The most talked-about 45 seconds of the 49ers’ season occurred Monday night. And that period of time will continue to reverberate through the franchise for quite a while.
Because of the various levels of intrigue and confusion that took place late in the game, we have not given a lot of thought and analysis to the other 59 minutes, 15 seconds of game action Monday night against the Cardinals. Here are some thoughts about the offense from the rest of the game:
1, Almost all season I’ve thought the offensive line has gotten a bad rap. I don’t think the line has played as poorly as most seem to think. I certainly do not believe the line is as bad as the 34 sacks allowed through eight games would suggest. A lot of the blame for all those sacks falls onto J.T. O’Sullivan and Mike Martz. O’Sullivan often held the ball too long, and Martz continued to put a lot of strain on the line with a steady diet of seven-step drops and deep passes – using receivers who are not true vertical threats. Shaun Hill does not have the arm strength to chuck the ball down the field on seven-step drops, so Martz isn’t going to call as many of those plays. And Hill seems to do a better job of getting the ball out quickly to avoid unnecessary sacks. The 49ers did not allow a sack Monday. Expect the sack numbers to take a significant dip with Hill behind center.
2, Michael Robinson made a heck of a contribution in this game. He picked off two would-be tacklers to create a seal on the left sideline that enabled Allen Rossum to return the opening kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown. Robinson also picked up two first downs on two third-and-1 carries – his only rushing attempts of the game before the final play. He looked really good running the ball in those situations.
3, Yes, Isaac Bruce is a professional and he’s respected and, perhaps, he still has something to offer. But youngsters Josh Morgan and Jason Hill are the best two receivers on this team. If Morgan and Hill continue to show improvement, GM Scot McCloughan’s track record will look a whole lot better. (It’s just too bad that Morgan is expected to be out for a while with a groin injury.)
4, Rookie Chilo Rachal was on the field for just three plays at right guard when the 49ers scored a touchdown. Rachal rotated into the game at right guard, in place of Tony Wragge, for several possessions in the game. Rachal did not take over full time after the touchdown drive. In fact, Wragge was back for the next series. On Rachal’s very first play, he wiped out linebacker Karlos Dansby on Frank Gore’s 20-yard run. Two plays later, Morgan caught a 31-yard TD pass from Shaun Hill.
5, It doesn’t look as if Jonas Jennings is getting his starting job back from Adam Snyder.
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