The San Francisco 49ers had a lot of problems this past Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, and one of them was keeping Blaine Gabbert on his feet. The 49ers quarterback was sacked nine times, marking the fifth time this has happened in franchise history.
The blame for Sunday's sacks can be spread to players and coaches. I was going to break down the sacks specifically, but Matt Maiocco (link) and Ryan Sakamoto (link) both did solid work looking at what led to each of the nine sacks. I would recommend reading both of the articles.
The offensive line had its share of problems on Sunday. Erik Pears was dominated on several instances, and struggled in picking up a stunt on one of the sacks. Marcus Martin also had problems picking up a stunt. Daniel Kilgore had a decent day, but had some problems of his own, particularly on the seventh sack of the day. The stunts are an issue that have troubled the 49ers much of the season. It is something this unit has struggled to clean up, and there is no indication it will change anytime soon.
However, the problems go beyond just the offensive line. Brian Leonhardt and Bruce Miller each whiffed on a block, resulting in two of the sacks. Additionally, Blake Bell struggling to get in the open field on a screen pass got the ball rolling on one of the sacks.
However, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst also get some blame. Two of the sacks resulted from Gabbert rolling out and scrambling out of bounds at or short of the line of scrimmage. One of them included an opportunity to throw away the ball, but according to Maiocco, Gabbert said after the game that he was worried there were offensive linemen past the line of scrimmage. If he had thrown the ball, it would have resulted in a penalty for having an ineligible man downfield.
Chryst gets some measure of blame for the first sack. The 49ers faced a 3rd and 11, and Chryst dialed up a play-action pass. I get that you don't want the defense pinning their ears back entirely, but nobody thought the 49ers were going to run in that instance. Maybe they don't pass deep, but there was not going to be a run at that early stage of the game.
Pro Football Focus graded out Joe Staley with a +4.8, and Andrew Tiller with a +2.2. On the negative side, PFF graded Erik Pears with a -3.3, Marcus Martin with a -2.7, and Daniel Kilgore with a -1.7. The offensive line has its woes, particularly against stunts, but Sunday's problems went well beyond just that.