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Will the offensive line hold back the 49ers offense this season?

Was re-watching the 49ers vs Steelers game of last year. The O-line did a great job of picking up blitzes. I'm confident in our O-line this year.
Originally posted by Oscar:
You're right in that you can't take preseason statistics in a vacuum and just cite them for reference. And the win or the loss is irrelevant. But to say that preseason games don't matter at all is also at the other extreme of the same argument. When the first team offense and defense are battling you can make judgements about how the team is playing. You can evaluate footwork and technique. What do you think coaches look at when they evaluate film? You think they just chuck all the preseason film out of the window? No - they take a look at how a player performs against his competition.

This is what I did with the offensive line. I've maintained they are an average line with the potential to be a great line if the right side continues to develop. If not, the right side of the line will be a real liability and indeed hold the offense back. I'm not comparing a 2nd string RG RG playing against a 1st string DT or DE. It's starter vs starter and on a couple plays, the line either didn't communicate or missed a basic stunt. Those kinds of problems, if they continue into the regular season, will doom the offense. New WRs are great, but if you only have 2.5 seconds to develop a route then the new toys are useless.

Even when the starters are in, they're not going hard. They really are just going through the motions trying not to get hurt. I'm sure Tom Clayton exhibited great technique in the preseason during his day. But it changes when it counts and the gladiators that are NFL defensive players are playing for real and foaming at the mouth trying to kill you on every play. It's like quarterbacks that have unorthodox deliveries. They work on it in practice and might look great there, as well as in the half-speed preseason. But when its winter and playoff positioning is on the line and you got DeMarcus Ware hunting you down, you could easily revert to your old technique which comes more naturally. The endless list of guys/units that have looked terrible in the preseason but great in the regular season or great in the preseason but then terrible in the regular season makes me deem preseason useless for evaluating the guys/units that will actually be playing. And no they don't chuck out preseason film, it IS very vital...but not for the ones. It's vital because for 50 or so of the 90 guys, it's their Super Bowl. They're fighting for their employment. So preseason film does have a role, but it's to help decide who the 40th thru 53rd guys on the roster should be, what the Practice Squad should look like, and maybe to help settle some depth chart uncertainties - not to determine the abilities of the guys that will actually be playing on Sundays as the weather turns cold. There's just too small of a correlation for it to be taken seriously.
Originally posted by slidingswhiz:
Was re-watching the 49ers vs Steelers game of last year. The O-line did a great job of picking up blitzes. I'm confident in our O-line this year.

Originally posted by niners420:

Originally posted by niners420:
There's just too small of a correlation for it to be taken seriously.

Disagree... and great full post, Oscar.

No, this isn't the Pro Bowl where players are just happy to be acknowledged as "the best" and all they do is run half speed and play patty-cake with each other in the trenches. No sir, the starters are very much giving strong efforts. Coaches... OUR coaches at that.. would not settle for less. Besides, there's a level of playing with pride as a starter. They don't want to go out there and get blown up and have to explain themselves in the locker-room film sessions.

You can get lots of good evaluation from preseason games... but you just have to put various situations into context. (ex. Would the QB ordinarily just throw that pass out of bounds? or would he have given it another second or two to fire in a pass somewhere? Would the RB have gone to the ground as easily after gaining 12 yards? or would he have muscled through another tackle or two? Would we have kicked a FG on 4th and 2 or just go for it in a game that mattered?)

But OL have a responsibility to keep their QB alive and healthy. You don't want to be "that guy" that played lazily and put your QB and season on I.R.
Originally posted by oldman9er:
Disagree... and great full post, Oscar.

No, this isn't the Pro Bowl where players are just happy to be acknowledged as "the best" and all they do is run half speed and play patty-cake with each other in the trenches. No sir, the starters are very much giving strong efforts. Coaches... OUR coaches at that.. would not settle for less. Besides, there's a level of playing with pride as a starter. They don't want to go out there and get blown up and have to explain themselves in the locker-room film sessions.

You can get lots of good evaluation from preseason games... but you just have to put various situations into context. (ex. Would the QB ordinarily just throw that pass out of bounds? or would he have given it another second or two to fire in a pass somewhere? Would the RB have gone to the ground as easily after gaining 12 yards? or would he have muscled through another tackle or two? Would we have kicked a FG on 4th and 2 or just go for it in a game that mattered?)

