaches had to have noticed. On the right side of Oakland's defensive line, they ran stunts constantly, and just about every time, the 49ers seemed to fall for it. Alex Boone and Jonathan Martin are totally unable to handle stunts, even when it's totally obvious they're coming.
Yes, Gore who was averaging a stellar 5.3 yards per carry, only had 12 carries on the day. Let's not pretend that this game was out of reach for an extended period of time or anything -- running was totally an option that was ignored. The reason I mention Gore is that the one inherent weakness of a stunt is this: you can run directly into it, with great success.
The 49ers didn't do that. Even after the Raiders used stunts over and over, they kept Gore on the sidelines. It's incredibly frustrating in retrospect. Whatever the case, we're here to look over one aspect of the offense: the offensive line and the sacks allowed. Each week I take a look at those, and this time I just so happened to rant about the running game for a few paragraphs beforehand.
None of this is pretty. Let's get to it.
8:36 of 1st Quarter, 3rd and 11 at SF 32: Kaepernick sacked for -2 yards
Here, the Raiders kind of run one of those aforementioned stunts. Instead of Alex Boone, it's Frank Gore who is up at the line, but the guy he's expecting to block is running right at Martin and Gore doesn't know how to process that information. Martin is, of course, stranded. It's unclear if Kaepernick even sees that guy, but if not, he looks pretty bad because he absolutely doesn't have a running lane right there. Either way, it's pretty clear what happened on this play.
4:09 of 2nd Quarter, 2nd and 7 at SF 8: Kaepernick sacked for -3 yards
So, Marcus Martin loses his guy and that forces the initial pressure on Kaepernick. He can be blamed for this play, of course. But one of the big issues I have with this play is where Kaepernick eventually settles. It wasn't a real fake handoff, but instead of just taking steps back (he took way too many, which is a trend), he also rolled out a bit and was no longer in the pocket -- the same pocket that he simply could have stepped up into to buy some more time. It's probably a minor point given Kaepernick's greater issues at this point but it bugged me.
5:30 of 4th quarter, 3rd and 8 at OAK 25: Kaepernick sacked for -4 yards
Oh, a guy coming unblocked from the right side? A blitz that was obvious and not at all disguised? I'M SHOCKED!
3:22 of 4th Quarter, 1st and 10 at SF 23: Kaepernick sacked for -5 yards
We talked a lot about the stunts above, and this is one of them that happened to work. The problem with this one is that it wasn't really a good stunt, it almost didn't seem planned but whatever the case, the 49ers are totally incapable of recognizing or dealing with it. It's not just because Martin is starting in place of Anthony Davis as well -- it's an issue when he's there as well. Boone isn't exactly great at adjusting after the snap, though I'll admit he wasn't the worst player on the play above.
0:17 of 4th Quarter, 1st and 15 at SF 10: Kaepernick sacked for -9 yards
Seventeen seconds left down more than a touchdown? It doesn't really look like anyone is trying too hard to do anything on this play, does it? Whatever the case, the 49ers are running streaks so Kaepernick has nobody open, and he just sort of stumbles into the pass rush. I put as much effort into this last writeup as they put into that play.