49ers flaws were exposed and the rest of the league was watching

Here is my Tuesday column on the issues the 49ers currently face.

The Week 1 win against the Packers masked issues on the 49ers, but the Seahawks just tore off the mask. What do we see?

The offense is worse than it was last season. Let’s start there.

They’re missing key players: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Delanie Walker and Frank Gore. Yes, Gore is missing. More on him later.

Crabtree and Manningham may or may not come back. They’re recovering from serious injuries and we don’t know if they can be effective this season.

Delanie Walker, a key receiver and blocker the past two seasons, is not coming back. He’s a Titan. The 49ers replaced him with a rookie, second-round pick Vance McDonald who is not a good blocker yet and has caught just two passes in two games.

And then there is Gore. He may never come back even though he’s still a 49er.

His legs are gone. They no longer have the snap or explosion or whatever you want to call the thing a running back’s legs need.

Maybe he’s still tired from the playoffs. As you get older, it takes longer for your legs to come back. Maybe he’s trying to compensate in the weight room by doing more explosive exercises and only further fatiguing himself and ending up with dead legs. Whatever it may be, he doesn’t seem to be able to explode through tight holes or bounce runs outside this season.

Bad combo.

He averaged 2.6 yards after contact per carry the past two seasons according to Pro Football Focus. He’s averaging just 1.5 yards after contact per carry through two games this season. He may or may not be able to get his legs going periodically, but definitely not consistently.

To get the running game going, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman need to get clever. The pistol isn’t working. Gore keeps getting hit in the backfield. Runs from the pistol don’t hit the line of scrimmage as quickly as runs from under center.

In 2011 and 2012, the 49ers’ offensive line dominated defenses on trap plays and power off-tackle runs. Old-school plays. The 49ers hardly have run any of those plays this season. That needs to change right now.

And the 49ers need more production from their passing game, too. That may be difficult.

They have just two proven receiving threats – Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis – and Davis pulled his hamstring against the Seahawks. If the 49ers have to play the Colts game without him – and they may, hamstring pulls typically take a few weeks to rehab – the offense could be bad.

The Colts’ defense could load up against the run, double-cover Boldin and force Colin Kaepernick to throw to Kyle Williams or Vance McDonald or Quinton Patton or any of the other 49ers’ receivers NFL defenses aren’t scared of. That’s a no-brainer game plan most NFL defenses can execute.

Then there’s the 49ers’ defense. It has issues of its own, particularly stopping the run without a nose tackle on the field.

The 49ers use their Nickel defense when the opposing offense puts three receivers on the field. Out of necessity the 49ers spread out their defense leaving big holes for the running back. On those plays, the 49ers’ have a front six, not a front seven, and their front six gets gashed in the running game.

Week 1, the 49ers’ nickel defense gave up 5.2 yards per carry and a touchdown to Eddie Lacy in the second half. Week 2, The Seahawks’ backup running back Robert Turbin averaged 5 yards per carry, and starter Marshawn Lynch averaged 5.9 yards per carry and scored a touchdown against the Niners’ Nickel D. Those are terrible numbers for the 49ers.

Opposing offensive coordinators know those numbers. Expect teams to pound the ball out of three and four-wide-receiver formations against the 49ers’ defense until it shows it can stop those runs.

The 49ers used to be the best run defense in the NFL. Two seasons ago, they didn’t give up a rushing touchdown until Week 16. They’ve already given up three rushing TDs this season. See a pattern here?

The past two seasons, the 49ers’ strengths were running the ball on offense and stopping the run on defense. Until further notice, those areas are weaknesses.

What else do we see when we take off the mask?

The 49ers have committed 23 penalties for 206 yards through two games, second-worst in the league in both categories. Last season, they committed 121 penalties for 960 yards. They’re almost doubling their pace from last year and last year’s pace was one of the worst in the NFL. Bad.

There’s been so much hype about this team. Some experts already have declared them Super Bowl winners. But their issues could be serious, a deal breaker. When you take off the mask, you don’t see a young, virile, handsome stud. You see a tired, aging warrior who can’t get out of his own way.

The 49ers are in need of immediate cosmetic surgery, the facelift to beat all facelifts.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Stupid article from somebody that believes they know better. Its only the 2nd game of the year … why not wait until you have a better body of work to go by. I’m sure the coaches of the Niners are telling themselves jeez we better listen to this guy or we’re in trouble

    1. How can you declare this team as a “Tired old man that can’t get out of his own way” when the 49ers are the 4th youngest team in the NFL?

      1. Always remember, Grant sprinkles a little bit of truth over a lot of false information. It’s his MO and how he draws viewers here. He’s the Rush Limbaugh of sports journalism.

      2. Perhaps because he was referring to ONE PLAYER (i.e. Frank Gore). Goodness, what has happened to reading comprehension in this country?

      3. Perhaps because he was referring to ONE PLAYER (i.e. Frank Gore). Goodness, what has happened to reading comprehension in this country?

        Oh, the irony. You should start crafting your apology now.

        Disclaimer: I have no idea if Randy’s “4th youngest team” assertion is accurate.

        I am certain, however, that Chewie needs to work on his reading comprehension.

      4. This Grant POS hates JH just like his dad. Take a look at the other 31 teams in the league and tell us that they wouldn’t die for the Niners problems… This is the NFL, it’s not easy and nothing is guaranteed.

    2. Instead of giving any stats, facts, or numbers you resort to childish ad hominem attacks. Is Grant supposed to wait till mid-season before writing about the Niner’s problems? They lost the last game in spectacular fashion, thus there are problems. If you think the Niners are perfect and wish to shout down anyone who disagrees, then you are just a homer with nothing to say.

    3. Grant Cohn is a 49er hater. He slavers and drools every time they lose a game. He always predicts they are going to lose. He wants them to lose. He has no credibility as a “journalist” (I am a journalist so I know from whence I speak) I am sure he was salivating while this team was losing. The truth is Seattle is a team filled with dirty players; I have never watched a game in Seattle when the officials did not throw numerous bogus flags against the 49ers while not throwing a single flag against the Seachickens. I am convinced that the officials in Seattle are paid off to look the other way. Did you see the video early in the game showing Richard Sherman all over Anquon Boldin? Sherman was not only holding Boldin but he was hitting him (and it was well beyond five yards from the LOS)! But the refs NEVER throw a flag against the dirty Seachickens. Seattle loses most of their games on the road. They only win so much at home because they cheat and get away with playing dirty. I doubt they would win half their home games if they played by NFL rules and/or the refs called penalties against them. Of course, the 49ers might have lost this game anyway, but we will never know. However, the 49ers will DESTROY the piss-poor Seachickens in the rematch in San Francisco.

      1. Don’t be so sure of that, Seattle could easily win here if the 49ers don’t fix their issues. The 49ers have a lot of work to do, they lack discipline and creativity.

      2. Pete,

        Tell me which scoring drives the Seattle offense didn’t get significant help from the 49ers’ penalties having nothing to do with defensive execution and / or the refs? Here’s a hint: you can’t, because there aren’t any. Of the two legit Seattle scoring drives, both resulting in TDs, one would’ve ended up with a punt had AS not been flagged for a stupid PF penalty (the call was pretty weak, as well) and the other would’ve almost certainly yielded a FG instead of a TD, had AB not inadvertantly grabbed Wilson’s facemask.

        The remaining 15 points were basically scored on the offense or special teams. A safety (offensive holding in the end zone), two FGs (TOs gave Seattle the ball with a short field and the D prevented TDs) and one TD after the offense gave up the ball on the 49ers’ two yard line. IMO, it’s pretty clear that the defense didn’t play that poorly, in fact, aside from dumb penalties that had nothing to do with defensive execution, the defense played pretty well. Especially in light of losing two starters and being on the field for so much of the game.

    1. Grant your just like your dad, always trying to stir up the reader with clever isolated stats and even some facts. The truth is they played the best team in the hardest venue. The season is a long grind of attrition. Hang in there 49er fan the season is far from dead. Sincerely , F Gore

  2. Definitely agree about the change in the running game – I said pretty much the same yesterday. Less gimmicks, time to take it back to its roots.

    The good news for the passing game is the Colts DBs aren’t as good as the Seahawks. Also, Kaep is less likely to be getting spooked. Jack pointed it out after his film review, and it confirmed something I noticed during the game – Kaep had time in the pocket for the most part but was feeling phantom pressure. Against the Colts I expect him to relax a bit more, which will give the receivers more time and improve Kaep’s accuracy.

    Also, the Colts running game without Ballard probably can be stopped by the nickel this week. But moving forward they need to find a way to defend the run when the opposition goes 3 WRs.

