Reporting Dennis O’Donnell
CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm and offers his unique sports analysis here.
San Francisco (CBS 5) - There might have been a time in recent memory when these losses could be justified as “moral victories” (God, I hate that expression). The simple truth is that the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers blew it. Both should be 2-0, both are 1-1. Oakland blew a 21-3 halftime lead while their Bay Area counterparts blew a 10-point 4th quarter lead.
The 49ers have two problems areas: the offensive line and the defensive backfield. After not allowing a sack in the opener against hapless Seattle, the 49ers gave up six today and were unable to open holes for Frank Gore, who doesn’t exactly look like Frank Gore, if you know what I mean. Vernon Davis will never be the receiver he NEEDS to be as long as he has to stay in and block. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s DBs allowed big-play after big-play. They took wrong angles (Reggie Smith), were victims of play-fakes, and had wrong size matchups. (anyone covering Jason Witten. Man, what a load). Allowing 472 yards is not my idea of progress, regardless of taking Dallas to overtime.
I asked Jim Harbaugh on Thursday if he believes in “statement games.” Of course, he gave me the “we take one game at a time” response. So let me say it. The 49ers were prepared to send a statement to the NFC West and the rest of the league with a win over Dallas. Instead, they finished, (or didn’t finish) like they team we though they were. The silver lining? Alex Smith. He has opened with back-to-back solid games. Sure, he threw the interception, but he is clearly an improved quarterback as evidenced by a pair of beautiful touchdown passes to Kyle Williams and Delanie Walker and a QB rating that is 25 points above his career average. Finally on the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh made the right call by keeping the 55-yard field goal on the board, instead of taking a penalty which would have given the 49ers a first down. He elected to take a 10-point lead over shaky second-half offense with an O-line that could no longer protect its quarterback.
The Raiders: A tale of two games. A really good one and a really bad one. The Raiders dominated the first half and, and like the 49ers, appeared poised to make a serious statement with a second straight road victory to open the season. But Oakland’s second-half collapse revealed the inevitable. The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha is devastating. Cornerback Chris Johnson became Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target. Johnson was also called for two pass interferences and a critical 3rd down holding penalty at the 5-yard line that gave Buffalo a new set of downs resulting in a touchdown and a 31-28 Buffalo lead. Johnson also dropped an end zone interception that would have iced the game for Oakland. Johnson was not alone as Fitzpatrick ripped through the Raiders secondary. But you can bet that incoming QBs Mark Sanchez and Tom Brady will take a long look at the tape. The second disturbing statistic was one Raider fans are far too familiar with; the rushing defense, or lack thereof. Buffalo poured it on with 217 net yards on the ground. The silver lining? Rookie receiver Denarius Moore was brilliant. Five receptions, 146 yards and 1 touchdown. But it wasn’t necessarily the numbers, but rather his display of athleticism, speed, vertical leap and nose for the football that I haven’t seen with the Raiders since Cliff Branch. DHB? Louis Murphy? Jacoby Ford? Please. Al Davis muffed on DHB but scored big on Denarius Moore. He’s a starter from here on out. Guaranteed.
See you on TV.