49ers Figure It Out Too Late

Sep 15, 2004 at 12:00 AM


Offense: What's to Like? As expected, it took Rattay some time to get settled. Upon returning in the fourth quarter, he made quick reads to avoid the blitz and threw the ball accurately. Had Aaron Walker held on for a would-be touchdown that hit him in the hands, Rattay would have engineered 21 fourth quarter points in a span of ten minutes. Despite the interception that followed, the 49ers still would have tied the game in the final seconds on a two point conversion had an Atlanta lineman not blindly stuck out his hand on a pass intended for a wide open Brandon Lloyd....Cedrick Wilson, 7 catches for 94 yards, held on for some clutch grabs at critical moments, and outshined his former Tennessee teammate Peerless Price. Eric Johnson, 8 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, will receive Pro Bowl consideration if he keeps this up. Even Rashaun Woods got himself wide open on a goal line play, but was overthrown....The offense held the ball for 21 minutes in the second half, despite a below average rushing attack. Erickson generally called good plays, as even when the 49ers misfired the opportunity was there. If the receivers can do a better job of breaking off their routes during blitzes the 49ers offense should roll.

What's Not to Like? The rushing attack went nowhere during the first three quarters. The absence of Fred Beasley and the rust of Jason Isom, who missed most of the preseason, may have been a factor. Barlow also looked tentative after fumbling on his first carry....The offensive line allowed three sacks, with Kwame Harris getting overpowered and shoved aside on the last one. Perhaps this can be attributed to Harris' unfamiliarity with the left tackle position, as he played right tackle in college. The sooner Justin Smiley can step in and replace Kyle Kosier, who also allowed a sack, the better. Scott Gragg was not as dominant as in years past. With two quarterbacks leaving the game due to injuries, this area requires immediate attention....The 49ers figure to have a decent vertical passing game, but the run after the catch threat is missing. Cedrick Wilson was beginning to show some elusiveness at the end of last season, but Brandon Lloyd generally does not run away from defenders or break tackles. Would like to see Arnaz Battle used more in the short to intermediate passing game for expressly this purpose....Rattay proved during the second half that he has a good grasp of the offense, and can pick apart defenses, even when blitzed, so long as he has a reasonable expectation of what the defense might do. It is when the defense takes an exceptional, unexpected risk, such as leaving one man open in order to jump another route, that Rattay throws interceptions.

Defense: What's to Like? For much of the game, the 49ers defense looked like the defense of old, holding the Falcons to 40 yards in the second half, and a mere 227 for the game. Julian Peterson—credited with two sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass batted down—seemed to be there every time Vick turned around. Jamie Winborn, who played like a heat-seeking missile, forced a fumble on the opening drive, and was in the right spot every time Vick tried to scramble. After some inconsistency early on, the 49ers stopped the Atlanta rushing attack, holding them to 3.4 yards per carry....With Rumph out, Shawntae Spencer and Jimmy Williams held up extremely well in pass-coverage. Spencer made a nice play in the second half, recognizing a run, darting into the backfield, and forcing Warrick Dunn to cut back into the teeth of the defense. He and Ahmed Plummer each almost had interceptions, while limiting the Falcons' receivers to 78 total yards on five catches....Anthony Adams and Bryant Young were surprisingly productive, with Adams deflecting the pass on Ulbrich's interception. Andre Carter did not register a sack, but put constant pressure on Vick throughout the afternoon. To be sure, the line was not dominant, but the return of Brandon Whiting, Andrew Williams, and eventually Isaac Sopoaga should strengthen it immeasurably....The Falcons converted only 1 of 11 third downs, and Vick went 2-9 for 18 yards after halftime.

What's Not to Like? Atlanta scored touchdowns on all three of its red zone possessions. Needless to say, holding them to a field goal on one of those trips would have won the game. Poor tackling contributed to two of the touchdowns. The 49ers' linebackers certainly have the athleticism to cover the tight end, but did not do so in this game, enabling Alge Crumpler to catch six passes for 82 yards. At one point in the first half, Vick was 11-13 for 145, and looked to be having his way. Only so much can be attributed to rust and unfamiliarity with schemes.

