Hey folks, this is Fooch from Niners Nation, the SB Nation 49ers blog. Some of the SB Nation football sites have come up with a new one to do cross-blog previews. Rather than exchange questions, why not open the floor to the readers to ask questions? So, what we'll be doing is this: I'll give you a brief preview of the offense and defense and then I'll open the floor for questions. I'll check back frequently so ask as many as you want.
2007 saw the 49ers offense absolutely abysmal; almost historically so. They brought in the mad scientist Mike Martz and it's safe to say the offense is much improved. The problem is that Martz runs a high risk-high reward offense, and with an inexperienced QB (J.T. O'Sullivan has 6 career starts), the risk has been elevated. O'Sullivan has a bad habit of making some hideous decisions and he currently leads the NFL in interceptions.
At the same time, there are significant stretches where the offense looks like a real, honest to goodness NFL offense. There is no question about what Frank Gore brings to the table. He's among the league leaders in yards per touch and total yards. The problem with Gore has been the lack of use by Martz. The 49ers entered the 4th quarter against the Eagles leading by 9 points. In the 4th quarter, Frank Gore touched the ball 2 times, both of which came after the team had coughed up the lead.
The major problem on offense has been the offensive line. J.T. O'Sullivan spends much of the game running for his life or on his butt. If Gore wasn't an absolute beast he'd struggle getting through what exists of the "holes" created. Even without Osi Umenyiora, I expect the Giants to have little trouble creating pressure and collapsing the pocket.
The 49ers defense was supposed to be a serious strength due to the development of youngsters and the influx of quality free agents. A year after giving Nate Clements a big contract, the 49ers signed Justin Smith. Both have done a good job, with Smith having a very good "under-the-radar" type of season. Patrick Willis remains a beast and late free agent pickup Takeo Spikes has an interception in three straight games.
Unfortunately, the other seven guys on defense have not always lived up to their end of the bargain. The team lacks a legitimate pass rush in part because of the odd choice to perpetually use a nickel/dime type of defense called the "Big Sub." The "Big Dud" is a better term. The team rolls out 4 defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs for a large chunk of the game in hopes of preventing the deep play. Thus, you get a sort of bend, but don't break, prevent style defense. The problems with that are twofold: 1) A bulldozing runner will absolutely annihilate them. If they don't make an adjustment, Brandon Jacobs could have a career day on Sunday; 2) In spite of the effort to prevent the big play, the 49ers have given up numerous big receiving plays.
One would think the coach would adjust to this sort of issue, but Mike Nolan believes adjustments are for the weak. I also think he's under the impression that you're not allowed to use timeouts in the final two minutes of each half. Needless to say, Mike Nolan has caused much grief among 49ers fans with his "game management." This is a man who challenged a field goal last week. We've got a little scorecard of miscues to chart each week and I pondered turning it into a drinking game. The problem is you'll drop dead of alcohol poisoning before the end of the game, which certainly isn't a good thing.
So, I'll open the floor to questions. In the past few weeks, I've encouraged my readers to join in the conversation, although certainly in a respectful, non-abusive way. I figure they know plenty about the team and can answer your questions with just as much logic and common sense.