The Jury Is Still Out

Sunday’s 49ers’ win against the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks produced more relief than exuberance. I even had to spruce up the vanquished opponent’s resume to lend some weight to the accomplishment.

Most fans felt we should win this game, but there was certainly a lot of new coach/lockout anxiety that we might find some way to lose it. And we very nearly did, if not for the timely late game heroics of Ted Ginn.

Two of the defense’s new starters played surprisingly well. Ray McDonald had a dominant game at LDE, and NaVorro Bowman led the team in tackles. Whether these guys were good because the Seahawks were not will be more discernible after this week’s game against the Cowboys.

In fact, there’s just not a lot to draw on from this first game. Other than we won it. The offense showed nothing and the defense looked capable. The missing ingredient for judgment is knowing how good or bad the Seahawks are.

The Cowboys went toe to toe with the Jets on Sunday, and the Jets are perceived to be an excellent team, so the Cowboys who were woeful last year are now perceived to be a good team this year. Their loss to the Jets has more cachet than our win against the Seahawks.

Such is life in the NFC We Get No Respect And Deserve No Respect Division. The 49ers could certainly make a dent in this perception with a win over the Cowboys, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see such a result prominantly poked over as a The Cowboys Aren’t Very Good After All angle.

Even so, it would be fun to whip their asses. Jim Harbaugh’s ulra conservative game plan against Seattle can be viewed as just smart, percentages football, but the Cowboy game demands a lot more if we are to win it. As such, we’ll be able to make a more detailed assessment of Harbaugh and the team come next Sunday afternoon.

One encouraging sign in the Seattle game was the team finding a way to win a close game rather than lose it, which happened several times in 2010. It’s tough to milk this aspect since the tide turning plays occurred on special teams, a quasi-miracle situation akin to Troy Smith’s Hail Mary victory over the Broncos last year. Smith was quickly brought to earth and so will a game plan than relies on special teams dominance.

Perhaps the most notable difference from this year to last was the rapport between coach and QB. Harbaugh is a former QB and clearly has an affection for that position. Singletary did not. In fact, Singletary seemed to have a disdain for that position, fitting for a former linebacker, but not for the fortunes of a team. The repeated runs on third and long had to be a calculated effort to keep the QB from getting maimed behind a shaky O-line. And to keep that QB from limping off the field and being replaced by one of the two rookies backing him up.

I imagine that protective strategy will continue for as long as the O-line takes to finally become effective pass blockers. Which means the team needs to get a whole lot better results from first and second downs than they did last Sunday.

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54 comments on “The Jury Is Still Out
  1. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I think Seattle has a better run stopping D than Dallas, but Dallas has Ware. The guy is a monster, a really good football player. The game plan will need to account for him. I expect more spread formations so our QB will get to use more pre-snap reads. Alex has proven to be good at pre-snap reads and that is going to be important with Ware bringing the heat. The other way to neutralize Ware is to run for 200 yards.

  2. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    The biggest key to beating Dallas is keeping Romo in the pocket and pressuring him. He handles pressure in the pocket worse than most QBs. The thing is, he is one of the best at running out of the pocket to buy time. IMO, this is the key to the game. In the past we have not been able to contain Romo in the pocket, let lone pressure him.

  3. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Let’s just hope Staley and Davis can account for Ware. Even if they get help. Or Alex could finish this game in the hospital. They’d better come to play, a lot more than they did against the Texans.

  4. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Good point Bergs, spread the field and nickel n dime ’em with the WCO short passing game. That would add some panache to our attack, no? I just can’t see us rushing for 100+ yards at present, never mind 200, dreamer, lol. What with the OL still working on progress. Someday we will have a balanced attack but doubt it will be Sunday. Still I like what JH did to win: simplify the offense, lean on D and ST for field position, wear ’em down: blue collar grind ’em down stuff.
    Last week folks debated whether the run would set up the pass or vice versa. Seems like the run game was so weak it would be easier to credit the passing game for any progress we made. 200 yards on offense? Hard to draw any conclusions. Except that don’t cut it.
    Actually I don’t think our attack needs panache just more first downs.

