Someone from ESPN made the comparison to our up and coming Week Two meeting between the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers as a biblical clash of epic proportions between Goliath being the Saints and the still smarting 49ers from Week One against Seattle being David. The fight was a well fought one in that we lost because we again beat ourselves with four costly turnovers that made absolutely all the difference in the world when you staring down a champion caliber team like the New Orleans Saints.
Coaches and Players took the loss as again a humiliating one in that we seem to do nothing but self-destruct as the weeks go by, further complicating the ultimate target of being a playoff contender and drawing attention to ourselves with other teams preying on the very weaknesses they see on film as other teams have achieved victory over us. Whatever speech Mike Singletary has to give and however many meetings he must hold the San Francisco 49ers remain a team still unable to attain that proven identity of being a legitimate contender in the league as of yesterday and still right now.
What was even more or less ironic was that we were on Monday Night Football and nationally televised all over the world and it was the jersey retirement ceremony of none other than legendary San Francisco 49er wide receiver and icon Jerry Rice standing with none other than his counterparts in Joe Montana, Eddie DeBartolo and other close coaches, players and friends. He made known his love for his first coach and father-like mentor in Bill Walsh and made mention that he made him what he is today and what he was as of yesterday. The ceremony was beyond words for me.
The miracle offensive drive orchestrated and directed by San Francisco 49er quarterback Alex Smith trailing 22-14 with 2:08 left on the game clock was like a boxer down on the matt receiving his counts and then suddenly sprung to life with a burst of adrenaline to make one last ditch effort to overtake his opponent only to suffer that one last knockdown blow and to never get back up. Alex Smith drove the mired in controversy offense on eight-plays for 82 yards in which he even took off where he had to for 24 total yards completing 4-of-5 passes for 51 total yards. The drive concluded with a seven-yard dash up the middle by Frank Gore and into the end zone to close the gap 22-20.
This was a drive that was not only breathtaking but a drive you scratch your head and wonder as to why can't a drive look like this all the time? Why can't our offense just execute and dominate on a consistent basis like this and simply take over and dominate a game like we are supposed to do with all this new and improved raw talent? Why can't we play mistake free football and look sort of like the inspirational New Orleans Saints for a change? These are the questions that continue to hound all of us as fans and belittle a coaching staff into wonderment themselves for legitimate answers.
Getting to be at 22-20 and in need of a two-point conversion I thought like many of you thought it was doomed to fail as surely the Saints would squash such a daring attempt. Yet Smith connected seamlessly not like he did with fullback Moran Norris a week ago in Seattle but this time with Vernon Davis, who was smothered by Saints safety Roman Harper at the goal line but he made it breaking the plain. The call was challenged after it was ruled he didn't cross the plain and we won that challenge to tie the game 22-22.
Leaving any sort of time on the clock especially for Super Bowl quarterback Drew Brees with more than a minute to play still is and was a deadly omen ready to happen as he connected on a 30-yard strike to wide receiver Marques Colston who managed to help set-up the New Orleans Saints on the 49er 18-yard line for a field goal that with 19-seconds left ended the game and dropped us to (0-2) on the 2010 regular season. As we felt our stomachs turn collectively as 49er faithful the notion still came over me that despite what the finality of it was we did improve in all sorts of areas.
The greatest improvement in my eyes was the execution of the offensive line and what they were able to do in this game against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints defensive line in which they dictated the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game. They did that by helping them roll up 417 total yards of offense and Smith was able to throw for 275 yards and at the same time put together a valiant drive to try and tie the game. On top of that Frank Gore rushed for 112 total yards, caught 56 yards in receptions and scored two touchdowns as well.
The San Francisco 49er defense is to be commended for keeping this team in the game despite the four turnovers two interceptions that Smith threw and two fumbles at the hands of Delanie Walker and rookie Philip Adams. The 49er defense held the Saints running game to just 50 total yards in which they averaged 2.1 yards per carry and sacked Drew Brees twice for a loss of 17 total yards. Late in the fourth quarter the 49er defense made a remarkable goal line stand on their one-yard line in which the Saints were forced to kick a field goal after Ray McDonald made a phenomenal tackle along with Isaac Sapoaga on third-and-one. This was a game all of us wanted to win and declare that the Seattle Seahawks loss was simply just a fluke of real bad luck.
Heck we were all still scratching our collective heads as trying and understanding what actually happened there and for the inexcusable reasons we were immersed in real miscommunication. Here you have President Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers praising Alex Smith for his miracle drive that almost worked if not for one minute to be left on the game clock. York accepted the defeat and deflected questions about being at (0-2) on the season. Instead he remains optimistic despite the fact that we beat ourselves much like we did back in Seattle except here we did it at home as well.
Turning the ball over four times to a team like the New Orleans Saints is always a recipe for disaster and it was nationally televised for all to see. Yet there still is a telltale fact that I didn't mention in that Alex Smith was never sacked, no not even once. This is even more proof of an offensive line finally coming together despite the fact that Chilo Rachal is out due to injury with Adam Snyder filling in at right guard.
I was also amused to see Alex Smith run the ball effectively when he couldn't find anyone open as he ran on four separate occasions for 28 total yards attempting to secure that coveted first down marker. I am hoping that Alex will do this even more as the season progresses and he becomes even more confident about testing his athleticism from time to time when his options run dry as forward movement means everything in a league that teams win by inches everyday.
This was an improvement but it was also still a loss. We have to find a way to stop beating ourselves and to learn how to finish games effectively. There were many solid performances and legitimate reasons to hold out hope that we can rebound. The human senses though tell us we should be far better than where we are now and for sanity's sake to stay just that I agree with that statement. We have fourteen games left to play and we are staring at road games in hostile environments all over again. We cannot ill afford a scenario like we did in Seattle to happen ever again. Let's pray that all those potential ghosts are forever gone and that we can board that plane with heads held high for a change of scenery. Arrowhead here we come.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.