        1. It was 10-3 Giants at halftime. Bradshaw rushed 8 times for 37 yards (4.6 ypc) and a touchdown in the third quarter to put the game away. He had a seven-yard run on the first play of the second half. That drive put the Giants up by two scores. That wasn’t garbage time.

      1. Well, in that case they need to find a new way to stop the run when the opposition goes 3 WRs starting this week, especially if Dwayne Allen isn’t fit to play.

  3. when we combine all of those penalty yards lost…
    (particularly the ones which almost directly lead to points against)…
    with the triumvirate from Sunday,
    fumble, interception, safety…
    we have very little wiggle room.
    In order to rebuild their own confidence
    (and that of their fan base), the niners need
    at least two or three wins consisting of
    high scoring (in all four quarters) mistake-free football.
    Teams such as Denver, Green Bay, New Orleans, Houston, etc.
    will not be impressed with “come from behind”
    squeaker wins. (No boost will be given for wins when
    the opponents beat themselves or fail to execute.)

  4. Good breakdown Grant but I would include the Iupati and Staley as players that are missing from last season.
    I think one major thing that needs to happen is shaking up the receiving corps. I believe that Patton, Boldin and Davis can be effective if we have another big and physical target for Kaepernick to throw to. I hate to say it given how ineffective and inconsistent he was in Kansas City, and the fact that he probably hasn’t had the needed time to thoroughly dissect the play-book, but I think that it is time to insert Baldwin into the starting lineup. Doing so could help ease the pressure that an opposing secondary puts on Boldin, Davis, and whoever is in the slot (hopefully Patton).

      1. Grant..
        your take ? … ouch !
        (but I can’t argue your points, either)

        you paint a (somewhat) gloomy picture

        Do you think we have a shot against Luck ?

  5. My hatred for the Seahawks has attained Cowboy status after Sunday evenings @ss whupping. They were the bully who stole your lunch money, and then gloated and laughed about it as they stood over you. A painful and embarrassing loss. The plan was wrong Jim. Fix it…

    1. He can’t, he has no answers, no run game, no receivers (except Boldin), no run stoppers and no clue on in game adjustments. Did anybody see an end around or a flea flicker or the faster Hunter get more touches? The 49ers stayed very conservative and almost one dimensional.

  6. agree with most of your points but would say:

    * as a fan, haven’t seen enough of Gore this year to tell if the problem is his legs – and his age/experience would support that – or an Oline that can’t get a draw in individual matchups (outright wins, i’m told from an ex NFL lineman/friend, are pretty rare). You might have seen practices which support this contention; all i’ve seen are games and to me it’s unclear from what i’ve seen. Too few carries, and way too few holes imho.

    * is the pistol less effective because the league has gameplanned for it, or because Niner coaches have effectively taken Kaep away as a threat to run the ball? Note that Kaep mostly handed off until the game was getting out of reach, and then the keepers came more frequently. If Kaep isnt keeping the ball a certain percentage of the time, it’s just a funky way of doing a play action fake. I understand/support the need to keep Kaep safe, but clearly this is not working.

    * seems our WR depth and overall effectiveness has been subpar for quite some time. not to touch upon old debates. would be nice if AJ had worked out and KW had a bit more NYG-Cruz in him (ie, muscle). seems like our smaller guys get thrown around like rag dolls a bit too much to be serious NFL threats. but it’s early. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of Welker/Amandola/etc getting rag-dolled.

    Esp good point about DW, Grant. He was very useful and Vance M. has got a ways to go before he gets there. He looks talented tho, so I think he may be performing very nicely around weeks 10-16.

    It’s still early. FWIW we have a tough stretch of games to start the year but I think we’re still in the playoffs. But that’s assuming my faith in the coaching staff is manifested in better play.

  7. Real problem is OC Roman…… his ability to adjust in game situations seems to be limited and his play calling is suspicious at times. Remember the last 4 plays of the Super Bowl? JH is old school and stubborn so his OC won’t be replaced this year.

    1. Ding ding ding give the boy a trophy when down by 12 and driving the ball on the 10 we run in 1st and 2nd down. When we driving once again we hand the ball to Hunter for a 7 yard loss can’t remember but thought both drives ended with a turnover.

  8. It’s 2 games in to the season. Let the team gel and see what they become before trying to revamp everything. I seem to remember a team that started the year 1-2 and both losses were to teams that did not have a winning record at the end of the year. The 81 49ers lost to Detroit and Atlanta in the first 3 weeks of the season. That year turned out Ok for us, don’t you think? History is full of teams that needed a little time to pull together but once they figure it out, they are champions. This years 49ers are 1-1 against 2 playoff teams that have realistic shots to make the Superbowl. It’s not time to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    1. Thanks for that bit of history. The historical losses in sb seasons put this in perspective. Lets not forget the Niners squeaking into the playoffs at 10-6 only to win on the drive in the Super Bowl against the Bengals after annihilating their playoff opponents. The 40-8 loss to loss to the Eagles at home in 1994 also caused doubt, and that season turned out OK. While Grant’s points are based in merit, a bad game does not make a team, especially in week 2. The fact that the loss was to the Seahawks also makes us react stronger that we would to a loss to any other team.

  9. Grant – I cannot find a SINGLE source reporting that Kenny Britt has been kicked off the Titans as you said in the comments of the last blog. Where are you hearing this from?

      1. Don’t think Niners aren’t at least looking into Britt situation. Loads of picks and Britt quitting on team usually equals quick exit.

  10. Grant, Niners lost 26-3 at home last year to the Giants. They got blown out at Seattle. They went on to the super bowl. I know you just couldn’t wait for the Niners to lose so you can trash the team like your pops loves to do. But it’s only week 2. Many teams have lost an early season game to a seemingly better team and went on to win the super bowl.

  11. I think Vance MacDonald is going to be a great player. He is already showing flashes that he will be something special. Big target, fast and physical. We won’t miss Walker for too long.

      1. As in Jim Rome?

        He and Sherman should be best friends. On second thought, no, they shouldn’t. Their egos couldn’t fit in the same room.

  12. The game was 5 – 0 at halftime. the Niners defense was good against the Seahawks until the 4th quarter where the offense and special teams had turnovers. it was 12 – 3 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Within striking distance of the Seahawks. Did you even watch the game Grant. I try to read your blog to get a different perspective but all I get is negativity like your father. I wish I could say something different but it looks like you are riding your fathers coat tails Again did you watch the game Kyle Williams is wide opened a number of times if Kaep sees him. the 49ers do have flaws but it is only the second game of the year. I do agree on Gore though. Please re-watch the game before commenting further. The defense is fine.

    1. I agree with what you said for the most part. The nickel D needs to do better in stopping the run but at least the secondary is playing pretty good since it was the big question mark at the start of the season. Reid and Whitner are playing pretty good. Whitner got a good grade from PFF. They gave up yards to Rogers (but who doesnt) and help Russell Wilson in check (less than 50% completion and 1 INT). Grant said that Gore is getting hit in the backfield. Does that mean Gore is slow or has no blockers? I say let’s wait and see with Gore. Like someone said before, the 9ers got whooped by the Giants last year, all of the weaknesses where exposed and yadi yada 9ers stink. They will get it together. One thing is for sure, the 9ers have to win the division. They can’t go into Seattle and win a playoff game. The 12th man is legit.

      1. From my perspective Gore is slower. He seemed to be getting slower as the season ended last year but was rejuvinated after the two week break during the playoffs. That’s an effect of age. I could visual tell the difference then just as I see it now. Hunter hits the holes much quicker than Gore does.

  13. How is the Pistol Formation the problem? Gore isn’t much further back (if at all) if he were in a standard I formation. The Niners don’t run out of flat/split backs often anyway (contrary to Walsh’s preferences in the WCO).

    I’m not so sure it’s Gore that is the problem. He’s certainly lost a step from his 2006 self. But is he much slower than he was last year? I don’t think so.

    I do believe the Read-Option is a problem at least the frequency at which they run it. When they run the read option the O-line blocks out usually not a lot of down drive blocking it’s almost like they’re zone blocking. When a defense is dead set on stopping the read option, they can dig in their heals and fire into gaps to blow it up. It’s not the same as the downward drive blocking of their power run game that as so prominent in 2011 and part of 2012 (basically the Alex Smith era).

    You’re using stats out of context to some degree. No run game was going to be effective against Green Bay. They sold their soul (and sound pass coverage) to stop the Niner’s run game and Kaepernick scrambles. So I’m not going to give much credit to stats that include the Green Bay game as an indicator of the health of the Niner’s run game.

    You are right that their run game was too slow to develop against both opponents. (i’m emphasizing this comment to show i’m not a complete jerk when answering/criticizing your posts). The Niners needed to run quick hitting run plays out of a One Back Set. Possibly using 2 Tight Ends in bunch/Ace and flexed formations. The Niners obviously needed a simple quick hitting power running game to counteract the opposing defenses gap control schemes.

    you’re also absolutely correct about defenses forcing Kaepernick to go to his 3rd or 4th receiving options He just isn’t there yet for being able to instantly read a defense and know which of his receivers should be open. He’s still out there having to see everything develop as opposed to knowing ahead of time based on what he sees from the defense (and film study). It’s probably one of the reasons he has trouble getting to his 3rd and 4th reads. In the Green Bay game, the Packer’s mostly sacrificed their pass rush to contain Kaepernick but the consequence was giving him all day to see receivers get open. And at the same time it’s as if he doesn’t want to run with the ball unless he has to. Early in the Seattle game he had opportunities to scramble when he didn’t find anyone initially open but he held back and eventually threw incomplete passes.

    Only a few teams have the O-line and running back to run against the Niner’s Nickel Defense. Seattle happens to be one of them. But I’d hardly call it a blue print on how to attack the Niner’s defense. Attacking them with an effective slot receiver? Running misdirection plays that gets the front 7 going in the wrong direction? Those types of plays could be used as a foundation of a blue print against the Niners.

    1. Good point about Kaep not yet being able to recognise which receivers are likely to be open based on defensive looks pre-snap. He’s missed a few one-on-one match-ups because he is too focused on his primary target.

      1. we all love Kaep and his explosive playmaking debut. but he’s still a young QB that can be easily confused, flustered and lock on to receivers. The saving grace is that when that happens he can scramble.

        The problem early on in the Seattle game, he looked like he wanted to throw the ball even when he couldn’t find a receiver to go to and he had open running areas to scramble.

      2. the problem with the Pistol as opposed to the QB under center is that the QB in the Pistol has to track the snap visually while the QB under center takes the ball by feel and pressure.

        In the Pistol, my eyes come off the defense to track the snap therefore the pre-snap read can change from the time I drop my eyes to the center’s butt and by the time I secure the ball and get my eyes back up to the secondary.

        Under center, my eyes can stay on the defense the entire time therefore my pre-snap read and read while I am dropping gives me an earlier confirmation of where to go with the ball once I get my feet set.

        That’s why Bill did not like the shotgun, either. Taking eyes off the secondary and total defense for a QB only impairs his ability to read coverages, etc.

      3. I somewhat disagree. A good shotgun Center and QB can minimize the time the QB needs to keep his eye on the ball and off of the defense. In the modern NFL pretty much all Centers and QBs are used to taking shotgun snaps regularly.

        Bill disliked the shotgun for two reasons. 1. because it telegraphed your intentions. 2. because it can screw up your timing when most of your plays are timed by the steps in the drop.

        to the first point, it doesn’t matter much when you’re in obvious passing situations and with modern passing tendencies 3rd and 3 is a passing down for most teams. so telegraphing isn’t as much of a big deal. to the second point, I think good mature QBs can sych their timing with the routes in the plays. However I do wonder if it’s an issue for a young QB like Kaepernick who is still developing his sense of timing with the plays and routes.

      4. I’m more concerned with the pistol’s effect on the running game – specifically Gore. He’s quick to the hole and the O-Line compliments him. Having to count “1 mississippi, 2 mississippi” before he gets the ball takes away his greatest strength and emphasizes his weaknesses.

      5. i assume you’re talking about the Read Option run plays and not the Pistol FORMATION you can run quick hitting run plays out of the Pistol.

    2. Also, Kap has a slow release. The time from decision to ball coming out is slow. Better, they say, than when he arrived. With most quarterbacks, that would be a significant problem. With him, not so much, because of his escapability and strong arm, and the threat of his running gives him extra time. But a quicker release would be nice.

      Agree that he isn’t recognizing which receivers are most likely to be open – in other words, reordering his reads. Agree that that should improve. No way to know if he’ll ever be elite at that.

      1. Wilson,

        I don’t agree that Kaep has a slow release, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. I have no facts to back up this opinion.

        Where I really have a problem with what your saying is the assertation that CK can’t read defenses. Here’s something you may have overlooked: When running for your life, it’s hard to read defenses.

        I wonder when Bay and Jordan are going to start caller me a “Kaeper” and accusing me of promulgating “Kaepologies”?

        And will MSClemons come up with a patently unfair and derisive knickname for CK?

  14. This may be more like a never-been than a missing, but except for one pass to Williams last year (including exhibition games), I don’t remember Kaepernick connecting on a deep sideline pass that he’s had to loft.
    After reading other’s observations based on the all-22 film, it seems that Williams is getting open — that is, the need for that other receiver might be overstated.

    1. the need is for Kaepernick to read defenses more quickly and make the decision to throw to Williams or McDonald when they’re not his first reads.

      1. which is why the Seattle’s press Cover 1 (actually I think it’s a press zone/man hybrid) with aggressive pass rushers messed things up for Kaepernick.

        Green Bay didn’t come with much pressure which gave Kaep time to see his receivers get open.

        The Niner’s either need a super human offensive line to give him more time or he needs to make his reads better.

        Also if the Niners established a run game again, then play action would work better at beating the coverage and pass rushers. usually play action only has 2-3 receiving options anyway.

    2. astute observation here…many think cause kaepernick has a strong arm he therefore is a a good deep passer…wrong….he hasnt connected on any deep passes (IM NOT COUNTING THE INTERMEDIATE PASSES OF 25 YARDS OR SO WHICH HE THROWS ON A LINE, AND IS VERY GOOD AT, AS A DEEP PASS)other than the kyle williams pass in the bear game…he tried one to moss in the jet game but it was broken up…he tried one to vernon davis in the super bowl but it had no loft and went off davis fingertips….he needs to put more air under the ball to complete theese deep passes, and it would help if ballke could get him one receiver who canget open deep

  15. allforfunplay, yes definitely, Kaepernick takes too long to see the field and that’s limits his talents — it minimizes the risk of the pressure defenses

    1. which is why the Seattle’s press Cover 1 (actually I think it’s a press zone/man hybrid) with aggressive pass rushers messed things up for Kaepernick.

      Green Bay didn’t come with much pressure which gave Kaep time to see his receivers get open.

      The Niner’s either need a super human offensive line to give him more time or he needs to make his reads better.

      Also if the Niners established a run game again, then play action would work better at beating the coverage and pass rushers. usually play action only has 2-3 receiving options anyway.

  16. So if Gore doesn’t have much left in the tank is Hunter a viable alternative for the rest of the season?

    In the 4th quarter when things were bleakest I thought to myself – thank god Percy Harvin is injured. We averted a 50-3 ass whoopin.

    1. I don’t believe Hunter is a three down back. The Niner’s had hoped to alternate him and Gore. They expect Lat. to be a three down back. LMJ is also not a three down back but a specialty back. This is why the should have drafted Doug Martin when he was available instead of AJ. Good three down backs are rare and hard to come by. They need to excel at running, blocking and catching passes. Gore was never that good as a receiver but he was passable.

  17. Grant,

    Not that everybody isn’t used to your negative blogs, but don’t you think the sample size is a little small for your statistical arguments on the running defense? Convenient how you only note Lacy’s YPC against the nickel in the 2nd half of the game (where he broke ONE run that upped the average greatly). What was his YPC in the the first half? How bout the entire game? Also, Lynch’s numbers are pumped by one 21 yd. run late in the game. The rest of his carries for the game? 28 for 77 yds. That’s a 2.6 yd. average. I see your intent here, but you are making the numbers fit your argument, not basing your argument on the numbers. And your primary sentiment (that the offense is worse than last year) is a little short-sighted. No one with a brain would have said after the GB game that our offense was worse than last year. The SEA game was a bad, bad display, but you can’t call the offense as a whole to be bad when they’ve been exceptional one week and poor the next. Playing in SEA is as tough as it gets and should not be your baseline for judging the team. When we run up 600 yds. on JAX in London later this year, are you going to write about how great the offense is? I didn’t think so…

      1. Rocket,

        Here’s another case of Grant using stats to make his point, without discussing mitigating factors: His comparison of Gore’s yardage after contact numbers between this year and last.

        So far this year FG has had many holes to run through. Last year he did. News flash: No holes = no momentum; no momentum = reduced yardage after contact. Also, if first contact is mostly in the backfield or at the LOS, it’s usually going to be a D lineman, rather than a LB or DB. LBs and DBs are easier to move than a D lineman. On top of that, when a RB is hit around the LOS, there is going to have a lot of help in the neighborhood, wereas last year, FG didn’t get first contact until the second or third level a fair number of times. By then he was under a full head of steam and many of those times was one on one with a single defender. A much better situation for getting YAC than what he’s faced this year.

        I realize that FG is getting older and is slowing down, but he has not gotten much help from the Oline this year and it’s too early to decide that he’s “lost it”.

