Melissa's Monday Musings - Giants/49ers Edition
By: The Football Girl | Posted: October 15, 2012
It was pretty before kickoff.
(Yes, that is Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family” with not-Victor Cruz.)
Then things got ugly, at least for one team.
The 49ers were jacked up for this one, clearly way too much so as evidenced by the 26-3 shellacking the Giants handed them. But adrenaline does not explain the seams falling apart in almost every facet. Let’s explain piece by piece. Warning: Some material may be unsuitable for rapid 49ers fans.
David Akers: The days of the Bay Area monopolizing kicker spots in Hawaii are over. Akers stunk yesterday. His 43-yard miss on the first drive of the game set the tone, and his later miss exposed the weakness in his leg. Another kickoff didn’t make it past the entryway of the end zone, which is really unacceptable for a top-flight kicker after kick offs were moved up ten yards last year. 2012 has been a shaky season for Akers, and eliminating him from the reliability column is huge hit to this team.
Alex Smith: Unfortunately for the 49ers, Alex Smith’s previously sprained middle finger was not the cause of his atrocious day. Atrocious play was. Smith’s three interceptions were all a product of terrible decision-making. All were the types of throws you knew were not going to end well the second they left his hand. Smith also did a poor job of incorporating second or third reads, something that has plagued him his whole career. Vernon Davis, while covered well, had plenty of man-on-man coverage, and Smith simply needs to find a way to get the ball out to him. The only solace for Smith is he should be well prepared for what’s coming from the national media this week.
Cornerbacks: Hakeem Nicks killed Tarell Brown, and Carlos Rogers was burned as well. Heading into the game, this secondary was second in the league in fewest passing yards allowed after playing tight, aggressive coverage all season. But yesterday they looked like the Bills or Patriots out there. It was almost as if there was an element of intimidation from the Giants passing game. And Rogers, in particular, cannot continue to miss opportunities for interceptions. Certainly not against the Giants.
Coaching: Alex Smith finally connects on a long pass to Randy Moss (Smith’s only highlight of the game) and is immediately pulled for Colin Kaepernick, which turns into an eleven-yard sack. Just because the cutesy Kaepernick stuff worked against the Jets does not mean it will translate to every opponent. And quarterbacking, more than any position is rooted in momentum. Doesn’t Jim Harbaugh of all coaches know this? Also, I know Smith is often given the audible or check down situation on third downs, but Harbaugh has to instruct him that if it’s 3rd and 15 the pass must be at least 15 yards. Underthrowing to covered receivers on 3rd downs killed the 49ers yesterday and was far too reminiscent of the Mike Singletary days, when first downs were non-existent.
Colin Kaepernick: Again, the addition of Kaepernick worked against the jets, but he was pretty awful yesterday. His biggest mistake was taking the team of out field goal position on the aforementioned sack and loss of 11 yards. Given that Kaepernick had about ten seconds and the approaching pressure was obvious, it is inconceivable how he did not throw away the ball in that situation. Just a killer play.
Stigma: The Giants have the 49ers number at home. It’s there and it’s true. Hello, monkey.
Irony: With a couple early catches and one solid kick run return, Kyle Williams may have had the best day of any 49er.
Conversely the Giants have to be thrilled by their performance. They took advantage of every Alex Smith mistake. Coughlin outcoached Harbaugh. And they converted on third downs.
Eli Manning only wound up with 193 yards but you could see two important elements in the Giants passing game. 1) Manning has evolved so much in terms of patience, and is now rather consistent when it comes to turning dead plays into positive yardage. 2) The (re) addition of Hakeem Nicks is key to this passing attack. You could see Nicks outmuscle Tarell Brown, and confuse him his little intricacies in his routes.
The Giants defense was punishing up front. In fact one of the most telling stats in this game is that the Giants sacked Smith six times while the 49ers had zero sacks of Manning.
While the Giants and 49ers both ended the day with 4-2 records, these teams are going in very opposite directions. That is, until next week when everything can change. This is the NFL, after all.
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