The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Defense Plays Great - Offense Does Just Enough - Niners Squeak By The Cardinals 20-17

The 49ers defense got off to a great start, with Walt Harris' pick on the first play, and with the full compliment of new faces, looked "as advertised". They kept Matt Leinart and the Cardinals' passing attack contained for most of the game. On offense, it took 57 minutes and a Cardinals prevent defense for Alex Smith to move the ball for a sustained drive, but it couldn't have come at a better time, as Arnaz Battle's 1 yard reverse run with 26 seconds, (below), secured an opening night home win for the Niners, 20-17.

For most of the game, both offenses were held in check, partly by stiff secondaries not willing to surrender anything but the run, but partly by conservative play calling. Frank Gore had his touches, with modest results, (55 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving, 1 T.D. ), but Smith still looked like he had "training wheels" on his arm. Smith finished 15-of-31 for 126 yards -- 60 of those yards on the final drive. The third-year quarterback also made a key 25-yard scramble on fourth-and-1. Yet, he got the job done, when it mattered most, using his arm, his legs, and most importantly, his head.

A look at the stat sheet will hurt: Arizona held the 49ers to 194 total yards, just 30 in the second half -- until that final drive. Edgerrin James rushed for 92 yards and a score, and Matt Leinart was 14-of-28 for 102 yards with one T.D. and two interceptions in the meeting between two long-struggling NFC West clubs with high hopes for the season.

Good and bad can be taken out of the win, as is usually the case. On the good side, in the few touches he had, Frank Gore looked fresh. The pass defense, particularily the revamped secondary was impressive against Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The run defense, while allowing 92 yards to James, never let him break one to the open field. And of course, Alex Smith played nearly mistake free football, (1 fumble), and "managed" the game and moved the ball when it counted. Had he had a little help from the receiving corps, some of his on-target passes may have helped his stats look better.

There is lots to work on, however. Undeciplined penalties helped several Arizona drives continue. The receivers looked unimpressive and dropped several catchable balls, and Vernon Davis was virtually non-existant, catching 2 passes for 4 yards. The offensive line was poreous at times, not giving Smith much of a chance to do anything, and rookie tackle Joe Staley looked overwhelmed on a couple of plays. The biggest thing was Jim Hostler's ultra conservative play calling. It is so frustrating because between "O"-line trouble and receiving issues, there has always been something holding Alex Smith back. This offensive effort may have been enough on this night against this Arizona team, but if Smith and the "O" don't have a more consistant attack against the tougher teams on their schedule, who will score more than the Cardinals did, they are dead. If they expect to play "Ravens style" football for the whole year, relying on defense, turnovers and short fields, I can tell you right now, it ain't gonna happen. The Niners face too many teams this year that can score points in bunches, like the other two teams in their division, and they need to get this offense in order in a hurry.

Hey, a win is a win, and good for Alex Smith, he got it done. I just hope the training wheels can come off soon so we can really see what he is capable of.

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