We lost Sunday’s game against the Panthers for two reasons. First, tackle Anthony Davis could not pass block anyone yesterday even if his life depended on it. Second, because Davis could not block successfully Alex Smith re-injured his left shoulder he had surgery on and missed the rest of the game with the score tied. Sure, letting Panthers quarterback Matt Moore pass for over 300 yards also contributed to the loss but the 49ers had opportunities to close out the game but could not with backup quarterback David Carr. To all the 49er Faithful who chanted for Carr all season, are you still calling for his name after yesterday? Now, whether we like it or not, Carr is the starter for the foreseeable future. After our first win last week and the potential it created the 49ers now find themselves filled with doubt once again. Let’s hand out some Game Gold Nuggets (GGN). GGN’s are awarded based on the play of the 49ers on a scale of 1 to 5. 1=worst, 5=best
Side note: These reviews are so much harder to write in October with the San Francisco Giants playing so well and advancing to the World Series. Especially after losing to a team who had zero wins. Before the start of the 49ers game yesterday I turned to my fiancée and said “even if the 49ers lose nothing will bring me down from the Giants win.” I lied, the 49ers loss did bring me down for all of about five minutes after the game. I lost that feeling after watching, again, the Giants celebrate their NLCS win. Uuuuuu-rrrrribeeeeee!
OFFENSE: Golden Goose Egg
The 49ers offensive line is to blame for the loss not only because of bad pass protection but also because of three false start penalties. Tackle Anthony Davis will be a good player for the 49ers because of his talent but clearly he is having problems pass blocking. Davis still has a huge learning curve and unfortunately for the 49ers his mistakes may have ended Alex Smith and the 49ers season all on one play. You can argue the season was already lost even with last week’s win against the Raiders but now it is over. Even if Smith does come back he will not be his old self which was not much to be excited about and will probably be more cautious. Our other options at quarterback are Carr and Troy Smith, maybe even Nate Davis. None of those quarterbacks however give the 49ers any better a chance of winning than Smith.
Again, like the games against the Saints, Falcons and Eagles the 49ers offense scored on their opening drive but then the offense decided scoring another touchdown was not necessary. Even before Smith went down with his injury he was not exactly playing like a high caliber quarterback. Smith passed for 129 yards completing nine passes out of 19 attempts. Of those 129 passing yards 54 came on Vernon Davis’ catch that set up the 49ers lone offensive touchdown. Still we would have won the game with Smith under center. Instead when Carr came in the 49ers offense looked as if fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was still calling plays. Once Smith was out the 49ers offense decided it was no longer alright to pass the football. After Vernon Davis’ TD he would not have another reception until the final seconds of the game with a check down pass from Carr which boggled my mind. Not only that Davis had his first catch since scoring a touchdown but that Carr would go to his check down receiver with time running out. Receiver Michael Crabtree had four receptions for 31 yards in the first-half but did not have a catch in the second-half.
What happen to the 49ers offense using it’s playmakers? As soon as Smith went out of the game the 49ers acted as if Frank Gore was their only option for gaining yards. Gore was the lone highlight again, finishing with 102 rushing yards and 57 receiving yards. Problem is, the Panthers defense thought this too and stacked the box to stop the run and make Carr throw bad passes for the remainder of the game.
The lone GGN is awarded for defensive tackle Ray McDonald’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter which equaled the 49ers offensive total. The defense almost lost their GGN for giving up 308 passing yards to Matt Moore who was making his first start in three games. To make matters worse 216 receiving yards went to two rookies, David Gettis and Brandon LaFell. There was a reason why the Panthers did not have a win in five games. They have a bad offensive line and one of the worst passing offenses in the NFC. The 49ers defense made the Panthers offense look like a playoff team.
Cornerback Nate Clements had an ankle injury but still played and with the way he loves to jump routes for interceptions Sunday was no different and he could not recover in time on many plays. Clements was responsible for giving up the Panthers first touchdown. I have to hand it to Panthers wide receiver David Gettis for the fake out he gave to Clements on the touchdown. Gettis knew Clements loves to jump routes and made him look foolish. Taylor Mays made rookie mistakes in the fourth quarter that allowed Panthers to set up for the game-tying touchdown. It is one thing to lose with one side of the football playing well and the other side playing horrible. On Sunday the 49ers defense played was as bad as the offense.
The 49ers special teams unit saw plenty of action on punts yesterday with the 49ers punting ten times. The coverage on the punts and kickoffs was great and put the Panthers deep in their own territory multiple times. But the special teams could not get it going in the return game as Ted Ginn’s longest return was for 24 yards. In a game that saw the 49ers offense and defense get worse as the game went on a big return on a punt or kickoff could have ignited both sides of the football.
COACHING: Golden Goose Egg
After the game Mike Singletary said he still believes the 49ers can go to the playoffs. You have to be kidding me. Even with a win against the Panthers the 49ers would have been a long way from entertaining the thought of making the playoffs. I think Singletary and Jed York are the only two people in the organization who still believe the 49ers can make the playoffs. It is one thing to believe and have faith but to blatantly ignore the reality of how badly you are getting out-coached in each loss is not good for the team.
Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson did his best impression of Jimmy Raye after Smith went out of the game with a shoulder injury. In the first 27 minutes of game time that Carr was in Johnson called a total of five passing plays. And we wonder why Carr could not lead the 49ers down the field in the fourth quarter to get another score for the win.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky regressed badly after having a standout game last week. Good job on stopping the Panthers two-headed running attack but that is what the 49ers have always been good at. Each week it is defending against the passing game that is a huge problem for the 49ers defense. Manusky made the Panthers offense look like a high powered passing attack.
The positive: The Broncos got killed by the Raiders 59-14.
The negative: The 49ers are playing a home game in London which is a road game which means a loss.