Summary: Accumulating 359 yards in total offense is not a bad afternoon for an offense that lost seven starters from a year ago, played without its star fullback, could not run the ball for three quarters, and played half the game without its starting quarterback. Hats off to Tim Rattay who almost pulled off a remarkable comeback despite an injury that threatens to keep him out of next week's game. It's difficult to tell whether we played the Atlanta team that struggled in every facet of the game last season or the one that soundly defeated Green Bay in the playoffs the year before. Our defense showed flashes of greatness, and comes away from week one with the third ranked defense in the league. That ranking will not hold, but Willy Robinson appeared to take advantage of the unit's potential that Jim Mora Jr. had left largely untapped. The 49ers outperformed the Falcons in virtually every statistical category, and looked like the better team for much of the afternoon. They just weren't good enough to overcome their own miscues.

Next Week: New Orleans: The 49ers own the better defense, and probably the better offense. The Saints are weak in the middle of their defensive line, and that weakness extends to the linebackers and secondary. The Saints' defense was on the field for 33½ minutes against the Seahawks, while the 49ers' defense was only on the field for 26½. The Saints looked completely out of sorts on offense and left the field demoralized, while the 49ers should carry the youthful promise of their comeback into this game. If the defense can pressure Aaron Brooks into early mistakes, and Kevan Barlow can get on track, the 49ers have a good shot..... Nevertheless, the Saints, who have crumbled under the emotional guidance of Jim Haslett each of the last three seasons, will be tough to beat at home. Deuce McAlister is the type of physical, north-south runner that the 49ers have historically struggled to stop on the road. Dorsey, who will probably start, looked great on his first drive, but struggled after halftime. The 49ers have the talent to win, but it is unlikely that Dorsey will produce a victory on the road in a hostile dome in his first career start. Unless Jim Haslett's team quits on him about six weeks earlier than usual, the Saints should be just good enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers CB Deommodore Lenoir honored to play for late brother's favorite team

By Kirk Larrabee
May 12, 2021

When rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers on May 1, it came with some very special significance given what the team meant to his late brother. The 49ers were a favorite of Lenoir's late brother, whom Lenoir paid tribute to with a Tweet shortly after finding out where he would be starting his NFL career. Drafted to my brothers Favorite NFL team RIP I love you bro— HER0 ZER0❄️ (@Dmo_lenoir) May 1,



Jason Smith throws out wild theory that 49ers could trade Trey Lance for Aaron Rodgers

By David Bonilla
May 6, 2021

And here you thought the Aaron Rodgers-to-San Francisco 49ers chatter was over. I'll preface this by saying what Jason Smith of FOX Sports Radio said about the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers quarterback might be the most ridiculous thing you read today. Now that you have been sufficiently warned, brace yourself, and proceed, if you wish. Smith believes San Francisco remains interested in Rodgers, and drafting Trey Lance of North Dakota State with the No. 3 overall pick last week hasn't changed that. Now, any rational reporter or fan clearly understands that the Niners heard about the disgruntled Green Bay quarterback and did their due diligence, as head coach Kyle



49ers' Trey Lance and Brandon Aiyuk already working out together

By David Bonilla
May 8, 2021

It's been just over a week since Trey Lance was drafted No. 3 overall by the San Francisco 49ers, and he has already started the process of building chemistry with his new NFL teammates. The former North Dakota State star quarterback is working out with one of the Niners' first-round picks from last year, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (h/t to Alex Didion of NBC Sports). Brandon Aiyuk & Trey Lance putting in more work.



49ers working out safety Blake Countess, four others, per reports

By David Bonilla
May 14, 2021

According to Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Diamonds, the San Francisco 49ers are working out safety Blake Countess. The team kicks off a three-day rookie minicamp today, the perfect opportunity to look at potential additions to the roster. The Philadelphia Eagles made Countess a sixth-round selection out of Auburn in 2016. He transferred there from Michigan for his senior year. Countess, 27, registered three tackles through two games with the Eagles in 2020. It was the defender's third stint with the team. Countess was twice promoted from the Eagles' practice squad last season, appearing in the team's Week 15 and 17 games. He signed a reserve/futures contract on January 4, but was


Featured

More by Brett Pahler

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone