The Montana Curse? A Tale of Two Lines

Oct 2, 2006 at 9:59 AM


Looks like Joe Montana put some seriously bad Mojo over Arrowhead Stadium before he left. It may have gone something like this:

"The 49ers will forever suck in this stadium."

Madden Curse - HA! That's got nothing on this. Since Joe Montana left the 49ers and joined the Chiefs the 49ers are 0-3 at Arrowhead with a combined score of 109-26. The last two games the Chiefs scored over 40 points. in 1997 they snapped the 49ers' longest winning streak at 11 games, and this season they snapped the 49ers hopes of ever having a winning streak. Even 10-year journeyman Damon Huard looked like Joe Montana re-incarnate. Hell, Montana may have even possessed Huard on Sunday. I know I want to see Joe's alibi.

Sunday's game will be overanalyzed, scrutinized, and hypothesized over until the 49ers manage to beat someone other than the Rams. But really Sunday's momentous failure can be summed up in one statement: It's all about the offensive line.

The 49ers came into Arrowhead averaging over 300 yards per game. Smith was playing mistake free football and the running game, despite it's rhinoceros-size hiccups near the goal line, was giving Smith breathing room. One stat sums it up perfectly: In three games the 49ers only allowed 4 sacks.

On Sunday the 49ers allowed 5 sacks and Smith was pressured all day. The Kwame Harris roller coaster went on a downward spiral as rookie Tamba Hali pretty much made it look like Harris was the rookie, not the other way around. The 49ers line generally looked like they were handing out numbers to the Chiefs defense.

"Number 56! Number 56! You are next in line to smack Alex Smith!"

On the other side of the field the Chief's offensive line kept Huard protected from the 49ers' sporadic pass rush. Really the only times the 49ers were able to hit Huard was when he scrambled. And remember, the Chiefs did this without their starting tackle Kyle Turley. Depth matters, folks. In the end Huard could have had a picnic in the pocket and turned his protection into a quarterback rating of 133.3.

Football games are won and lost in the trenches. When the 49ers offensive line plays well, they win. When Alex Smith has time, he can deliver the ball well. When he is hurried, he reverts to 2005 Smith.

His first interception was a direct result of the punishment he was taking. He decided before the ball was snapped that he was gong to throw it to Bryant. He locked on and tried to rifle the ball into 25 defenders. Okay, maybe not 25, but it certainly looked like it.

When Larry Allen gets back in the lineup, things will get better. If Snyder plays better than Harris on the right side things will get much better on the line. That is, of course, an if. Snyder was not able to beat Harris in training camp despite the fact that it was pretty much Snyder's job to lose.

Even after this season, the 49ers should spend some money in order to get a veteran backup or draft Larry Allen's replacement. Let's face it, Allen is on his last few ounces of gas. The offensive line should be a point of emphasis every season, especially in Norv Turner's offense. Let's not forget the defensive line either. This is probably the weakest area on the team. Serious upgrades are needed here.

The fact is the 49ers are not ready to play with the big boys yet. When they have a line that can protect Smith, he will shine. When they have a defensive line that can nullify a great line like the one that resides in Kansas City, the 49ers will be a playoff team. Until they are able to fix their offensive and defensive lines, the 49ers will be trying to climb to the top instead of protecting their throne.

Or maybe it all doesn't matter what the 49ers do in Kansas City as long as the Montana Curse looms over the stadium. Even after ripping off 11 straight the Chiefs were able to hand it to the 49ers. Maybe that is our eternal punishment for trading Joe Cool. Perhaps the football gods will smite the 49ers forever. That's one explanation. And it might even hold up - until the 49ers lose again.

But hey, look on the bright side. At least now we can be pretty sure Alex Smith won't be on the cover of Madden 2008.
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.


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