Ok guys, I incorporated all of your concerns into the OP. Here is my year-end assessment:
Let's take a quick look and what we need to improve upon to win the Superbowl
Gore - is it safe to say he has zero top end speed now and appears to be losing his burst/explosion through the line (that quick first-step burst); to the edges? And catching has dropped for the third straight year. This is more of a point to note we need to start intergrating more Hunter/James into the immediate fold (save Gore). Gore is STILL the heart and soul of this team; best vision ever between the Tackles. We have the weapons to combat these issues AND give Gore some breathers to keep him fressher/quicker late in games and into the playoffs. - still a concerns of mine as he's again, been the bell-cow and the ankle injuries are catching up to him; has really lost his explosion and getting tackled from behind. Still best vision in the game but is struggling getting there to make the plays. Hunter/James are RARELY used.
DL - still gets pushed back a good 4 or 5 yards against power running teams; still struggle up the gut esp. in short yardage and in the RZ/goal line situations. - still a major issue and if a team stuck with this (Like Indy), we could be in for some trouble here as we wear down in the 4th.
OL - still gets pushed back a couple yards in short yardage; some pass protection issues and Goodwin may becoming weaker by the game. - clearly still an issue; even with 7/8 linemen, they get beat and we lost another 4th down on short yardage
Burning Timeouts - still an issue. - still an issue even after TO's! Not as prevelant now though compared to earlier in the year.
Rogers - call it scheme but it's safe to say he not only couldn't give up bigger cushions (esp. on 3rd downs) but be slower in his breaks; lazy and 1/2-ass effort esp. on tackles. - dude plays with zero passion; plays not to get hurt it appears. And now he's hurt. Bring on Wright/Morris/Brown!
Predictable Play Calling - usually we run on first down for nothing and sometimes he changes it up to second downs. We only use an intermediate passing game (handful of deep balls all year long). - Not sure how any of the top 3 Roman-apologist could argue/justify this one.
First Down Production - still, this down IS our entire offense. We live in 2nd and very longs. - Still a big big issue for us, no doubt. Forces constant 2nd and 3rd and longs.
Touch Pass - do we not run enough outlets for CK or practice enough for CK to work on his touch passes? 90mph fastballs to Crabtree, Miller x2, Gore, etc. CK - tunnel vision/touch pass/look to check-downs; it appeared to be first read (AR1 and 2) all day long again and he struggles pulling the trigger at times (hesitates) esp. on the short receivers where they are initially open. Take it esp. on first downs! - outlets have been MUCH better over the past few games and they have been wide open! CK has actually hit a few too!
Redzone Offense Production/Play calling/System - how much freedom is CK given to change play calls? Is he "allowed" to overrule a poor play call? - Uh yeah. No comment needed here.
The Others - is it sacreligious to use the following in the passing game?: Manningham, McDonald, Hunter, James, Gore, Baldwin, Boldin from the slot, Patton, etc. - Patton was targets twice!
Homefield Advantage - do we have one? - moot point now.
Refs - still hate us? - safe to assume.
Fangio/Prevent-a-win Defense - off-coverage when we're not getting a pass rush or up by 10, trouble with TE's (esp. the 2nd TE), etc. - esp. over the past two games
Pass rush? Wherefore art thou? - Front 7 seems to be tired and seeing less rotations of Skuta/Lemonier since Aldon came back.
Execution/rhythm offense - short yardage, goal line situations, receivers wide open, etc. - there have been many plays "there" and we're not making them!
Mental Game - this team has a way of getting the worst (legit) penalties at the worst times. Why do we always shoot ourselves in the foot? - 5 yard penalty on a 51 yard FG attempt?
Return Man - sure would be nice to have one, eh? Screen passes or "explosive plays"? - all about the Fair Catch BUT when James has returned the past couple games, he "seems" to have a quicker burst.
Finishing games/Killer instincts! - long-standing issue, no doubt! We continue to let teams hanfg around and force ourselves to play extra hard at the ends of games.
How will we adjust without Miller? - better then expected with Tukuafu(blocking)/Dixon (catching) but Gore certainly looks worse without him!
[ Edited by NCommand on Dec 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM ]