Here’s what NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell said about the 49ers this morning on the Murph and Mac Show.
Q: Did you have any inkling that the 49ers could pull off that comeback?
COSELL: The best way to answer that would be I was surprised Alex Smith started the second half.
Q: I’d say the same thing, and that’s coming from a fan.
COSELL: I’ve got to tell you, I thought from a coaching standpoint, in the second half, and even through some plays in the first half, I thought Jim Harbaugh and the offensive staff did and awesome job because they understood what the Eagles were doing from a personnel standpoint to matchup to their personnel, and they attacked it and exploited it. And it’s amazing that the player they actually exploited was Nnamdi Asomugha, but he was the player who was the focus of their attack. They went after him, because unfortunately for the Eagles, he’s playing right now in positions he’s not comfortable playing. You can see that watching the tape. The 49ers knew that. They went after him, and they succeeded.
Q: All the 49er fans are on cloud nine out here. Should we be?
COSELL: I think my role here is to sort of bring reality based on coaching tape. I don’t have an agenda, I simply watch the tape. I think you have to be careful. I think this team has struggled on offense basically for three and a half (games). I think their O-line has been average if I’m being kind. I think Alex Smith for the most part has struggled. They had a very good half of football, which I think was helped tremendously by the offensive approach and the game planning. And taking nothing away from Alex Smith – he certainly had to execute those throws and he did. But I think you have to be careful now saying all of a sudden these problems that existed for three and a half games have gone away.
Q: What do you think of Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore splitting carries going forward?
COSELL: I think it will continue because I think Kendall Hunter has more juice than Frank Gore. He’s a quicker back, and I think he gives them a little more than Gore. Gore at his best is a real hard-nosed inside runner. He’s very good running power where they pull the guard. He’s a tough, physical, move-the-chains, sustaining runner. Hunter gives them a little more of an explosive element, and obviously it was an improvisational play, but when Smith got out of the pocket and hit Hunter and he ran for whatever the amount of yards, 40 or 50 yards, I believe it was only in the second half. I think Hunter gives you that element too more than Gore.
Q: How important is the fact that the Niners have gotten more turnovers than they’ve given up?
COSELL: To me, that’s an after-the-fact kind of stat. Obviously, you never want to turn the ball over, and you’d like to play in a way that maximizes your opportunities to force turnovers on defense, but you can’t live and die by that. Your game plan can’t be: “Hey, we’re going to get five turnovers today.” That’s not a game plan.
Q: Looking forward to the Bucs game. The Bucs are going to want to run LeGarrette Blount, and the Niners are so good against the run…
COSELL: I’ve been talking every week about their front seven. They’re a base 3-4. And I understand Sopoaga may not go this week and he’s important to that, but they’re very good in their base 3-4 against the run, and Blount is a certain kind of runner. He is a power runner. He does not have a lot of elusiveness or shiftiness. He doesn’t make people miss. He’s a volume runner who wears you out as the game progresses. If you want to talk real football, there are two runs that the Bucs run. They run power, which is where the guard pulls. It’s the same run the 49ers run, it’s their staple run, so you guys have seen that. They also run what we call “Iso lead weak,” where it’s out of a two-back set, they run it to the weak side of the defense, which would be to Patrick Willis’ side of the 3-4, and the fullback leads up and he would have to block Patrick Willis. I like Patrick Willis in that matchup, so it’ll be interesting to see how it works. I don’t think that the Bucs will gain a ton of yards running the football, I really don’t. They’ll run a lot because that’s what they do, but I don’t think Blount’s getting 140 or 150 this week.
Q: How about the pair of Willis and Bowman?
COSELL: Really good. The thing that they have which a lot of teams don’t have that play 3-4 with their inside backers, they have two backers who can run. Most teams have one guy who can run, and then that guy’s the weak side guy, or often called “The Jack,” and then the strong side inside backer, often called the Mike, is a guy who doesn’t run very well. They have two guys who can run. You saw last week when Bowman, in a spy position against Michael Vick, ran him down on a critical third down play in the second half.