GameDay: Where Did The O-Line Go?
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KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on KPIX 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.
I could blog about the horrible call on Ahamd Brooks. But that’s low-hangin fruit. The 49ers 23-20 loss to New Orleans wasn’t’ made on one bad call alone.
What’s up with the 49ers offensive line? Just a few short weeks ago this unit was considered, by many NFL experts, to be the best in football. They are the same names but aren’t playing the same games. They have trouble protecting the quarterback and were surprisingly unable to control the line of scrimmage today against the New Orleans Saints.
With Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing struggles, the general consensus among “those in the know” was that San Francisco would have to run the football to beat New Orleans. After all, the Saints one true weakness was stopping the run, as evidenced by their 23rd ranking against the rush coming into Sunday’s game.
Frank Gore ran for just 48 yards on just 13 carries. Both numbers are rather shocking given the pre-game prognostications. But look a bit closer and you’ll understand. Frank Gore’s one decent run was a terrific 24-yard gain. The rest of his day was miserable 12 carries for 24 yards, or a 2.0 average yard per carry. Simply put, Greg Roman didn’t give Gore the rock because the offensive line was constantly beaten by a resurgent Saints defense under Rob Ryan.
After New Orleans beat Dallas to a pulp last week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted to Ryan he’d made a mistake by letting him go. You think? One local writer told me this is Ryan’s MO. Get a new job and attain instant, but short-term results. Not short enough for the 49ers, who managed just 196 yards of offense.
On the bright side, the offensive line allowed three sacks, three less than they did one week ago. But Kaepernick doesn’t seem to have any confidence in their ability to block. His feet are constantly moving and seems incredibly uncomfortable in the pocket. Furthermore, the o-line is injured. Left guard Mike Iupati walked out of the locker room on crutches after injuring his left knee. As a unit, the o-line has made 26 consecutive starts. That streak is likely to end next weekend.
The offensive struggles, of course, are a combination of circumstances ranging from the offensive line to the quarterback to the wide receivers and the coaches. Last year, all of these instruments worked together to make beautiful music. Now they sound like a garage band.
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