By Jerrell Richardson
The offensive woes of the San Francisco 49ers are still very much alive. After failing to do anything against Seattle a week ago, the assumption was that the offense would be able to get back on track against the Indianapolis Colts. This was not the case, as the 49ers continued to struggle on the offensive side of the ball, and even with a valiant effort by the defense, San Francisco fell to the Indianapolis Colts 27-7. The 49ers now have an uphill battle facing them, if they hope to win the NFC West.
Offense – Grade: D+
The overall performance was not worse than the output against the Seahawks, but when considering the opponent, and the venue, it’s pretty close. The Colts defense is not the sieve that the Green Bay defense has shown to be, but nor are they an elite group like the Seahawks. It can’t be ignored that Vernon Davis was a late scratch from the game, leaving no real receiving options, but the bottom line is that this was still an epic fail offensively.
For the second straight week no receiver could get open for Colin Kaepernick, and he again had a game to forget. He finished with 150 yards, no touchdowns and had two turnovers, losing a fumble and throwing an interception. It’s hard to really put too much blame on him however, as every single throw was heavily contested, and he was the victim of several dropped throws. The Indy defense was also able to focus solely on Kaepernick as the running game has yet to show up this season.
Frank Gore started the game well enough, but in the end, neither he nor any of the other backs were able to give the 49er offense any balance. Gore’s stat line is misleading, as his 82 yards on 11 carries is not bad, but when considering that 54 was amassed on the team’s lone scoring drive, it’s certainly not good.
The only reason that the offense escaped an F is that they get a slight curve for the lack of receivers with experience on the field. Regardless, this was a bad performance for an offense that looked so dominant in their season opener.
Defense – Grade: B-
Despite the 27 points allowed, the defense played well enough to earn a win. After all it was a one possession game entering the 4th, before two late turnovers put the game out of reach. Andrew Luck and the Colts outsmarted the defense to start the game, and came out passing, when San Francisco was sure that Indy was going to try and run. With the defense one step behind, Luck went six for six on the opening drive and led the Colts on a touchdown drive. After the opening drive, the defense settled in though, and Luck went 12-21 for 164 yards the rest of the way. Reggie Wayne was able to find room in the middle of the defense, hauling in five catches, but the passing game did no real harm. The same can’t be said for the Indianapolis ground game.
The one-two punch of Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson had a successful day. Together they rushed for 140 yards on 32 carries, and surprisingly the two power backs had success against a defensive front that figured to bottle them up. With the backs able to find running room it allowed them to eat up the clock and essentially ice the game in crunch time.
The scoreboard said 27, but the defense held up their end of the bargain. The 49ers were still one touchdown away from taking the lead heading into the 4th before the wheels fell off. To be able to do that, with no help from the offense all day, says a lot for the defense.
Special Teams – Grade: B
The special teams were again rendered useless by a dormant offense. Andy Lee has a busy day, with seven punts, and finished with a modest 43.6 average. Dawson was only called upon for an extra point, and the return game was less than impressive, but had very little to do with the overall outcome, due to the other areas of the team falling short.
Concern Not Panic
The 49ers are under .500 for the first time under Jim Harbaugh regime, but there is no reason to panic. It’s week just Week 4! San Francisco knew that the passing game would struggle until the return of Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, so this is no surprise. With the game time decision not to play Vernon Davis, San Francisco was under matched in this contest and it showed. Penalties and the running game are areas of concern, but penalties can be cleaned up, and there was brief appearance from Gore and the running game, so they just need to find a way to sustain it. It will also help the team’s ability to run when they get back their dual threats on the outside. While San Francisco needs to play better on both sides of the ball, it’s the offense that has to step up, and with reinforcements on the way, they will be just fine.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.