On Sunday the San Francisco 49ers fell to 6-4 after losing to the New Orleans Saints. The game was full of ups and downs for both teams, and eventually came down to the last few plays. What was the biggest factor that led to the outcome of this exciting game?
Now, I could go the route that a lot of fans are going and just blame the refs for the loss. While I do agree the game was poorly officiated, I’m not going to go that way because that is just a cop out. A scapegoat everything else that happened in that game. Last week, I wrote that the factor in the Panthers’ game was the playcalling. This week, I’m going to stay in the same vein but change it up a little. Sunday’s biggest factor that led to the loss was the offense. The players, the coaches, everyone on that side of the ball had a hand in it.
Like I mentioned before, last week the playcalling was the major factor in the loss. The players mostly got a pass because there was not much they could do with the sometimes baffling play calls. This week, the players aren’t going to be spared. Instead, I might focus mostly on the players.
I feel sorry for the defense on this team. They play their hearts out every single week, and the offense squanders everything away. You can attribute every single loss this season to the offense. In Seattle the score was 12-3 in the fourth quarter, the score in the Colts’ game was 13-7 for most of the game, the Panthers only scored 10 points the entire game, and they only allowed 23 points to the Saints. The 49ers have a Super Bowl winning defense. Unfortunately, they have a top 10 draft pick deserving offense. What is wrong with the offense? Why is it so bad?
In the first half the offense played just okay. They managed to score a touchdown and drive just long enough for a field goal. They were bailed out by a lucky play from a Saints’ DB. If that DB had scored or even if the turnover stood, the game might have turned ugly. In the second half, it was half atrocious and half decent. The drive in the third quarter that led to the second field was very good. They converted third downs consistently on that drive and moved the ball. Unfortunately they couldn’t get a touchdown, but a score is a score. The fourth quarter was terrible. One of the worst offensive displays I’ve ever seen. When the game was on the line and the team needed a drive, they went three and out. Twice.
The play-calling for this game got better. The coaches called more quick passes instead of long developing passes and it paid better dividends. Some fans are confused why the team didn’t call for more running plays. Unlike the other losses, this time the running game just wasn’t working. The Saints were stacking the box and the 49ers correctly tried to throw against those fronts. The problem is, even with these fronts, the offense cannot seem to take advantage of it. Kaepernick looks scared, the offensive line is struggling, and the wide receivers are not world beaters.
he 49ers’ coaching staff needs to calm down Kaepernick and get him comfortable. If that means rolling out of the pocket and designed running plays, then do it. I am not sure why the coaches seem to be so hellbent on turning Kaepernick into a pocket passer. That is not his skill set. He is most dangerous when he uses his legs. The coaches need to remind themselves they don’t have Peyton Manning under center. And I’m not sure what is up with the offensive line, but all five players are struggling. While it is a mixture of things, they can’t seem to give Kaepernick more than one or two seconds to throw.
Even though the play-calling was a bit better, the coaches need to do something about their playbook. These pre-snap shifts/merry-go-rounds in the backfield need to stop. It confuses their own players more than it confuses the defense. It also leads to timeouts and delay of game penalties. If you constantly are snapping the ball with one second left on the play clock, defenses are going to be able to time it and get a great jump. Along with that, they also need to stop telegraphing their plays with their personnel. Two tight ends and a fullback on the field? It’s a run. Baldwin and Manningham on the field? It’s a pass. You want to confuse the defense and keep them off balance? Run in pass formations and pass in run formations.
The 49ers scored 17 of their 20 points off turnovers. Now usually when you see a team capitalize on turnovers, it’s a good thing. When you’re relying on turnovers to score points, it’s not a good thing. The offense can’t keep continuing to rely on the defense and special teams to get the ball for them. They need to learn how to design drives and move the ball. It’s ugly and frustrating to watch a team struggle to get even 10 yards.
One more thing: the 49ers might have the worst two minute offense I’ve ever seen. Two weeks in a row they’ve failed when all they needed is a field goal.
Something needs to be done about this offense if the 49ers want to have a chance at making the playoffs let alone the Super Bowl. They race in the NFC is heating up, and the 49ers need to figure something out fast.