Sure, it's the preseason. I know, you're not supposed to draw any conclusions from it. But I tend to disagree, to an extent.
When the first-team offense is going up against a first team defense...you can draw some conclusions. These are my thoughts after the first three pre-season games for the San Francisco 49ers:
We can run the ball pretty darn good. We have an absolute stable of running backs at our disposal and our offensive line definitely knows how to run-block. No need to run lots of sweeps or gimmick plays...we'll be fine between the tackles, thank you.
We can't manage to get a football to land in the ocean even when throwing it from a life-raft in the ocean! Seriously, I have remained optimistic all preseason about our passing game, but now I'm starting to get a little worried.
Our supposed "breakout candidate" Josh Morgan (whom I've personally touted to friends as someone whom "you'll know his name by the time the season is over") is rarely targeted, and, when he is, though some of the passes are not between the numbers, he's not coming down with catches.
For all of the talented receivers we supposedly had (and I agreed with this statement most of the off-season as well), nobody is impressing. I would have to say Arnaz Battle is the best option we have right now because of his knack as a possession receiver to get open.
The line is not giving the quarterback enough time on most passing downs, which seems to be part of the problem. However we have to find a way to manufacture some passing yards or the "talented stable of running backs" (see above) will end up being a group of broken-down old mules by the bye week.
Hey, if we can succeed at the old "I'm coming right up the gut so try and stop me!" approach, that would be awesome. I don't see us imposing our will on defenses to that level just yet, though. We still have issues with depth on the offensive line and are starting some guys who don't have a ton of game experience. Teams are going to exploit our inability to throw the ball and stack eight guys in the box, licking their chops.
And that's just the offense...
Defensively we aren't trying to sack the quarterback. We aren't. We can't be. If we were, we might, oh I don't know, succeed or even get close every now and then! Maybe it's "vanilla" defense, a term which, by the way, I'm growing to hate.
Then I hear things like "we're going to have to use scheme to get pressure." Wasn't one of the primary changes in the defense upon Nolan's departure to remove a lot of scheming so that we had a simple, easy to execute defense? What happened to "win the individual battles with sound fundamentals?" Oh, I know what happened to it...it was a typical, inspiring thing to say going into training camp.
We better bring a gun to a knife fight soon if we're going to start winning these "individual battles" because I don't see it.
Now to our secondary. This is what my eyes tell me, so please someone explain to me that what I see is not necessarily what we'll get this year: Soft, soft zones; bend don't break coverage; taking occasional shots on the ball in the hopes of getting a turnover before it is put in the end zone.
Are we playing quarters all game? It seems like anything in the flat or underneath is just "on the house." Maybe we're trying to eliminate the perennial highlight reels with a 49er defensive back getting burnt to a crisp on a long passing play. Hey, at least we'll look good on SportsCenter! Do they hand out trophies for that?
Our run defense and run offense are the bright spots so far, and yes, I know, that lines up with what Singletary had said we would be. I never thought, however, that it was implied that we'd be really good in those areas and, in turn, completely inadequate in all other facets of the game.
Or maybe we're just trying to be the anti-Cardinals-of-last-year in hopes that we can somehow be their kryptonite and thus, by default, take the division crown from their tiny little birdie feet.