At 2-2, the San Francisco 49ers are not exactly where they thought they would be at this point of the season. Two wins and two loses is not that bad in a young season, heck, most experts would have thought that after four games the 49ers would most likely be 3-1 (their only loss being against the Seahawks) so why is a one game difference such a big deal? Aside from the fact that 49ers fans took a sigh of relief after beating the Rams, this current team just doesn’t seem like the 49ers teams of the past couple of years.
First of all, this years team has greatly been affected by injuries. Yes I know that it’s part of the game but the team started the season missing two of their top receivers in Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. The 49ers were also forced to play without their number two running back (LaMichael James) and their nickleback (Chris Culliver). The defense suffered more loses in the first few games with Ian Williams going down for the season, Patrick Willis suffering a groin injury, and Aldon Smith going to rehab.
San Francisco just recently ended their two game skid with a 35-11 victory over the lowly Rams in a game where they ran the ball and played tough defense. This simple and effective way of winning football games is how the 49ers have done it in the past under coach Harbaugh. Their physical play was their identity, but they inexplicably went away from it. They forgot that they had the all-time leading rusher in the backfield and instead opted for Colin Kaepernick to throw the ball around like he’s Peyton Manning.
What worked so well for this team in the past is dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They ran the ball better than anybody and stopped it better than anybody. In the first three games of the season, the 49ers had the ball in Kaepernick’s hands way too much and he ended up turning it over. I’m not saying that Kap can’t be an elite quarterback in this league, but to give full reigns to guy with only 10 starts under his belt is being a just a little too unfair specially with the other ways this football team can be successful.
Against the Rams, Kaepernick only threw the ball 23 times completing 15 of those for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Not a record-breaking game, but a game in which the 49ers won handily because of what they did on the ground. In total they had 40 rushing attempts for 219 yards which was their best effort of this young season. After what Kaepernick did in the playoffs last year there is no doubt that the kid can light up on any given Sunday but so far he hasn’t shown that so it’s time to give him some help out there. Use Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and LaMichael James. Use that big and athletic offensive line. Use Phil Dawson to get early leads and let that defense be aggressive and create turnovers. More importantly, don’t be afraid to let Colin Kaepernick dare I say, manage the offense when there are other factors that are clearly working.