Offense and Defense Propel 49ers Win
The San Francisco 49ers offense and defense both contributed to the Niners dominant victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mike Singletary’s intense passion and motivation gave him a perception of a head coach that is stubborn and unwilling to go against his “physical” with an F style of offense he wanted to install with offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
Singletary said in training camp that he wanted to run the football 60% of the time each game. With a great running back in Frank Gore and an average, if that, non-big playmaking quarterback in Shaun Hill you would probably want to run the football a majority of the time as well.
Not only because of the “Fhysical” nature Singletary longed for but he realized Hill is a game-manager at best and at the time the best offensive player on the team was Gore.
Things have changed since the start of the season with Vernon Davis emerging, finally, Michael Crabtree (MCT) signed, Alex Smith inserted as the starting quarterback and the realization that the 49ers offensive line is not as good as originally thought and is no way cable of successfully running the football 60 percent of the time.
Even with the evidence of the last six weeks in which the offense was only successful in the spread/shotgun formation Singletary said all week that he was not going to deviate away from his offensive philosophy of running the football down the defenses throat.
He pulled a fast one on us yesterday, which was good, in that he had Raye pass the football on 41 of 61 offensive plays.
That comes out to passing the football 67 percent of the time.
And the result? A 49ers 20-3 defeat of a very good and playoff hungry team in the Jaguars.
The success of the offense allowed the defense to rest after coming off the field which produced six sacks, two fumble recoveries and three points given up. Let’s hand out some game gold nuggets.
(Game gold nuggets are based on a 1 to 5 scale with, one being the worst, five being the best)
Smith completed 27 of 41 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The last stat is the most significant.
With Smith controlling the game while also moving the offense down the field for two touchdowns and two field goals Singletary was convinced that the 49ers can pass a majority of offensive plays and be successful.
“I would say right now I think we have more playmakers in the passing game. We have a lot of playmakers we can throw the ball to. … The best thing that happened this week is I saw leadership on the offensive side of the ball.” Singletary said.
Of the 41 pass attempts 34 of them, 82 percent, were in the spread/shotgun formation.
The 49er Faithful knows that Smith became a star in college because of Urban Meyer’s spread attack and the only success he has shown this season has been in the spread formation. Of Smith’s two touchdown passes the one to Gore showed his maturity into a reliable starting quarterback and how comfortable he is now in running the offense.
He relied on his instincts as he scrambled to the right and looked as if he was about to try to run the football in for a score at the five-yard line but he pulled up and sent a perfect pass just over the Jaguars defense and floated perfectly into Gore’s hands as he straddled the sidelines with his toes for the score. Vernon Davis was his usual self leading all receivers with six receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown.
Smith had plenty of time to pass throughout the game thanks to the offensive line that did not give up a sack.
When you pass 67 percent of the time the running game will of course suffer. Gore only managed 33 rushing yards for 16 carries averaging only 2.1 yards per rush. Even though Gore was heavily involved in the passing game, seven receptions for 14 yards and one touchdown, the 49ers will need to be careful to not abandon the running game all together and become a one-dimensional team like they were in the first-half of the season only having success in the running game.
But with yesterday’s results and how fun it was to watch a vertical passing game for 67 percent of the time how could you not want them to pass the football a majority of the time?
The 49ers offense only managed three points in the second half.
The 49ers defense had their best game of the season so far against the Jaguars yesterday. (I leave out the Rams game, because the Rams are horrible and the Florida Gators could probably have as much success against them). The D only gave up three points, recorded six sacks (a season high) and two fumble recoveries and forced four punts on ten drives.
Defensive end Justin Smith had a big game with five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
While the D did not give up a touchdown and limited another big-time Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew,75 rushing yards on 15 carries, they did give up 307 passing yards against David Garrard.
With 49ers offense only able to score a field goal in the second half the defense stepped up and recorded huge sacks that sealed the victory for the Red and Gold.
Outside linebacker Manny Lawson sacked Garrard in the third quarter that ended in a recovered fumble that also ended the Jags drive on the 49ers 17-yard line. Again with the Jags inside the red-zone at the 49ers 14-yardline the D recorded another sack that resulted in a recovered fumble.
Outside linebacker Parys Haralson forced Garrard to fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter that stopped another Jags potential touchdown score.
When the 49ers offense is successful that carries over to the defense.
Not only because the D can rest more on the sidelines and get ready for the next series but seeing the offense finally make plays and put the 49ers in the lead early in the game the D stepped up like an MLB All-Star closer protecting a lead for a victory.
The D frustrated the Jags offense all game and never allowed them to get an offensive flow started. Going forward if the 49ers want to contend for the NFC West and a playoff spot it will be the 49ers D that will win them games and not the offense.
In the 49ers five wins the D has given up only 35 points; In the 49ers six losses 178 points have been given up.
Not much happened with the special teams unit for the 49ers and Jaguars.
Kicker Joe Nedney added to the 49ers lead with two field-goals of 46 and 27 yards. Punter Andy Lee was not his Pro Bowl self only averaging 37.6 yards on five punts but with the way the defense played Lee could have had the Jags start at mid-field after each punt and the 49ers would still have won.
The punt return coverage did give up a 42-yard return by Brian Witherspoon. The 49ers had Jags kicker Josh Scobee miss two field-goal tries.
Singletary held his cards close to chest all week indicating that the 49ers would not all of a sudden reverse course and become a passing team.
Secretly he has telling Jimmy Raye to channel the Utah Alex Smith and make him pass a majority of the time.
Easier said than done especially with the 49ers offensive line. But you have to give Raye credit for developing a game-plan that best used his quarterback, wide receivers and running back in the passing game while exploiting an injured Jags secondary. While I would have liked to have seen more success in the running game in the end it does not matter if it was the pass or run, or both that won you the game but that you got the win.
Given an early lead defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was able to rush Garrard with multiple blitz’s that forced sacks and turnovers.
Manusky had his linebackers do most of the blitzing as he left his secondary in coverage to limit wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and Jones-Drew to only yards but no touchdowns.
Overall Singletary prepared his players on offense and defense well thanks to a great game-plans drawn up by Raye and Manusky. After the game Singletary, Raye and Smith said they take the offensive strategy game by game and that next week there could be a majority of running plays called rather than passing plays.
This will surely be the theme echoed all week against a Seahawks team the 49ers destroyed with their running game in week two. But I bet you that the cards will be held tight once again as the 49ers come out and pass all over a weak Seahawks secondary.
After the game Singletary said Vernon Davis, Alex Smith and MCT voiced their opinions about opening up the passing game.
Next up @ Seattle
The 49ers played the best four quarters of football so far this season against the Jags. This will carry over against the Seahawks who they beat 23-10 in week two.
With a win against the Seahawks and a Cardinals loss against the Vikings, a Monday Night Football showdown will be set-up the following week between the 49ers and Cardinals for the NFC West lead. One week at a time though, the 49ers look poised for another win.