49ers Clubhouse 

Desperate and Frustrated - And what a shame

November 18, 2002

by Jeff Shaffer
Clubhouse Staff Writer

This was pitched as a must win game for the Chargers, but a game the Niners should take away. But the 49ers seemed to be the team that showed up tense, and their frustration was apparent from the first series. In reality, with the Rams resurgent in the division, this was not a game the 49ers could afford to lose.

The two teams were pretty evenly matched in the running game and run defenses, but the 49er were supposed to have the advantage in the match-up of their passing attack over San Diego's poor pass defense. Instead, the passing games on offense and defense came out pretty evenly match also - and the Niners were exposed.

Why were the Niners undone?

Offense seemed desperate, never seemed to get in a rhythm, and at critical times dug themselves holes with penalties and broken plays. Seemed to have a lot of blocking breakdowns. Despite the offensive woes, the receivers did do a good job of working themselves open and making tough catches.

Garcia's was openly frustrated by the constant harassment -- where was the much touted protection of the offensive line? San Diego's defensive scheme seemed a perfect recipe for disrupting Garcia in the pocket, and when he improvised. They used a combination of pressure up the middle with blitzing linebackers and defensive ends rushing deep, but maintaining containment, to stop Garcia from rolling out.

Hearst was clearly the better runner against San Diego's vaunted rush defense. He is better at hitting the hole quickly and darting for consistent gains. Barlow is an impressive runner, but his hesitation at the line of scrimmage and fancy moves often gave the Charger defense time to shut him down before he got going.

The defense didn't get one sack on Drew Brees. Sure Brees got flushed from the pocket a couple of times, but this should have been a big game for the d-line - the Chargers had two back-up tackles starting on their offensive line. The "D" did better on third downs, but is still getting regularly victimized by the pass. It isn't all Mike Rumph, the whole zone defense seems slow to close to the receivers. Ahmed Plummer was excellent as usual, and hand it to Jason Webster for being such a sure tackler in run support. The linebackers again seemed very solid and swarmed to the ball.

Jose Cortez....... What do you do? Rookie Jeff Chandler apparently isn't any better, so do you really want to bring him in for the rest of the season? But Jose looked like he knew he was going to miss the field goal even before he kicked it. The offense didn't do him any favors by having 3 plays to improve the field position, but instead going backwards for two plays and then barely getting back to the original spot before giving him the chance. Jimmy Williams seems to be improving each game and is getting more dangerous returning the ball. The coverage teams are inconsistent though, smothering them one play and then giving up decent returns the next.

The Niners had it within their grasp to take control of their season. The Packers had even done them the favor of losing to Minnesota!!! Each team would have been 8-2. But instead the Niners looked like a team struggling in this overtime disappointment.

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