Cowboys vs. 49ers Week 2: 4 Areas the 49ers Need to Improve
The Cowboy’s offense, as well as their defense exposed some weaknesses of head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team.
After the heartbreaking 24-27 overtime loss last Sunday, the team has to quickly regroup and get ready for its first away game in 2011.
The following four areas are the most urgent ones the team should work on before it heads to Cincinnati for its Week 3 matchup against the Bengals.
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The performance of the 49ers’ offensive line regarding pass protection was poor against Dallas, but could have been even worse.
They allowed six sacks, but with all the different looks the Cowboys’ defense presented to them you actually have to say only six sacks.
Nevertheless, six sacks are simply too much to have success in this league. In addition to the number of sacks, Niners’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman should be even more worried about the timing of those sacks.
The sack that may have cost them the game occurred on San Francisco’s opening overtime drive. On a second and three at their own 39 yard line, 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith got sacked for a loss of eight yards, which set up a third and eleven that the Niners could not convert.
Alex Smith, despite looking improved, needs the protection from his offensive line in order to make the right decision.
San Francisco will play against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, and should be able to continue working on this problem against an average Bengals’ team.
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The second point on my list has also to do with San Francisco’s offensive line, but I will get to that in a second.
First, it is all about running back Frank Gore. The 49ers’ workhorse has run for a total of 106 yards in the first two games of the season.
That is concerning, especially if your quarterback is not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Gore who signed a three-year contract extension with the Niners a couple weeks ago seems to have lost his first step.
His longest run against Dallas, on Sunday, was a stunning nine yards. San Francisco needs a reliable running game, so opposing defenses cannot concentrate on shutting down the passing game because the running game does not possess a threat.
However, it is not completely Gore’s fault that the 49ers’ running game is in dismal right now.
Part of the blame goes again to the offensive line that has not been able to open holes for Gore and his backups in the first two games.
This has to change in a hurry if the 49ers want to have a shot at the NFC West title.
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It is not a secret that San Francisco’s secondary is not particularly good, but nobody would have thought that they are that bad.
In 2010, the 49ers allowed a total of 3,697 passing yards at a completion rate of 65.1 percent. Both statistics ranked them in the bottom third of the NFL.
Through two games this season the team ranks No. 25 allowing 291 passing yards per game. In Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, the Niners’ secondary gave up a total of 432 yards.
A big chunk of those yards rest on the shoulders of Dallas tight end Jason Witten who caught seven balls for 102 yards, and wide receiver Miles Austin who grabbed nine passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
Statistics like those show how vulnerable the 49ers’ secondary is. San Francisco’s defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s will have a tough time coming up with a solution for this dilemma.
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The current status of the San Francisco 49ers’ receiving corps: Braylon Edwards (knee/questionable) and Michael Crabtree (feet/questionable).
The team’s best two wide receivers are both listed as questionable and might miss the next game against the Bengals.
The solution for this kind of a scenario is 6’3”, weights 250 pounds and listens to the name Vernon Davis.
Is it Coach Harbaugh’s game plan, or is it the great coverage of opposing defenses? I do not know, but what I know is that Vernon Davis has been a non-factor in the first two games.
He has caught seven passes for a total of 65 yards in Weeks 1 and 2. With Edwards and Crabtree gone, he has to become Smith’s go-to-guy.
Davis is one the best tight ends in this league, and so far the 49ers have done a good job not utilizing this target. No.85 has to light it up against Cincinnati on Sunday.