49ers Monday Morning Chatter Week 5: Niners (and Schaub) let the air out of the Texans, but is all well in San Francisco?

Al Sacco
Oct 7, 2013 at 7:31 AM6


By the time Tramaine Brock stepped into the endzone, most of the air was already taken out of the Houston Texans. After consecutive penalties by Owen Daniels turned what would have been a first down deep in 49er territory into a missed field goal attempt, the team was all but finished. From there, San Francisco let their defense and running game do the rest as they cruised to a 34-3 route. After being outscored 56-10 in Weeks 2 and 3, the Niners have turned the tables and outscored their opponents 69-14 the last two weeks. Even with those lopsided wins, the 49ers are still struggling in some key areas. Here is what 49er fans are talking about after Week 5:

Tramaine's terrific

Brock played his second strong game in a row filling in for the injured Nnamdi Asomugha and you have to wonder if he's taken hold of the nickel position for good. Brock doubled his career interception total by picking off Matt Schaub twice and set the tone of the game with his pick six on the opening drive. The secondary has looked much better since Brock took over for Asomugha and Nnamdi's place on the defense looks up in the air right now.

O-line dominates

The last two games have seen the 49ers return to basics as they've ditched trying to run out of the shotgun and gone back to pounding the ball with Kaepernick behind center. Highlighted by their trademark "wham" and "trap" plays, the Niners physically dominated the Texans front seven, rushing 36 times for 177 yards. It's reassuring to see that Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh recognized that the shotgun was not working and adjusted accordingly.

Gore for MVP

It's scary to think where the team would be without Frank Gore. The veteran running back paced the offensive attack with 81 yards on 17 carries and scored his third touchdown of the year. Over his last three games, Gore is averaging 6.5 yards per carry with 316 yards on 48 attempts. It's no coincidence that he's started to take off as the 49ers have returned to their power running style. Teams should center their offensive attack around their best player when possible. Gore is just that for San Francisco

Third down woes continue

The 49ers entered the game converting only 37 percent of their third downs (21-of-57) on the season. After looking sharp on their opening touchdown drive and going three-for-three, they were only successful on one of their next eight attempts. The big reason for this is the fact that they have not been able to sustain any kind of a consistent passing game. More over, the team has been unable to find anyone to replace Michael Crabtree, especially on third downs. Last season, Crabtree caught 32 third down passes and 24 of those went for firsts. Overall, he was targeted 49 times on third and fourth down.

Is it Kaepernick, the wide receivers, or both?

You can look at the the 64-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis as one of two things. 1) It was a good sign that Kaepernick is starting to come out of his slump and could carry that momentum over to next week, or 2) Davis was wide open and that pass will only hide the fact that Kaepernick looked lost again and didn't complete a pass for over two quarters at one point.

When you watch Kaepernick drop back, it's obvious he doesn't trust his options. On the night he only completed six passes (on 15 attempts) and had a completion percentage of 40 percent. For the season, he is only completing 56 percent of his passes and has been below 50 in three of five games. Kaepernick has also only thrown for 557 yards over the last four games (139 per contest).

Anquan Boldin was the only wide receiver to haul in a pass last night and he has 26 of the group's 39 catches on the year. It's so bad that fullback Bruce Miller has as many receptions as the 49ers' second leading wide receiver (Kyle Williams with 9). At some point, especially against teams with high powered offenses, the Niners are going to have to start making plays through the air to have any real shot of returning to the Super Bowl

No Willis, no Smith, no problem

Raise your hand if though the defense was going to look dominant two weeks in a row without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith? When you consider what those two players have meant to the 49ers, it's nothing short of amazing to see what the defense has accomplished the last two weeks. The have held opponents to 14 points over the past two games and have forced six turnovers. Game changing plays were something the unit had been missing in Weeks 1-3 and they have re-found themselves in that regard of late.

Even though the effort was terrific overall, the pass rush was virtually non-existent and they were helped by the poor play of Matt Schaub. The lack of pressure will be something to watch until Aldon Smith gets back, even more so now that Ray McDonald was forced to leave the game with a biceps injury (which he actually hurt while recording the team's lone sack).

What's next?