But OL have a responsibility to keep their QB alive and healthy. You don't want to be "that guy" that played lazily and put your QB and season on I.R.

How hard the starters are trying isn't really even too relevant to my point. My point is centered around just how often a unit such as an offensive line could look so poor in the preseason and then look like a completely different unit when the games count, or vice versa.
Originally posted by niners420:
How hard the starters are trying isn't really even too relevant to my point. My point is centered around just how often a unit such as an offensive line could look so poor in the preseason and then look like a completely different unit when the games count, or vice versa.

This below was the first sentence of you post I responded to.

Even when the starters are in, they're not going hard. They really are just going through the motions trying not to get hurt.
We cool, yo... just sayin'.
  • THEB
  • Veteran
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Im watching the beginning of the Card vs Titnas game right now and i can only help but think that our line is MUCH improved when i watch Snyder give up sacks like its his job. Im so glad that guy is out of here.
Originally posted by THEB:
Im watching the beginning of the Card vs Titnas game right now and i can only help but think that our line is MUCH improved when i watch Snyder give up sacks like its his job. Im so glad that guy is out of here.

we are watching in the NFL section if u care to join...
Originally posted by oldman9er:
This below was the first sentence of you post I responded to.

Even when the starters are in, they're not going hard. They really are just going through the motions trying not to get hurt.
We cool, yo... just sayin'.

I know I mentioned that, but it's not my main point. My main point is how small the correlation is between preseason performance and regular season performance.
Originally posted by niners420:
I thought FINALLY after last year people would stop putting any stock whatsoever in preseason performance. Otherwise Thomas Clayton would be the next Jim Brown. Remember our OL in last year's preseason opener vs. New Orleans? It looked like we couldn't block a pop warner team. Yet when the regular season rolled around, Staley was a pro bowl starter and All Pro, our youngsters in Iupati/Davis took a nice step forward and should again this year with their first real offseason. Goodwin is rock solid and our RG play can't possibly be worse than last year.

The Baltimore game was very similar to the NO game, but was in the middle of the season. Our line was totally confused by the stunting and blitzing Ravens...so much so that it disgusted me, which almost never happens. But I had to hand it to the Ravens that they were just flat out great.

Why did it work? Our RG helped out the LT and C to such an extent that there was a four yard hole over RG at the 2 second mark and LBs (Suggs) came through untouched. It didn't just happen once but seemed to happen at least once in every series. When that wasn't happening the C was being pushed into the pocket so Smith could not step up. And the third problem was the RT being beaten by a quick rush around the end.

Baltimore out played SF that game and Smith was almost killed. That game was the worst because the Ravens are the best, but the same things happened during other games.

You say things like, "our youngsters...took a nice step" but what does that really mean? While I might agree that they are growing and developing, the line has to play as a unit and if there is a weak link it affects the whole line. The RG was a weak spot but mistakes by Iupati caused Staley to yell at him for allowing guys to come untouched between them to the QB. RT was OK but not solid yet.

I am not blaming the line as they had a bad RG, two young guys, one youngish mid-aged guy and a somewhat over the hill center. They played OK given those facts. They desperately need Boone to play better than Snyder did and they need Iupati and Davis to become veterans, holding their area on almost every play. AND LIMIT THE STUPID PENALTIES! If you count the number of penalties and add them to the times Smith had less than 2 seconds you will see that the offense did a phenomenal job overcoming and winning games.
Originally posted by Oscar:
Originally posted by niners420:
Originally posted by NCommand:
So what's the excuse now then?

Preseason. Just like I wasn't worried after the NO game last August even though our OL looked bad enough to make Kentwan Balmer look like Bryant Young.

You're right in that you can't take preseason statistics in a vacuum and just cite them for reference. And the win or the loss is irrelevant. But to say that preseason games don't matter at all is also at the other extreme of the same argument. When the first team offense and defense are battling you can make judgements about how the team is playing. You can evaluate footwork and technique. What do you think coaches look at when they evaluate film? You think they just chuck all the preseason film out of the window? No - they take a look at how a player performs against his competition.

