November 10, 2005 at 12:00 AM
So here we are again my fellow 49er fans. Another dramatic loss that has sucked us from ground zero like a tornado and cast us into a sea of misery, like a drunk staggering out of a Friday night bar wondering where he is and will end up.
We hear the repeated promises from head coach Mike Nolan that this loss at the hands of Eli Manning and the New York Giants (24-6) is unacceptable and will not stand. We hear the same philosophies about how this is a maturing process and a developing time for a very young team that is evolving through constant transition.
Injuries have virtually self-destructed this team on both sides of the ball, and the youth that have replaced the injured have not stepped up.
San Francisco 49er fans, whether inside Monster Park or watching on television, saw the same things that I witnessed on this past Sunday afternoon...A team struggling to execute even the most basic fundamentals of professional football.
Penalty flags flew like confetti falling after a Super Bowl party in this game to the extent that we registered 12 for a loss of 80 total yards! High School football teams have far less than this on their worst days.
What is happening to this football team folks? Under the Mike Nolan regime and his new line breed of coaches we all expect better execution than this. Veteran players are frustrated to witness these types of mistakes and to be a part of a team that is so careless and inefficient out on the field.
Frankly, as a die-hard fan I am appalled at the way this game was lost by our own hands opening one door after another for these New York Giants to walk through. We have failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fifth time in our first eight games.
The San Francisco 49er offense is a mockery of what it used to be. We continue to spin the carousel of quarterbacks as fourth string starter Cody Pickett was called into the line of duty for this game. And, under the intense circumstances, did a fairly decent job with so many errors being committed all around him. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 102-yards and had one interception. In fact, this was the most yards passing for a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay threw for 126 yards against the Arizona Cardinals back on Oct.2. Unfortunately, the 49ers offense failed to even get a first down in seven of its 11 possessions, which sabotaged Cody Pickett from becoming an unsung hero for this football team.
The very long stretch that killed me was late in the second quarter when the 49ers actually had made it to the New York Giants 30-yard line with Cody Pickett leading the charge. With just two minutes left, running back Kevan Barlow was effectively dropped for a three-yard loss.
But that was not all, as on second and long Cody Pickett reared back and connected with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for a spectacular one handed grab at the two-yard line, only to have it come back because of a holding penalty on left tackle Anthony Clement.
This guy has got to be the worse left tackle I have ever seen inside the league. I can't understand why we allow ourselves to self-destruct by putting a below-average player out on the field like this in a very critical position as left tackle. His ability to pass protect is atrocious and his ability to block and defend, a laughingstock. After losing our greatest off-season investment in Jonas Jennings, who started the year out because of a tear to the labrum in his right shoulder Sept. 25 against Dallas, we haven't been able to protect our quarterback period.
We went out and signed Jonas Jennings against the popular belief that he was injury prone. We signed this guy to a seven-year, $36 million dollar contract, despite proof of his injury record with the Buffalo Bills, and what has he done for me lately?
Back to the play with Anthony Clement's holding penalty... Cody Pickett then failed to complete a pass to Arnaz Battle. From there we backed up from the two-yard line all the way to the 43-yard line. Then come the penalty flags, again one right after another, on two false starts by our friends Anthony Clement and right tackle Kwame Harris.
Backed up all the way to the New York Giants 47-yard line Cody Pickett was desperate to make any kind of offensive progress and threw a forced pass, intended for Arnaz Battle, and is intercepted by Brent Alexander, who then laterals it to Will Allen who returns it to the 49er 41-yard line.
Just four plays later, under quarterback extraordinaire Eli Manning, the New York Giants hit elite tight end Jeremy Shockey for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Giants.
"You definitely beat yourself up after this one," 49ers safety Tony Parrish said. "This is one of those games where you're going to have different plays going through your mind that cut your sleep short at night."
In fact, this offense would've been punch-less altogether if not for kicker Joe Nedney making field goals of 48 and 52 yards in the third quarter. The offensive line was called for five false-start penalties and two holding calls (not including the one that was declined), which effectively forced Cody Pickett into long-yardage situations on both second and third downs.
The same offensive line which was fired up and emotional in a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reverted right back to where they have been all season long, as being one of the worse in the entire NFL.
