That performance by the San Francisco 49ers wasn't very pretty, but I think we need to admit that this result was what we were dreading going into the season. Lack of talent on the right side of the offensive line and lack of experience at the cornerback position beyond Tramaine Brock. There were also concerns on how effective the offense would be at the skill positions. With the limited scope of only 2 games, here are my early thoughts on how the off-season concerns have panned out so far:
- I've maintained that the offensive issues of the 49ers in the past 2 seasons are due more to the lack of cohesiveness in the offensive line than the skill positions and it looks like that will continue this season. I was actually hoping that the Niners first pick this year would be a lineman, but it's too late to bring that back. This offensive line looks slow to me and they will be challenged every time they encounter a defense with excellent team speed (which is exactly what the other teams in the NFC West have). Short of a major trade by Baalke, I think we need to accept that the 49ers OL will struggle this entire season every time they play a fast defense.
- Colin Kaepernick has quite visibly improved his game this season and he did well to complete 71% of his passes for 335 yards and 2 TDs, when the Pittsburgh defense was consistently in his face all game long. Even Hyde would have done much better if defenders were not getting into the backfield before he hits the hole. I'm actually satisfied with what I've seen from the WR and TE groups and confident that Kap will be able to hit his targets provided he has enough time to make reads.
- The other major thing the offense needs to work on is red zone efficiency. Seems like we've been repeating this for 4 or so seasons now. They've proven they can move the ball both on the ground and in the air, but they need to convert on more touchdowns. This time though it really needs to be fixed because this years defense will need the offense to bail them out more often.
- The 49ers secondary has glaring problems with deep coverage. Ben Rothelsberger is an excellent deep passer and he was able to burn this unit from start to finish. Even Teddy Bridgewater performed well in the first game. The major difference between the two contests is that the pass rush was successful in game one but was lacking against the Steelers. Ben had literally all day to throw, so he was able to find the weak spots in the secondary. If the secondary doesn't improve quickly, then there is that much more 'pressure' on the pass rush to 'cover' for them. Eric Mangini has a lot to digest this week and not much of it will taste good.
Now let's get to our links:
Recaps & Reviews
Steelers burn 49ers' secondary all day long (Gutierrez)
Exposed, scorched, (pick a word) for 49ers (Mariotti)