Oct 13, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) runs for yardage during the second quarter in a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers: Passing Game the Biggest Disappointment of the First Half


San Francisco 49ers Recap

The San Francisco 49ers do not play this week.  They’re enjoying their bye; a time to recharge a little, it’s a time to let some of those nagging little injuries that accumulate spending so many hours hard at work, work themselves out; they’ll be halfway through their regular season games.  A blink of an eye, and here we are.

Teams rise and fall over the course of a season. Win a few close games, and analysts will call you scrappy or tough.  Blow a few teams out, especially good ones, and a team will be called any number of adjectives.

Lose a few games though, even tough ones against good teams,  and you start to hear a very different chorus: “Theyre just not as good as we thought they were” or “They can’t finish.” You all know the drill. What a lot of this boils down to at least in the case of fandom, is disappointment.  Expectations not matching with performance.  With regards to the 49ers, they started the season about as high as anyone could have expected them to.  Division favories, sure.  Even with a surging Seahawks team.  Conference favorites? Maybe, depends on how their first few weeks go.  Super Bowl favorites? Possibly, but it’s hard to say without a solid receiver corps.

Statistical Recap

So if we were to look at stat rankings, here’s where the Niners rank in some very broad categories:

Offense
Points 6th 27.2
Pass Yards 31st 189.9
Rushing Yards 1st 153.0
Total Yards 13th 342.9
Defense
Points Allowed 6th 18.1
Pass Yards 8th 220.5
Rushing Yards 14th 104.6
Total Yards 9th 325.1

(Stats compiled from NFL.com )

Overall, I’m fairly positive about these numbers.  Going with the trend of the past few seasons, the defense is  ranking very strong and the rushing offense probably the best in the league.  I’d like to think that these numbers being as good as they are, should make some of the other numbers better as the season progresses.

Struggles and Answers?

The most troubling stat in this block has got to be the passing yards stat.  With a full offseason as the clear starter and half of this regular season under his belt, I think everyone expected to see a much sturdier–or at the very least more consistent–passing attack.  A fairly large part of this deficiency has to be attributed to both quality and play of the receivers.  Anquan Boldin does his best work when he isn’t double-covered and can slice up a field with surprising clarity.  Vernon Davis is still showing everyone he’s every bit a threat as any other tight end in the NFL.

After that there’s … there’s … uh…

Right, so at this point in the season, it’s time to look for options.  There are a couple obvious ones.  First up, Mario Manningham should return to play following the bye. Injured at the end of last season, Manningham should be an upgrade over any of the WRs behind Boldin based solely on experience.  Second,  LaMicheal James has lamented his inaction for the past few weeks and we know how explosive he is.  I know I’ve been telling anyone willing to listen that LMJ in the passing game should end up like Darren Sproles in production.  His ability to make plays does occasionally show itself.  Hopefully after the bye the 49ers fans will start to see the rookie Quinton Patton in the lineup more.  Underwhelming so far this season, Patton has shown flashes of his ability only really in preseason.  Seeing that level of play in the regular season could give opposing teams nightmares once Michael Crabtree returns to play as a healthy man.

As a fan, I’d like to see some more consistency in the passing offense for sure.  Ending last season on such a high note offensively certainly left a lot of fans with high expectations.

I’m hesitant to complain, since points clearly aren’t a problem and the running game is working fantastically, but that’s my biggest disappointment so far this season.  Take from it what you will.

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