49ers Offense Was Never Playoff Caliber; Neither Was the Defense

Steven ResnickSenior Writer INovember 22, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 08:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by William Hayes #95 of the Tennessee Titans during an NFL game on November 8, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

After the San Francisco 49ers victory over the Chicago Bears, it seemed like the 49ers had turned the corner, especially defensively.

The team forced Jay Cutler into five interceptions, but what was not stated about the defense was they did not sack Cutler once and the Bears threw 52 times. 

The offense for the 49ers was non-existent throughout much of the game. Most of that is because Jimmy Raye, the offensive coordinator for the 49ers, is as incompetent as they come.

Further proof of that came in the first half of the game against the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers were facing third and six inches, instead of giving the ball to Frank Gore to get a much-needed first down and drive the ball further down the field, Raye calls for Moran Norris who hardly ever touches the ball.

This play clued in the fact that the 49ers were running the football with Norris and instead of gaining the first down, the 49ers were stopped and lost about six inches meaning it went from third and six inches to fourth and one.

Instead of going for it on fourth down, Mike Singletary elected for a field goal and at that time it was to tied the game up at 3-3. Joe Nedney made the kick and gave the 49ers the only points of the half.

Even more frustrating was the play of the offensive line. The 49ers could not stay on the field and Alex Smith had no time to throw the football. The only true weapon on offense for the 49ers was Gore.

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He only attempted five carries and gained 56 yards. His first run of the game went for 42 yards. Meaning since the 49ers first possession, Gore had only four carries for 14 yards.

Again, Raye spent too many time trying to get Smith to throw then giving the football to Gore; and you can easily see why the 49ers are trailing 23-3 at halftime. Five carries for your best player isn't going to cut it at any level of football.

The offensive line again looked pathetic, not giving Smith any time to throw in the first half. Injuries have played a role, but that's still not an excuse.

I honestly could care less if the player was the 53rd man on the roster on the offensive line, when your number is called, you should be able to play at a high level.

Defensively, though that's where the defense has been bombarded, giving up big plays after big plays. The Packers threw 31 times in the half and got 274 yards passing; even more disturbing is the fact that Rodgers hasn't been sacked.

That means in six quarters and 83 attempts by opposing quarterbacks the 49ers have picked up no sacks. That's not good defense at all, but the only difference between Cutler and Rodgers is that Rodgers makes smarter decisions with the football. 

Rodgers is not going to throw five interceptions; the 49ers will be lucky to get one against him. He knows how to play football and yes the 49ers made a huge mistake in passing on Rodgers in the draft. 

You also have to wonder what the heck is going through the mind of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky?

Coming into the game the Packers offensive line was in shambles and struggled to protect Rodgers. Yet, the 49ers have not put any kind of pressure on Rodgers. 

There was an article written on Bleacher Report titled "Singletary's Dilemma is Playoff Defense, Pop Warner Offense ." I disagree the with the notion that the 49ers have a playoff defense, I would say they have an average defense at best, but the only category that is playoff caliber is against the run.

Throughout the season, the 49ers have been able to stop the run. Only one running back has rushed for over 100 yards against the 49ers defense; that running back was Chris Johnson. It appears at the outcome of today's game, Ryan Grant will be the second running back with 100 yards against the 49ers.

Grant has 70 yards on 10 carries in the first half. So, he just needs 30 yards to bring that total to 100 yards.

If the 49ers had a playoff caliber defense the team would be forcing turnovers against the above average teams, the team would be getting to the quarterback, and the defense would certainly be more aggressive in the secondary and not play in such a soft zone as the 49ers defensive backs play.

Those are three areas of defense in which the 49ers are below average. The only time when the 49ers have actually looked above average have been against the average to below-average teams.

I would say that the best effort defensively for the 49ers this year was against the Arizona Cardinals because that effort got the 49ers a win.

Against the Vikings and Colts, the 49ers defense played extremely well, but didn't make the plays that would get the team a win, but still that's the difference between an average defense and a great defense making the plays they need to win the game.

But, I want to get back to the fact that the 49ers pass defense is terrible; that includes the corners, safeties, and the pass rush!

Just look at the rankings; it really tells you just how awful that defense is: 29th in passing yards, 29th in completions, and 17 total sacks on the year.

With the way the 49ers are playing today, that means an average of under two sacks a game for the defense. When the Rams game is taken away, the 49ers have only 12 sacks in nine games. That's just over one sack a game.

I'm sorry Gary but I hate to burst your bubble the 49ers never had a defense that was playoff caliber.

Now the 49ers defense doesn't give up very many touchdown passes and are sixth in the league in touchdowns allowed through the air and the 49ers also rank sixth in interceptions with 11 on the season.

But, nearly half of the interceptions that the 49ers have gotten this year came against the Bears.

It wasn't surprising the 49ers were able to intercept passes from Cutler because he came into the game throwing the most interceptions in the NFL.

That means in nine games the 49ers only have had six interceptions.

The question then becomes how does the offensive line gets fixed? How does the offensive playcalling get better? How does the defense get better?

Well, for the offensive line, the 49ers can't wait to develop an offensive lineman; the team needs to spend money in the offseason and bring in an established lineman.

Same can be said with going after a pass rusher because that's one of the main components of a defense and the 49ers lack that.

In the secondary, the 49ers need to look for help in the draft. Dre Bly isn't going to be around next year, Walt Harris is about done, and Mark Roman probably isn't going to figure into the picture much next year.

There are some good young players for the 49ers in Tarell Brown, Dashon Goldson, and Curtis Taylor. I believe that you'll see more of Taylor if the 49ers find themselves out of the NFC West race and the Wildcard race.

At this time, let's not fool ourselves as 49ers fans into believing that the defense was playoff caliber, when it's clear that it never was.