Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 8 - moral victories don't count in the standings

For the second week in a row the 49ers played just well enough to lose. However, I count this game as a complete moral victory for the Niners. After all, they came T-H-I-S C-L-O-S-E to beating one of the top three teams in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts 18-14 victory brought their record up to a perfect 7-0. The 49ers are the first team to provide any sort of challenge to the mighty Colts, who won their previous four games by an average of 24 points, since Week 2.

But moral victories don't count in the standings. It's still a loss. Thankfully, the Cardinals played down to their potential in crapping the bed against Carolina by a score of 34-21 (message to yodaddy: "Ha Ha!"). That leaves us still one game back with an easier opponent (Tennessee) coming to town next Sunday.

Alex Smith played a very good game. He threw one interception, but it was on a ball tipped by the receiver, whom it hit right in the hands (*cough* Michael Crabtree *cough*). It wasn't the only time Smith was let down by his receivers; Vernon Davis would have had a first down catch in the first quarter if he had bothered to drag his effing foot, and certain Hall of Fame WR Isaac Bruce dropped a ball that hit him right in the hands.

Frank Gore has gone from a poor man's Emmitt Smith in 2007 to a poor man's Barry Sanders in 2009. He broke a run of 64 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, but his other 12 carries netted only 27 yards. You take away his touchdown runs of 79, 78, and 64 yards, and he's having a poor year.

LT Joe Staley hurt his knee on the first play from scrimmage. Since he is the best offensive lineman on the team, I thought it was a sign of impending doom. But Barry Sims came in and played great. In fact, the whole line played a ton better than they had in the previous weeks. Now I'm starting to wonder if Shaun Hill wasn't at fault for a lot of the sacks the O-line gave up.

The defense played GREAT. Oh, sure, Peyton Manning threw for over 340 yards, but you expect that. The important thing was keeping him out of the end zone (the only Colts touchdown scored on a HB option pass) and keeping him off of the field -- I couldn't count the number of times the Colts went 3-and-out.

Patrick Willis had a great game (naturally). But the defensive star of the game was Dashon Goldson, who had 10 tackles from his Safety position and seemed to always be in the right place. CB Shawntae Spencer also played a great game, as did the front three, which registered 3 sacks.

Michael Crabtree had a strange game. Two turnovers were his fault (the Smith interception, and a fumble later in the game). He also managed to run a 12-yard route on 3rd-and-14. But he's making plays; he looked GREAT on a 28-yard strike from Alex Smith during the touchdown drive at the end of the 2nd quarter.

The Niners aren't out of the hunt for the West just yet. They need to win the next two, against Tennessee and Chicago, or it probably won't happen. We shall see. We shall see.