Right tackle Kwame Harris was identified as being the offender on three false-start penalties, but in hindsight it looked as if he was the guilty party on two others as well. He was even called for holding, which leads me to believe that this product from Stanford is self-destructing as we speak.
"Those are things you expect out of a Pop Warner player," Harris said. "You don't expect it out of a pro player."
Until Mike Nolan understands that it is the offensive line that wins football games, I don't think we'll ever get out of the hole we are in. He has to know this at some point in the season as it unfolds. The line is not protecting anybody regardless of who you put in at quarterback and they cannot even execute a basic play without drawing a stupid penalty.
No one on the offensive line has played up to standard except for right guard Eric Heitmann, in my opinion. Even center Jeremy Newberry, as brave and courageous as he is, has not played like he is accustomed to because of his multiple injuries (ankle, knee and shoulder all in one).
The offensive line allowed three sacks in this game for a loss of 16 total yards, and the pressure that was exerted upon Cody Pickett was unrelenting. Offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy has got to find simplified ways of getting this offense back up on its feet again. He has to make the quarterback feel safe while he's in the pocket trying to secure a target.
"It's very frustrating," wide receiver Johnnie Morton, said. "It's really embarrassing. We should be scoring a lot because this is professional football, not high school. Even in high school they score a lot of points. I don't know what we need to do, but we need to get into the end zone. It's not like we need to score one touchdown and celebrate. We need to score a lot of touchdowns. The defense is keeping us in games and we're not holding up our end of the bargain."
"It is a lack of focus and concentration," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "Emotion is a huge part of the game, and you can't let emotions get the better of you when it comes to executing what your responsibility is. There's not a tremendous amount of noise at home. Today was inexcusable."
Boy do I miss tight end Eric Johnson. Did you see the perfect lob throw by Cody Pickett to tight end Trent Smith for what would've been well over 30-yards long? Yet he couldn't hold on to the ball and squashed yet another bright ray of hope that was registered on this offense.
And then the 49er defense weighs in at having only 10 players out on the field during the very first play of the game in which Eli Manning found tight end Jeremy Shockey for a 28-yard completion. This eventually led to the New York Giants marching down the field and having kicker Jay Feely connect with a 22-yard field goal.
The 49er defense continues to improve despite giving up some big plays here and there. The evidence was again apparent in this game when Eli Manning hooked up with big and tall wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who managed to make a one-handed grab that pulled the ball and trapped it between his arms and the back of 49er cornerback Bruce Thornton's helmet.
After a few plays, Brandon Jacobs punched it in for a one-yard touchdown to make it a New York Giants lead 17-6. The entire defense played brilliantly for the most part, right up until the fourth quarter where the New York Giants took over.
"That's the one thing we talked about," said linebacker Andre Carter of the Plaxico Burress catch. "Big plays kill us. Whether it's one, two or three, those big plays add up. Those big and explosive plays are just unacceptable."
New York's rushing attack, led by running back Tiki Barber, was effectively neutralized throughout the day with a combined 93-yards of rushing offense registered. Our solid defensive front was able to make it a tough go for the well established running back.
To be positive with what we are seeing is very difficult. I know I may have sounded negative about Mike Nolan, but the absence of consistency and the foolish mistakes we registered blatantly in this particular game have got to be real concerns.
I am still a Mike Nolan fan and will continue to support his ideology and practices out on the field and inside the locker room where he's most effective. I am wondering though, if maybe Mike McCarthy is the right man for the job at the helm of the offense.
I have a hard time with accepting an offensive line that has done almost nothing up to the mid-point in this season. One has to come to a conclusion about this sooner rather than later, as the defense plays their hearts out each and every game.
We need an offensive line that can weather the storm and move the chains. We need a line that will provide maximum pass protection to its young quarterbacks and help spawn gaping holes and lanes in which are running backs can sprint through.
Bob McKittrick, where are you my friend? Please shine down from heaven and give this line your blessings. We need a miracle healing in the worse way and we must address this festering problem in both the draft and in free agency next year.
Until that happens we will have to win football games with our defense. A practice that is grossly unfair and unbalanced. It is a time where offensive players either put up or shut up (so to speak) and all of them need to show execution.
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