      2. Yeah ex, not to mention Grant has decided Gore’s legs are shot after 30 carries to start the season. Just a really provocative article that isn’t well researched and/or disingenuous which has been Grants MO lately.

      1. He had that on Sunday with 4 catches for 69 yards and a TD, with a second touchdown being nullified by a penalty.

        That being said, they really need Allen back healthy to have a chance on Sunday.

      2. He scored a TD with Dwayne Allen out of the lineup. That was against the Dolphins, who struggle with TE’s. Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron had 9 catches for 108 yards and a TD against the Dolphins the week before. That was with Brandon Weeden throwing to him.

    1. I didn’t check the defense the 49ers were in, but Lynch averaged 7.4 yards per carry when he ran out of the gun on Sunday night.

      The YPC argument being pumped up by one big run is one that we used to hear all the time with Barry Sanders. True Lynch had one big run of 21 yards in the first half that didn’t result in any points. Lynch also had a big run of 14 yards that resulted in a touchdown that put the Seahawks up 12-0, and coincidentally that run also came out of the gun.

      1. 2/3 of Lynch’s yardage came in the first half and they scored 3 points. This whole debate has been about you and Grant saying the Seahawks dominated in the running game which the numbers and scoring drives clearly show wasn’t the case.

      2. No Rocket, my argument here was about your assertion that numbers were fudged. Slice it however you would like, but when Lynch ran the ball from the gun he did pretty good.

      3. So one of the issues to be resolved for the next Seattle game is how to stop Lynch when they went with three wide receivers. Five plus was pretty automatic in that situation.

      4. Grant and Jack,

        If you want to give your boy Fleener credit for a TD catch that was called back because of penalties, shouldn’t you give the 49ers defense the benefit of the doubt, as well? Seattles’ only two scoring drives were extended or by penalties (dead ball or during the action but not affecting the outcome of the play)?

        The defense really only gave up 14 points and if not for one dumb / weak call PF and one unfortunate, inadvertant FM, the defense would’ve only given up three points.

      5. Jack,

        No Rocket, my argument here was about your assertion that numbers were fudged. Slice it however you would like, but when Lynch ran the ball from the gun he did pretty good.

        I never really argued about which formation he ran best from. My assertion was that the Seahawks didn’t dominate in the running game as you stated and Grant insinuated.

        Obviously you never want to give up big plays and Seattle got some in the running game, usually against the Nickel defense. That doesn’t mean they dominated in the running game. That’s the contention I took issue with.

      6. Rocket,

        My comments in this thread, and Grants in this post are solely focused on the 49ers struggles against the run when teams get them into the Nickle.

  18. Grant, if Gore is getting hit in the backfield does that mean he is slow or that he has no blockers? He hasn’t had a chance to show us if he’s lost a few steps.

    1. if the holes are there and he’s just not getting to them in time; then yeah his legs are gone. but if the blockers are getting blown up and there’s nowhere to go then it’s not Gore’s fault.

      I haven’t re-watched enough film to determine which.

      I think there might be a blocking scheme and play type (slow developing vs. fast hitting) issue with defenses prepared for the Niner’s type of run game.

  19. Grant has stated above that the pistol isn’t working and the Niners should go to more traditional run sets. It would have been nice for Grant to have backed that statement up with facts. Well, here is the comparison for those interested in facts:

    Pro-style formations:

    Against the Packers, the 49ers ran Gore out of pro-style formations (I-formation, Offset-I, Single-back and Shotgun) 11 times and only gained 14 yards (1.3 YPC). Three of those rushes went for a loss and only two went for over three yards.
    Gore fared much better in the limited pro-style looks he got against the Seahawks. He carried the ball five times out of pro-style sets and gained 14 yards doing so (2.8 YPC).

    Pistol formation:

    Gore got a ton of carries out of the Pistol against Green Bay and he had his best stats this year (still down numbers). Of his 21 carries, nine came out of a Pistol set and he gained 30 yards on those plays (3.3 YPC). His longest rush out of the pistol was 8 yards.
    The Seahawks shut Gore down rushing from the Pistol. He only had four attempts and he only gained four yards. thanks to two backfield stops for a loss.

  20. Agree with some, I don’t think our run d is in trouble at all. If we played the next 16 games in Seattle sure, but we don’t. Jags, titans, colts, cards, rams, even the bucs and saint’s won’t be able to bully us imho

  21. Although a bit of a reach, in terms of hitting the panic button this early, I will say it is the most objective assessment you have written. Of course, I do remember the same sky is falling reaction from everyone after the Giants smoked us last year.

    Only 2 things are of great concern to me a) Gore is done and b) We are suffering from losing a number 1 and 3 receiver. Patton will get better to fill 3 spot I believe. The defense is still top 5 in league and we do not face another team even close to Seahawks until week 14 at home.

    I sign-off with this, fully healthy at home we beat Seahwaks by 3. We lose by 6 in current state. Situation in Seattle is an anomaly and unfair advantage. You cannot look at how they play at home versus the road and come to any other conclusion.

  22. This article is a complete overreaction to one bad game. “Offense is worse than last year”… what? Its game 2 buddy, hold off a bit before you declare the season a bust. If you compare last years visit to Seattle to this year, we actually played much better although both were pathetic.

    1. Come on, Lucas, if the the headline was “Offense in Second Game of Season Against one of the NFL’s Best Defenses, in a Stadium that Provides an Arguably Unfair Homefield Advantage, not as Good as Last Year’s Offense Against Average Opponents” it would be too wordy and Grant wouldn’t get as many hits.

  23. It was telling that when they interviewed Gore towards the end of last year about how he was dealing with the shift in offensive strategy now that Kaep was the QB he said something to the effect that it was a big change for him and his role. Of course he went on to say he was happy with it adding all that warm fuzzy interview talk but it sounded to me that he wasn’t sold on a shift to a more Kaep centered read option offense.

    With a full off-season and training camp with Kaep it seems that Harbaugh and Roman have double downed on that plan so although I agree that Gore might have lost a step I also think that he has become an afterthought in the game plan and hasn’t been given the tools/plays to succeed. They aren’t catering to his strengths. I bet there is also a part of Gore that has psychologically checked out because he’s getting what amounts to table scraps.

    I hope Harbaugh and Roman study some Niner history and see that a one dimensional offense won’t win any Super Bowl rings. Even Montana had Roger Craig…

    1. there seems to be some difficulty integrating the power running/safe precision passing game with the explosive and deceptive read option and exotic formations on Roman’s part. There’s probably a significant amount of blame that goes to Kaepernick for not knowing when to play it safe, play for field position and not turn the ball over vs. going for the downfield pass or big scramble.

      1. Yes, the formations are getting too exotic…how many delay of game penalties did we have in these past two games and including the Super Bowl last year? Kaep is reading a novel out there calling audibles and everyone is dancing around trying to figure out their new assignment, it’s almost becoming a caricature of itself. It’s football…stop being cute and just ram it down their throats every once in awhile.

  24. Great points, Grant.

    Ignore the haters. I don’t think you’ve been a pessimist or a homer. Your writing and analysis are getting better by the article, I’m sure your Dad is awesome, but your perspective is nothing like him (no offense, Dad!)

    Next game should be telling. Let’s see what adjustments the coaches make and see if the 49ers can play their type of football. Still early in the season, but the path to the Super Bowl looks like a tough one.

  25. You make good points on the penalties and run defense in Nickel, and make a good suggestion in getting back to the formations they had success with running the ball, but then you go and make some uninformed assertions like Gore’s legs are gone and the Niners have had their mask taken off exposing them as some old aging warrior needing a facelift.

    Grant I appreciate the fact you need to get people talking and responding, but some of your opinions really are based on over reaction. The Niners lost in Seattle; not Oakland. We know they have difficulty playing there and we also know the Seattle defense has their number. That doesn’t mean it’s time to burn down the village and start over. It means that when they next play Seattle they’d better have some answers to the questions that they present.

    We knew the team would struggle at first without Crabs and Manningham, that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, but it’s not like they’ve been shut down completely because of it. Kap had the biggest passing game of his young career 10 days ago. This is not a team that needs a facelift. It’s a team that needs to execute the things they do best better than they have. That means running the ball on offense, which in turn will open up the passing game again. Kap also has to learn to trust some of the younger guys so teams can’t over commit to Boldin and Davis.

    As to the run defense, I completely disagree with you as you are aware, and don’t see the picture you are trying to paint here. You are going to give up more rushing yards in a Nickel defense. It’s set up to stop the pass, but what you are missing is that even with the Seahawks being able to run for a few big gains, it didn’t lead to TD’s, and may not have led to anything without penalties. The Niner defense played about as well as an opposing defense can play in that Stadium against that offense. They held them to under 300 yards total net offense, got pressure on Wilson, shut down the passing game for the most part and held Seattle under 4 yards a carry. Without the offensive futility and turnovers, they had a chance to win this game and nobody is talking about the defense other than to say they played a great road game and kept the Niners in it.

