Giants vs. 49ers: San Francisco's Anemic Pass Rush Rears Its Ugly Head Yet Again

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterOctober 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 7:  Defensive tackle Justin Smith #94, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga #90, and defensive tackle Ray McDonald #91 of the San Francisco 49ers approach the line of scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills on October 7, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 45-3.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

What has happened to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's pass rush? Last year there was no better team in terms of getting after the quarterback. Through the first six games of 2011, they had 17 sacks and 28 quarterback hits. Through the first six games of the 2012 season, they only have nine sacks and 15 quarterback hits.

Have Aldon Smith's increased snaps played a roll in his decline? Or, has Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga's lack of pass-rushing ability directly affected the linebackers? There is no obvious answer, but if you look at the way J. Smith rushed the passer last year, and compare it to this year, it's a night-and-day difference. 

According to Pro Football Focus, he was the most effective 3-4 pass-rushing defensive end in the league last year. And now, PFF has him as the seventh-worst 3-4 end in that same category. Unfortunately, the disappointing play from the front seven has spilled over into the secondary.

The most notable drop-offs on the back end of the defense have been All-Pro Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown. Even though today seemed like an improvement from weeks prior, all three players have still been negatively impacted by the front seven's lack of pressure.

To make matters worse, the 49ers defense didn't get any help from Greg Roman's offense.

If there is one thing San Francisco has to constantly do from week to week, it's run the football. Since becoming the head coach of the Niners, Jim Harbaugh is 3-5 when they rush for less than 100 total yards.

Think about that. All of his five regular-season losses have come when they fail to hit the century mark. So you may ask, what is his record when they do hit the century mark? An impressive 15-0. This team's blueprint for success is built solely on the run game.

I echoed the same sentiments after the Minnesota game. I don't care if you're down a touchdown or even two, there is still time to grind out yards on the ground. Don't put the game in Alex Smith's hands if you don't have too.

In today's game, the 49ers were only down 10-3 going into halftime. Sure, they hadn't ran the ball as well as they had liked to up until that point, but the backfield is still more than capable. Shoot, by game's end, they finished with an average of 4.7 yards per carry. There's no excuse as to why your best player on offense only carried the ball eight times.

A 37-11 pass-to-run ratio is completely backward. When No. 11 is allowed to throw the rock around 30 times with no running game, it's almost a guarantee interceptions will follow—just like they did today. Smith's three interception game was only the second of his career and the first since 2009. 

San Francisco will have to quickly regroup before Thursday Night Football. The 4-2 Seattle Seahawks will have a full head of steam heading into Thursday night after beating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.