  5. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Grumpy, yep the OL is gonna be tested big time. (falls to knees and prays)

  6. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Phil- Having said that getting 200 yards rushing would neutralize DeMarcus Ware, I don’t expect that to happen. Which is why I opened with the alternative.
    But having said that, I think running from a spread formation gets a better yards per carry average because spreading the formations also spreads the defense. If you have a good runner it gives him more space to operate in.

  7. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    I like it Bergs, hope HC will adapt to our current opponent using some of what you suggest: running from the spread to spread the D, good one.

  8. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Jim Harbaugh: People Don’t Respect You? Do Something About It
    LOL, classic. Naw, I’d rather whine and blame the UQB.
    JH is gonna take no shit and demand
    Performance, count on it. You can see that with the way he’s constantly upgrading the personnel.

  9. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    This game is huge for Soap. The one thing Romo does well is step up in the pocket. Keep him from doing that and he loses his shit.

  10. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Chuck I’ll keep an eye on them

  11. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    All Sope needs to do is maintain the front edge of the pocket while others get the sack when Romo ties to escape the pocket. Franklin was abysmal at this task, hopefully Sope and RJF will be an improvement. My guess is we will see some one gapping by the NT and either a stunt or a MLB taking the other gap. But only if we get burned playing it straight up, first. It becomes a chess match, tied to performance.

  12. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    It’s late over here, I’m gonna sleep on this and study the Bergs scheme in the AM.

  13. winderNo Gravatar says:

    Skeebs, pretty fair assessment of our current situation. I have a feeling Harbaugh will do exactly like he did last week and play to our D. If our D is strong we will probably see the same type of game we had last week. I don’t think we will pull out the stops until we have too.

  14. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Berger, I hope Sopoaga is up to it. I wish Dobbs was ready to get into the rotation for this game. He seemed to have a knack for pushing the pocket.

  15. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Well, the last time we played the Cowboys, there was enough edge pressure, but AF was not there up front. They HAVE to keep Romo in the pocket and get in his face.

  16. robNo Gravatar says:

    tukuafu helped out last game ! i didn’t see dobbs ! in the end it’s good to have some young players ready to contribute !

    sop was never a question imho but the run defense from the d-line was better than even i thought it would be ! marshawn llynch is a good back and tough to bring down ! he gave us fits when we played buffalo !
    imo we are better off with sop at NT and raymac with an expanded role !

  17. barleyfreakNo Gravatar says:

    As 49er fans we’ve been lost in the desert of boring, ineffective offense for a long, long time. We’re naturally impatient to see something in the passing game. At least I am. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or 7 years either, apparently. I do think JH is going to show some different stuff this weekend to keep the 8 men in the box syndrome at bay.
    Our D played well against SEA, and I’m a little worried about DAL’s offense. But since the arrival of Singlenoodle, I have always been more worried about our offense. That won’t change, until I see it start kicking A. I can’t think of a better team to see it kick than DAL.

  18. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Nothing to do with the Niners but if I were Indy I’d make an offer to the Broncos for Orton.
    He’d be a good fit for their system and he’s also a local boy from Purdue.
    No love for him in Denver
    Two teams I don’t want to see Luck to go to are Indy and Seattle.

  19. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Rob, the numbers are such that, unless injuries set in, only one of our three last DLs will be active on any given day. So last week Tuku was active and Dobbs and Ian Williams sat.

    One more thing: Crabs annoys me. I think I’d rather see Williams in the slot this week. He is quicker anyway.

  20. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, the Crabs shit is getting old.

  21. robNo Gravatar says:

    i still have confidence in crabtree

  22. SUPREME72No Gravatar says:

    i have to agree I was disappointed not to see KW in the mix,put the youngster in the game,let crabs heal. cowboys DB’s are hurt JIM should exploit that. Niners have the talent for the dink n dunk type of game also.

  23. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Permethrin !

