49ers vs. Broncos: What Experts Are Saying About San Francisco
Colin Kaepernick had a big game, completing 22 of his 36 pass attempts. He threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. What made this effort more spectacular was that it was on Monday Night Football, with the entire pro football world watching.
Let's take a closer look at what some of the analysts are saying about the 49ers.
Jon Gruden: The 49ers Gave Great Effort Despite Injuries
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden discussed the 49ers' win over the Rams this past Monday night.
I'm more proud of this 49er effort if I'm Jim Harbaugh, maybe than any other in my career. They were playing without a lot of players that were injured.
Gruden makes an excellent point, as heading into the game the 49ers were without NaVorro Bowman, Glenn Dorsey, Anthony Davis and Tramaine Brock. All are out with injuries. In addition, linebacker Aldon Smith is also out due to his suspension.
As the game went on, more San Francisco players got hurt. Patrick Willis, Mike Iupati and Jimmie Ward were all injured and did not return.
Even with all of these hardships, the 49ers found a way to rally and come up with a big win.
Ray Ratto: One Team Is Getting Hosed in the NFC West
CSN Bay Area analyst Ray Ratto was interviewed on The John Feinstein Show on CBS Sports Radio.
Ratto told Feinstein that he was not worried when the 49ers were down 14-0, as he felt the 49ers would come back and win the game. He was prophetic, as the 49ers rallied and outscored the Rams 31-3 the rest of the way.
Ratto also commented on the very tough NFC West and how one of the top teams in the NFC is unlikely to make the playoffs.
They (49ers) are going to be in a blood feud with both Seattle and Arizona from now until the end of the year – and one of those three teams is going to get hosed the way Arizona did last year, which is being one of the six best teams and not getting to be in the playoffs.
Ratto was right about the 49ers mounting a comeback and he is also correct about the 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks.
Although not impossible, it is unlikely that both wild-card teams will come from the same division. One of these three teams will probably miss the playoffs, as the teams in the NFC West will beat each other up and incur some losses.
Trent Dilfer: The Receiving Corps for the Niners Is Really Good
ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer was on Colin Cowherd's ESPN Radio show, The Herd, discussing the 49ers. One of his primary points was on the improved play of the San Francisco receivers.
The receivers have made a ton of plays. This receiving corps for the Niners is really, really good. Look for play-making on big downs by the Niners. It doesn't look pretty. It's not like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but it's been effective.
Dilfer proved prophetic as the 49ers wide receivers had a big day against the Rams. Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd combined for 16 catches for 276 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rams focused on stopping Frank Gore and the 49ers' running game. They did an excellent job, holding Gore to only 38 yards on 16 carries. Gore's backup, Carlos Hyde fared even worse. Hyde carried the ball 11 times and gained only 14 yards.
Although the Rams contained the San Francisco ground attack, Colin Kaepernick and the 49er receivers had a huge day.
If opposing defenses focus too much on stopping Gore, the 49ers should feel more confident that Kaepernick and his receivers can get the job done. This ability to hurt the opposition on the ground and through the air will make the 49ers more productive on offense.
Matt Maiocco: Colin Kaepernick Threw for 343 Yards and Three Touchdowns
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area analyst and 49er insider Matt Maiocco had three positives that emerged from the 49ers' win over the Rams.
Maiocco singled out the play of Colin Kaepernick, who played in his fourth Monday Night Football game. He is undefeated and seems to rise to the occasion.
Maiocco also singled out reserves Chris Borland and Dontae Johnson as having good games.
Borland replaced Patrick Willis, who suffered a toe injury. He was very active on defense and fared very well in his first meaningful action outside of special teams.
Johnson was playing for the injured Jimmie Ward. He grabbed his first career interception late in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown.
Maiocco's third key point was how well offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did in making adjustments.
After the Rams stormed out to a 14-0 lead, they were stymied the rest of the way. The 49ers proceeded to outscore the Rams 31-3 the rest of the game. A main reason for that dominance were the in-game adjustments made by Fangio and Roman.
Matt Maiocco: The 49ers Suffered Several Injuries Against the Rams.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area analyst and 49er insider Matt Maiocco also had three negatives that emerged from the 49ers' win over the Rams.
The first concern is injuries. The 49ers lost four players during the game against the Rams. Mike Iupati, Stevie Johnson, Patrick Willis and Jimmie Ward. Willis' toe injury will keep him out this coming Sunday against Denver.
The 49ers' slow start is another area that must be corrected. Had it not been for a highly questionable offensive pass interference call late in the first half, the outcome of this game could have been much different.
The Rams were driving and could have gone up 17-3 or 21-3. However, the penalty enabled the San Francisco defense to force a punt. With only seconds remaining in the half, Colin Kaepernick found Brandon Lloyd for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
The 49ers gained confidence and dominated the game from that moment. The touchdown also seemed to haunt the Rams, as they completely lost their momentum following that play. This was a huge swing as the 49ers went into halftime trailing only 14-10.
Maiocco also pointed out that the return game has yet to look comfortable. Bruce Ellington has made a few mistakes on punt returns, but he is learning.
Maiocco's points are valid, especially about the injuries. The 49ers pride themselves on having strong depth and that is being tested with all the injuries.