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Welcome to 'First and Goal'. This week we'll review the stellar victory against the Vikings. We'll also peek ahead to next week's tilt against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. As always, be sure to check out our Hero Of the Week!
Before we get to the game review, I just have to say... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!
All the optimists who tried to keep a glass-half-full attitude during the off-season from hell got flamed on this site and pretty much every site on the internet. Delusional they said... Baalke's an idiot they said... We're going to be lucky to win 4 games they said...
And that's why they play the game, ladies and gentlemen, because you never truly know what you got until you lace em' up and keep score for real. I know it's only one game but it was important for this team to shut up the naysayers so they can focus on what's important. Now we can finally focus on who is on our squad instead of focusing on who isn't.
Did I mention the Seachickens lost? HAHA!!
Pertinent Game Stats
Minn 3 SF 20
Bridgewater 23-32 for 231 0-TD 1-INT
Kaepernick 17-26 for 165 0-TD 0-INT
Vikings total rushing yards 71
Carlos Hyde rushing yards 168
Niners net rushing 230 yards for avg of 5.9 yards per rush
Vikings converted only 1/9 on 3rd down
Niners converted 5/12 on 3rd down
Time of Possession
Vikings 26:58 Niners 33:02
Niners 8 penalties for -57 yards (most in first half)
Game Review Offense
I expected good and bad things from the offense, mainly due to the fact that most teams don't play their starters much in the pre-season. If you watched any other games around the NFL you saw lots of ugly play on both sides of the ball. All I wanted for our team was to play good enough to win. I think we did that, and more.
I thought the season would hinge on the shoulders of Kap. It still might, but he's got a bonafide running mate now. I know what you're thinking... Carlos Hyde is the Man!! We'll get to him in a second. I'm talking about the man everyone loved to hate because he isn't Adam Gase, our OC Geep Chryst.
What I hated about Haroman was the simple fact that they rarely made things easy. Above all else, an OC is supposed to put players in a position to succeed. We did that a lot in this victory. We used Hyde in a zone scheme that he excels in. We changed the pocket around and got Kap on the move. We even threw a few times to Vance McDonald! And to the RB's! We used the whole field, we took some shots deep, we got to the line of scrimmage with time on the clock and we even made halftime adjustments. We actually looked like a real NFL team.
Kaepernick had several good plays and he had some bad plays. Again, he didn't play a lot in the pre-season so I expected him to be rusty. His accuracy was off on some throws but he also did lots of things we should be proud of. He scanned the field, he went through his progressions and above all else, he looked to throw more often than run. A few times he had nothing but space in front of him and yet he still threw the ball. Dilfer noted that he's playing with a better base. He also showed some touch. The yards weren't there but the Vikings couldn't stop the run so I'm not worried. When teams begin to stack the box I think we'll see deeper, more explosive plays out of Kap.
Hyde looked like the beast I hoped he would be. I knew he was fast and powerful, but that spin move made me jump out of my seat. I pray he remains healthy because he's the engine that makes this team go. The ZBS is a thing of beauty, and when it gets defenses rolling side-to-side the lanes get bigger and Hyde gets more aggressive. Perfect marriage of scheme and talent. I do feel Hayne did a great job coming in to spell Hyde, especially after Bush got injured. This man just put on a helmet for the first time 5 weeks ago and now he's running plays with the pros. I'm not sure how much of the offense he's mastered, but he didn't make any crucial mistakes as a RB. He's a keeper, especially on swing passes.
The beleaguered OL looked pretty good. The run blocking was stellar and the pass blocking also excellent. They only gave up one sack. I think this squad will get a boost when Kilgore comes back and then we'll see our 5 best linemen on the field. The results were good, the scheme was great and there's still time to gel. Arrow pointing up!
The TE's were involved and I was happy to see that. It makes it that much harder for the defense to know what's coming when you throw multiple TE sets at them. Vernon still can't break a tackle but that's ok, he can still get open. I'm really liking this version of Vance. Even Celek made plays. Good game all around for our TE's.
Someone made a good joke--- Did we trade Torrey Smith back to Baltimore? Going forward, we're absolutely going to see 8+ man boxes so that should open up more 1-on-1's for our speedsters.
I love Bruce Ellington's speed we need to get him more involved. Patton simply does not impress. I'm excited to see Mike Davis in this offense next week.
Game Review Defense
Giving up 3 points to a well-coached team is a huge victory. Eric Mangini called a brilliant game. We kept them on their heels with well-timed blitzes, sacking Bridgewater 5 times for a total loss of 54 yards. We played good team defense, swarmed to the ball and, more often than not, made good tackles for minimal YAC.
Our defensive line didn't seem to get much penetration but they did keep our LB's clean while also limiting the Viking's rushing attack. That's probably exactly what they were supposed to do. I did see Ian Williams make a tremendous play splitting a double-team during a big down. I also saw the DL get washed down the line a few times. It's early in the season and I expect this line to get even better as we go along. Tank had a sack, continuing the steady play he showed towards the end of last season.
Our LB's were all over the place. Bowman made his return a solid one with 7 tackles and a sack. Every time he made a play his teammates heartily congratulated him, which was great to see. This team is united that's for sure. Lynch provided some good pressure off the edge. I'm loving Mangini's liberal use of pressure up the middle. It's like our guys are shot out of a cannon. AP only had 31 yards. I say this with no surprise because that's what we do to Peterson. We stop him. Someone please tweet Heath Evans and call him out for his absolute lack of brains. (predicted 300 yards for AP)
Our secondary gave up 231 yards but they didn't give up the killer play, perhaps aided by a non-call on a long bomb against Bethea. I didn't hear Acker's name too much which means he played well. I did see Tartt make a few impact plays, closing in on ball carriers with killer intent. I'm really liking that pick. Brock even got a INT at the end, helped by pressure on Bridgewater. When it all comes together that's exactly what's supposed to happen.
I love Hayne but maybe Ellington needs to be our punt returner? I thought Pinion did pretty good but what really stood out was our coverage teams. Viking returners had nowhere to go. Dawson was solid on kicks that didn't get blocked.
Our coordinators called great games. Now let's see what they do when the NFL has film on them. Remember, it's all about making adjustments. At least now we have people who know what that word means.
I thought Tomsula looked like he belonged. The moment wasn't too big for him. And in case you forgot, he's still undefeated as HC of the Niners.
Mini-Preview of Next Week
We know the Pittsburgh Steelers have a good offense. Big Ben threw for 351 yards against the Pats and DeAngelo Williams ran for 127 yards. Antonio Brown logged 9 receptions for 133 yards. They are pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty... pretty good!
But man is their defense bad!!! Aside from a roving Ryan Shazier, their defense is terrible. They opted to leave Gronkowski wide open on several occasions and they didn't do much to cover anyone else.
I expect the Steelers to play better next week in what will be their home-opener, but they will still be missing LeVeon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey and Martavis Bryant. If we can limit their running game and keep their passing game from beating us deep, we have a great chance to win. Niners eke one out, 24-21 to start the season 2-0.
Hero of the Week!