This is what I did with the offensive line. I've maintained they are an average line with the potential to be a great line if the right side continues to develop. If not, the right side of the line will be a real liability and indeed hold the offense back. I'm not comparing a 2nd string RG RG playing against a 1st string DT or DE. It's starter vs starter and on a couple plays, the line either didn't communicate or missed a basic stunt. Those kinds of problems, if they continue into the regular season, will doom the offense. New WRs are great, but if you only have 2.5 seconds to develop a route then the new toys are useless.

Awesome post...spot on. To add even more concerns to our OL (while we keep our fingers crossed b/c it is just pre season - LOL), not only did we lead the league in QB pressures under 3 seconds, were at the top with sacks/hits but we were also one of the worst running teams in short yardage play last year including the RZ (something I highlighted last year when reviewing Staley's play in particular):

"I was surprised to discover the 49ers ranked 32nd — as in last in the NFL — on third-and-short runs in 2011. San Francisco converted 27.1 percent of their attempts when running on 3rd-and-1 or 3rd-and-2 (here's the ocular proof, via STATS LLC). In addition, their touchdown percentage (35.3) on runs inside the 3-yard line ranked 27th."

http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/08/24/jacobs-officially-on-board-to-correct-serious-shortcoming/

PS: I verified with susweel that the aforementioned rankings were Alex's fault too. So we're good there.
Originally posted by NCommand:
Awesome post...spot on. To add even more concerns to our OL (while we keep our fingers crossed b/c it is just pre season - LOL), not only did we lead the league in QB pressures under 3 seconds, were at the top with sacks/hits but we were also one of the worst running teams in short yardage play last year including the RZ (something I highlighted last year when reviewing Staley's play in particular):

"I was surprised to discover the 49ers ranked 32nd — as in last in the NFL — on third-and-short runs in 2011. San Francisco converted 27.1 percent of their attempts when running on 3rd-and-1 or 3rd-and-2 (here's the ocular proof, via STATS LLC). In addition, their touchdown percentage (35.3) on runs inside the 3-yard line ranked 27th."

http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/08/24/jacobs-officially-on-board-to-correct-serious-shortcoming/

PS: I verified with susweel that the aforementioned rankings were Alex's fault too. So we're good there.

I may be wrong but I think this has to do with coaching and play calling as much as the oline. I felt we were very predictable on a lot of those runs. I even called the 2 pt. conversion run against the Saints. A little more variation, and putting the ball in Alex's hands is a must imo.
I think as the season rolls along the offensive line will improve.I think the key to our offence will be all about the play calling.If we can avoid long 3rd down situations we will be ok.
Originally posted by JiksJuicy:
Originally posted by NCommand:
Awesome post...spot on. To add even more concerns to our OL (while we keep our fingers crossed b/c it is just pre season - LOL), not only did we lead the league in QB pressures under 3 seconds, were at the top with sacks/hits but we were also one of the worst running teams in short yardage play last year including the RZ (something I highlighted last year when reviewing Staley's play in particular):

"I was surprised to discover the 49ers ranked 32nd — as in last in the NFL — on third-and-short runs in 2011. San Francisco converted 27.1 percent of their attempts when running on 3rd-and-1 or 3rd-and-2 (here's the ocular proof, via STATS LLC). In addition, their touchdown percentage (35.3) on runs inside the 3-yard line ranked 27th."

http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/08/24/jacobs-officially-on-board-to-correct-serious-shortcoming/

PS: I verified with susweel that the aforementioned rankings were Alex's fault too. So we're good there.

I may be wrong but I think this has to do with coaching and play calling as much as the oline. I felt we were very predictable on a lot of those runs. I even called the 2 pt. conversion run against the Saints. A little more variation, and putting the ball in Alex's hands is a must imo.

Lots of truth to this as well...I highlighted my concerns last year with Roman; felt he plateau a bit. He was pretty hamstrung by a serious lack of weapons and threat on the outside. Hopefully, we can evolve with new weapons and an off season. The flip side is that if your OL can't pass protect straight up, it means Roman has to call a ton of max protection and jumbo packages which only leaves Alex with one receiving option (b/c the backs and TE's stay in to block). And we saw a ton of that last year...

The concerns I'm highlighting here are re: simple 4 and 5 man rushes and our inability to sustain blocks, pick up simple stunts, the right rusher, footwork, communication, athletic ability, etc. and consequently, getting our starting QB crushed under 3 seconds.