  24. bullitNo Gravatar says:

    Niners just signed veteran FA blocking TE Justin Peelle and released S Colin Jones.
    They hope to sign Jones to the prcatice squad if he clears waivers tomorrow.
    Finally a blocking TE.

  25. Grumpy GuyNo Gravatar says:

    Now if we can just get a blocking Offensive line to go with him.

  26. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Amen Grump – This OL is completely outta sync. Iupati is looking like Anthony, standing and reaching like they’re on a basketball court.
    Just get low and deliver the blow… can we?

  27. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Soap had a good game sealing off the front of the pocket. Hope he can continue that against Dallas, that’s going to be huge to slow down Romo. Not sure if he is up to penetrating and making plays in the backfield although somebody said that’s an ability he does have.
    Re: the OL being out of sync- Here is where we miss Baas alot. It’s not easy getting a center new to our other OL players integrated and on board. New players (G, T, C) new coaches. Gonna take some time.

  28. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Posted by Bbaez on a Cowboys blog where everyone was roasting Tony Romo (just for laughs, guys):
    “Romo has been defined by his LACK LUSTER ROSTERS (Light Years Behind the GB Packers of the NFL)
    Romo has played behind terrible offensive lines all of his career and despite doing well except in the play off where you can’t hide the WEAK O-LINE, Romo has been crucified for it instead of LAUDED
    We all KNOW you can’t run the ball in the Play Offs if you do not have a Top FLIGHT O-LINE, but Romo’s LACK LUSTER ROSTERS have been DEVOID of an NFL FRANCHISE RB [ TOO ] meaning he can never count on getting that SHORT YARDAGE MOVING OF THE CHAINS or even the REDZONE GOAL LINE TD’s leaving Romo to do it all himself
    LACK LUSTER ROSTERS have also meant that the PRECIOUS LEADS Romo DOES GET, are never protected like the 14 points over a Tough Jets Team was lost by our “IMPROVED DEFENSE”
    Now Romo playing on ROSTERS LIKE THOSE SB WINNER’S does not have to do it all himself by TRYING TO MAKE A PLAY by Running the Ball in himself on 3rd and Goal cause he knows his RB’s CAN’T or making a throw to DEZ who always says he will go up and get it no matter what until he RUNS THE WRONG ROUTE AND DOES NOT PLAY DEFENSE ONCE HE REALIZES IT – against REVIS of all DB’s
    Romo is throwing/passing JASON Witten right into the HALL of FAME backwards cap and all but WITTEN can’t put his shoulder down and run through a small DB for a TD instead he lets the little guy run him out of bounds and Romo IS LEFT to try to make the TD Play himself
    The Spec Teams Punt squad blocks no-one and THE BLOCKED PUNT is returned for a TD and again Romo is crucified by the LOW FOOTBALL IQ media and Fans even though he was running for his life the whole game with 4 sacks, MULTIPLE hits and knock downs GALORE
    THE LACK LUSTER ROSTER STOPS BLITZING SANCHEZ and he looks like JOE WILLIE NAMATH out there leading his team back – ala GARRAD last year REMEMBER
    SEAN LEE and WARE are the only players on this LACK LUSTER ROSTER that did not CHOKE in that BIG GAME IN UNFRIENDLY NY ON 911
    As it’s been ALL OF HIS CAREER, Romo is crucified for it all instead of LAUDED
    Or keep showing YOUR LOW FOOTBALL IQ for all of the NFL World to see …”

  29. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    Classic rant. Hopefully we can add to this guys angst. Just a bit fay wouldn’t you say? (He sees the future and retches)

  30. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    I didn’t think anybody loved Romo more than Del. Del might have met his match with Bbaez!

  31. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    Maybe Bbaez is Del’s screen name on the Cowboy blogs.

  32. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    That thought came to mind!

  33. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Romo reminds me a lot of Jeff Garcia. He’s not a bad QB. He helps a bad O-line ook better. But he does not perform well in the clutch in big games. The last point is where Garcia is actually the better QB.