    1. “even with the Seahawks being able to run for a few big gains, it didn’t lead to TD’s”

      So a 14 yard touchdown run isn’t a big gain that led to a TD?

    2. The drives themselves Jack. They ran for 42 yards on the TD drives in the 3rd quarter. They didn’t score TD’s on those drives based on dominating in the running game. They scored them because of penalties that extended the drives.


    According to a write whose “pen” is done. I can’t believe I read your articles. The only thing worth reading here is seeing the fans bash you after your typed out temper tantrums and “all is lost” mentality.

  27. It’s crazy that for 3 years this team with this talent has so many penalties, lines up in the wrong places, gets blown out by 3-4 teams every year ( last year giants Seattle and Minnesota) that is a sign of a poorly disciplined team. Harbaugh lucked out with an u der achieving talented roster. Now he has to show he can coach a team with such talent and go all the way. ( heck I still don’t know the 3 dl that blew up our vaunted ol) beating inferior teams shou ld be expected. Playing so poorly against a team equal to us is a bad sign indeed!

    1. the penalties are a byproduct of Roman’s massive playbook with complex and exotic formations and shifts to gain tactical advantages. Roman’s a smart guy but his Achilles Heel is that he over thinks things. He always tries to zig when the other guys zag. when sometimes you have to dictate on straight up and rely less on scheme (such as in the Seattle game).

      I’ve said before, that Roman needs to streamline his play calling process, signals, audibles and game plans. They need to get away from the overly verbose classic West Coast play calling system. Coded one word plays with single word and hand signal audibles specially packaged together for certain situations (they did some of that in the Seattle game but not enough). Those specialty packages of plays need to be ready to go for instant on field adjustments (goodbye slow developing run plays!).

    2. Way to over-react. Packers weren’t an inferior team, were they? How about the Falcons last year?

      We just lost ONE game to arguably the hardest place to play on the road in ALL of sports. Seahawks are the #1 team in the NFL right now, and deservedly so.

      If we lose against the Colts this week, then we can re-open the discussion. Too many knee-jerk reactions to just a single loss. We lost there last year too, and still ended up playing the superbowl, while they didn’t. Everyone just needs to chill out.

  28. “When you take off the mask, you don’t see a young, virile, handsome stud. You see a tired, aging warrior who can’t get out of his own way.”

    Not really. You have a team that beat the best QB in football and lost to Seattle in Seattle. I think there is a little bit of complacency there in terms of having the mental edge, but I expect that to improve after being smacked in the mouth. Gore isn’t what he used to be, but he can still be productive. They didn’t fall apart overnight and they are still a good team. Wasn’t there similar talk after the Giants game last year?

    1. Wasn’t there similar talk after the Giants game last year?

      No, I’m pretty sure the talk last year was that the Giants’ loss was all Alex Smith’s fault.

      1. Claude,
        There was some of that from the usual suspects. They still bring him up all of the time. Most people saw it as a complete team failure, I know I did. That game was at home and they got dominated. Harbaugh seemed to be focusing on Kevin Gilbride’s comments that week, much like he was focused on the actions of Clay Mathews last week. The sky was falling after that loss, it was pretty funny in hindsight.


      2. BigP:

        Please don’t use the phrase “Usual Suspects” when referring to those clowns. I like that movie.

        I agree that we might want to let the team play a few more games before drawing any final conclusions about its problems. That said, I could do without any more turd sandwiches like the one the team (offense) served Sunday night.

  29. I think we’re blowing this out of proportion. If you look at the all-22, Williams was straight schooling the Thurmond. Same thing on Sam Shields I mean he had a 5 yard jump on him. The problem in seattle was the snap count got drowned out due to crowd noise, the seattle d-line clearly were beating the oline off the LoS which should never happen, and kap never had time to make his reads to find wide open kyle williams down the field. Its that simple. Look at what happens to Seattle’s D when they go on the road. They lose to Dolphins, lions and cardinals last year. They looked bad against redskins until RGKnee blew out. Once they don’t get that pass rush and run penetration generated from crowd noise drowning out the snap count, their D gets exposed. Frank Gore put up 116 on the same D at home last year. Lets be Patient.

    1. Kissing Grant’s azz and cutting his grass? Prime is a real loser. Too young to be a loser. Choose a career path prime! Instead of begging for inclusion to a blog! Isnt it about timeto get banned again? Bwahahahahah!

  30. Kaepernick is not the problem. The problem is Greg Roman. He forgot about the run in the Super Bowl and it cost us the game. He has apparently forgotten about it this season as well. He has abandoned the power running game entirely and left Kap exposed. Without receivers who can get open, he is left on his own and his “best offensive line in the league” got that title from being run blocking demons, not pass protectors. I believe Harbaugh needs to take over play calling from the seemingly confused Roman. This would shorten the time it takes to get the play in to Kap and enable him to call the play without having to fight the clock. It’s fixable but Harbaugh needs to step up now.

  31. At one point, you basically make it sound like Gore is on his last leg. Then a paragraph later you say that our RBs are getting hit in the backfield. Ummm, anyone see the irony here?

    Gore is not the problem with our run game, far from it. The problem is the pistol offense and the read-option plays. Defenses are all-over it like white-on-rice after a full off-season to study and prepare for it. We’re not fooling anyone anymore. We no longer have a diverse running game that utilizes counters, traps, powers, sweeps, off-tackles, etc… The run game is now become very predictable, and defenses are selling their souls to stop our run game with 8 and 9 man fronts. Basically, daring us to pass. Gore is often getting hit in the backfield from defenders slashing through the gaps in our zone blocking scheme. Unfortunately, Seahawks secondary was too good for us to succeed through the air – ultimately causing our offense to be non-functional.

    Gore is not a zone runner, never has been. Our current running scheme does not fit his style, AT ALL. Our offensive line consists of powerful guys that are physical and mauling. Our zone running scheme does not fit them, AT ALL. This pretty much sums up everything. It’s not Gore, it’s not Kap, it’s GREG ROMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I disagree, you can run the same plays out of the pistol as you can under center. It’s essentially the same formation. Only play you can’t run is an Straight up I formation but you can still run pro-right/left. Read my comment above on why Seattle is unbeatable at home and that is why it was hard to get the run game going. In green bay they just played the linebackers so close to the LOS. THats why Play action was soo wide open. Can’t do much in Staley and davis are in the backfield. I bet we see much improvement in the next game.

      1. Ummm, not really. The blocking schemes are what’s different. The read-option concept as well as many of the runs from the pistol use a zone blocking scheme. When we line up behind center, majority of our runs are on a man-blocking scheme, basically blowing back defenders off the LOS and getting to the 2nd level of the defense.

        Right now, they’re not blowing anyone back from the line. They’re trying to hold their blocks in the zone, allowing Gore to find the correct hole. The problem is quicker DL like Seattle, are just crashing to the right or left and slashing right through those zones, often hitting RBs before they even get to the LOS.

      2. You still see them run Power runs and traps out of the pistol. Yes they also runs zones, but they also run powers and traps. They have always done a combination of it. You are right in the fact that they are using more zone blocking schemes to try and sell the read option and keep the defense guessing but you still see power football out of it. I bet we see more power schemes next week. You still see the guards pull. Just because they decide to put the QB 4 yards behind the center doesn’t mean the blocking scheme has to change. And the RB is the same distance off the LOS. Plus pistol allows better play action because the QB can keep his eyes down the field instead of turning his back.

      3. you can run power run plays out of the Pistol as if you were in an offset I formation. Nevada did it for two years before integrating the read option into the offense.

        the zone blocking you’re seeing out of the Pistol is because they’re still trying to run the read option or bluff the read option. but that’s not because of the Pistol Formation.

      4. I get what you are saying. If they CAN run power plays and man-blocking schemes from the pistol, it sure doesn’t feel like it after watching the last 2 games. I’ll watch more closely in this third game. But the one thing that jumps out to me is the read-option scheme, as defenses are simply blowing up those runs.

        I think the reason why is because neither Gore or our O-Line are suited well to play that type of scheme. Last year it worked because we hit defenses off-guard, and they weren’t playing disciplined enough, and we exploited that. This year is a different story.

        Personally, I think play-action from under-center is more effective than in the pistol. The time it takes to carry out the play-action fake is longer under center than from pistol, causing the LBs to pause more before reacting one way or the other.. With the pistol, the play-fake happens faster, allowing the LBs to recognize run/pass faster. The play-action from the packers game worked extremely well from Pistol because their LBs were playing abnormally close to the LOS. I think if the defense is playing us more honestly, the play-action passes from under center will be more effective.

      5. That I can agree with you on. This Line is much better at mauling than trying to run a zone read and Gore is better at power. I still think we should keep the zone reads in the playbook as it will keep defenses guessing and the threat can only add to our advantage. I think Roman is Brilliant at the chess game of football. But in the end our strength is still the power run and I think the game plan should have been to stick with it. Just like Denzel said in Remember the Titans… Give it time and it will start to work. Think about the Falcons game in the playoffs. Stuffed the run to begin with, and then it started opening up. Im not saying the play action is better one way or the other, they both have advantages, I just think for Kap being in his 12th career start now, he feels much more comfortable running the play action out of the pistol as it allows him to see the play develop the whole time. Bottom line, don’t judge the performance after two games. Coaches are still working things out and Seattle at home with that crowd noise just gives that defense an unfair advantage they already don’t need. And don’t bail on Kyle Williams. He is looking very good. I watched the All-22. He was straight schooling Thurmond for most of the game. Even in the Playoff game he straight beat Sam Shields (A very respectable CB) off the ball and got a 5 yard gain on him that Kap underthrew (Although he could have made a better attempt on the ball) Kap just didn’t have time in the pocket to make his reads. And in Man Coverage against that D, He needs more time!

      6. I agree on the part about Kyle Williams. I think he is very under-rated, and really flies under the radar. He’s so quick, and can get separation pretty easily. I think in the Packers game, Kap just kept looking at Boldin and VD’s direction, because they were owning the Packers secondary. Against the Seahawks, I think Kap continued to look towards Boldin / VD on the first-read, and didn’t really have enough time to look towards Kyle Williams. Hopefully the coaches see Kyle getting open on the game-tape, and try to get him some more touches. I think Kap is the type of QB that really likes to feed the primary receiving threats over-and-over, rather than spread the ball around equally. I kind’ve understand why though, as they’ve already proven themselves in this league. Kyle hasn’t quite proven himself yet to be a legitimate threat, but I think he will as he gets more opportunities.

  32. If the Niners punch it in on the 2nd series it is a completely different game. We had all the momentum with a chance to quite the crowd and the INT only fired them up more. That was a huge play in the game. Grant Cohn head you are over reacting as usual!!

  33. People just need to relax. Russell Wilson only completed 8 passes and Lynch ran for just 3.5yds per carry. I’ll take that anytime we play the Seahawks or any team for that matter. Offense and coaches just laid an egg. Seahawks are a legit team, especially at home. Props to them. We’ll get them at home.

  34. This is some of the biggest over reaction ive ever seen in my life. An aging warrior?gore is washed up? All over our 1st loss so i guess we going 4-12 now? who writes this stuff they must be on drugs. We have one of the best rosters in the league we just played the biggest and best secondary in the league with our top 2 receivers being boldin who runs a 4.9 and kyle williams. we just have to get more creative with our offense and spread the she hawks out more than with just two receivers the plain and simple . Their qb only completed 9 passes they offense wasn’t that good either and penalty’s killed us. So please stop with the madness please!!!

  35. Grant you have done a great job analyzing it. very couragious of you to write it, I don’t beleive that this 49ers team is capable of winning more then 9 games and forget about the playoffs.
    Majority of key players are gone and replaced with below average players. We are done. Period. Bolding can not play for the whole team, the whole team should help him succeed. Vernon Davis should be traded and same goes for the running back Gore. demise of 49ers has begun. Defense cannot win games alone. Bad draft choices and pickingup bad players in free agency is taking a toll on production. Now I also know that how valuble Alex Smith was (he was smart) and Kaepernick is opertaion dumbo drop.

    1. Zach,

      THINK, before you type. What should we trade toK.C. to get Smith back? Im thinking 2 #1′s. Yeah, that should get it done. Bring Back ALEX!!!

  36. 49ers can handle finesse teams like the Patriots, Saints, Packers and Lions but have been soundly beaten by teams that punch them in the mouth like the Ravens, Giants and Seahawks. I think when 49ers are playing well they can beat anyone except in their own division. They need to switch strategies and wear down fast teams like the Seahawks, etc. with short passes, strong running, and screens. Problem is Kap needs to be patient and wait for the opening for long passes. Pound them, put a full back or tight end blocking on Sherman to shut his big mouth and take the fight out of him. Put THEIR guys on stretchers, be tougher than them. It’s the only way to beat a bully.

  37. I just finished Kevin Lynch’s chat and he repeatedly said that Williams was open. Some of the earlier comments here said the same thing. So, I just learned this, and I am writing to keep myself from exploding because I am sooo upset at Kaepernick. I’m also upset by this badmouthing of Williams — either explicitly — or implicitly by so much comment about needing another receiver. What we need is for Kaepernick to mature.

    1. This is Kyle Williams’ fourth season in the NFL and he’s never caught six or more passes in a game and he’s caught five passes in a game one time. He’s never had more than 66 receiving yards in a game.

  38. Really Grant your comment is silly — how many passes would he have caught if he was targeted every time he was open this game? Are you saying that he wasn’t open? Are you implying that he would drop the passes so that no matter what, he could not catch more than 5 passes in a game. Silly

    1. There’s a reason the Seahawks forgot to cover Williams a few times and Kaepernick rarely looks for Williams and Roman rarely calls plays designed for Williams. He’s just a guy. If he was more than that, he would have shown it by now. He’s a No.4 receiver on a good passing attack.

  39. Grant’s statement, “In 2011 and 2012, the 49ers’ offensive line dominated defenses on trap plays and power off-tackle runs. Old-school plays. The 49ers hardly have run any of those plays this season. That needs to change right now”, is true and can be backed up by video replay.

    However the three paragraph medical assessments on Frank Gore’s legs, weight room habits, etc. are incorrect opinion, and reporter judgement based on …. well, I just don’t know what they are based on… opinion, I guess.

      1. Any new news on when they should return. I know manningham can’t do anything till week 6 and crab was projected around week 12. To your knowledge is that still about right

        1. That’s what I hear, but I’m skeptical Crabtree will contribute much this season. Look at Kendall Hunter. He’s still not who he was before he tore his Achilles.

      2. Got in argument with some of my idiot buddies. They claim no matter what we cannot beat Seattle. At home or away (I may agree with the away). I used this as argument saying when we get a good WR core back the Seahawks wouldn’t be able to shut them all down. And crab did ok vs Sherman last year (4 for 65) I believe. Passing game will be able to open a bit. Hoping for both them back for dec 8th week 14 matchup

      3. I can only hope Crabs will return early. Achilles injuries are tricky, most bball players take almost 2 full years until they get somewhere close to what they were. Last year, Suggs could only really move forward. Wide Receivers need to run precise routes and cut and I doubt he will come back in time. I tore my Achilles about 6 months ago, tried to do aggressive rehab and even the chiropractor was saying just how difficult it is to return, regardless of the full time trainers and constant rehab work.

  40. the problem with kyle Williams is he’s so short he has to be in open space or the db will just blanket him and block the ball away from him. He can’t really fight for it and he’s not going to break a tackle. I like his heart but he just isn’t tough enough for this game. You have to be REALLY tough. Doug baldwin and Golden Tate aren’t that big but they get open. they’re tough.

    1. Something I have noticed about Williams this year is that he is less apt to actually try to return either a punt or a kickoff. It seems like he just goes for a fair catch or downs the kickoff even in the front of the end zone. He is far less aggressive than he was last year. Perhaps he is playing much like Kaep ( afraid to get injured) since he is now the starter and doesn’t want to lose his spot to injury.

  41. Grant has any talked about the poor play of Ahmad Brooks? In the last two games against the seahawks he has looked lost . Do we have a more viable option for his spot or am i overreacting?

  42. Although last week was a deplorable game, I don’t think it is time for the 49ers to throw in the towel just yet Grant. First…they’ve played two of the better teams in the NFL through the first two weeks. I think the 49ers will be okay – may need to make a couple of adjustments, but the coaching staff is very good at adjusting.

  43. I was listening to Matt Barrows on KNBR and he also touched on how it is difficult for O-lineman to play in Seattle to anticipate the snap count and explode off the ball. The noise causes uncertainty; I think it’s best to refrain for overreacting until we see them play over the course of a few more games.

    Grant – what are your thoughts on Vangio keeping a pretty vanilla defense? How about sending a variety of zone blitzes and different looks to cause confusion. They do have Mangini as an offensive assistant but perhaps they can get some insight from him as well since he is a defensive “mastermind”.