When you look at how tough the first five games on the schedule were, it's not the end of the world for this team to be 3-2. When you consider they have done it without the likes of Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Ian Williams, Patrick Willis, and Aldon Smith for some or all of that stretch, it's actually quite amazing. The schedule lightens up with the Cardinals, Titans, and Jaguars the next three weeks before the team gets a bye in Week 9. The 49ers have a chance to go on a little bit of a run if they can stay healthy and start to get guys like Willis and Manningham back.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


6 Comments

  • Rodge
    Also it's important to note that this season Kap had a game where he threw for over 400 with no ints and like 3 or 4 td's. This is important because it assures us that Kap does in fact posses the talent and the intelligence to put up huge numbers and orchestrate an impressive passing game for the team. It's there. He can do it. So why it's not happening right now is worth the debate, but we can't write it off or assume that the coaching staff has nothing to do with it. We will certainly see in the weeks to come, but I still have faith in that kid as our QB. And hector, ATL isn't really a top tier team, and I believe Seattle is highly over rated. Without the Carolina fumble on the 5, and if schaub doesn't throw that horrible ball, Seattle is literally a 2-3 team. I'm not saying they're bad, but those 2 away games are a win for their opponents if the didn't make those critical mistakes with 2min left
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:35 AM
    0
  • Rodge
    In response to hector; keep in mind that when you make the comparison with Kap and Alex Smith, that they are two completely different players. Just because one is having success doesn't mean the other should try to play like him. I'm not arguing that Kap doesn't need that approach to his game because he does, to an extent. The same arguement was had when Kap was having huge success, and people said that smith needs to play like that. Also keep in mind that Kap's gonna do what he's coached to do. It's easy for us to sit here and judge based on results and stats, but the actual in game dynamic that going on between coaching staff and the QB is something we'll never know. An example could be a coach instructing Kap to absolutely not throw the ball into coverage if you even have a hint that it's not there. Then we see Kap complete only 6 passes in a game and say things like, "why isn't he throwing the ball downfield? He needs to get the passing game going badly..." When in fact he was instructed not to do so. So what we're seeing is a QB doing exactly what's asked of him. Now I'm not saying that specifically is what's going on, but just an example of the possibilities of the CONT....
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM
    0
  • Lucky Phil
    So this is what we learned this week. #1 J. Skeleton didn't bring the Cardinals playbook with him. #2 JH lost a lot of cred. for pumping this QB up last week. #3 The next time JH starts pumping up a player like Crabs "Best hands I've ever seen in a receiver" every guy in locker room will go "There he goes he giving this guy the Jonny Skeleton" #4 Look Out! The next f#$ker that gets the Jonny Skeleton could be out the door by Weds. On to a more serious note... #1 How do we acquire the elite receivers (comparable to Rice, Taylor from Niner Lore) for this team? The best receiver on the trade block is J. Gordon. The good news he is a legit #1 receiver, the bad news he is the next Charles Rogers. Here's how we get him. YES I WANT HIM! I'm desperate for a #1, I haven't seen one since that nut T. Owens left town. Clev. wants a 2nd rd pk. No one is trading a 2nd for a drug addict. But we can give Clev. better than a 2nd. We trade L. James, Q Patton and a 4th or 5th. None of the players or the picks will produce for SB team (NINERS) but for the CLEV. they will. Make it happen Baalke and stop [email protected]$%king around.
    Oct 9, 2013 at 5:01 PM
    0
    Response: I think Gordon makes a lot of sense. They will have 2 second rounders in next years draft and a huge need at wr. Why not trade one of those picks or a proven guy? Of course, the Browns will have to want to trade him first
  • Lucky Phil
    Al Sacco. You have done some good work here...What can I expect from you in the near future?
    Oct 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM
    0
    Response: Thanks! I really appreciate it! I also write for 49ersgab and sportsoutwest.com if you are ever insterested in reading anything else I write
  • Gonzola
    It is the pressure. Take the pressure off the kid. Let him open up and don't take away the run. Right now he looks like a scared chicken waiting on the butcher(s). He has been instructed not to run, pass but no turnovers, and give the ball to Gore. So far only the last instruction is working for him. He has the weight of the offense on his shoulders and his receivers are lame. I am happy VD stepped up finally, but he is still somewhat of a quitter. Boldin is solid, but he is a Raven is he not? I always thought the Fun and Gun would be a nice offense to run when you only have 1-2 good receivers. But don't forget Miller and Gore who can catch too. So send the backs short, middle and let the 2 decent receivers fly up the field. All else fails the field should be open for Kappy to pick up 10-20 yards on his own. Regardless, Fun and Gun is a cool name for an offense and the niners need more FUN! Relieve the pressure. GO NINERS!
    Oct 8, 2013 at 5:04 AM
    0
  • hector
    The problem with Kaepernick is not doing game manager's role just as Alex Smith did with Niners and does with Chiefs. Colin only targeting Boldin or Davis because he expects for a catch with long yardage instead of moving the chains with short passes either screen plays, crossed routes, etc. It not bad he wants to burn the field with his laser throws but sometimes when you're facing a tough defense like seahawks and colts require a more conservative but with intelligence. Andy Reid has exploited efficently Chiefs with Alex Smith not making turnovers and share the ball to different receivers and pounding the opposing defenses with Charles's power-run. I guess this is best approach of what Niners has to do offensively if they want to compete against top tier teams like Saints, Falcons and Seahawks.
    Oct 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM
    0

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