Myth busting: Davis-Porter matchup overhyped; Staley was outstanding; Sims played well until final snap

There are 22 players on the field, and that’s a lot of people to watch when viewing a game live. I hear there are football coaches who can watch film and have a pretty good idea how every player on the field fared on any given play without rewinding and viewing it multiple times.

I am not that talented. But after writing about how well Vernon Davis fared Sunday against Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter, I figured I better spend a few minutes re-watching that great matchup. Porter leads the AFC with 17.5 sacks.


What I found while zipping through every 49ers’ offensive play – and focusing solely on the Dolphins’ No. 55 – is that Davis was not alone in his good work blocking Porter. In fact, his success was overblown.


Davis was assigned to block Porter just seven times in the game. He blocked on four run plays and three pass plays. Davis did win every time. On one of the pass plays, DeShaun Foster gave him some help.


Left tackle Joe Staley deserved a lot more credit for the job he performed.


Porter was handled throughout the game, mostly by one-on-one blocking. Staley completely manhandled him. There was one pass play in which quarterback Shaun Hill rolled to his right, Porter got past Staley and chased after Hill but he was not really a factor on the play.


Staley blocked Porter 27 times, including once when he just chipped him and another time when it was a hot read. In my opinion, Staley won each of those matchups pretty convincingly.


The other thing I noticed was that right tackle Barry Sims had a really good game going – until the final snap of the game for the 49ers’ offense. It was the 49ers’ final chance, so that play is the one that everybody remembers.


Sims matched up man-on-man against Porter 15 times, including six times on the final drive. On that drive Hill attempted eight passes, not including a spike to stop the clock. Sims did a fine job against Porter, especially in the second half. But on the final play, Porter beat Sims off the snap with an outside rush. Sims was unable to recover, and Hill could not step up in the pocket fast enough to avoid the sack.


Of those 15 plays in which Sims matched up against Porter, he surrendered a pressure in which Hill had to step up to avoid getting hit. There was a run play in which Porter used his quickness to dart inside and make a tackle. But the vast majority of the time, Porter was not even a factor.


What’s interesting is that coach Mike Singletary said Mike Martz wanted his three wideouts on Porter’s side, so one of them could chip him. But the 49ers had controlled Porter throughout the game with one-on-one blocking. Perhaps, what they really wanted was for Porter to move to the other side of the formation, so he’d be matched against Staley. But it looked as if the Dolphins had given up on the Porter-Staley matchup. They must’ve figured his only chance for a sack was against Sims.


Tight end Billy Bajema actually blocked Porter more than Vernon Davis. He was on him for nine plays. There was one run play on which Porter defeated Bajema, but Bajema did his job on six of the seven run plays. Twice in pass protection Bajema defeated Porter.


All in all, the 49ers’ offensive line was outstanding. They picked up stunts extremely well. Five times, Porter tried stunts and went nowhere.


Hill was sacked five times in the game. That number reflects poorly on the offensive line, but it should not.


Three times blitzers were not picked up, either by design or because a back failed an assignment. Once pressure came but Hill had six seconds to get rid of the ball before taking the sack. The only time there was a sack that could be attributed to the offensive line was – of course — Porter’s sack on the 49ers’ final chance of the game.


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