Poor Game Plan Spells 49er’s Demise

Dec 3, 2006 at 8:42 PM


Head Coach Mike Nolan has a mantra for his team: Run, run, run. Then, run some more. He has made no secret of the fact that he believes the key to success is a strong running game. Nolan's emphasis showed on the stat sheet as the 49ers put together the 4th ranked rushing offense in the NFL. Going against the 29th ranked rushing defense in New Orleans, it looked to be a simple game plan. Run, run, run. Then, run some more.

Instead, the 49ers decided they would pass, run, pass. Then punt.

Maybe the Monday conversation went like this between offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Nolan:

"You know, we could probably run for a ton against the Saints."

"Yeah, but they know we are going to try to run on them."

"Well, we know that they know that we are going to run on them. So what if we try to get our anemic passing game going against them? I mean, they are the 6th ranked passing defense in the NFL"

"But if they know that we know that they are the #6 defense in the NFL, then they know that we will run on them. Knowing that they know what we know, we should probably try to run against them. But if they know that we know what they know then we know we can pass against them."

"Let's do it."

Whatever the reason, the 49ers came out slinging against the Saints. Five of their first six drives, all three-and-outs, the 49ers passed twice and ran once. The 49ers had the ball 9 times during the game while they were still in it - down by 10 points or less. Of those 9 drives they threw more than they ran the ball on 8 of them. That's a surprising statistic, given the strengths of each team.

The one drive where they ran the ball more than they passed the 49ers gained 64 yards, ate up nearly 6 minutes of the game clock, and scored three points.

In all fairness I do have to point out that one of the pass-heavy drives resulted in a 48-yard touchdown. But this seemed to be the exception, not the rule.

From the looks of it, maybe the coaches were right - maybe the Saints were ripe for a death via air attack. There were at least two instances where Antonio Bryant was able to get behind defenders. And another couple of times where Battle was open. Second year quarterback Alex Smith just was not able to make the throws in order to capitalize.

Now don't start bouncing around like a kid on pixie sticks saying "I knew Smith was terrible!" This loss should not fall on Smith's shoulders. Smith is better than last year, that much is obvious. He is not at the point in his career where he can carry a team on his shoulders. He might be in the future, but right now he's a younger, faster, Trent Dilfer circa 2000 (with more hair).

Turner and Nolan, the architects of the game plan, need to rely on Frank Gore, not Alex Smith. Smith should eventually evolve into the passer fans want him to be. The simple fact is that while he is better than last season, he is not a premier passer in the NFL. Until Smith can take over a game by himself, the 49ers need to lean on the players that have proven they can carry the team. And they need to develop game plans accordingly.

____________________________

Oscar's Observations:

-Should players wear turf shoes or regular cleats on the field turf? It looked like Bryant and Gore had trouble getting traction on the turf in New Orleans. One of Bryant's slip ups led directly to the interception that changed the game for the 49ers. If Bryant stays up he makes the catch and the 49ers get another first down in Saint's territory only down by four.

-After looking at the replays, the referees made a good call on the Mike McKenzie almost-fumble. Alex Smith touched him and it was an easy call from one of the angles they showed on TV.

-Alex Smith does not trust Vernon Davis. On one play it looked like Davis was the first read on the play. Smith looked his way and thought about throwing the ball, pulled down, and ended up throwing the ball away. I bet if it were Johnson Smith throws the ball.

-On Smith's second interception, the announcers made a point to show that Arnaz Battle was wide open on the other side of the field. Sure, Battle was man-to-man, but Fox started the replay after the ball was in the air. The defender than covered Battle moved over to try and make a play on Bryant. Battle was definitely not as open as the announcers thought he was.

-One bright spot: Punter Andy Lee. He averaged over 50 yards per punt (50.3). Some kicks he angled perfectly and did not allow Bush to return the kick. It was an inspired performance by a player who often flies under the radar.
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 plan to activate Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson ahead of Rams game

By David Bonilla
Nov 27, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers could be getting several players back in time for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that the team plans to activate cornerback Richard Sherman and running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson off of injured reserve this weekend. "We'll get them on the roster tomorrow by 1 (p.m. PT)," Shanahan said. "They got better each day. Yesterday, we had to do a bunch of walkthrough stuff because of some of the circumstances, the guys we lost. So, we didn't get to go totally full-speed, and same thing today." Sherman has been on injured reserve since September 16 due to a calf injury. Mostert landed on IR with a high-ankle sprain on October 24. Wilson later suffered the same injury as Mostert and

Read the Full Article


No Huddle Podcast: What's the 49ers' plan beyond this season?

By Site Staff
Nov 16, 2020

Al and Zain rant about the San Francisco 49ers' Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints — a game they felt was winnable if not for all of the miscues and mistakes. Bad quarterback play, bad special-teams play, and poor coaching decisions sealed the 49ers' fate, dropping the team to 4-6. Plus: Jerick McKinnon and the running backs Is Kyle Shanahan on the path to being Norv

Read the Full Article


49ers plan to put in second waiver claim on Takk McKinley, says Kyle Shanahan

By David Bonilla
Nov 17, 2020

Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday that the San Francisco 49ers plan to put another waiver claim on Takkarist McKinley. The Atlanta Falcons waived the defensive end last week and he was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals. The situation changed on Tuesday when the Bengals waived McKinley after the defender failed his physical, making him available again. "I was told today that Take failed his physical," Shanahan said, "and I know we put in a claim last time. I don't think that's until tomorrow at 1 (pm PT), but I know we plan on putting another claimer in." Last week, in addition to the Bengals and 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Oscar Aparicio

All Articles by Oscar Aparicio

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone