The Dallas Cowboys are coming to Candlestick, looking to forget a game where they practically handed their opponents a win. Despite beating the Seattle Seahawks last week, the San Francisco 49ers are underdogs, and for good reason. They might have shared the same fate as the Cowboys had it not been for everyone’s now favorite player, Ted Ginn Jr. The defense also made Tavaris Jackson look like a good quarterback. Although he makes some really bad decisions sometimes, Tony Romo is much better than T-Jax, so it is important for our team to play better this week.
What was most worrisome about the game was the play-calling from new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The offense went one for 12 on third down conversions. I don’t think it was ever that bad when Jimmy Raye was offensive coordinator. It shouldn’t be possible to win a game with numbers like that. I don’t have to remind everyone how many of those calls were runs up the middle on third and long. I appreciate giving Frank Gore 20+ carries, especially against the Seahawks whom he is notorious for running all over, but he averaged a paltry 2.7 YPC. The running game just wasn’t there. In fact, the best run of the day came from quarterback Alex Smith’s scamper into the endzone. Luckily for Smith, he got in because he didn’t throw a touchdown. I suppose that had a lot to do with the play-calling. Smith was 15 for 20, which is great, but he only threw for 124 yards. When you barely crack the 100 yard passing mark, no one cares you completed 75% of your passes. At the very least, he didn’t turn the ball over. The offense was very conservative, too conservative actually, playing the entire game safe and just trying not to lose it. Harbaugh has said he trusts Smith, but he has to start trusting him to throw the ball further than six yards. Maybe he was trying to ease the players into his offense and will open up the playbook this week.
We’re used to the ineptitude on offense, but we had our expectation elevated when Harbaugh agreed to be the coach. The signing of a big-play receiver also suggested we’d get to see more shots taken downfield. While WR Braylon Edwards didn’t light up the scoreboard (3 rec. 27 yards), he didn’t drop a pass. Speaking of dropped passes, Michael Crabtree produced as usual; his normal production of contributing nothing. Admittedly, I’m guilty of holding a grudge against him since his rookie holdout, but he has yet to do anything to prove he was worth the extra money.
While the defense did give up a couple of touchdowns, the pass rush looks much improved this year. I don’t know whether the Seahawks just have a horrible 0-line, or if Ray McDonald is that much of a difference, but the pressure was there. McDonald and Justin Smith were consistently getting to Jackson. Romo is an elusive quarterback, and can make plays on the run, but he is also known to hold onto the ball for too long, or better yet, throwing the ball erratically in the face of pressure. If they can get to him early and often, then can get him rattled and hopefully force some turnovers.
Creating turnovers is one thing, but turning them into points is something else. Excuse me, turning them into touchdowns is something else. I like David Akers and his dependability, but I want to see him kicking extra points, not field goals, when they start their drive in enemy territory. After two turnovers against Seattle, the 49ers should have been leading 14-0, not 6-0. Points will be needed against Dallas, who put up 24 points against the vaunted New York Jets defense. Ted Ginn Jr. won’t be able to save Harbaugh’s ass every game.
The 49ers are calling for a “Red Out” on Sunday, encouraging fans to wear 49er red and blanket the stadium in hopes of engulfing any Cowboy riff-raff that might be there. Their fans do travel, but there are also sleeper cells out there, living everywhere. If attending the game, please help out the home team and make some noise! Other than the winds, Candlestick isn’t exactly known as a tough place to play. Let’s do something to change that.
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