While the 49ers loss to the Cowboys in OT was among one of the more devastating losses over the last few years (last year’s Minnesota game comes to mind) the 49ers still made some strides towards becoming a contender. Week 2 was another frustrating week as the coach Jim Harbaugh kept the handcuffs on the offense preferring to play it safe over taking shots downfield. Say what you want about some of the calls the head coach made whether it was keeping the 3pts instead of going for the jugular in the 4th quarter or refusing to open up the playbook when Frank Gore and the running game weren’t getting it done. This loss was about the pass defense, or the lack thereof. Another brilliant game by Patrick Willis and co. at stopping the Cowboys run game was overshadowed by Tony Romo and the Cowboys passing attack. And about the conservative offensive approach, like it or not with Michael Crabtree AND Braylon Edwards sidelined with injuries it’s not like the 49ers could rely on the talents of the wide receiver group to make plays when it counted.
Now that we’ve got the negatives out of the way how about the positives? I took a lot away from this game; let’s start with the obvious shall we? The 49ers came into this game as big underdogs and took a very talented Dallas Cowboy team into OT and by most accounts “should” have won this game.
The front 7 continues to look dominate. The 49ers produced pressure on the QB consistently throughout the game (how those ribs feel Tony?). And once again the 49ers shut down the oppositions rushing attack, what’s that like 2 straight years now? The losses of Abrayo Franklin and Takeo Spikes seem like good moves right now as Navarro Bowman and Ray MacDonald are lighting it up right now.
The pass defense isn’t nearly as bad as it looks. Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner are playing some great football right now. Rogers looks like a #1 CB out there and if he could catch the dang football would have at least 2 INTs already. Whitner on the other hand has already recorded a INT, broke a QBs ribs and has looked like a linebacker in the running game. Let’s not forget the 49ers are playing their 3rd string free safety and a nickel CB in the starting lineup due to injuries.
The offensive line will finish the season a dominate group in the NFL. No question this group has talent with 3 former 1st round picks another 2nd as well as a high priced free agent. Not to beat a dead horse but this group has had less than a month to practice together. Jonathan Goodwin was just inserted into the starting lineup at Center over Adam Snyder before the opener. Anthony Davis and Chilo Rachal have looked much better than last year and have given signs of hope that they will reach their collective potentials. While the group hasn’t opened up many running lanes for Frank Gore, defenses are also keying on it.
I’m preparing to get bum rushed for this next opinion here but I am a fan of Harbaugh’s conservative play calling at times. Think about it this way, he’s had 1 month with this team, he runs a complex version of the west coast offense. His QB Alex Smith has had virtually no time with Michael Crabtree at all this season and has had less time with Braylon Edwards than the rest of the WRs. 49ers fans have been very critical of Harbaugh’s early season approach and it’s easy to fall into that way of thinking when you look at Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Braylon Edwards. It’s also very easy to forget the offensive line is still struggling at times and needs time to jell together. I’ll leave you with this would you prefer coach dial up a ton of deep pass plays that result in more sacks and INTs over the conservative approach that nearly got us to 2-0?
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