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Are the 49ers improved? - By Bryan Hersh Nov 7 2006

THIS CONTENT IS COPYWRITED, REDISTRIBUTION OF IT (including copy/pasting it to a message board, forum or bbs) IS PROHIBITED AND COULD RESULT IN LEGAL ACTIONS - feel free to quote up to 1 paragraph providing a source link to http://www.49ersparadise.com is included

Over the last 6 quarters of football the 49ers awful defense has give up just 13 points. That should make most fans happy shouldn’t? I mean so what if the offense only scored 19 in that time, the shabby defense has been what we were all complaining about right? Truth be told I’m thrilled the 9’s pulled out a victory this week. The Vikings were one of those teams that I thought if we played hard we could beat – and lo and behold that is more or less what happened. But do I honestly believe this team is better today than it was against the Bears? Unfortunately, no I don’t, and here’s why:

While the defense has not looked pathetic over the last six quarters, the offense has. This was an offense that was supposed to be “improved” and at least middle of the pack. I still see some good things from Alex Smith and Co. but the play making ability, the quick strike potential has all but been eliminated. That would be something the team could cope with had it ever developed the ability to sustain longer more punishing drives, it hasn’t.

The offensive line was supposed to be much improved with Larry Allen returning from injury. Yet the running game has suffered and the pass protection remains week. Kwame Harris saw a reduced role this week, which was a great thing, but coach Nolan still envisions him sharing a 50:50 role with Adam Snyder. I’m no coach, but even I have seen enough of Kwame (who yet again gave up a sack this week) to know he is not the answer. Maybe Snyder isn’t either, but do we know that?

Frank Gore’s production has gone way down. Perhaps he’s wearing down through the season, or perhaps other teams are willing to stack the line knowing that we can pass, but ultimately it is the run that will beat them. Norv Turner’s offensive system has not been ingenious enough to make up for these deficiencies and at times, his play calling lately has even been flat.

Defensively it was great to see that Brandon Moore got another shot to start at linebacker. Moore did what fans and coaches know he can do – attack the line of scrimmage. That is something the team has been lacking, and could still use more of. Ultimately though the opposition will remember why Moore was not starting in the first place, his inability to drop into coverage, and in turn the 49ers will remember too. Unfortunately Moore will not be the answer the team needs on defense.

A similar case can be made for Keith Lewis in the defensive backfield. Ultimately his pass coverage ability is poor, and that will get exposed. At that point the team could turn back to Mike Adams, but really that is no answer either.

I do not like being negative. I like writing good things about the team, and being optimistic, but truth be told I do no see this as a “monkey off the back” type of win. I wish it was, but unless some of the players that the team has turned to have picked up their play significantly since we saw them last than I do not feel this team is any better than it was a week ago. On the other side of the coin, the spirit and enthusiasm that comes with winning is something this team needs and is a breath of fresh air – that perhaps was the biggest difference make in this weeks win – and with a game just around the corner we’ll see exactly how capable the team is in carrying that momentum.

 
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