By Glen Peer, guest writer..
One Week, One Win, One Set of Observations…
What I loved
Winning…not sure anything more needs to be said but as we know W’s are at a premium in this league and we haven’t had too many the past 2 years.
Energy – Sure it was week 1, at Qwest, against the “expected” NFC West champs, but the enthusiasm from Coach Carroll, down to the Special Teams were infectious. Re-thinking that 1st TD run by Matthew and the celebration after is giving me chills as I type this.
We won the turnover battle. A long standing thought in the NFL “win the turnover battle, win the game”. Of the 16 games this weekend 9 teams who won the turnover battle won, 3 lost (Baltimore, Philadelphia, & Detroit), and in 4 games the turnovers were equal.
What was good
Defensive Front – Two inside the 10 yard line stoning of the 49ers offense in the 1st quarter and only allowing 6 pts on 3 trips to the red-zone is impressive for ANY team, let alone a team who’s been questioned all off season on whether they have enough on the DL to be competitive.
The 49ers took 2 OL in the 1st 17 (#13 OT Anthony Davis, & #17 G Mike Iupati) picks of the 2010 draft sending a statement that they were committing to the run game with Frank Gore. He averaged 2.2 yds per carry (37 yds on 17 carries) the lowest of his career due the constant penetration of Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane up the middle, and solid edge setting by Chris Clemons and Aaron Curry forcing Gore back to the middle.
OC/QB In game adjustments – It was clear that the 49ers CBs were trying to step in front of ‘Hawk WRs and jump routes (see 1st offensive play of the 2010 season: Hasselbeck INT). OC Jeremy Bates, & QB Coach Jedd Fisch got together and set up double moves to get 1st Mike Williams, and then Deon Butler open for a TD to put the ‘Hawks up 14-6 to put the 49er CBs at bay no their aggressiveness.
I think last year a lot of us got frustrated that we just kept doing the same thing even when it wasn’t working, hopefully this is an indication that the staff isn’t adverse to throwing a game plan out the window mid-game because it isn’t working. This minor adjustment was HUGE in this game, and guess what we’ve still got a pretty good QB back there when he’s allowed to stand up straight, beautiful throws to Butler, and Branch for those TDs.
Unless this run game gets going (see things that worry me) we’re going to be relying a lot of Matthew this season
Other things – Offensive Line in pass protection, Leon Washington returning kicks, & Kelly Jennings & a Healthy Marcus Trufant (did anyone even notice Josh Wilson was gone)
Most Impressive Play
I’m going to go with a subtle play that’s not getting much attention, but early in the 2nd quarter with the 49ers still moving at will into the red zone on the ‘Hawks defense, they ran a toss left to Frank Gore who appeared to have room in front to get a healthy chuck of yardage, then out of know where Earl Thomas came barreling down to blow the play up and drop Gore for no gain. I don’t have the tape but that essentially ended the drive and we all know what happened from there.
What Worries Me
What happens against a competent QB? For all the movement for around Kyle Orton and uncertainty he’s light years ahead of Alex Smith when it comes to being a pro. If Alex Smith completes that pass to his FB in the 1st quarter (he could have rolled in to the end zone he was so wide open) and SF is up 10-0 while our offense was still trying to figure itself out how different is week 1? All preseason we saw Vince Young, Brett Favre, & Aaron Rodgers torch our 1st team defense (yes I know its preseason) which makes me nervous.
The run game…need I say more. One of these 3 needs to take advantage of this opportunity. I am no coach, but the offensive line looked good in pass protection, and appeared to be opening some holes at the line of scrimmage so I’m hesitant to put the blame solely on the OL.
Certainly this isn’t our “on paper” best OL that we’re rolling out there (No Okung, or Pitts yet) but they held their own against a very tough front 7 of the 49ers.
Half the yards came on 1 play in the running game, that needs to improve. Hopefully we can get a little something on the ground going against a depleted Broncos defense.
What I’ll be watching this week
I have to say one guy who isn’t getting much attention is Aaron Curry. Yup, he’s got some issues when he drops in coverage but man was he in the backfield all day Sunday. A little more work on his technique working back to the QB after his initial rush and I think he can turn some of those near sacks, into actual sacks. The Broncos started 3 OL who had never started a game before last Sunday. I’ll be looking to see what Curry can do with his pass rush opportunities.
It definitely seems this coaching staff is going to give him much more of a shot to rush the passer than he was given last year. I think for all the questioning we had during the off season about where the pass rush will come from it was answered this past weekend. Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Curry spent significant time harassing Alex Smith.
How is this team on the road? They had the full power of Qwest behind them on Sunday which certainly gives a boost. It will be interesting to how they react being on the road. I’m hopeful that we’ll see the same level of energy because I think Coach Carroll breads this type of enthusiasm for all his players. Of 16 games this past weekend only 4 teams won on the road (Miami, Green Bay, Arizona, & Baltimore).
Offensive Line – Big news on Monday that Max Unger is likely out for this weeks game forcing another change on the OL. Hopefully Mike Gibson’s back strain brings him back at LG, and Ben Hamilton can slide over to the RG spot. Pitts is still working at getting game ready, so I’m not sure how much he’ll help this weekend.
This is my 1st crack at throwing my observations, and thoughts down on paper for my beloved Seahawks please feel free to drop some comments. Thanks!