  44. I just saw the top rookies of the week and two were guys I wanted the 49ers to draft but they didn’t. DeAndre Hopkins had 117 yards and the winning touchdown for the Texans after Andre Johnson went down. I wanted the 49ers to draft him and they could’ve if they hadn’t drafted Eric Reid. I like Reid a lot but he isn’t worth two good or great players. the 49ers could’ve drafted Xavier rhodes (a top db), Jonathan Cyprien (safety), AND DeAndre Hopkins (great wr). They wouldn’t have picked up McDonald or Tank but they could’ve taken Tank and still gotten deAndre Hopkins. My point is our team should be alot better than it is and it pisses me off. You can’t pass on talent and pick up Owen Marecic as an answer.

    1. Can’t get everyone unfortunately. Reid is looking like a good pick, so I’m not too caught up on who else they may have been able to take with their first pick.

      The thing that frustrates me is that they obviously didn’t see WR as that big of a need. Even if Crabtree was healthy, they’ve got a lot of guys coming off contract so WR should have been one of the priority positions. I said before the draft they should take 2 WRs, one early, one mid round. Patton in the mid rounds was a great pick, but they sure could do with another talented WR on the roster right now. Oh well.

  45. I think everyone is overreacting. The team had an off game, CK still has a lot of learning to do but he will be fine. Tough for anyone to win in Seattle. Up next the Colts. Already looking forward to that match up, Andrew Luck bring it on.

  46. Listen. This article is dumb. First, there isn’t anything wrong with Gore. Blame the POOR running game on piss poor scheming. Blame the OC. You can’t run the ball with 6-8 stacked in the box. Seahawks played 4 down lineman and 3 LB’s. Running that tight bunch formation brings a safety and a CB closer to the line of scrimmage. YOU CAN’T RUN THE BALL AGAINST THAT. He needs to either run I formation or spread the field like Seattle did us. AND if teams are going to put that many people in the box we need to pass them to death. THEY DIDN’T RESPECT KAEPS ARM.

    2. Our defense did there part. They held them to 5pts with all of those turnovers. In the first half. 12pts at the end of the 3rd quarter. OUR OFFENSE couldn’t score points. You can’t ask a defense to continue stopping a team and the offense does nothing.

    Someone needs to sit down with Harbaugh and Roman and tell them to get back to the basics.

  47. Grant, i appreciate the effort for breaking down your concerns about our team and yes we got our tails kicked in Seattle however please stop with all this Jerry Springer drama by inflating the situation! Yes our run game has not been effective so far and our receivers were not productive in the second game however this team is just starting to develop their sense of identity and we have started our first two games against two of the top 8 teams in the NFL, one of them was the number one ranked defense!

    Seattle game could have been completely different if we executed and did not lose our composure. This is a team sport and we just beat ourselves in Seattle by lack of attention to the detail as a team. The OL did not play well at all, the game plan was not effective and our players allowed the seahawks to get under their skin. I truly believe we will turn this ship around and become more productive in the future.

    I do agree that losing Walker, Manningham and Crabtree is a big blow to our offense and we need for Vance to grow into the position asap. Also, keep in mind this is the NFL and anything can happen in the division like Lynch breaking his leg or over dosing on drugs or Russell W tearing his ACL! Injuries alone can change the dynamic of the division and the chance for the team to make it to the post season.

    As far as i am concern, the Seattle game was a great learning experience to provide the coaching staff the opportunity to make the right adjustments early in the season. Niners still have the talent and the infrastructure to be an elite team in the NFL. If other teams choose to copy the Seattle strategy then so be it, Jim H and the coaching staff will adjust. I know you are not a Jim H fan, or at least it appears that way base on your articles but he has the ability to adjust and make changes.

    1. Chicago,

      Forget about execution, the game would’ve been completely different with simple ball security and no dumb penalties.

      You never know how things would turn out under different circumstances, but without TOs and penalties, the hawks would’ve scored 3 points, not 29.

    2. Chicago,

      Forget about execution, the game would’ve been completely different with simple ball security and no dumb penalties.

      You never know how things would turn out under different circumstances, but the way things played out on Sunday night, but without the TOs and penalties, the hawks would’ve scored 3 points, not 29.

      The defense is fine, I wouldn’t want to Andrew Luck right about now.

  48. This Niner team is not equipped for trench warfare. That’s how u beat the Seahawks. Stay in the trenches and wait for an opening. Worked for AS last year. Timing in the trenches. Patience. Field position. Taking key first downs. One of few but key advantages that AS has over Kapernick. Boring maybe but wins games. Another Niner quarterback use to win like that a lot. His name was Joe something. u don’t need 60 big plays to win a game. Once Kapernick can realize that we’ll be ok.

  49. Might be time to introduce Marcus Latimore into the mix. Let him show what he can do…..take a few shots. Is it sadistic to suggest that he play this year. I know JH promised his ma they’d look after him, but they need help w/ running game. I too was dismayed by lack of a running attack.

      1. CB,

        Me? No, no way. Not unless multiple doctors give him a 100 % all clear medical report, and he tests out at 100%. Given how devastating ML’s injury was, I don’t see that happening.

        I was just trying to confirm the PUP list timing, using ML as an example.

      2. exgolfer:

        Got it.

        Although I am not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV, everything I have read about Lattimore makes me think the team should keep him on the shelf until 2014.

  50. I must say , Grant wrote this as a monday morning qb with absolutly no understanding of the game. Everyone and anyone who understands schemes and strategy of the game saw exactly what I saw on sunday night. An offense that struggled producing due to stubborn belief that “the pistol” is the answer. How did it work for every team in the NFL over the last 2 weeks??? Any defensive minded football strategist understands that all it takes is a DE or an OLB to take his first 2 steps straight and then crash around with your eyes on the ball in the qb’s hand and its a wrap either place the ball ends up. (see Clay Mathews last week) Nuff said there…as far as Gore being done…you again have no understanding of whats truely going on in the trenches…power football can not be run effectively ever with out the QB under center and stepping toward the direction of the hand off… Truthfully Grant, I dont recall any 49er bashing out of you ever when they win, especially last week when they dominated the Packers 3x in a row but I bet you had no problem saying how great Green Bay was over the weekend when they won at home. So as I do on the regular and you are no different son of a lousy writer, Get a clue, study the game that you were never good at and don’t try to analize football until you have suited up and been hit by a man…oh wait , too late for that huh hahaha …in the words of a great college football player gone viral “know your roll and shut your mouth!” You really have absolutly no idea about this game so stick to watching and conversing with all of the other dimwits trying to analyze our beloved MANS GAME on Monday mornings. PS. If Gore is all done I guess Harbaugh is all done too…lol…you really are a journalist wannabe hahahah

  51. I believe that OC Roman killed his chances to become a head coach in NFL. He didn’t show me enough intelligence to adopt and make adjustments.
    Kaepernick’s body language in first five minutes of game, gave me a good Idea that what was going to happen to us. He is inexperienced and 49ers must change their game plans to surprise Seahawks which already have game and a half lead over 49ers and the 49ers may have to go back to Seattle in play-offs. They know how to deal with Kaepernick because he is similar to Russel Wilson.

  52. I have to say, this has been an illuminating discussion, with a number of knowledgeable comments from people who seem to know their stuff – Allforfunnplay and a number of others. Kudos. Unfortunately, Grant is a weak link and brings down the quality of the discussion as he goes for controversy rather than substance – but at least he does get the troops talking.

  53. Gerry: Actually he is trying to follow your suggestion by “conversing with the other dimwits trying to analyze “Your Mans Game” on Monday mornings. Now I must be one of those very “Dimwits” you refer to because I come to this site to con verse and analyze. I also didn’t see what you saw as the reason why the offense struggled and I also believe that Gore is showing his age and probably is done so that seems to reinforce, by your standards, that I am a dimwit also.

    Now what harm does it do when “Dimwits” gather to discuss football on their own limited level? This brings into question of what the smarter ones like you and others are doing on this site? If you think Grant is full of crap and that these discussions or issue’s are not worth the time, why even come and comment on this site?. That is a puzzlement. Unless the issue is less with the commentary on this site and actually has more to do with it being a safe place to project and vent the frustrations and anger that stem from your other personal issues.

    Now I realize that our society is devoid of male maturation rituals so certain activities are often used as a substitute. Football often being one as evidenced by your use of “Mans Game” and “being hit by a Man” in context with being someone worthy of respect. Your usage seems to rely too much on football as the defining standard. While it can be a test of sorts, the major problem with that is that football is a “Game” played in a controlled environment, where as life itself is not. Ultimately Manhood is defined by real life, not just within the context of a game.

    I have met some who have “worn the suit and were hit by men”but when they were off the field and with out their gear standing alone their manhood left them. So you see, Gerry, the standard you set for “Manhood” is actually rather low. It’s easy to meet our standards when we are the ones that get to set them.

