Unlike games televised on FOX, CBS, or ESPN, the camera never directly featured a shot of the cheerleaders on the sideline. We didn’t even get a look at them during timeouts or before/after commercial break. That disappointed me greatly because from the slight glimpses I did see, they looked really good in their white uniforms. What disappointed me even more than not seeing our Gold Rush, was the fact our offense couldn’t turn turnovers into points.
What started out as a great offensive drive with their first possession, the 49ers could not move the ball into the endzone, or even through the uprights. Joe Nedney’s missed 39 yard field goal would have been the only points the 49ers didn’t score off of turnovers. However, it never should have come to a field goal attempt as Alex Smith hit Michael Crabtree on an important 2nd and 7, that would have been a 1st and goal, but Crabtree dropped the ball. That drop was costly and confusing as Crabtree made an amazing almost-catch on the first play of the series.
The offense as a whole did not fare very well against the Chicago Bears. Frank Gore finally received more than 20 carries for the first time since the first game of the season, and he did average four yards a carry, but as always, take away a big run from him and you see the results of a poor offensive line. Gore rushed 25 times, with positive yards on 16 of those carries, but nine attempts for no gain, or negative yards. The O-line’s inability to create a push upfront was apparent when Smith attempted to gain a yard for a first down but was denied. Although the 49ers are without Joe Staley, easily the most talented member on the line, the ability to gain one yard on 4th and 1 is what the front office is paying them for.
Alex Smith didn’t necessarily play poorly, he was just very unspectacular. He threw 16 of 23 for 118 yards. While completing nearly 70% of his passes is what the offense is looking for, having only 118 yards to show for it does not help anyone. He could have completed 100% of his passes but if it goes for 150 yards, who cares? I don’t even know if Jimmy Raye can be faulted completely anymore. Half of the plays were called out of the Shotgun, and I do like them using run plays out of the formation. The dink and dunk approach is fine, but the offense has to push the ball down the field once in a while. There was the one play-call that I absolutely loved, the deep ball to Michael Crabtree, that turned into an interception. It is on Smith to have seen the defender was with Crabtree step for step. The play just wasn’t there. Smith should have either continued through his reads, or overthrow Crabtree so it’s an incompletion, or great diving catch. I suppose Smith just doesn’t feel comfortable in the pocket, or confident in his decision making to look off the primary target and hit some one else.
After the interception, the 49ers didn’t dare unleash another downfield attempt, and played to not lose the game. To their credit, it almost worked. They were able to milk a good amount of time off the clock. With 9:01 left to play, the 49ers gave the Bears the ball back with 2:47. If they scored a touchdown at the end of the drive, it would have put the game away. Unfortunately, that did not happen and the game was much closer than it should have been.
All of us fans love to see nail-biters, especially when its our team that wins. This win was the ugliest win I have ever seen, and although a win is a win, the offense needs to improve if they want to win the division. Five interceptions is what offenses dream their defense gives them. Points off of turnovers will usually, and did determine the outcome of the game. But a meager ten points is plain embarrassing. The fifth interception doesn’t really count because it was the play that ended the game, but four turnovers and only ten points is just as bad. Last week the Tennessee Titans went into Candlestick and got 24 points off of four turnovers. That is what wins games.
Not enough praise can be showered onto the defense. What we already knew was a talented group, shined during a primetime game. It seemed everyone on that side of the ball came up with a big play. Aubrayo Franklin’s interception is probably one of my favorite plays this year. The 49ers are fortunate to have such a dominate defense, whose core players have not yet reached their potential. The defense deserves all the credit for the win, and hopefully continues to play well and get help from the offense.
No doubt Mike Singletary will take the win, but if his 49ers go into Green Bay content with an awful win, 4-6 is what we’re going to be looking at. The Packers are being just as inconsistent as the 49ers, so there is no reason why they can’t go into Lambeau Field and come out victorious. The offense better show up next week because the cheerleaders will not be there to cover up their porous play.
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