The San Francisco 49ers had a whole bunch of problems on Sunday, and this falls under the slightly more embarrassing. The 49ers trailed 20-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and had Phil Dawson coming on the field for a 45-yard field goal attempt. And then it was blocked.
I missed this initially, but multiple people tweeted it at me. The Cardinals had nine players on the field during the attempt. In case you forgot, a team is allowed 11 players on the field. That's probably not a good thing. Here is what 11 men on the field looks like. This was the Cardinals field goal late in the game to ice the win.
I took a look at GIFs of the blocked field goal, and the block seems pretty easy to explain. Here's one look:
On the left side, we see Derek Carrier push the defender, who gets through easily. I took a look back at some other 49ers field goal attempts, and the sort of push away type technique is what that right outside defender seems to do fairly consistently. What is odd though, is the 49ers did not use a balanced line on this field goal attempt. By that, I mean that the 49ers seem to generally go with four players on each side of the center. Here are a couple examples:
I'm not entirely sure why the 49ers went with a lighter right side, although seeing three guys coming off the left side might have impacted the weighting of the line. Whatever the specific reason, I have to think that allowed the Cardinals defender to get around the right side of the 49ers line a little more quickly. The Cardinals may have only had nine players on the field, but all that mattered was that man coming off the edge. I could be wrong, but the simple numbers of it would seem to dictate this issue. I'm sure Dawson having to drive the ball a bit lower did not help, but when you have one side playing a man short on that far edge, it would seem to be a problem.