The San Francisco 49ers haven’t had a particularly great start to the 2013 NFL season, as they’ve fallen to 1-2 after Week 3. The loss to the Seahawks in Seattle was understandable, but they were completely blown out, and their offense was only able to tally a mere three points on a field goal. When they came home to face the Colts on Sunday, the result wasn’t anymore desirable, as they lost 27-7.
It seems like the Niners’ defense and offense are hiding, and if they want to start winning games, they’ll obviously have to break their slump.
All the hype surrounded the potential chemistry of Anquan Boldin and Colin Kaepernick, but since the first game, they haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye on their passes. Other teams are taking away Kaepernicks’ options at a long pass, and stifling him when he tries to run for the first down.
Frank Gore has been in a slump for these three games as well, but had some first quarter success against the Colts. Unfortunately for him, however, Jim Harbaugh and the coaching staff didn’t call many plays after that. After the game, Gore had “choice words” for Harbaugh. This definitely isn’t the first time that a running back has had problems with the coach, but for the Niners, it surely means trouble.
The season may still be young, but the Niners haven’t been under .500 since Harbaugh took over two seasons ago. Last season, the Niners were feared for their defense, but were also crafty when running their offense. Now, however, Kaepernick has no time to run, no time to find an open receiver, and all of the running backs are getting stopped after just a few yards gained.
How can the Niners fix their offensive problems? They need to rely on the running game a little bit more. Gore seemed to be having some success against the Colts, so maybe some more carries would be advantageous to him and the Niners. Gore is a solid, proven player, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts to perform well again.
As for the receiving problem, there’s no sense in waiting until Michael Crabtree returns to full health. The 49ers receivers need to make more of an effort to get open. Some cuts towards Kaepernick would be helpful, and outrunning the defender right off the bat would give Kaepernick the chance to through a long pass, an area where he has shown his skill.Right now, the receivers haven’t been getting open for him, and this results in some sacks, and balls thrown away. Boldin can’t be open every time. The other receivers are going to have to step up their game.
The defense isn’t performing well either. Aldon Smith, as most have already heard, was arrested on marijuana possession and suspicions of DUI. He will not play against the Rams on Thursday, and he may be out a bit longer because he wants to “fix” the problem that he has. He played against the Colts, but didn’t have a Smith-type game, even if he recorded five tackles. The Niners’ cornerbacks are struggling to stay on opposing teams’ wide receivers, and the linebackers are struggling to suffocate the opposing teams’ offensive line, which means the quarterback has plenty of time to make the right decision.
How can they fix their defensive problems? The Niners should experiment with a few different combinations of linebackers and defensive linemen in different orders until they find a way to break the wall and rush the quarterback like they’ve done in previous years.
But Smith is out indefinitely. The Niners will somehow have to manage without him, but they need to be able to attack the quarterback and put pressure on him.
As for defending the wide receivers, the cornerbacks should be playing a little bit off of them and watch for the ball. Of course, this is fundamental, but if they are out-run, the opposing team’s quarterback will find the open receiver for a 20-yard gain. Risking less yards — like five — is a better gamble than 20.
It’s easier said than done, but the 49ers need to get their mojo back sooner rather than later.