News of the Niners Game


ASFN Consultant and Senior Writer
Jan 7, 2003
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Orlando, FL
The Good News

I’m not big on moral victories, but it’s hard to argue the Cards’ performance wasn’t a quality effort. Only one team can win a game, but calling the Cards “losers” seems inappropriate.

There were plenty of solid efforts on offense. Early on kerouac9 was touting Michael Wilson for the Cards’ ROY. Wilson made a good case for that award Sunday. No only did he further his status as a possession receiver, but he made it clear he’s a scoring option as well. Add in the continuing quality effort the Cards are getting from Hollywood Brown and the receiving corps looks solid. Marshawn Lynch popularized the phrase “Beast Mode.” It would not be a stretch to apply that term to Connor. He is running angry and defenders do not enjoy getting in his way. It’s given the Cards a more balanced and thus more unpredictable offense. Of course, reversing field was not a good choice. A large part of that running game success traces to pulling linemen. It has changed my opinion of Froholdt. I’m still not certain he’s the long term solution at Center. However, he can hit a target on the move. The direct snap to Turner wasn’t revolutionary, but it was gutsy.

One of the most impressive things the Cards have done is to turn a journeyman (still young) into a reasonably effective QB. Please understand that doesn’t mean I think Dobbs is capable of taking over a game and winning it. I’ve seen Murray do that. I will applaud the Cards for finding a way to use Dobbs’ running ability. He not incredibly elusive, like Murray, but Dobbs is good on the edge. He’s also not afraid to fight for the first. Dobbs throwing has improved, but I don’t believe he’ll ever be a great passer. Despite a limited pass rush, Dobbs’ accuracy suffered. He wasn’t terrible, but even the announcers commented Dobbs looked a little shaky in the pocket. I also question his generalship. On the 2 point conversion SF had only 10 me on the field. The Cards had a better man advantage to the right. Dobbs should have called an audible. In fact, throughout the game SF moved, often pre-snap, but there were few audibles. Dobbs also failed to consistently use progressions instead favoring targeting covered receivers if they were the primary target.

Overall I thought the O-line was decent in pass protection, except for Wilkinson who is not an NFL player. Hernadez played decently but did get run over for a sack. Was Colon healthy enough to play? However, they allowed too much penetration from the opposing DL. This limited the running game. On defense I felt Lopez showed flashes. Gardeck continued to astound. Collins contributed. Thomas continues to slowly develop.

The DL made some nice plays like blowing up the running play when the Niners pulled blockers. The play where Collins took out the blocker to expose the QB was also impressive. Sadly they’re still undermanned.

Bad News

Ego requires me to write that in my preview I pointed out several of the things that ended up burning the Cards. Unlike the Cowboys game, the Cards’ analysis of past Niners games did not result in a customized game plan. I’m not dumb enough to say my ideas would have certainly worked but at least I had ideas. They completely failed to focus on McCaffrey. How many plays found McCaffrey wide open? That proved fatal. I must admit my theory to use Wallace to spy (scout) McCaffrey would’t have worked; maybe Collins. Baker could have, but he’s out. I wanted the more aggressive Clark on Aiyuk, as he regularly burns the Cards. It seemed the Cards waited until the second half to really pressure the passer. The Cards continue to fail to cover passes in the flat. It hurt here. Worse both Cincy and the Browns love to throw there.

There were again way too many penalties. Boyd losing composure was unacceptable. Somehow they ran a screen with only one blocker. Punt coverage was slow down the field. Thompson is still struggling in pass coverage. They really miss Baker. Swain is not a receiver. I know it was tipped. I also wondering what’s wrong with Ertz’ hands. I also thought Pascal could have made that end zone catch. It was tough but if he wants targets, he has to fight harder. I thought Wilson had another bad game. He constantly got separated from his man, usually Aiyuk. Wilson is just too soft. I’d take a penalty to make a statement. Clark was up and down, but he played with aggression.

I have one more coaching note. This team has no 2 minute drill. They are uncharacteristically inefficient.

This was not a bad game. The Cards simply lost to a better team. They were prepared to play and they played hard. The defensive game plan was their weakest one so far. On the other hand this was easily the best offense they’ve played. These early games are a learning experience for this staff. On to next week.


Sep 2, 2002
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Leaving Conner without a credible backup is a really poor choice - there are so many teams that have multiple contributors at the position, and they're cheap!

I love Conner, but encouraging contact is not a path to longevity in this league. We need someone else to take reps and some of the wear and tear off Conner.


Klowned by Keim
Feb 14, 2003
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Gilbert, AZ
I have one more coaching note. This team has no 2 minute drill. They are uncharacteristically inefficient.
FWIW I think this is because they were installing an entirely new offense this offseason. The two-minute drill is what you can focus on in an offseason when a larger portion of your team is on the same page. Especially considering they had to sub in Dobbs at the eleventh hour, it's really hard to imagine they even have enough practice and meeting time in-season to effectively install a good two-minute offense.

It will likely be an area of emphasis next offseason. Situational football is a second-level concern.