To tell the truth, I thought we would win this game easily so I am not really excited about that but one thing that I am excited the performance by Alex Smith. Everything else, on the other hand, not so much. The disappointments in particular were that we did not get our running game going at all, the return game, and this stupid prevent/bend but don't break defense. I would advise my fellow 49er fans to not get too excited about this game because the Jaguars just are not very good.
Alex Smith was easily the most impressive player on this team yesterday. He was extremely accurate on almost all of his throws and a good percentage of his incomplete passes came on well thrown balls that were just dropped, including a perfectly thrown pass that was dropped by Michael Crabtree in the endzone. Not only was he on-target, he was going through his progression and making the right decision on every play. Smith did not try and force anything that was not there. He also avoided what little pressure there was very well. It was definitely one of his better games as a pro.
No running back would have done well with the plays that were called for Frank Gore yesterday. 14 out of his 15 carries came in between the tackles and 11 of those were right up the middle behind the center and guards. Jacksonville knew exactly what the 49ers were going to do on those runs and they brought a run blitz right up the middle to stop it. Gore was met in the backfield by Jaguar defenders pretty much every play. His highlight of the day was his touchdown catch when he did a good job getting open and making a play for Smith.
Vernon Davis' numbers ended up looking great once again but he had 3 key dropped passes that could have led to more points. He dropped a pass that would have went for a first down on, another that would have put us inside Jacksonville's 10 yard line, and the last came in the flat when he had room to run. Great tight ends do not drop 3 perfectly thrown balls in one game. Delanie Walker was involved in the gameplan for pretty much the first time all season and he did not disappoint, catching 4 passes for 52 yards and adding an 11 yard rush. With Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker on the field, there are match-up problems no matter who we play.
The spread offense that we ran really helped our receivers get open in the first half. Josh Morgan seemed to be open almost every play and finished with a career-high 6 receptions. Michael Crabtree was also getting open and showed some nice run after the catch ability whenever he got the ball. As already mentioned, however, he also dropped a touchdown pass on a very well-thrown ball. Jason Hill had a key drop on our first drive on 3rd down on which he slipped and did not recover in time to make the catch.
It was by far the best pass blocking performance by our offensive line all year but it came against the worst pass rush in the league so take it with a grain of salt. Adam Snyder was beat in pass protection a couple of times but Smith was able to escape the pressure or get the ball away quickly enough. He also failed to get out in front of Gore quickly enough on a screen, leading to a pass for 0 yards. The run blocking, especially from Eric Heitmann and Chilo Rachal, should still be a huge concern for all of us. Neither of them can get any push even when going one-on-one. David Baas and Barry Sims were both solid in both facets of the game.
I am going to back off of Jimmy Raye a little bit because he actually called a pretty good game in the first half. He spread the Jaguars out and let Alex Smith do what he is best at, make quick reads and get the ball to the open man as soon as he becomes open. It only took him 5 games to realize that is what we should do in the first half but he is old and likely senile so cut him some slack. In the second half, his playcalling got very predictable and he played not to lose which allowed the Jaguars to come back. All of his runs were right up the gut and the Jaguars knew that was what we are going to do so they have no trouble stopping it.
No one player on the defensive line really had a good game. Late in the game, Justin Smith was dominating the left side of Jacksonville's offensive line but for the first 3 quarters he was not doing much. Aubrayo Franklin and Isaac Sopoaga did not put any pressure on Garrard and were getting blown off of the line by Jacksonville's guard in the second half. Kentwan Balmer made a good play when he forced Garrard to pull back when trying to throw a screen and Garrard threw it away for an intentional grounding, basically a sack for Balmer.
That strip-sack might have been the best pass rush that Manny Lawson has shown all year. He literally ran right over Eugene Monroe but it is still kind of disappointing because he still has shown no pass rushing moves. Parsys Haralson added a sack late but, like Lawson and most of our pass rush, was basically a none factor for the majority of the game. Takeo Spikes had a good game but got ran over by MJD twice. Patrick Willis is actually making a case for defensive player of the year, in my opinion. He added 11 total tackles, half a sack, and a couple of QB pressures to his resume this year and ran down Garrard on 3rd down when Garrard had the angle towards the first down.
It was not a good performance by our defensive backs but when they are playing 15 yards back in soft coverage with no pass rush I expected that. The only thing that I can say about their performance is that at least none of them gave up any big plays, though Tarell Brown fell down on a 15 yarder by Mike Sims-Walker.
Greg Manusky called a much worse game than Jimmy Raye did yesterday. Manusky has not called many blitzes all year but yesterday it was ridiculous. There were maybe 4 times when we brought more than 4 defenders and they usually came when the Jaguars ran play action plays. The few blitzes he called were telegraphed like they have been all season long. I am not asking him to blitz every play or anything but at least mix it up instead of just sending 4 down guys and hoping they get to the quarterback. It might also be helpful if he let Tarell Brown and Shawntae Spencer play to their strengths, which are bump and run coverages, instead of playing them 15 yards off of the line of scrimmage.
Our special teams was pretty much the same that it has been all year. Joe Nedney is reliable on field goals and our coverage team is great on kickoffs and Andy Lee is one of the top punters in the league. What was abnormal was the long punt return that Jacksonville had but that only happened because of a blatant hold on Marcus Hudson. The punt return game was awful once again.
Week 12 vs. Jacksonville Breakdown
Posted on: November 30, 2009 12:03 pm