49ers Week 14 grades: Coaching

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers beat the Dolphins 27-13. Here is the grade for the 49ers coaches.

Coaching: C-. Both the offensive and defensive game plans were weak. On offense, Greg Roman tried to come out passing. Unfortunately, the offensive line – Anthony Davis in particular – was horrendous in pass protection. So the 49ers accomplished next to nothing on offense in the first half.

On defense, the 49ers struggled to stop the quick pass game – they’ve struggled with it all season. The Dolphins started throwing longer passes after they fumbled a punt at their own nine yard line and fell behind by 10 points in the third quarter. If the Dolphins had not made that mistake, they would have been able to stick with the short passing game.

The 49ers offense benefitted from the Dolphins’ fumble as well. Once the 49ers had a 10 point lead in the second half, Greg Roman scrapped John Morton’s drop-back passing game plan and started using the pistol formation almost exclusively. This was effective on one touchdown drive in the third quarter, and on Kaepernick’s 50-yard TD run.

Roman was virtually clueless on third down, in which the 49ers were 2-for-10. The offensive line does not block well on obvious passing downs, and Greg Roman, John Morton and Jim Harbaugh haven’t figured out how to work around the bad pass protection. The 49ers’ best third down option right now is to let Kaepernick scramble and make a play.

A win is a win, but the sacks, QB hits and third down conversion percentage still are troubling for a team that believes it has a chance to go all the way.

With those issues, it will be very tough for the 49ers to beat New England next week. The Patriots score too much for the Niners to keep up when they struggle to keep drives alive. After Suday’s game, Donte Whitner said about the upcoming game against the Patriots, “We understand who’s going to have to win that football game and we think it’s going to be the defense.” Certainly not a vote of confidence for the offense.

I don’t know if the 49ers can beat Seattle the week after, either. The Seahawks ripped the Cardinals on Sunday. The Seahawks are a scary club up in Seattle on that turf with the crowd noise.

The 49ers could easily finish the season 10-5-1, which is a bit shy of my 11-5 prediction this offseason.

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