The San Francisco 49ers might want to tap Congress to get some of that bailout money if Nate Clements, an $80 million investment, doesn’t start locking down receivers. It’s ironic that his Web site proudly (and foolishly, it turns out) proclaims that he is Mr. “Lock Down.”
If Clements is Mr. Lock Down, I’d like to know why. He’s ranked a pathetic 63 among NFL defensive backs with one forced fumble and no interceptions.
How could the 49ers spend so much on only a two-time Pro Bowler?
When he shut down Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Clements stupidly said, “I feel I’m the best corner in this league and I’ll test my skills against anybody.”
Why did Devery Henderson beat you so bad for an 81-yard gain in the fourth quarter on Sunday? Why did Seattle's fourth-string receivers make you look like you still played in Pop Warner? Why did the Saints' second-string receivers burn you?
Clements shouldn’t have to worry too much this weekend, as he prepares for Matt Cassel. Here are the five reasons Clements and his other defensive backs should lock down New England. If they don’t, they deserve all the ridicule they have received.
- Cassel is just not that good at this point. His No.-15 rank among quarterbacks is misleading because he only has to execute what is a very conservative offensive game plan. If it were aggressive, he would be ranked much lower.
- Cassel is much too inexperienced. Only six quarterbacks have thrown for fewer attempts than Cassel’s 48. Three are backups like Cassel: Kerry Collins (47 attempts), Gus Ferrotte (41), and Tyler Thigpin (28). The other two are rookie Joe Flacco (44), no-receivers Matt Hasselbeck (47), and benched Tavaris Jackson (31).
- Lack of yardage per reception. Despite a 66.7 completion percentage, Cassel’s yards per catch average is only 6.2 yards.
- Underwhelming pass attack. Cassel is only averaging 149.3 yards per game, as compared to J.T. O’Sullivan’s 240.5 yards average per game.
- Lack of points. New England’s offense is ranked 24th, but underlying that ranking is a pitiful 49 points in three games, barely over a 16-point per game average. Even the 49ers should be able to outscore this year’s Patriots, unless the defense implodes and makes Cassel look like Tom Brady.