We can blame Alex Smith or the injuries to Frank Gore, Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree for the lack of a 49ers offense this season but the real blame lies with the offensive line. You need no further evidence of how badly the 49ers O-line is playing than the false start called on the entire offensive line in the win against the Bengals last week. Not one or two players were called for the penalty, but the entire offensive line. I have never heard a ref say, “false start, offense, the entire offensive line.” Watch as the 49ers’ entire offensive line is called for a false start while inside the Bengals red zone: http://www.nfl.com/videos/san-francisco-49ers/09000d5d82291b2d/Unique-false-start
If I was the ref I would have been laughing inside trying to contain it as to not embarrass the 49ers any further. But this is of course no laughing matter because it is the 49ers offensive line and not another teams problem. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman know the offense needs more than one touchdown scored in order to beat the Eagles on Sunday. With Gore unsure if he will play because of an ankle injury and with the offensive lines woes, Harbaugh and Roman will not take the training wheels off the offense this week and set them loose on the Eagles. To make matters worse, starting guard Mike Iupati is listed on the injury report with a neck injury but has been practicing all week.
We shouldn’t be surprised by their play as the offensive line played inconsistently during the preseason. At the time I thought it was the growing pains of learning a new offense but now there is no excuse. There is no pass protection for Alex Smith having been sacked 11 times this season which is partially the reason why he has only thrown for 150-200 passing yards in a game this season. Normally the 49ers can lean on Gore and the running game but the offensive line has failed in that area as well with the team only having 209 rushing yards and 2.5 yards per carry this season. While the O-line is the main culprit running backs and fullbacks also share the blame as they have not pass protected or picked up blitz’s when called on.
Right guard Chilo Rachal played so badly last week he was rarely on the field in the second-half. Rachal committed two holding penalties and one false-start in the first-half of the game. Roman did not say who would start at right guard, Rachal or his backup Adam Snyder. With the 49ers going up against their toughest opponent of the season so far I think Roman should go with Snyder. Rachal, who was a second round draft pick in 2008, has not been able to play well consistently through a full season. The line man is showing he still has not cleared up his deficiencies and it might be time for the 49ers to make him a backup.