Former 49ers linebacker Keena Turner, a four-time Super Bowl Champion, understands what's going out on the turf better than most which is what he'll try to share with you in Turner's Turf. In this week's column, Turner reviews the loss to the Giants.
Starting with the end is no longer working for me since we keep losing, but it does give us a reference point. Ultimately, we just didn't do enough things right to win the game.
On the offensive side of things, there was some improvement and some great effort on individual plays. I thought it was a great call early in the game to go for it on the 4th down. I thought it was a great play by the quarterback to scramble and run to pick up some big yards. I thought that touchdown throw to Arnaz Battle was a heck of a throw and catch to finish off that drive.
I liked the gutsy calls and I liked the great execution on that drive, but then the inconsistencies still pop up and they come up too often so that it overshadows some of the good things.
What comes to mind to me were obviously the turnovers but also the penalties. Those were costly. As many bright spots as there were in this game offensively, the line gave up six sacks and when you add that up along with the turnovers and the loss in yards from penalties, it just knocks you out of any game no matter what good things you did. Those really just kill you. You've got to get away from those if you really want to have success.
I thought Jim Hostler going up to the box turned out to be pretty seamless. There didn't seem to be any communication problems or problems in identifying personnel. I think the game really came down to the execution. The game plan is just a piece of it, and sometimes we put too much emphasis into it. You've really got to be able to execute and win enough of those one on one battles that you get your positive yards.
Instead, defenses come in knowing they can get pressure on the quarterback and that they can dictate to our offense. That's not a good thing and really has allowed them to bottle up Frank Gore.
I still thought Frank was a bright spot in this game. He worked out of the single back set and they mixed up some different kind of plays and so what you saw in a spotty way is what the offense is capable of doing. Frank is a very punishing runner when he has an opening. He can get through it and he can get those big yards, so I liked the variation in the run plays and the use of the single back formation. I think those are all good things.
I also liked the use of Ashley Lelie. He caught the one deep ball, but they really sent him on several other times. They've got to keep doing that.
It was good to have Vernon Davis back. I think he's a necessity for the offense and I think he gives a big option at tight end that a lot of teams don't have. I didn't like the drop he had to open the second half over the middle on a play where he might have been able to score given how good he is at bouncing defenders. But, I think he's still learning this game and you've got to be able to harness and focus your energy and be patient. It's hard to grasp patience when you think about football, but the reality is you want to slow the game down so you can take advantage of all of your opportunities. He's got the enthusiasm, he's got the talent and he's got the attitude. He just needs more experience at the position so he can really take advantage of defenses.
On defense, the thing that kind of stood out was the Giants big running back in Brandon Jacobs. They've got a big team and that guy ran very well out of the I formation and he had some success. He had over a 100 yards and I think that set up their offense. I don't think Eli Manning could have beaten the 49ers with his arm but in establishing the run like they did, really allowed them to then throw when they wanted.
The Giants really ran the edges well against us and exposed our defense. They had more success than I've really seen anyone else do, and when you are getting chunks like that on the edge, it's tough to dictate to the offense. That's something the 49ers must fix because New Orleans will look at that and Reggie Bush is a player they want to get out on the edge. That's really where he can have the most success, so the 49ers will need to made some adjustments heading into this next game.
The interception Derek Smith got in the first half led to a TD and that's what you felt you needed out of the defense to really give the offense more opportunities. Still, the defense wasn't able to dictate early very much and New York was able to establish the run and they were on a roll that first half.
Once you get behind early, it just makes it that much tougher on your defense.
I guess it was called block, but Moran Norris really made a great individual effort and we've seen the special teams have success all season long whether it's been Joe Nedney or Andy Lee or guys like Marcus Hudson or Keith Lewis getting down on coverage. You need big plays throughout the game and you need them from all three areas, and you are definitely getting them from special teams. They continue to be a bright spot, and hopefully this week against New Orleans, we'll see nothing but bright spots from all three units.