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  1. Good result, thankfully they found a way to fight for the win. Wish it didn't have to be so difficult. Stats Snap counts Defense, C-: 70 plays, 402 yards, 23 first downs (19 passing, 3 rushing, 1 penalty), 4/14 on third down, 2/2 on fourth down, 2/3 red zone, 0 turnovers, 23 points; the passing defense is a real problem Defensive front: They got back to a tough, mostly physical performance against the run. There were some leaks up the middle, a couple of plays that probably would have gone for BIG yards if not for shoestring tackles -- no surprise that Breida was the guy that gave us trouble; besides Hyde being less than 100%, Breida is the speed guy that we typically struggle with. Also some bad edge play a few times. For the most part the run defense was strong, including some third down stops. The pass rush was less impressive, partly because Hoyer got on the move and used strong play action, but mostly because they had open receivers all over the place. The Niners also used some tempo changes to catch the defense off guard. Sheard had a nice game, used his hands well and got to the QB quite a bit. They lined him up on the LT more often this game, good because their RT has been good in pass pro so far. Sheard might have been our best defensive player this week. B-, only critique is the lack of pressure, but when Hoyer held the ball the rush got to him Pass defense: The good, Melvin had a decent game again, including a nice near pick coming under a throw to Garcon, who was eating us up. Melvin didn't have sticky coverage most of the game, but he's diagnosing and breaking on the ball a lot lately, and when a DB does that, he's going to cause turnovers (which we've already seen from him). He's also tackling better each week. The bad, well, lots of it. The ILBs can't cover, period, over the middle, up the seam, or in the flats. The safeties appeared to have some breakdowns, not getting deep enough on the long play to Goodwin, and not breaking strong on throws in front of them. And there's a gross lack of recognition in any zone coverage. By my count/judgment, Hoyer threw 26 uncontested passes with 4 incompletions, 3 of which were off target. We had 4 PDs, two of which were at the line, not due to good coverage. The pass defense was a sieve, and got shredded for 353 yards and 2 TDs by a QB who had a passer rating below 70, and an offense that went 22 possessions without scoring a TD. Gave up three more 20+ yard pass plays, and could not stop the bleeding in the 4th quarter. The PI in OT was bogus. D, this is scheme related and personnel related Offense, C+: 73 plays, 447 yards, 25 first downs (14 passing, 9 rushing, 2 penalties), 8/16 on third down, 1/4 red zone, 1 turnover, 26 points; dry spells -- caused by poor execution and frustrating penalties at every position -- led to another up and down performance QB: Pagano said Brissett has "it," and he's right about that. Hitting those third downs to Moncrief, and the big play to Hilton in OT, show what he can do. I wondered about his ability to throw the deep out to the left, but he nailed it to Moncrief. He also had a perfectly placed ball to Hilton for a big gain that was dropped. He found underneath receivers well, showed patience in the pocket and drove the ball to the second level with authority, even on the run... He also has some inconsistencies that pop up at the worst times -- elongated delivery, which I think led to the pick in OT, messy footwork and lack of balance, to name a few. Bounced back to make plays, including the aforementioned third down to Moncrief, which came after the pick. He also stayed tough when pressured, and there was plenty of pressure; for a stretch, his response was to tuck it and run, and that's fine when you can get yards. Not a perfect performance, almost cost us the game (again), but that playmaking ability and "it" factor are obvious multiple times every game. C+, 139 passing yards when pressured, 135 passing yards on throws 20+ yards Backs / receivers / TEs: Gore was tough and showed good vision, getting to the second level several times, but he got stopped in the backfield more than usual this week. Turbin did what he does in short yardage, finding the hole and finishing, but got stopped in the backfield on the goal line. This was the Marlon Mack show, though, and he made big play after big play, almost hitting 100 yards in just 10 total touches on 17 snaps. The ability to take a busted play for 16 yards on third and 15 is special. He'll get more reps and more opportunities moving forward. Receivers were hit and miss; Hilton led the way with a big game, but had two drops. Moncrief started the game with a nice catch, disappeared for about three hours, then came back with two big catches in OT. Need more slants to Aiken from the slot. The TEs were nondescript. Gore did a good job gaining yards on a screen pass, then got chopped down on another due to bad blocking. B-, mostly Hilton and Mack with big gains, but the others made plays also OL / blocking: Pass protection was overwhelmed on multiple occasions, unable to form a pocket or keep the QB upright. Bad matchups with Haeg on Dumervil and Vujnovic on Buckner, and those guys made big plays against us. The run blocking made some decent holes at times, some just big enough for Gore/Turbin to find and squeeze through. They were inconsistent getting the edge, but managed to seal it a few times. Too much penetration