The San Francisco 49ers Magical Mystery Tour ran out of hallucinogens Thursday night and the team crashed back to reality. Bummer, man.
Not hard to figure this game out. Nine sacks. 125 yards of game altering penalties. Short end of the straw. The play of the game may have been the TV shot of five or so Ravens descending upon Alex Smith while in the background two 49er O-line guys are standing there blocking nothing and looking at each other.
This game was tilted heavily toward the Ravens the minute the 2011 NFL schedule was announced last Spring. Back then, it looked like a family angle game to wrap up Thanksgiving Day, with the 49ers expected to be a dog breath team only too happy to get some national face time while being drubbed. No way the league interferes with the competitive balance of the Steelers or Patriots or Cowboys schedules like they did in this one. As it is, the Steelers may end up on the short end of the deal, since they have to travel to SF in two weeks on a normal week. A loss in that game could be the determining swing in who wins the AFC North.
I’m not complaing about the schedule, however. Let’s face it, the Rams and Seahawks both got tough early games this year that helped the Niners get dauntingly ahead in the division. The Rams imploded under the burden, but it’s not inconceivable that the Seahawks could close with a rush and finish 9-7 or even 10-6.
Superior preparation has been a key to the 49ers success this year and this game gave them no time to prepare. It looked a lot like the first exhibition game against the Saints in New Orleans, with the O-line getting overwhelmed all night long, most especially after Adam Snyder went out with an injury and Chilo Disaster Area replaced him. Chilo came in, whiffed his first effort and then lightly touched a guy in the back who Frank Gore had put on his face, resulting in a chop block penalty which negated a 75 yard TD for the Niners. Baltimore played a near perfect game at home, got their two biggest plays courtesy of the refs, and only squeaked out of the stadium with a ten point win.
As downer losses go, this one doesn’t hurt very much. The team has ten days to get ready for the Rams, get healthy, and get even more determined to get back into the winner’s circle and stay there.
The one area that can’t be excused in this loss is the 49er pass rush. As many have pointed out, it is not getting enough pressure and that is going to be an Achilles Heel against a team like Green Bay. The lack of pressure gave Joe Flacco all the time in the world Thursday night and turned a 50% passer into a 65% passer. It already cost us the Cowboys game and nearly cost the Giants game.
Unfortunately, there are no big mean pass rushers lounging around out there in Sofaville waiting for a late season phone call. Which means DC Vic Fangio is going to need to come up with some blitz packages that work. Maybe not in the regular season, but surely in the playoffs.
The team is missing Josh Morgan more than I thought it would. Neither Braylon Edwards nor Ted Ginn is reliable. Especially on third down plays or end zone efforts. Don’t really understand why Kyle Williams is not gettng more reps. Especially with Edwards clearly limping around at three-quarter speed. Are we saving Williams as a secret weapon in the playoffs?
Other than all three Thanksgiving games going against my wishes, it was a fine day of good food and the best company in the world. That would be Skeebette. My hero for the day. I believe I’m scheduled for lots of household chores today to balance the ledger. It’s only fair. And a good way to work off the Day After Grumbles.