  34. Philippine FanNo Gravatar says:

    I think Del has Romo on the espn fantasy league… All I know is he’s kicking my ass (long with the rest of ’em in our league)
    ‘Boys lose and that’s all fine

  35. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    The ALL CAPS give it a V kind of feel. But there’s no escaped goats or deluded clowns, so I guess not.

  36. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    I threw you a softball, NoFear, and you pounced on it. Hahaha.

  37. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    Where is Del?

  38. Del Mar DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Present and accounted for.

  39. Del Mar DennisNo Gravatar says:

    If I had said I was out buying a Tony Romo jersey you might have taken offense. Or you might have thought that I’ve finally gone completely insane.

  40. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Dennis, we passed that point 3 years ago . . .

  41. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    SoFear, sorry, I don’t want to hear about your dating technique . . .

  42. Unca ChuckNo Gravatar says:

    Wow. You have low standards, NoFear. You’ve been dating so many dogs, you don’t know what a woman looks like.

    And hands off Jozie, bud. She’s a sweet dog . . . You, on the other hand, are a sick puppy . . .

  43. robNo Gravatar says:

    go jozie !

    and yup
    any on of those dallas fans might just be our boi V !

  44. winderNo Gravatar says:

    “F” Dallas.

  45. winderNo Gravatar says:

    And Romo too.

  46. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    I especially liked the slap on the back Jerry J.O. gave his QB for the Solid 3Q effort he turned in on the National Stage.
    If only the games were 45 minutes long, Romo could be an American Idol just like Jerrah. Dufus’s Squared as it were.
    My only wish for this game is for Harbaugh and Fangio to embarrass the living SH!T out of the Cowpatties.
    But, then I’m reminded that we have Alex and, plenty of our own issues to overcome. We are however, at home and, they’re making an East Coast to West Coast swing in B2B weeks so…..
    Anything is possible.

  47. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    NoFear- I’d keep Romo this week. He always seems to torch the 49ers.

  48. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Berger we need to torch Romo for a change.
    Their OL isn’t much better than our own.
    We need a major ‘Rabbit out of the Hat’ Game.

  49. BergerNo Gravatar says:

    NJ- I know for sure we can win, I just think we will win. We’ve never kept Romo in the pocket, what changes now? And if you think we can keep Ware off our QB you have more confidence than I do.

  50. NJ49erNo Gravatar says:

    Ware isn’t much of a threat if we can establish the running game and quick tempo short routes.
    Just don’t think Alex and the Receiving game is polished enough yet. We’ll see what Harbaugh has cooked up.
    I do think our Defense can handle their OL.
    Ginn and Seely have already proved that we are a better ST unit this year. The Cowpatties had a punt blocked on Sunday night that turned the momentum on them.
    We can’t allow Romo the time to throw from the pocket. Make him move.

  51. SkeebersNo Gravatar says:

    New post is up.

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2021 Schedules
09/12: W 49ers 41, Lions 33
09/19: W 49ers 17, Eagles 11
09/26: L Packers 30, 49ers 28
10/03: L Seahawks 28, 49ers 21
10/10: L Cardinals 17, 49ers 10
10/17 BYE
10/24: L Colts 30, 49ers 18
10/31: W 49ers 33, Bears 22
11/07: L Cardinals 31, 49ers 17
11/15: W 49ers 31, Rams 10L
11/21: W 49ers 30, Jaguars 10
11/28: W 49ers 34, Vikings 26
12/05: L Seahawks 30, 49ers 23 12/12 · 10:00 AMCIN
12/19 · 1:05 PM v ATL
12/23 · 5:20 PM v TEN
01/02 · 1:05 PM v HOU
01/09 · 1:25 PM @ LAR

2021 Draft Class
1. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
2. OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
3. RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State
3. CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
5. OG/OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
5. CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon
5. S Talanoa Hufanga, USC
6. RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
2021 Prognostications
Bullit: 12-5
Grumpy: 13-4
NJ49er: 11-6
Skeebers: 14-3
Winder: 12-5
Rob: 17-0
Spitblood: 0-17