Last night (August 13) my San Francisco Forty Niners displayed their new and improved football team for all of America to see. I just wanted to share my perspective.
The first team (almost) offense moved the ball efficiently on the first two drives, scoring both time, albeit a FG on the first. I know they wouldn't show their hand in the preseason, but I was a little frightened to see Alex Smith taking seven-step drop backs so often. To my surprise, he looked comfortable. The midrange in-route completed to Darrell Jackson, in front of arguably the best cover corner in the league (Champ Bailey) was impressive due to both the timing and the ball placement. I was also impressed with the deep ball completed in traffic to Arnaz Battle. If the passing game is going to be that efficient, opposing defenses won't be able to put seven or eight men in the box to stop Frank Gore. This will take the handcuffs off the new OC and allow some creativity. I would have liked to have seen Vernon Davis get involved but I assume that if allowed more time, he will be worked in. The biggest reason for concern that I saw was Trent Dilfer. I hope Alex Smith can repeat the feat of taking every snap this regular season. The two minute drill at the end of the first half was a very telling event. The pick he threw was disappointing at best.
Answer: tackling, tackling and tackling. Question: what are three things the Niners front seven did poorly against the Broncos? I know that Bryant Young didn't play but I have reservations about how much of a difference the fourteen year veteran can make. I know that Denver's athletic linemen coupled with the zone-blocking technique make for a formidable run game. That wasn't the problem though. There were players in position to make tackles and just failed to wrap up properly. I see tackling drills in the Niners immediate future. It would have been nice to see the first team get a stop. Hopefully, Young's return coupled with that of Walt Harris will toughen one of the leagues worst defenses from 2006. Also, though he didn't do a whole lot, I was happy to see Patrick Willis' number 52 on the field.