This season, LB Tully Banta-Cain is splitting time with QB Alex Smith when it comes to 49ers.com. The pair trade off in reviewing the previous game each week, although Banta-Cain is holding it down during Smith's recovery from his shoulder injury. Check out his latest column below!
I think we did a lot of good things in this game defensively. They were a decent offense I think, but probably not the best we had played against so far this year. We played well but we are not satisfied because we did not get the win and we allowed them to score more points than we did. Ultimately, that means we didn't play well enough to win the game.
Holding them to three field goals is very good, especially after the interception. We always talk about no matter where we are on the field, whether it's their 20 or our 1-yardline, we don't want to let them get in the end zone. Our coach always says he doesn't care if they get the ball in the red zone every time, it's our job to keep them from scoring a touchdown. Holding them to three field goals definitely helps give us some confidence and I think kept the offense in the game because they didn't have a big point difference to overcome.
I felt like Baltimore played a pretty conservative offense. Willis McGahee was their biggest offensive threat, and they were really trying to get him in the mix as much as possible. I thought we did well containing him for the most part.
Steve McNair was really getting rid of the ball because we were putting some pressure on him. I know there wasn't a sack, but I'm sure he was feeling the pressure because they were using plays designed to get the ball out quick to avoid our blitzes and our pass rush. I think being such a veteran really helped McNair because a quarterback not as polished probably wouldn't have been able to do that and there probably would have been more sacks and turnovers. McNair did a good job for them and definitely helped them get a win.
The one thing that really stood out when I watched film was that I thought guys did a great job of running to the ball and making the tackle. Derrick Mason and Demetrius Williams can both make big plays so the key is once they catch the ball to really get them down right away. I think we did a good job of tackling and preventing the big play. There was a lot of hustling and rallying to the ball. It was just a good effort. I just think as much as we really wanted to win that game, we didn't, but everyone gave it their best shot.
Andy Lee is doing a phenomenal job right now in helping us with field position. He's really gotten us out of some tight jams. I think if he continues playing the way he has, it's going to really pay off. There's still a wow factor when we see some of his punts, but at the same time, I think defensively it's what we've come to expect from him and from the guys on the coverage team. They are hustling down the field and either getting the returner down quick, or pinning the ball inside of the 20 for us which is huge. When your special teams can do that for you, that's a huge asset and it'll pay off with some wins.
Our offense isn't playing the way they'd like to, but they scored the only touchdown of the game which was huge, and then got down there so Joe Nedney could attempt the field goal.
We missed the field goal but we still had a chance to stop them and get the ball back to our offense. That was our responsibility and unfortunately they were able to convert on two 3rd downs. That was definitely frustrating as a defense to not be able to get them off the field at that point.
I think we just have to keep plugging away and getting better. There's nothing big that we need to do differently, there are just little things we need to clean up as a defense.
The bye week is a good time to reflect back on the last five games, see what we've done bad, see what we've done good and really try to challenge ourselves - since we don't have an opponent this week - to really clean up our mistakes so that going forward we play polished football, and can start stringing wins together.
I am confident that we'll get things turned on offense. I think the sense of urgency for the offense is high. They know they haven't played to their abilities or expectations. They are aware of what the fans and the outer world are saying, and they are not liking how they are being perceived. I think there is a lot of pride for those guys and I know they want to end the negative criticism. All it takes is one game to get back on track, play well and win and you can put that behind you pretty quick. We've got 11 opportunities to really prove that we are a capable offense and there is no confidence lost on either side of the ball that we'll get that done.