overall in both phases. The blocking in space was bad as well, especially the screen play where Vuj couldn't so much as redirect the DB so Gore could get upfield, and that play would have gone for big yardage. The TEs missed some blocks as well. Clark had a nice block as the 6th OL, continuing to do well in that limited role. Shout out to TY for a nice downfield block! C-, I'm thinking it might be time to go back to Haeg at guard, Clark at RT Special teams: Focusing on the good, AV was on fire, two 50 yarders, including another game winner. This man is 44 years old, ya'll. Sanchez was great also, really good punter, and when he pulls off on kickoffs, it's well placed directionally to keep the returner controlled. The return game isn't doing anything but nearly turning the ball over. I get the concept, but it's a little overly risky, IMO, and Bray had a good 20 yards open in front of him. Don't beat yourself... B Coaching / play calling / game management: Well called offensive game. I personally would like to see Chud string together some play action, go to it after decent run plays, etc. This is a nitpick, especially since Pagano says they script the first 15 plays (I never understood how that works, but whatever), but the first play is a 10 yard pass, then a 9 yard run, then they run it again for a one yard loss. Throw a play action right there, and you probably have the defense on its heels. The last series of play calls was overly predictable, but they went super safe after blowing the previous possession in the red zone. The QB keeper and the wildcat have potential; some might see them as overly cute, but you can see defenses reacting to them, and there are things we can do off of them. Just have to field the snap and protect the ball. Also have to clean up the penalties -- which are spreading from the OL to the skill guys. B- I'm not sure what the mix of man/zone is supposed to be, and I'm not sure why we can't play outside technique without completely vacating the space inside the numbers and giving receivers free reign. I know we're not good at ILB, but the pass defense is being stressed everywhere. Everything is vanilla against the run, and it's mostly working. D Pagano was again caught between strategies at the end of the 4th quarter. Decline the ten second runoff because the Niners are running out of downs, that means you want a chance to get into FG range at the end of regulation. Then 4th down comes up with over a minute left, and you don't call timeout? Then why decline the runoff? Then you burn a timeout after the Niners get lined up, and still give up the TD? Also got burned on kicker freeze timeout, but that's impossible to predict. D Missed Callin 'em Out last week, and Grades. Just a super rough week. Game ball: Marlon Mack, he's electric, made huge plays that woke the offense up in the second half, and was the key to setting up the game winning kick. I'm excited to see how we continue working him in. Next up: Titans on the road, as the divisional schedule gets started. If Mariota plays, this will be a big test. I'm not convinced the Colts are good enough to do anything this season, especially without Luck, but we could be in first place a week from now. GO COLTS!!!
  2. I'm thinking this is what Grigson and Pagano have in mind when they talk about 'building the monster.' Great game, knocked down a formidable opponent in their house, and beat them at their own game. Lots of fun to watch this one. Box score Week 2 grades Offense, B: 67 plays, 336 yards, 23 first downs (9 passing, 9 rushing, five from penalty), 5/12 on third down, 3/4 in the red zone, zero turnovers, 27 points (and another missed field goal); dominated time of possession, finally got something going in the second half QB: Solid and steady performance, took what the defense gave him for most of the game, and also made some big plays and throws, into coverage, and helped the offense shake off the rust to get some points. He wasn't great when pressured, though, as I believe he was 0/8 with a scramble on nine pressures. Most of their pressure came without bringing extra defenders though, so it's not like he had a lot of chances to burn blitzes. And of course, the flip side is that he was 18/19 with no pressure, pretty much perfect. The keeper was awesome, especially if he called his own number on the spot. Kind of nondescript from the QB, but that's positive when you score 27 points. Imagine if Luck had been on fire. B- Backs / receivers / tight ends: Just an awesome, awesome game. It started with DHB looking like a potentially dominant receiver, even making hands catches. Reggie caught everything that was thrown at him, and even had some nice YAC. Fleener only had a couple of catches, but he was off the field a lot because of the 3WR/2RB sets, which eventually started yielding some results. The receivers had some trouble getting open during the drought. The backs just did everything right. Richardson got himself involved, but it will be a while before he's really at workhorse status for us. Donald Brown got involved on some nice carries. But it was Bradshaw's day, and he set the tone for the offense. Ran hard, ran long, and ran well, finally getting the payoff on the last touchdown, and you could tell he wanted it from the way he tried to dive in from the five yard line on the previous possession. AB's performance basically said "I'm a lead back, not a bench warmer," and I think we might have one of the best RB tandems in the