Super Bowl Debacle Proves Niners Need Change
January 27, 2003
by James Parrott
Super Bowl XXXVII - the great matchup between the National Football League’s top offense in the Oakland Raiders and it’s top defense in the shape of the Tampa bay Buccaneers proved to be nothing more than a joke.
The Raiders were unable to do a thing on offense as their old, slow wideouts struggled to get open from start to finish.
The league’s top passing attack was shut down by a throttling defense that beat it to the punch every time.
So where do the 49ers fit in here?
The same place that they fitted in last year when Brett Favre was intercepted six times by the St. Louis Rams turbo charged defense.
The west coast system of using short passes to big receivers neutered by defensive units that beat it for speed every time.
It wasn’t just the receivers that cost the Raiders. Their much praised offensive line, missing Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins, was pathetic.
Their most favorable matchup - right tackle Lincoln Kennedy vs Bucs left end Greg Spires - epitomized the embarrassing performance by the Silver and Black blockers.
When applied to San Francisco, the lessons learned are some up like this;
1) A dominating pass blocking left tackle with tremendous foot speed is needed whoever you face in this league. It all starts up front, or in the Raiders case, it never got started at all because they lost the battles along the line.
2) At least one receiver is needed who can beat top corners for speed, run routes well and hold onto the ball. That rules out the Tim Browns, JJ Stokes’ and Antonio Freemans. The big guys that can move such as Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress are also ideal nowadays.
3) The need to physically dominate a speed defense is apparent (just watch the tapes from their own defense). Teams can run on Tampa. Just smash the ball to their right, straight through Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. If you can establish a credible running game then you win on two fronts. First it opens up the passing games and wears down the defense.
4) Backs that can move, catch and get past initial contact are preferable. Against such speed, it helps to have every possible receivers out running a pattern.
I seem to recall writing the same thing after last season. I was proven to be right several time by the Niners themselves - notably against Denver and Tampa, Oakland at Miami as well as Super Bowl XXXVII and Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game and at home to Indianapolis.
Perhaps we’ll see a move away from that kind of offense this season.
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