Catch up with former 49ers cornerback Eric Davis each week as he recaps the game. In this latest column, Davis puts to bed the 49ers Monday Night loss to the Arizona Cardinals. **
The 49ers lost a tough one to Arizona on Monday night. But, I believe that they can walk away from the game with hopeful optimism.
In my opinion, the second half of the season needs to be looked upon as an audition for coaches and players. The 49ers should consider it an extended training camp and start to look for future playmakers on both sides of the ball.
On Monday night, some of the young players stepped up, and as a fan, that is what I would like to see continue to be the case for the remainder of the season.
And as the team develops its new identity, hopefully young stars will emerge. Josh Morgan had a 31-yard touchdown reception and continued to show great progress. Also, Jason Hill, and Dominique Zeigler both made big plays at crucial times for the 49ers on Monday night in the passing game. It was also good to see Vernon Davis get involved with his amazing touchdown catch in the first half.
But it wasn't just the receivers, who helped the 49ers start the game properly. Rookie offensive lineman Chilo Rachal helped open running lanes that allowed Frank Gore to have a solid night running the rock.
Even more important to the 49ers early success was when another running back made a big play to start the game right off the bat. Michael Robinson had not one, but two great blocks on the opening 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum.
I think those are the type plays that we need to see, and those are the players we need to see more of as the season continues.
On the other side of the ball, the 49ers defense played fairly well considering some of the precarious situations in which they took the field.
They forced the NFL's number one offense to kick field goals in some critical situations and kept the game close in the second half. Again, that is what we should look for during the remainder of the season. Yes, there is still work to be done. But, it was encouraging to see young players like cornerback Tarell Brown gain experience in a high-energy game like the one on last Monday night.
For a player – experience is not the number of years they've played in the league – experience is games on the field.
The more a player is on the field, the slower the game becomes in his own eyes. While Shaun Hill made a few mistakes that he can learn from, his decision-making was one of the factors that moved him into the starting quarterback position. Play selection, clock management, and the speed of the game are all areas that we should look for and expect to see him improve on as the season continues. His quick strikes and determined scrambling gave the 49ers a chance to win the game.
Just like Hill has room to improve, so can the 49ers coaching staff in terms of how they handle clock management and sideline communication; both can be picked up with on the field training. I think Mike Singletary will grow in these areas as his team grows.
Singletary was given the job to instill a toughness and resilience that was believed to be missing in the players. That toughness and resilience was present against Arizona. And hopefully, that's an encouraging sign of good things to come.