Warning: If you don’t want to be reminded of the 49ers’ last-second loss to the Vikings, try to occupy yourself for a few hours until I post something new.
It’s time to turn the page on Brett Favre’s game-winning touchdown pass to Greg Lewis . . . just as soon as we try to figure out what happened on the play.
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As a primer, check out Trent Green’s breakdown of the play on the NFL Network.
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Safety Mark Roman was the closest defender on the play, but he hinted strongly that it was not his responsibility. The 49ers were playing a four-deep zone. From the quarterback’s vantage point, Shawntae Spencer was responsible for the left-quarter of the end zone, with Dashon Goldson responsible for the left-middle, Roman for the right-middle, and Nate Clements for the right corner.
Lewis entered the end zone in Goldson’s zone, then crossed over into Roman’s territory, and might have ended up in Clements’ territory. But Roman said he ended up being the free defender on the play.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was asked some specific questions yesterday but provided only vague answers when asked about the play:
Are 49ers defenders instructed to force out the receiver in those situations near the sideline or end line?
Manusky: “It depends. I think from play to play, if you have the chance and ability to pick the ball off you would like to do that. At other times, if you have a chance to drive them out of bounds, I think that would be a good play too. So it is back and forth depending upon the play. When you see it during training camp, OTAs and preseason, and even during the regular season, you talk about those points.”
Who who was supposed to be covering Lewis on the touchdown?
Manusky: “I think it was just the whole defense. We have to make sure we get pressure on the quarterback and get him down and not have the guy run back there like he did. Any blame that is going to be put on is from a team aspect and even from myself. We have to do a better job of it.”
What could’ve been differently to prevent the touchdown?
Manusky: “Sack Brett. That would have been better, make him fumble or something. It is a situation where Brett made a heck of a throw. The kid made a heck of a catch on the back side of the end zone. We are moving forward. We are moving on. We have a divisional opponent this week and we are looking forward to it.”
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On Wednesday, I asked Roman about the play. I wrote about it for Thursday’s newspaper, “Roman’s view was up close and personal.” Here are some of his comments from our Q&A:
On giving Favre one last chance to win the game:
Roman: “I didn’t think a whole lot of it. I mean, we just didn’t finish the game like we should’ve finished the game. The truth is, the game was supposed to be over. If everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’re not talking right now.”
What could you have done differently?
Roman: “Nothing. Nothing. The coverage just broke down and I ended up being the free guy trying to help out. I had a small chance to make a play and I didn’t do it. Football’s a game of inches and they won by that much.”
You were the guy right there and everybody sees . . .
Roman: “That’s what everybody sees.”
And everybody assumes. . .
Roman: “That’s what they assume. But the people that matters, they know. And anybody who truly understands football, they know if they watch the play and what happens. I’m not mad, I’m not upset. If anything, I just had an opportunity, a small window, and didn’t get it done. It’s not like I was completely out of place and completely did the wrong thing. It’s one of those things where they made a play.”
You guys were playing four across? And Lewis was the only receiver in the end zone?
Roman: “Pretty much.”
Can you try to force him out of bounds?
Roman: “To be honest with you, the way we played the coverage, I’m basically the free guy. I’m thinking, if anything, I might have an opportunity to pick it, and then I see the guy at the last second trying to get him out of bounds.”
You tried to re-route him out of bounds?
Roman: “I tried to get as much on him as I could because I saw him at the last minute. . . . It was one of those . . . the guy made a good catch. They can talk about the throw, but that guy made a great catch.”
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