The San Francisco 49ers 13-10 loss to the St Louis Rams on Sunday has put their season on the brink. With a record of 4-4 for the first half of the season, they have put themselves into a position where each game is pretty much a must win if they are going to make their fourth straight trip to the playoffs.
The game continued a theme that has been ongoing throughout the season, inconsistency and lack of balance offensively. Look for more on this later in the week, but for now let's get to the answers for the 5 burning questions that I asked on Friday.
1) Next man up! -
Marcus Martin made his first career start, and it was certainly baptism by fire. The rookie center anchored an offensive line that gave up eight sacks on the day, six coming before halftime.
2) Who will be on the Rams offensive line? -
The Rams moved right guard Roger Saffold over to the left side and he did a good job, shutting Justin Smith down in the passing game. Smith was held without a single pressure through the game.
Davin Joseph replaced Saffold at right guard and just like a year ago when he was in Tampa Bay had a strong day against Ray McDonald. Joseph allowed only two quarterback pressures to McDonald.
Overall the Rams offensive line was much better than they were back in week 6. In the first contest the 49ers were able to pressure Austin Davis on over 40% of his drop backs. On Sunday they held the 49ers to only 27%.
3) Can the 49ers back seven do a better job against the Rams tight ends? - Yes.
Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks were limited to only 19 yards on three receptions.
4) Will Vernon Davis turn it around? - Not really.
Davis finished the day with only two receptions for 19 yards, and had a long of 13. Davis was only targeted on 3 of 33 pass attempts.
5) Can the 49ers stay focused? - Yes and No.
The 49ers defense had a very strong game, holding St Louis to only 193 yards of total offense. The final two Rams scoring "drives" went 36 and 8 yards.
The offense once again looked disjointed and confused. Colin Kaepernick was under fire throughout the first half, yet Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh continued to stay away from the running game. Overall the 49ers ran the ball only 18 times and passed 41. It has been proven repeatedly this year that this type of play calling is not successful. Without the threat of the run the 49ers offense is far below average.
49ers 34 Rams 10
Not even close.
Date: November 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Comment: Jack, good point about Harbaugh's role in the offense, and one I have discussed and agreed with you previously. The poor game plans rest on his shoulders as well as Roman's. And at this point in the season, with all the rumours swirling about potential player discontent, the lacklustre play of the offense, and the questionable game plans, I think it may be in the best interests of all parties involved for Harbaugh to move on at the end of the year. It will be tough to find someone as good as he's been the past 3 years, but I question how effective he will continue to be moving forward if the team isn't fully behind him.
By: Big Mike
Date: November 3, 2014 at 4:38 PM
Comment: This coaching staff is slowly ruining what was a good situation. They r hell bent on making this Kaepernicks team n that is not true. Frank Gore n the running game is our bell cow that we must establish EVERY game. The slightest hint of resistance and the play calling abandons the run. Roman n Harbaugh r not being true 2 who we r as a team. And Kap is gona have 2 finally finish one of these moments. Ball in hand around the goalline n again we did not score 2 win. No more excuses. And when is Frank gona get an opportunity 2 run the ball in these situations (Superbowl, Seattle n now Rams). The playcalling sucks. At the end of the season if Harbaugh n Roman want out..c ya. And Kap MUST do better. Otherwise u r gona turn in2 another never was.
Date: November 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM
Comment: Our D is missing 3 All-Pro LB´s and we have the 2nd ranked defense......our O is complete and has more talent than in the last 15 years and we still have a lame offense than can´t score a TD to win a game. I can find 3 reasons for that: their names are Colin, Jim and Greg.
Date: November 3, 2014 at 1:38 PM
Comment: I believe that Niners are now 1-3 after a bye under Harbaugh.
Date: November 3, 2014 at 12:35 PM
Comment: I've stayed out of the calls to fire Greg Roman, but what I will say is that his game plans this season have left a lot to be desired. As you said Jack, it has been proven, repeatedly, that going for a pass heavy offense doesn't win games for this team. They simply make too many errors and drive killing plays using this tactic, preventing the offense from getting into a rhythm. The OL isn't suited to playing pass pro against Ds that know the offense is going to pass.
Date: November 3, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Comment: Jack, thanks again! Good article, as usual.
I have one question for you: Ever notice that when we see Kaep on the sideline after a set of downs, he is usually not reviewing tape of past plays with his QB coach or anyone else, the way even guys like Manning seem to do? If you agree, can you think of a good reason why?
Date: November 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM
Comment: The Niners need an offensive coordinator terribly,someone who can distribute plays to all those weapons,roman is failing badly,please put an end to all these misconceptions.
Date: November 3, 2014 at 12:07 PM
Comment: I agree with you on all of that. The pass to run ratio is extremely important. Our defense is doing their job. We have to get back to the basic. Run,run, play actions, run, run, play action roll out. Keep It Simple Stupid