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It was palpable on Sunday. If you were watching the game you just knew that the 49ers couldn't hold on to their one point lead for very long. Then it happened. The 49ers defense let Anquan Boldin run through 5 would-be tacklers and score on a 54-yard catch and run. Just like the mass exodus of fans, all hope for the 49ers to win their third game left the stadium.
I've always said that it's better to lose 42 to 0 than it is 17 to 10. At least in one instance you know who the better team was. In the other instance it could have been a missed tackle, or five, that caused the game to slip away. The culprit Sunday? Multiple Personality Disorder.
It seems the 49ers havecan put together a solid quarter, or half of play. But when it comes down to it, the game typically slips away. Against Seattle the defense stymied the NFL's leading offense in the 4th quarter holding them without a single point after allowing 27. Against Tennessee, up 14 to 9 in the third quarter with an impressive first half, the 49ers imploded while the Titans exploded.
This week, against Arizona, the first half looked promising, especially for Alex "If-my-quarterback-rating-were-an-age-it-couldn't-buy-ciggarettes." Smith. He was remarkably efficient; completing 11 of 12 passes for 151 yards. Which was more than he had in any one game all season. The 49ers were up by a field goal, and looked to be able to hold the Arizona offense when it mattered.
Then personality number two reared its ugly head. And really, I'm not sure which personality makes up the "real" 49ers.
One thing is certain. Whichever personality decides whip some culo and assert itself as the dominant one will have to deal with the offensive line.
It was pretty obvious Sunday, perhaps more than other days, that the offensive line is the key to the 49ers success. The biggest difference between half one and half two was the time that Smith had in the pocket - if there was a pocket at all. On the 49ers' scoring drive Smith had time to scan the field and make decisions. Receivers had time to find the soft spots in the Cardinals' zone and make some catches. It showed with Smith completing passes of 24, 24 and 31 yards on 4 plays.
In the second half, Smith had someone in his face every play. The 49er's line looked confused by the Cardinals exotic blitz schemes. And by exotic I mean blitzing a linebacker up the middle without disguising it in any way shape or form. The 49ers knew the Cardinals were coming, and looked helpless trying to stop them.
Whatever the 49ers do from here on out they need to decide who they will be. Will they be the team that can do enough to win while rebuilding? Or will they be the team that forgets how to tackle (The Deon Sanders Personality), is called for at least three offensive line penalties a game (the Kwame Harris Personality), and cannot provide a viable pocket for anyone (The Houston Texans personality).
Let the personality wars begin.