  54. Grant…I thought you were above some of your Bay Area brethren in avoiding a knee-jerk reaction to Sunday night’s game. We all get it was a bruising defeat…the Niners were the 9th straight victim in the din they call a stadium. It was also only the 2nd game of the season…what is it about this team and Harbaugh that makes you think they won’t bounce back from it in a big way. This is a resilient team…not prone to wallowing in any single defeat, but determined to get better and learn from this game. Now, if on Dec 8 Seattle wins again, then you and the entire Bay Area media can bemoan a “lost” season. ‘Til then, please don’t try to sell any drama. Yes, Seattle’s a very good team, but so are the Niners…and they deserve more than two games to prove it.

  55. I saw the game VS Seahawks and it is clear to me that the defense was good but the offense was awful. Frank Gore is gone and nowhere to be found, and i think that, he is done, finish. We need a new RB with speed and som WR who can get free both on the outside and inside. Howewer it depends on the playcalling from OC and JH you have to play with crossing routes to make the WR free. You have to set plays up, where the routes can generate a free WR at some point of the field. You can not let CK make all the plays and all the , all the time.

    1. I too noticed the lack of crossing routes. No bunch formations, no receivers in motion. No real attempt to run outside. The league now has two years of film on Harbaugh’s offense.
      I have two questions. First, did the league catch up with our running scheme, or is our RB done? Second question, it seems like our red zone offense has always been sub par. Do we currently have the coaching personnel on this team to infuse creativity into our red zone attack?

  56. Pro Football Focus gave Xavier Rhodes a +2.1 grade Week 2 against the Bears. He gave up one catch for -2 yards in three targets.

    For a comparison, PFF gave Richard Sherman a +2.2 grade Week 2 against the 49ers.

    PFF also gave Coby Fleener at +2.6 grade Week 2 against the Dolphins.

  57. Way too hard on Frank. Can’t judge him based on the last two games, the blocking has been terrible and both defenses stacked the box to take away the run. The packers used two run stopping space eaters who provided zero pass rush and the 49ers were not able to run against them, but were able to exploit that defense through the air. The pocket protection vs Green Bay was some of the best I’ve ever seen. Seattle was another story but I think you missed a big factor in why they didn’t try to run the ball up the middle more. Seattle broke the Guinness Book Of Records for crowd noise and the biggest problem with the 49ers offense when they play in Seattle is that they can’t run a snap count. For guards in particular that split second jump they get on the defensive linemen because they know when the ball is going to be snapped and the defense has to react is HUGE. Crowd noise takes that away and makes it nearly impossible to run inside the Tackles. It also becomes next to impossible to audible out of bad run plays.

    When the 49ers play in Seattle they have to choose between two bad options. The first is to abandon what they’re good at because it won’t work and try to run an offense that negates crowd noise such as a no huddle hurry up spread. Snap count doesn’t really matter in a hurry up offense because the defense barely has time to get set when the ball is snapped. This kind of offense is also more effective against Seattle because their starting secondary is so good that to pass against them it’s best to get their 3rd and 4th cornerbacks on the field and try to exploit them. The problem is that this isn’t the offense the 49ers are built to run and they don’t have either the reciever depth or a QB and recievers that have been playing together long enough to effectively run plays with 5 or more recievers running patterns.

    The second option is to stick to what you do best even though the crowd noise puts you at a huge disadvantage..like I said, neither option is good.

    I honestly believe that the 49ers would win that game tommorow on a neutral field. Their defense played fairly well considering that the offense did absolutely nothing and Seattle had great field position all game. If the 49ers can run a snap count, run pre-snap shifts and audibles, call protections on the offensive line… whole differant game. This isn’t to make the crowd noise an excuse, but to point out what a massive advantage it is. I think most people really underestimate the effect that it had on the game.

  58. The offense adds a lot of stuff for the new season; some will work, some will not. It will take them a few games to make the adjustments, more reps and improve on areas that they identified.

    Believe me, NFL coaching staff can see the tapes better than any fan or writers; they spend every second of worrying about football; how to make the team better, how to beat the next opponent.

    I have full faith that the 49ers coaches will make the proper adjustments and put the players in the best situation to make plays!

  59. Two games in.

    SF Offense:
    350.5 yds/game
    95 rushing yds/game
    255.5 passing yds/game (#1 receiver slow-over-the-hill Boldin)

    Dallas Offense:
    324.5 yds/game
    52 rushing yds/game
    262.5 passing yds/game (#1 receiver MVP-to-be Bryant)

    SF Defense:
    337.5 yds/game
    117.5 rushing yds/game
    220.0 passing yds/game

    Dallas Defense:
    395.5 yds/game
    82.0 rushing yds/game
    313.5 passing yds/game

    PD Verdict:
    SF: Exposed
    Dallas: SB XLVIII Winners

        1. Kansas City’s defense is the No.1 graded defense in football right now according to PFF. Seattle’s D is No.2 to. Dallas put up 16 points on that defense in Kansas City. SF put up a whopping three on Seattle in Seattle.

      1. Grant, when KC breaks into the rankings of the top 1 or 2 teams that are super bowl favorites, I’ll take your rebuttal under consideration. Until then, I’ll file it in the “false equivalency” folder.

      1. He hasn’t done it in either game Grant, or are you honestly trying to say a pass to run ratio of more than 2-1 is a balanced offense, because that’s how the first game went.

      2. Romo threw the ball 49 times. They called 21 rush attempts. That is not balance. That is exactly what you were saying they needed to get away from with Garrett and would change under Callahan.

        1. I never said they would be 50/50. You play to the strengths of your players. They can’t finish last in rushing like they did last year. They’ll be middle of the pack at the end of the year like I said they would.

      3. Dallas offense, 2012 vs. 2013

        Week 1: 23 running plays, 51 passing plays
        Week 2: 16 running plays, 45 passing plays

        Total: 39 running plays (29%), 96 passing plays (71%)

        2012: 355 running plays (33.8%), 694 passing plays (66.2%)

        It’s early in the season, but the numbers aren’t trending your way, Grant.

      4. They finished last in rushing last year because of injuries to the RB’s Grant. Look at the years before last season and you see Garrett was over 400 attempts and sometimes well over, every season. So far Callahan is calling a higher pass to run ratio than Garrett, and Garrett has come out and said that has to change. Surely you can see the irony in that after what you were trying to pass off earlier.

    1. Lol Rib. I posted a Dallas update a couple of days ago showing how bad they are overall offensively and how few rushing attempts they’ve had. I also posted how Garrett said they needed to run the ball more. You can’t make this stuff up.

      They didn’t lose 29-3 Grant that’s true, but they also weren’t playing a SB favorite either. You have to admit the junk you were spewing about Callahan was way off base. Nobody knew what kind of a play caller he’d be because he’d never been one, and he certainly hasn’t been an improvement on Garrett to start the season.

  60. Flaws exposed, bad game plan, or lack of execution? Take your pick; every team that loses asks themselves these questions.
    Not every team has linebacker size DBs that can play man-to-man press cover like the Seahawks or a home stadium that sets noise records.
    The 49ers will learn from it and move, no other choice. In my opinion, they played like s**t.

  61. Frank Gore is averaging 1.5 yards after contact per carry this season according to PFF. Only 12 RBs currently are averaging fewer than 1.5 yards after contact per carry:

    Danny Woodhead, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Johnson, Lamar Miller, Eddie Lacy, Kendall Hunter, Bilal Powel, Felix Jones, Mark Ingram, Isaac Redman, Jordan Todman and Montee Ball.

    Trent Richardson is averaging 2.42 yards after contact per carry – 9th-best in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson, Darren McDadden, Ben Tate, LeSean McCoy, Shane Vereen, Pierre Thomas, Alfred Morris and Knowshon Moreno.

  62. Grant, you’re a tit, and this is premature, even for you. Disappointing. I’m not sure we can arrive at such a conclusion two games into the season? Ridiculous.

  63. Seahawk fan, but not here to start something up. (By the way, I love that the rivalry is so intense now that we have to make that as a disclaimer.)

    While I agree, using this as a prognosis for the season is premature, most of what is mentioned here does need to be addressed. I don’t claim to be a football guru, but it did seem like the weakness in the nose tackle position was pretty prominent on Sunday; Lynch was able to run around most of the day. For a team that historically has a very strong run defense, I’d be pressing this as one of the first issues to shore up. Obviously there’s no way to gauge the offensive line, since the problem was much more about communication.

  64. What I found funny while reading this article is that Grant explains why FG’s stats are so low right after he suggests that FG’s on his way out in the next few paragraphs, which is the COACHING STAFF is running too much pistol, along with the fact that KAEP locks onto one receiver and doesn’t go through his progressions and that he CAN’ T read a zone to save his life. Those ARE the PROBLEMS with the 49ers offense !!!

    As previuosly stated the defense is how we stayed in the game !!!!

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