The 49ers started Ken Dorsey at quarterback for the third time this season. Dorsey was ineffective for the most part, but was plagued all day by a horrendous offensive line that neither protected against the pass or the run. Although Dorsey did make a few good throws, this game really highlighted some poor decisions at quarterback as well as the physical differences between Dorsey and Alex Smith.
Offensive lineman Kwame Harris was the goat of the day – and considering how bad the 49ers played, that is saying a lot. Harris was called for yet another penalty that reversed a 70+ yard touchdown run by Kevan Barlow. Two plays later Dorsey’s pass bounced off TE Billy Bajema’s chest and was intercepted and returned for almost a touchdown on the next play.
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was quiet all day, but the television crews did highlight a few situations where Lloyd ran sloppy routes. Arnaz Battle and Johnnie Morton were quiet for most of the day. Kevan Barlow and Maurice Hicks ad decent performances but with no offensive line to speak of, the run game suffered too. To put things in perspective the 49ers went almost the entire second half of the game without a first down.
The 49ers defense took the field without Bryant Young, and were a far cry from decent. Giving up over 30 points, the 49ers defense were no match for the Titans, especially when it came to defending off of turnovers. Bruce Thornton had a very rough day at cornerback, his performance has stabilized around mediocrity since winning the starting job at cornerback for the 49ers. Shawntae Spencer has an average day at corner, making a few mistakes but also returning an interception for a touchdown. Derek Smith continues to perform well on defense, but Smith lacked the help of Andre Carter and Julian Peterson who had below par games this week to provide some sort of stability to the defense. Brandon Moore was continuously exposed in pass coverage.
The special teams performance was sub par as well. Jose Cortez re-joined the 49ers as place kicker for the injured Joe Nedney and missed his only opportunity at a field goal. Otis Amey returning from injury muffed a punt that lead to a turnover, and the coverage team consistently left the Titans with good field position.
This game was very ugly for the 49ers. Sloppy tackling, penalties, and turnovers highlighted a very poor performance. The offensive line was horrid and Ken Dorsey looked awful even on the rare occasions when he had time to throw – even over throwing five yard dump offs. Compared to last week the coaching staff had an unimaginative game plan and no answer for the Titans half time adjustments. While the Titans are suffering through a horrendous season at least they were able to keep their quarterback from being hit over and over again. The 49ers offensive line played so poorly that the only good coaching decision seemed to be not playing Alex Smith. I have been a proponent of playing Smith since he was drafted, but if the 49ers offensive line continues to suffer as it has than Smith should continue to sit on the sidelines.