Heading into Sunday’s game against the Bengals we knew the final result was not going to be a shot out but scoring more than one touchdown would have made it more exciting. The 49ers offense is in transition like the Bengals who are lead by a rookie quarterback. Touchdowns were at a premium during the game as the first and only TD came with 4:04 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The 49ers offense struggled again for most of the game but luckily the defense was able to hold the Bengals offense. The win was ugly but we will take it for a 2-1 start to the season. Let’s hand out some Game Gold Nuggets.
= VERY GOOD
The only thing the 49ers offense accomplished in their game plan was getting TE Vernon Davis more involved. Davis was the lone highlight on the offense with eight receptions for 114 yards. Although Davis did not score a touchdown he was a big reason why QB Alex Smith was able to pass for 201 yards. The first six drives for the offense resulted in punts. The offensive line played horrible again giving up five sacks and committing four false-start penalties. RG Chilo Rachal was the biggest liability on the line with one false-start and two holding penalties.
Without the offensive line playing well RB Frank Gore was not a factor and could not get the running game going. Gore rushed 17 times for 42 yards, averaging 2.5 yards per carry and had one fumble. Not having Gore involved in the offense may work against a struggling team like the Bengals but against much better teams the 49ers will need Gore to contribute more if they want a chance to win. RB Kendall Hunter was finally involved in the running game and rushed in a seven-yard touchdown to give the 49ers the lead late in the game. If not for Hunter’s game winning TD the offense would have only received one Game Gold Nugget.
In the beginning of the game Bengals QB Andy Dalton looked like he was on his way to another 300-yard passing performance. On the first drive of the game Dalton lead the Bengals on a 76-yard drive resulting in a field goal. The 49ers defense was getting beat over the middle and looked to have no answer for the Bengals passing game. After the opening drive the defense held the Bengals to 152 yards the rest of the game. Dalton finished with only 157 passing yards.
The run defense limited RB Cedric Benson to 64 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The stout run defense allowed the 49ers to focus more defenders on the passing game. CB’s Carlos Rogers and Reggie Smith sealed the game with fourth quarter interceptions. The star on the defense in the win however was LB NaVorro Bowman who had 11 tackles and pressured Dalton all game. Once again the defense put the offense in position to score points all game.
No returns for touchdowns but Ted Ginn Jr. did run one kickoff back 32-yards that set up the winning touchdown drive. The 49ers front office may have an up and down record when it comes to drafting and signing players but they know what they are doing when it comes to the special teams. I guess you have to be when you have such a bad offense each season. Three games have only been played but David Akers is playing like a Pro Bowl kicker. Akers was 2-for-2 on field goals with the last one a game winning, clutch 53-yard field goal. The new goal line for the 49ers offense is the 35-yardline.
Punter Andy Lee did shank a punt that only went 14-yards. Lee still averaged 41-yards on seven punts with one traveling 60-yards.
With 12 penalties committed during the win the 49ers showed they have some discipline problems especially on the offensive line. This is on Jim Harbaugh and it is not something you would expect from someone who preaches discipline.
Early in the game offensive coordinator Greg Roman called a run for Alex Smith who suffered a concussion last week. Not sure why you would call a run for a battered QB with nothing but rookies behind him on the depth chart. Smith took a hard hit on the play.
Harbaugh really played it safe with less four minutes left in the game by running three straight running plays that resulted in a loss of three yards. After Carlos Rogers’ INT in the fourth quarter the offense started at the Bengals 32-yardline. Harbaugh played it safe with the 49ers up 10-6 and did not trust the offense to win it again as he ran it three times in a row. The 49ers made it a two score game with Akers’ 53-yard field goal but going with three straight running plays will not always work for the 49ers. Good thing Harbaugh has such a good defense and kicker to rely on because he does think the offense is capable to win games.
NEXT UP: @Philadelphia: The 49ers will stay on the West coast as they go up against the Eagles in week four. The Eagles suffered a tough loss to the Giants this week and QB Michael Vick was knocked of the game with a broken right hand. With or without Vick the Eagles will present the 49ers with their toughest challenge of the season so far. This game will be a lost cause for the 49ers if the offense does not contribute.