league. B+ OL / blocking: Tough, hard fought game for the line, against a really good defensive front, and they took the Niners' best punch and then returned in kind. Great effort. I've been expecting the line play to gradually get better, but I'm surprised that they played so well with essentially three replacements along the interior. Some missed assignments, some matchup losses (mostly from Linkenbach, back at his favorite position, RG), but this was a solid performance. Best of the year, easily, from the line. McGlynn looks better at center, and that's a good thing. Allowed some pressures on the quarterback, but not a whole lot. The run blocking wasn't dominant, but again, very few bad run plays. Only two for a loss (-2 and -1, respectively), and three for no gain. Lots of short gains, but those started turning into 4 and 5 yarders, and then we broke a couple for 11 and 15 and finally Bradshaw popped out for 27. Just a winning performance, bell to bell. B Defense, B: 53 plays, 254 yards, 14 first downs!!! (8 passing, 6 rushing, zero from penalty), 3/12 on third down, 1/1 on fourth down, 1/1 in the red zone, two turnovers, 7 points Defensive front: I think we got saved by a questionable gameplan from the Niners. It seems they want to prove that Kaepernick can handle a pro style offense and carry the team with his arm, and whether that's true or not remains to be seen. But rather than sticking with the run, they decided to throw it. Our pass rush was solid, and we kept Kaepernick contained on his scrambles, but Gore averaged 7.5 yards/carry. We were sloppy on some off tackle runs, letting their backs get outside. Most of what they tried up the middle was shut down, which has been the pattern through three games now. We pursued and chased well, showed a lot of effort, got to the ball quickly and tackled pretty well. We moved Kaepernick off his spot, but struggled to get home and bring him down. The one read option play they tried got swallowed up for a five yard loss, but I can't understand why they didn't use this early and often, considered how sloppy we were at defending the Raiders read option stuff two weeks ago. This was a nice performance, but again, I think we got off easy. B- Pass defense: I'm not complaining that they were trying to throw the ball, because it allowed the secondary a great chance to flex their muscles. Just going to point out here though that the Niners were without their two best receivers (Crabtree and Davis), and Kaepernick hasn't seemed comfortable in two weeks. But the secondary and the linebackers were just draped all over their receivers, no matter how they moved them around and positioned them before the snap. No room, even when Kaepernick extended plays with his legs. They played fast and aggressive, and hit hard, but were also disciplined (zero penalties, no big plays). A couple of mistakes in coverage -- no surprise there, it happens to everyone. Boldin can make plays, but he's an intermediate receiver, not a burner, and so athletic corners can keep him contained. And that's what we did. Delano Howell was active and strong. Again pointing out the folly of not sticking with the run game, the Niners had an adjusted average of 5 yards/pass attempt. Nice game. B+ Special teams, B: AV's miss is irritating, but at least the leg is still there. It's curious to me that both of his misses were just to the left. McAfee did a great job hanging the ball in the air and dropping them inside the 10. Coverage was mostly good, except for the one punt return, which was close to being a six point disaster. Coaching / playcalling, B: Seemed purposefully conservative on offense, which luxury we had due to the good performance of the defense. The formations and personnel packages were good to see, and while it's kind of annoying to keep seeing the unbalanced line stuff, we had a chance to break to trend on the bootleg. I liked some of the passing concepts, especially the angle route for Bradshaw. I'd like to see a few more downfield opportunities. But we finally put some points up in the second half. B On defense, before I get too excited with the results, I want to see the defense get stress tested. I don't know about the run fits, but the secondary play was better. The blitzes were more effective, and the pressure kept Kaepernick uncomfortable. We used Moala as a joker, which was interesting, but having a 6'4" lineman standing upright in the middle of the field seemed to throw off passing angles, so good work. B+ Game management was routine, no real big decisions. Could have been a little more aggressive earlier on. The math says you go for 2 when it's 19-7, because you already have a 2 touchdown lead either way. But if you get 2, you're safe from a defensive meltdown. The defense rendered this decision moot, but I think going for 2 is the move there. B Game ball, offense: Ahmad Bradshaw. He lifted his teammates up, and Castonzo confirmed that with his comments today. Very happy for him. Game ball, defense: Jerrell Freeman. I think we all like Freeman, but through last year, he was just a nice find by Grigson who was serviceable as an inside backer. This year, he's looked like a pure playmaker. He thumped, he got to the QB again, and he blew up the read option for a loss. Great game for Freeman. Next week, @ Jacksonville. Last time we went down there, we rolled them. If our secondary can play like they did this week, we might get a shutout.
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