September 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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It was certainly the best game the 49ers played in their short three week season, but it certainly wasn’t anything to gloat about. The defense carried the 49ers with some inspired play, permitting only ten yards. The offense was uninspired but mustered 20 points despite having their starting quarterback sit out nearly the entire second half.
So far the 49ers have built on each of the games they have played this season. They started the season terribly on third downs and in the redzone (on both sides of the ball). They improved on that in their second game, but were penalized repeatedly, couldn’t run, and couldn’t stop the run, and in both games the 49ers failed to capitalize on good opportunities created by the defense. In week three, the 49ers ran for over 250 yards, committed an average five penalties, and capitalized on situations given to them by good defensive play.
The 49ers have now show that they can run, stop the run, play well in the redzone, commit few penalties, score off of forced turnovers, win on third downs and control teams defensively - but all that has taken place over three games. The 49ers now have to put it all together. Their redzone efficiency dropped to twenty-five percent, and they only converted 43% of their third downs. Neither stat was impressive.
The difference in this game, was a solid defense that played four quarters, and the ability to gain over six yards per rush. The 49ers offense also began to utilize all of its weapons. Had Jeff Garcia stayed in this game, its possible that the 49ers could have one by a larger margin. Of course had Terrell Owens caught a touchdown pass that went threw his hands by Tim Rattay, the 49ers could have one by a larger margin too.
The 20-10 score showed that the 49ers defense could play a full four quarters at a high level. But there really weren’t any questions answered offensively. Despite improved play calling, the 49ers offense still left much to be desired.